By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON In a move expected since the lines were formed at practice on Tuesday, Boston's 19-year-old rookie center, Tyler Seguin, will be a healthy scratch tonight vs. the Montreal Canadiens in a pivotal Northeast Division battle at TD Garden.The Habs have had the Bs number all year and left an indelible mark on the Bruins when they snatched an overtime victory away from Boston at the Bell Centre during a frenzied third-period comeback last month.With the gravity of the game in mind and an admission from coach Claude Julien that Seguin has lost a little bit of his edge, the Bs have decided to roll out a line of Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder centered by Zach Hamill, with the No. 2 overall pick in last summer's draftwatching from the ninth floor of TD Garden.Julien confirmed it after Wednesday's morning skate.Were giving Hamill a shot, but the competition is going to be on him when we have everybody back, said Julien, who didnt wait until tonight'swarmup to name his healthy scratch. We have to sit somebody out. I know who he is and I know where he was drafted and all that stuff. I think right now weve brought Jordan Caron up because hes a good fit on that fourth line and weve brought Hamill up to get a good look at himas a third year pro. Theres a lot on Seguins plate right now. I know hes lost a bit of his edge and there are times when hes lost the puck when he should be able to hold onto it. There are parts of his game that have slipped a little bit, but that doesnt change the outlook of what we think of him. I think its a phase that hes going through this year. It's never a bad thing to watch and never a bad thing to rest this time of the year.Peter Chiarelli told 98.5 The Sports Hubs Toucher and Rich on Wednesday morning that he would like to send Seguin to the Providence Bruins for a two-week conditioning stint at this point in the season but the Bs GM also admitted he didnt thinkthat was going to happen, given that the player andhis agentneed to sign off on such a move.What does Seguin think?Hes clearly aggravated that he wont be playing asanyhockey player worth their saltshould be but said he would use all of the conditioning stint talk and healthy scratches as motivation to play harder, regain that edge and continue fighting through a little bit of a rookie wall that's risen in the last 3-4 weeks.Seguins ice time has dropped under 10 minutes for each ofhis last four games, and its clear the Bruins are trying to create a competitive situation between Seguin and Hamill while stirring a little spark into Seguins game. The pressure levels and importance of games has elevated tremendouslysince the All-Star break, and it appears Seguin has hit a little bit ofarutwhile attempting to match the intensity.The conditioning part to the AHLisnt going to work out because of my age. Im just trying to focus on improving my game right now, said Seguin. Whether its sitting in the stands or whatever I have to do, Im going to do it.I had four shots and a goal against Dallas, but I definitely want to elevate my game. I think that I need to. Its all about consistency now heading toward the playoffs. I think I still have it in me and thats still the plan for me. Whether its five minutes or ten minutes a night I need to take advantage of it all. Even if Im sitting on the bench for a while I need to find a way to get my legs going, and thats just something Im not used to . . . but something Ive got to change. Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice for the Bruins and looks like hell be getting the start. Carey Price will be the starting goaltender for the Habs. Thomas leads the league in nearly every statistical goalie category while Price was also an All-Star while putting up a .922 save percentage and 2.32 goals against average this season. Thomas is 10-2-3 in his last 15 games while Price is coming off a 4-1 loss to the suddenly hot New Jersey Devils. Julien appeared to have his game face on Wednesday morning when he was asked about David Krejci and why the playmaking center has the ability to rise to the occasion in big moments."You should ask him that question," snapped Julien at CSN's Mike Giardi, who posed the question. "I wish he'd elevate his game like that all the time."
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
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.
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.