A few random thoughts and shots from the point as the Bruins prepare to face the Senators Monday night in Ottawa, the kickoff to a four-game road trip that also includes stops in D.C. (Wednesday), Tampa (Thursday), and Sunrise, Fla., (Saturday) before a return to Causeway Street.
■ Satisfied that John Moore is fully healed from offseason shoulder surgery, the Bruins early Sunday afternoon placed spare blue liner Steve Kampfer on waivers, hoping that he can keep his legs warm in AHL Providence.
The other 30 NHL teams have until Monday noon to put in a claim on the dependable journeyman. Otherwise, he’ll be back with the WannaBs, where he previously has spent parts of four seasons, dating to 2009-10 when he turned pro fresh out of Michigan.
Kampfer, 31, probably won’t be leaving Black-and-Gold employment, given that he is on a one-way contract that pays him $800,000 this season and next. His remaining pay of some $1.2 million serves as a deterrent for GMs who’d prefer to keep their cash on hand, for such things as bargaining power around the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
With Kampfer off the varsity roster, the Bruins are back to seven blue liners, the extra spot held for now by Connor Clifton (24 games, 2-0—2). Kampfer had been spotted in as the No. 7 spot while Moore built back strength and flexibility through the summer and fall. He played in only one game in October, then saw a little more action in November, only to be destined for the Amtrak south when Moore came back into camp.
■ Thirty games into the season, Charlie McAvoy remains without a goal, while his partner on the top shutdown pairing, Zdeno Chara, leads all Boston back liners with five strikes. So, yes, it’s true that McAvoy plays a lot of hard minutes, but ditto for his much older partner.
McAvoy has landed only 35 shots on net. First and foremost, he has to shoot more, something that could become even more important as opposing clubs continue to put the squeeze on goal-scoring impresario David Pastrnak. If Boston’s big line is forced to push more pucks back there as a means of shaking coverage, then it will be up to both McAvoy and Chara (45 shots) to drive more chances off the points.
As a unit, Boston defensemen have scored 15 goals, led by Chara, the old man in the C. Goal totals for defensemen on these next four stops: Ottawa (6), Washington (17), Tampa (21), and Florida (15).
■ Unlikely to see it, but Chara’s five goals could have coach Bruce Cassidy considering him for some No. 2 power-play duty. The PP was stymied again in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche, and now has been blanked three in a row (0 for 9). It’s the longest drought this season for Boston’s man-up bunch.
The typical alignment on the No. 2 unit has BU bros Matt Grzelcyk and McAvoy manning the points. Grzelcyk keeps growing more comfortable back there while McAvoy remains ever-reluctant to fire.
The problem with bringing Chara into the mix: He’d be the lefty-for-lefty swap with Grzelcyk.
■ The Bruins 5-1-1 in his absence, it’s possible Patrice Bergeron draws back into the lineup on this trip, possibly in Ottawa.
Bergeron was last seen piling up a season-best haul of four assists in the thrilling OT comeback win over the Wild on Nov. 23.
In the absence of his No. 1 pivot, Cassidy often has chosen also to split up Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, to varying results. Marchand again didn’t pop one Saturday and now has gone a season-high five in a row without a strike. Pastrnak scored a hat trick in Montreal Nov. 26, without Bergeron in the lineup, but only has struck twice since. He has now gone a season-high three in a row without a goal. He still leads the entire Original 31 with 25 goals.
■ The Bruins were off Sunday prior to their flight to Ottawa, so no confirmation on Cassidy’s choice of goaltender vs. the Senators. Jaro Halak (7-2-3) took the loss Saturday and a straight rotation would have Tuukka Rask (13-2-3) in there vs. the Senators.
But it’s possible Cassidy opts again for Halak, setting up Rask to face the mighty Capitals and then go with Halak the next night in Tampa. Rask then would close the trip vs. the Panthers on Saturday.
■ Torey Krug grew up in Michigan, a huge fan of the Red Wings in general, but Nicklas Lidstrom in particular. What aspiring blue liner from Hockeytown wouldn’t be captivated by the moves and on-ice presence of the great Winged Wheel defenseman who entered the Hall of Fame in 2015?
In mid-November, Chara, another unabashed Lidstrom fan, renewed acquaintances with Lidstrom when the Bruins were in Toronto during Hall of Fame weekend. Krug and Lidstrom have never met.
“I wasn’t on that trip to Toronto, I was hurt,” recalled Krug. “Then I saw a picture of those two meeting and I was really, really bummed that I wasn’t able to take part in it.”
Krug, 28, counts a Lidstrom No. 5 jersey among his most cherished NHL mementoes.
“My wife Melanie got me his jersey for a present a couple of Christmases ago,” noted Krug. “It’s probably the coolest gift that I got, and he wrote a little message on it — hope one day I get to meet him.”