Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Hurricanes

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Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Hurricanes by a 2-1 score after the first 20 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) The Bruins were firing out of the gate in this one. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand set the tone with an energetic first shift that had a couple of scoring chances, and they kept the pressure on. When that line plays with energy and reckless abandon on the fore-check it really sets the tone for everybody else on the Black and Gold bench. That line accounted for three of the 11 shots in the first period, and members of that line were involved in both goals.

2) A special teams extravaganza for the Bruins in the first period as they scored both shorthanded and on the power play. The shorthanded goal came as the Bruins set up despite being outnumbered by the Carolina attackers, and Zdeno Chara found a cross-ice pass to Brad Marchand for a sniper shot from the right face-off circle that Cam Ward had zero chance to stop. The power play strike was what the Boston coaching staff envisioned at its perfect: Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin moving the puck and Zdeno Chara hitting the net with a wrist shot as Milan Lucic was screening in front of the net. The Bs power play is having their best night of the season thus far.

3) Anton Khudobin looks solid while making 10 saves in the first period and had a couple of very good stops among those shots attempted at the Boston net. The best was probably as he quickly moved from left to right to snuff out a Jiri Tlusty-to-Jamie McBain play on the backdoor He also took a delay of game penalty when he played a puck outside of the trapezoid a play that wouldnt be a penalty in the KHL and was perhaps the No. 1 goaltender of Kazakhstan having an out of body experience.

4) Milan Lucic drops the gloves with Tim Gleason after hed been trying to get the Canes defenseman to fight him for the last couple of years. The two big men traded a bunch of powerful punches with Gleason actually getting the better of Lucic in the bout. The Bs power forward now has two fights in five games after waiting 20 games to get into his first hockey brawl last season. The Bruins were up 2-0 at the time of the fight and did seem to lose a little momentum after they squared off.

5) Zdeno Chara leads the Bruins with three shots on net, has two points and was the focal guys on both goals for the Black and Gold. Its been a very solid start to the season for the Boston captain in the first five games.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and the Hurricanes tied at a 3-3 score after the first 40 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) Back-to-back turnovers by Shawn Thornton and Chris Kelly in the defensive zone lead to a pair of Carolina goals in the final few minutes of the second period to tie things up. Not sure its a good idea to leave the fourth line out on the ice against the Jeff SkinnerJordan Staal combo that opened it up to get things working for the Hurricanes at the end of the second. The Kelly turnover went right to Alex Semin at the blue line and he fed Eric Staal for the game-tying score. It looked like he might have been gassed at the end of a shift because he wasnt moving his feet at all. Just a complete letdown by the Bruins, and some poor shifts for the fourth and third line. Dougie Hamilton was also nowhere to be found in the defensive zone on the Kelly turnover as Dennis Seidenberg was the only backup the Bs forward had.

2) What a goal for Nathan Horton that put the Bruins up 3-1 and shows the Bs right winger is healthy and completely back to his game. He dangled through three Canes defenders including leaving Tim Gleason in the dust by the blue line before roofing a shot over Cam Ward. Hortons second goal of the season and really as good a highlight reel goal as youll see from the power forward.

3) Bruins penalty kill great again tonight. Theyve got their first shorthanded goal of the season and theyre a perfect 22-for-22 in killing penalties, and they had plenty of work in the first couple of periods in a penalty-filled game.

4) Best game of the season for Rich Peverley, who leads the Bruins with four shots on net and nearly scored on both a shorthanded breakaway and a shot from the slot. Ward stopped both chances with big saves, and then was also able to shut down Chris Bourque on a rebound attempt at the doorstep.

5) Two assists, four shots on net and a plus-3 for Alex Semin, who has always been a Bruins killer over the years. He decided to show up tonight.

RALEIGH, NC Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins taking a 5-3 win over the Hurricanes score after 60 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) The third line was a little bit better tonight, but still no offense and they let in the game-tying goal at the end of the second during a rare Bs collapse with a two-goal lead. Chris Kelly made the rare turnover that led to the goal, and also didnt fare very well in the face-off circle. Chris Bourque doubled his season shot output total, but also took a penalty that wiped out a Bruins PP in the third period.

2) Johnny Boychuk left the ice for a portion of the third period and it may have been a result of a couple of blocked shots in the second period. One of the shots to the footankle area looked particularly painful, but he did return for the majority of the period.

3) Milan Lucic playing the wrecking ball role rather than the offensive role against the Hurricanes. Led the Bruins with five registered hits and knocked Eric Staal out of commission for a few minutes in the third period after a violent collision in the Boston end.

4) Carolina has all of the look of a player team this year. Jordan StaalJeff Skinner and Eric StaalAlex Semin give the Hurricanes two legitimately dangerous forward lines and its a very underrated D corps with a proven goaltender. Thats a pretty good combo.

5) Nathan Horton is 100 percent back. He nearly potted the game-winner with a wrist shot from the slot off a Carolina giveaway, but Cam Ward somehow stopped the short-side wrister. Horton also hit the post in the wild scramble at the end of the third period that led to the David Krejci game-winning score.

6) Dougie, Dougie, Dougie. Assists in three straight games for the 19-year-old, who is making a major impact for the Bruins.

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.