Pouliot, Hamill given chance to fill Marchand's absence

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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:

Pouliot-Bergeron-Seguin
Lucic-Krejci-Horton
Kelly-Hamill-Peverley
Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk
Seidenberg-Corvo
Ference-McQuaid

Rask
Thomas

Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

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Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while finally catching up on “The Man in the High Tower” on Amazon.

*The Coyotes and Panthers executed a trade sending Dave Bolland to Arizona, and it’s not exactly great news for Gary Bettman with Arizona continuing to take on a lot of dead money.

*Alex Pietrangelo was appropriately humbled to be named the 21st captain in the history of the St. Louis Blues.

*The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach, and his name is Jared Bednar, who it is said will get the players to play hard for him.

*The footage of somebody in full goalie equipment running away from a burglary scene is something out of a movie.

*The New York Rangers can never have enough depth, and that’s why they added Brandon Pirri to the mix on Thursday.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says Lawson Crouse brings the total package in the trade from Florida to Arizona, and he also brings a player that can take a hell of a hit as he was the guy that got rocked by Charlie McAvoy at the World Junior Showcase earlier this month.  

*It’s only 15 days until the US National Team Development Program gets going with their 2016-17 schedule: here it is in full.

*For something completely different: can you see David Ortiz’s face in this corn maze? This could be like an ink blot test.

 

Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

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Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

FOXBORO -- When DJ Foster took the field for Patriots OTAs, he looked as advertised: quick, a crisp route-runner, and the owner of a pair of dependable hands. But that was back when players wore shorts to every practice. Since then, the undrafted rookie running back out of Arizona State hasn't had the opportunity to do much other than work on his conditioning while the majority of his teammates practiced. 

That could soon change. Though Foster has dealt with what he calls a "nagging" injury throughout much of training camp, he felt well enough this week to return to practice, and on Friday night he is likely to see preseason game action for the first time this summer.

The reason Foster's preseason debut could carry some importance is that he happens to play a position that may qualify as the thinnest on the Patriots roster right now. Because sub back extraordinaire Dion Lewis will not be healthy enough to start the season, and because coach Bill Belichick opted to part ways with veteran Donald Brown recently, the team is low on numbers in their running back room.

If Foster can capitalize on the opportunities he's given, he may make a case for a roster spot. James White, who is expected to be Lewis' primary replacement, is the other lone true sub back on the roster. Brandon Bolden can fill in at that role on an emergency basis, and Tyler Gaffney has shown he can catch the football when asked, but neither has the kind of pass-catching upside of Foster, who played receiver for the Sun Devils as a senior and racked up 222 receptions during his four-year college career. 

Foster has only so much time to prove he's worthy of a job. The Patriots have to reduce their numbers to 75 by Aug. 30. They need to be down to 53 by Sep. 3. Foster could be a tantalizing prospect to stash on the practice squad, but surely he'd like to make a push for a greater role. 

He explained this week that, despite his recent physical limitations, he won't be holding back whenever he does get a chance to prove himelf. 

"The coaches do a great job at just kind of making sure I'm OK and stuff," he said. "For me, when I'm in there, do what I can, give everything I got -- every rep, every chance I get with the reps. Stay in the playbook, stay involved in the meetings, and just try to learn as much as I can. Whenever I do get an opportunity, go out there and make the most of it."

Against the Panthers, the Patriots coaching staff will have to balance the need to evaluate players like Foster against good competition versus getting the entire team ready for Week 1. For example, they'd like to get a good look at Foster, whose practice reps were next to nil before this week. They'd also probably like to get White as many reps as possible so that he's prepared for the Cardinals. 

Who should play when? And how many snaps do they need? 

"You can’t see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that’s all you have, and some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging," Belichick said earlier this week. "We still have him, but there’s just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown . . . Players like D.J., it’s hard. You don’t have much to go on. But maybe he’ll be able to do more. We’ll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully."

Friday night could be the night.