Battle is on for seventh Bruins' defense spot

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Battle is on for seventh Bruins' defense spot

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The top six defense spots on the Bruins have been spoken for since the Bruins locked down the summer deal for Joe Corvo, so there isnt a great of mystery when it comes to the blueline crew.

But its likely that the Bruins will carry a seventh defenseman out of training camp since they have plenty of salary cap space and a plan in place to give plenty of rest to all of their players after most of the healthy Bruins skaters played over 100 games last season between the regular season and playoffs.

Steve Kampfer played nearly 40 games for the Bs last season as a puck-moving defenseman before Tomas Kaberle was brought in at the trade deadline, and clearly has the experience advantage over some of the other seventh defensemen candidates. Kampfer appeared to wear down and lose a little confidence as his rookie year progressed with the Bruins last season, but the young skaters has arrived in camp with a renewed vigor.

Fellow young defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky have all experienced both and bad moments during training camp, and both Bartkowski and Cohen have stood out particularly. Bartkowski made some rookie mistakes, of course, but hes also executed plenty of solid offensive players while showing off his seam passing during the power play.

Cohen has similarly shown good creativity, vision and passing skills while working the point, but still has a bit of work to do on the defensive end. Warsofsky has moved the puck ably, but will need to continue learning how to fight off bigger, stronger attackers before hes truly ready for regular NHL duty. All four young defensemen have their strengths and weaknesses and all four young defensemen could benefit from more development time at the AHL level, and thats gotten Julien thinking that a good, old fashioned defensemen rotation might work best for the depth player.

One other name that shouldnt be forgotten: Army officer Zach McKelvie, who was forced to sit out two seasons while completing his military obligation and is really beginning to pick things up. McKelvie is one of the best skaters in training camp and wont shy away from the physical stuff, and those qualities dont along very often.

We want to continue to have a look at those guys, but no doubt. Steven Kampfer was here, Matt Bartkowski was here last year, and they certainly have a little bit of edge in that regard, said Julien. But weve still got McKelvie, I think hes done a fabulous job for a guy that hadnt played in a couple of years. Were kind of monitoring his progression here as we go along.

Colby Cohen is another guy who I thought has good size -- and maybe not the extreme physical player -- but certainly a guy that moves the puck extremely well. There are some guys that are still here: David Warsofsky is another guy that maybe size-wise is not big, but his mobility is extremely good. He can move the puck well. There are a lot of guys still that were looking at. The one thing we know is that those guys are all young players and theyre also easy guys to bring in and send back without the waivers. So it doesnt mean necessarily that it only has to be one guy thats the seventh player. It could be one person, but it doesnt mean it has to be.

For an organization that appeared to hold a bare cupboard of young defensemen just a couple of years ago, the young talent lining up for a reserve role on the Bs roster is nothing to sneeze at. The Bruins defensemen cupboard is now once again full of talent, and this is a big season for many of their young careers.

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

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.