Bruins eager for regular season

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Bruins eager for regular season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
The Bruins have reached a point in the preseason where some veterans are ready to go, and the regular season cant come quickly enough.

Obviously there are others getting their timing perfected or shaking off the rust from a wildly abbreviated summer, and there is still one dress rehearsal against the New York Islanders on Saturday to get things synchronized. Its kind of an in-between mode that has players traveling at different speeds with a week to all collectively get in the same gear.

For some players like Tim Thomas and Nathan Horton that have been brought along deliberately in training camp, the extra few days are a boon for their readiness. Brad Marchand estimated that Thursday nights preseason game against the Senators was probably running at 95 percent speed when compared to the regular season, and thinks hes ready to go as well.

The last few games Ive felt like Im catching back up to speed and my mind is reacting quickly enough again, said Marchand. I feel pretty good. The last game is really when it started to feel better, and I got my legs under way. Each game was a little bit better, and one more will be good for a lot of these guys.

But a well-trained hockey machine like Patrice Bergeron in the prime of his career needed exactly three games in the exhibition season, and told his coach that hes as ready to go as hell ever be. Its almost like clockwork for the two-way center.

Weve only played five preseason games and well finish with our sixth one. Some teams play a lot more than six games during the preseason, so I think our guys have been happy to get a few games under their best, said Julien. Ive talked to a few guys from last year that are saying theyre feeling pretty good.

Bergie has played three games and he feels like hes ready to go. Other guys as well. So theres an element where I think guys are feeling ready to go and theyre excited about getting the season going. But I dont feel like theyre antsy to start tomorrow. They know theres another game to play and team-building to go.
Ah, yes, the team-building.

Perhaps any readiness to start the season is tempered by some Bruins readying themselves for the natural order of things in training camp.

Over the last few seasons the expected group of Bs players set for the NHL roster escape Boston for several days of a camp retreat. The teams players and coaches take off just prior to the season for a sequence of events that promote team-building and camaraderie between players.

Even in the hustle and bustle of last seasons trip to Europe, the team found time to steal away to Vermont for a couple of days. Thats on tap for the two days following their preseason finale against the Islanders on Saturday, and Julien and his coaching staff have kept the camps location a secret from the players for the last month.

The coaches know the location and the players dont. We have it organized. They dont know where were going and they dont know what were doing, so were keeping the element of surprise, said Julien. Its going to be a surprise, itll be fun and itll be good. So we left it that way and thought it was the best way to approach it.

So it will a quick next few days of games and ropes courses designed to bring the Bs together. One thing is known and certain: theyll all be on the ice Oct. 6 on the Garden ice to watch the new Stanley Cup championship banner raised in the rafters before getting the season started.

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

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

BRIGHTON -- The third season is usually a pivotal one when it comes to an NHL player's development and trying to forecast exactly how high their ceiling will be.

So it is for David Pastrnak, who is expected to take a major leap forward in his third year after showing flashes of great promise in each of his first two seasons.

“The [World Cup] is done, so now all of my focus is on being as ready as I can for this upcoming season,” said Pastrnak, 20, who threw probably the biggest hit of his career on unsuspecting teammate Patrice Bergeron when the Czechs played Team Canada in the preliminary rounds. “I feel way bigger, very comfortable on the ice, and I obviously feel really good right now.”

Pastrnak has had moments of dazzling brilliance in Boston so far while riding the usual learning curve that every young player travels in Claude Julien’s system. In addition, injuries last season sidetracked his development process.

Pastrnak put up 21 goals and 55 points between Boston and Providence as the youngest player in either league as an 18-year-old rookie two years ago. Last season he had 15 goals and 26 points in 51 games for the Bruins while also missing significant time because of a fractured foot. The injury not only sidelined him for a few months but also made it difficult for him to jump onto the moving train of the NHL regular season once he was ready to return.

