Now a month into the 2023-24 season, Jim Montgomery and the 11-1-1 Bruins are beginning to unearth some solutions a couple of reworked roster.
A duo of Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic are reworking no matter line they’re on right into a two-way buzzsaw at five-on-five play.
A 50/50 cut up in reps between Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark stays a profitable method.
And kids like Matt Poitras and Johnny Beecher have confirmed their value as common contributors at hockey’s highest degree.
It stays to be seen if yet one more blue-chip prospect will put himself in that very same class over the subsequent few weeks.
By his first 4 video games within the NHL ranks, 22-year-old Mason Lohrei has been as marketed as a playmaking presence working alongside the blue line.
Together with lighting the lamp in opposition to Dallas on Monday, Lohrei has landed eight pictures on objective — simply 12 off the lead for many amongst Bruins D-men (Kevin Shattenkirk).
However with reinforcements on the best way for Boston’s beleaguered blue line, Montgomery and the Bruins will ultimately want to find out whether or not or not one of the best path ahead for Lohrei lies within the NHL — or extra seasoning down in Windfall.
“I feel it’s simply a part of the training curve,” Montgomery mentioned of navigating the rising pains that include rookies in opposition to NHL competitors. “We don’t need to take away from a younger man’s means to make performs. … You give them an opportunity to go proper again on the market. You discuss to him about it — but it surely’s a educating second, not a lot punishment.”
With Derek Forbort returning on Thursday in opposition to the Islanders and Charlie McAvoy’s four-game suspension now lifted, the numbers recreation is beginning to loom over Lohrei and whether or not or not he can unpack his baggage primed for a return to Windfall.
Issues will seemingly come to a head within the subsequent few weeks as soon as Matt Grzelcyk is activated from long-term injured reserve.
At first look, a participant with Lohrei’s profile appears to be an ideal treatment to Boston’s ongoing pursuit of extra offensive technology from the D corps.
However with 20+ minutes an evening all however assured for Lohrei down in Windfall, Montgomery might want to weigh if his D-zone fortitude is as much as snuff — together with figuring out if Boston’s most promising prospect can log enough reps at this degree as soon as the roster returns to full power.
Lohrei, who switched from ahead to protection quite late in his developmental timeline, brings an added ingredient of offensive creativity and puck poise from the again finish. However that taking part in fashion additionally invitations loads of threat, with a few of that anticipated studying curve leading to expensive miscues in and round Boston’s web.
With over 58 % of Lohrei’s begins throughout 5v5 play set within the offensive zone, the Bruins are making a concerted effort at getting the playmaking skater favorable reps the place his skillset will be greatest utilized.
Nonetheless, opponents have landed punches throughout Lohrei’s 66:52 of 5v5 ice time this season. Over that prolonged stretch, Boston has been outscored, 3-2, and path in shot makes an attempt, 78-54.
Lohrei realized the onerous manner of the unforgiving nature of the NHL recreation in opposition to the Stars. In the identical recreation the place Lohrei scored his first professional objective, he solely logged 15:33 of ice time. He was handed only one shift after a turnover within the third interval led to a tally from Dallas ahead Wyatt Johnson.
“You’re on the street taking part in a superb group. You may’t take these possibilities on the offensive blue line,” Montgomery famous. “There’s no must. … We don’t need to take something away from his God-given means to make performs, as a result of he has that God-given means.
However you’ve bought to know if you don’t have time and also you don’t must pressure offense. … We talked to him after which it’s, ‘You’re gonna return on the market and we want you to be firmer, we want you to be stronger.’”
Very like how a fellow rookie in Poitras has developed a knack for shaking off a quiet evening or adventurous interval with contributions on the stat sheet, Lohrei bounced again on Thursday in opposition to the Islanders.
He logged 18:29 of ice time in Boston’s 5-2 win over New York, touchdown three extra pictures on objective and recording two blocks. Even with just a few D-zone lapses, it’s powerful to disregard Lohrei’s immense potential.
In Lohrei, the Bruins now have a terrific drawback on their fingers. The gifted defenseman nonetheless has just a few extra weeks to iron out the finer particulars of his recreation within the defensive zone.
And even when one other journey right down to Windfall is the eventual prescription, these heavy minutes down within the AHL ought to show their value as soon as he’s prepared to stay round in Boston for good.
That full-time position might be decided in just a few weeks … and even just some months down the street.
“Clearly it’s one of the best league on the earth and also you’re taking part in in opposition to one of the best gamers on the earth,” Lohrei mentioned of adjusting to the NHL. “Simply the depth daily and also you’ve bought to deliver it and be prepared.”
Each Derek Forbort and Pavel Zacha didn’t skate throughout Friday’s follow at Warrior Ice Area, however Montgomery famous that it was upkeep and each are anticipated to play in Saturday’s street recreation in opposition to Montreal.
Jakub Lauko can also be an “possibility” to play on Saturday at Bell Centre, per Montgomery. He’ll sport a cage, neck guard and some stitches near his left eye after taking a skate blade to the face on Oct. 24 in opposition to the Blackhawks.
Don’t look now, however Charlie Coyle is on tempo for 76 factors this season after recording his first profession hat trick on Thursday in opposition to the Islanders. How can Coyle proceed to raise his offensive recreation? A shot-first mentality stands on the high of the checklist. “We discuss to him — I tease him about it every day,” Montgomery mentioned of getting Coyle to place pucks on web. “He’s most likely irritated by me. That’s my job.”
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