Boston Bruins

Haggerty: New teammates get a chance to bond

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Haggerty: New teammates get a chance to bond

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. The old saw of hockey wisdom goes a little something like this: The best time for players with disparate backgrounds to bond and gel as a unit is on the handful of long, extended road trips rife through the regular season.

The Bruins had one such monstrous trip when they ventured to Belfast and Prague over the first few weeks of the NHL season for the Premiere games. Theres another one set up this week as the Bs leave for a nine-day sojourn through the Canadian outposts of Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa.

It cant be drawn up much better than that.

It actually is a pretty ideal situation, said coach Claude Julien. I think the fact theyll be spending a lot of time together is great. Bonding with your teammates is always important, and the new guys are going to get that chance on the upcoming road trip.

Its the Black and Golds last major road trip of the regular season, and its not a coincidence the Bs hurried to make all of their trade acquisitions prior to this final chance at a team bonding experience.

Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley will all be indoctrinated to the Bs way of doing things by the time the trip is over, and its the best possible way for the newly configured hockey club to be forged together as a single-minded unit prior to the playoffs.

I think its a great chance for us to get away, get that team bonding going again and find a way to get the new guys involved and fitting in with the team, said Milan Lucic. It always helps being on the road. You lose great people like Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler, who were great friends of mine. But its part of the job and weve got to move forward with what weve got on this team.

Lucic remembers just a few short months ago when Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton were both little more than strangers to everybody on the Boston roster, but that was no longer the case after the new guys traveled to Europe with the rest of the Bruins.

Thats the same kind of rapid initiation that awaits Kaberle, Kelly and Peverley over the next week.

Its funny, said Lucic. If you looked at the start of the year when we began the season in Europe, the new guys coming in like Horton and Campbell you didnt know very well at all. But you're on a trip with them and you seem like youve known them forever after a trip like that.

Theres more time to spend with each other because there are less distractions off the ice. I think its going to be great for this group, and we get a chance to see right away where were at with all of these new players. The big thing for us is that chemistry, and we want to build that up as soon as possible.

While the established Bruins and longtime players were looking forward to really breaking things down with their teammates, the new guys were just as anxious to have a few team dinners, shake a few hands and start working their way into the fabric of the team.

Both Kelly and Peverley have been placed on a line with Michael Ryder, and the team will be joined in Calgary by Kaberle after he takes care of the ubiquitous visa paperwork in Canada. That forward trio will be all about speed, grit and plenty of offensive upside on a team that desperately needed to quicken the tempo more than a little bit.

I think its perfect right now for three new guys coming into a new team, said Kelly. To get on the road and get away from the obvious commitments that guys have to family and friends or whatever they have to do when theyre at home, to get away and be together as a group is going to make things a lot easier on us.

If all goes well for the Bruins on a road trip featuring some tough games against the hot Flames and elite Canucks, then the three newest members of the Bruins wont be known as anything close to the three new guys when the Bs return to Boston in March.

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

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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