Just as the former first-round pick was really catching fire at the end of the year, time ran out on a Bruins team that had a few too many older veterans with empty gas tanks after being ridden hard throughout the season. Pastrnak scored goals in each of the final couple of games, and showed off the game-breaking ability that should be on full display if he's healthy and placed in a position to succeed.

His World Cup stint ended on a high note, as he played his best game of the tourney against Team USA, though he didn’t make a major impact in the elite international competition. He put on five pounds of muscle during the offseason and clearly looking bigger and stronger at 189 pounds after ending last season closer to 180.

Part of that is the natural physical maturation process for somebody Pastrnak’s age as he gain’s “man strength”, and some of it was a dedicated effort. He worked out in Boston with the B’s training staff for much of the summer for the first time in his career.

The expectation is that Pastrnak is going to be running on the right wing with David Krejci on Boston’s second line, and the search in training camp is for a left wing who can bring added playmaking ability and maybe a little size and strength to the mix. In a perfect world Krejci and Pastrnak will develop into the same dynamic, two-way combination of Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Pastrnak and Krejci could be a lethal offensive duo to be sure, but they’ll also have to pay attention to the little details if they want to stay together playing for Julien. Perhaps with that in mind, Julien was looking to temper expectations for Pastrnak

“I don't know if [the World Cup experience] accelerates expectations. But it's certainly encouraging to see that a guy that's got that experience to go and play at that level, and made himself better,” said Julien. “We know he's skilled and we know he's fast, and he's also gotten stronger. He's taking steps in the right direction here. We can look at those guys that are first overall picks and say, wow, some guys are exceptional.

“Some of the guys, you've got to give them time to grow and develop. That's what we need to do with David Pastrnak. I think we've got to stop putting expectations too high for him, and allow him to grow properly. He's going to have some growing pains and there are still some things he's going to want to get better at. There are still some things that he's going to want to learn that we're going to want to teach him. Let's give him that opportunity to grow properly without the extra pressure and extra expectations that maybe are not realistic.”

One would argue Pastrnak put those expectations on himself when he posted the 21 goals and 55 points as an 18-year-old, but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, the Pastrnak development project can, and should, be one of the things considered when we evaluate Julien’s current ability to get the most out of his young prospect-type players.

The bottom line with Pastrnak and the Bruins is this: It’s his contract year and motivation should be sky high. The Czech youngster is one of the few people who can step up and help fill the offensive void left by the free-agent departure of Loui Eriksson. Expectations are much higher for an experienced, talented 20-year-old than they are for a wide-eyed 18-year-old, and Pastrnak needs to make a big stride forward. Now is the time for Pastrnak to show all he’s learned, and completely unleash the array of offensive skills that caught everybody’s eye in the first place.

The Bruins need Pastrnak, and young players, to step up and start taking ownership of the hockey team.

Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

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Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

The Bruins announced their lineup for the second preseason game on Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings, and it was slightly more veteran-laden than the youthful Boston group tapped for Monday night’s opening loss to the Blue Jackets.

Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Dominic Moore lead the grizzled group of Bruins players readying for the exhibition tilt against their Atlantic Division rivals, and 19-year-old Zachary Senyshyn will make his preseason debut after getting fully medically cleared from appendectomy surgery a couple of weeks ago.

The 2015 first round pick has had a bit of a rough summer after bouts with mononucleosis and appendicitis forced him to miss Bruins rookie camp, but Senyshyn has quickly regained his strength and the blazing speed that's his biggest asset as a player. 

Austin Czarnik, Peter Mueller and Sean Kuraly are the only players from the opening night roster that will be in again to show their stuff against the Winged Wheels, and undoubtedly to get another long look from the Bruins coaching staff. Here is the full Black and Gold lineup for Wednesday night’s home date against the Red Wings with the untelevised exhibition game to be streamed on bruins.com

 

FORWARDS: Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Brian Ferlin, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, Sean Kuraly, Dominic Moore, Peter Mueller, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Chris Casto, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar.