5 thoughts: Springfield-Providence

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5 thoughts: Springfield-Providence

SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Springfield Falcons and Providence Bruins tied at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes at the MassMutual Center.

1) Funny how stone cold professional veterans like Trent Whitfield and Chris Bourque are when it comes to tuning up for the pro season. It was Whitfield that scored the goal for the P-Bruins when he shoveled in a rebound of a Lane MacDermid shot from the circle halfway through the first period. There's a reason a guy like Whitfield continues to hang around in the B's organization, and it's because he's a model of professionalism.

2) Good scrap by Bobby Robbins midway through the first that seemed to wake up the crowd a bit. He's made himself a valuable energy player for Providence after a solid career at UMass-Lowell.

3) Michael Hutchinson gets the start for Providence and it looks he's going to get a long look from the Bruins in an important developmental year for him. He got a taste of Boston when he was called up due to injuries last season, but he still needs to prove to the B's brass that he's ready for it if injuries hit the B's goalies again this year.

4) Looks like people in Springfield don't miss hockey all that much because this arena is almost completely empty even for AHL standards.

5) Really like the way Chris Bourque moves the puck on the power play. He snaps it around quickly and has good vision picking up his teammates around the ice. That's something to watch if he gets PP time in Boston once the NHL season finally gets underway.

SECOND PERIOD

Here are five things from the second period with the Providence Bruins trailing the Springfield Falcons after 40 minutes at a largely empty MassMutual Center.

1) Rough sequence for Matt Bartkowski, who was beat to loose pucks three times and couldn't clear the zone under heightened pressure from Springfield. The gassed Bartkowski then fired a puck deep into the stands when he couldn't find a way to ice it, and was whistled for delay of game. That's the same kind of issues he suffered from during his stints with the B's. Springfield, of course, scored on the ensuing PP to take a two-goal lead.

2) Quiet night for Jared Knight. Haven't noticed him much at all, but that's bound to happen some in his first full pro season in the B's organization.

3) The Bruins didn't play Torey Krug tonight. Interesting when it appeared a few days ago that Bruce Cassidy would be playing his normal lineup for this Saturday game. Would imagine there are some other defensemen "on the bubble" that he wants to look at. Kevan Miller and Bartkowski haven't played nearly as much as Exelby, Cohen, Button and Trotman. No David Warsofsly for P-Bruins either.

4) P-Bruins fans are going to like Christian Hanson for more than the obvious bloodline reasons. Isn't afraid to throw his body around and become a physical presence, and was regularly mixing it up down low around the net.

5) P-Bruins scored 4 goals in their first preseason game, and haven't done all that much since. Would be good to see a bit of a third period explosion out of them given last year's offensive struggles.

THIRD PERIOD

SPRINGFIELD -- Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Providence Bruins falling to the Springfield Falcons by a 4-1 score at a virtually empty MassMutual Center.

1) A pretty uninspired final 40 minutes of hockey from the P-Bruins, so I'm mulling whether I should lower my writing to the level of the mediocre hockey. Thoughts?

2) A couple of fights for Ryan Button during the exhibition season -- tonight the young defenseman came to the aid of Chris Bourque after he was belted from behind by Dalton Smith. Good show of team toughness by a guy not really known for his fighting skills.

3) Quiet exhibition season for Jordan Caron, who one might have expected to really become more dominant given his strong second half to his NHL season. Wasn't making a lot of mistakes or costing his team in any areas -- and actually did a nice job on the PK -- but wasn't making many plays on the offensive end either.

4) Craig Cunningham is a much improved hockey player. Strong on the puck and ideally suited for a third line center role. It just remains to be seen how much offense he'll provide.

5) Mike Hutchinson caught in "no man's land" trying to play a puck in the third period that led to Springfield's fourth score on 29 shots. Not a great final dress rehearsal for the P-Bruins goalie with Niklas Svedberg waiting for a chance to make his adjustments to the North American game.

Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

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Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

The Bruins announced some organizational signings and one surprise dip into late summer free agency with a one-year, $900,000 contract for 36-year-old depth center Dominic Moore.

The B’s also announced one year, two-way contracts for forward Brian Ferlin, along with defensemen Chris Casto and Alex Grant, and all three of those players will serve as young, organizational depth players in Providence.

Moore has spent each of the last three seasons with the New York Rangers amid a career 765 NHL games played as a solid face-off and penalty-kill player that has fourth line candidate written all over him.

The Bruins will be former Harvard center Moore’s 10th NHL team. He’s coming off a season where he posted six goals and 15 points in 80 games for the Blueshirts, and has previously played for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose along with the Rangers.

While Moore is a solid candidate for fourth-line duty that will provide leadership, good face-off work, solid and gritty penalty-kill work and all kinds of NHL experience, he is also a 36-year-old on a team that has a ton of center candidates headed into camp. 

Moore’s presence could be problematic if he’s standing in the way of developing young centers Austin Czarnik and Noel Acciari. The expectation is that B’s coach Claude Julien, as he always has in the past with safe veterans like Chris Kelly, will go with a player like Moore over the youngsters if times start getting tough for the Black and Gold.

Ferlin, 24, completed his second professional season with the AHL's Providence Bruins in 2015-16, producing six goals and eight assists for 14 points with 27 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating in 23 games. He was sidelined for much of last season in Providence by a concussion.

Casto, 24, completed his third full AHL season with Providence in 2015-16, establishing career highs with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points with 47 penalty minutes in 68 games.

