Fifteen thoughts from Bruins-Sens regulation

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Fifteen thoughts from Bruins-Sens regulation

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

OTTAWA Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Senators locked in a scoreless tie after 20 minutes at Scotiabank Place in the first full exhibition game for both squads this season.

1) Some definite first game sloppiness for both sides. Lane MacDermid grabbed a gift turnover in the high slot area, and fumbled the puck away before he could attack the net and create a scoring chance. The Bruins went on a couple of power plays, but couldnt move the puck crisply enough to get any shots on net. Maybe that isnt a preseason problem given last years struggles. Either way the Bruins didnt do much to impress in the first period.

2)The Bruins young players showed a little of their inexperience on a delayed penalty call going against Andrew Ference. The Senators got the extra attacker on the ice, and Jamie Tardif, Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron couldnt earn a whistle for more than a minute as Ottawa turned things into a shooting gallery.

3)Four shots on net for former Merrimack superstar Stephane DaCosta in the first period as the Ottawa Senators rookie seems to be making a statement out on the ice. DaCosta could be given a lot of offensive responsibility this season and has shown an unwillingness to aggressively shoot the puck in the past. He looked good in the first 20 minutes.

4)Chris Kelly and Andrew Ference donned the As as alternate captains for tonights game along with Patrice Bergeron, and may give some insight into the teams preference for this seasons alternate captain. Or the Bs could simply opt for a rotating A throughout the season as Claude Julien has done in the past.

5)Twelve saves for Tuukka Rask, who has looked good so far and made several nice stops as the Senators attacked the net during the delayed penalty call. Rasks big spot on Erik Condra midway through the first was the save of the game thus far.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Senators locked in a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes at Scotiabank Place in the first full exhibition game for both squads this season.

1) Lane MacDermid playing extremely well in each of the first two preseason games for the Bruins, and showing just how much he wants to be in the mix for the Black and Gold. MacDermid is a guy that you dont hear much about during the year, but hes producing offense while proving toughness and a willingness to drop the gloves. He flubbed a great offensive chance in the first period, but he made up for that by knocking in a Shawn Thornton rebound in the second for his second goal in as many nights.

2)Tuukka Rask was beaten by a Brian Lee screamer through heavy traffic in front of the net, but has looked stellar while making 21 saves tonight for the Bruins team thats played in their own end quite a bit. The glove save on Mark Parrish bombing down the left wing was a show-stopper.

3)Nothing to prove for a guy like Shawn Thornton tonight, but hes still skating hard, squeezing off shots and helped set up the first goal with a bid that handcuffed Craig Anderson and created a long rebound. A team-high three shots on net for No. 22.

4) Some good and bad for Colby Cohen tonight. Hes made some nice offensive plays and been generally very good in the offensive zone, but he made a very ill-advised back-handed flip through the slot area in the defensive zone that must have had Claude Julien averting his eyes on the bench. The trials and tribulations of a young defenseman in the NHL, I suppose.

5)Quiet night for Ryan Spooner in his hometown of Kanata, Ontario. A minus-1 in 9:48 of ice time with a pair of giveaways through two periods, and hasnt really been at all noticeable anywhere on the ice.

Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins and Senators locked in a 1-1 tie after 60 minutes at Scotiabank Place and headed for overtime in the first full exhibition game for both squads this season.

1) Not enough offensive punch from Tyler Seguin or Ryan Spooner in a game where they were given some offensive tools to work with. Seguin had a few rushes and a shot on net or two, but both players didnt do enough to create offense in a game where the Bs were outshot by a 30-17 margin.

2) Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton and Lane MacDermid given some power play time in the third period a reflection from Claude Julien about how well they played as a line in the first preseason game.

3) Benoit Pouliot has shown what he has to offer in a full 60 minute preseason game. He was killing penalties ably with Patrice Bergeron and putting a little offense out there, but he also took a foolish penalty leaving his skates to clean out Brian Lee. The refs arent going to hesitate to call boarding after getting their directive from Brendan Shanahan and thats exactly what they did with Pouliot. Hes going to make his share of aggressive errors that will land him in the box.

4) Defenseman Matt Bartkowski has a knack for working the point on the power play. Hes made several nice cross-ice passes where finding the proper seam was key to making the play. Bartkowski can recognize those seams and create offense, and thats what hes done so far in the preseason. Good to see after it appeared that Steve Kampfer hopped in front of him on the development ladder after last season. Bartkowski led all Bs in ice time and its clear the coaching staff wants to take a long look at him.

5) Reason No. 3,465 why this is preseason: Sens forward Nick Foligno had a 2-on-1 in the closing minute of a tie game and simply fell down before Ottawa could get any shots on Tuukka Rask.

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

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.

MORE: Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.

“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.

“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”

While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.

So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.

The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.

Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.

“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.

“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”

So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.

The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

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Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

MORE - Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto.