|Jarome Iginla establishes physical presence in Bruins debut||10.03.13 at 11:29 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla didn’t think it was a particularly dirty hit. He just didn’t like being knocked to the ice by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, so he decided to say something. After a quick verbal exchange, the gloves were off and Iginla had his first fight as a Bruin.
“It is always nice [to get the first fight out of the way],” Iginla said. “Between seasons, with the summer off, you always feel a little bit rusty at the start. It’s always nice. Just going off emotion. Nothing planned. Just got run over. That’s part of it.”
Whether it was the best time for Iginla to drop the gloves is highly debatable. He’s a first-line winger, and Gudas is not a first-pairing defenseman. On top of that, the Bruins had the lead at the time. All things considered, the Lightning would take that trade-off every time, especially since they ended up scoring just 1:26 after the fight.
But the fight did serve a purpose for Iginla. It was the centerpiece of his effort to establish himself on a new team. Combined with some of the hits he threw as an aggressive forechecker, the fight let everyone know that, at age 36, the future Hall of Famer is still going to be as physical as he’s always been.
And on a team that takes pride in sticking up for each other, Iginla made it known that he’s perfectly capable of sticking up for himself and fighting his own battles.
“That’s been Bruins hockey for a long time,” Iginla said. “Guys stick up for each other, but you also have to stick up for yourself. You don’t want anyone else rushing in on a good, clean hit. It’s just part of the intensity, part of the emotion.”
While it wasn’t Iginla’s primary motivation for dropping the gloves, the fight also won over the small group of Bruins fans who hadn’t quite forgiven Iginla for spurning the B’s in favor of the Penguins last season. There had even been a few boos when Iginla was introduced before the game.
But after the fight? Standing ovation.
“It felt good to play here and play at home, have the crowd, and be a Bruin,” Iginla said. “Guys play hard. Some big blocked shots. [Shawn Thornton] starting it off with a tilt there. There’s some hits. It felt good to be a part of an intense season opener again to get things started.”
Ultimately, the Bruins didn’t bring Iginla to Boston to be a fighter. They brought him here to be the first-line goal scorer he’s been his whole career. And given that Iginla scored 14 goals in last year’s lockout-shortened season and 30 or more in each of the 11 seasons prior to that, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be that.
Iginla’s track record speaks for itself. He didn’t need to prove himself to anyone on Thursday night. But the fact that he wanted to prove himself — to his new teammates and to his new home crowd — certainly bodes well for the Bruins.
|Jordan Caron looking to crack Bruins lineup||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.”
|Tim Thomas not talking about matching last season||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.”
|Nathan Horton feels good on first day of camp||09.17.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Nathan Horton skated on the TD Garden ice Saturday for the first time since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, when he suffered a concussion and was carted off on a stretcher. After two hours of practice, he said he felt just fine.
“It definitely feels good,” Horton said. “It feels nice to not have any setbacks, especially today. The first day is always the hardest. I feel good right now, and hopefully I continue to feel good.”
Horton, who was also recovering from a separated shoulder, first returned to the ice last Friday during veterans practice in Wilmington. He said Saturday that he doesn’t have any lingering effects from either injury.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Horton said. “I just feel like it’s in the past. I haven’t even thought about it. When I’m on the ice or I do the fitness testing, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I just try and do as well as I can and don’t worry about headaches or anything like that.”
This offseason was different for Horton not just because he was recovering from those injuries, but also because it was much shorter than the offseasons he had in Florida, where he never made the playoffs in six seasons.
“It’s fun coming in every year knowing you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Horton said. “That’s what excites me, and I think everyone’s just excited to be back and go for another chance. When you get in the playoffs, like everyone says, it’s a taste you just want to keep getting more of. It was the best experience of my life, obviously, and it was a lot of fun. I just can’t wait to work towards getting back there.”
|Bruins take Russian forward Alex Khokhlachev in second round||06.25.11 at 11:45 am ET|
After taking defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the first round, the Bruins went offense in the second when they selected forward Alex Khokhlachev with the 40th overall pick. A native of Moscow, Russia, Khokhlachev spent last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where he registered 34 goals and 42 assists in 67 games.
The 5-foot-10 Khokhlachev, who won’t turn 18 until September, is a left-handed shot who can play both wing and center. Scouts praise him for his grit, work ethic and hockey IQ, as well as his quick release and accurate shot. The biggest knock on Khokhlachev is that he is an average skater and doesn’t possess an elite skill set. TSN notes that he “gets most of his points through hard work and hustle.”
|Roberto Luongo can’t explain poor performances in Boston, ready to move on||06.14.11 at 12:47 am ET|
Roberto Luongo never saw it coming. No, that’s not a reference to the Bruins’ third goal Monday night, an Andrew Ference shot from the point that found its way through a Mark Recchi screen. Luongo never envisioned himself having another bad game in Boston, his third of the series.
“Honestly, I had a good feeling all day,” Luongo said after Game 6, a game in which he lasted just 8:35 before being pulled. “There were no extra nerves or anything like that. I was excited to play. I mean, we had a chance to win the Cup.”
And yet there he was, heading to the bench after allowing three goals on eight shots. Although Luongo was blinded on the Bruins’ third goal, the first two were definitely stoppable. Brad Marchand scored on the Bruins’ first shot of the game with a wrister from the right circle that found the top right corner. No doubt it was a great shot by Marchand, but Luongo said he could’ve had it.
“I mean, I was there,” Luongo said. “It was a good shot, but at the same time, I got to make that save. He put it where he wanted, but I got to make a save there.”
Thirty-five seconds later, Milan Lucic managed to sneak a shot through Luongo’s five-hole that ended up trickling over the line.
Luongo said he didn’t have any explanation for why he has struggled so much in Boston during this series — he’s given up 15 goals in three games here and has been pulled twice — and that this wasn’t the time to start trying to explain it.
“I’ve had success on the road all year,” Luongo said. “I know that before the series even started, I enjoyed playing in this building. So I’m not going to make any excuses. It just didn’t happen for me obviously, in all three games.
“I’m just going to move on right now,” Luongo continued. “We have one game at home to win a Stanley Cup. … You can’t hang your head now and feel sorry for yourself. That would be the worst thing I could do.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said after the game that Luongo will be back in net to start Game 7, and he said he fully expects Luongo to bounce back, just like he did in Game 5 when he picked up a shutout.
“I don’t have to say anything to him,” Vigneault said. “He’s a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach, and he’s going to be ready for Game 7.”
Luongo said he isn’t worrying about how he’ll perform in Game 7, either.
“I mean, I got to believe in myself, right? That’s a big component of bouncing back and playing a good game,” Luongo said. “We’re going to put what happened tonight behind us as soon as possible and get ready for what is going to be a dream as far as playing in Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final.”
The rest of the Canucks players deflected criticism away from Luongo and turned their attention to Wednesday night.
“He’s done it before and he’s going to do it again,” Daniel Sedin of Luongo bouncing back from bad games. “We’re not blaming individual guys when we lose. We lose as a team and we win as a team. We’re excited going into Game 7. It’s going to be awesome.”
|Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel||06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
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