LOS ANGELES Looking for a catchy name for the newly minted line of Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton that ended Monday nights game together per design of the Bruins coaching staff?How about the "Passenger Line?"Thats a little harsh to be sure, but its about time for some players to rise to the forefront and begin carrying their weight after the Bruins dropped a 2-0 decision to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center characterized by its lifeless play and paucity of production.I think right now we need some guys to step up and start scoring some goals for us, said Claude Julien. Not always rely on the same people all of the time. At one point you can get away with it, but there are some guys that have been dry for a while. We need them to step up.The dry players: Horton has one goal in his last 19 games for the Bruins and is now on a pace for 20 goals and 47 points this season after starting so promisingly. Tyler Seguin is an 18-year-old working through the NHL for the first time, so he gets some slack while putting up nothing but zeroes over his last seven games. Similarly, Wheeler was one goal in his last 13 games and has drifted away from the physicality and net front presence that had him popping in goals regularly at the beginning of the month.All three forwards look like theyll have to look toward each other for offensive answers in the final game before the NHL All-Star break. Theres simply no reason to break up three other lines that have worked together intermittently through the season, and hold out hope that theyll produce again soon.The Bruins wont be getting four goal explosions from Patrice Bergerons line each and every night, and its clear that David Krejci and Milan Lucic have some work to do before they get their mojo going together.So it came down to Horton finally deciding to tell his Bruins teammates to hop on his back with Marc Savard down and out, and that really didnt even come close to happening as he instead faded to 15:24 of ice time and pretty much no presence 5-on-5 or on the power play.The Bruins had 34 shots on net when it ended against a defensive-minded Kings bunch, but its doubtful there were more than four Grade A scoring chances through the entire 60 minute effort. Michael Ryder had a couple of very good chances in the first period, Zdeno Chara hit the outside of the right post on a perfectly set one-timer during a second period power play, and Jonathan Quick managed to cover up a Lucic bomb from the slot as stampeded toward the net.I dont think as forwards we did a good enough job of getting in front of Quick, said Thornton. They were painted in our crease all night, and we didnt a great job of using their defensemen to force pucks in there. Some guys were going, and I think some guys were a few steps behind. But that was about it, and Claude Julien has enough of his team to know there is much more there whether Savard is in the lineup or back in Boston nursing the fourth concussion of his career. Chara called it being emotionally detached after the game, and it was clear that started with three forwards that the Bs desperately needed in the second part of a strange two-game West Coast road swing.I think some guys were involved and some guys werent, said Thornton pretty flatly.Its time for the Passenger Line to stop settling for zeros and starting finding answers with Savard down and out for an indefinite period of time, and everybody among the Boston forwards responsible for pulling their own weight.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
The Bruins will open training camp on Thursday, Sept. 22, and play their first exhibition game less than a week later, the team announced today.
In addition to releasing the complete exhibition-game schedule, the B's also announced that rookie camp will start on Thursday, Sept. 15.
The exhibition schedule (all home games played at TD Garden):
MONDAY, SEPT. 26 -- vs. Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28 -- vs. Red Wings, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 30 -- at Red Wings, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 1 -- at Flyers, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY, OCT. 4 -- vs. Canadiens at Quebec City, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, OCT. 6 -- at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 8 -- vs. Flyers, 5 p.m.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while blaming both the zoo and the parents in Cincinnati. Is it okay to do that, or does everything in life have to be all or nothing?
-- Dan Rosen says Sidney Crosby has a twinkle in his eye as he returns for, and wins, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
-- Tim Panaccio has a few thoughts on the sad passing of Philadelphia Flyers legend Rick MacLeish at the age of 66.
-- It looks like Ken Hitchcock will be back once again as head coach of the St. Louis Blues despite their fall in the Western Conference Finals.
-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gives a number of scenarios for potential expansion, including waiting another year before doing anything.
-- A good Players Tribune piece on hockey dad Matt Cullen preparing with the family for the Stanley Cup Finals with the Penguins.
-- Jacques Martin, currently serving as a member of Mike Sullivan's Pittsburgh coaching staff, is appreciating his first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
-- Joel Ward wants to see the NHL retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22, similar to Jackie Robinson's No. 42 permanently retired by all Major League Baseball teams.
-- Ken Campbell says that the San Jose Sharks won’t be in a panic after dropping Game 1 to the Penguins.
-- So Ulf Samuelsson will be a head coach in the AHL next season for the Charlotte Checkers. Teams might want to stock up on the foil
-- This goal call by Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi for Nick Bonino’s game-winner in Game 1 is pretty damned awesome.
-- For something completely different: Bernie Sanders attending the Warriors/Thunder Game 7 on Monday night, a week before the California primary, might qualify as a savvy political move, but it’s also pretty clear that he's a big basketball fan. Did you see footage of that textbook old-man jump shot while Sanders was waiting for primary results a few months ago? Ball don’t lie.
Another once-valued Boston Bruins asset might be heading out the door with nothing coming back in return.
Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to a report out of Russia. The deal will become official after his entry-level contract with Boston runs out on June 30.
Khokhlachev, 22, was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft and spent the last three seasons as one of the Providence Bruins' leading scorers. In that time he appeared in only nine games in Boston, with no points and a minus-4.
At the start of last season's training camp, Khokhlachev said he’d never been given a legitimate chance by the Bruins at the NHL level. But “Koko” also never exactly crushed his chances in preseason, or during his regular-season stints with the parent club.
The belief is that Khokhlachev’s camp would have rather the Bruins traded him, as his family had settled in the Toronto area over the last few years. But he was, in essence, forced to go to Russia since the Bruins would continue to hold his NHL rights as a restricted free agent.
According to sources close to Khokhlachev, the last straw came when the Bruins signed a European free agent -- 28-year-old Finnish center Joonas Kemppainen -- before last season and gave him more than four months to prove himself at the NHL level. It was the kind of audition that Khokhlachev never felt like he received during his time in the Bruins organization, despite posting 59 goals and 168 points over the last three years in the AHL.
Clearly, there are still questions about whether the 5-foot-10, 181-pound center is a “tweener” -- not big enough or fast enough to score at the NHL level. And it looks like those questions will go unresolved as Khokhlachev returns to Russia for the foreseeable future.