After being released from Boston’s training camp the weekend prior and reporting to Providence’s camp, it seemed that he had been given one more shot to show the Bruins what he could do. He responded by lighting the lamp with a highlight reel goal to give the B’s a 3-0 lead in the second period, finishing that game with two points.
Late last night, after his P-Bruins had fallen 3-2 to the Portland Pirates, Griffith got a very welcome phone call from Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney: He was receiving his first regular-season NHL recall.
Though the call might have come a bit sooner than Griffith expected, he wasn’t complaining.
“In Providence, we were only two games in, but I’m happy it’s been sooner than later, I guess,” Griffith said after the Bruins practiced at TD Garden on Sunday. “I was just happy that I got another chance to play in Bridgeport against the Islanders, and I think I had a pretty decent game there, and maybe that’s why I got a call-up sooner than later.
“But like I said, just got to take advantage of tomorrow and hopefully play well.”
Griffith suited up in a white jersey alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic on Sunday, and though it is uncertain whether he will play in Monday’s matinee against Colorado, he is ready to prove himself once again if he does get the call.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said, “and if I get the chance to play tomorrow, it’ll be one of my dreams come true. But until then, I’m just going to keep working hard.”
In a corresponding roster move, forward Craig Cunningham was assigned to Providence. Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien reiterated that the assignment was not a reflection of Cunningham’s play in the three games he spent with Boston; there were simply some changes that needed to be made.
“It’s more about the juggling of everything, as you know,” Julien said. “But as far as his work ethic, I like it. I think he competes hard and he gave it everything he had, so that wasn’t an issue. He was good on faceoffs, worked hard on penalty kills, so let’s not look at him, because he’s the guy sent down, that we’re blaming him. That’s not the issue at all.
“I think the biggest thing right now is we brought in a right-hand shot, which I think we need right now, and see if that can help us.”
Still, Julien acknowledged that he was impressed by the flashes of offensive excellence Griffith showed in the preseason games he spent with Boston.
“I think he showed that he can score,” Julien said. “He’s a right-hand shot, which we don’t have much of right now, and I think we’re obviously looking to see if he can fill a role here. Right now, he deserves that chance, just like we brought back a lot of those guys from that game in Bridgeport, and he was one of the guys that played well there as well.”
The Bruins have started the season 1-2 and are coming off a disappointing 4-0 shutout loss to the Capitals, and though Griffith is well aware that this team has struggled to put the puck in the net over the last two games, he insists that he won’t try to overdo it if he is in the lineup on Monday.
“It’s obviously difficult because you want to come into a game and make the most of it, and sometimes you try to do too much, but I’m just going to try to go out there and play my game,” Griffith said. “If it has to be simple off the bat, then I’ll do that, and we’ll just see how it goes.”
B’s Must Be More Resilient
The Bruins’ leadership group was loud and clear after Saturday night's lackluster effort in a 4-0 loss to Washington: They need to be better, from top to bottom. They need to work hard and work together, regardless of who they may be sharing the ice with.
Julien echoed those sentiments on Sunday. Even when things are not going their way, the Bruins need to find the will to compete.
“I think right now, it’s just a matter of adjusting ourselves as a team,” Julien said. “It’s not so much our overall play; I think one of the things is that the opportunities we gave them, they made the best of them. There were mistakes on our part, so we got to cut those down.
“The other part is, we come out in the first period, we play really well and we have a good power play, and we don’t score, but we have three great chances on that power play. They came out they scored on their power plays, and they add a second goal, and it just deflated us. We can’t allow that to happen. We got to be a little bit more resilient, and we have been in the past, and we will be again. Those are adjustments that we have to make here early in the season.”
Boston did show some resiliency in their season-opening 2-1 win over the Flyers: After taking an early 1-0 lead, they allowed Philadelphia to tie it up, but Chris Kelly found the back of the net with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to send the B’s home happy.
On Thursday at Detroit and on Saturday versus the Capitals, the Bruins had plenty of chances, but they had a hard time capitalizing on them, and that — combined with the early 2-0 hole they fell into, courtesy of Alex Ovechkin — led to early disappointment.
That, Julien said, can’t happen anymore. That attitude has to change, here and now.
“I don’t think we got deflated when we missed chances; I think we got deflated after they took a 2-0 lead,” Julien said. “That’s where I think we got deflated. We’re playing well, and we’ve done a lot of good things, and we’re down 2-0. We’ve got to be a little bit more resilient, and I know this group has [been] in the past, so again — you’re relying on it being a bump in the road here, and we got to fix that.”
Ryan Spooner has admittedly struggled to generate offense throughout the first three games of this season, and he acknowledged that he has been a bit too hard on himself as a result.
“I think [in the] last game, we had some chances to score — just didn’t get any luck,” he said. “But I think if we kind of just try to stay with it, I think it’ll be fine. In terms of myself, I think I just need to get back to how I play and not be so, I guess, hard on myself. Just try to stay positive and be a little bit more happy.”
One positive for Spooner has been his defensive play, which has become an intense area of focus for him this season. So far, so good.
“I haven’t had that many chances for, and I felt like as a whole, the defensive side’s been a lot better for me,” he said. “I kind of want to get some scoring chances myself and try to maintain what I’ve been doing on the defensive side.”
The Bruins spent a chunk of Sunday’s practice running power play/penalty killing drills, as the special teams units have struggled early on this season. The B’s have allowed three goals in 11 shorthanded situations and have capitalized on just a single one of their 10 power play opportunities.
“I’d say our power play was really good in the first game, and I think our power play in Detroit [in the second game] certainly wasn’t,” Julien said. “Last night, again, our power play is good in the first period, and then when we got deflated, so did the power play. So I think it’s more that we need to find our whole game here. I think the power play won’t be what we’re necessarily looking at; I think everything will fall into place.
“I assess the power play, and when I look at the first [period], then I look at the next two, they were the results of the rest of our game: a deflated team.”
The Bruins expect to get a boost when top line center David Krejci returns to the lineup, which could happen as early as Monday, as he is eligible to come off injured reserve after missing the first three games of the season with an undisclosed injury.
Krejci skated with the team on Saturday morning and during Sunday’s practice, and he is optimistic that his return will be imminent, though he still does require medical clearance.
“I’m positive,” he said on Sunday. “Every day has been better, so I know it’s going to be better tomorrow again, and I’ll be good to go. I’m positive. So just, everybody’s got to stay positive that I’ll be on the ice tomorrow.”
Not only is Krejci’s return expected to spark an offense that has had trouble capitalizing on chances through the first three games of this season — his presence should help some of Boston's less experienced players learn to avoid the dejection that plagued this team on Saturday.
“The bottom line is, you've got to fix it,” Julien said. “You can’t allow it to happen. Again, I go back to having enough guys in here with us for many years — we know they have — that are a lot more resilient, and they got to take it over here. If they take it over, everybody else will follow.
“I said it last night: It’s not panic. It’s something we need to fix, and hopefully that happens tomorrow.”
Sunday’s Practice Lineup
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Ryan Spooner - Jordan Caron
Simon Gagne - Gregory Campbell - Matt Fraser/Bobby Robins
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg