Bruins crush Habs in Halifax, 7-3

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Bruins crush Habs in Halifax, 7-3

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

HALIFAX Any win over the Canadiens feels good for a member of the Bruins, so there was happiness in Halifax as the Bs took it to Montreal in their first of back-to-back preseason games North of the Border.

The Bruins scored a pair of short-handed goals and overwhelmed Montreal goalie Peter Budaj in a 30-shot attack that finished with a 7-3 victory for the Bs at the Halifax Metro Centre. It had the extra bit of sweetness when Brad Marchand who grew up just 10 minutes outside of Halifax celebrated his homecoming with a goal.

Joe Corvo and Gregory Campbell opened up the scoring with goals in a chippy first period, and the Bruins really exploded in the middle 20 minutes with an impressive show of special teams. Marchand knocked home the rebound of a Chris Clark shot on the power play, and then both Daniel Paille and Zdeno Chara added shorthanded goals to push Boston far ahead of their ancient hockey rivals.

Tyler Seguin finished things off for the Bruins with a beauty of a goal in the third period. Seguin had a strong effort from beginning to end, and thoroughly beat Peter Budaj after taking it up to the right wing and firing from the face-off circle.

There were plenty of punishing hits being delivered all over the ice, and the first period was punctuated by a bout between Alex Henry and Shawn Thornton that ended up in a draw.

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand had 50 friends and relatives in the house -- and he didn't disappoint them. Running around doing his agitating thing, Marchand scored in front of the hometown crowd when he potted the rebound of a Chris Clark shot for a power play goal. Appropriately Marchand heard a chorus of mixed boos and cheers when he scored in front of a Halifax barn filled with testy Habs fans, but it didnt take anything away from his hometown moment. Marchand has looked good in camp, and appears as ready as any other veteran to strap on the hockey pads and get after it for another season. It speaks to the work he put in back in Halifax once his Boston partying ways were done after winning the Cup.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin scored a sweet goal on a rush up the right wing and actually assisted on Jordan Carons third-period strike though he was robbed by the Halifax scorekeepers and looked every bit the improved product hes seemed in training camp. Seguin set a tone for the evening by speeding around and getting himself physically involved in the game over his first couple of shifts, and the hard work carried over into offensive production. If Seguin plays like that more often than not, hes going to enjoy a very good season for the Bs.

BLACK EYE: Peter Budaj was brutal for the Canadiens, giving up seven goals. Budaj has to assume he wont play all that often sitting behind Carey Price this season in Montreal, but he needs to stop a puck or two when he is in there. The first goal he gave up to Joe Corvo was a bad angle softie, and things just got worse from there.

TURNING POINT: At the end of a chippy first period that saw the Bruins build a narrow 2-1 lead, Shawn Thornton and Alex Henry pummeled each other to a pretty good draw that seemed to reel things back under control. The bout was a far cry from the beating Thornton put on Henry during the infamous Barber Pole Sweater game in Montreal back in 2009, but the enforcers need to get themselves ready for the hockey season as well.

BY THE NUMBERS: 27 the number of saves for Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin, who looked sharp in his likely only start of the preseason. Khudobin is a goalie the Bs targeted in the Minnesota organization before dealing for him, and he continues to look like good insurance in case anything goes awry with the Tim ThomasTuukka Rask partnership this season. Hes been called the Euro-Tim Thomas in Bs circles over the last few years, and he looked like it Sunday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: I think those were the Montreal fans. Theyre a little bitter about the way things went last year, but thats the way it goes. Any time they boo us its a good thing. Brad Marchand talking about the loud mixture of boos and cheers that accompanied his return to the home rink in Halifax playing against a crowd heavy with Habs fans.

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

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar
 

Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

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Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”