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Opposite day: Alexander Khokhlachev running out of patience with Bruins

09.19.15 at 3:16 pm ET
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Alexander Khokhachev

Alexander Khokhachev

Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev feels that he is overdue for a job in the NHL. He is not happy with the Bruins for not giving him one.

“Boston should make a decision with me,” the 2011 second-round pick said on Saturday. “€œI’€™ve waited for my chance already. Two years. I’€™m just still waiting. We’€™ll see. They should make a decision. Give me a chance, or I don’€™t know. We’€™ll see [what] they’€™ll do.”€

Khokhlachev, who was taken 40th overall in 2011, has played four games in the NHL over the last two seasons, spending nearly all of his Bruins career in Providence. Asked whether he’€™ll demand a trade if he doesn’€™t make the team this season, he was not definitive, though he said he wouldn’€™t want to stay with the organization if they didn’€™t play him in the NHL.

“€œThis is my last year of my contract,”€ he said. “I’€™m 22 already. If they don’€™t give me the chance to play, why am I here? I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me, ‘€˜Just wait for your chance.’€™ I’€™m still waiting for it.”

Khokhlachev’€™s words, in addition to being depressing for anyone over the age of 22, were interesting given that his frustration with the B’€™s might go both ways. Having invested a high pick in him, the team is within its rights to be upset that he hasn’€™t taken a job by now.

Asked if he’€™s done all that he should have to become an NHLer, Khokhlachev stayed the course.

“Yeah, why not?” he responded. “I played in Providence two years and I led them in scoring two years. I think I’€™m playing good. I’€™m not a young guy anymore. I’€™m 22. I think I’€™m ready for the chance.”

Khokhlachev was given the opportunity (along with Ryan Spooner) to challenge for the team’€™s fourth-line center job last fall. When Khokhlachev turned in an underwhelming preseason, he was returned to Providence.

Boston played him for three games in November, though the third game saw him used on a sparingly played fourth line. Khokhlachev was given just 2:53 of ice time in that contest, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins on Nov. 24.

“I played two games and the third game I played two minutes,” he said of his NHL season. “I don’€™t think that’€™s really a chance. I played fourth line. It doesn’€™t really matter what line I play, but I don’€™t think it’€™s really a chance to be played two games.”

A left-shot center, the Moscow native has indeed led the Baby B’s in points in both 2014-15 (43 points in 61 games) and 2013-14 (57 points in 65 games). Winning a job (or, to stay consistent, being given one) will not be easy. The Bruins’ top-nine centers are already set (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Spooner) while Khokhlachev is part of a large number of players vying for Boston’s fourth-line center job. Chris Kelly, Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot are all on one-way contracts, while Khokhlachev’s two-way deal and lack of service means he could be sent up and down without waivers and cost less if he’s in the AHL.

Unlike Kelly, Rinaldo and Talbot, Khokhlachev cannot play wing. Khokhlachev has centered Loui Eriksson and Jake DeBrusk in the first two days of camp.

Khokhlachev, whose father is the general manager of a KHL team, could return home to play in Russia if he decides to leave North America after this season. From his words, he seems to believe he gave the Bruins two years of AHL service in exchange for an eventual spot in the pros, which isn’t exactly how it works. He would prefer the NHL over the KHL, where he played unsuccessfully in 2012.

“My dream is NHL and I want to play there,” he said, “but if Boston will not give me the chance, I can’t do anything.”

Read More: Alexander Khokhlachev,

Matt Irwin not ready to be called a seventh defenseman

09.19.15 at 1:44 pm ET
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Matt Irwin signed with the Bruins as a free agent. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Matt Irwin signed with the Bruins as a free agent. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While the Bruins’€™ seven-man defense group is difficult to project, anyone trying to do so is wise to start with the top and the bottom. Zdeno Chara will of course be the B’€™s No. 1 defenseman. Matt Irwin, seemingly, will be the seventh.

After signing a one-year deal worth $800,000 in the offseason, Irwin isn’€™t subscribing to that logic.

“€œI’€™m looking to play every game,” the former Shark said. “€œThat’€™s my goal. I think I can bring a lot to this team. There’€™s competition and there’€™s opportunity. I’€™m looking to be in the lineup every night and help this team win.”

Irwin, 27, came to the Bruins after spending first five years as a pro in the San Jose organization. An offensive defenseman, he had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points over 53 games in the lineup. His pairing with Scott Hannan was not good possession-wise (46.7 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5), though Irwin’€™s overall Corsi in 5-on-5 was 51.6 percent.

With the Bruins changing their breakouts and placing more emphasis on a defenseman joining the attack, Irwin feels that he’€™s entering a good situation for his skill set. He also noted that the Sharks used a similar breakout, which makes his adjustment period to a new team a bit easier.

“€œIt’€™s similar to San Jose,”€ he said. “€œThe last few years there we encouraged our D men to get up in the rush, have that second wave of offense coming in, create some havoc, push their D back. It’€™s very similar to what we did there, what they’€™re trying to implement here for this year.”€

This usage chart (courtesy of illustrates how Matt Irwin fared compared to Bruins defensemen in 2014-15.

