Bruins take killer instinct into Habs matchup

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Bruins take killer instinct into Habs matchup

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins developed a killer instinct during the playoffs last year, and they once again can smell blood in the water.

The Bs have weakened and bested a pair of Eastern Conference adversaries over the last two weeks. Pittsburgh announced Kris Letang was out indefinitely the morning of its game with Boston, and then watched Sidney Crosby go back on the shelf after a particularly nasty battle between the two Eastern titans. They're 2-3 since losing to the B's.

And after Zdeno Chara pounded Philadelphia's biggest, baddest player, and then rained goals upon the Flyers' heads, it's not hard to see Philly -- already without Chris Pronger for the season, and now facing the prospect of losing Sean Couturier for a period after he was hit in the head by a teammates' shot on Saturday -- falling into the same kind of tailspin.

All of that has the Bruins close to the only real gift on their Christmas wish list: Sole possession of the Eastern Conferences top spot.

Our goal is to be on top of the Eastern Conference. We want to win the next two games leading up to Christmas and we want to win every game, said Dennis Seidenberg. Our goal is to play well the next two games, win those games and then go out on the road to start against winning run out there."

And the first of those two games is against yet another rival, more in spirit these days than in the standings: The Montreal Canadiens.

You want to be ready for every game, but when youre playing, for example the Flyers . . . theyre a big, physical team and youre so close in the standings, said Zdeno Chara. There is always extra motivation in those games.

"With Montreal its always a rivalry. Sometimes those things help you to get ready for the games.

Montreal is reeling, with 3 wins in its last 10 games and a new head coach in Randy Cunneyworth. Jacques Martin was fired after a coaching tenure that never truly lived up to Montreals great expectations.

The Habs badly need a victory. But they're playing a team that has won 18 of 21 since the beginning of November.

Its something thats out of our control, said Chara when asked about the mess that is Montreal. We know theyre going to be fired up and playing well, but we always have good games against each other.

The Bruins have done an almost flawless job of vanquishing their enemies and closest opponents this season, and that chance presents itself again on Monday night.

Those are the kind of contests the Bruins live for in an 82-game regular season schedule.

You guys in the media get excited about those rivalry games, and so do the players and coaches," said coach Claude Julien. "They are great games to play, and theres no doubt its much better than playing some game against a team in the other conference that youll see once this season. The two points are nice, but it doesnt create the same gap as a four-point game against a team like Montreal.

If the last two months are any indication, the Bruins will be ready for the challenge.

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

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Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

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Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.