Bruins laud 'complete success' in drafting six future prospects

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Bruins laud 'complete success' in drafting six future prospects

PITTSBURGH Boston Bruins scouting director Wayne Smith admitted after it was all over that the 2012 NHL Draft class wasnt one of the strongest, but the Bs were still happy with their treasure trove of six picks at the end of Saturday afternoon.

We accomplished everything that we set out to do, said Smith. We wanted to get some depth in goal, we wanted to add some size and toughness and we got some character players. All in all it was a complete success with the scouting staff and management working toward the plan.

This was a year where universally people across the league thought it was a down year. Whereas next year projects to be the strongest draft in 20 years, so anytime you have a draft like this year you go off your gut and the work of your scouts. Sometimes you go off the board. Some teams did that because they had feelings on players that we didnt agree with. Im sure there are players we picked that some other teams might have shook their head at. Were really comfortable with what weve done.

In the first round the Bruins obviously nabbed Belleville Bulls goaltender Malcolm Subban, and then followed that up with five selections on Saturday after collecting an extra fifth round pick in the Benoit Pouliot deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

First and foremost Smith said Subban was a no-brainer for them at the 24th overall pick in the first round, and mentioned him in the same elite class of prospect as last years defenseman pick, Dougie Hamilton.

His upside is so high. Subban is a quality kid and hes a tremendous person, said Smith. Anytime you can attain an asset like that its very exciting for the organization. Hes like a Dougie Hamilton. These kids are winners.

Hell be the starting goaltender in the CanadaRussia series upcoming this summer and Dougie Hamilton will there as well.

In the third round the Bruins went local and tapped Charlestown native Matthew Grzelcyk, a defenseman from the US Team Development Program thats set to play for Boston University in the fall. Hes undersized at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds, but Smith felt like the Bruins were able to get a player with an elite set of offensive skills with a bargain draft price.

Hes the type of kid that plays much bigger than he is. Hes got a Bruins mentality, said Smith. I meanhe plays to win. He plays hard. Hes tough to play against. He plays a virtually mistake-free game, and his decision-making and ability to move the puck are second to none in this draft.

Obviously its a great story because his father has worked at the Garden for 35 years. We brought him in because we had keen interest in him. After meeting with him we feel like he could be a part of us winning another Stanley Cup.

With the 131st overall pick collected in the Pouliot deal, the Bruins grabbed Seth Griffith from the London Knights. The highly productive Griffith doesnt a skill that jumped out to scouts, but his overall production and ability to be in the right place at the right time was too good to ignore in the fifth round.

He was second in the Ontario Hockey League with 47 goals, said Smith. They were timely goals. Hes a big-time player that rises to the occasion. Dale and Mark Hunter both were preaching his game, and bring that quality when they played to win pucks and races.
Hes not really big and hes not going to bowl you over, but hes got a really high hockey IQ and an NHL release on his shot.

Fourteen picks later Cody Payne went to the Bs with their own fifth round pick, and the Florida product projects to be a third line power forward capable of dropping the gloves and 6-foot-2, 201-pound size. Payne didnt play much after getting traded to the Plymouth Whalers, Tyler Seguins old junior club, but the Bruins liked what they saw when he played in a top-six forward role.

Hes a big strong kid that played on a deep team and didnt have a lot of ice time this year, said Smith. We were lucky enough to catch him when his teammates were at World Juniors. Hes as tough as they come.

The Bruins went big defenseman with raw project Matthew Benning in the sixth round with the 175th overall pick, and certainly did assistant general manager Jim Benning Matthews uncle proud with the selection. Benning is a big, nasty blueliner with NHL bloodlines as the son of Brian and nephew of Jim, and fits right into the Bruins style of play.
His dad, Brian, was a 10-year veteran in the NHL perhaps best known for his first five years with the St. Louis Blues from 1984-1989.

Benning is a big, strong kid thats very raw right now. His father played in the NHL. He moves the puck extremely well and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. When hes on the ice people know about it. Hes the kind of guy that when youre running to the bench hell give you a shot to the head just cause you were looking at him.

Hes a really good puck-mover. He hasnt decided on his school, but hes playing in Dubuque next year and has a number of colleges after him. We were really excited about this pick because hes a late-bloomer and wasnt sure he wanted to play hockey because of the pressure of the family legacy. But now hes fully committed to playing.

The final pick in the seventh round for the Bruins went to another prospective power forward, Colton Hargrove, who skates the left wing for Fargo in the USHL and certainly has the projectable size as a 6-foot-1, 215-pound power forward type.

Hargrove is a similar player to Payne. He played on a deep team in Fargo. Hes a big, strong kid and hes going to be going to Western Michigan University. Hes very physical and very tough. Im sure Bruins fans will get a chance to know and love Payne and Hargrove when their day comes.

Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

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Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins woke up on Saturday morning and found themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time in months by virtue of the one game in hand the New York Islanders have over the Black and Gold.

That makes Saturday night’s tilt against the Isles at the Barclays Center all the more important. A win will put the Bruins back into the lead for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a loss would further drop them out of the playoff picture. It’s the biggest game of the season for the Bruins made that much grander in scale because Tuukka Rask is suddenly out with a lower body injury, and the Bruins will need a superior effort to snap a four game losing streak that has them teetering on the brink of playoff oblivion.

With all this swirling around, the Bruins know they can seize control of their playoff destiny with a win that will send them spinning off in the right direction. A loss will…well, that’s something the B’s don’t even want to entertain at this point after collapsing down the stretch in each of the last two seasons.

“With where we’re at right now, we can’t have any moral victories. Now it’s about doing the job and bearing down. We have to go all in tonight and have a big game. Hopefully the guys understand how important of a game it is and we have a big night,” said Brad Marchand. “I think we’re all excited. This is when we love to play when the game means so much, and it has a playoff feel. We’re fighting for our lives right now. It’s a great mood in the room, so hopefully we have a big bounce back.”

While the big picture can’t possibly be ignored given what’s happened with the Bruins this week, Bruce Cassidy also cautioned that simply viewing Saturday night as a two-point game was the best technique for success. Otherwise things could become overwhelming and packed with too much pressure when it should be something the Bruins are embracing rather than dreading.

“I hope our guys are creating some positive energy out there. This time of year you just need to have that mindset that it’s one game at a time,” said Cassidy. “You don’t look back, and you stay in the moment. That’s the message that gets conveyed to the group and for the most part they’ve done a good job with that. We just need to play our game and play it well.

“I truly believe they’ll bounce back. They didn’t have their best on Thursday and I think we’ve addressed that game. I believe they’ll take a lot of pride in their game tonight. Your leaders need to lead and your followers need to follow, and that’s a recipe for success for most teams. We’re no different and I expect that to be the case [against the Islanders].”

On the other side of the coin, it will be look out below if the Bruins drop a fifth straight game and continue a downward spiral as the Leafs, Lightning and Islanders are seem to be hitting their late season stride at the same time. 

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Bruins' original plan was for Anton Khudobin to get one out of the four big games with playoff implications this week, so the fact he’s starting Saturday night vs. the Islanders in a do-or-die game is in keeping with that plan. 

But the 30-year-old Khudobin couldn’t have been planning on making the start vs. the Isles after the Bruins lost the first three games this week vs. Toronto, Ottawa and Tampa Bay, and have lost four in a row in regulation overall.

All of that changed on Friday when Tuukka Rask determined he couldn’t play due to a lower body issue. That leaves the Bruins backup goaltender preparing to start in the biggest game of the regular season. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy said there would still have been a discussion about going with Khudobin tonight based on the way things had gone for Rask over the past four games, but it would have been bold going with the backup over a theoretically healthy No. 1 goalie.

“It would have been a conversation to have with [Rask] based on his physical well-being. He’s not used to the workload, but at this time of year that’s just what happens sometimes,” said Cassidy of Rask, who had started three games in four days before tonight’s DNP. “It would have been a conversation. We were considering Anton for a game this week, and it just so happens that it worked out to be [against the Islanders].”

It’s a good thing that Khudobin has won his past four games  and is playing his best hockey of the season. He said he's determined to be at his best despite his last start coming 10 days ago in Calgary.

“We don’t know what’s going on there [with Tuukka], so I’m just taking it day-by-day,” said Khudobin, who has a solid .916 save percentage in his past five appearances for the Black and Gold. “I’m not thinking too far ahead. It’s always great to play. It’s a really important game, and it’s the time of year where every point is really important.

“I’ve played pretty good and the guys have played really well in front of me. We’ve gotten the wins, so that’s the most important thing. When you get the wins, of course, it always feels really good.”

The Bruins showed a lot of faith in Khudobin signing him to a two-year deal on July 1 to be Rask’s backup. For most of this season he struggled badly in that role while going back and forth to Providence. Still, all of that will be forgotten if Khudobin can battle and compete his way to winning against the Islanders and help stabilize a Bruins team that looks headed for another late-season fall amid a four-game losing streak.