Bruins' prospect 'Koko' making most of camp


Bruins' prospect 'Koko' making most of camp

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

PROVIDENCE So now everyone finally knows what the Koko Show is all about.

After Alexander Khokhlachev showed up to July prospect camp in less-than-stellar shape and suffered through some erratic moments during rookie camp and Bruins main camp this week, the youngest member of the 53-man Bs training camp roster exploded in the Black Teams 4-1 victory over the White Team Tuesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center .

For a kid who grew up in Russia dreaming of the NHL and moved to Canada for junior hockey just to make it happen a starring role in the scrimmage was a pretty cool experience.

Im here playing games in the best league in the world for the best team in the world. Thats a pretty cool thing and Ive learned so much every single day, said Khokhlachev. Its all been pretty amazing.

The offensive outpouring arrived after coach Claude Julien had openly challenged some of the younger players to show the coaching staff something if they wanted to remain in camp for the NHL preseason games. Koko said as much following the scrimmage in Providence, and hopes hell skate against an NHL team or two after stepping up his game.

Every day they could send me home, so every day I just go to the ice or work out really hard. Im happy here just working and getting a chance right now, said Khokhlachev. I hope I get a chance to play in some of the other preseason games against the NHL teams.

Its been a challenging summer for the 18-year-old hockey prospect after he was drafted by the Bruins, whisked to prospect development camp, dumped back in Windsor, Ontario for a few weeks of training and then sent back to Boston for full Bs training camp. On top of that Khokhlachev had a pair of friends who were killed in the KHL Lokomotiv plane crash, and was far from home while his sport and home country were weathering a horrible tragedy.

But Koko worked through all of that, and straightened out his teenage inconsistencies with a game that showcased all of his skills. The first score was a natural goal-scorers goal with a snap shot from the right faceoff circle off a nifty dish from Dennis Seidenberg. The second resulted from the Russian prospect crashing the net as a pass drifted toward the net.

After the first few minutes I just settled down and played my game, said Khokhlachev. Im trying really hard and was excited because this was my first game with NHL guys. Its a simple game at another level.

Every game I go there and take a shot or wait there for a really good chance to make a play. Every game I just try to help my team win and make a good play for them.

Koko may play in a game or two before hes inevitably returned to the OHLs Windsor Spitfires for another year of junior hockey, but hell leave the Bruins with a good feeling in his heart. Khokhlachev has tasted a little bit of the success hes always dreamed of, and that will keep him working to make it back to Boston for much, much more.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy


Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.