Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
"Ryan is a skill player for sure. He's a great player who's going to go high (in the draft) and have a great career in hockey. Murphy's a great offensive defenseman, but he can also play back, too. He's got a great shot from the point on the power play. He can pretty much do it all."
Here is what he had to say about the Swedish power forward:
"Landeskog is a hard-working forward who is good on the forecheck and has great patience in the offensive zone. He's got some real skill with the puck, too. He's definitely tough for a Swedish player and it's good to see that we have some other tough guys up front. He'll get the job done finishing checks and he'll fight if he needs to."
If you want to read more about what was going on there with some of the prospects, then hop on over to http://www.hockeyjournal.com/ and check out the Kirk's Call blog section.
I'll list a couple of the young prospect standouts and why I think they're worth following over the next few seasons. Remember, these comments are generated from a relatively small sample size. If I'm bringing up players covered in previous ground on this blog in the last few days, it's because they did even more to stand out in positive fashion during the weekend on-ice sessions.
Jordan Caron, RW-- Providence head coach Rob Murray likes to use the term "pro-ready" to describe prospects who come up from the amateur ranks with physical and emotional maturity, an advanced game and the kinds of intangibles to make an immediate impact either at the AHL or NHL level. Caron is one of those. He's also a versatile wing who can play on any line. He uses his wide body to protect the puck and set up an effective cycle down low. He's one of the youngsters who could make the Boston roster this year and no one would bat an eye. But if he goes down to Providence, that isn't a bad thing, either.
Joe Colborne, C-- You can see why this kid went 16th overall, because on hockey skills alone, he's a neat prospect. He's huge, has a long, loping stride and glides effortlessly along covering a lot of ground that takes smaller players twice the amount of choppy strides to equal. It's early, but he looks good (aside from having to wear the full face shield). He's a likeable kid with NHL skills, but he has yet to prove himself against big league competition where the going's gonna get tough.
Antoine Roussel, LW-- Gritty little cuss (who turns 21 in Nov.) can really skate and plays with a lot of energy. Watching him in the rookie games and in the main camp sessions it doesn't make any sense that he went undrafted. He's a relentless forechecker, is all over the ice and neve moves his feet, and seems to be able to get into the avenues of approach and disrupt the play from developing smoothly up the ice. Boston has about four contracts left to hand out under their 50-deal ceiling. Based on what I've seen from Roussel, he should get one. Now. UPDATE: I found out that Roussel is on an AHL contract, so that could turn into something more down the road. He'll go to Providence for the time being, and if he impresses, could earn an NHL deal.
Max Sauve, LW-- Two players born in France appearing on the same "hot" list? Believe it. Sauve has been the best of Boston's young forwards at camp this year, but he has some options, whereas Tyler Seguin does not. Therefore, Sauve could be the odd-man out to go down to the AHL rather than win a spot in Boston. On the other hand, if you believe that Marc Savard's concussion symptoms have opened up a top-six spot, then Sauve could be the guy to win it so long as he keeps blazing up the ice at max. effort and generates some offense in the exhibition games. So far in two days of training camp sessions, he's done nothing to hurt himself.
Tyler Seguin, C-- He's skilled, no doubt. But a work in progress. He does things that you can't teach and does them at lightning speed, so it's easy to criticize when plays don't result in goals. But, the option between keeping him in Boston and sending him back to dominate teenagers isn't really a choice at all. So, if you're one of those people who thinks Seguin needs to "earn it" then you need to get over it. He's skilled enough to play in the NHL and that's where he's going to be this season. Sending him back to Plymouth does nothing for his development and sometimes, that's just the business side of things. The better players don't always get the NHL jobs, but so long as they keep plugging away, their time will come.
Yury Alexandrov, D-- Seeing the contrast between David Krejci's tree-trunk legs and Alexandrov's spindly appendages on Sunday underscored the need this Russian has to hit the weights and add strength. What he does well: use his stick to break up opportunities and has the instincts to make unreal plays that amaze. That said, his defense needs a lot of work, as does his conditioning, and while he's looking better and better as each session progresses and he gains more familiarity and better fitness levels, he's not ready for an NHL position.
Matt Bartkowski, D-- In this blogger's mind, he edges Steve Kampfer by a nose for the award given to the best of the defense prospects. This is one mature, advanced defenseman who appears to already have a strong grasp of positioning, body leverage and stick checking. Oh, and he's about 6-1 and moves quite nicely, with good speed and agility in his footwork. This guy is so much better than advertised as a seventh-round pick, and while I have yet to see the big hits/toughness we heard about at Ohio State when the B's acquired his rights, he's been more than a pleasant surprise as far as his essential skills go.
Steve Kampfer, D-- Some like this undersized, but competitive defender more than Bartkowski, which is fine. The Michigan product is more mobile and aggressive offensively than his Ohio State counterpart, but doesn't have Bartkowski's natural size or strength. He's a leader and one of those "pro-ready" players Murray talks about. It's an interesting bond between the two collegians, as the B's acquired both at the deadline from teams who didn't want them. He's got a nice set of wheels and isn't afraid to rush the puck. I don't know that he's going to put up the kind of points that you want from an "offensive defenseman" but he looks to be a two-way hybrid who will be able to chip in some modest points and play responsibly in his own end.
Mike Hutchinson, G-- "Hutch" is really the only goalie worth discussing at this point. He made huge inroads in his rookie game virtuoso performance and should get some serious consideration to be Nolan Schaefer's backup in Providence. He's nowhere near ready for an NHL discussion, but he's got the size, athleticism and has shown some surprising mental toughness that his easy, sunny disposition conceals.
Friday, September 17, 2010
By now, you've heard the news that Marc Savard recently (as of a few weeks) started feeling symptoms related to postconcussion syndrome. GM Peter Chiarelli announced that news to us today, and there's plenty out there on it, so I won't re-hash but rather will wish Savvy a speedy recovery and hope he checks out well medically this weekend. Head/brain injuries are serious things, and there is so much science/medicine doesn't know, so I hope you'll join this blogger in wishing him the best.
It was nice seeing Patrice Bergeron again and he looks to be in great shape; ready to get things going. I've known him since before he ever skated his first shift as a Bruin, so to think that he and Tim Thomas are now the longest-tenured members of the team is remarkable. It seems like yesterday that he was a rookie living with Marty Lapointe and filming license plate commercials while driving a Zamboni around Beantown with fellow rookie (and Calder Trophy winner) Andrew Raycroft but it's been seven years, and he just turned 25 in July.
Mark Stuart is also ready to go...not having him at 100 percent for the playoffs last year was a tough blow to the team, so here's to him returning to his iron man form. Speaking of iron men, I met the NHL's all-time consecutive games leader, B's assistant coach Doug Jarvis, last night. Heck of a nice guy, and when he played one of the best defensive forwards in the game-- just like his predecessor, Craig Ramsay. The Bruins are no doubt hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and that Jarvis can have the kind of impact and influence had on the team. Ramsay, is credited in hockey circles, with being the one most responsible for helping turn Johnny Boychuk from career minor leaguer to legitimate NHL defenseman and playoff stalwart.
Matt Delahey, Alain Goulet, Joe Pleckaitis, Yannick Riendeau and Walker Wintoneak were all released and not invited to main camp today. Goulet is on an AHL contract, so he'll go to Providence, as will Riendeau, who is on an NHL deal, but apparently wasn't deemed ready enough to seriously compete for a job in Boston, so he goes down as well. No word on the other three, as they were camp invites, but don't be surprised to see them at least get a shot in Providence, as Rob Murray is now familiar with them. If not, then you know where they stand with "Murr", at least.
Antoine Roussel, on the other hand, apparently showed a lot to the B's coaches, because he's the lone camp invite still standing, and is in Boston in lieu of one forward with an actual two-way contract (Riendeau). As advertised, Roussel plays like a young Steve Begin. Fights like him, too. He gave a good effort against Travis Hamonic the other night, but Hams tuned him pretty good. Still, I'm a little intrigued about this player. He scored 24 goals with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens last year...might the Bruins have uncovered a diamond-in-the-rough? Probably not, but hockey's funny-- there are no shortage of players who have been overlooked and undervalued yet gone on to have very good NHL careers. Begin wasn't one of them-- Calgary took him in the second round of the 1996 draft, which was one of the shallowest classes in history. But if Roussel turns out to be something, even a clutch performer in Providence, then the B's amateur scouting staff will have done it again.
Well, it's Friday in the middle of September and the long wait is over. Hockey is about to be back in Boston. It all begins tomorrow.
So, if you're a follower, check it out when you have time.
If you're not a follower (shame on you), you can catch me at KirkNEHJ
Heading down to TD Garden in a few to meet with the Bruins vets. They're doing their fitness testing there this morning and will be around to do interviews afterward.
The real fun/work begins tomorrow with the training camp sessions open to the public. I expect a big crowd given what we saw in the rookie games this week. There is a palpable hockey/Bruins buzz in this town right now. It helps that the Red Sox are out of postseason contention, but this team has an opportunity to capture the attention and imagination of the Boston sports scene (of course, the Patriots will have something to say about that).
But, in the words of that sage philosopher Larry the Cable Guy: Git r done!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
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.
The bad news is that a few weren't so crazy about the design and layout and shared that feedback with me, so I've gone back to white vanilla background in hopes that it will be a little easier on the eyes.
And to those who liked the old new look, as they like to say on my favorite Starz original series Spartacus Blood and Sand...Apologies.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Announced attendance for tonight was 11, 571...who says that the Bruins don't generate a lot of buzz in Boston these days?
The line combinations for both teams:
64 Lane MacDermid (A)-39 Joe Colborne- 38 Jordan Caron
50 Jared Knight- 19 Tyler Seguin- 72 Jamie Arniel
74 Max Sauve- 51 Ryan Spooner- 66 Tyler Randell
82 Antoine Roussel- 61 Craig Cunningham- 86 Joe Pleckaitis
81 Matt Delahey- 47 Steven Kampfer (C)
43 Matt Bartkowski- 78 Ryan Button
79 Ryan Donald- 41 Yury Alexandrov
71 Adam Courchaine
New York Islanders
37 Kirill Kabanov- 45 David Ullstrom- 25 Nino Niederreiter
49 Rhett Rakhshani- 53 Casey Cizikas- 41 Robin Figren
81 Justin Dibenedetto- 54 Tony Romano- 6 Steve Tarasuk
62 Alex O'Neil-64 Justin Taylor
3 Calvin De Haan- 36 Travis Hamonic
71 Mark Katic- 48 Anton Klementiev
63 Corey Syvret- 61 Tony DeHart
1- Mikko Koskinen
The game started pretty slowly with both teams a little tentative and feeling each other out. Not much to report, as the guys expected to stand out really didn't. Max Sauve had one nice shift where he undressed the Isles' top defensive pairing of Calvin De Haan and Travis Hamonic, but couldn't ge the puck past Mikko Koskinen, who was excellent throughout.
Best scoring chance, Bruins: Jamie Arniel had Koskinen beaten, but rang a backhand shot off the post.
Best scoring chance, Islanders: Casey Cizikas returned the favor, ringing the iron behind Adam Courchaine, and then Cizikas got the rebound out front to Rhett Rakhshani, who was stopped with a quick pad save by Courchaine to keep it 0-0.
Who, me? Tyler Seguin was whistled for interference late in the period and he stood for a few moments with his hands upturned, incredulous. As if to say, what'd I do? The Islanders did not convert with the man advantage, which carried over to the second frame.
Jordan Caron got things going with a goal to make it 1-0, redirecting a screaming shot from camp invite Matt Delahey early in the session, at 1:01. Joe Colborne got the other helper, setting the play up by gaining the zone and then leaving the puck in the middle for Delahey.
Sauve extended the lead to 2-0 when he fired home the rebound of a Tyler Randell shot after the two broke in. Sauve fired it in the open side when Koskinen was unable to control Randell's initial drive from inside the left circle. Sauve used his speed to get a step on the defender and cashed in at 9:26.
Islanders top draft pick (5th overall) in June, Nino Niederreiter, cut the lead to one goal at 11:51 when he deflected a low Hamonic point drive past Courchaine while standing just off from the right post.
