Sabres snap B's six-game point streak, win 7-4

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Sabres snap B's six-game point streak, win 7-4

BOSTON -- The Bruins dropped their first game in regulation on Thursday night, falling 7-4 to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins took a 4-3 lead just 1:45 after David Krejci pulled off a filthy toe-drag on Jordan Leopold inside the right circle as Leopold dove to the ice. Krejci pulled the puck back, got past the Sabres' defenseman, and snapped it low-left for the goal and the lead.
But the Sabres scored four unanswered goals that included an empty-netter to seal the deal on the win.
Buffalo tied it up at 4-4 just 43 seconds after Krejci's goal, as Alexander Sulzer stepped up into the high slot and ripped a one-timer past Rask.
Cody Hodgson then gave Buffalo a 5-4 lead seven minutes into the third, as he one-timed a Thomas Vanek pass past Tuukka Rask on a 2-on-1.
Vanek scored on a breakaway with 1:31 left to complete his hat trick and put the Sabres up 6-4. Then Jason Pominville put home an empty-netter to make it 7-4.
The Bruins nearly took a 3-1 lead into the third period, but the Sabres scored a pair of goals late in the second to tie the game at 3-3 entering the third.
Vanek cut Boston's lead to 3-2 with 3:14 left in the second and a minute left on a 5-on-3 Buffalo power play, when he re-directed a Christian Ehrhoff shot from the right point.
Not even two minutes later, Ennis was left wide open at the right post, caught a perfect pass through the slot from Vanek as he was falling to the ice, and put it upstairs on Rask as he tried to quickly slide post-to-post. Rask couldn't get there in time, and Ennis tied the game.
Before any of the scoring started, the Bruins lost Shawn Thornton following a fight in the game's opening minutes with 6-foot-8 forward John Scott. The fight ended with the 6-foot-2 Thornton falling to the ice. Thornton served the fighting penalty, but went straight the the dressing room afterwards, and never returned to the game.
After a scoreless first, he Sabres had taken the initial 1-0 lead 1:38 into the second period, when Vanek one-timed an absolute rocket from the top of the left circle past Rask. Like the game-tying goal, Rask had no chance, as Vanek received a pass through the slot from the opposite circle before ripping it top-shelf.
The Bruins answered by scoring three straight goals, one from Rich Peverley and two in a row from Brad Marchand, all in a span of six minutes, taking a 3-1 lead before Buffalo tied it up at the end of the period.

TALKING POINTS, written by CSNNE Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty
GOLD STAR: Thomas Vanek finished with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) and a plus-4 in 19:21 of ice time and continued his role as certified Bruins killer with 28 goals and 54 points in 46 career games against Boston. It was the second hat trick of the season for the Austrian forward and the second five-point hes put up this year, so its not just a Black and Gold thing either. As porous as the Bruins defense was on Thursday night, a huge dollop of credit must also go to a Thomas VanekJason PominvilleCody Hodgson line that dominated the Bruins from beginning to end.BLACK EYE: Zero hits and a minus-3 is not something one usually sees next to Zdeno Chara for a stat line, but thats what was sitting there after the Bruins defenseman couldnt stop the top Buffalo line. The Bruins captain was caught up ice at points and beaten to the net at other times in one of the worst performances seen from the 6-foot-9 defenseman during his time in Boston. The big career numbers for Vanek tell you that hes one forward that Chara has his share of trouble with given his combination of sizestrength and skill.TURNING POINT: It was a see-saw game that seemed to indicate the final team to score a goal would win, but then Ryan Miller came alive in the final 20 minutes to stop the goal-fest for both sides. It was still a one-goal lead for Buffalo in the third when Miller stoned Patrice Bergeron on a point blank shot in front of the net for one of his 15 saves in the final stanza. Once Miller snuffed out that last Boston scoring chance, the insurance and empty net goals started coming.HONORABLE MENTION: Brad Marchand scored a pair of goals for the Bruins in the second period and really allowed Boston to head into the final period tied up despite some defensive breakdowns. The rush through both Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold while waiting out Miller before roofing a backhander was a thing of beauty, and the second goal was a snipe from the slot with Tyler Seguin battling with the 6-foot-7 Myers in front of the net. There was plenty to like about Marchands performance Thursday and his team-leading five goals on the season.INJURY WARD: Shawn Thornton took several stiff overhand rights to the head courtesy of 6-foot-8 monster John Scott in their first period fight, and never returned to the ice after heading straight to the dressing room from the penalty box. Claude Julien indicated hes still being evaluated. Daniel Paille is also still under evaluation after taking a high-stick to the face in the third period that sent him to the Bs dressing room for the rest of the night.BY THE NUMBERS: 17 the number of seconds left on the clock when Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff took a timeout with a three-goal lead in the third period.QUOTE TO NOTE: Our guys were defensively brain-dead. Bruins coach Claude Julien discussing the uncharacteristic defensive miscues and blown assignments that led to allowing seven Buffalo goals in the loss.

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs