Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Rangers

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Rangers

NEW YORK CITY Here are five thoughts after the third period with the Bruins and Rangers headed to overtime at a 3-3 score after the first 60 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game on NBC Sports Network.

FIRST PERIOD1) How about that Marian GaborikRick NashBrad Richards line that John Tortorella has put together after struggling out of the gate? Gaborik finished with both goals in the first period after a slow start to his season, but it was a team effort getting both those scores. The second goal actually came after Tortorella double-shifted the trio to get them on the ice without Zdeno Chara defending, and that allowed Gaborik to walk in close to the net with Dougie Hamilton far out of position and way away from the net. The first goal was just a nice play set up by a redirected Richards pass in the neutral zone that turned into a NashGaborik 2-on-1 odd man rush. Eight shots on net in the first period for that trio.2) Dougie Hamilton is learning quickly tonight that players like Nash and Gaborik are a lot better than top players on Winnipeg like Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen. Hamilton is being paired with Andrew Ference tonight to perhaps keep him away from those dangerous Rangers forwards as you could see the damage they could do when Hamilton was out of position and wandering far away from the net prior to New Yorks second goal. Those are the biggest areas of weakness for the 19-year-old in his rookie season.3) Good job by Adam McQuaid standing up for himself and trying to stir up the emotional pot a little bit when Brian Boyle fired a puck at his leg after the whistle had blown the play off-sides. McQuaid immediately went after Boyle and landed a few heavy rights on the 6-foot-7 Hingham native, and was slapped with a two-minute penalty for instigating the fight. Pretty ridiculous given Boyles antics, but the Bruins will gladly accept that for a player sticking up for himself.4) The Bruins are 0-for-2 on the power play tonight and 0-for-11 on the season, and there is nobody really asserting themselves on that unit. Tyler Seguin was named the quarterback of the power play during camp and has the ability to do damage from the half-wall, but hes playing way too passively right now and it shows. Too many shots passed up on the PP in the first 20 minutes tonight.5) Funny how the Rangers look like the Bruins did on Saturday night, and the Bruins look like the Rangers did in the home opener at the Garden, isnt it?

SECOND PERIOD
1) Bruins fight back in the second period with energy and determination they didnt seem to have in the first period. They outshot the Rangers by a 12-7 margin and finally broke through for a pair of goals to get back in the game. Of course the Rangers scored 46 seconds later for the go-ahead goal, but the Bruins got off the mat in the second period to make it a hockey game.2) The Bs comeback started with the second power play unit finally breaking through after 11 fruitless tries. It was Dougie Hamilton that helped create the scoring play by firing a puck from the high point that Brad Marchand redirected into the open net for Bostons first goal. Watching Hamilton make plays while working the blueline like a tightrope artist on the PP gives you an idea of just good hes going to be for a long, long time. The assist was Hamiltons first NHL point and it was an important.3) Milan Lucic now has two goals in three games, and battled for a couple of rebounds in front before finally backhanding a shot through Henrik Lundqvist. No hits tonight for Lucic, but hes been active offensively with three shots on net.4) The Bruins have gone to a five-man defensemen rotation since Aaron Johnson was on ice for Taylor Pyatts go-ahead goal. Seems like he might not be in the Claude Julien circle of trust at this point.5) The Bs fourth line also couldnt get the puck out of the zone when Shawn Thornton had a chance to clear it right before the goal. Those are the kinds of plays that the fourth line needs to make if theyre going to be used in those situations.

THIRD PERIOD
1) Four hits for Adam McQuaid, who continues to lay the lumber physically. Though he did get called for a boarding in the third period when a Rangers skater took a flying leap into the boards.2) The LucicHortonKrejci line deserved more offensive results after the way they played, and both Horton and Lucic get goals tonight. The Horton one was a big game-tying strike nearly a year to the day after he suffered a concussion that knocked him out for the season.3) Dougie Hamilton has more skill than any defenseman the Bruins have had on their time in a long, long time. He made one play where he corralled a bouncing puck at the blue line and dangled through traffic before firing from the high slot. You never see a D-man do that for the Bruins in this day and age.4) Havent seen much offensive impact from Chris Bourque through the first three games. He needs to find a way to get into the mix offensively and be the guy that he was for the P-Bruins.5) Tuukka Rask made a pair of game-saving stops in the final minute of the third period when he stopped a Rick Nash full blast wrister through traffic and then recovered enough to jump on a Marian Gaborik follow attempt. Those were No. 1 franchise goaltender kind of stops. Big time. Twenty eight saves for Rask in this one. Hes been good again tonight.

Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

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Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering what Melissa McCarthy is going to do now that Spicey is gone.

*The debut for Philadelphia Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick has been scratched due to “an infection in his face.” Boy, this kid can’t get healthy, can he?

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is 100 percent sure that the Winged Wheels will be making a return to the playoffs this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has hope returning to the city of Houston that they might get an NHL franchise one of these days.

*Travis Yost delves into shooting percentage and some of the nuances when properly trying to break it down statistically.

*There are new season ticket charges for Habs fans in Montreal, and boy are they pissed off about it. Feels like the kind of thing that could push them to riot in the streets or flood 911 emergency lines if the Canadiens aren’t too careful about it.

*Young Blues defenseman Colton Parayko signs a five-year deal with St. Louis to avoid salary arbitration while the D-man taken exactly one pick before him by the Bruins in the draft, Matt Grzelcyk, is going to be hard-pressed to move past the AHL level this season.

*For something completely different: What would Ivan Drago have been doing with his life after his showdown with Rocky in Mother Russia?

 

 

Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

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Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

Urho Vaakanainen was billed as a smooth-skating, solid defenseman when the Bruins selected him in the middle of the first round in last month’s draft.

That’s exactly what the 18-year-old D-man put on display at his first chance to participate in Bruins Development Camp earlier this month as one of the younger players taking his first paces with the B’s organization.

Vaakanainen skated with ease and smoothness and didn’t have much in the way of panic when he was breaking the puck out of the zone during workouts. To be sure, it was clear that many of the tools are there for the Finnish prospect. Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley had likened him to Hall of Famer Paul Coffey for his skating ability in the days after he was drafted last month in Chicago, and Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner used the equally impressive Devils player comparison of Scott Niedermayer when discussing Boston’s top pick.

The bottom line is that Vaakanainen would appear to be well-suited to an evolving hockey league where the skating game is arguably the most important quality and it’s pretty much a prerequisite for success if you’re going to be a D-man in the NHL.

“I think it’s the effortlessness that he skates with, it’s smooth," Langenbrunner said. "I think Scott [Bradley] had mentioned to me yesterday, Scott Niedermayer. That’s obviously high praise with a guy that is effortless and can skate

"[All] around the rink,” said Langenbrunner. “He seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that kind of floats on his skates a little bit. That’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach. Some guys have that and some guys, it’s a little more work.

“You’re talking about a 17-year-old kid that played in the Finnish Elite League. For him to put up huge offensive numbers, I think would be pretty tough. I think now, going into his second year there is a little more confidence. Obviously, you hear more growth. You’ll see maybe a little more of an uptick there. He’s a smooth skater. He sees the ice well, he’s got good size, and he can make plays. So, I think as the confidence grows, numbers will grow just if you’re making the right plays over and over again.”

Clearly, there is some polish still to come to Vaakanainen’s offensive game after watching him in drills with his fellow prospects at development camp. That’s reflected in the two goals and six points in 41 games for JYP in the Finnish Elite League last season as well, a level of production that caused some to question just how top-end he’ll be offensively in the NHL when he does mature into his 6-foot, 183-pound body.

Vaakanainen showed a decent, accurate shot from the point and some solid instincts when it comes to making plays with the puck, but it’s also clear he doesn’t have quite the same level of pure offensive as Charlie McAvoy. The good stick, solid defensive instincts and strength for his size were all there as advertised. The skating game will cover up a lot of the things that Vaakanainen still needs to work on.

Some of the young player’s lessons can be learned and improved with greater offensive experience afforded him when he returns to Finland for the upcoming season. Some of that may mean a modestly effective offensive player in Vaakanainen once he’s met his NHL potential. It’s simply too early to tell and a lot could be learned based on his level of improvement in Europe this season and the preview everybody will get when he plays in the World Juniors for Team Finland around the holidays.  

For his part, Vaakanainen had a great week at development camp learning the streets of Boston, meeting his fellow Bruins prospects and officially making a good first impression in his first action as a first-round pick.

“As the camp went on you felt so much better and relaxed, and I had so much fun,” said Vaakanainen, who actually stayed with Langenbrunner and his family at his house after the draft. “You’ll learn new things and you get to know all the new people that are in the Bruins organization. It’s going to help me in the future to know everybody.

“I think maybe they want to see more of my offensive game because there hasn’t been so much of that the last couple of years. The role might be bigger now and more offensive, so it’s coming. Of course, you have to work hard for that, but when you play more minutes it absolutely helps to get more comfortable with what you’re doing.”

The bottom line with this pick hasn’t really changed even as Vaakanainen showed what he could do in a week of practices at Warrior Ice Arena. The Finnish teenager is a fine D-man prospect who looks like he’ll going to enjoy a solid 10-year career once he actually cracks the NHL roster and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The one thing we’ll all see over the next few years is whether or not the Bruins could have done better for themselves with the No. 18 pick in a draft class with an admittedly shallow talent pool as compared to the past couple of seasons.