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  • Bruins notes: Johnny Beecher returns, Andrew Peeke set for Boston debut

    Tim Rosenthal March 13, 2024

    One Bruin hopes to re-establish his footing upon an emergency recall. Another aims to return to form upon debuting with his new team.

    Jim Montgomery will have at least one reinforcement during Boston’s final matchup of the 2023-24 season with the rival Canadiens in Montreal: Andrew Peeke. But even a potential last-minute decision involving James van Riemsdyk shouldn’t alter their process of inserting the recently Johnny Beecher into fourth-line duty.

    With that in mind, let’s dive into Wednesday’s developments.

    A versatile Beecher earns his promotion.


    The 2019 first-round selection carved out a bottom-six role out of training camp. But salary cap complications and some rookie hiccups prompted Beecher to return to return to Providence.

    Beecher’s role expanded upon his assignment to the Baby B’s. Between middle-six duty and additional power play and shorthanded time, Beecher provided a productive hand at center and wing during his 19-game stint.

    “Being down in Providence, I was able to have some opportunities that you may not have up here, which completely makes sense — a couple of O-zone draws and some power play time here and there,” Beecher said upon his return trip up I-95. “So it was good, like I said, in gaining confidence and getting used to being on the ice a little bit more and getting my lungs and my legs in a little bit better shape.

    “It’s tough when you’re up here, and you play three or four games in a week. I think at times, depending on your role, it can be tough to keep your legs going as good as you want them to be. So, I was happy with the progress I was able to make down there, and I’m really happy with how I’m feeling.”

    Beecher’s assignment allowed him to improve in areas within his 200-foot game while fine-tuning some of his more developed traits, like faceoffs. 

    But Beecher’s newfound versatility prompted Montgomery and the coaching staff to give him a look at wing during Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. 

    “What we learned is that he kept getting better,” Montgomery said of Beecher. “He kept showing that he’s fighting for a spot to get back up here, which is why he was the guy recalled in an emergency situation.”

    Van Riemsdyk’s status for Thursday may complicate Boston’s fourth-line outlook if he recovers from illness. Yet, a speedy trio of Beecher, Jakub Lauko and Jesper Boqvist provides enough intrigue to warrant a look against the bottom-feeding Habs.

    Peeke looks to regain his footing in Boston debut.

    Peeke lost in the shuffle in his final season with the lowly Blue Jackets between injuries and the numbers game. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start and a chance to get his career back on track, beginning with his Boston debut Thursday night.

    “There’s a couple of different ways to look at it, but like I said, I’m excited to be coming here,” Peeke said. “To be able to put the Bruins jersey on, come to a new team that’s a playoff team and a winning culture, that’s exciting.”

    Indeed, Peeke arrives as a reclamation project.

    The 2016 second-round selection witnessed his ice time decrease from a little over 21 minutes per night in 2021-22 and 2022-23 to barely over 15 minutes in 23 games this season. 

    At his peak performance (no pun intended), the Bruins will undoubtedly benefit from Peeke’s physical, shot-blocking, and net-front traits. But Peeke’s limited offensive upside and struggles with consistency could hinder him from inserting himself as a nightly regular.

    They’ll remain cautious with Peeke as he acclimates to new surroundings. Judging from Peeke’s initial impressions of a similar defensive system he worked with in Columbus, perhaps that transition will come relatively smoothly.

    “Obviously, he doesn’t know our complete structure, right? We show him video, and he’s got to go out and apply it,” Montgomery said of Peeke. “But the good thing is, having talked to him, there’s a lot of similarities with the way they play in Columbus and the way we play. So hopefully, the way he plays on his toes, he can bring physicality to the lineup and give us some mobility on the back end.”

    A setback for Pat Maroon?

    Peeke will have his first game under his belt come Thursday. But Boston’s other trade deadline addition may have hit a speedbump upon his recovery from back surgery.

    Upon his first media session, Pat Maroon admitted he had started “skating a bit” to begin his recovery. Since arriving in Boston on Saturday, however, the Bruins held out the three-time Stanley Cup champ from resuming on-ice activity after they acquired Maroon from Minnesota on Deadline Day.

    Maroon had an estimated 4-6 week timeframe for returning following the early February procedure. Whether his recent holdout from on-ice activity altered his initial schedule remains anyone’s guess.

    “He’s not even skating yet, so it’s week to week,” Montgomery said of Boston’s bottom-six trade deadline addition. “The professionals that we have think the best thing is to gradually bring him back onto the ice.”

    Montgomery credits mental fatigue for recent troubles against non-playoff opponents.

    Barring an interruption in Florida’s ascension to the top of the Atlantic or a significant dropoff of the current teams holding the second and third spots in the division, the Bruins and Maple Leafs remain on track to meet again in late April.

    The Bruins overwhelmed Toronto in the final two matchups of the regular season. Conversely, they’ve encountered obstacles against the current non-playoff teams from both conferences.

    Following Monday’s setback against St. Louis, the Bruins dropped to 1-5-2 against teams outside the postseason field. Even during Saturday’s 5-1 win over the golf-course-bound Penguins, the Bruins encountered issues defending the rush before finding their offensive rhythm during a three-goal middle frame.

    “There might be one or two games where you can think that, especially the initial ones. But since then, no,” Montgomery said. “There’s different factors. Last time [against St. Louis] was six [games] in 10 [days]. I didn’t think we were all that sharp against Pittsburgh, to be honest, but we scored. Last game, we didn’t score. We gave up too many odd-man rushes in both games, a sign of mental fatigue.”

    The Bruins received a needed two-day breather ahead of Thursday’s tilt with the Canadiens, a team they’ve already downed twice. The lone setback from their prior three meetings came in an overtime loss on Nov. 11.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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