|Good morning, the Bruins are playing||10.09.10 at 6:18 am ET|
PRAGUE — After taking in the Bruins’ final skate before they take the ice for real against the Coyotes, it’s quite apparent that they’ve had enough of the preseason. It’s been a blast seeing Europe for some of these guys, but they’re ready to begin the process of making last season’s playoff collapse a distant memory.
Camp has been long enough. We’ve had the opportunity to do different things and try different things and get our team ready for the season-opener. Now it’s time to get going here. I think everybody’s anxious to get the regular season going.
“It’s a different feeling,” Nathan Horton said following the skate. “The preseason is nice, but this is a different feeling already this morning [in practice]. Everyone’s excited it’s finally here.”
Horton and second overal pick Tyler Seguin have both been cast as the offensive saviors for a club that finished last in the NHL with 2.39 goals per game last season. While both have impressed in the preseason — Horton more so than Seguin based on experience — Claude Julien cautioned those on hand Saturday morning to not place too high of expectations on the young scorers.
“I don’t think we should expect more [from Horton and Seguin] than we should expect from the rest of our team,” Julien said. “Those guys have come in and they know what their strengths are and what they need and want to do to help this team succeed. That’s basically what we need from those kind of guys. Horton’s a guy who can score goals, and I think he’s proven throughout the preseason that he can do that, and we expect him to continue doing that.
“A young kid like Seguin, with three goals in the last two games, I think he’s already proven that he can play at this level, and we have to give him that opportunity to keep growing with our hockey club without putting excess pressure on his shoulders. I think it’s up to us as a team to really come together.”
Horton, the third overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, spent the first six seasons in the NHL with the Panthers, never once tasting playoff hockey. He’s voiced his excitement with the town and the organization since being acquired in June via trade, but he hasn’t been the only one chirping since the move. Prognosticators have been particularly high on Horton now that he’s a Bruin, and though he’s had just one 30-goal season to this point, some feel he could be a 40-goal scorer.
In chatting with Horton after the skate, it seemed as good a time as any to ask. Over or under 40 goals this season?
Horton, who smiles so much that this writer suspects it could just be his bone structure, grinned and responded, “I’m aiming [for it]. I’m trying my best.”
Horton, 25, will skate on the first line, centered by David Krejci with Milan Lucic on the left wing. The line makes for one of the more physical first lines throughout the league, with Horton having a reputation for his physicality and Lucic a fan favorite for his bruising style of play. As a result, Horton reiterated his stance that Lucic, 22, is “the ultimate hockey player.”
“We have a pretty tough team. You have to use it to your advantage. Any time you’re playing a team that’s tough, it’s hard to play against [them]. It’s not fun, and we want to make it like that tonight.”
The defensive pairings have been tough to get a read on due to how much they’ve been moved around, but here’s a safe bet for the forward lines for Saturday night.
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Wheeler- Bergeron – Recchi
Paille – Seguin – Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
Expect Tuukka Rask to be in net.
Here are the preseason leaders, courtesy of the Bruins.
1. Patrice Bergeron, 8
2. Tyler Seguin, 5
2. Zdeno Chara, 5
4. Matt Bartkowski, 4
Here’s one final big-picture quote from Julien this morning:
“Everybody has something that they excel in, as far as their roles are concerned, whether it’s goal-scoring, whether it’s physical play. If we put it all together and we do it well, we’ve got a pretty good hockey club.”
|Mean streets: Why Daniel Paille is out 200 CZK||at 5:18 am ET|
PRAGUE — As anyone who’s been there will tell you, Prague is a beautiful city. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and it’s a great town to walk through. Reading about it would suggest that pickpocketing would prevent one from taking too many strolls, but this writer’s experience has suggested far to the contrary.
That isn’t to say that a North American doesn’t run a risk of losing some cash on the streets of good ol’ Praha, as third-line winger Daniel Paille can now attest to. Walking to the team’s hotel, located in downtown Prague, Paille and sports psychologist Max Offenberger, who is travelling with the team, were ticketed Thursday for jaywalking. The offense cost Paille and Offenberger 200 Czech Crowns apiece.
Do you know how much money that is?
Very, very little. It’s a little more than $11.
Though he was fine with the fine, Paille was caught off guard when approached by the two heroic officers who put an end to his reckless steps.
“We were walking across the street and the cops were right on the corner,” Paille said. “They let us walk to the corner of the street and gave us a ticket.”
So they just let it happen? They didn’t try to stop you?
“Oh yeah. They were right there. I had heard that they gave tickets for jaywalking, but I wasn’t actually sure how serious they were about. Yeah, they’re pretty serious,” Paille added with a laugh.
After dealing with the two officers, one of whom was English-speaking, the other “having no clue” what they were saying, Paille would like to put his law-breaking days behind him. One can only hope that the mild-mannered Paille hasn’t developed a reputation around Prague.
“I don’t think so. Not for jaywalking, anyways,” Paille said. “It’s kind of funny how it all turned out, but obviously it’s a good story.”
TYLER SEGUIN’S OTHER GIFT
Seguin is considered one of the top young talents in the league without having played in a regular season game. His skills make him projectable as eventually being one of the league’s premier scorers, but Saturday morning revealed another talent of his: impersonating Daniel Paille just well enough to fool this reporter.
In chatting with Paille about his own development, I asked him if he feels that at age 26, he’s reached his potential yet, or if the former 20th overall pick has a ways to go before arriving at his ceiling.
“Obviously, it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to, that I’d want in my career,” Paille said of becoming a better offensive player. “I’m definitely looking to help out offensively throughout this coming season.”
With my head in my notepad, writing down his comments, I ask him what he thinks of skating on the third line. What does he make of Seguin?
“Oh, he’s a beauty.”
Heh? Players throughout the locker room have spoken highly of Seguin and his scoring touch, but practically busting out a classic from The Tubes for the rookie? Really? I look up to see a grinning Seguin passing by and pinch-hitting for Paille in the discussion.
|Tyler Seguin scores two as Bruins take Belfast game, 5-1||10.02.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins got some huge cheers from the Odyssey Arena Saturday night, but after the Belfast Giants took a 1-0 lead on them in the second period, the team made it clear they would end their Northern Ireland trip with more than just fanfare.
Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara, and Brad Marchand all scored over the space of a minute following the Giants’ goal, their lone tally off of Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Milan Lucic added one of his own in the third, with Seguin tacking on another on a penalty shot to give the Bruins a 5-1 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.
The game featured no fights, though Shawn Thornton, who has received plenty of attention given his mother’s return to Belfast (her place of birth) did pick up two assists for the Bruins.
From Belfast the Bruins will travel to the Czech Republic, where they will play first three games. They’ll have an exhibition game in Liberec on Oct. 5 before opening the regular season with two games against the Coyotes in Prague on Oct. 9 and 10.
|Wheeler sees Seguin conquering rookie speedbumps early||at 8:25 am ET|
BELFAST — Since arriving in Belfast we’ve been able to take closer looks at how lines are gelling as the regular season inches closer and closer. The first line admittedly is looking forward to breaking out of preseason flashes of greatness, while the second line seems to be both stable and intriguing.
It’s hard to argue that any Bruins line could be more intriguing than the third. The line, centered by second overall pick Tyler Seguin, sees a potential franchise player in between two scorers coming off down years in Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler. For a time, Claude Julien and the Bruins had considered playing Wheeler at center on the line, but ultimately decided that they wanted to take advantage of playing Seguin at his natural position for as long as Marc Savard is out with post-concussion syndrome symptoms.
So, one week before his real NHL debut, what have we seen from Seguin? Like top picks in years past, a lot of proof that he’s an elite talent and some proof that he’s still getting familiar with the NHL surroundings. As for the talent, he can show it off if he wants to, as he did on a goal in practice Thursday that fused fancy stick-handling with deke that made him look more like Brandon Tate on his kickoff return against the Bengals. It’s at spots like those where his natural talent explains how he scored 48 goals a season ago.
