|09.08.10 at 1:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It wasn’t too long ago that left wing Milan Lucic was the most popular Bruins rookie. Now preparing for his fourth season in the NHL, the 22-year-old Lucic can look back on his experience in the 2007-08 season and offer some perspective on what second overall pick Tyler Seguin might go through with the Bruins this year.
“I remember my first year, there were things I needed to do to adjust to this level and adjust to this game,” Lucic said. “There was stuff that I worked on for the first three months that I was here, just little things. You just can’t get frustrated when things aren’t going your way, you’ve just got to keep working at it.
“One thing that I always looked at when I was young like that, I just went out there and played. I didn’t want to let any type of expectations or any type of pressures get to me. I just wanted to go out there and play and have fun with it and enjoy the time that I was here.”
Seguin isn’t the only newcomer Lucic is psyched about. Lucic is generally grinning at all times, but he spoke with a great deal of excitement when asked about Nathan Horton.
“He’s a big body. He can skate and he can score,” Lucic said of Horton. “That’s the expectations on him is just to do that. Obviously, he’s going to be a big part of our team and big part of the right wingers. Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to find his game in our system here. We’ve got some pretty good centermen here that we can match him up with, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
The centerman figured to be the best match with Horton might be Marc Savard, who was reportedly shopped by the team at points during the offseason. The rumors led to Savard admitting that he was “hurt” by the idea of the team trading him, but Lucic has been in contact with his friend this summer and has been training harder than he ever has in anticipation of the 2010-11 season.
Though Lucic said he’s excited to see what kind of shape Savard in is after such a good offseason, he is first and foremost glad that none of what was written about Savard came true.
“Clearly they were all rumors,” Lucic said. “Everyone’s different, everyone takes it different. Obviously, Savvy took it the way he did and his feelings were a little bit hurt. I’m happy that he’s still a part of this team because I felt in the three years I’ve been here, he’s been one of the guys that I’ve been closest with, and obviously we have our special bond off and on the ice. I’m happy that he’s back and I hope he’s happy that he’s still around, too.”
Lucic played in only 50 games last year due to a nagging ankle injury but is skating now with any hindrance or tape. He felt he was able to get into a groove in the playoffs, when he had nine points in 13 games, and feels that if he can keep it up, he’ll be effective as ever.
“I felt like at the end of the season there against Philly, I felt like I played my best hockey and I thought I was good and strong with the puck, being able to be hard with the puck and be that physical presence,” Lucic said. “It’s basically the same thing. Just go out there and do that. If I’m just being a physical presence out there, everything always seems to take care of itself.”
|09.08.10 at 11:37 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The second day of captain’s practice is in the books for the Bruins. The Big Bad Blog nearly came to a tragic end when a flying puck took someone’s attention away from their tweeting, but all is well. Once again, the skate consisted of basic drills and scrimmaging. Here’s the initial list of guys in attendance and a few notes:
Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Nolan Schaefer
– The newcomers to practice were Bodnarchuk, Bartkowski, Recchi and Kampfer. Recchi took to the ice with his teammates after doing a little solo skate following Tuesday’s session.
– Second overall pick Tyler Seguin was in the house, skating with the netminders as part of goalie coach Bob Essensa‘s camp prior to captain’s practice. Seguin likely won’t skate with teammates for captain’s practice, as it seems to only consist of returning players or veterans.
– *The captain wasn’t technically out there for the practice, though Chara did skate with goalies before.
|09.08.10 at 9:17 am ET|
The Bruins announced a partnership agreement with Finnish SM-League team JYP Jyaskyla. The agreement allows the teams to transfer players between one another’s systems.
Former Bruins playoff stud Michael Nylander has had two stints in SM-liiga, most recently skating for Jokerit Helinski last season. He played for Jyvaskyla in 1994-95.
|09.07.10 at 10:22 pm ET|
Someone who hasn’t played a video game in years may not have the best perspective on this, but here goes:
WEEI.com was able to get their hands on a copy on a copy of NHL ’11, the most recent edition of the popular EA Sports hockey video game. After taking a gander at the ratings of Bruins players, Boston fans should have something to say about how their team is represented.
Overall, the team is an 88. The offense is an 87 and the defense is an 85. The goaltending gets an 89.
Here are the individual ratings. First, the skaters:
Zdeno Chara: 89
Marc Savard: 88
Nathan Horton: 84
David Krejci: 83
Milan Lucic: 83
Michael Ryder: 82
Marco Sturm: 82
|09.07.10 at 6:02 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart has been paying close attention to everything that has gone on this season regarding the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga, and not just because he’ll have a deal of his own to sort out following the season.
The team’s player representative last season, Stuart is invested in seeing that both the NHLPA and the league are on the same page. With the Devils tacking on extra years to what would have eventually been a 17-year deal, the NHL blew the whistle on the contract, stating it circumvented the salary cap by paying top dollar up front and lowering the cap hit with additional, cheaper years. Through the ordeal it came to light that Stuart’s teammate in Marc Savard had one of the contracts the league felt may not have been kosher. After agreeing to a revised calculation of cap hits, the league dropped the investigation.
“I think it was nice to get a rule in place, first of all so those players know whether they have deals or not, and also it helps the GM’s to know what they can and can’t do,” Stuart said. “It was kind of a grey area there. It always helps to have the rules in place. It’s pretty clear-cut now.”
Technically, the teams weren’t breaking any rules by signing players to such contracts. They were cleverly exploiting a loophole, to be sure, and in correcting it the league essentially patched up a problem on the fly. Stuart doesn’t look at it that way, and instead sees the rule change as a beneficial clarification.
