MARLBOROUGH Here are five thoughts from tonights preseason opener for the Providence Bruins against the Springfield Falcons at the New England Sports Center with the P-Bruins taking a dominant 4-1 victory. The goals were from Jamie Tardif, Justin Florek, Carter Camper and Matthew Pistilli, who continues to show a little something in the games for Providence.1) Will have more about this later, but Carter Camper is a guy that just keeps making offensive plays. Hes not even close to the biggest, the fastest or the guy with the hardest shot, but he always find himself in the right spot to make a play offensively. He set up a nice goal in Providences first scrimmage with a pass from behind the net, and he scored the Bs second goal on Wednesday against the Falcons. This was a dirty work power play goal where Camper simply crashed the net for the rebound of a David Warsofsky point shot, and then stuffed the loose puck home. Camper was impressive enough in the second half to get some face time in Boston when injuries hit the front line, and it looks like the Miami University alum has picked up right where he left off.2) Love the hustle and grit from Jared Knight. He was kept off the scoreboard despite a couple of good scoring chances, but he showed just how committed he is to impressing while winning a job. During the second period Knight smoked a shot off the crossbar that appeared destined to be a goal, but shook that off and sped back down the ice on defense. Knight then dropped to one knee at the top of the slot to block a shot seconds after catching iron, and continued to show the same commitment to intangibles hes been showing off in scrimmages as well. The offensive finish isnt quite there yet for Knight, but it will come.3) Ryan Spooner once again looked like the best offensive player out on the ice for either team. He slipped a cross-ice pass through traffic to Jamie Tardif that he wasnt quite able to finish in front of the net, but it gave onlookers an idea of just how effective the silky smooth Bs prospect is going to be at the AHL level this season. Provided he can stay healthy and play consistently, all of the signs continue to point to Spooner being a very effective top-six forward at the NHL level and a guy that can make players around him better.4) Its pretty clear the P-Bruins defensemen group has received the message that jobs are up for grabs in this camp. With nine blueliners signed to contracts, Providence can only hope to start the season with seven perhaps eight if they really push it defensemen on the roster. All were strong with David Warsofsky setting up a power play goal with a point shot and showing plenty of ability to escape traffic around the defensive end. Tommy Cross and Colby Cohen both showed polish and physicality youd expect from big, experienced blueliners. Zach Trotman didnt have quite the splash he enjoyed with a hat trick in the teams first scrimmage on Saturday, but there were no glaring errors on the defensive end either.5) Niklas Svedberg was much better between the pipes after a couple of shaky scrimmage performances, and Michael Hutchinson looked like the experienced, poised performer between the pipes. Granted the defense was very good and at times stifling in front of them, but Hutchinson finished with a shutout performance stopping 12 shots in the first half of the game. Svedberg allowed one goal as Springfield found their legs in the third period, but he was much better at tracking the puck while showing impressive athleticism going post-to-post. Both Adam Morrison and Shaun Hunwick didnt get a chance to play against Springfield on opening night.
BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.
Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.
“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.
“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”
The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat.
BOSTON – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Bruins outshot an opponent, lost and then lamented their lack of finish on a bevy of scoring plays while begrudgingly tipping their hats to a hot goaltender.
It was the scenario for many disappointing losses in the first 55 games of the season under Claude Julien, and it was a little too eerily reminiscent in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
Certainly it’s just one game and there has been far too much good as of late to believe the Bruins are cannon-balling into a pool of previous bad habits. But giving up a goal in the second period while watching Craig Anderson make 18 second-period saves at the other end of the ice was a stark reminder of the bad old days.
“We struggled up in Ottawa getting through [the neutral zone], tonight I thought we did a better job,” said Torey Krug. “A win against that system is just getting the puck behind them and going in on the fore-check. We’ll take that every time. We did well, but we’ve got to find a way to get more goals on the scoreboard.”
Certainly there some stellar saves: A flashy glove hand on a Noel Acciari backhander from the slot and a couple of stops on Frank Vatrano in tight around the net come to mind. But there were also some light, perimeter play kind of nights from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak where the turnovers (a combined eight giveaways between the two forwards) and loose play were coming fast and furious.
That’s the stuff that needs to improve after watching Ottawa score on three redirections with bodies camped in front of the net.
“There are some,” admitted Bruce Cassidy when asked about parallels to some darker days earlier in the season. “Some of it you have to give credit to the goaltender you’re playing. Look at his numbers, he’s been very good. I’m not going to look too far back. I think we had good looks off the rush – he [Craig Anderson] made saves. We did have our D come late, get a couple of good looks, and that’s something we’ve really worked on. We had a D join and score. That was actually a nice individual score. So, those parts of our game, I think, it just ebbs and flows over the course of the year where you run into hot goaltending and you have to stay with it.
“That’s when you have to keep the puck out of your net. [In Toronto], we were right there until two minutes to go where even though we weren’t scoring, we were in a position to get points. [Against the Senators] it was a breakdown right after we scored, so I think the focus has to be when you’re having tough luck around the net, you need to get points. And maybe these games end up 1-1, 2-2, they’re going into shootouts or overtime and you accumulate your points that way. I think that’s where the last two games have been disappointing. You know, we should have had points. It may not have been wins, but we should have been there at the end and playing 65 minutes, or whatever it took to finish it.”
The silver lining, of course, is that the Bruins didn't get bogged down in Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 trap and were able to dictate play a bit more while never actually leading in the game. But that does little good when won-loss results and points in the coffers are all that matters in the final weeks.
Perhaps some of the offensive scale-back in the past few games has been by design after letting up seven goals to Edmonton in the Western Canada road finale, but it’s also about being tougher and more determined around the net.
Ottawa won that net-front battle on Tuesday night and subsequently won the hockey game, so it’s time for the Bruins to do that exact thing if they want better results vs. the Lightning and Islanders later this week.