Division foes trying to make things tough on Bruins

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Division foes trying to make things tough on Bruins

While the Bruins stood pat on the opening day of free agency, the teams around them in the Eastern Conference embarked on improvement plans via free agency and trades. More specifically, the Bs Northeast Division foes got bigger, stronger and tougher in what would appear to be a response to the way the Bruins have been roughhousing their way through the division.

The Montreal Canadiens traded for edgy forward Rene Bourque toward the end of last season, and signed agitators Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust on Sunday.

Granted, Dennis Seidenberg freight-trained Armstrong last season in a game against the Leafs and Prust was hammered by Milan Lucic in front of the Bruins' bench at Madison Square Garden last spring. But both players will make Montreal a grittier physical team than the bunch of Smurf forwards Pierre Gauthier had been rolling out over the last couple of seasons.

In Buffalo, the Sabres signed 6-foot-8 brawler John Scott, who isnt much of a defensemen. But hes an intimidating presence willing to fight when hes in the lineup, and he's big enough, strong enough and mean enough to tangle with the baddest of the Bruins. So the Sabres now have somebody willing to stand up to Lucic and Co., something they didnt have last year when the Bs power forward steam-rolled Ryan Miller and derailed Buffalos entire season.

Toronto didnt gain much in the truculence department by letting the oft-injured Armstrong go this weekend, but the Leafs picked up gritty third-line center Jay McClement, who is capable of winning faceoffs and improving last season's moribund penalty kill unit from last season.

Guillaume Latendresse isnt physically intimidating, but does bring a body to an Ottawa Senators team that lost Matt Carkner to the New York Islanders in free agency.

But both the Maple Leafs and the Senators had enough players able to handle themselves when a hockey game turned into an alley fight last season, while the Sabres and Canadiens were noticeably outgunned in those situations with the Bruins.

So the Northeast Division became a rougher place on July 1 than it had previously been, and Bostons effective bullying style has everything to do with it.

Carlo, Heinen and DeBrusk highlight young B's lineup for preseason opener

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Carlo, Heinen and DeBrusk highlight young B's lineup for preseason opener

The Bruins had already let it be known that Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak and David Backes wouldn’t be playing Monday night in their preseason opener vs. the Blue Jackets. 

Instead, all three will participate in their first day of training camp practice on Monday morning, and the Bruins will ice a young, prospect-laden group against Columbus at TD Garden.

“[Camp] has been really good,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “There are a lot of new faces around here, so we’re just getting them to understand how we want to play. I think they did a good job with it and they should be ready to go [against Columbus].”

Here is the lineup of players expected to suit up for Boston’s preseason opener on Monday night: Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Austin Czarnik, Jake DeBrusk, Seth Griffith, Colton Hargrove, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Sean Kuraly, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Peter Mueller, Riley Nash, Rob O’Gara, Tyler Randell and Jakub Zboril. 

Carlo, Cehlarik, Heinen and DeBrusk are all serious candidates to threaten for an NHL roster spot, and these preseason games will be a big test to see how roster ready they might actually be at their precocious young age.

The Bruins haven’t said when the first cuts of training camp are expected, but one round of early cuts are expected next week perhaps after Wednesday night’s preseason home game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“We’ll see how tomorrow night goes and then make a decision [on a lineup] for Wednesday, but I think we’ll try to give all the guys a pretty good look and go from there,” said Pandolfo. 
 

Sunday, Sept. 25: Has Connolly found home with Caps?

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Sunday, Sept. 25: Has Connolly found home with Caps?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering what a crap shot this Presidential debate is going to be on Monday night.

*Brett Connolly has hooked on with the Washington Capitals, and the Caps hope they’ve found a “gem” in the former Bruins winger.

*John Tortorella is putting his Blue Jackets through an absolute boot camp thus far in Columbus. Bold strategy…I wonder how this will play out.

*The Pittsburgh Penguins appreciate the gifts of defenseman Kris Letang, even if Team Canada didn’t for the World Cup.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ken Wiebe has the details on Jacob Trouba asking to get moved from the Winnipeg Jets.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Saturday night’s World Cup of Hockey showdown between Russia and Canada as another chapter in the Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby rivalry.

*It’s sad to see respected veteran player Clarke MacArthur have to be helped off the ice after a vicious hit in a training camp scrimmage. What a dumb move by a guy that’s never going to crack the Senators roster.

*For something completely different: a good father/son piece on learning to appreciate things that your kids are interested in, and how rewarding it can be in the end.