|09.14.11 at 1:15 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins signed forward Benoit Pouliot on July 1, any hockey fan with access to YouTube probably couldn’t stop laughing at the irony. The guy whom the fans hated and was even referred to as “one of the greatest disappointments of talent in National Hockey League history” by Jack Edwards was going to call TD Garden his home.
Now, you won’t find a more pro-Jack Edwards guy on the planet than me (UNH pride), but I’m not just defending Jack when I say he wasn’t the first to call Pouliot a bust. Pouliot was the fourth overall pick of the 2005 draft, and though his skill is undeniable, he hasn’t shown up enough on the scoring sheet. Last year, he had 13 goals in his fifth professional season, so it’s natural for people to wonder whether it’s a case of the 24-year-old not reaching his potential yet or a case of him being, as Jack said, a disappointment. He met the media Wednesday and shared his thoughts on that tag.
“I didn’t see it, but I heard about it,” Pouliot said of Edwards’ call. “I don’t really think about it. I don’t really listen to that kind of stuff. It’s their opinion, it’s the way people put it out there, but at the same time, in Montreal I had some good, good, good things happen to me. Playing on the third and fourth line helped me with my game a lot, defensively and the way I play in my own zone. It’s mostly good stuff.”
Pouliot had a rough go of it late in his tenure with the Canadiens. Game 3 — the game in which Edwards made his famous comments (“he’s a really high draft pick, but he’s never done anything with his talent.”) — would be the last of his Montreal career. Coach Jacques Martin cut him the rest of the way, so Pouliot was forced to watch the remainder of the series after playing 79 regular-season games.
“I don’t know. I think there was maybe a lack of trust between me and the coach,” he said. “At first when I got there, I think he played me 17, 18 minutes a game. Things went well, and then it kind of went downhill after that, but last year I had a good year on the third line, fourth line all year long, and it was more positives than negative stuff when I was Montreal.”
More to come on Pouliot.
|09.14.11 at 11:08 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins held another veterans’ practice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena, with Benoit Pouliot making his first appearance in a Bruins’ sweater.
The former Canadiens and Wild winger is wearing No. 67 on his helmet. Anton Khudobin is also here for the first time this preseason. He was the only goaltender on the ice.
|09.13.11 at 9:38 pm ET|
One night after Ryan Spooner stole the show in New York with a five-point performance, the Boston rookies had a much harder time finding offensive production on Tuesday. The B’s rookies fell to the Islanders’ rookie squad Tuesday night by a 7-2 score at Nassau Coliseaum. The two squads split the two-game rookie series, as Boston was victorious in Monday night’s contest.
Former Northeastern forward Tyler McNeely led the way for the Islanders, registering a goal and three assists for New York. Goaltender Anders Nilsson made 38 saves on the night, holding a shutout until the third period, when he allowed goals to Craig Cunningham and Anthony Camara.
The Bruins’ rookies went 0-for-8 on the power play, though one lasted for just the final 7.1 seconds of the game. They failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:31, as they got seven shots on goal but failed to beat Nilsson.
Michael Hutchinson started the game for the B’s, allowing six goals through the first period before giving way to Jared DeMichiel in the third period.
The game featured four fights, three of which occurred in the first five seconds of the game. Camara, who had 132 penalty minutes for Saginaw (OHL) last season, was among those to drop the gloves for the B’s.
The youngsters will return to Boston, where they will wrap up their rookie camp this week.
|09.13.11 at 11:11 am ET|
WILMINGTON — After a long weekend off, the Bruins resumed veterans’ practices Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
The turnout for Tuesday was much greater than the first two skates, with Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Trent Whitfield, Chris Clark and Kirk MacDonald among the players to join in. The skate consisted of a scrimmage, with Tuukka Rask opposing three tires in the goaltending matchup.
|09.13.11 at 2:44 am ET|
Around this time last year, it didn’t seem there many people banking on big things from Tim Thomas. The veteran goaltender was coming off both a down year and offseason hip surgery. In fact, much of the discussion regarding the Bruins’ goaltending situation was generally around how Tuukka Rask would follow up a season in which he led the NHL in both goals against average and save percentage.
What a difference a year and a shelf-worth of hardware makes.
Now, Thomas is coming off a both healthy and historic season, and rather than wondering whether he’s physically capable of being a dominant goalie — something he admitted he pondered before the hip healed — the 37 year-old can think about the coming season rather than how his body will hold up.
“Actually, I feel good,” Thomas said Monday. “I didn’t have any injuries that I had to deal with, which is pretty amazing considering the amount of games we had. Physically, it’s not even an issue, so I haven’t had to think about it. It’s nice.”
Thomas delighted season-ticket holders at Monday’s State of the Bruins when he said that he had no choice but to repeat the type of season — which was of record-breaking variety thanks to an all-time best .938 save percentage — he had a year ago.
While fans got a kick out of Thomas’ statement, the Michigan native said afterwards that holding themselves to their own standard is something the Bruins must do as they defend their championship.
“I think that goes for not just me but for the whole team,” Thomas said. “When you’ve won the Cup and you’re at the pinnacle, there’s nothing higher, so you need to shoot for it again.”
But could Thomas really repeat the type of season he put together last season? He started 55 regular-season games, beginning the process of claiming the No. 1 job with a shutout (one of nine on the season) in the second game against the Coyotes in Prague.
This time around, it’s Rask that’s all healed (he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee) and trying to get a few more starts. Thomas laughed at the idea that the No. 1 goalie discussion could come up this early, as he was asked whether his historic season left him assuming he’ll be the Bruins’ top netminder.
“It’s pretty much only a label that you guys put on it, anyways,” Thomas said. “We just consider ourselves goaltenders on the team. One of the goalies is going to get more playing time, but we’re both just teammates.”
Along with his .938 save percentage, Thomas had an NHL-best 2.00 goals against average and a 35-11-9 record in the regular season. He started each game of the postseason, narrowly surprising his regular season numbers with a .940 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. For someone who’s welcomed the challenge of repeating such a campaign, Thomas did note that his lackluster 2009-10 season, which followed his first Vezina season, may have prepared him for learning how to follow a great year.
“I’ve had experience,” Thomas said. “I had the year after the Vezina. Coming off that was hard enough. Now, winning these, I’m starting to get some experience with dealing with success, and hopefully that helps going forward.”
|09.12.11 at 11:59 pm ET|
One petitioned player will be on the Stanley Cup, but what about the others?
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed Monday night that center Marc Savard‘s name will be on the trophy, which is good news for a guy who hasn’t had much of it.
Due to his latest concussion, Savard played in only 25 regular season games last season (41, or one Stanley Cup finals game are required to get one’s name on the trophy). The Cup will be engraved this week, with 52 names (including the players) allowed.
“It’s not an easy task, it really isn’t,” Bruins president Cam Neely said of trying to narrow down the list while also seeking approval for petitioned players who don’t meet the required games. “You’d like to get as many on there as possible, but it was important to have Savvy on there, and fortunately enough it worked.”
While the Bruins know Savard will be on the Cup, they aren’t sure about defenseman Steven Kampfer, who played in 38 games in the regular season. Both Savard and Kampfer had injuries last season (Savard a season-ending concussion and Kampfer a lower-body injury during an AHL stint late in the regular season), but Chiarelli said they don’t know whether the young defenseman will get his name on the trophy.
“I’m going to know that shortly,” Chiarelli said. “I’ve had discussions [about it]. Those are tougher arguments, unfortunately. I’ll probably know that by the end of the week.”
Obviously, the feel-good story is for Savard to get on there, and the powers that be absolutely made the right decision in allowing Savard’s name. With that being said, it’s pretty crazy to imagine Kampfer not getting on the trophy given his contributions as a blueliner capable of logging 20 minutes a night in the middle of the season. Shane Hnidy is far less likely to get on there.
|09.12.11 at 9:56 pm ET|
The Bruins’ rookies defeated those of the Islanders, 8-5, Monday night at Nassau Coliseum. It was the first rookie game of the preseason, with another to follow Tuesday night in New York.
Both Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, the two players in rookie camp who figure to push the hardest for a roster spot, had two goals apiece for the Bruins in the victory. The B’s also got goals from Dylan Hood, David Warsofsky, Yannick Riendeau and Carter Camper.
Last year, Jordan Caron figured to compete for a job on the Bruins and came out with a hat trick in the first rookie game. Knight and Spooner showing their chops early on this year should come as no surprise.