Bruins rookies excited for games vs. Islanders

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Bruins rookies excited for games vs. Islanders

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON Tyler Randell remembers the burst of adrenaline, energy and, yes, even a healthy case of nerves prior to last years Bruins rookie games against the New York Islanders at a packed TD Garden.

The gritty Randell helped pop in a quick goal with Ryan Spooner and Max Sauve in their first taste of exhibition hockey in an NHL rink, and that helped ease the nervous of a young hockey player living out his lifelong dream for the first time.

You go out there and get the puck deep, take the body and get a little mean out there, said Randell. If somebody comes after me I definitely wont hesitate to drop the gloves. Ill play my game, take the puck hard to the net and be strong on the puck.

The two games in Boston last year were two of the craziest Ive ever played in. It was a great atmosphere. Its always great to play in an NHL rink, wear the Bruins crest and give it everything Ive got.

That kind of thing is music to the Bruins ears.

Its that exact experience in the ultimate NHL dress rehearsal for a young hockey prospect thats on tap for Monday and Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum against the very same New York Islanders. For some like Randell, Spooner, Knight and goalie Michael Hutchinson, itll be a continuation of the rookie games they took part in last season and a nice way to prepare for veteran training camp.

For others like 2011 draft picks Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Khokhlachev and Anthony Camara, its their first introduction to the NHL world that stands only a rung or two away as they climb up the pro hockey career ladder. Hamilton has skated competitively at Scotiabank Place and the Air Canada Centre prior to the upcoming exhibition games, but getting the NHL juices flowing is a whole different experience.

Ill definitely get a few jitters and maybe do some running around on the first shift," Camara said. "But after that Ill settle down and get back into my game. My first game in the OHL was kind of like that. I was getting a little antsy and maybe tied my skates up a little too tight. Im just taking everything day by day and trying to make a steady progression while working on my skills.

For talent evaluators like Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning it gives the Bruins an opportunity to see their prospects in game situations, and hopefully witness their particular skills rise to the forefront. Last season Jordan Caron and Spooner had two excellent efforts against the Isles in the rookie games and wound up sticking with the team to the very end of training camp and Caron cracked the opening night roster in the Premiere Games against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague.

So Benning and Co. will notice who flashes on the ice, and who tied their skates up a little too tight. Observers are likely to see players like Spooner and Knight make things happen offensively on the ice while tougher hombres like Randell and Camara might just drop the gloves once or twice in defense of their teammates with everybody looking to make a good impression.

I think you learn a lot. You learn what their make up is and how hard theyre going to compete in a game situation when the pressure is on them. What are they made of? said Benning. The skill guys . . . are they going to create plays or are they going to create scoring chances. Usually what happens when they play under pressure is that their skill or their toughness -- or whatever theyre here to show -- should come to the top.

Thats what were hoping to see from all the guys. All their different skill sets and toughness. We have some physical defensemen, we got some defensemen that can skate and handle the puck. We have skilled forwards, but yet on the other side we got some big strong guys that hit and are going to look after their teammates. So it should be interesting. Im looking forward to see how they perform as a group.

One thing remains beyond the adrenaline and nerves: Potential invites to regular training camp will be on the line for each and every player on the Bs rookie camp roster.

That in and of itself should guarantee every last player saves their best for The Island.

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

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.
 

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden.