Thomas, Bruins looking for defensive turnaround

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Thomas, Bruins looking for defensive turnaround

TAMPA The Bruins get right back on the horse with the second-half of their Florida trip when they face off against Tampa Bay Lightning at the newly renamed Tampa Times Forum on Tuesday night. Things were much different for both teams the last time they met when the Bruins toppled the Bolts in overtime of a 1-0 instant classic win during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

It appears that seven-game playoff series didnt inspire the hockey hatred that could spark a rivalry as the players were going through an optional morning skate that featured a big game of hallway soccer.

The nice weather? was Dennis Seidenbergs response when asked what he remembered about last years playoff series. A lot has happened to us since then.

The Bruins went on to win the Cup, of course, and the Lightning have fallen on hard times with goaltending issues and defensive woes. The Bruins are an NHL-best plus-70 in goal differential while Tampa Bay sits dead last in the Eastern Conference with a minus-35 mark so the name of the game for Boston will be minimizing defensive mistakes and keeping the
high-powered Lightning off the power play.

Weve got to be careful we dont consider ourselves in a slump. Weve slipped a little bit, but our standards are pretty high, said Claude Julien. For a lot of players the compete level was better, but for others we expect it be a little better. You have to respect the offensive part of Tampas game. We have to make sure were ready to play a solid defensive game like in the past. Its what has given us our identity.

Tim Thomas will get the start for the Bruins in goal and once again Rich Peverley will miss his second straight game with personal matters. Hes still expected to meet up with the Bruins in New Jersey and be in the lineup when Boston takes on the Devils at the Prudential Center Thursday night.

Here is the expected lineup:

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

Chara-Boychuk
Seidenberg-McQuaid
Ference-Corvo

Thomas
Rask

"Everything is on track" with Bruins prospect Zboril

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"Everything is on track" with Bruins prospect Zboril

Little more than a year after he was drafted in the middle of the first round by the Boston Bruins, some are whispering that 19-year-old Jakub Zboril isn’t going to live up to advanced billing. Clearly the Czech defenseman took a step back for the Saint John Sea Dogs after being taken 13th by the Bruins in last year’s draft, and dropped to six goals and 20 points in 50 games in the QMJHL while watching second round pick Jeremy Lauzon pass him by on the prospect hype chart.

Perhaps the more concerning thing have been the whispers about an erratic work ethic and bad habits in Zboril’s game, a couple of criticisms that haven’t exactly gone away since the Bruins signed him to a contract last summer following development camp. Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley was asked about those concerns with the young D-man as he heads into an important training camp with Boston this fall, and didn’t seem all that concerned about his first round pick being a “bust.”

“I think his offensive production was down, and that he struggled a little bit coming out of the gate” said Bradley of Zboril, who had 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games during his first season in the Quebec Major Junior League prior to getting drafted by Boston. “But he had a strong playoff. Everybody forgets that he’s a gritty guy, and a strong player that moves the puck. The thing that stands out about him are that his numbers are down from last year.

“But everything is on track with him. He’s going to come to camp and hopefully shines, and has a good year this year…patience.

“I think it’s great if the second rounders are on par with him: the [Brandon] Carlos and the [Jeremy] Lauzons. If you look at the whole of our draft last year you can’t rule out the first eight picks that they might play [in the NHL]. We’re excited. Donnie and I were at the Memorial Cup, and Lauzon raised our eyebrows every night that he played. You’d come away with a good feeling like this kid plays hard, plays the Bruins style, moves the puck and is tough. Obviously [you had to like] what Carlo did when he was brought in [to Providence] at the end. It just bodes well for what we have coming this year. Zboril and Lauzon are probably going back to junior, but Carlo is going to get a long look.”

The young Czech D-man is still at a point where his stock can still shoot higher than it’s ever been with a good showing at training camp, and a strong season for the Sea Dogs entering into his professional hockey career. But he can’t afford to go through another down season, or that talk of him being a first round bust is only going to get louder and stronger.

Morning Skate: Stamkos destined to wind up somewhere new

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Morning Skate: Stamkos destined to wind up somewhere new

Here are the links from all around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while happy to be back in the city of Boston.

*The Buffalo Sabres don’t sound happy about the accusations against Evander Kane that cropped up during NHL Draft weekend, why would they be?

*NHL teams can now start discussing free agents, exchanging ideas with them and start the chase up to July 1.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the biggest winners in the 2016 NHL Draft. Here’s a shocker: the Bruins aren’t among them.

*A good piece from Alex Prewitt on the importance of the land line phones on the draft floor during NHL Draft weekend.

*The Edmonton Oilers are another team that didn’t come out of draft weekend with a defenseman, and are still in search of their back end help.

*A nice piece on Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Pascal Laberge, who could have been plucked by the Bruins at No. 29 rather than Trent Frederic.

*Bruce Garrioch has his Sunday NHL notes, and says that Steven Stamkos appears destined to play somewhere other than Tampa Bay.

*For something completely different: Jonah Keri has TV critic Alan Sepinwall on his podcast, and one can only hope it’s to explain how and why he could have disliked last week’s episode of Game of Thrones.