Thomas, Bruins shut out Devils, 3-0

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Thomas, Bruins shut out Devils, 3-0

By Danny Picardand Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins answered Claude Julien's call for a better transition game and more offense Monday night at the TD Garden, shutting out the New Jersey Devils, 3-0.

Tim Thomas, who picked up his first loss of the season on Saturday night, earned his ninth win of the year while making 28 saves. It was his fourth shutout. "I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did, too. We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency," said Thomas. "We faced a team that's been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success."Michael Ryder put the Bruins up 1-0 with 4:34 left in the first period, on a 5-on-3 power play, after he sniped on Martin Brodeur from the left goal line.Nathan Horton added another 43 seconds into the second period, to give the Bs a 2-0 lead. The goal came as a result of a nice cross-ice neutral zone pass from Milan Lucic the exact type of transition that Julien had called for after Saturday nights 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Horton took the pass at the Devils' blue line on the right wing, skated into the offensive zone, and beat Brodeur to the low left corner with a snap shot from the right circle.Blake Wheeler added another, eerily enough, 43 seconds into the third period (the same time as Horton's goal the period before), after he beat Brodeur with a snapper from the left circle. GOLD STAR: Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler each dished out 5,000 of their money to purchase tickets for military members and their families on Military Appreciation Night, and then each player gave the soldiers their moneys worth on the ice. Wheeler scored a goal in the third period, and has looked better and better as a center option for the Bruins during times of adversity. Stuart doled out five hits and really pushed the physical envelope in the second period with the kind of brute punishment people have come to expect from him in the defensive zone.BLACK EYE: Tyler Seguin was okay, but didnt really do much in his 12:53 aside from play a pretty passive role on the second power play unit. Seguin finally registered a shot on goal in the third period, but the 18-year-old passed up multiple wide-open opportunities from the left faceoff dot during Boston's first unsuccessful power play. On the night, the PP went 1-for-7 and is 2-for-16 since David Krejci went down.TURNING POINT: The Bruins managed to stave off a flurry of Devils shots early in the first period, and then Adam McQuaid really took the momentum away from the Devils with a prolonged bout against Rod Pelley. The McQuaid fight played a big role in the B's solid early start to the game, and certainly gave Boston the most bang for McQuaid's 9:05 of ice time.BY THE NUMBERS: 7-0-0 the B's perfect record when theyve scored the first goal this season. Apparently the Bruins are very good frontrunners, but then again there aren't many teams that aren't good frontrunners.QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was kind of looking around. I was kind of just expecting it, but no, it was nice not to have to do that. I think if you're hitting clean, you can kind of avoid that kind of stuff." Mark Stuart on the novelty of making some big, thumping hits in the second period and not being forced to fight after a clean hit something hes had to do on multiple occasions over the last two seasons.INJURY UPDATE: Claude Julien revealed after the game that both Johnny Boychuk (fractured forearmwrist) and David Krejci (concussion) will travel with the team to New York for Wednesday night's game against the Rangers, and theres a chance Boychuk could play. Hes now considered day-to-day with his injury.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.