The forward was waived by the Red Wings on Saturday. A knee injury had landed him on injured reserve earlier in the month, and when he was due to be reactivated, there wasn’t room for him in Detroit.
Thus, to the waiver wire he went, and 24 hours later, Ferraro was a Boston Bruin. He jumped in a car, and three hours later, he was in Toronto, ready to join his new team for its two-game road trip.
“You go from being really disappointed and just trying to think of all the options that can happen, to getting a call right at noon from [Red Wings General Manager] Kenny Holland in Detroit saying that Boston picked me up, and then talking to [Boston GM] Don Sweeney right after that,” Ferraro said following Monday’s morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. “And then after that, I mean, my phone just didn’t stop going.
“They gave me the choice to fly or drive [to Toronto], and I picked the car service so I could just get there and just relax. I turned my phone off for a bit and just tried to unwind a bit. It was a stressful 24 hours, but it ended well, and I’m happy where I am.”
The second leg of this trip will take Ferraro right back to where he came from — a little weird, to be sure, but admittedly convenient. Following Monday’s game, the Bruins will travel to Detroit for a practice day before Wednesday’s game day.
“I was just on their plane going home from St. Louis two days ago, to going back in and playing,” Ferraro said. “It’s not like there’s any hard feelings or anything like that; it’s the nature of the business sometimes. I’m excited to go back, and to be honest, it made everything a little easier; I could just grab a little old day bag and figure out my clothes and everything [Tuesday] after practice.”
In Ferraro, the Bruins see a fourth-line type of player who can grind and who, perhaps most importantly, can kill penalties. Boston’s struggles on the PK this season have been well-documented, and there is hope that Ferraro can assist in that regard.
“He certainly scored at the American Hockey League level as well,” Sweeney said. “He’s got 270-some odd games there. We’ve had just a crazy number of injuries at both levels, and I think it was an opportunity to take a look at a player who has a little bit of NHL experience, has the speed component and the penalty killing component, that is certainly worthwhile for us to try and integrate him into our group.”
Whether Ferraro will be in the lineup on Monday night against Toronto remains a question. He did not take first rushes during morning skate, but Head Coach Claude Julien did not rule him out, indicating that he will be a game-time decision.
“I think he’s a good player,” Julien said. “He’s fast, he’s gritty, I know he kills penalties, he’s a second-round pick and Detroit usually drafts pretty well. I haven’t seen him a ton, but even watching him this morning, you can tell he’s a good skater, strong skater, and from what I’m told, he’s a pretty reliable player as well.”
If Ferraro does play on Monday, it will mark his first NHL game since a Nov. 6 matchup at, incidentally, the Air Canada Centre. Whether he plays, however, will depend on what he can bring. Boston’s bottom six has had some trouble compensating for the loss of Chris Kelly, who sustained a femur fracture on Nov. 3, and there is hope that Ferraro might be able to inject some speed and energy into the fourth line.
But if he will have to earn his opportunity, Sweeney said. It won’t be handed to him.
“Again, as I’ve said before, this is all completely performance related,” Sweeney said. “If guys are ready to help us — be it through the waiver wire, through trades, obviously through Providence — we’d love to do it internally. We’ve just had a bunch of injuries, and I think other kids [from Providence] would have had some opportunities to be here. And other guys that are here have the opportunity to step forward and take advantage of things.”
Sweeney admitted that the recent onslaught of injuries — to Kelly, to David Pastrnak, to Frank Vatrano, to Kevan Miller — have been difficult to contend with, particularly when the AHL players who might have been called upon as replacements have been unavailable due to injuries themselves.
“[Alex Khokhlachev] is probably a great example of that,” Sweeney said of the 22-year-old forward who was recalled and then reassigned earlier this month. “[I] had a great conversation with him when he went back [to Providence], and he would probably have another opportunity, and he’s out for an extended period of time. Seth Griffith missed all of training camp — you get him back, he’s getting his legs back under him.
“So again, timing is never great injury-wise, and as I’ve always said, it probably presents an opportunity for somebody else, and in Landon’s case, that’s his opportunity.”
Ferraro knows his role, and he knows his strengths. He believes he can make a positive impact on this team, and if that begins on Monday night, all the better.
