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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bruins-Islanders Rookie Game Observations Sep. 16 B's 2, Isles 1 (OT)

Going to keep this a leaner, tighter post, as there is no real need to get into the nuts and bolts of the game tonight. It wasn't as high-scoring, but there was definitely some interesting story lines to look at.

Max Sauve, LW-- Hands-down, the best Boston forward both nights to this blogger's eye. Sauve's speed is one thing, but his creativity is something else. Back when the Bruins drafted him in the second round in '08, I asked an NHL scout familiar with him what he liked about Sauve the most. While he acknowledged the speed, the scout said too many fixated on it, and that Sauve was actually one of the more underrated passer/playmakers in the class. Well, tonight we saw that creativity on display with sole assists on both Spooner goals. Sauve was a legitimate threat every time he was out there. He backed defenders up and just seemed to make the right decisions with and without the puck. He did himself a big favor going into main camp. He's still likely ticketed for Providence, but he'll see a lot of ice time there.

Ryan Spooner, C-- He scored two goals tonight which was good for the Bruins, but wasn't involved all that much throughout the game beyond the two excellent strikes. Rob Murray was absolutely right when he said that Spooner is a player who needs the puck. His skill level is so high, however, that he can change the complexion of a game with just a flick of the wrist or swing of the stick. He's going to have to keep working on competing away from the puck, but tonight, he was able to break through and get it done.

Jared Knight, RW-- He wasn't able to break through scoring-wise, but Knight showed some grit and scrapiness that will serve him well down the line. He's a competitor-- on one occasion, he went to the net hard and drilled it off its moorings, which shows you how much he wanted to pot one for the Boston fans tonight. It didn't happen, but there is a lot to like about this player and he's only going to get better.

Matt Bartkowski, D-- Was probably Boston's best defenseman all night. He was involved in the play at both ends of the ice, made smart decisions and activated well on the transition. This is a guy who has pretty good footwork and seems to be a player who has the vision and instincts to be a versatile option because of his strength and smarts. Whenever this blogger noted a particularly strong play to either separate an Islander from the puck or take away a passing option, it was usually No. 43 who was directly involved. This kid's going to log a lot of minutes for Murray on the farm this year and could be closer to seeing spot duty in Boston than many think.

Mike Hutchinson, G-- He gave up the soft goal to Tony Romano early because he thinks he was off his angle too much, but no matter. Hutch completely slammed the door and threw away the key, as the Isles could not get anything else past him. This kid comes off as so very nice and polite every time you see him off the ice, but make no mistake-- he's a fierce competitor and showed that side well tonight. I can only imagine that fans who groaned when he surrendered the early tally came away from the game at its conclusion with some grudging admiration. The real question for Hutch is whether he can address the inconsistency that has plagued him to date in his junior career. He can be so strong one night and mediocre the next, but games like this one do a lot to show you his sizeable potential when he's on top of things.

Lane MacDermid, LW-- THE surprise of the rookie games for this blogger. His footspeed and skating has noticeably improved, and he's also worked on his shot and puckhandling. Let's face it-- he's never going to be a top option up front, but he skates hard and gives everything he has; the ultimate team player. Oh, and he was not only killing penalties in both games, but doing it effectively with an aggressive forecheck on the puck carrier, forcing mistakes and turnovers with his tenacity. He fought Travis Hamonic, which resulted in the Isles No. 2 d-man getting the boot with six minutes left in the second period (he fought Antoine Roussel Wednesday) for the two-fight rule. But MacDermid's contributions went way beyond the fighting, which was the surprise, because based on what we saw a year ago at training camp, this player has come a long way in a short time. He's going to play in the NHL.

Well, that about does it. Wrapping it up from TD Garden. I'll be back with some more commentary later, but this should be enough to sink your teeth into for a while.


  1. Missed the Isles goal but caught the rest of the game. I will say this about Hutch, from what i seen tonight and having seen him plenty the last couple of years. BIG improvement in his rebound control and latteral movement Looks to me like he's worked real hard over the summer to improve on those 2 things. I don't know that he's spent time with Bob Essensa at all, but whatever he's doing, i hope he sticks with it.

    I've always liked Hutch, and felt too that consistency was a problem throughout his OHL career. But if he ever gets that, he will be a more than capable backup for Rask in a few years.

    Good luck Hutch ! I'll miss you in London.

  2. I'm excited by your feedback on Spooner and Knight, but especially MacDermid and Sauve. I have been a fan of Sauve's since the B's drafted him, and his progress has been really encouraging. MacDermid is the kind of role player we can't get enough of, and seems to lean slightly towards the Lucic side of tough guys, adding more skill than some grinders.

  3. Awesome, thanks for the info. I'm glad we picked up Bartkowski at the expense of Bitz. I only saw him play one game in college but he really stood out. Everyone's been comparing Spooner to Savard, but I think he has tons of speed and a better scoring touch. I wonder if he could be the next Eberle for team Canada at juniors. Bang on with Hutch, he was so hot and cold last year, especially in the playoffs. Super excited about Sauve, can't wait to see him in person. Bruins need speed, especially combined with skill.