Notes: Young B's take in development camp

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Notes: Young B's take in development camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON It might surprise many to find out that goalie Michael Hutchinson has actually been to four straight development camps with the Boston Bruins.

The 21-year-old Ontario native has been around the Baby Bs scene since getting drafted in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft, and he was back in Boston after spending his first season in the AHL last year.

So it wasnt any shock when former London Knights teammate Jared Knight crashed into him during the first day of camp after taking the puck strong to the net. But Hutchinson was totally fine and ready to be known as more than the goaltender that went full yard sale on the ice before skating off.

I played with him in London and he crashed into me a few times there. So when I saw him coming I just braced myself and he got the better of me that time, said Hutchinson. When he hits you he really knocks you back. He took me from the near side post to the far side post with the impact.

The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder got off to a slow start to his first full pro season with the P-Bruins as he adjusted to live without a billet family on his own fending for himself as a youngster playing with older pros. But Hutchinson got through it with a 13-10-1 record and a .904 save percentage along with a 3.13 goals against average while bouncing back from an ECHL stint in the middle of the year.

It was fun. Overall I was fairly pleased with a few speed bumps thrown in there. Im trying to be a little more consistent this time around, said Hutchinson, who traveled with the team during the Montreal playoff series in the first round. I really want to eliminate the streaks. I learned how to manage my time a little better because you dont have to do it a billet family. At the start of the year it was an adjustment. You had to get your own meal and make sure you had time for your afternoon nap on a game day.

Now Hutchinson and Anton Khudobin are expected to battle it out for the third goaltender spot behind Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask on the depth chart with Khudobin sitting with the inside track heading into this fall.

Im really excited that they brought back Khudobin, said Hutchinson. I think we can really push each other with some healthy competition and its always good to know the goalie that youre going to be paired with.

The contrasting styles of Hutchinson tall and calm very like Rask and Khudobin (an undersized battler like Thomas) mesh nicely with the differences in goaltending at the big club level.

Every first year player goes through itits very rare you find a guy that goes upward all year and climbs a little bit. There are usually some peaks and valleys and Hutchinson had his, said Providence Bruins Bruce Cassidy. Hes a mature guy for his age, as far as goaltenders go, because sometimes you hear that goaltenders can be a little goofy. But I find him to be mature for his age.

Hes a pretty focused guy, hard worker, its just a matter of that big body and developing his technique and his athleticism to the level that it needs to be. I would assume hes going to have a good year for us just because of what I saw last year. Hes a mature guy, hell get better. I dont think youll see him go backwards.

The prospects and youngsters including 19-year-old Tyler Seguin, who isnt taking part in any of the on-ice drills went out for an afternoon of paintball to help bond the disparate group of kids on the roster. The paint ball game went along with a social media class and a cooking class that the Bruins sponsored to help ease the transition for many of the teen-agers and players in their early 20s.

Nomination for rawest player with plenty of upside at the development camp: Robbie OGara. The big-framed defenseman still has another year to go at Milton Academy before going off to Yale University, and appeared every bit the wide-eyed 18-year-old getting his first taste of the big time.

Im just trying to keep up with the speed and the pace of everything thats going on around me, said OGara. Obviously I have plenty of work to do to get physically stronger, but this really gives me something to shoot for in the future.

Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney sees OGara as a big piece of hockey potential with no rush to his development timetable.

Robbie OGaras a piece of clay right now, albeit its a big piece. At 64 it can change. Things have come at him here a little quicker in the last, Id say, eight months. But we got a chance to see him a lot. Hes in our backyard. We went down and spoke to him and hes excited, said Sweeney. This is probably catching him a little off guard in terms of the preparation aspect of it. As I mentioned, you come from the prep school ranks and you know, theres a lot to digest here in a short period of time. The good thing is theres no timetable for him.

Cassidy indicated that the Bruins havent made any hires for the assistant coaches in Providence quite yet, but that interviews were taking place during and after development camp.

No were still in the interview process. I would hope once the development camp is over thats something that gets worked out, said Cassidy. But again thats probably Donny Sweeney, Pete Peter Chiarelli, and Jimmy Jim Benning can give you a better answer there.

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

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.