|09.19.11 at 7:58 pm ET|
With so few spots available to potentially be had in Boston as the Bruins gear up to defend their Stanley Cup title, the time is now for B’s prospects to show they deserve to play in the NHL this season.
Thirty-five year-old Connecticut native Chris Clark is in town to show that youngsters shouldn’t be the only ones in the equation.
Clark, the former captain of the Capitals and a veteran of 12 seasons, is attending Bruins’ training camp on a tryout, and is hoping to follow an underwhelming and at times injury-plagued stay in Columbus with a season with the defending champs.
“Besides the last couple years when I was injured, playing with injuries and coming off injuries and coming off a couple surgeries, [the Bruins] liked the way I had played previously,” Clark, who was limited to 53 games and 15 points last season due to a lower-body injury, said Monday. “I feel like if I can bring that and continue to bring that to the table, that would be something they were looking for. A good third-fourth, line winger, grind it out, kill penalties, that leader in the locker room, off the ice, stuff like that.”
Leadership is something that might be strange for a newcomer to bring to the table, and though he might not have the Mark Recchi leader-from-Day-1 about him that the retired Bruin showed throughout his two-plus years in Boston, Clark knows he’s capable of making a difference in that area. That isn’t to say he feels the tight-knit Bruins squad is lacking when it comes to character guys.
“They’re very level-headed,” Clark said. “Guys have been great to me, just jumping in here, so it’s something that if it comes to it — I don’t think there’s going to be much this team needs — but obviously it’s good to see someone with more games. They’ve done something I haven’t, but I’ve been around a little while, too.”
Unlike most of the veterans in camp, Clark did not spend the summer celebrating a Cup win. In fact, Clark has never won the trophy in a career that’s taken him to Calgary, Washington and Columbus.
Instead, Clark spent the summer gearing up for his next stop not knowing where it would be, but that he’d finally be healthy.
“It was the first full summer I’ve had in two years of pure training, and no rehabbing. It’s been great,” Clark said. “It was a long offseason for me, five months, but it was pure training and no rehabbing, no worrying about anything so it was a great offseason.”
Now, the Bruins simply hope that the veteran can prove in camp that he can stay healthy and prove he’s capable of sticking in the NHL. Coach Claude Julien knows Clark well from when they were in the AHL, as Julien was coaching in Hamilton when Clark was playing in Saint John. He’s seen growth from Clark over the years, and likes what he’s seen from him in Boston thus far.
“He came into the NHL and he’s become a captain on the teams that he’s played with. ‘¦ What I liked about Chris was that you knew he was going to play hard every night and to play against a guy like that is not an easy thing, but you learn to respect and like those kind of players,” Julien said. “I’ve always admired that from him and that’s what he’s shown here again. He’s a pretty determined individual, very focused, mentally strong. He’s a fun guy to be around. I think he’s already very well-respected by our players on our team because I think they’ve seen the same thing as I did when we played against him.
“I’m one of those guys that believes he’s going to push really hard and is going to make a real tough decision here. Certainly his experience, his leadership qualities are something that we can certainly look at. When you lose a guy like Recchi, sometimes you rely on guys in the dressing room to pick it up, but sometimes you also have the luxury of bringing somebody in who can help fill in that gap as well.”
|09.19.11 at 5:37 pm ET|
Milan Lucic was asked Monday how he felt physically after three days of camp, and the Bruins’ top goal-scorer of a season ago talked about trying to get his timing and speed back. Lucic played the Bruins’ final 13 games with a broken toe that has yet to yield a pretty x-ray, so was Lucic referring to rust or injury?
“It’s just coming in [after the offseason],” Lucic said in clarifying his statement. “It’s like that for me every camp. It’s been like that for me every year. It’s just getting back into the flow of things, and that’s just the way it’s always been for me.”
As for the toe, the big toe in his right foot, things are looking better than they were. The winger had said late in the offseason that x-rays revealed the toe to be “pretty funny” and “pretty destroyed,” and was still giving him trouble over the offseason. He recently gained the ability to move the toe again, as ugly as it looks.
“The x-ray’s really messy, actually,” Lucic said. “I know the doctors, when they looked at it, were laughing about it. It actually started about two, three weeks ago, where I started to get full mobility back into my toe. There’s no more pain when I get up on my toes and get going and all that type of stuff. That’s obviously, a positive, and hopefully it stays that way.”
Lucic injured the two between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Tyler Seguin hit him in the skate with a slap shot during practice. The first-line left winger had five goals and seven assists in the playoffs for 12 points to follow a 30-goal, 32-assist regular season.
|09.19.11 at 2:44 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left Monday’s Group B practice at TD Garden with a bruise in his left leg.
Chara was hit by a puck in what appeared to be the inner left leg/knee on a clearing attempt from a teammate. Chara was slow to get up but finished the shift favoring his left leg. He got off the ice slowly and did not return. His status for Tuesday’s black and white scrimmage is up in the air as a result.