“I think it was fair,” Stuart said of the rule change. “It wasn’t really specified before. I think the NHL and NHLPA did a great thing by talking and coming to an agreement. Now there’s a rule in place that’s pretty clear-cut. There wasn’t anything in there before so it was kind of hard to really see if those deals were legal or not.”
Stuart said there is no news on former MLBPA leader Donald Fehr, who has been rumored to be in line for the same job with the NHLPA after serving as an advisor. The defenseman added that there is no planned vote in place to elect Fehr to the position.
“He’s been helping us out,” Stuart said of Fehr’s affiliation with the players association. “This summer, he’s been a huge help with the different things we’ve been looking at. We’re just talking right now and figuring out which direction we want to go in. ”
After playing 82 games each in 2007-08 and 2008-09, Stuart was able to suit up for just 56 games last season due to a broken sternum, a broken finger, and finally an infection to his hand. Missing time wasn’t something the team’s first round pick from the 2003 draft was exactly used to.
‘It wasn’t very fun. That was one of the hardest parts, was just mentally getting over it,’ Stuart said after Tuesday’s captain’s practice. ‘I think at first I didn’t handle it very well. It was just a miserable situation. But once you realize [that] it doesn’t help to get down about it and just try to get back, I think I came a long way, especially the third time, I guess.’
Now with a clean bill of health, Stuart is excited about the upcoming season. The players will vote on his re-election as player rep following training camp, something he is hopeful for.
|09.07.10 at 2:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The argument against the Bruins last season was that they could not generate any offense. Given that they finished dead last in scoring in the regular season, one would have to guess that the stats were on the side of whomever would make such a claim.
But days before the team was set to draft the counterargument for the future in Tyler Seguin, they made a big splash by trading for Nathan Horton. Now the former Panthers winger is charged with being part of the group that re-establishes the Bruins as a major scoring threat. Speaking after captain’s practice on Tuesday, he looked to the team’s offensive core as something that can meet expectations in his first season as a Bruin.
“You look around and I think there’s obviously going to be high expectations on everyone,” Horton said. “It’s a great team, a great bunch of guys, and a lot of good hockey players. I think it’s great to have high expectations and I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
Horton, who has scored over 25 goals in three of his six seasons since being the third overall pick of the the 2003 draft, looks forward to whatever pressure may be placed on him and a squad that has been eliminated from two consecutive Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I grew up in Canada, so I know what that’s like, but I’m excited,” Horton said. “It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s pressure to perform, and I think that’s what any player wants.”
That pressure, especially in Horton’s case, could be alleviated a touch if he ends up being on a line centered by Marc Savard. The two have been discussed throughout the summer as good complements to one another, especially with Horton’s scoring touch, since the winger joined the team in June.
But it was following his arrival that rumors that Savard could be a goner via trade picked up steam. Many wondered whether the man some thought could make Horton a 40-goal scorer would be around to help potentially form a line. With Peter Chiarelli recently stating that Savard would not be traded, Horton seems that the center, who in December signed a seven-year extension, is staying.
“I don’t know who I’m playing with, but I think obviously he’s a great player,” Horton said. “He’s been a great player for a long time, he sees the ice real well and it’s tough to say, but obviously I would like to see him here. He’s been here for a while, and like I said, he’s a great player.”
Regardless of who he ends up playing with, Horton seems most excited about the team he’s playing for. Expected to contend for a Stanley Cup this season, the 2010-11 Bruins could be Horton’s first shot at the playoffs. Having to endure regular season after regular season without any postseason play has been a challenge for Horton, but with his career overdue for a run at a Cup, Horton’s glad he found his way to Boston.
“It’s been tough,” Horton said. “Seven years is a long time. It’s where you want to play the most, I think, is the playoffs. When you never get there, you don’t taste it. It’s tough, but I guess it’s a new page, a new chapter, and I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled to be here.”
|09.07.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It’s no surprise that the Bruins have a buzz around them that seems to grow by the day. Back-to-back Eastern Conference semifinals appearances likely will do that, and adding players the caliber of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin can’t hurt.
That’s the type of positivity that seemed to come from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Tuesday as he addressed the media for the first time since the team packed up following its ugly Game 7 defeat to the Flyers last season. With the conference semifinals all but wrapped up after the Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead, the B’s watched Philadelphia march back and take four games in a row en route to one of the biggest comebacks in the history of professional sports. It’s hard to take a lesson from such a crushing and embarrassing defeat, but Chara maintained that it helped to emphasize a basic teaching.
“It’s never won,” Chara said. “It’s never won until you win Game 4. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, like we found out. It was just a part of the history, but sometimes you’ve got to always have that in the back of your mind that it can happen.”
Though a chance at the Canadiens would have undoubtedly been a better prize than being taught a hard lesson, Chara seems to be done dwelling on the loss.
“It took a while [to get over], but you have to move on,” Chara said. “That’s just a part of the business. Obviously, you would like to be on the other side of that playoff round, but it happened and you have to learn from it and move on. Hopefully that makes us stronger for this year.”
And it seems this season is one that he’s particularly excited about with the aforementioned upgrades made to the team. The Bruins swung a deal with the Panthers for Horton before the draft and selected Seguin second overall just a few days later. They also retained their strong goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask, who led the NHL last year in GAA and save percentage, and Tim Thomas, who took home the Vezina a year before. Given the offseason, Chara is not afraid to hold his team to high expectations.
“I think that we improved again,” Chara said. “Anything can happen. Anything is possible. We have a good enough team to win all the way. There is a few that can change the direction of how the team’s going. Obviously, injuries are a big part of the success, and if we stay healthy, this team is very strong.