Then there are the reminders that he’s still 18 and that he’s adjusting to a new league, new linemates, new everything. Between the rookie games and the Bruins’ preseason games, he’s had a few slip-ups in his own end, something he admittedly feels is the biggest adjustment.
“I think it’s more defensively,” Seguin said of any challenges he’s faced to this point. “‘¦ Obviously there have been little things that you have to adapt to, and I’ve just been doing my best. Usually I am a pretty quick learner, and that’s just what I’ve been trying to do. I just want to stay as consistent as I can with the little things I’m learning.”
Wheeler may have the best seat in the house for watching Seguin’s progress, something he already feels has come a long way. Technically, Wheeler was competing with Seguin for that third center spot, but given both of the players’ willingness to play either position (they both have plenty of experience at both center and on the wing), it really wasn’t a competition at all. In fact, Wheeler sees some of his own situation of a couple years ago when skating with Seguin. Once a top-five pick himself (Coyotes, 2004), Wheeler knows what it’s like to try to make an impression while getting a feel for a new league.
“Tyler’s new on the team, so just getting him adjusted to the physical demands of playing at this level and playing within our system. Once he gets down where to play on the ice, it’s going to make things a lot easier for him, it’s going to slow down the game for him, and you’re going to see his natural abilities come out,” Wheeler said. “He’s a great young player. Like anything else — I remember my first year — it takes a little bit of time to know where to be on the ice at the right times. Once he’s there, he’s just going to take off.”
A year after his senior campaign at the University of Minnesota, Wheeler signed with the Bruins and strung together a 21-goal season out of the gate. After taking a step backwards in his second season with 18 tallies, he’s on a new line with a center he has a great deal of faith in. Even if Seguin makes mistakes in the early going, Wheeler feels the more opportunities the reigning OHL MVP gets to learn from, the closer his comfort will be to matching his skill set.
“It’s all repetition, you know? He just needs to be kind of thrown into the fire like he is,” Wheeler said. “Get him in there and just let him kind of learn by trial and error. He’s going to see that when he’s in the right spots in our system, when he’s keeping things simple, it makes the game a lot easier out there. If you’re trying to do too much at this level, you’re going to be exposed, and I think he’s probably getting a little taste of that right now.”
Julien feels the same way, but places a great deal of stress on the players noticing each speed bump as they come across them. Regardless of star status or any other variable, if the player can diagnose the differences from league to league, Julien feels they’re on the right track.
“I think it’s not just Tyler, but anybody who would come in here and be in their first pro camp or first time with us ‘¦ a first-year player comes in and learns that the pro game is a little different than the junior game, or even the college game for that matter,” Julien said. “At this level here, guys are most of the time in good position to either be outlets, and at the same time, they realize that those little details, they’ll be the first ones to tell you that those things seem to mean a lot in our game.”
The expectations are high on Seguin, but on a team in which each line has a newcomer to the squad, (Nathan Horton, Jordan Caron, Seguin, and Gregory Campbell on lines one through four, respectively) he may not be the only one dealing with an adjustment. His learning process may have huge payoff for the Bruins, and both the team and the city of Boston hope to reap the benefits.
|First period summary: Capitals 1, Bruins 0||09.29.10 at 7:43 pm ET|
Tim Thomas faced six shots and stopped five as Nicklas Backstrom beat the veteran goaltender on a one-timer in front of the net midway through the period.
With teammate Tuukka Rask in sweats up in the press box halo looking on, Thomas looked solid, if not spectacular in his first preseason action this fall.
The Bruins managed just five shots on Capitals netminder Dany Sabourin.
The highlight of the period came two seconds in when Bruins center Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves with Capitals center Matt Hendricks. Just 24 hours earlier, Cambell got into it with Alexander Ovechkin as the two exchanged pleasantries at the Verizon Center.
Ovechkin cross-checked Campbell, who later came back at Ovechkin with a hard hit into the boards. The rough stuff continued and escalated in the third period.
Ovechkin didn’t make the trip so Hendricks was the stand-in and delivered the message at the earliest possible moment – the opening face-off.
