Despite a disappointing loss on Saturday night to the Detroit Red Wings, there were a couple of positives to be taken from that game—one of them being the play of center Sean Kuraly. Given the heightened enforcement of the faceoffs, and how it has hampered some of the players, Kuraly was an impressive 71% at the dot winning 12 of 17 faceoffs. He also took the most faceoffs of any center on the Boston Bruins roster that night.
“That’s an important part of what I need to bring here and for whatever reason it was going my way,” Kuraly said of his finesse in the faceoff. “They were skill draws. They weren’t, you know, no one was cheating, and I feel like if I can get a fair draw then usually I feel it can go my way.”
For Kuraly, the changes at the dot compliment his style, commenting that he feels that’s how he usually takes a draw.
The Dublin, Ohio native was acquired by the Bruins in a trade with the San Jose Sharks, when his rights and a first round draft pick were sent to Boston in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones in 2015. The Miami University RedHawk graduated in 2016 and signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Bruins on June 30, 2016.
After going through camp with the Bruins last summer, he spent the bulk of his first professional year in Rhode Island with the Providence Bruins, AHL affiliate of the Boston club. While there he dressed for 54 games in the 2016-17 regular season, amassing 14 goals, 26 assists for 26 points. During the playoffs he dressed in 6 games, where he had one assist. Due to injuries in Boston he got called up to the NHL where he played eight regular season games, notching one assist and then played four playoff games in the Bruins return to the postseason for the first time in three seasons. He garnered two goals.
His approach to this year is to play his game and do his job. And he’s not paying any attention to those getting cut.
“I don’t have the decision to be the 13th forward or the 12th forward or whatever forward. I’m a hockey player and my job is to go out there every day and bring the best I can and wherever I’m place, I’m placed,” he shared. “Wherever that is, I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m going to keep being the best hockey player I can be.”
His work ethic is being noticed by Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, who commented on his efforts on the puck during the game in Detroit. And he likes Kuraly’s speed.
“I think I’m definitely giving it my all. I feel pretty good about what I’ve done so far,” Kuraly said. “I think there’s definitely some room to continue to go offensively with the puck and stuff, but I think what comes first is putting yourself in the right spots and being true to my game and what I do and eventually, like last year, the offense will come.”
This is perhaps the first year in which there are a number of spots open for rookies, and Kuraly is certainly working hard to get one of those jobs. He also gives a nod to the competition amongst those with whom he shares the locker room as aiding in his development.
“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward and we’re all… a lot of us are good friends and what not,” he stated. “We really respect each other’s abilities, but… I don’t mean to say but, that is true and we’re each just trying to bring the best we can every day. And I think it’s making us all better and the better each of us get the better it’s going to be for everybody. And we know that and its healthy competition.”
For those rookies who have survived the roster cuts so far, management is definitely looking to see what they can bring against the stronger lineups of the other teams.
“Keep pushing, consistency, being strong on the pucks as the lineups get stronger,” Cassidy described Monday morning about what he’s looking for.
Kuraly will play in the last home preseason game as the Boston Bruins take on the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night. The team will then take to the road for their remaining two games. The first in Philadelphia against the Flyers, whom they beat in a 2-1 game in overtime last week. They will then head to Chicago to play the Blackhawks once more.
Each day brings the final roster decisions closer, and General Manager Don Sweeney wants to have to make tough choices. He wants the rookies to step up and make it hard to send them to Providence. Even if Kuraly does get sent down, it won’t change his attitude. He will continue to play his game and do his job, knowing that an opportunity will arise to show what he can do at the NHL level.