P-Bruins ready to roll with young talent


P-Bruins ready to roll with young talent

PROVIDENCE While the Boston Bruins should have begun their season on Thursday night along with three other games across the league, the Providence Bruins will kick their 21st AHL season off at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday night. The Manchester Monarchs will take on the P-Bruins within the friendly confines of their Rhode Island backyard, and local hockey fans will get their first glimpse of favored son Chris Bourque in a Bs sweater.

It will also feature much better AHL competition with proven NHL commodities like Jeff Skinner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Cory Hodgson mixed in with the normal AHL hodgepodge of veterans and rookies. But despite the rise in talent level across the league due to the lockout, Providence still expects to claw back into the postseason after missing out last year.

Our expectations are high in terms of winning. This season were very young, but were anticipating greater success with wins and losses to start things off this season. Were expecting those young players to build on some of the success that they had last year, said Providence coach Bruce Cassidy. Until the puck drops youre never quite sure where you stand, but thats our expectation level. Getting back into the playoffs is our goal, and once youre in then you can from there.

Cassidy pointed to Bourque as one difference-making player thats going to liven up their power play, and infuse plenty of offense into an attack that was lacking far too often over the last few years.

Bourque is a guy that knows how to run a power play, said Cassidy. Weve added some very good power play personnel, and lets see what weve got to open the year.

Life is moving along for the Bruins coaching staff, front office, and the Providence roster of players after they made their final cuts on Thursday a group of roster moves that included shipping former Boston College defenseman Tommy Cross to the ECHLs South Carolina StingRays. Providence will instead up their AHL season with familiar faces like Bourque, Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight, Torey Krug, Jordan Caron and Matt Bartkowski ready to fill in the gap left by the locked out NHL players.

Thats too much to ask of them, obviously, but its the role being thrust upon them over the next few months while the NHL and NHLPA attempt to bridge the billion dollar gap in CBA negotiations. The P-Bruins should, at the very least, be a more enjoyable product to watch on the ice with more highly skilled players, and the playoffs are within their reach after they were reduced to a barren hockey wasteland last winter.

Weve got some young guys and some veterans. I think weve got more talent than we did last year, said Caron. Weve got some size. Were looking forward to having a good season, making the playoffs and having a good run.

Its been five months since I last played in a game, so itll be a bit different. But Im excited to get it started and have a good season.

The P-Bruins start their excellent AHL odyssey Friday night as the only show in town until the NHL gets its affairs in order and begins their regular season at a point unknown on the hockey calendar.

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

BOSTON – It certainly feels appropriate that Patrice Bergeron would author a clutch game-winning goal late in the third period of his first game back after missing a week of games with a lower body injury. That Bergeron’s game-winner also arrived in the home opener at TD Garden was an added bonus once No. 37 hammered a shot from the high slot with 1:15 to go in the third period to give the Bruins their first lead of the game in a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

The goal arrived courtesy of a nifty setup from linemate Brad Marchand working behind the New Jersey net, and also thanks to David Pastrnak winning a battle in the corner thanks to newfound grit in his game. But the hero of the day again turned out to be No. 37, who went from missing an entire week of action to reclaiming his center role on the top line, playing 16:49 of ice time and winning 13-of-24 face-offs while generating five shot attempts.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with what he did [against the Devils]. After being off for over a week and to come back and have one practice with us then back into the game, he scores a clutch goal for us. That’s what he has always been, a clutch player for us,” said Claude Julien. “I think the third period we gave it a really good push there and I like seeing that from our team that you come out and you don’t play on your heels and you push hard and we went down by a goal but we got our game going like I said and we got a couple goals to win this for us.”

Bergeron modestly said postgame that he was just trying to get into the flow of the game after missing a healthy chunk of time with injury. But he certainly looked like he was vintage form once it crunch time. The timing was perfect as he stepped into the one-timer shot off Marchand’s pass, and beat Cory Schneider amid a strong 34-save performance by the kid from Marblehead.

“I mean I was just trying to, I guess, get my feet wet right away and use the first few shifts to kind of just get, feel good about my positioning and my skating,” said Bergeron. “As the game went on I just felt better. Of course you want to start on a good note, especially at home, and we talked about our home record in the last few years. We wanted to do the job early, especially in the first game, and it’s one step but we’re happy with it.”

It was like Bergeron didn’t miss a single beat after missing the first three games of the season with a lower body injury, and those kinds of instincts and natural ability are things worth marveling about when it comes to the Bruins.

“I was feeling good [on the ice],” said Bergeron. “It would have been nice to ride the wave of the World Cup, but that being said I thought in the first I was trying to be good position ally and kind of get myself going with the first few shifts, and just kind of go from there. Overall I thought that happened.”

While the comeback win was certainly good news for the Bruins, the best news of all is that Bergeron has returned to the lineup with no signs of an injury that surprised everybody right before the start of the regular season.