As for the most anticipated talent in these parts since Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin centered the line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. He played 5 minutes, 13 seconds and didn’t get a shot on goal. He was on the ice for the Backstrom goal and finished the period with a -1.
|Seguin appears headed for center||at 12:29 pm ET|
The Bruins made six more cuts from camp on Wednesday, sending Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill, Steven Kampfer, Jeff LoVecchio, Jeremy Reich, and Wyatt Smith have been assigned to Providence. Though Colborne was expected to require some more seasoning in the AHL anyway, the move to send Hamill down significantly narrows down the team’s options regarding the third-line center.
“It wasn’t easy,” coach Claude Julien said of sending the former eighth overall pick to Providence. “Zach is a player that has progressed every year so far, and he’s getting there. For him, maybe it’s a disappointment, but for us, we were really impressed with how much he’s gotten better over the course of the few years. He’s pretty close, and to the point where I don’t think as a coach I’d even hesitate to give him a call and use him because there’s going to be some injuries.
“All he has to do is go to Providence and continue to show that he’s a good player and try and be as dominate a player as he can down there. If he has a good season, there’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be back. ”
With the competition seemingly down to second overall pick Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien indicated Wednesday that Seguin may be the preference, though the team will get looks at both players in the three final preseason games. Seguin will center a line with Michael Ryder and Wheeler vs. the Capitals on Wednesday at TD Garden.
“I think it’s getting clearer. Obviously, with Colborne and Hamill being gone, there’s a bit of a competition in a way to see who’s going to end up there. We’d like to see Tyler play in that position tonight and really give him that chance. We know he can play the wing, we’ve seen him play the wing with some players, and be pretty successful, so more than likely you’re going to see him [at center] and we’ll see how he handles it tonight, especially against a Washington team that is usually a pretty good team. If not, we’ve got a couple of preseason games over in Europe where we can rotate him and Blake in and out.”
Here is the rest of the roster for the game:
Goaltenders: Nolan Schaefer, Tim Thomas
It is expected that Thomas will start in net on Wednesday night. It will be his first preseason action.
|Seguin takes the good with the bad||09.25.10 at 10:59 pm ET|
Saturday night was a big night for Tyler Seguin. It definitely wasn’t the first time he heard a crowd go crazy after he scored, and it certainly wasn’t the first time Boston fans lost their voices cheering for him each time his name was announced. It was, however, the first time the two occurrences coincided, as he netted his first goal of the preseason and scored for the first time at TD Garden.
Seguin scored the Bruins’ first goal of the night, one that was followed by a tally from another newcomer in Nathan Horton. Though he was glad to “finally” score as a member of the Bruins (if one scoreless game in which he had an assist against the Canadiens qualifies in Seguin’s mind as a scoring drought, the Bruins are in great shape), Seguin may have been more concerned with the one that got away than his first preseason goal. With the Panthers holding a 2-1 advantage in the shootout, Seguin was stopped by Florida netminder and former Boston College great Scott Clemmensen to end the game.
“There was a lot of pressure there,” Seguin said when asked of the moments leading up to his turn in the shootout. “When I went in, I heard Bergeron [who scored the first goal of the shootout] say the goalie was back in his net, so I wanted to go up high there, but I ended up going low. I kind of whiffed on it a bit, but what can you do?”
Last season’s OHL MVP, Seguin admitted that he could get away with more in his days in juniors than now. He pointed to his play in his own end as an area where he feel he still needs to improve.
“Back in the OHL, you can probably make a couple more errors. Here, if you make those errors, they’re going to cost you,” Seguin said, adding that there are also bits and pieces of his game as a winger that have been developing with more practice.
As for being called on in a shootout again, Seguin said that though he isn’t too experienced with them, he feels comfortable in the setting. He added that he would embrace being used in such a scenario again.
“You know, we didn’t have a lot [of shootouts] on the Whalers, but I’ve always been good at shootouts,” Seguin said. “I’m just going to keep working on it and hopefully I get the opportunity more this year.”