This usage chart (courtesy of illustrates how Matt Irwin fared compared to Bruins defensemen in 2014-15.

Irwin’s cheap contract (which is a one-way), age and experience as a guy who’€™s been in and out of an NHL lineup suggests the Bruins would be better off using him a seventh defenseman over players like Joe Morrow or Colin Miller. Spending too much out of the lineup can stunt a developing player’s progress, so Morrow and Miller (neither of whom require waivers) should either play in Boston or play in Providence. Sitting should not be in their job description.

Plus, Irwin has versatility on his side. A left shot who is comfortable playing both sides, Irwin is something of an ideal seventh guy given that he can slot in for any of Boston’€™s defenders in the event of an emergency.

That’€™s not Irwin’€™s plan, however. He wants to be one of the six in the lineup at all times. His chances aren’€™t great, but he’€™ll take them.


Read More: Matt Irwin,

With great paycheck comes great responsibility for Adam McQuaid

09.18.15 at 4:32 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

When asked Friday if the Bruins’ new emphasis on defensemen supporting the attack would boost his offensive numbers, defenseman Adam McQuaid smirked and replied, “There’s only room for improvement there.”

Then, as McQuaid got more serious, he added, “I never put numbers on things.”

Fairly or unfairly, a number has been put on him, and it’s a high one — 2.75 million, to be exact. That’s McQuaid’s cap hit for the next four seasons, a substantial raise from the $1.566 million he averaged over the course of his previous contract.

McQuaid’s four-year, $11 million contract has widely been viewed as an overpayment on the part of the B’s. An intangibles player who comes with as mean a streak as any defenseman in the NHL, McQuaid is a player any team would love to have on its third pairing. With the way he’s being paid however, coupled with the fact that frequent partner Torey Krug makes $3.4 million for his offensive contributions, the risk that the Bruins run is that McQuaid will either be overpaid for a third-pairing defenseman or potentially out of place as a top-four defenseman.

Though the news of his contract came out after the Bruins traded Dougie Hamilton, McQuaid actually had agreed hours before the trade was made. So, in a matter of hours, the 28-year-old went from returning to the same defense group he knew to potentially picking up bigger minutes. McQuaid wants to be a key piece of the defense, but he doesn’t want his contract to dictate his role.

“I think you have to earn those things, obviously,” he said Friday. “I’d like to play a bigger role, but it’s got to be something that you earn and you show that you’re able to do. I think you can tell that we have a lot of depth on the blue line this year. It’s going to be competitive and every day you’re going to need to show your worth or there’s going to be somebody else who can step in and do it.

“At this point in my career, I’d like to continue to improve and get better and play a bigger role, but I’ve got to prove I can do that and work towards that.”

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Read More: Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug,

Early training camp observations: Jimmy Hayes on left wing with Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak skates with David Krejci

09.18.15 at 3:29 pm ET
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The Bruins began their on-ice training camp sessions Friday at TD Garden in anticipation of Sunday night’€™s preseason opener. Predictably, Friday saw more change than Septembers past, both from personnel and strategic standpoints.

Here are some observations from the first day of camp:

– As expected, Dennis Seidenberg did not take part in Friday’s sessions. The 34-year-old defenseman is dealing with an upper-body injury that is expected to keep him off the ice for a few days.

– Breakouts were the name of the game Friday, as the B’s got right to work on implementing Claude Julien‘s changes.

In running through the breakouts, one defenseman fed the other behind the goal line before jumping to the front of the net. The strongside D then sent the puck up (both to the center and up the wall to the wing were practiced) and the three forwards, who were joined by the weakside D, raced up the ice as a four-man attack.

While the changes may take some getting used to, forwards and defensemen expressed their excitement for the quicker pace and, hopefully, increased scoring chances.

– As for who will play where, the three groups presented some interesting possibilities. The most notable trio was David Krejci between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak. Such a trio would keep a bit of snarl to left of Krejci after Milan Lucic‘s departure while teaming a pair of Czechs in Krejci and Pastrnak.

Loui Eriksson, a left-shot right wing who could play left wing this season, skated on the right wing of a line with Alexander Khokhlachev and Jake DeBrusk.

Jimmy Hayes, a right-shot right wing with experience on both sides, played left wing on a line with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly. That line could certainly be in consideration for a longer look.

The right wing fortunate enough to play Ringo to Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron‘s John and Paul was… first-round project Zach Senyshyn. Consider that line more of a fantasy camp-type scenario than an indication that the 15th overall pick is anything close to a first-line NHL forward.

– Defensively, Zdeno Chara and Zach Trotman were paired together. The duo played together at points last season, including late in the season while Dougie Hamilton was out with broken ribs. Other pairs included Joe Morrow with Kevan Miller and Linus Arnesson with Colin Miller.

– With the NHL changing its overtime format to 3-on-3 and a shootout rather than 4-on-4 and a shootout, the B’s spent time scrimmaging 3-on-3. Julien, who used one defenseman and three forwards in 4-on-4 the last two seasons, sent out looks of either three forwards or one defenseman and two forwards.

