Julien, Kessel bury hatchet

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Julien, Kessel bury hatchet

OTTAWA It might have been a bit surprising Team Chara captain Zdeno Chara okayed the All-Star draft selection of Phil Kessel for the weekends All-Star events at Scotiabank Place. It was Joffrey Lupuls pick, to be sure, but Chara signed off on a player that memorably bolted out of Boston three years ago.

But it clearly speaks to the ten tons of water now under the bridge when it comes to the messy divorce between Kessel and the Bruins. Kessel, the natural born goal-scorer, crafted an escape route to Toronto and hes been looked at as a weasely villain ever since.

Its been three long years since Kessel left Boston for bluer pastures with the Maple Leafs, and both sides have clearly moved on.

The ultimate closure arrived for the Bruins when they captured the Stanley Cup last spring. The rapid development of Tyler Seguin into an All-Star is the cherry on top of the sundae.

With that in mind it was interesting to hear Bruins coach Claude Julien who will coach Kessel for the first time Sunday since his departure from Boston reveal a conversation he enjoyed with Kessel following the All-Star Draft Thursday night.

Julien and Kessel clashed often during his three seasons with the Bruins and on a myriad of subjects: Kessel would routinely get challenged for not working hard enough in the weight room and for his stubborn choice in hockey sticks. Kessel, on the other hand, never really forgave Julien for benching him during the first round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens during his second season in the league.

The friction between Kessel and Julien was widely believed a big factor in Kessels forced exit to the Maple Leafs, but it appears thats been smoothed over with an All-Star chat that was a long time coming.

The years go by and its always nice to see those guys again. I had a really good conversation with Phil yesterday. Hes obviously excited and loves where he is, said Julien. Thats what its all about. We obviously lost a good player, but it was a trade that had to be made. In return we got a couple of good players, so it worked out for both sides.

Kessel is never going to truly open his veins to the media about anything never mind a heart-to-heart with his former coach, but even No. 81 admitted he looks back on his experience in Boston with a much different lens these days. Hes a two-time All-Star and one of the most dangerous scorers in the league, and he knows the Bs coaching staff was trying to make him a better player.

Much like a grown-up child that eventually realizes why their parents were hard on them long after the fact, Kessel understands what happened in Boston was part of his development. How much does Kessel think hes matured since he left Boston?

Quite a bit. I meanthat was three years ago now, right? I was still pretty young. I was just getting used to the league back in the day. I think you take every lesson that you learn in the league and get better as a player and a person, said Kessel. When we were there he tried to make me a better hockey player.

I have a lot of respect for what hes done. Hes a good coach and a good guy. I understand some of the things Julien did now. When I was there I was young. I wanted to play and help.

Is Kessel going to enjoy playing with Julien behind the bench again?

Itll be fineyeah, said Kessel. I played with him for a couple of years and he taught me a lot about the game. Hes obviously a good coach. Its nice for him to get recognized here because hes done great in Boston. Its a good thing for him.

It sounds like at 24 years old with a potential 40-goal season and playoff berth in his future, Kessel is finally starting to get it as an NHL player.

Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

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Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins are clearly getting the kinks out a couple of games into the preseason.

The B’s defense struggled all night, and allowed 39 shots on net and five goals in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. The loss provides plenty of video material for the Boston coaching staff to look at over the next few days.

The Bruins actually started off well in the opening half of the first period, but then the bottom fell out when they couldn’t cash in on a power play chance. That led to a Ryan Spooner face-off penalty and then the Wings scoring on the power play to get things going. The Winged Wheels then scored on a Drew Miller-to-Steve Ott connection 19 seconds later to double Detroit’s lead, and really showed some collapse for the Bruins group on the ice Wednesday night.

Impressive youngster Austin Czarnik scored in the second period after a nice feed from Ryan Spooner crashing to the net, but that was the lone highlight for the Black and Gold against a Detroit team that was ready to go. Luke Glendening scored on a play right in front of the net in the second period as well, and Anthony Mantha made it a 4-0 lead for Detroit until Czarnik cracked the score sheet with his first goal of the preseason.

Drew Miller added a goal in the third period when Linus Arnesson vacated the front of the net to leave it wide open for the NHL veteran, and that was a pretty symbolic play for a Bruins group that never got a defensive foothold all evening. 

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar