By Joe Haggerty
UNIONDALE, N.Y. The Bruins are getting ready for a thoroughly winnable two-game road trip against the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, and the word of the day for the Bs is: Defense.The Bruins have experienced some slippage in the defensive department over the last handful of games, and thats the first order of business after leaders like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron have called the team out in recent days. The Bs have allowed 20 goals in their last four games, and lost three of the four in the process. Its not our game and its not the way were used to, said Bergeron. Weve got to adjust and get back to whats made us successfully in the past, and get back to what our system is.Its all of the little details. As players we have to play our hearts every night no matter is happening around us. Weve got to make sure we do things right on the ice and get some wins. Newly acquired center Chris Kelly didnt attend the morning skate and theres still some question as to whether hes gong to make it to New York for tonights game as his visa paperwork is holding him up. Coach Claude Julien indicated that Kelly will play if he arrives in time for the game. Patrice Bergeron didnt participate in the optional skate at Nassau Coliseum, but Julien said that Bostons two-way center will play against the Islanders. Tuukka Rask was the only goaltender to take part in the optional skate, which would seem to indicate that Tim Thomas was getting the start. But it also could have been touch and feel practice for Rask before he gets put between the pipes against the Islanders. Its a tough call on the goalie tonight from this address, but the Isles would be the exact kind of opponent designed to get Rask his groove back after a recent slump has dropped him to 5-11-1 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.89 goals against average. For those wondering, Steve Kampfer tweeted about Daniel Paille singing last night in their hotel room and it was confirmed that Paille was belting out Forget you by Cee Lo when he thought nobody was listening on Wednesday night.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.
Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.
Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:
Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:
Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:
The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:
A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?
It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.
“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”
As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps.
BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well.
It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.
“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.
“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”
At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.