An Update On Bruins Prospects Frederic And Hughes

(Photo Credit: Jessi Schoville, The Daily Cardinal)

By Mike Cratty                                                            Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The Wisconsin boys, Cameron Hughes and Trent Frederic held down the top two center spots and came to North Andover, MA last night to take on Merrimack College, along with the rest of a strong Wisconsin squad. Both of the Boston Bruins prospects are NCAA studs and had solid showings Wisconsin’s 4-1 win over Merrimack.

I’m a team manager for the Men’s hockey team at Merrimack. This game was a treat as a Bruins fan and writer, not as a Merrimack student, unfortunately. Part of what makes it so great is the view I have for every home game.

Cameron Hughes really came to play last night. As a senior, Hughes has the “C” on his chest and for good reason. His skating sticks out, his stride is smooth, and he is pretty agile. Hughes put together a good all-around showing despite not tallying a point. One negative that stood out was that he struggled on a few defensive zone breakouts, which can be fixed.

Hughes displayed great passion as the Wisconsin captain. Merrimack’s only goal was questionable is his eyes, and he made it known. That type of intensity from a leader is significant and should always be a valued quality. Although he was riled up a bit, he didn’t blow his lid and do anything too rash.

A right amount of playing time came his way, including power play and penalty kill minutes. He did an excellent job forcing a timely turnover in the first that lead to a decent chance for Wisconsin. Trent Frederic did the same a few minutes later in the period. Impressive hockey IQ was definitely present from Cameron Hughes.

Hughes was just under a point-per-game with 32 points in 36 games and has two points in five games to start his senior season. Altogether, Cameron Hughes holds good late-round value as the 165th overall pick in 2015.

(Photo Credit: http://www.uwbadgers.com)

Frederic, who was drafted 29th overall in 2016, picked up the secondary assist on Wisconsin’s fourth goal. He was locked in last night, I couldn’t think of one negative thing to say. What sticks out the most to me in Frederic’s game is his patience and willingness to take care of the defensive zone first. Not to mention the fact that he earned an “A” on his chest after tallying over a point-per-game in his freshman season. He is picking up where he left off with five points in five games to start his sophomore season.

With new responsibility comes substantial playing time. Frederic saw the ice a whole lot, including power play and penalty kill time. Getting back to his patience, one moment where it really stood out was in the first period last night. On the penalty kill, he was patiently waiting in open space for a pass to come his way and didn’t overcommit to his man. This lead to him stretching out his stick to pick off a Merrimack pass and dump the puck. While that may seem like a simple thing, patience and poise like that from a 19-year-old is very good to see.

On the power play, Frederic occupied the half wall on the right side boards and worked hard down low. It looks so simple to him. His 6-foot-2 frame allows him to box opposing players out, control, then distribute the puck however necessary.

Frederic plays a mature and poised game, with the skill to add to an impressive arsenal of good qualities for a hockey player to have. Last Friday, October 6, Wisconsin took on Ohio State, and one of the Fox Sports announcers had high praise for Trent Frederic. This praise entailed him saying something along the lines of that he thinks Trent Frederic may be NHL ready soon, if not now. He also brought up how thinks Trent Frederic is a real leader at such a young age, with former Wisconsin captain Luke Kunin leaving for the Minnesota Wild organization.

The value of drafting Trent Frederic at 29th overall is looking very good, he really is an impressive player.

Both of the Wisconsin boys are making their presences known with the 4-1-0 Badgers. Boston Bruins fans should be very excited to see how their developmental process goes in the future.

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Bruins Bjork Nets First Goal Against Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 14: Anders Bjork #10, Charlie McAvoy #73 and Danton Heinen #43 of the Boston Bruins celebrate a third period goal against Louis Domingue #35 of the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 14, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. Bruins won 6-2. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred                 Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins put aside the mediocre effort they displayed when they played the Colorado Avalanche twice last week with a solid showing last night with a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The Bruins have now won ten straight games against the Desert Dogs and look to continue last night’s success when they play the new Las Vegas Golden Knights franchise for the first time tonight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although, there were many highlight goals that could be mentioned during the offensive beatdown the B’s gave the Yotes last night, one rookie player on this Bruins team deserves an honorable mention for getting his first National Hockey League goal. It only took four games for Anders Bjork to notch his first career goal and it was a beauty late in the third period as the young talented winger fires a power-play goal past Coyotes netminder Louis Domingue from the right offensive circle after a creative pass through traffic from fellow rookie Jake DeBrusk. These two players connected back on October, 5th, during the seasons first game against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden when Bjork was the primary assist on DeBrusk’s first career goal.

( Above Photo Credit:   NHL .com/BostonBruins .com )

Below are some Tweets from fans and hockey writers about the accomplishment of the young player with tremendous upside.

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Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 4

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Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian (USA TODAY Sports)

By: KG                   Follow me on Twitter: @kgbngblog

PREGAME NOTES

Bergeron, who was day-to-day (Multiple days ago), is still not back in the lineup. David Backes will still be on the IR for a while. Frank Vatrano, who hasn’t been great in the games he’s played in, was replaced on the third line by Austin Czarnik. Bruce Cassidy hopes that this will help the team’s struggles that have been happening lately. Khudobin was called to start after Rask gave up 8 goals to the Avalanche over 5 periods (Back-to-Back games)

What I Am Looking Forward To

I usually never get a chance to watch the Coyotes, so I will definitely be watching Max Domi and Clayton Keller. I’ll also try to catch a glimpse of the Keller/McAvoy relationship. They played together at Boston University, and have kept in touch since. Always fun to see former teammates play against each other.

PERIOD ONE

Not a great start, but eventually it started to get better as time went on. The Bruins seemed to be able to break into the zone a bit more. Anthony Duclair/Mario Kempe broke the scoring with a big one-timer from Duclair off of Kempe that beat Khudobin’s blocker. Domingue looked a little shaky at first but still kept everything out of the net until Chara used David Pastrnak as a human target to ricochet his shot off of. Pastrnak was credited for the goal, and looked hurt, but powered through. After that, the Bruins controlled the puck more and got some good zone time. Definitely an improvement from the last two games.

Scoring

BOS – Pastrnak (Chara, Carlo)

ARZ – Kempe (Duclair, Schenn)

PERIOD TWO

The Bruins got on the power play early in the third. Krug was back playing the point/QB as he does. We saw Bjork give up another good shot opportunity, but the man advantage ultimately ended up in a goal. Another tipped one-timer, but this time Krejci shooting and young Jake DeBrusk tipping it. But after that, the Bruins seemed to once again not be able to break out of the zone as effectively as they were before. Another big thing that was confirmed this period was how out of place Riley Nash looks alongside Marchand and Pastrnak. Anyone watching could tell you he was the odd one out. They kept setting him up left and right but he just can’t do anything with the puck. We have seen the end of Chara-haters, at least until tomorrow’s game. Chara crashed the net for a goal and also sprung Marchand for the 4-1 lead. Overall one of the Bruins’ best periods of the young season.

Scoring

BOS – DeBrusk (Krejci, McAvoy), Chara (Marchand, Pastrnak), Marchand (Chara, McQuaid)

ARZ – N/A

PERIOD THREE

Right out of the gate Arizona came swinging. Anton Khudobin had to stay on his toes to keep it a 4-1 game. Charlie McAvoy showed his ability to find passing lanes that few others can in the first few minutes of the period with some fancy passing. The Bruins continued to try to spring quick players for odd-man rushes, which would sometimes work, but often fail. Chara took a bad penalty and ended up forcing Khudobin to come up clutch again while flopping around like a fish out of water, which is always entertaining/scary. He looked a lot like a former B’s goalie who would make those kinds of saves regularly (Mr. Tim Thomas). McQuaid was sent to the box for trying to fight a Coyote who wanted nothing to do with him, and because of that penalty, it brought the lead to 4-2 from an Oliver Ekman-Larsson powerplay goal. But then the Bruins took off and scored back to back, including Anders Bjork’s first career NHL goal. 6-2 final from the desert. Overall, it was a good game. Definitely better to see this kind of play then what we saw when they played the terrible back-to-back with Colorado.

Scoring

BOS – Schaller (Heinen, Kuraly), Bjork (Heinen, DeBrusk)

ARZ – Ekman-Larsson (Demers, Stephan)

POSTGAME

This is exactly how teams should feel after they play the Bruins. Beat them so bad that they need to get the *Head Coach* to apologize for their play. Love it.

KG’s Three Stars Of The Game

1st: Zdeno Chara – It feels great to be able to say that Chara played well again. He was all over the place in the offensive zone. He even scored a goal. With his feet in the crease. And not because he was screening. He also assisted on a pre-drawn play to Marchand, as well as mildly, not really injuring Pastrnak in a goal. Zdeno Chara is my first star of the game because of his play. Wow. What a time to be alive.

2nd: Brad Marchand – Marchand was doing Marchand kind of things on the ice tonight. Blowing by the D and getting shots from areas no one else could. He also somehow managed to see the very small and not noticeable at all Zdeno Chara charging in from the point to pass to for his only assist of the night. Let’s hope we see this Marchand more nights than not.

3rd: Charlie McAvoy – Chucky McAvoy was easily one of the best players on the ice tonight. He had an ok night in the stats department, but anyone watching the game will tell you how he had the vision of a hawk. Just putting pucks on tape everywhere he went. It was a huge factor in the Bruins offensive attack since they figured out how to effectively break out of the zone when he was on the ice.

MUP (Most Under-Appreciated Player): The Fourth Line – The entire fourth line was solid tonight, and did exactly what a good fourth line does. Get chances when they are out on the ice, and provide a spark for the other players on the bench. Great job by them, scoring a line total of four points combined. Great effort.

BIRDHOUSE – Round-up of the best Tweets during the game

(Not to toot my own horn, but they were pretty great. Toot Toot)

NEXT GAME

Sunday, October 15th, 2017 at Vegas Golden Knights

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog Like, share and comment your takes on the article

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Four Providence Bruins Players Off To Great 2017-18 Starts

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred              Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins are off to a great start to the 2017-18 season beating the Springfield Thunderbirds twice in a week. With the 2-0 record, the Baby B’s look to stay perfect on the season as they host the Toronto Marlies tonight when the puck drops at 7:05 from the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Although the fantastic start can be directed to a total team effort, four players currently with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins deserve honorable mentions.

Kenny Agostino

After being demoted to the AHL Providence team after not impressing the Bruins Brass at camp last month, the 25-year-old left winger made the best of the situation with his new club in a league he’s very familiar with. Although his numbers at the NHL level aren’t mind-blowing only contributing five points in 17 games, his game at the AHL level continues to be strong posting 188 points in 199 games played.

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Drafted in the fifth round in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Penguins the 6′-0″ 203-pound forward has made stops playing with the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues organizations before landing in Boston via free agency back in July of this year. So far in two games with the Baby B’s. Kenny has fit in well surrounded by a plethora of talent and has 1-4-5 numbers scoring his first goal last night in the 3-2 win over Springfield.

Peter Cehlarik

The 6′-2″ 203-pound Slovakian native is currently playing in his second full season in the AHL and has made the jump to the NHL Bruins club last season posting two points in 11 games. Last season was Peters rookie year and first playing in North America, but the difference in rink size and international play didn’t seem to affect the left winger as he contributed 39 points in 49 games.

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This year the big power forward is tied for the team lead posting 2-3-5 numbers and seemingly not affected by the injury he sustained in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs where the Providence team went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Syracuse Crunch in a best-of-seven game series 4-1.

Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson

Often compared to Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron for having a complete two-way game, the 20-year-old center and Stockholm, Sweden native has played quite well in the AHL after his demotion straight out of Bruins training camp. This season with Providence he’s scored in each of his two career games and has three points (2-1-3) in those two games. After a successful colligate career at Boston University where the 6′-1″ 183-pound forward posted 63 points in 78 games the Bruins saw enough from the talented center and signed him to a three-year entry-level contract and got him his first taste of NHL action at the end of last season.

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Look for the creative and skilled Forsback-Karlsson to have a good year in the minor-pro ranks of developmental hockey and wouldn’t be shocked if he makes a return to the NHL sometime this season barring injuries on the current club but might make a full appearance in the NHL next season as he continues to improve his game with the Baby B’s this year.

Zane McIntyre

The 2010 sixth round selection of the B’s took a serious step forward in his development in his second year of minor-pro hockey and surpassed his average rookie season when he went 14-8-7 with a goals-against-average of 2.68 and .898 save percentage in 31 games. Last season as mentioned the 25-year-old Grand Forks, North Dakota native played in 31 and posted a 21-6-1 record, a 2.03 GAA and .930 save%.

This season so far McIntyre seems to be on the right track to do better than his past years with Providence as he remains unbeaten in his first two games. Both games Zane’s played against Springfield this week he’s given up 2 goals and has an impressive .930 save% in those contests. His game at the NHL level has not been great but did show signs of promise even tho he had an 0-4-1 record and GAA hovering around four in the eight games he got to play when the current Bruins backup Anton Khudobin was sent down after his terrible start to the 2016-17 year.

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BFR1 – Game 3 – Avalanche of Pain

 

By: Spencer Fascetta                        Follow Me On Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Yeah, it didn’t go much better… PuckNerd shares his pain and frustration with the garbage excuse for a Bruins team that showed up in Colorado Wednesday night.

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Expectations for Bruins Anders Bjork

 

( Above Photo Credit:   NHL .com )

By: Nick Peters                              Follow Me On Twitter @NickPeters48

Anders Bjork has been deemed NHL ready ever since signing an entry-level deal with the Bruins last May. This was proved right when he made the team out of camp, in the much-wanted spot on the Right Wing, with Marchand, and Bergeron. Marchy and Bergy will undoubtedly raise Bjork’s point totals. But the main question is what numbers can he put up. At Notre Dame, Bjork put up 109 points in 115 contests, 52 of them (21 goals, 31 assists)  were put up last season.

Those numbers were not ignored, as Bjork became a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is annually awarded to college hockey’s most outstanding player. In addition to being a finalist for the Hobey Baker, Bjork was a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award for his Community service in a 3rd-grade classroom, not too far from Notre Dame. Following the season Bjork attended Development Camp.  At camp, Bjork was by far the best player on the ice, showing off a broad skill set, and tons of confidence, as he often attempted to make difficult dangles around his fellow campers. Below you will find a clip from a one on one he had against Jesse Gabrielle.

Following camp, the B’s decided it would be a good idea to put Bjork with Marchand and Bergeron. The trio worked well together in camp, and in the preseason. Bjork ended up picking up a goal on a one-timer from Bergeron, in their tilt versus Chicago.

The Bruins brass made the apparent decision in keeping Bjork on the Bruins roster. Bjork answered by picking up his first career point on a goal by Jake DeBrusk. Bjork can be called an offensive player, with some defense built into his game, after learning the defensive side of his game from Jeff Jackson. (Notre Dames head coach)This season we can expect Bjork to put up goals in the 20-25 range and put up assists in the 30-40 range. If Bjork plays the entire season on the first line, his numbers will definitely be at the higher end of these predictions.

Eventually, I can see Bjork putting up Pastrnak like numbers, and being a high-end top-six forward. At the end of the day, the Bruins have a high-end talent who hopefully has several years ahead of him wearing the black and gold.

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Boston Bruins: You “CAN” Teach That

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Billy Stramiello          Follow Me On Twitter @WJStramiello

Opening night for the Bruins certainly did not feature the line-up that last year’s Bruins fans would have expected.  So many “casuals” hope that they will wake up at the end of summer hockey hibernation to find their team stocked with off-season superstar acquisitions.  On the opening night not only did B’s fans not find any presents like that under the tree but were also surprised to see some old favorites wrapped in the latest Louis Vuitton instead of their home-ice sweaters.

Probably the Bruins best player, Patrice Bergeron, is day-to-day but will likely return to the lineup on Monday.  Torey Krug, offensive-minded defenseman, skated hard at practice and will also likely be back very soon.  David Backes is out for up to a month with diverticulitis (really, who gets diverticulitis?).  A starting veteran winger, defenseman, and center iceman, all out of the mix, and nobody to play but a bunch of kids and some old guys.  That could easily spell disaster when facing the Western Conference champion Predators, presumably out for vengeance after losing in the final a few short months away.

(Above Photo Credit:  NESN .com )

But it turned out alright – pretty good, in fact.  Maybe our esteemed Harvard graduate of a GM is actually using his noodle after all.  Sure it’s early, and kids are notorious for a lot of ups and downs. But the Bruins won last night because the players on the ice executed the game plan, utilized hockey IQ, and skated hard all night.  So maybe Donny Sweeney and his scouts look at some qualities other than the obvious when drafting and rasterizing.  The office has come under a lot of scrutinies lately because of the way they have handled some first rounders of late – most recently Malcolm Subban.  The list of duds drafted and studs lost by the B’s is substantial, and many people were not pleased with the three-in-a-row in the 2015 draft that became Zboril, Senyshyn, and DeBrusk.

Looks to me like Sweeney is trying to draft players, that are coachable, work hard on and off the ice, go to the dirty areas, and have a decent hockey IQ –  you know, Bruins players.  Even our legitimate superstars of the glorious past are known for those qualities.  Boston has never been a good spot for prima donnas.

So with the exception of about five minutes, opening night was a template for how we want things to go.  Sure there were some scrambly moments, especially at the end, but for the most part, the Bruins did well in the defensive end.  They did not chase the puck.  They put sticks in lanes.  They controlled their opponent’s sticks in the dirty areas.  They did not get out of position and turn the puck over.  Most importantly, they stayed between their checks and the net at all times (with good layers) and were thereby able to clear rebounds.  When these things did not happen, the Predators scored.   I was particularly impressed with the improved all-around play of Ryan Spooner.  Skating hard is one thing, which he has always done, but skating smart is another, and hopefully, that will be the trend for these young B’s going forward.

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Boston Bruins Growing Pains

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com / @NHLBruins )

By: Billy Stramiello             Follow Me On Twitter @WJStramiello

So our best player is still out.  Injuries to anyone are always something that a club needs to be able to absorb.  But it is true, that a loss to a player like Bergeron puts a considerable amount of responsibility on younger players.

In the horrendous home-and-home series versus the Avs, the younger players played hard and made plenty of mistakes, that is the way it goes and the way it should be:  Learning opportunities.  The real let-down came from the veterans and most notably, the coaching staff.

The coaching staff kept talking about execution and playing to a standard, but in the past two years, since the whole “quicker pace” game has become the mantra, I have not seen much of willingness from the staff to adapt.   Certain teams have absolutely owned the Bruins since this new strategy has been in place:  The Wild, the Leafs, the dreaded Habs, and Oilers.  These are all fast aggressive teams full of youth and strong on the fore-check.  Let’s now add the Avalanche to that mix.

I get it. The rules, the refs, the owners, and I guess even the fans are all pushing to make the game faster with more scoring.  But this is not basketball, and THIS team is still the Boston Bruins.  Youth and veterans alike should be smart, responsible players with high hockey IQ.  Skill, speed, or super-stardom notwithstanding, Bruins teams win with sandpaper.

Both games might as well be lumped together as a two-hour affair worth four points because the Bruins did not play any differently from one night to the next.  When their game plan did not work, they just told themselves they needed to try harder and kept doing the same thing. Turns out they just sucked harder.  Numerous problems in each zone were compounded instead of being strategically corrected.

In the d-zone: Chasing the play

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) pushes Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) from the crease during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

What the coaches want: Pressure the puck and cause a turnover

What really happens: one move or one slick play by a talented opponent causes a blown coverage and a sniper with too much time in a dangerous position.  Soooo many of the Av’s goals were scored with one or more Bruins below the goal line and everyone looking at the puck carrier.

What needs to happen: patience. Let the opponent skate around behind the net and in the corners and focus on limiting options the and covering the dangerous areas.

What the Bruins did well:  the boys are much better about boxing out the front of the net and staying between their check and the goalie.  The few times this has lapsed, the outcome has been disastrous.

The Break-out: The wish sandwich

BOSTON, MA – MARCH 12: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Detroit Red Wings during a shootout at TD Garden on March 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Lightning 3-2. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

What the coaches want: A turnover to quickly be moved out of the zone to a streaking forward in the neutral zone creating instant offense against a shocked and back-peddling defense.

What actually happens: the forwards fly the zone too early leaving a defenseman on an island, surrounded by patient yet dedicated fore-checkers who are quickly able to limit his options and create a badly timed turnover at the blue line.

What needs to happen: always make the safe play – with or without the puck. The d-man needs to be very ready to chip the puck out and let forwards swarm in the neutral zone.  Forwards need to support their blue-liners and assume that the puck will stay in the zone until it is actually out of the zone.  This possession game is maybe fine for some teams, but I have not seen it work for the Bruins in years.

The Neutral Zone: Skate smart not just hard

What the coaches want: Good question.

What actually happens: The Bruins have been scattered and disorganized – skating hard but not skating smart and overplaying or skating past the play and stubbornly trying too hard to maintain possession.

What needs to happen: vary the strategy a little.  Be willing to chip and chase in order to back the D off the line.  That is how the game briefly got turned around in the third period with B’s fourth line.  They wanted to make it a pretty game when they should have made it a dirty game.  Puck possession and pretty plays are fine as a novelty, but if the other team knows it’s coming, nobody is going to fall for it.

Offensive zone: Cycle and make it dirty

( Above Photo Credit:   realsport101 .com )

What the coaches want: Another good question, but it looks like they are hoping for a transition game and when they don’t get it, well, nothing happens.

What actually happens: puck carriers turn it over at the blue line, pretty plays fail, cross-ice passes get picked off, ill-advised pinches and blocked shots get turned the other way.  This all stems from being too predictable on the entry.  This is especially evident during the power play but is a plague at all times.

What needs to happen: The Bruins are not a transition team; they should not try to be.  Play Bruins hockey: chip it in, turn the defense, and then pound somebody into the boards.  One guy takes the body, the next guys take the puck.  Play a simple game by getting, pucks deep, crowding the front, and please hit somebody.  Most importantly, start by eliminating dicey neutral zone play.

Ultimately, it is a long season, and I don’t see any problem with talent, personnel, the vet/youth mix, goal-tending or injuries.  There will be ups and downs, and hopefully, these will level out as the season progresses.  The onus is on the coaching staff.  They should not be over-committed to a particular playing style but instead, adapt to the strengths of the players on the roster and the way they match up against their opponents.

 

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In Dobby They Trust: Bruins’ Khudobin Ready To Prove Himself

NHL: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks

(Above Photo Credit:  DENNIS WIERZBICKI/USA TODAY SPORTS)

By: Karen Still                           Follow Me @bluinsfan2017

That has to be about as much of a vote of confidence as one can get.

From a disastrous beginning in the 2016-17 season to emerge out of the other side of it to finish 7-6-1, with 6 straight wins, Anton Khudobin ended the year on a major high note.  No doubt he intended to build upon that positive wave heading into this year’s training camp and toward the 2017-18 campaign.  He got hot at the right time the Bruins needed him to and played his role in helping his team get into the playoffs.

Personally, I can’t imagine what kind of high he was riding as he finished the year so strong, knowing he would most likely not play again for the rest of the season.  That’s a lot of time to really think about how you’re going to approach your summer, how you’re going to build on your recent success and keep rolling with that positive momentum.

But it sounds like he had a plan in place:  he returned home to Siberia   (Krasnoyarsk) and began his offseason workouts, which included a CrossFit program with a focus on overall strength and conditioning.

Home is also where the heart is, or so they say, so there’s no doubt that he took advantage of this as well to serve as motivation and inspiration:

“This summer, what I was thinking was to relax at home, enjoy my family, enjoy my time with friends, enjoy time off the ice.  Just reenergize my batteries and just focus on what I can do,”  he said in the Boston Globe.  “I didn’t really want to focus on what I can’t control. What I was thinking was how to keep playing the way I played at the end of the season and how I need to get ready for the upcoming season. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.”

This interview says it all: he understands the situation and is content with his role on the team.  He knows what he has to do and comes across rather humble about it.  It is this calm and cool perspective that the Bruins have come to count on in the decision to confirm his role as the backup for this campaign.

And there will be more than plenty of chances for him to prove that they did make the right choice.  There is quite a few back to back games this season across the NHL, and for the Bruins, that begins this weekend on the road Saturday vs. the Coyotes and Sunday vs. the Golden Knights.  Whichever game he plays, he’ll be able to put all that hard work over the summer to the test.  Before that, however, this past Wednesday, October 11th in the 6-3 loss to the Avs, he played the 3rd period in relief of Tuukka Rask, stopping all 9 shots he faced including a couple of rather acrobatic saves.

While it’d be awesome to see more like that this weekend, the real hope is that he starts the season off on the right foot, and with all the determination that he went into his training over the summer, there’s no doubt that that is what he plans on doing.

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Boston Bruins: Way Too Early To Blame Tuukka Rask

 

Tuukka+Rask+Nashville+Predators+v+Boston+Bruins+CxP_tZ9Ni20l

Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins is introduced before the game against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on October 5, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Oct. 4, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                        Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Tuukka Rask. Among fans of the Boston Bruins, the Finnish netminder is the most polarizing player on the roster. Fans love him or hate him. While some fans love the 30-year old goaltender, there are others that are desperate to see him run out of town.  Not since Tim Thomas sat in net has there been a player to invoke such strong feelings among the B’s fan base.

The first three games haven’t done Rask any favors. He’s gone 1-2-0 with an ugly 3.75 goals against average and a .870 save percentage.  He was pulled at the end of the second period after giving up four goals to the Avalanche on Wednesday. These numbers are ‘Malcolm Subban against the Blues’ bad, and it has given the ‘Trade Tuukka’ team a reason to spew vitriol at the rest of the fan base.

So, how much of this is Rask’s fault? How much blame does he deserve, and what are the other reasons why the Bruins are having (another) a slow start out of the gate? For those of you who are already rolling your eyes and formulating an ad hominem response to the article, let us start with Rask. In the two games against the Avalanche, Rask let in two soft goals on Monday and misplayed a puck allowing Nail Yakupov an easy open-net goal.

Rask is certainly a streaky goaltender. He’s capable of putting up Vezina numbers for a good 10 game period, only to have one or two games like we saw against Colorado. Thankfully, it’s still mid-October and we (hopefully) won’t be seeing this kind of play in early March.

“I should have watched closely that it was Yakupov,” said Rask after Monday’s 4-0 loss. “He’s pretty quick. I just couldn’t beat him, that’s all. It’s a split-second decision. You see you have a chance for the puck and you go for it. You’re just trying to make a play and give the puck to your own team. I didn’t do it, obviously, so that’s all you can really say about that.”

While Rask certainly isn’t blameless, there is an awful lot of guilt that can be found on the team’s entire roster.

“We hung Tuukka out to dry,” said B’s bench boss Bruce Cassidy to the media following Wednesday’s 6-3 drubbing. The Bruins played sloppy hockey in those two games. There were breakdowns across the board, and bad shifts led to Colorado opening up a shooting gallery on the Bruins net.

The B’s were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.  With the B’s bereft of their leadership, the remaining core of Bruins letterman looked a little lost on the ice.  In all honesty, Riley Nash and Matt Beleskey aren’t great substitutes for Backes and Bergy. While it wasn’t ‘herding cats’ bad, the mistakes made by the younger players were obvious against Colorado.

The youth movement showed its green in Colorado. To be fair, that was expected. Only a small percentage of Bruins fans are expecting to see the 2018 Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, and Charlie McAvoy looked a little lost in the two games against the Avalanche.  If the B’s have a couple of more rough games like that, Bjork and DeBrusk could find their top-six time in jeopardy.

Zdeno Chara looked like a 40-year old on the ice as well. While he was making good plays, he was consistently being outrun by the much younger and faster Avalanche team. Chara even stated it was a full-team failure after Wednesday’s debacle.

There is plenty of blame to spread around folks.  Besides, we still have 79 games left in the season. It’s still way too early to write off the Bruins. It’s also way to early to start up the ‘Trade Tuukka’ talk in Boston (despite what certain members of the Boston media would say).

 

 

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