Three Things Learned at Bruins/Rangers preseason
|09.20.09 at 11:57 am ET|
In anticipation of the regular season slowly crawling our way on Oct. 1, here’s a quick “three pack” of the Things We Learned at yesterday’s Bruins preseason loss to the Rangers, 5-2, at the TD Garden because — after all — this is preseason for the writers just as much as it’s preseason for the players.
1) Marc Savard is healthy and primed for a huge year with the Bruins in his contract season
The playmaking center’s job description for a little more challenging when his big trigger man was traded to the Northeast Division rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night, but the 32-year-old didn’t show any evidence of rust or the early training camp knee trouble. He looked fast and smooth going up and down the Garden ice, played a pretty good two-man game with Milan Lucic (didn’t see a lot of early chemistry with Michael Ryder skating on the right wing with them yesterday) and he potted a goal during the first period.
The NHL stars should stand out even more when they’re playing against AHL defenseman and goalies that will be bagging groceries in Saskatoon, and Savard did just that in his first action.
“I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. Personally, from a personal stand point, we are a little all Swedish, and no Finnish, so we were moving the puck well we just didn’t take those shots,” said Savard after the game. “We were a little too cute, but that comes when you play summer hockey, you just try to be cute out there. I think we just have to get back to Boston Bruins hockey and drive in some shots there. I think we were moving around a little too much as a whole.”
2) Steve Begin is going to become a player that Bruins Nation loves pretty unconditionally
The 31-year-old forward came to Boston with caution flags after throwing a cross-check that broke a bone in Savard’s back two seasons ago, but he’s quickly winning a spot on the club and in the fans’ hearts. He’s already stuck up for teammates — he stepped in to drop the gloves yesterday when Dane Byers came after Drew Fata — and taken on a younger, bigger, stronger opponent in the Maple Leafs preseason game last week.
Begin is coming to Boston as advertised: a fourth-line grinder with a bit of skill and a great deal of snarl in his hockey game at all the right times. As long as the 6-foot, 193-pounder chooses his moments carefully, he’s going to be a valuable asset that the B’s could always use more of. After all, even Shawn Thornton’s hardened knuckles can use a day off every once in a while.
“The thing is it is hard to change a guy who’s been like that his whole life and his whole career and that’s who Begin is. Tonight he came into the defense of Fata who already had a scrap and is wearing a scar from yesterdays stick in the face,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “He came to the defense of his teammate and that’s the thing we like about Steve Begin. It doesn’t matter if it’s an exhibition game and who it is.
“He’s going to play the same way night in and night out. Yes he is 31, there is a risk of injury and this and that. He doesn’t care and it’s hard for us to change him because that the reason we went and got him because he comes to play every night the same way and is a hard-nosed player.”
3) Tim Thomas could use a little more action before he’s ready for a return to Vezina Trophy levels
It was clear early that the All-Star goaltender wasn’t on top of his game when he got a clean look at a Sean Avery blast from the left faceoff dot — and the puck somehow trickled in the net for a Rangers goal. Those type of goals simply don’t happen during the regular season against the Tank, and it’s simply a byproduct of rustiness and sharing reps with the five other goaltenders currently in training camp.
Thomas allowed five goals on 19 shots behind a defense that featured some AHL players and rookies in positions of support, and he knows that this typical training camp fare: get your work in, get the juices flowing and get ready for the regular season.
“It felt somewhat awkward. I think part of that was the product of the game and part of that was that it was the first game in five months,” said Thomas when asked how his first preseason action of the year felt on Saturday afternoon.
Young B’s players that stood out:Zach Hamill, Max Sauve, Johnny Boychuk
Young B’s players that looked a little out of place:Jeff Penner,