Grant, 27, spent the 2015-16 season with the Arizona Coyotes organization, splitting time between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate in Springfield. He recorded seven penalty minutes in five games in the NHL, while compiling 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points with 57 penalty minutes in 69 games in the AHL.  

 

 

Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

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Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

BRIGHTON – It only amounts to lip service coming in the first few days the Bruins players are simply getting together for informal captain’s practices, but it’s pretty clear the fire is burning brightly after missing the playoffs two years in a row.

For a group that still includes some players that made the playoffs seven seasons in a row, made it to the Cup Finals twice and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, it feels like that sting of pride is very close to the surface.

Torey Krug wouldn’t even entertain discussion of last season when asked about it following Monday’s skating session at the new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility. David Krejci said he’s officially done talking about winning the Cup five long years ago. Now, it’s about righting the ship for the Bruins, and getting things back moving in a positive, forward progression after moving backwards and sideways over the last two years.

As always, the playmaking Krejci gives a straight, honest take about where the team is on the down side of their Cup years.

“I feel like we’re back to where we started 10 years ago, you know? The teams didn’t make the playoffs, and now we kind of have some new guys. It’s still a good mix with some experienced guys,” said Krejci. “But the hunger, it’s there again. Obviously we haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple of years. It’s exciting times.

“If you go back to 2011 and then to 2013, we were in the Final. But we knew that we had already won two years before. We did try, but you always knew in the back of your mind that you’d already won the Cup. Now, it’s like the Cup is out of the window and that was a long time ago. I’m going to talk about the Cup when I retire, so now we’re all hungry again. We missed the playoffs two years in a row, and it’s a new excitement again. I just can’t wait to get back into it.”

Krejci’s first full season in the NHL was actually the year that the B’s made it back into the postseason in 2007-08, but he was close enough to the organization to see what it was like at the 2006 training camp when a great deal was in flux for the Black and Gold.

It’s not unlike the big changes that the Bruins have seen in the past two years with the hopes that there will start being a payoff in the near future.

It’s exciting for Krejci, in particular, as he should be 100 percent healthy for the first time in three years after surgery on his left hip last spring. A healthy Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will give the Black and Gold their potent 1-2 punch down the middle and there’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of the B’s defensemen crew after a difficult campaign last year.

Krug admitted as much while brushing off big picture questions about what happened last season, and why this season should be any different for a group of seven defensemen returning from last season’s crew ranked 19th in the league.

“I’m not going to talk about [last year]. We’re moving on. This group will use it as motivation moving forward. With this new practice facility, everybody is excited to get back together and start moving forward,” said Krug. “We have [D-men] pieces in here that maybe people aren’t getting too excited about, but we know what we have in this room. We’ve grown and developed together.

“We know that we’re highly capable of taking whatever is thrown our way. But I know the D-men especially are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that we’re not ready to compete, and not ready to be a playoff team.”

That’s essentially what it comes down to for the Black and Gold. They can talk about regaining the hunger to compete and utilizing last season’s failures as motivation for this season, but it all amounts to nothing unless they show it on the ice on a consistent basis.

It will be months before everybody truly knows if it’s more than talk from the Bruins and before we learn whether the B’s even have the talent on the roster to truly compete in a difficult, improving Atlantic Division. 

For now, the optimism is running high for the returning Black and Gold players and that registers as something as they slowly ramp up to the start of training camp next month and the season opener on Oct. 13 in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. 

 

Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

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Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

BRIGHTON – It’s been a summer brimming with anticipation for Bruins players and management alike with the prospect of moving into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility.

The Bruins contingent hosted Jimmy Vesey at their new Warrior Ice Arena home a couple of weeks ago and the B’s players christened the ice by kicking off their informal captain’s practices on Monday morning.

Torey Krug, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, John-Michael Liles, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano all hit the ice to work with a local goaltender and went through skating drills for the hour-plus to get the blood pumping. Krejci left the ice after roughly 15 minutes as he recovers from left hip surgery, but was still left excited at the prospect of practicing in the new digs after spending his entire Bruins career with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington as their practice home.

The arena doesn’t officially open until the Bruins and New Balance hold a grand opening on Sept. 8, but color several Bruins veterans impressed.

“It’s beautiful. It’s great. It’s a little bit different than Wilmington,” said Krejci. “You guys will get a chance to see it next week, but it’s pretty cool.”

The captain’s practices will continue in earnest with more Bruins players joining the group as the calendar gets closer to the start of training camp. The expectation is that all of the B’s skaters will be wholly impressed with the new facility. 

Clearly, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a new rink, and the closer proximity is a bonus for Bruins players that these days live in and around Boston rather than in the distant suburbs.

There's even the distinct possibility in the not-so distant future that the Bruins could start holding game day morning skates at the practice facility rather than at the Garden. It's something already done in Montreal, where the Habs have a similar setup with their practice rink in Brossard, just outside of the city. 

“It’s beautiful. For the guys that have been the scenes and doing all the work in Wilmington all of these years, it’s great for them to be a part of this and move into a new building,” said Krug. “I’m fortunate to be here and be a part of it. That’s exciting.”

Krug joked that being an early arriver at Warrior Arena doesn’t guarantee him one of the big lockers in the dressing room once training camp gets going: “I’m pretty sure Zee [captain Zdeno Chara] will kick me out of whatever stall I picked. It’s obviously exciting to be one of the first guys skating on this ice.”