B's Khokhlachev shows skill, needs conditioning

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B's Khokhlachev shows skill, needs conditioning

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Bruins focused on power skating and battle drills during the double sessions in Day No. 2 of development camp at Ristuccia Arena, and once again a couple of things bubbled to the surface.

The first was during power skating drills, led by power skating instructor newcomer Besa Tsintsadze, when the youngsters were pushed to the brink of exhaustion, and the differing conditioning levels of the players were exposed. Skills coach Victor Teleguine and skating coach John McLean werent present with the youngsters as theyve been in the past development camps, and instead Tsintsadze was bringing in some new challenging elements to the same old drills.

Besa came in late in the year last season, and his ability to skate . . . they should sign him with the way he zips around out there, Cassidy said. I like what he does with the guys. He keeps them moving with edge work and puck skills work while youre working on your balance.

Russian 2011 second round pick Alex Khokhlachev was one of the players struggling to keep up with the twists and turns employed by the speedy skating teacher, and Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy admitted after the session that the 17-year-old probably wasnt quite in pro hockey conditioning.

Its understandable given their first experience with pro hockey, but its also something that casts a bit of first impression that Koko will have to be way of. When things boiled down to the battle drills during the second session Khokhlachev showed his hands and offensive instincts amid tight coverage with the puck.

The skating is always interesting because theres a lot of edge work and guys are at different levels, Cassidy said. Overall as a group I think theyre doing very well. They tested well for the most part with the odd guy that might have lagged here or there. But theyve done pretty well with everything that weve asked.

Watching some of the in-tight drills, Khokhlachev has excellent hands and he freezes goaltenders. He gets pucks up in tight. So certainly and the goal-scoring ability is there. His conditioning needs to get better, but hes one of the young guys that what usually happens is the first camp is an eye-opener. They dont realize how good physical shape professional players are in. Hell get that down, but I like his instincts around the net.

The skill is clearly there with Koko as he potted 34 goals in 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires last season during his first year in North America, but there is still plenty of work to be done for the 40th overall pick in this years NHL Draft.

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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.