Haggerty: Bruins power play finally coming together

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Haggerty: Bruins power play finally coming together

WINNIPEG Dont look now, but the much maligned Bruins power play is starting to pick things up a little bit.

Brad Marchand kicked in a power play goal in the third period when he and Patrice Bergeron jumped out to an odd-man rush just 26 seconds into their PP possession. The Marchand backhander jumped over the glove hand of Ondrej Pavelec and gave Boston exactly what they needed.

Chris Bourque helped jump start the play with the transition pass out of the Boston end, and the third line winger now shares the team lead in power play assists as he slowly and surely continues finding his niche with the Bruins.

The Nose Face Killah now leads the Bruins with two power play goals and has three total special teams points when combined with his shorthanded strike from earlier this season.

The power play was created when the Bruins executed a face-off play on Winnipeg that saw Marchand get deep into the Jets zone with the puck on a stretch pass from Zdeno Chara, and Ron Hainsey had to take a tripping penalty in the Boston agitator.

Thats a face-off play that Patrice Bergeron, Chara and Marchand have executed at least four or five teams over the last few years, and it seems to always draw a penalty or create a scoring chance when they opt for it.

That wasnt a play. I just got lost back behind everybody, said a smirking Marchand, who apparently wants to keep it as Bostons secret weapon.

That special teams score was the game-winning strike in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre, and also gives the Bruins a power play goal in three of their last four games played. Now the Winnipeg Jets have the worst penalty kill unit in the entire NHL, and that might have been a factor in the ease of Bostons game-winning special teams score.

But Black and Gold beggars cant be choosers and theyll take a PP goal any way that they can.

I feel like our power play has been clicking decently all season, but at the end of the day its about results, said Tyler Seguin, who never got on the ice with the PP as the quintet of Chara, Rich Peverley, Chris Bourque, Bergeron and Marchand hit pay dirt 27 seconds into the possession. We got a man-advantage goal and hopefully it keeps paying off for us.

Marchand was feeling a little generous following the game, so he let everybody in on a Bs team meeting that took place earlier this week designed to kick the man advantage into gear. It appears the meeting also included some new personnel combinations as the agitating Bruins forward is getting more and more power play time for the Black and Gold.

Its huge. A few games back we had a big meeting and we wanted to make sure that we really improved on the power play, said Marchand, who potted his team-leading eighth goal of the season for the game-winning marker. I think three or four games in a row weve had a power play goal. Were very proud of that. You saw that it wins games on a day like today. Thats what we need.

We were doing a pretty good job moving the puck, so we just stressed more about bearing down on the offensive opportunities.

Apparently, the team meeting worked with the Bruins rocketing all the way up to 26th in the NHL with a 13 percent success rate (6-for-46) on the power play this season. Part of the success has been the insertion of Marchand and Chris Bourque on the power play units, but its also about moving the puck more quickly and with more confidence.

When informed that Marchand had spilled the beans about Bostons power play meeting, Claude Julien looked slightly peeved. But its a little difficult to get angry at the guy thats leading the team in goals scored and has helped breathe some life into the man advantage.

After were done here Im going to go tell Marchand that hes got a loud mouth, said Julien with a smile on his face. We just had a meeting where we talked about a lot of pressure that comes from the outside, and a lot of the pressure that comes from the inside. The guys want to do well, but its important to understand that how we execute and how we compete is going to decide if we do well.

We needed to move the puck a little quicker and crisper, and the last few games have been better. But you dont want to get too carried away with that stuff. You want to build on it. We capitalized on our own only power play tonight and thats a good sign.

Julien is 100-percent correct. The Bruins seem to have found a combination they like with Chara, Peverley, Bourque, Marchand and Bergeron and the results have been there in producing three power play goals over the last week.

Now its up to those players to continue moving the puck and producing PP points, and the second power play unit featuring Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to keep pace as they attempt to turn a perennial weakness into team strength.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

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Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.