5 thoughts: Springfield-Providence

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5 thoughts: Springfield-Providence

SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Springfield Falcons and Providence Bruins tied at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes at the MassMutual Center.

1) Funny how stone cold professional veterans like Trent Whitfield and Chris Bourque are when it comes to tuning up for the pro season. It was Whitfield that scored the goal for the P-Bruins when he shoveled in a rebound of a Lane MacDermid shot from the circle halfway through the first period. There's a reason a guy like Whitfield continues to hang around in the B's organization, and it's because he's a model of professionalism.

2) Good scrap by Bobby Robbins midway through the first that seemed to wake up the crowd a bit. He's made himself a valuable energy player for Providence after a solid career at UMass-Lowell.

3) Michael Hutchinson gets the start for Providence and it looks he's going to get a long look from the Bruins in an important developmental year for him. He got a taste of Boston when he was called up due to injuries last season, but he still needs to prove to the B's brass that he's ready for it if injuries hit the B's goalies again this year.

4) Looks like people in Springfield don't miss hockey all that much because this arena is almost completely empty even for AHL standards.

5) Really like the way Chris Bourque moves the puck on the power play. He snaps it around quickly and has good vision picking up his teammates around the ice. That's something to watch if he gets PP time in Boston once the NHL season finally gets underway.

SECOND PERIOD

Here are five things from the second period with the Providence Bruins trailing the Springfield Falcons after 40 minutes at a largely empty MassMutual Center.

1) Rough sequence for Matt Bartkowski, who was beat to loose pucks three times and couldn't clear the zone under heightened pressure from Springfield. The gassed Bartkowski then fired a puck deep into the stands when he couldn't find a way to ice it, and was whistled for delay of game. That's the same kind of issues he suffered from during his stints with the B's. Springfield, of course, scored on the ensuing PP to take a two-goal lead.

2) Quiet night for Jared Knight. Haven't noticed him much at all, but that's bound to happen some in his first full pro season in the B's organization.

3) The Bruins didn't play Torey Krug tonight. Interesting when it appeared a few days ago that Bruce Cassidy would be playing his normal lineup for this Saturday game. Would imagine there are some other defensemen "on the bubble" that he wants to look at. Kevan Miller and Bartkowski haven't played nearly as much as Exelby, Cohen, Button and Trotman. No David Warsofsly for P-Bruins either.

4) P-Bruins fans are going to like Christian Hanson for more than the obvious bloodline reasons. Isn't afraid to throw his body around and become a physical presence, and was regularly mixing it up down low around the net.

5) P-Bruins scored 4 goals in their first preseason game, and haven't done all that much since. Would be good to see a bit of a third period explosion out of them given last year's offensive struggles.

THIRD PERIOD

SPRINGFIELD -- Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Providence Bruins falling to the Springfield Falcons by a 4-1 score at a virtually empty MassMutual Center.

1) A pretty uninspired final 40 minutes of hockey from the P-Bruins, so I'm mulling whether I should lower my writing to the level of the mediocre hockey. Thoughts?

2) A couple of fights for Ryan Button during the exhibition season -- tonight the young defenseman came to the aid of Chris Bourque after he was belted from behind by Dalton Smith. Good show of team toughness by a guy not really known for his fighting skills.

3) Quiet exhibition season for Jordan Caron, who one might have expected to really become more dominant given his strong second half to his NHL season. Wasn't making a lot of mistakes or costing his team in any areas -- and actually did a nice job on the PK -- but wasn't making many plays on the offensive end either.

4) Craig Cunningham is a much improved hockey player. Strong on the puck and ideally suited for a third line center role. It just remains to be seen how much offense he'll provide.

5) Mike Hutchinson caught in "no man's land" trying to play a puck in the third period that led to Springfield's fourth score on 29 shots. Not a great final dress rehearsal for the P-Bruins goalie with Niklas Svedberg waiting for a chance to make his adjustments to the North American game.

McQuaid on going in the NHL expansion draft: ‘I hope that’s not the case for me’

McQuaid on going in the NHL expansion draft: ‘I hope that’s not the case for me’

BOSTON – With the NHL expansion draft looming a couple of months in the future, it became much more of a reality for the Bruins this week now that the 2016-17 season is in the books.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said on Thursday that he expects the Bruins to go the 7 (forwards) 3 (defensemen) 1 (goaltender) route protecting their roster from the June 21 expansion draft. That will still leave some useful roster players unprotected.

MORE BRUINS

Atop that available expansion list for the Bruins will be potential names Malcolm Subban, Riley Nash, Jimmy Hayes and Adam McQuaid, who could be headed to Vegas. Asked about the topic at this week’s breakup day for the players, McQuaid expressed his hopes that he isn’t the one selected by the Vegas Golden Knights. The 30-year-old McQuaid stayed healthy enough to play in 77 games this season, and posted two goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 while serving in a top-four role pretty much all season as Torey Krug’s defensive partner.

McQuaid also brought the toughness and quiet leadership element with his willingness to always stand up for his teammates and go toe-to-toe with the toughest guys in the league when it was called for. His midseason heavyweight bout with Matt Martin was one of the most memorable moments of the season. It’s an element the Bruins would miss if he was taken in the expansion draft.  

“Well, I hope not. I never thought of it that way, to be honest with you. Obviously, the reality of the situation is they’re picking somebody from every team,” said McQuaid. “So, I hope that’s not the case for me. I’ve won here and I’ve always said how much I love it back here. I can’t imagine playing for another team. It’s totally out of my control, but hopefully that’s not the case.”

McQuaid is signed for $2.75 million for the next seasons and it was clear he was missed on the penalty kill once he went down injured in the first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. As for the entire expansion process, Sweeney said they are currently whittling down the protected list while required to protect Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to start by virtue of the no-movement language in their contracts.

Other young players, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano among others, don’t need to be protected either after completing this season with two years or less of pro hockey experience. One of the most difficult decisions will come down to protecting either 25-year-old Colin Miller or 28-year-old Kevan Miller as the third defensemen. 

Whichever one of those D-men is left unprotected would join McQuaid as the most likely player to be selected by Vegas GM George McPhee after he spent a decent amount of time scouting the Black and Gold this season to get an idea of which player he wanted.

Here’s our best guess at which players will end up being protected by the Bruins:

Forwards (7): Bergeron, Krejci, Backes, Pastrnak, Marchand, Beleskey and Spooner

Defensemen (3): Chara, Krug and Colin Miller

Goaltender (1): Rask 


 

Friday, April 28: Why combine NHL Awards with expansion draft?

Friday, April 28: Why combine NHL Awards with expansion draft?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Bruce Cassidy does a regular call-in to the Toucher and Rich Show next season. It’s a treat for Bruins fans. Cassidy is a straight shooter and has a great personality as well.

*Puck Daddy explains why the NHL is cramming the expansion draft for Vegas in with the NHL Awards show. I feel like this kind of makes sense because they’re both Vegas-centric.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ian Mendes says there’s no playoff fever in Ottawa and instead only a “Sens malaise.” It’s crazy to me that there were pockets of empty seats in Ottawa for Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against the Rangers.

*Speaking of Game 1 between the Sens and the Rangers, here are the details with Erik Karlsson again stepping up and playing the hero while carrying Ottawa.

*The Anaheim Ducks are having a heck of a time containing Leon Draisaitl in their second round battle with the Edmonton Oilers.

*Here’s some of this morning’s chat between Bruce Cassidy and Toucher and Rich where he talked about his relationship with Claude, his hate for the Canadiens and the future outlook for the Bruins organization. Good stuff.

*Glen Gulutzan reflects on his first season behind the bench for the Calgary Flames after their first round ouster.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Mike Halford has details of the Rangers not allowing Chris Drury to interview for the GM job with the Buffalo Sabres.

*For something completely different: What is the deal with this Buckingham McVie music that’s coming out? Whatever happened to Buckingham Nicks?