2009 fourth-rounder Lane MacDermid restored the two-goal lead for Boston when he took a long lead pass from Seguin, galloped into the Islanders zone and ripped a cannon shot that off the far post that bounced into the cage.
Bring on the fisticuffs:
Two fights broke out in the second, the first between camp invite Antoine Roussel, whose playing style resembles Steve Begin, another scrappy, undersized forward who came out of the Quebec junior league. He fought Hamonic, who got the upper hand early with a flurry of punches before the two went to the ice, with Roussel landing on top.
The second bout occurred between Ryan Donald and Alex O'Neil, who was brought in by the Islanders from the Brampton Battalion of the OHL to handle pugilistic duties (129 penalty minutes against one goal last season). O'Neil, a veteran battler, gained an early edge and hammered away on the game, but inexperienced Donald (they don't allow fighting much at Yale). But Donald hung in there at least, and showed a willingness to engage. Here's guessing that MacDermid took O'Neil's No. 62 and will extend a dance invitation at some point tomorrow.
The Islanders made it a 3-2 game at 7:44 of the final frame when Robin Figren shook loose from his man banged home a pass from Justin Taylor after Courchaine was forced to cover the puck carrier (Taylor).
Caron tallied his second of the night on a perfect cross-ice feed from Seguin and Arniel. It was a power play goal at 11:31 thanks to a major penalty (see below) that knocked Colborne out of the game.
Bring on the fisticuffs:
Tyler Randell and Nino Niederreiter had a spirited fight a few moments later at 8:39. Give Niederreiter credit for dropping the gloves, but Randell beat him pretty soundly. Niederreiter's quote after the game was classic rookie speak: "It was my first fight so I had no idea what to do by try my best and try to kick some ass."
Randell tuned him, but the fact that he went after Randell in the first place after the Bruins forward had knocked down David Ullstrom gets to one of the reasons the Isles took him so high in the first place: He's a real competitor and will do what it takes to win or defend his mates.
Matt Delahey and Tony DeHart went at it at 15:18, after the two had an altercation in the Islanders zone and Delahey buzzed him several times before the two dropped the gloves. It was a pretty decisive win for Delahey who certainly looked like he'd had a few of those in his WHL career.
Beantown M*A*S*H: Colborne took a vicious elbow from Justin Dibenedetto that opened him up and left a considerable amount of his blood on the ice near the blue line (right side) of the Islanders' zone. I didn't see the play, but Dibenedetto got a five-minute major and game misconduct. It was later rumored that Colborne was actually clipped by a teammate's stick (MacDermid was the closest player to the collision between Colborne and Dibenedetto), but MacDermid didn't see what happened, nor was he aware of the possibility that his stick caused the damage. Peter Chiarelli said afterward that Colborne had what appeared to be a broken nose, needed stitches to close some gashes in his face and had chipped a tooth. He is lucid and will be seen at a local hospital to ensure he did not suffer a concussion; he is not expected to play tomorrow.
Jordan Caron, RW-- He scored the first and last (empty net) goals of the game, and added a power play marker in between. "Yeah, for sure I think everybody dreams and would wish it would happen to them," he said when asked about his hatty. He may not be flashy, but he goes to the net and has the hands to make things happen when he gets there.
Adam Courchaine, G-- I've been tough on him on this blog space because he had consistency issues in junior, but tonight, he played well. He was in position all night and made the stops he had to. He didn't have a chance on either Islanders tally.
Max Sauve, LW-- They say that speed kills, and Sauve did just that to the Islanders all night long. He's fast, skilled and spirited-- a lot to like with this kid. Let's go!
Lane MacDermid, LW-- He unleashed a major howitzer for the game-winner, but he looks like he's improved his skating (noticeably) since last season and played a solid game in all facets. No fights for him tonight, but tune in tomorrow.
The Boston D-- They kept it simple and were solid all night, moving the puck and preventing the Islanders forwards from getting into a rhythm.
Nino Niederreiter, RW-- He had the goal and the fight-- he was only lacking the assist to make Gordie Howe proud. But, tonight, he showed people why he went fifth overall in last June's draft: the kid is a gamer.
It was a quiet night for buzzworthy forwards Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, who electrified B's development camp in July.