Jay Pandolfo has watched the first 11 Bruins games. Pandolfo may be in suit and tie for the 12th game against Buffalo on Friday.
But even if Pandolfo is a healthy scratch against the Sabres, the left wing finally will be drawing an NHL salary.
On Tuesday, the Bruins signed Pandolfo to a one-year, $600,000 contract. Pandolfo had been with the club on a professional tryout agreement since training camp. Pandolfo will earn $350,000 (all pro-rated) if he is assigned to Providence.
Pandolfo was placed on waivers, per standard NHL protocol. Any team can claim him before noon on Wednesday.
If Pandolfo clears waivers, the 38-year-old will be the team’s spare forward. When injuries strike, Pandolfo will have a third- or fourth-line role at left wing. Claude Julien, Pandolfo’s coach in New Jersey in 2006-07, can also tab the ex-Boston University forward for penalty-killing duties.
“He comes highly recommended from Claude, having had him, and other people that know him,” said general manager Peter Chiarelli. “You talk to him and you see his character. I wanted to see how he fits in, so we made it official today.”
The fourth line took two hits earlier this month. Daniel Paille (eye) and Shawn Thornton (concussion) both missed time because of their respective injuries. Considering how the schedule will become more condensed later this month, Pandolfo will serve as a reinforcement in case similar injuries take place.
“I’m going to be a depth guy,” Pandolfo said. “In a shortened season like this, I don’t think anybody can predict what’s going to happen with injuries and different things. The more depth you have, it’s only going to help. I see myself as a depth guy and I can fill in wherever I’m needed.”
Bourque mans point
Chris Bourque does not have Zdeno Chara’s screaming slap shot. But among Bourque’s assets are vision, smarts, and a history of manning the point on the power play.
That’s why Bourque, for the last three games, has manned the blue line alongside Chara on the Bruins’ No. 2 power-play unit. Against Buffalo Sunday, Bourque gunned a point shot that led to Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal.
On the play, Bourque saw Jochen Hecht heading his way to challenge his shot. Hecht took away Bourque’s shooting lane toward Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
“It’s really hard,” Bourque said of avoiding shot blockers like Hecht. “You’ve got guys coming right at you. You have a split-second decision to make. You either fake the shot and go around, or try and get it through.”
So Bourque changed his angle and cracked a shot off the end boards. The puck bounced off the boards and onto the stick of Bergeron. The center snapped the puck past Miller for his second goal.
“As long as it doesn’t get blocked,” Bourque said of shooting wide as a weapon. “It’s getting it through and trying to create second opportunities is the biggest part there.”
At the start of the season, the Bruins tried Bourque on the right-side half-boards. But the Bruins, yet again, are stuck in a power-play slump. They entered Tuesday’s game with the NHL’s third-worst power play (10.3 percent). They were scoreless in 19 opportunities at home.
To spark the power play, among the recent changes is shifting Bourque to the point.
“There’s a lot to like about our team, but we still feel and we still know our power play is a work in progress,” said Julien. “We keep working on it.’’
Bourque has been a point man in the AHL in Providence, Hershey, and Portland. In his current position, he will look to open up Chara for one-timers, distribute passes, and sneak pucks through shot blockers.
“I’m just used to seeing it from up top at the point,” Bourque said. “You see it a little differently from the side. Everything’s in front of me. I know where my options are. When I’m on the half-wall, I have to adjust to making plays. I don’t mind either spot.”
Aaron Johnson rejoined the team for Tuesday’s morning skate. He didn’t practice Monday because he had reported to Providence on a conditioning stint. Providence, however, didn’t need Johnson. The No. 7 defenseman was a healthy scratch against the Rangers . . . Since being a healthy scratch Jan. 31 against Buffalo, Bourque has played in four games on the No. 3 line. “I think they’re the best I felt,” Bourque said of the games since being scratched. “I’ve felt better and better. The first, maybe, six games, I didn’t feel as confident. But when I got to see it from up top, I knew I had a little more time to make plays. I feel I’ve been doing a better job the last couple games.” It’s possible the Bruins will try Paille on the third line again. Paille played well alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley Jan. 31 before he was high-sticked by Tyler Myers.
Poise if not points
Dougie Hamilton is without a point in six games. He had racked up four assists in his first five games. “He was outstanding at the beginning,” Julien said. “Certainly not poor now, but to expect a guy to be outstanding the whole season is not being realistic. I know he set the bar pretty high with his early play. But he certainly has not been a poor player for us. The points may not be coming as much as they did in the beginning. But he’s still a pretty poised player. Whatever mistakes he makes, we’re working with him. He’s going through exactly what we expected of him — being a good player that’s learning along the way. Certainly can’t complain about how he’s handled himself, because he is 19 years old. The amount of ice time he’s getting and how well he’s playing is pretty impressive for us anyways.” . . . The Rangers scratched Hingham native Brian Boyle for the third straight game . . . Nathan Horton returned to the No. 1 line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Tyler Seguin skated on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The two right wings had changed places in the third period of last Wednesday’s win over Montreal.