– The second session saw the day’s first injury scare. Zac Rinaldo caught goaltender Zane McIntyre in the face with his stick during 3-on-3s, seemingly cutting the goaltender above the eye in the process. McIntyre went to the bench to get patched up, though he returned to drills in short order.

– Senyshyn led off the third session’€™s shootout by beating Tuukka Rask. Malcolm Subban was beaten by both Seth Griffith and Jake DeBrusk in the first session’€™s shootout, though he did stop the other shooter he faced in Eriksson.

Read More: David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner

Jimmy Hayes looks forward to ‘Black Mass’ despite family’s Whitey Bulger story

09.17.15 at 3:34 pm ET
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Jimmy Hayes grew up in Dorchester and played at Boston College. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jimmy Hayes grew up in Dorchester and played at Boston College. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Folks around the country are excited to see “Black Mass,” the movie adaptation of Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book about the relationship between Whitey Bulger and the FBI, yet there are plenty of reasons for Boston natives to pass on the film. For some, the story of Whitey Bulger hits close to home.

“Yeah, I’€™m aware,” Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes said slowly on Thursday.

Hayes was either 4 or 5 years old when Bulger and his associates allegedly kidnapped his father, Kevin, back in 1994. The group was said to have taken him to a house where three people allegedly had been killed by the notorious gangster previously. Kevin Hayes later testified that he was led to a basement with a tarp on the floor and told that he would be killed if he did not pay a sizable ransom. Bulger associate Kevin Weeks allegedly demanded $100,000 from Hayes, a ticket broker and bookmaker, though an agreement was reached that Hayes would pay a smaller lump sum in addition to regular payments of $1,000. Bulger was found not guilty of extortion in the matter when tried in 2013.

Jimmy doesn’t remember when he first learned of his father’s frightening encounter with Bulger. Given the subject’s sensitivity, it’s hard to blame him for putting it out of his mind.

“It is what it is. It’s not uncomfortable, it’s just … you grow up and you learn more and more,” Jimmy said, adding, “a lot of people have stories.”

Despite Hayes’ family’s story, Jimmy won’t hesitate to see the movie. Born and raised in Dorchester and educated at Boston College, the 25-year-old said he loves movies with a local flavor.

“I just love seeing movies about the city of Boston,” he said. “I mean, I’m really proud to be from Boston, like any other person from Boston. It’s a lot of fun seeing movies and seeing where they take place. When ‘The Town’ was in there, they did some shooting near my hometown. Just to know that I grew up hanging around some of the areas where they had the shoots and stuff was a pretty cool experience.”

“Black Mass,” which stars Johnny Depp as Bulger, opens nationally Friday. Steven Davis, the brother of Bulger victim Debra Davis, appeared on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday. Click here to listen to Davis’ interview.

Read More: Jimmy Hayes, Whitey Bulger,

Bruins will experiment with Loui Eriksson, Jimmy Hayes as potential left wings

09.17.15 at 2:37 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson will have a new line as he takes on life without Carl Soderberg. There’€™s also a good chance he’€™ll have a new (old) position.

A left-shot right wing, Eriksson may see quite a bit of time at left wing due to a large group of right wings that includes Eriksson, David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly and Jimmy Hayes. The same goes for Hayes, a right shot who can play left wing.

Both Eriksson and Hayes have experience playing the left side, though both are years removed from doing it. Eriksson was used at left wing during his time with the Stars, while Hayes played left wing a couple years back in Chicago.

Don Sweeney said Thursday that the team will experiment with both players in training camp as it tries to find line combinations.

“We’€™re excited with Loui having the versatility that he does to play both positions,” Sweeney said. ‘€œClearly, the production was back for him last year. We need to have that with him, so we need to put him in situations with other guys, and we’€™re going to play around with the combination piece of that. I think Jimmy Hayes will probably play both sides. We’€™re going to experiment a little bit with guys at different positions.”

It’€™s likely at least one of Eriksson or Hayes will be a left wing this season. There’€™s something of a dropoff at the position after Brad Marchand and Matt Beleskey, though center Chris Kelly could play there if he doesn’€™t center the fourth line.

Read More: Jimmy Hayes, Loui Eriksson,

Upper-body injury will keep Dennis Seidenberg off ice for opening days of Bruins training camp

09.17.15 at 2:24 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will not be on the ice for the opening days of training camp, as the 34-year-old is dealing with an upper-body injury suffered in training.

General manager Don Sweeney shared the news on Thursday following the team’€™s off-ice testing. He noted that Seidenberg is the only player of the team’€™s 60-man camp roster that is not expected to be ready to go.

Dennis Seidenberg will not likely skate of the next few days,” he said. “He reported to our trainers on Monday with an upper-body injury from training, and our doctors have chosen to take a conservative approach and re-evaluate day-to-day.”

Seidenberg had been skating with his teammates at informal skates at Ristuccia Arena in recent weeks. He was spotted on the ice briefly on Tuesday, though he did not participate in a scrimmage that took up the vast majority of the session.

Though his 2013-14 season was cut short by a torn ACL, Seidenberg played in all 82 games last season for the Bruins.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg,
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