Pouliot, Hamill given chance to fill Marchand's absence


Pouliot, Hamill given chance to fill Marchand's absence

BOSTON -- With Brad Marchand out until the final game of a four-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 19, the Bruins will have a new look for the next nine days. But the team also got a good sneak peek at a lineup with both Benoit Pouliot and Zach Hamill last week when Marchand missed the blowout win over the Calgary Flames with flu-like symptoms.

With Marchand out Benoit Pouliot will move up to the top left wing spot alongside Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, and give the Bruins the same kind of speedy, edgy fore-checking ability thats made Marchand and Bergeron such a disruptive pair in the offensive zone.

Meanwhile Zach Hamill gets inserted back into the lineup as the third line center between Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, and will get a long look over the next five games during five-on-five play as well as the penalty kill.

Its not an ideal situation given the energy and offensive production Marchand was providing while pacing for 35 goals and 71 points in a breakout second season. Claude Julien has seen enough evidence that both players can help fill the breach. With so many players on each of those lines that can play center or wing (Bergeron, Seguin, Kelly, Peverley, Hamill) it also allows Julien to mix things up if the first set of line combinations doesnt go swimmingly against Winnipeg tonight.

Pouliot also has four points in his last two games including three assists in the one game he played with Bergeron and Seguin and seemed to gel right away with his new linemates.

Pouliot is a player that I think everybodys seen from Day One to now has improved a lot and fit in better. Hes done exactly what we were anticipating at the beginning when we said lets be patient with this guy and give him a chance, said Julien. You look at the Peverley goal scored against Calgary, he poke checks the puck away on the fore check and he does that a lot.

He has a good stick, he turns a lot of pucks over and he makes plays while contributing now too. Its an opportunity for him to jump in with that line and help out.

With Hamill, hes now crossed over the 10 games and 30 days threshold, and would need to pass through re-entry waivers in order to be sent back to the AHL. So the former first round pick has carved out a versatile role for himself in Boston, and has to prove hes capable of producing as a spare forward that can jump into break glass when emergency situations.
Hamill is with the Bruins for the foreseeable future and hes getting a good look with Marchand out of the lineup, but the last thing his coach wants to see is a comfort zone setting in. The hunger on display while carving out a role for himself in December needs to remain.

Ill see how the game goes with certain guys at certain positions. If it doesnt go well Ill just move guys around so it goes as well as the other lines, said Julien. I dont think anyone should get too comfortable. There are certain guys that have their spots here, but the last thing I want to see is Zach getting comfy.

Nobody is likely to get comfy knowing that things will change once again when Marchand returns, but the smallest guy on the team leaves an awfully big hole to fill for the next five games.

Here are the lines at morning skate with Tuukka Rask expected to get the start against theJets after falling just short in the last game versus Winnipeg:




Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.