|Matt Hunwick hopes to build on a solid Sunday||10.15.10 at 4:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The differences between the Bruins’ first two games were telling enough without having to dive into the box score. The shots on Sunday were there as they had been the night before (37 after a 42 shot effort in Saturday’s 5-2 loss), but the team was more consistent offensively in addition to recovering from a very sloppy defensive night. The turnovers that doomed the team in the season-opener disappeared on Sunday while poor individual performances were made a thing of the past by stronger efforts.
One of the players who experienced a night-and-day weekend was defenseman Matt Hunwick. After posting a team-worst minus-3 plus/minus on Sunday and having his pairing with Dennis Seidenberg separated mid-game, Hunwick was one of the better ice in the team’s second game. Hunwick had three shots on goal and tied for a team-high plus-two.
Yet while many of the players who saw improved performances from one day to the next in Prague, it was Hunwick’s effort that could end up meaning more to the Bruins as the season goes on. To the casual observer, you couldn’t notice him in his own end — a good sign — while he also showed strong signs of being the puck-moving defenseman the team lost in the Dennis Wideman trade.
“I think it’s funny. You look at the stat sheet after, and you don’t really think you did too much different from game to game, but sometimes you get the bounces and you get the pucks, and the assists. Sometimes you don’t,” Hunwick told WEEI.com recently. “That’s kind of how the game works, but collectively we obviously played a lot better in the third period on Saturday and carried that right into Sunday and played three good periods. That’s the idea of where we want to be.”
Hunwick displayed impressive vision on the ice and was one of the players who stood out on the power play. While he figures to continue to see time on the man advantage, the hope with the 26-year-old is that his contributions aren’t limited to how he can help the team offensively.
“First of all, I have to be good in my own end, that’s where it starts,” Hunwick said when asked about what he expects from himself in his fourth season. “Especially for a team like this. I think my role is expanding a little bit.
“I’ve been playing on the power play, and I feel like I have to be a facilitator on that unit and also learn to shoot the puck and create opportunities for the other guys that are out there. That’s a lot bigger role than I had last year. I think I started doing that in the playoffs, and now this year that will hopefully be a role that I have all season long.”
|Julien: Too early to ‘jump all over’ Bruins special teams||10.15.10 at 3:27 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ power play didn’t jump off the page in their first two games of the season, but then again superb play on the man advantage was not characteristic of their club a season ago.
The Bruins finished last season with a power play that was 23rd in the league (16.6 percentage). Their penalty kill was a different story, as they killed off 86.4 percent of their penalties, good for third best in the league.
Last weekend in Prague, the Bruins scored on just one of eight powerplays, while they were shorthanded on just three occasions but allowed a power play goal to the Coyotes on Saturday.
The Bruins saw many faces on the power play, ranging from Tyler Seguin to Milan Lucic to Matt Hunwick, among others. With the team still getting familiar with the season, the power play also is a work in progress.
“It all depends. I don’t think there’s number of games [at which you can tell],” Bergeron said of gauging a clicking power play. “Obviously, when there’s new guys on the power play, we need some time to adjust.”
As for where the weekend performance left the Bruins in regard to special teams rankings, Claude Julien noted that it’s simply too early to read into the power play and penalty kill, which rank 19th and 28th, respectively.
“I think we had 19 shots on the power play. We came out with one goal,” Julien said. “I know we had some opportunities, and we maybe didn’t quite finish. ‘¦ I wouldn’t jump all over the power play and say it hasn’t been good more than it hasn’t had the results.
“You get two more goals and you’re in the top five. That’s how close it is. It’s two games in. It’s just like our penalty kill. We gave up one goal, but because we only killed three right away, our penalty kill is getting a lot of questions. I think we need a little time here before we jump all over those special teams.”
|Video: Claude Julien, 10/15/10||10.15.10 at 1:43 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Here’s the video of Claude Julien talking about the Bruins’ special teams, Cam Neely, and Brad Marchand on Friday at the team’s final Ristuccia skate before departing for New Jersey, where they will face the Devils on Saturday.
|Quebec connection paying dividends for Jordan Caron, Patrice Bergeron||10.15.10 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A player’s rookie year in the NHL presents some pretty predictable obstacles. Getting used to the speed of the game, limiting mistakes, and not letting the game get inside one’s own head. When the player is under 20 years of age and learning a new language, perhaps the jitters felt and the speedbumps experienced become enhanced a bit, and the rookie naturally seeks the guidance of a player who was once in similar shoes.
That may be exactly the relationship that exists between Bruins second-liners Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron. Both players come from Quebec, and like Bergeron did as an 18-year-old in the 2003-04 season, Caron, 19, is entering a new league while also trying to master a new language. To this point, both his English and his game have come along nicely, though the whole package has been aided by the now 25-year-old Bergeron.
After over-thinking situations on the ice at points in the team’s scrimmage in Belfast, Bergeron and Mark Recchi, at the time linemates with Caron, had lunch and discussed the challenges the young winger was facing. The lunch concluded with the two deciding that it would be best if Bergeron took Caron for dinner to remind him of how big a difference he could make.
‘It’s been a long camp for me, but I don’t want to take that as an excuse,’ Caron said a few days after the Belfast game. ‘I guess it has been a long training camp for me, but I have to get over it and just try to do my best.’
While in Prague, Bergeron did take Caron, who by then had been demoted to the third line, out for the meal, one that both players feel helped the rookie.
“We went for dinner in Prague. I didn’t say much. It was just to make him feel comfortable and realize that he’s part of the team and he’s a good player and that even though he’s young, he’s good,” Bergeron said, adding that he told Caron to, “just play the same game that he’s been playing throughout his career.”
