Boston Bruins

Colin Miller, McQuaid, Beleskey highlight B's players left unprotected

Colin Miller, McQuaid, Beleskey highlight B's players left unprotected

The Bruins released their protection list on Sunday morning for this week’s NHL Expansion Draft, and there are no real surprises among the group of players that will be available for the Vegas Golden Knights to pluck from the Boston roster. 

Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Tim Schaller, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Anton Khudobin and Malcolm Subban headline the list of players that the Bruins left unprotected, and available for selection by the Golden Knights. Beleskey was a big time disappointment this past season while mixing in a knee injury and some conditioning issues, but the decision to leave him open for an expansion draft has as much to do with three big contract years remaining for him as it does anything else. 

The biggest point of debate was over whether the B’s would use their final D spot, after choosing to protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie, to protect 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman Colin Miller, or 29-year-old stay-at-home defenseman Kevan Miller. Miller was strong over the second half of last season and a real stalwart in the playoffs, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder’s ability to play up and down the lineup while providing a physical presence creates real value. 

Unfortunately for the other Miller, Colin hasn’t really progressed all that much in two seasons at the NHL level and still hasn’t turned a bazooka shot, swift skating and all the tools into the top-4 defenseman he looks like he could be on his best days. Instead Miller will be exposed in the expansion draft a couple of seasons after being a key prospect sent to Boston in the Milan Lucic trade with the Kings, and could be headed for Vegas if they’re simply looking for a young player with a great deal of upside.

The guess at who Vegas will take: McQuaid. The 30-year-old defenseman is as tough as they come, is signed for a couple of years and is the kind of big, strong, tough D-man that Vegas coach Gerard Gallant prefers on the back end. It also doesn’t hurt that both McQuaid and Gallant hail from PEI, and that one of Vegas’ top scouts, Mike Foligno, was McQuaid’s head coach during his junior days with the Sudbury Wolves. Here is the list of protected players that the Bruins submitted on Saturday afternoon, and was published by the NHL on Sunday morning. Again, these B’s players can’t be selected in the expansion draft set for the middle of this week while the NHL Awards Show also plays on in the host city of Las Vegas: 

Protected
David Backes (F)
Patrice Bergeron (F)
David Krejci (F)
Brad Marchand (F)
Riley Nash (F)
David Pastrnak (F)
Ryan Spooner (F)
Zdeno Chara (D)
Torey Krug (D)
Kevan Miller (D)
Tuukka Rask (G)

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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.  

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