TORONTO — The Bruins lineup riddled with injuries, upper, lower and somewhere inbetween, coach Bruce Cassidy dropped center/wing prospect Trent Frederic into the mix vs. the Leafs on Friday night, and planned again to allot power-play time for ex-BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
Frederic, summoned Thursday from AHL Providence, subbed in for fellow WannaB Zach Senyshyn, who was dinged up in Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Panthers.
Grzelcyk, who saw ample power-play time in his four seasons as a Terrier, was part of Cassidy’s answer to fill the void left behind by Torey Krug, who has become one of the league’s top PP QBs during Cassidy’s tenure.
Senyshyn is expected to remain sidelined through the month, while the timeline on Krug, hurt late in Sunday’s shootout loss to the Flyers, is open-ended. Cassidy said following an optional workout Friday morning that Krug will not suit up Saturday with the first-place Capitals on Causeway Street.
Frederic entered the night looking for his first goal of the season, Prior to getting called up, he stood 0-5—5 with Jay Leach’s WannaBs.
“At times I’ve been frustrated,” said Frederic. “And I guess the goal column doesn’t help, so that’s a little bit frustrating.”
Cassidy, concerned mainly with his team re-establishing its strong defensive profile, wasn’t looking for Frederic to step in and light up the scoreboard. All goals encouraged, of course, but he didn’t anticipate the 21-year-old stepping in as an offensive presence.
“He adds a bigger body to the lineup,” Cassidy said of the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pounder. “So hopefully he is good on the forecheck. It frees him up to play on the wing, to get on top of people, to get to the net on that line. From what I’ve been told, offensively he has hit a lot of posts, hasn’t had any puck luck. But we don’t expect him to be a leading scorer for us by any means. Hopefully he’ll get some opportunities, but we hope he rounds out his game a little bit, get back to who he is, playing hard, physical.”
Ultimately, added Cassidy, whether Frederic projects as a center or wing in the NHL will be determined as he gains more varsity experience. He didn’t get on the scoresheet Friday but had a team-high six hits.
“He was OK,” said Cassidy of Frederic’s performance. “The pace caught up to him at times. He wanted to be physical. He wanted to play his game, straight lines. I liked that about him. He didn’t complicate it. I thought he played how we asked him to play, did his job in that regard and you just hope his game grows.”
In Krug’s absence on Tuesday, Grzelcyk logged a season-high 23:08 playing time, some three minutes above his previous high workload in the first 18 games. Some of that was because the game went to OT (and ultimately the shootout). Cassidy entered Friday's game mindful that he would have to budget the time on ice for the 5-9 Grzelcyk.
“Moved the puck well,” said Cassidy, lauding Grzelcyk’s overall effort. “He played some [on the penalty-killing unit] and that’s where we’d like to limit [his ice time]. We’ll use [Urho Vaakanainen] in that role. He’s going to have to do that role if he plays here for us anyway — that will be part of his job description. So that’s where we’ll have to keep an eye on [Grzelcyk’s] minutes. Because he is not built to play those heavy minutes every night, but I thought he was really good the other night.”
No surprisingly, Grzelcyk, normally on a No. 3 pairing, wants all the minutes that come his way.
“I think you actually kind of feel better — your motor’s really going,” said Grzelcyk, who finished with an economical 19:30 in ice time, well behind team leader Charlie McAvoy at 23:24. “So you don’t have much time to think about things. When you get back to the bench, you try to recover as quickly as you can. The more you’re on the ice, the more you feel involved. So I’ve kind of enjoyed it so far.”
Krug, on target to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, has logged 10 games this season in excess of 20 minutes in ice time.
Salute to BC’s York
Proud Terriers McAvoy and Grzelcyk both lauded the career and tenure of Boston College coach Jerry York, who’ll be formally enshrined Monday night in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Grzelcyk, who entered BU in Sept. 2012, also was recruited by York and the Eagles, but ultimately chose the eastern end of Comm. Ave. because BU offered him a realistic shot at substantial playing time beginning his freshman year.
“I mean, obviously, he’s a legend in college hockey for a reason,” said Grzelcyk. “His teams are always really good and they have a great program there. A lot of that has to do with the way he’s built things there.”
Grzelcyk, who grew up in Charlestown, has gotten to know York through the years, first during his recruiting visits to the Heights, and later during Beanpot luncheons.
“Always very graceful,” said Grzelcyk. “And no ego about him. Just a really good guy.”
McAvoy, whose two-year stay at BU overlapped Grzelcyk’s tenure there by one season, was not recruited by BC. In part, that was because the Eagles were stacked with talent on the blue line, which would have limited his playing time at the Heights.
“They had Noah Hanifin and a couple of other guys, so they didn’t need another defenseman,” noted McAvoy. “Jerry’s a great guy. Always very nice. Just shaking hands, exchanging pleasantries, it’s been nice to build a small relationships. It’s an incredible accomplishment, what’s he’s built at BC — and the guys he’s helped put in the NHL.”
Sittler’s perfect 10
A smattering of Hockey Hall of Famers, including Leafs icon Darryl Sittler, were introduced during pre-game ceremonies because it is HHOF Weekend. The PA announcer reminded the adoring crowd that Sittler still holds the record for most points (10) in a game. He did not tell the crowd that game was against the Bruins here at the old Maple Leaf Gardens on Feb. 7, 1976 with Dave Reece in net for the Black and Gold . . . Brad Marchand landed a game-high seven shots on net and squeezed off two more, one that was blocked and one off net . . . The Leafs have lost a season-high three straight in regulation and four overall (0-3-1) . . . The Bruins lost nearly two thirds of their faceoffs (26 for 70) and David Krejci was decidedly off his mark, losing 14 of 19. Auston Matthews won 9 of 13 for the Leafs . . . The answer: Kasimir Kaskisuo. The question: who is the Leafs backup tender these days. Kaskisuo is a fifth-year and a former teammate of injured Bruin forward Karson Kuhlman at Minnesota Duluth . . . Midway through the first period, the game scoreless, Bruins winger Chris Wagner put a big hit on Trevor Moore, popping Moore’s helmet off his head. Only two minutes later, Charlie Coyle was hit by Matthews, losing his helmet. The new rule reads that players must leave the ice when they lose their buckets. Coyle kept playing briefly, because the rule does allow for players to remain in action in order to continue a play. “It kind of looked like I knew how much I could push it,” said Coyle, realizing he risked taking a minor penalty by staying on the ice. “It’s one of those things, you kind of forget and then realize, ‘Shoot, I gotta get off the ice.’ I’m kind of glad the refs let it go.”