“He just got a shot on the inside of the leg there,” coach Claude Julien said after the practice. “Right now it’s a contusion, and we’re just going to evaluate it as we go along here. This is training camp, and if he needs an extra day, we’ll give him an extra day. If he’s OK tomorrow, he’ll go. We’ll see. It’s a day-by-day bruise, a shot inside the leg.”
|09.19.11 at 12:44 pm ET|
Thomas wasn’t quite as aggressive Monday as he was when he took out the Vancouver forward with a mighty shove in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, but he did provide a reminder that anyone trying to score on him had better watch out.
Russian youngster Alexander Khokhlachev, the team’s 2011 second-round pick, was coming in on Thomas during a shootout drill when Thomas darted out of his net to break up the forward’s bid. Seconds later, Khokhlachev was lying in the corner having crashed into the boards as a result of the play. He’d been tripped up by Thomas’ stick, and though he was OK, teammates exclaimed sarcastic jeers of “way to go, Timmy” to guilt the reigning Vezina winner.
Thomas could take the flack from his teammates, as he’s glad the play could be a laughing matter rather than one that featured an injury.
“Well, he lost the puck there,” Thomas said. “I hesitated just a second there and then I was like, ‘I’m going to go get it’ but then I missed the poke-check. Then, well, I just tried to stop, but I didn’t. I’m just glad nobody was hurt. We’re just playing around there.”
It’s hard for Thomas not to be competitive, but after a play like Monday’s, he noted it’s important to keep things in perspective in the first week of training camp.
“When you compete for as long as we did, it’s going to take you a while before you really want to up your competitive level,” he said. “This is the third day of camp. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean anything.”
|09.19.11 at 12:37 pm ET|
Group A of the Bruins’ training camp squads kicked off the third day of on-ice work Monday at TD Garden. The practice consisted of two sessions, with a good chunk of scrimmage time worked in.
The B’s will hold a full black-and-white scrimmage Tuesday night in Providence, with Group A taking on Group B.
|09.17.11 at 3:44 pm ET|
The Bruins return 11 forwards who saw significant playing time last season, meaning there is likely only one spot in the regular lineup open up front. One of the candidates to fill it is 2009 first-round pick Jordan Caron, who last season registered 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 games with Providence and three goals and four assists in 23 games with Boston.
Caron was a member of the “Black Aces” that served as healthy scratches during the playoffs, and he got the chance to practice with the big club during the Stanley Cup final after Nathan Horton went down. Caron said he is fully aware of what’s up for grabs during this training camp.
“There might be a spot open, but it’s going to be my job to earn it and win it,” Caron said. “If I play like I’m supposed to and I do what I have to do, I think I have a good chance to win the job.”
The 6-foot-2 winger said his biggest assets are his two-way play and his ability to battle in corners and create space for his linemates. He said the one thing he continues to work on the most is his skating, which was described as “average” by some scouts before he was drafted.
“For me, it’s always been my skating,” Caron said. “Keep improving my skating, my explosion and moving my feet. I worked a lot on that over the summer, like I do every summer. I think every year I’m getting better at it.”
His improvement in that area, as well as everywhere else, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I was watching him today, and he was certainly a guy that kind of grabbed my attention,” Claude Julien said. “He’s got good size. He seemed to be skating well. That’s what he did last year, as well — he was skating well and had good jump. Hopefully with a year of experience at the pro level now, he’ll be able to maintain that jump.
“He’s a pretty smart player. He’s got good hockey sense, and you see his reads are pretty good. He’s one of those guys that’s battling for a job, and we’re certainly going to keep a close eye on him.”
|09.17.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Last year, Tim Thomas put together one of the best seasons any goaltender has ever had. He compiled a 35-11-9 record, 2.00 goals-against average and NHL-record .938 save percentage. He collected his second Vezina Trophy and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The only downside to all that is it sets the bar at a seemingly impossible height for this season.
“I think Tim’s biggest challenge is going to be being able to duplicate what he did last year,” Claude Julien said Friday. “If he ever comes close to doing that, we know we’re going to have a good goaltender, because his season last year was outstanding.
“He’s one of those players, like everybody else, who has to be willing to up his game. That doesn’t necessarily mean be better. Just to be as consistent as he was last year means he’s going to have to up his game, in my mind. That’s the one thing Timmy’s capable of doing when he sets his mind to it.”
After the first official practice of the season on Saturday, Thomas refused to talk about any of that just yet.
“It’s the first day of camp,” Thomas said. “You look to improve each day. I’d rather focus on the smaller picture than to get into that stuff right now.
“I’m gonna take a day off from that. It’s the first day of camp. Just enjoy it, being back on the ice with some of the elite-level hockey players in the world. Focus on that rather than thinking back to what happened last year or thinking forward to what is next year.”
Thomas acknowledged that he would obviously like to match what he did last season, but wouldn’t say any more than that.
“That’s as far as I want to go with that right now,” Thomas said. “I’m worried about getting my skates right, my equipment right. That’s more of where my mind is right now than all that other stuff.”