Scuffling Kuraly benched in victory over Sharks

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BOSTON – While there have been a number of Bruins rookies that have made an impact this season, Sean Kuraly has been on the other end of the spectrum. Kuraly, 24, was riding high at the end of last season with a two-goal performance in Game 5 of the playoff series against the Ottawa Senators, but he hasn’t been able to translate that into a fast start to this season.

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Kuraly was benched midway through the second period Thursday night in a 2-1 victory over the Sharks after collecting his third minor penalty of the game. He has just two points in eight games along with a minus-2 rating. Bruce Cassidy said following the game that he wasn’t sure Kuraly was going to be able to pull himself out of his funk after San Jose scored on his third and final penalty, so the Bruins went with 11 forwards.

“[Kuraly] took some penalties, and no one feels worse about it. He’s a great kid, he works hard and he just – we just shortened the bench because as a young guy, I wasn’t sure he could fight his way out of it after a while,” Cassidiy said. “We need [him] to bear down and do this, and he’s maybe thinking about, ‘Oh God, what if I might have hurt the team tonight?’ You’ve got to be able to park some of that stuff. Part of that is on the staff to make sure he does that, but we went a different direction and went with [getting] Pasta a few more minutes and moved [Danton] Heinen up.

“Today it worked. I talked to him after the game already, listen, it’s a little different than Providence. Providence you’re trying to develop players in a winning environment, here it’s…you’re winning, and hopefully developing some players while you’re doing it. [The San Jose game] was a tough one for him, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

While it’s true Thursday night was more on the bad spectrum for Kuraly with the penalty hat trick, he hasn’t consistently been the same fast-moving, hard-checking force with the North/South game that he was in the playoffs. Both Danton Heinen and Frank Vatrano showed signs of picking up their games on Thursday night and there is a boatload of talent in Providence that’s growing toward their own shots in Boston, so Kuraly is heading toward a point where he needs to pick things up if he wants to stick around the NHL.  


 

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