“I feel like I can get in on the forecheck and kind of try and spend as much time down there as possible,” he said. “I like being on the PK, and that’s where I’m comfortable. I know they’ve had some injuries here, and [I’m] just trying to quickly learn what they try and achieve on their PK, how they want to play, and that’s where I feel like I can help a bit, too.”
The Bruins didn’t have to dig too deep as they began preparation for Monday’s game against Toronto; that preparation began as soon as Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs ended.
Doubtlessly, their attention will be focused upon making sure they follow the same gameplan that served them well in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of the Maple Leafs in the first leg of this home-and-home. That win capped off two straight for the B’s, and now the challenge will be to turn two into three for the first time since the end of October.
“[The success] has been mostly due to the fact that we’re focused on what we need to do here: doing our jobs right, and keeping that focus for 60 minutes,” Julien said. “We’ve had some good starts to games this year, but when we’ve lost, we haven’t been able to keep that focus for that whole 60 minutes. So it’s about doing it for the whole game versus spurts.”
Saturday’s win was the perfect example of the reward that stems from a genuine 60-minute effort. In perhaps their most fundamentally sound defensive performance of the season, the Bruins were both focused and opportunistic, and they held the Maple Leafs at bay, both shorthanded and at even strength.
“We want to keep our goals down, and when we play good defense, our offense has been working pretty well,” said forward Matt Beleskey. “Kind of an old saying, but good defense leads to good offense, and it’s pretty true. When we’re good defensively, we have a much better chance of winning games.”
Toronto goaltender James Reimer certainly made scoring chances hard to come by on Saturday. Reimer — who has started 10 of Toronto’s last 11 games and will be in net once again on Monday — was almost as good as Boston’s Tuukka Rask, but with less than five minutes remaining in a 0-0 game, Zdeno Chara beat him with a vicious slapshot, the game-winner.
That was all the offense Boston needed on Saturday, but they are certainly intent on testing Reimer more this time around.
“We’ve got to get to him,” Beleskey said. “We’ve got to get shots, get some traffic. Obviously, if we keep getting to that net and keep testing him, hopefully, something can get past him.”
The Maple Leafs, in turn, have the same objective.
“I think Reims made a little too many saves than he had to,” said Toronto forward Nazem Kadri. “So hopefully, we’ll look for a little bit of a better effort tonight, and just for some more scoring chances, and hopefully we’ll come out of the gate hot.”
Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock certainly expects his team to play with the puck more on Monday after two straight disappointing offensive performances in Carolina, then in Boston.
“How about just playing in the offensive zone?” Babcock said on Monday. “That would be a heck of a place to start. We haven’t had the puck in two games.”
The Bruins have seen in their last two outings how much of a difference it makes when they commit to their system for each and every minute of a game. They will expect to keep that going in their first road game in two weeks.
“We’ve had good success on the road so far,” Beleskey said, “and we want to continue that.”
Forward Frank Vatrano suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of last week’s win over Minnesota and missed the following game against Toronto. On Monday, however, he did skate with the team for the first time since the injury and could make his return to the lineup on Monday night.
“I’ve got some game-time decisions to make, here, on not just one player, but a few players,” Julien said. “So he’s one of those guys that skated [Sunday], was better, seems to be better today, so we’ll see, depending on our medical staff, whether he’s available for us tonight.”
Sweeney also offered an update on Pastrnak, who has missed nine games since suffering a foot fracture on Oct. 27.
While there is still no specific timeline for Pastrnak’s return, Sweeney said the forward is off crutches and is improving.
“He had a positive report when he went and had a CT scan again and saw [orthopedic surgeon George] Theodore, but [he needs] a little more time just to make sure,” Sweeney said. “As I said before, [the fracture] showed up after the fact from the initial X-rays, so we’re not going to take any chances at this point in time. We’ll make sure we give him all of the time he needs to heal properly.”
Sweeney also confirmed that defenseman Kevan Miller was added to injured reserve on Sunday following an upper body injury sustained on Nov. 17.
“He’s just out through this weekend,” Sweeney said. “We’ll reevaluate when we get back.
“We just wanted clarify it that it would be more of a week-long basis, and then we’ll see how he is when we get back from Detroit.”
Projected Lineup Monday vs. Toronto
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — Loui Eriksson
Ryan Spooner — Joonas Kemppainen — Brett Connolly
Zac Rinaldo — Max Talbot — Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara — Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg — Colin Miller
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson