Rhode Island

In Providence, Jakub Lauko has been working on the defensive side of his game

“I worked defensively in my game,” Lauko said before taking the ice here at Scotiabank Arena nearly three months after being demoted to the Providence Bruins. “I think I’ve improved a lot over the season, my plus-minus, my pre-check…”

Working on the boards, where Brad Marchand is a master craftsman, is often an area where new wingers like Lauko need to improve in order to turn promotions into permanent NHL employment.

According to Lauko, Providence assistant coach Trent Whitfield made working along the wall a consistent focus.

“He loves these exercises, so we did them every workout,” Lauko noted. “We had a meeting before the start of the season and how Marchy works on the boards – how he gets pucks and uses them to accelerate.”

Their game is looking tired lately, the fatigue has no doubt burned into their 0-2-1 slump. The Bruins will not meet again as a team until they train in Brighton next Thursday (2pm).

Coach Jim Montgomery noted around the new year, about 15 games ago, that he might try to rest some of his older veterans (see: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Nick Foligno, etc.) during the season. He reckoned that if the Bruins play three games over four nights, some of his over-30 viewers might not play back-to-back nights, or possibly rest a game between stretches.

So far, however, there have been almost no days off – the status quo for the elderly.

“It all depends,” Montgomery said, asking how he’ll handle the rest once camp reconvenes, with 31 games to play between February 11 and April 13 — 62 days in total. “The salary cap plays a role in this.”

The Bruins are among many clubs hovering very close to the league’s $82.5 million salary ceiling. Capfriendly.com noted Wednesday morning that the Bruins had $2.4 million in available cap space, a number that will play out when Jake DeBrusk (who plays for $4 million this season in the books) from the Long Term Injured Reserve on the other hand, the All-Star break returns.

Montgomery said earlier this week that he expects DeBrusk, who started skating again Monday last week, to be available for the Feb. 11 game.

The dominant theme of how to spend the All-Star break for the Bruins other than David Pastrnak, Linus Ullmark and Montgomery: Toward the Sun.

Brandon Carlo said he will be in the Boca Raton area with his wife and young child.

“We like this one place… ground level, pool right outside the sliding doors… perfect,” said Carlo, adding that the family’s two dogs, one a Bernese Mountain Dog, enjoyed their time with a family friend in New Hampshire will spend. “They love being up there… walking around in the snow all the time and sleeping for days when they come back to us.”

Jeremy Swayman will naturally return to Alaska? Everyone wants to be in Alaska in the middle of winter.

“Er… are you crazy?” said Swayman when a visitor suggested going home. “No way. Florida Keys for me.”

Swayman said a friend or two from Alaska will join him in the Keys, where he has already signed up for a fishing tournament. Desired Catch: Redfish and Bonefish.

“Shallow water, a bit like fly fishing,” Swayman remarked. “I need to get in shape for the summer.”

Swayman, who was born and raised in Alaska, often heads out to fish during Alaskan summers as midnight approaches, since sunlight is available throughout the evening. The late start allows him to catch his salmon quota for one day and still be out past midnight to meet the next day’s quota.

Anton Stralman, a former Leafs defenseman who signed with the Bruins in October and was released Nov. 28, recently returned to play at AHL Providence.

According to team president Cam Neely, who brought the team here, the work plan calls for Stralman to return to varsity in playoff time for added depth.

Stralman only played in two games and performed well before being canceled. He was waived in part because his $1 million cap hit could make it all the more difficult for the club to close deals as the March 3 trading deadline approaches.

Meanwhile, the Bruins couldn’t risk demoting young backliner Jakub Zboril for fear that a waiver would amount to handing him over to another NHL team with no compensation.

Zboril, here again on the touchline, last played on January 7, one of his two games since November 13.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected].

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