Bourque makes debut in Bruins sweater

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Bourque makes debut in Bruins sweater

SPRINGFIELD, MA Chris Bourque had been waiting all summer for the chance to finally wear the Black and Gold Bruins sweater in a game, and that finally happened Saturday night.
It was as a member of the Providence Bruins rather than the locked out Boston Bruins, and it arrived in a 4-1 loss to the Springfield Falcons in the P-Bruins final preseason tune-up at a largely empty MassMutual Center. But Bourque made the most out of it while wearing No. 17 for Providence.

The confident winger finished with an assist on the only goal Providence supplied over the sixty minutes of hockey, and felt good about the experience headed into the AHL regular season. Its the first of more than 80 games he hopes to play in a Bs sweater with a very familiar Bourque stitched on the back of it.

Or perhaps many more than that if the forward is tapped for third line duty in Boston once the NHL lockout has been lifted.

This is definitely something Ive been looking forward to since I got traded to Boston, said Bourque. Playing in a game for the first time since last April it was good to simply knock the rust off and compete against somebody other than my own team.

We had a few scrimmages at the beginning of training camp, but its always hard to gauge things just from those. So it was good to get into the game and I felt pretty good out there. We didnt get the win, but it was good to get a feel for the puck and get ready for the season.

The Bourque helper was from a neutral zone feed to Lane MacDermid that the P-Bruins turned into a booming shot from the left face-off circle. The MacDermid wrister stunned the handcuffed goalie, and a rebound bounced right back to the top of the slot area. Trent Whitfield scooped it up and shoveled a backhanded shot into the open net that tied the score at 1-1 in the first period.

Bourque and Spooner skated together once again on Providences top forward line throughout the game, and Ray Bourques eldest son was also a big presence on what appears to be a much improved power play. Bourque was working a point position on the man advantage and showed both the quick decision-making and on-ice vision that will make things happen when the P-Bruins have the puck.

It seemed like on more than one occasion Bourque flipped the puck into a space that surprised the skater he was passing to while working the power play, but that should lessen as the skill players get used to each other.

Its also one area where hes anxious to help young offensive playmakers like Spooner and Jared Knight on the man advantage after Providence struggled in that department last season. Thats the least the 26-year-old should be capable of after piling up 93 points in 73 games for the Hershey Bears last season.

Weve got some really good young offensive players and it was fun to snap the puck around with them on the power. It doesnt really matter how good it looks if the puck doesnt go in, said Bourque. But wed also only worked on it for one day. It should be 100 percent ready to go by next Friday the AHL season opener.

Unlike the NHL, Bourque and his P-Bruins teammates will all be ready to go next Friday when pro hockey finally makes its return to the New England area.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.