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Bruins notebook: Andrew Peeke gaining the trust of coaches

Recent arrival has boosted B’s in a late-game situations

Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Peeke (52) collides with Ottawa Senators center Mark Kastelic (12) as the Bruins take on the Senators at the Garden on March 19. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)
Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Peeke (52) collides with Ottawa Senators center Mark Kastelic (12) as the Bruins take on the Senators at the Garden on March 19. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)
01/08//08 Boston,Ma.-
Head shot of reporter Steve Conroy.. Staff Photo by Patrick Whittemore. Saved in Photo   Weds and  archive

The Bruins’ dressing room is known as a welcoming place for incoming players and, in that sense, Andrew Peeke has felt like a Bruin since he was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline.

But there’s nothing like being in a dogfight with your new teammates to make a player really feel like he’s a part of the team.

Just such an occurrence arose on Saturday night in Washington, D.C. The B’s were in overtime against the Capitals and they really needed that second point to allow themselves to feel good about the game in which they had outplayed their opponent.

But things looked bleak when Hampus Lindholm was tagged with a double minor for a high-sticking penalty 57 seconds into OT. But the B’s managed to kill it off and get that second point in the shootout. On that pivotal kill, Peeke took two big shifts, the first one that lasted 1:09 and the second that lasted 1:37.

For a guy who has scored 10 goals in 226 NHL games, those are the moments for which Peeke lives.

“There’s nothing like competing with the guys and grinding out those tight wins,” said Peeke on Tuesday. “Playing in tight games like that when it seems like the odds are against you and the next thing you know, you win in the shootout… little things like that, and just being out there and being able to celebrate with the guys, that builds the camaraderie that you hear about. Obviously, it’s nice walking around and talking to guys, but competing on the ice is second to none.”

After getting a couple of practices under his belt upon arrival, Peeke has played eight games and is plus-3 with 20 hits and 16 blocks while averaging 17:39 of icetime.

He’s been a fixture on the right side of the third pairing since getting in the lineup (his partner in Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena was again Kevin Shattenkirk), which is a far cry from his time in Columbus this year. After playing 162 games over the previous two years, he was for some reason designated as the odd-man out most of the time this year on the struggling Blue Jackets’ back end. He dressed for just 23 games.

But if that experience shook his confidence, he’s done a good job of hiding it.

“Obviously, it was a long year in Columbus and hopefully for me when this opportunity would possibly present itself, it would be a fresh start and a little reset,” said Peeke. “I think for me, just working hard every single day and doing what you can at the rink, whether you’re playing or not, you’re only going to set yourself up for that moment when your in that lineup in Columbus or being traded here. You just have to prepare yourself any way possible.”

While Peeke is finding his comfort level, the confidence from the coaching staff to put him in key defensive situations is also growing.

“I think for everybody it is, because of just how consistently hard he is to play against,” said coach Jim Montgomery.

And Peeke is buoyed by that message.

“It’s awesome having some of the trust from the coaches being out in those scenarios. And then obviously, you use it as a confidence builder,” said Peeke. “For me, I know the way I play, certain situations like the 4-on-3 or a penalty kill, I cherish a moment like that and being out there. We’ll block the shots, we’ll do the little things like that you love doing.”

And for the Bruins, whose issues with closing out games remains a concern going into the playoffs, having another player who can be employed in those hard minutes can only be beneficial.

“I’ll try to help as much as I can,” said Peeke. “Hockey is such a team sport in that regard. Obviously, each guy has their own role and different style of play. I cherish and appreciate being out there in moments like that, whether it’s protecting a lead or being on a penalty kill. Those are things in my game that I really love. But it’s such a team thing and I think when everyone buys into the system and knows what you have to do, it makes each individual look better.”….

Pat Maroon, still recovering from Feb. 7 back surgery, joined the B’s for practice for the first time on Monday. He won’t play this week as he continues to get his timing and conditioning back. Montgomery said the best-case scenario for him to see his first game action would be a week from Saturday in Pittsburgh. That would give him a chance to play two, maybe three games before the playoffs.

“I would like to play a couple of games,” said Maroon. “I think that’s the goal, to play a couple of times before the playoffs. They’ve been really good with me. I can’t thank enough the staff. They’ve been really patient with me and doing all the right things to make sure I’m back to 100 percent. They’ve been really good and they have a plan for me, so we’re just going to keep sticking with that.”

While Maroon and the staff are being prudent, the player said he’s itching to get in a game.

“Trust me, I’m really excited,” said Maroon. “I can’t wait, especially watching the Florida and Tampa games. It makes you just want to go out there and battle with the boys. I’m really looking forward to it. I think I mentioned it before, but just putting on that jersey, an Original Six team… this is a team that a lot of people want to play for and I’m just excited to get with the guys and get in the lineup and go to battle with them. They have a great group here.”…

We’ll see what the lineup looks like on Tuesday in Nashville, but it appeared as though Matt Grzelcyk was headed for a scratch. Mason Lohrei was paired with Brandon Carlo – Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy were paired together again – and Grzelcyk was on a fourth pairing with Parker Wotherspoon. Grzelcyk played just 13:46 in Washington.