Bruins: 'Last year was last year'

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Bruins: 'Last year was last year'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
BOSTON Its pretty clear after a couple of days that the Bruins are on the same page when it comes to publicly closing the door on last years collapse.The Bruins dropped four straight games to the Flyers in the second round of last years playoffs and were the butt of plenty of Boston Massacre-style jokes last summer. Now, they have the chance to wipe that memory clean.Its the Big, Bad, Broad Street Bullies vs. the Big, Bad, Bruins and itll be the equivalent of an alley brawl to determine which team advances once the seven game war of attrition and steely determination has been decided.But Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien have set the tone over the last couple of days, and put the proper focus on the here and now of Game 1 in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon rather than anywhere else. The Bs coach sounded like a hockey version of Yogi Berra when asked to compare and contrast this years series against the Flyers with last season's, but Julien wasnt going there just like his players werent willing to step into that territory.Instead Julien was focusing on the fact that so much statistically was slanted against the Bs in the opening round Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens, and his hockey club did a good job of tossing convention and probability straight out the window.I think last year is last year, and this year is this year," Julien said. "A lot of people are going to want to bring up the past. If anything, its like Montreal. All the stats were probably against us with the odds and how the Bruins had fared against them in the past. We were down 2-0... anything that the odds were against us we overcame. "So its always a new situation. Its a new opportunity and thats how were looking at it. Its just a new opportunity for us to get past the Flyers and hopefully win this series. Zdeno Chara said that he lost 10 pounds in the 24 hours surrounding his virus and extreme hydration episode before Game 2 against the Montreal Canadiens, and that hes just now feeling 100 percent following the illness. The Bruins captain was noticeably weaker during the games following his hospitalization, but battled through and indicated he was back at 100 percent prior to the weekend start to the Flyers series. Chara's normal playing weight is 255 pounds, and he told CSNNE.com that he's back up to 252 with only a couple more pounds to be back up to his full fighting weight. Every Bruins player was on the ice for a Friday morning practice at TD Garden that included power play work, line drills and some good old-fashioned work on defensive zone breakouts in anticipation of the strong Flyers fore-check coming their way starting this weekend. Peter Chiarelli confirmed on Thursday that his hockey club is healthy entering their conference semi-final series against Philly. Tyler Seguin has taken to calling his forward line the Green Goblin line while skating with Jordan Caron and Jamie Arniel and wearing bright green jerseys during practice. It seems that Shawn Thornton isnt much of a Spider Man fan given that Seguin had to explain the origin of the term born from one of the super-villains in the comic book and movies.

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.”