Bruins rookies excited for games vs. Islanders

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Bruins rookies excited for games vs. Islanders

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON Tyler Randell remembers the burst of adrenaline, energy and, yes, even a healthy case of nerves prior to last years Bruins rookie games against the New York Islanders at a packed TD Garden.

The gritty Randell helped pop in a quick goal with Ryan Spooner and Max Sauve in their first taste of exhibition hockey in an NHL rink, and that helped ease the nervous of a young hockey player living out his lifelong dream for the first time.

You go out there and get the puck deep, take the body and get a little mean out there, said Randell. If somebody comes after me I definitely wont hesitate to drop the gloves. Ill play my game, take the puck hard to the net and be strong on the puck.

The two games in Boston last year were two of the craziest Ive ever played in. It was a great atmosphere. Its always great to play in an NHL rink, wear the Bruins crest and give it everything Ive got.

That kind of thing is music to the Bruins ears.

Its that exact experience in the ultimate NHL dress rehearsal for a young hockey prospect thats on tap for Monday and Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum against the very same New York Islanders. For some like Randell, Spooner, Knight and goalie Michael Hutchinson, itll be a continuation of the rookie games they took part in last season and a nice way to prepare for veteran training camp.

For others like 2011 draft picks Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Khokhlachev and Anthony Camara, its their first introduction to the NHL world that stands only a rung or two away as they climb up the pro hockey career ladder. Hamilton has skated competitively at Scotiabank Place and the Air Canada Centre prior to the upcoming exhibition games, but getting the NHL juices flowing is a whole different experience.

Ill definitely get a few jitters and maybe do some running around on the first shift," Camara said. "But after that Ill settle down and get back into my game. My first game in the OHL was kind of like that. I was getting a little antsy and maybe tied my skates up a little too tight. Im just taking everything day by day and trying to make a steady progression while working on my skills.

For talent evaluators like Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning it gives the Bruins an opportunity to see their prospects in game situations, and hopefully witness their particular skills rise to the forefront. Last season Jordan Caron and Spooner had two excellent efforts against the Isles in the rookie games and wound up sticking with the team to the very end of training camp and Caron cracked the opening night roster in the Premiere Games against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague.

So Benning and Co. will notice who flashes on the ice, and who tied their skates up a little too tight. Observers are likely to see players like Spooner and Knight make things happen offensively on the ice while tougher hombres like Randell and Camara might just drop the gloves once or twice in defense of their teammates with everybody looking to make a good impression.

I think you learn a lot. You learn what their make up is and how hard theyre going to compete in a game situation when the pressure is on them. What are they made of? said Benning. The skill guys . . . are they going to create plays or are they going to create scoring chances. Usually what happens when they play under pressure is that their skill or their toughness -- or whatever theyre here to show -- should come to the top.

Thats what were hoping to see from all the guys. All their different skill sets and toughness. We have some physical defensemen, we got some defensemen that can skate and handle the puck. We have skilled forwards, but yet on the other side we got some big strong guys that hit and are going to look after their teammates. So it should be interesting. Im looking forward to see how they perform as a group.

One thing remains beyond the adrenaline and nerves: Potential invites to regular training camp will be on the line for each and every player on the Bs rookie camp roster.

That in and of itself should guarantee every last player saves their best for The Island.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.