Bruins looking to make the most of upcoming road trip

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Bruins looking to make the most of upcoming road trip

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins have sailed through the first-quarter mark of the 48-game regular season. Theyve only lost once in regulation through their first 11 games and stand first in the Northeast Division while their closest competitors in Ottawa have been decimated by injuries to Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson over the last few weeks.

So now the Black and Gold get their next test with a five-game road trip that will be broken up into two distinct parts. The Bruins will travel back to Buffalo and Winnipeg this weekend for a pair of cold weather showdowns, and then next week head to Tampa Bay and Florida for their Sunshine State swing before winding up the trip against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

In between the two segments of the road trip, the Bruins will return to Boston to practice for a few days prior to heading off to Florida.

The Bruins are 4-0-1 on the road this season, and now might be as good a time as any to get away from Boston for a couple of weeks on the road. Its the kind of scenario thats always served the Bruins well in the past.

Weve made the most of our road trips in the past. Theres no reason we wont again this time around, said Andrew Ference. Some years the road has even better for us than at home. Its what you make of it. In this quick season its just playing games, and it doesnt even really matter where it is.

Last season the Bruins were tied for the most road wins in the Eastern Conference with a 25-15-1 record away from TD Garden, and two years ago their 24-12-5 mark was better than their record in 41 home games in Boston. Above and beyond that all five teams the Bruins will play on the road are out of the playoff picture, and the Lightning are the only team with a record over .500 at 6-5-1 after a hot start.

The five teams have a combined record of 24-32-6 on the season, so there arent any Eastern Conference world beaters on tap through the next two weeks.

Its fair to say the road trip is ripe for the Bruins to really leap out to a big lead in the division and conference if they play their cards correctly.

If you look at every game there have been points within it when things get a little scrambly, and you would hope that a dozen games into the schedule that will start to straighten out, said Ference. If you look at our penalty kill its been bang on, and thats usually microcosm of your defensive game in general. The creation of offensive chances has been there, but were still looking at completing the finish on those plays.

Things are certainly good with Boston as they have climbed out to an 8-1-2 record in their first three weeks of the regular season. But the Bruins now have five games on the road against middling Eastern Conference competition to truly find the high water mark in their game, and continue amassing the points as they have over the first month of the compacted NHL season.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

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Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

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Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to watching the Luke Cage Netflix series.

*The Cult of Hockey has no issues with yours truly ranking the Edmonton Oilers 29th out of 30 teams in my first preseason NHL power rankings.

*An interesting piece about Brian McGrattan and his battle with alcohol in his career as an NHL tough guy. I can honestly say having covered him a bit when he was in the Bruins organization that he was one of the scariest dudes I’ve ever talked to in an NHL dressing room. A nice guy, but very intense and always looked like he definitely enjoyed his work on the ice.

*Dennis Seidenberg hopped on with the Hockey Central crew today to talk about his new contract with the New York Islanders.

*PHT writer and Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike Halford has Guy Boucher with some serious Dion Phaneuf love going on in Ottawa.

*Jack Eichel is oozing confidence and swagger in his second NHL season with Buffalo looking to make a big step up this season.

*Scott Burnside said that the World Cup of Hockey could be coming to an end tonight and I think most predict that it will with a little bit of an anticlimactic thud due to the sheer awesomeness of Team Canada.

*For something completely different: “Aleppo Moment” sounds like a great name for a rock band. Not so much for a Presidential candidate.