Bruins scrimmage key for younger players

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Bruins scrimmage key for younger players

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
The Bruins went through off-ice workouts on the fourth day of training camp Tuesday morning in preparation for their annual Black and White scrimmage held this year at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, Stefan Chaput, Tyler Randell, Yannick Riendeau, Trent Whitfield and Andrew Bodnarchuk will be the only members of the 53-man Bruins training camp roster not expected to play. Claude Julien indicated that the Black and White game will be a key determining factor in the fates of the young players at camp. The standouts will remain in camp over the next few weeks and the disappointments will be among the first players cut from camp following Tuesdays game.

Its as simple as that for a group of players that should be either A) looking to make a good first impression or B) attempting to win a job. Bs assistant coaches Geoff Ward and Doug Jarvis will coach the two squads, and Julien will watch the game from up above where normally only assistant coaches, media and healthy scratches reside.

There are certain guys we feel are on the bubble right now as far as whether they get to play some pre-season games or not. They will get an opportunity to show us whether they're worthy of it or not, said Julien. So there are some decisions that we'll end up making tonight on whether we move forward with some guys or cut them loose. So those are some of the things that are going to happen. For me it's just seeing those guys in a game tight situation. I'll be able to watch from up top and evaluate as well.

While the Benoit PouliotJordan Caron competition is setting up as the tightest camp battle over the course of the preseason for the Boston roster, there wont be any jobs won or lost during the inter-squad scrimmage.

Milan Lucic remembers what it was like for him in his first camp scrimmage, and doled out some free advice to the younger guys when it comes to the Black and White game: worry about themselves rather than submitting to the older veterans among the group.

I still remember it: the butterflies leading up to the game. I was against Big 'Z' and I remember thinking Oh, there he is. Is he going to run me through the boards? Whats going to happen? You want to do everything you can. You kind of get nervous when you have the puck, and you want to make the right play.

What I like to tell the younger guys after having been through it is not to pass up on shots. Dont pass it to me just because Im an older guy and because Ive been around for a bit. Just because Im open doesn't mean pass it to me if you have a clear shot. Shoot the puck, do what you do best and if youre going out there then just treat it like another hockey game.

For Lucic and many of the other veterans itll also be their first time skating in front of the Bruins fans in Providence, and they were all looking forward to the experience. For them its about soaking in the atmosphere, but for the younger generation of Bs prospects the scrimmage is about surviving until the next round of cuts.

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

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

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.