|What to make of these Bruins as they head into homestretch||04.08.13 at 1:26 am ET|
How good are the Bruins? Depends on your mentality.
The optimist loves their chances. He remembers that the team is one of just four with fewer than 10 regulation losses. The pessimist, on the other hand, is worried. He notices that five of those losses have come in their last 11 games. The realist, meanwhile, is trying to figure out just who these Bruins really are.
Good luck, realist.
Regardless of your level of hope, there is no doubt that Bruins are scuffling right now. The team that looked dead in Philadelphia, asleep for 50 minutes in Buffalo, gave up 87 shots in two home games and then embarrassed itself when it couldn’t even muster a shot in their six-on-four power play late in Montreal is clearly not the same group that cruised to a 19-4-3 record to start the year.
There are some obvious differences. These Bruins have had serious personnel changes since the start of the year. Not only have they lost the contributions from two key centermen (Chris Kelly and now Patrice Bergeron), but their loss has tested their depth at the position. It has forced Claude Julien to juggle his lines and shift both Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from the wing, weakening two of his four lines. They’ve also been forced to test their depth on the blue line as Matt Bartkowski and Aaron Johnson have spelled the injured Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuck.
Fortunately for the B’s, I think the optimists win this one. Boychuck is already back. Kelly is close to returning. McQuaid has now skated with the team. Only Bergeron remains as a great mystery for the playoffs, and without him I think we all become horribly pessimistic. He is that important to their postseason chances. Without his presence, as Paul Pierce said about Kevin Garnett‘s effect on the Celtics, “They aren’t going anywhere.”
During this downturn, however, we’ve seen a run of third-period losses. A team once built upon late-game surges has seen its power turned off in key spots. I see two possible explanations: Either the Bruins are getting tired in the third periods, or their goalie keeps losing concentration.
I think the B’s are just tired, and so on this question I’ll remain optimistic as well. Much has been made of the condensed schedule and the toll it is taking on especially physical teams. Julien’s blueprint has always been to beat you up for 40 minutes then take advantage of your exhaustion late. If the schedule has prevented them from playing as physically as they’d like, I’ll assume that they are smartly keeping something in reserve for the playoffs.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t causes for major concern.
|Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight eyeing spot in Boston||06.30.12 at 11:50 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Dougie Hamilton has made headlines as the player most likely to make it to Boston for the 2012-13 season out of the development camp this week. While he has the best shot at making the NHL roster, there are a few others that are probably not as far off as one would think.
Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, who were both selected in the second round of the 2010 draft (Knight was taken 32nd overall, Spooner was taken 45th overall), are among the next tier of prospects who have a shot grabbing the 12th forward spot in Boston.
While the Bruins currently have 11 healthy forwards on the roster (12 if Nathan Horton can return in time for the start of the next season), there is a chance that Spooner or Knight impresses the coaching staff enough to earn the final spot on the roster. However, they would have to beat out any veteran free agents that the team signs along with any AHL player in line to make the jump to the next level, such as newly acquired Chris Bourque, or Carter Camper.
“Yeah, it’s going to be hard for them,” said Peter Chiarelli on Friday. “What we told them going into this camp is that you’re going to have an opportunity to make the team. There’s obviously some that are more likely than others to have that opportunity, but what we’ve done in the past and what we will do in the future is that, if they knock our socks off, we will find room for them.”
The tough task ahead to make the roster does not deter Knight, who said he is shooting to make the NHL club.
“I’m not going to go into camp thinking I’m just going to get sent down to Providence,” Knight said. “I think if I put in a lot of work these next seven or eight weeks I can give myself a chance. You never know with injuries or trades or things like that … That is out of my control though. I’m just coming to camp ready to play.”
Spooner also said that he would try his best to make the NHL team, but that right now he is just focused on improving his attention to detail.
“Hopefully one day I can make it to the National Hockey League,” Spooner said. “Right now I am just focusing on doing all the little things that are going to get me there.
“I think skill-wise I could keep up. But I think the little things, like I said, my strength, how to adjust to that type of game, [I need to improve on].” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins take winger Colton Hargrove with seventh-round pick||06.23.12 at 1:30 pm ET|
The Bruins used their final pick of the NHL draft to select winger Colton Hargrove in the seventh round (205th overall).
Hargrove spent last season with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League, where he recorded 16 goals, 22 assists and 140 penalty minutes in 54 games. The Rockwall, Texas, native will be turning 20 on Monday, and will be playing hockey at Western Michigan University next year. Hargrove stands at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds.
The last player the Bruins took from the Fargo Force was goaltender Zane Gothberg, whom they selected in the sixth round in 2010.
The Bruins selected defenseman Matthew Benning in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2012 NHL draft on Saturday.
Benning, who played with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, scored four goals and 14 assists and recorded 87 penalty minutes in 44 games played. Benning, who turned 18 years old in May, is 6-feet, 218 pounds, and was ranked the No. 176 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.
He comes from good hockey roots, as his father, Brian Benning, was drafted 26th overall by the Blues in 1984 and played with five different teams in his NHL career. His uncle, Jim Benning, was drafted sixth overall by the Maple Leafs, and spent nine seasons with the Leafs and the Canucks.
The Bruins used their second fifth-round pick (145th overall) to take physical winger Cody Payne.
Payne, who was spent most of last season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, is known more for his fists than his offensive skill, as he only totaled five goals and 11 assists in 60 games last season, but recorded 107 penalty minutes. He is 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds at only 18 years old.
Check out a clip of Payne bringing the pain here:
The Bruins selected forward Seth Griffith with their first fifth-round pick (131st overall) in the draft Saturday. The pick was acquired in a trade with the Lightning, when the Bruins dealt the rights to Benoit Pouliot for the pick and Michel Ouellet.
Griffith led the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in goals and points in the 2011-12 season, recording 45 goals and 85 points in 68 games. He also led his team in points during the playoffs, when the Knights were runners-up for the Memorial Cup. The 19-year-old Wallaceburg, Ontario, native is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.
Griffith played alongside former Bruins second-round pick Jared Knight last season in London.
The Bruins selected defenseman Matt Grzelcyk with their third-round pick (85th overall) in the draft on Saturday.
Grzelcyk, who last played with the U.S. National Team Development Program, will be an incoming freshman at Boston University in the fall. Grzeclyk was ranked the No. 177 North American skater in April. Last year with Team USA, the 5-foot-9, 170 pound defenseman scored a goal and 10 assists in 24 games.
The selection of Grzelcyk continues a recent trend of Boston acquiring undersized college defensemen, like signing of Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug, and the trade for BU defenseman David Warsofsky.
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