Connect with us

Boston Bruins

Colageo: Boston Bruins Prospect Talks The Talk, Walks The Walk



Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins might have a future NHLer in Fabian Lysell after all.

Immediately following the testy opener of a three-in-three weekend that saw the Providence Bruins use three short-handed goals and an overtime winner to beat a skilled Cleveland team, 4-3, on Friday night, a member of the winning team spoke thusly:

“That’s the games you want to play, right? So, you know, I think we’ve just got to keep on with our compete that we brought out there … and obviously manage the emotions so we use the energy in the right way, and not getting distracted by whatever might happen. … We’ll just reset and look forward to tomorrow.”

Words to live by if you’re any professional hockey player and especially if you were a coach-on-the-ice-type leader like Jayson Megna. But Fabian Lysell? Believe it.

The American Hockey League may be more about development than ever before, but rookie professionals playing for the first time against men can be made to feel like they walked into the wrong saloon without Patrick Swayze’s skills.

Lysell came over from Sweden after the Boston Bruins drafted him 21st overall in 2021, played a year of major junior in Vancouver (WHL) and turned pro at age 19. Having just turned 21 last month, the talented right winger is all in, not only when it comes to making scoring plays but the critical if forgettable plays that get the puck out of the defensive zone and into the attacking zone.

Lysell even had a dust-up during Friday’s game with Cleveland winger Trey Wolanski and enthusiastically continued their conversation all the way to the penalty box. It didn’t hurt his team; if anything, it helped confirm that all hands were on deck. Everyone was in the fight, literally in Lysell’s case.

“I love it. Sometimes, that’s what gets you into a game, but sometimes it might be a little big of a distraction,” said Lysell, advised of his reputation for on-ice banter. “It’s a fine line for me. I mean, there’s always going to be a little bit of a language barrier so, when there’s fast chirps back and forth, I might not be able to switch up a bit, but sometimes it’s a benefit, too. I can’t really tell what he’s saying, so I can just yak right back with something in Swedish.”

The P-Bruins did focus on “tomorrow” and won Saturday at Springfield, while Cleveland’s players were resting up in Rhode Island. The P-Bruins have been on the scheduling end of multiple, 11-hour turnarounds, and Sunday’s game showed the fatigue, albeit temporarily.

After Cleveland went ahead 2-0 just 5:33 into the game, P-Bruins Coach Ryan Mougenel pulled Mikey DiPietro for Brandon Bussi, who held the fort while his team found its legs. The energy line of Joey Abate, Vincent Arsenault and Trevor Kuntar produced two goals, and Lysell assisted on Georgii Merkulov’s 21st of the season to take a 3-2 lead. Wolanski tied it late, but Merkulov and Brett Harrison converted in the shootout, as Providence ran the weekend table.

Lysell’s 15-28-43 totals already exceed last season’s scoring in each category and in four fewer games. And his plus-minus has improved from a minus-12 last season to a plus-9.

“He wanted to fix everything in one day,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Adam McQuaid, identifying a key component to Lysell’s improvement as a second-year pro. “Fabian is embracing the process.”

So is Merkulov, whose brief and uneventful NHL recall has not impeded his progress. Merkulov scored a one-timer on the powerplay to finish Friday’s overtime win.

North American hockey didn’t come overnight for David Pastrnak either … just sayin.’

The Boston Bruins’ late-game collapses are a personnel issue not limited to D-zone faceoff prowess.

This little challenge of not having Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci on the ice for two-thirds of every hockey game is starting to catch up with them. But that is not all there is to it.

Remember back in 2011 when Claude Julien would make a subtle line change resulting in a Boston goal, then the Bruins would puff out their collective chest and go all Chief Jay Strongbow, tossing their opponent around the rink like a bean bag en route to a spectacular, comeback victory?

A decade later, teams with comparable records are doing that to the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins’ inability to close out hockey games is not a mental block, it’s a personnel deficiency. And, as has typically been the case, the damage on Saturday in Vancouver was done before those fateful, seven-plus minutes of regulation time that saw Jeremy Swayman’s fourth shutout unravel into Boston’s 11th OTL of the season.

To that point in the game, too many of the Boston Bruins were getting outbattled for loose pucks all over the rink, especially along the sideboards where stationed wingers were unable to complete breakouts or even bailouts.
Back when the Bruins did this to other teams, people talked about flipping the switch. GM Peter Chiarelli preferred to call it a “push.”

Thirteen years later, the Canucks are now the heavier team.

The 2023-24 Bruins are not soft, but they simply don’t have enough of the kind of player that, on the defensive end of the rink, discourages opposing forwards from crashing their crease and, on the offensive end of the rink, distracts opposing defensemen going back to retrieve the puck.

In the absence of Bergeron, Krejci and even Tomas Nosek, faceoffs have reared their ugly head.

Charlie Coyle, a right shot, has not been deployed for game-on-the-line, D-zone draws in, from the opponent’s perspective, the right faceoff circle. Therefore, Pavel Zacha has been taking those draws.

While Ryan O’Reilly, for instance, would have been an excellent, left-handed option to complement Coyle, the cap-strapped Boston Bruins opted last summer to follow through on the original vision to move Zacha to center and live with the growing pains.

Even so, the more troubling aspect to the Bruins’ late-game collapses is, when they establish possession on a D-zone draw and even get the puck out, regroups and re-entries have been so easy for the opponents that the Bruins have a difficult time getting their replacements into position for the next extended battle in their own end.

As an aside, it has been brought up on social media multiple times how good Frank Vatrano would look right now in black and gold.

First off, let’s not forget Vatrano, like Ryan Donato, allowed the media to drag him into critical commentary on Julien upon the latter’s dismissal, only to find he wouldn’t be one of Bruce Cassidy’s guys either. It wasn’t a good look.

Both players fall into a wide category of developed draftees (or free agents) who were not patient enough with the process to hit NHL stride with their original teams. Sometimes the shake-up works, sometimes a player needs several years (and several teams) to turn that compete-level corner (Reilly Smith).

Given his abiding swagger, it seems Vatrano would rather beat the Boston Bruins than come back and play for them, but let’s also credit GM Don Sweeney for bringing back Danton Heinen at just the right moment in his career.

Heinen, in his late 20s, has become one a bright spot, dare I suggest one of the Bruins’ grittier wall battlers.

So, to the original point, the Boston Bruins are committed to a plan that precluded trading big pieces to make space for a center like O’Reilly.

The one thing I’ll say about Friday’s trade deadline is that there is no point in keeping around players with market value that won’t be Bruins at this time next year.

This team has provided its fans with many thrills and largely performed above expectations, especially given the monumental losses to the lineup. At the same time, the Boston Bruins keep proving they cannot contend for the Stanley Cup as is.

The question shouldn’t be whether to trade their significant free agents but for what. The deadline is 3 pm ET on Friday, March 8.

One more question: If Lars Eller could switch sides of the Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry, could he ever call Brad Marchand his captain?

Copyright ©2023 National Hockey Now and Boston Hockey Now. Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the NHL.