Experienced Cross taking a leadership role among B's prospects


Experienced Cross taking a leadership role among B's prospects

WILMINGTON, Mass. Tommy Cross is finally ready for his Bruins Development Camp graduation.

The Boston College defensemen and Connecticut native was a part of the first development camp six years ago that included Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and has been tracked by the Bruins through his hockey career at the Heights.

In fact Bruins third round pick Matthew Grzelcyk remembered Cross being on the ice as he sat in the Ristuccia Arena stands a couple of years ago watching development camp as a 16-year-old Bruins fan.

That kind of makes Cross feel like the old guy at prospect camp, doesnt it?

ReallyGrzelcyk said that? said Cross. Wow, I guess that does make me feel a little old. Thanks for telling me that.

Development camp has been a great learning tool for me. It just so happened that I came to the first one when I was 17 years old and went to college for four years. I wouldnt change that experience at all.

In truth thats the kind of veteran presence that a strong, tough, stay-at-home defenseman prospect like Cross needs to exhibit, and will suit him well in the world of pro hockey after getting two AHL games under his belt at the end of last season.

Now the 22-year-old Cross is signed, sealed and delivered to the Bruins, and hes likely headed to the Providence Bruins for some AHL seasoning while preparing for a run at an NHL job. Cross helped the Eagles to a pair of NCAA championships and overcame knee injuries that hampered his development in college, and now the Bruins are hoping that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound bruiser develops that same winning aura in the pros as he did in college.

The guys in the AHL are older and its a little bit of a controlled style, said Cross, who put up 24 points in 44 games for Boston College last season. College hockey was a great place to learn, grow and prepare myself for a new level.

Much of that starts with attitude. Cross showed plenty of that in Saturdays practice session as he got tangled up with Jared Knight by the boards during a battle drill, and both players got in a little stick-work and shoving before heading back toward the benches.

Cross gave Knight a long glare at the end of the exchange, and thats exactly the kind of physicality, grit and attitude the Bruins are looking for out of the physically impressive defenseman.

Its good for Tommy. For him to be a National Hockey League player hes going to have to develop a bit of that edge. Knight is a guy that naturally bowls his way toward the net. Thats just the way he plays and Tommy is going to have to stop those kinds of players, said Cassidy. Its good for him to show some push-back and if he develops that side of his game that will be a good thing for him.

Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said hed encourage Cross to watch video of Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg if hes looking for directions to take his on-ice game.

His first AHL game he was a little tentative, and we had a little chat about what he had to do better. That second game he was crisper, he was snapping passes and physical when he needed to be, said Cassidy. It was night and day, but its too small a sample size to say what well be getting out of him. But we need more of that second game guy.

Hes a very mature guy, hes a winner and I think hes going to figure it out. Whether hes good enough, who knows? But thats the game he needs to bring to us. Because hes a big-bodied guy he can be a Seidenberg-type player where he physically moves guys and can make that good first pass.

Nobody is expecting Cross to immediately show signs of German engineering in his game like Seidenberg, but thats a pretty lofty goal to shoot for a Boston College kid looking to make an impact in the Bs organization.

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul. 

Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban


Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It could get a little dicey for the Bruins over the next couple of days.

Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin were missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and instead rookie Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Black and Gold against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.

Rask hasn’t been on the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils when he re-aggravated a lower body injury and Khudobin will be out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered at Monday’s practice. It appeared the B’s backup suffered a right hand/wrist injury in the early moments of the practice, and Subban was left as the lone goaltender until Boston brought up Zane McIntyre on emergency recall Tuesday morning.

Julien said the Bruins have confidence in Subban’s ability to play a great game for them, but he’s struggled so far in Providence while getting yanked from two of his four AHL starts this season.

“I just want [Subban] to go in tonight and play a really solid game because we know that he can. He’s a good goaltender, so just because he had a bit of a rough outing [in the AHL] doesn’t mean he has to have one tonight. This is an opportunity for him to play well, and to demonstrate that he’s ready to play in the NHL,” said Julien. “We have bad games and we tell our players ‘Let’s not live in the past, let’s think about what we have to do to rectify it and play better in the next game.’ So I think our goaltender is in the same situation.

“Our game plan is about playing good defense with Tuukka or without Tuukka. That doesn’t change. We understand that some of the teams that we’ve played lately (Montreal and New Jersey) are very stingy, so we have to give up the least amount of goals we can because we’re not going to score a ton against those teams. When you put a system together you believe in it, and you go out and play your game. You don’t adjust your game for other teams, and adjusting for injuries isn’t quite what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a solid performance from our team, and that will trump any injury that we have.”

Oh by the way, the Bruins also have a road game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a back-to-back situation that’s less than ideal with injuries piling up. In addition a Subban/McIntyre tandem in goal, the Bruins will also be without David Backes with what Claude Julien termed “a minor issue” that also has him day-to-day.

In the good news department, Adam McQuaid will make his season debut after missing the first five games of the season with an upper body injury. Rob O’Gara was sent to the Providence Bruins to make room for him coming off injured reserve. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Wild with Joe Morrow as the healthy scratch on the back end:







Liles-C. Miller