After scoring in the team’s preseason finale in Liberec, Czech Republic, Caron was a scratch in the season-opener against the Coyotes, a game in which the team fell to Phoenix, 5-2. He made his NHL debut on Sunday, being bumped back up to the second line with Bergeron and Blake Wheeler. Caron logged a team-low 9:42 minutes of ice time but got a couple of shots on net in the process, making an overall first impression that he’s glad to have gotten out of the way.
Since the team returned from Prague, Caron has skated with the second line and though he has taken to the “anything can happen” mentality, it appears his ice time will only go up as the season progresses. As that comes, so too may more rookie challenges, but Bergeron has made it clear to Caron that he is more than happy with aiding in the adjustment as well as he can. After all, it wasn’t long ago that he had a go-to guy in the locker room for the same purpose.
“Martin Lapointe was always there [for me] my first year,” Bergeron recalled. “He was always calming me down and helping me make sure I wasn’t getting ahead of myself.”
Bergeron lived with Lapointe and his family in his rookie year. On the ice, he made big strides, contributing 39 points as rookie despite facing the challenges that accompany someone learning English off the ice.
“It was pretty hard, especially that first year. It was different and difficult as well, just for opening bank accounts and all that, social security number, and all that stuff,” Bergeron said. “Things that were different with me are pretty much the same with Jordan. They’re all things you’ve got to go through, but with help it’s pretty easy.”
A difference can definitely be observed in Caron’s English from the summer’s rookie development camp until now. He notes that he’s “getting comfortable with everything,” but that he’s not afraid to be persistent with Bergeron if it means getting a firmer grasp on things.
“I don’t want to be annoying, but he told me not to be scared to ask him anything, and that’s what I do,” Caron said.” If I don’t understand a drill sometimes because the language is different, I’ll go right up to him and ask him.”
|Bruins hold final practice before Devils game||10.15.10 at 11:32 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins took the ice on Friday for their final skate at Ristuccia Arena before travelling to New Jersey for a Saturday night matchup with the Devils.
All players were accounted for on Friday, and the lines remain unchanged from Thursday. The team did some shootout work about 15 minutes into the skate as teammates looked on in amusement. Johnny Boychuk did appear to get hit in either the back of the leg or the side of the skate with a Milan Lucic shot, but he seemed to skate it off and did not leave the ice. Stay tuned for more from the locker room following practice.
|Video: Claude Julien, 10/14/10||10.14.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
Nathan Horton has three goals through two games, but what makes the feat more interesting is the fact that he took just five shots total between the two Prague contests. On Thursday, that stat was brought up to Claude Julien, who noted that if people look hard enough at the good, they can generally “find things that aren’t good enough.”
“If he can score three goals on every five shots, I’ll take it,” Julien said with a smile. “That’s my positive way of looking at it.’
Here’s the video of the Bruins coach’s session with the media on Thursday.
|Tyler Seguin up to speed, won’t ‘over-respect’ Martin Brodeur, Devils||10.14.10 at 2:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Anyone with access to YouTube can be the judge of whether Tyler Seguin‘s first goal as a member of the Bruins rivaled Jordan Eberle‘s first NHL tally. Seguin pointed out on Sunday with grin that the Oilers rookie’s first goal was more impressive than his breakaway clinic on hand-eye coordination despite not having seen his own goal’s replay.
Four days later, could Seguin have avoided even seeing his replay in the time following the team’s 3-0 win over the Coyotes? Likely not. Friends have directed him to websites showcasing the play, while family members have texted him support. The second overall pick actually did not call his parents in Prague following the game, given that the team was hurrying to leave for Boston, and he joked that the long-distance charges would make the call to Ontario a “pretty pricey call.” Despite not being able to hear the reaction from his folks, Seguin is pretty confident he could imagine the scene.
“I think my mom was screaming probably,” Seguin said.
Much had been made during the summer and the preseason of how Seguin would adjust to the NHL in the early going. So far, it’s been as predicted — it seems he’ll have an impact as a scorer, while the rest of his game fills out. One positive about the former OHL MVP is that he’s more concerned with on-ice adjustments than he is about dealing with nerves. He’s been a hyped prospect for too long to make him shy on the professional ice. In fact, he noted that O2 Arena didn’t even bring out the most nerves he’s felt thus far in the process.
“I think I was more nervous going into the first preseason game against Montreal than I was for my first NHL game for whatever reason,” Seguin said. “It was kind of the same game, but the pace was much different [Saturday]. It really took only one period to adapt, but I feel pretty comfortable out there now.”
Unlike some of his teammates, Seguin had been to Prague multiple times, so seeing the city was nothing new. As much as the “team bonding” thing has been played up in wake of the trip, Seguin didn’t view it as something that should be overlooked. He felt the trip brought players closer together, with the re-signings of Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara evidence that the team is what he called “a big family.”
Seguin had an interesting take when asked Thursday how he felt about facing a future Hall of Fame goaltender in Devils’ netminder Martin Brodeur. Seguin, 18, noted that though he is a younger player who grew up watching many of the players still in the league, getting anxious to face certain players is not the right way to look at things.
“Every single team is going to have their superstars. I don’t really look at that,” Seguin said. “Obviously, I’m always going to be a hockey fan, but I’m still here. This is my job now. I’m not going to over-respect too many people with the opposition. If you give people too much respect, they’ll take your game right away from you.”
Brodeur made 24 saves on Wednesday night in the Devils’ 1-0 victory over the Sabres. It was Brodeur’s 111th career shutout.
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