Haggerty: Bruins playing like they want to stay

191545.jpg

Haggerty: Bruins playing like they want to stay

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

UNIONDALE, N.Y. Changes are coming for the Bruins, no matter how they feel about them.

Its a bit of a shame, because every member of the Bs through words or actions showed they didnt want to go anywhere else in a 6-3 thumping of the New York Islanders at the NHL rink that time forgot Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.

But the NHL journey doesnt stop for any player, no matter how big or small, and a few players will likely be departing for other teams in the coming days while going out with their head held high.

Mark Stuart was a healthy scratch Thursday night despite playing some of his best hockey in the two previous games, and was nowhere to be found in the Bs locker room following the game. Its expected that the rugged defenseman is going to be shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks in the next day or two in exchange for a draft pick and some salary cap relief, and if he leaves Boston he does it with some things intact: his love for Boston and the Bruins that had him hoping he would stay despite the writing on the wall, and some very good final games in Black and Gold while he controlled the matters in his own hands.

In his final five games with the Bruins Stuart had a goal and two assists to go along with a plus-5 rating, and showed the toughness and flashes of offensive competence that have many around the NHL interested in his services as a 26-year-old defenseman.

So Stuart embodied the attitude that Claude Julien has been preaching to the rest of his team with less than two weeks to go until the NHL trade deadline has passed.

Youve got to deal with it professionally, and guys have to just go out there and play, said Julien. Its up to them whether to take that approach or not, but we emphasize the approach that were professionals and you need to act like professionals.

When you sign a contract at this level you have to understand that there might be trades involved that you have to deal with down the road, and thats all you can do. What Ive told players is that trades arent the end of the world. You might be going somewhere else, but youre still getting paid to play hockey. Thats not the end of the world at all.

Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin have also adopted that take no prisoners philosophy with their names tossed out there as possible fodder for trades or healthy scratches now that Chris Kelly is ready to join the fold.

Wheeler has a goal and four assists in his last seven games, and Seguin has three points in his last three games while both young forwards seem to be ramping things up while skating together on the same line. The 23-year-old Wheeler is obviously the name thats popping up in trade talks given his 2.2 million price tag, and its believed hes a necessity to move if Tomas Kaberle is coming to Boston.

Seguins situation is a lot more complication. The 19-year-old looks like he finally gets it, as Julien said, following one of his best games of the season against the Islanders, and the Bruins need that kind of offensive potential in the lineup.

Wheeler sees Seguins recent two-game hiatus in the press box as the prime reason why everyone is beginning to see a determined rookie ready to make plays and do some damage while battling on the ice.

I think the biggest thing you learn sitting up in the press box as a scratch is that you dont want to be sitting up there, said Wheeler. Your teammates are out there battling and doing a good job, and you come in and everybody is sweating and patting each other on the back. Thats tough to see all your teammates were off to war with each other and you werent a part of it.

I think you learn that you want to do whatever you can to stay on the ice, and stay involved.

Once Seguin got back on the ice, Wheeler knew it was only a matter of time before the two of them clicked offensively and only a matter of time before Seguin really starting becoming some kind of dominant force.

Since hes come back from being scratched youve seen a lot more determination, said Wheeler. Youve seen a little more determination and he creates a lot. I keep telling him all along that hes got another gear that we havent seen yet. Hes going to learn. Maybe not this year, but hes going to learn that hes a lot better than the guys that hes playing against.

Once he realizes that and he has that confidence, the sky is the limit for him. Hes so young, its tough to build confidence in this league especially if youre not used to playing the way that youre used to. But if he gets some confidence and starting believing in himself then youre really going to see him take off.

While Julien has to be pleased with the desperation and commitment evinced in the games of Wheeler and Seguin with Kelly on the way, hes already said that Kelly will jump into the lineup in Ottawa Friday night. Whether it means benching Wheeler, Seguin or Daniel Paille who has also played well since coming back from a four-game suspension somebody thats done nothing wrong on the ice is going to be sitting at the end of the cold, hard, unforgiving bench when the Bs suit against the Senators on Friday night.

The Bruins all showed that they deserve to be in the lineup after the way they performed on and off the ice on Thursday but rarely is anything in professional sports truly about what one individual or another deserves.

Its a lot more about what you get, and what you need.

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

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

bruins_austin_czarnik_082716.jpg

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

red_wings_092816.jpg

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.