Haggerty: Five thoughts from Bruins-Senators

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Haggerty: Five thoughts from Bruins-Senators

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Here are five lingering thoughts from Thursday nights 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden where the Bruins really dominated play for at least 23 of the game.

1) Great to see Adam McQuaid wearing the A as an alternate captain for Thursdays game, along with normal letter carriers in Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.
Clearly the Bruins are searching for another alternate captain with the retirement of Mark Recchi, and theyve handed the 'A' off to Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly, among others. McQuaid isnt the loudest guy in the room and hes certainly among the younger group of players, but there isnt a harder worker or a more conscientious kid than the strapping 6-foot-5 defenseman. Hes a great lead by example kind of player. Claude Julien may decided to simply rotate the second A among several of the players in his dressing room this season, and that might be the best way to go given the large group of leaders within the team.

2) Tim Thomas looked better in losing to the Senators than he did in his first preseason game against the Islanders, but the 37-year-old still doesnt look quite Vezina ready.
Thomas really wasnt challenged all that much in the first two periods while facing only 10 shots, but he got a little more action in the third. There were some solid stops within those Senators shots, but its not inaccurate to say Tuukka Rask has outplayed his goaltender partner to this point in the preseason. Thomas will get the nod again on Saturday against the Islanders in Bridgeport for a final season tune-up, and should be opening night starter barring anything unforeseen. But as everyone remembers Rask was the opening night starter last season, and that didnt last for very long.

3) Rich Peverley has been a difference-maker on the power play during the preseason and looks like hell be seeing much more specials team play this season.
He finished with four shots on net and over four minutes of power-play ice time, and his combination of puck creativity and skating speed allows the Bs to sustain possession in the offensive zone. Peverley really didnt factor much into anything toward the end of last years regular season once he arrived, but he looks like a legitimate difference-maker this season as a top-six forward.

4) It sounds like Tyler Seguin is going to be getting a lot more power-play ice time this season working off the half wall.
Seguin was one of the Bs regulars that sat out Thursday nights game against the Senators, but Claude Julien indicated that the supremely skilled 19-year-old was one of Bostons choices to help upgrade the man advantage this season. If Seguin gets consistent power play time the chances are pretty good that his offensive stats are going to rise considerably this season flashing shooting and passing off the half wall. I think that half board is a pretty important position and you know, Tyler's Seguin a guy that we're looking at right now that can hopefully step in and do that job, said Julien.

5) Its looking like there may be room for both Jordan Caron and Chris Clark on the Bruins roster to break training camp.
Claude Julien confirmed hes had discussions with GM Peter Chiarelli about carrying a roster of 23 players to start the regular season, which would allow for 14 forwards including a pair of extras and seven defensemen along with the two goaltenders. Both Caron and Clark again played strong games on Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators despite no point production from either player. Caron piled up shots and hits while camping out in front of the Ottawa net and Clark freed up Daniel Paille for a breakaway with a smart stretch pass through the neutral zone. Its beginning to look like a Bs team built on depth last season could be even deeper this year.

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

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

BOSTON -- For a team where offense has been a major problem area this season, lighting the lamp four times against the Florida Panthers on Monday night was a welcomed sight for the Bruins indeed.

The Bruins won it in dazzling fashion with a 4-3 overtime win on a David Pastrnak rush to the net after he totally undressed D-man Mike Matheson on his way to the painted area, and then skill took over for him easily beating Roberto Luongo with a skate-off goal.

That was the game-breaker doing his thing and finishing with a pair of goals in victory, and continuing to push a pace that has the 20-year-old right wing on track for more than 40 goals this season.

That would give the Bruins just their fourth 40-goal scorer in the last 25 years of franchise history (Glen Murray in 2002-03, Bill Guerin in 2001-02 and Cam Neely in 1993-94), and mark one of the bigger reasons behind an expected offensive surge that may just be coming for a Black and Gold group currently ranked 23rd in the league in offense.

They just hope that the four strikes vs. Florida is indeed a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the season after serving as just the eighth time in just 26 games this season that they scored more than two goals.

“[There have been] a lot of tight games and low-scoring games, you’re right. It’s good, but as a goalie, I’m not happy when I let in three goals, ever. But it’s great to see that scoring support,” said Tuukka Rask. “When you get four goals, you expect to win, and a lot of times when we get three, I expect to win. It’s great to see [an uptick in scoring].”

So what is there to be optimistic about from a B’s offensive perspective aside from Pastrnak blowing up for a couple more goals to keep pace among the NHL league leaders with Sidney Crosby and Patrick Laine?

Well, the Bruins are starting to see results from crashing to the front of the net, attacking in the offensive zone and finally finishing off plays after serving as one of the best puck possession teams in the league over the first few months.

Just look at how the goals were scored, and how the Bruins are working in closer to the net rather than settling for perimeter plays.

The first goal on Monday night was a result of Tim Schaller crashing down the slot area for a perfectly executed one-timer feed from David Krejci. Similarly David Pastrnak was hanging around in front of the net in the second period when a no-look, spinning Brad Marchand dish from behind the net came his way, and he wasn’t going to miss from that range against Roberto Luongo. Then David Backes parked his big body in front of the Florida net in the third period, and redirected a Ryan Spooner shot up and over Luongo for the score that got the Bruins into overtime.

It’s one of a couple of goals scored by Backes down low recently, and his third goal in the last five games as he heats up with his playmaking center in Krejci. The 32-year-old Backes now has seven goals on the season and is on pace for 26 goals after a bit of a slow start, and the offense is coming for that line as they still search for balance in their two-way hockey play.

“A few more guys are feeling [better] about their games, and know that we’re capable of putting a crooked number up like that. It bodes well moving forward,” said Backes. “But you can’t think that we’re going to relax after the effort that we put in. We’ve got to skill to those dirty areas and still get those second and third chances, and not take anything off during those opportunities. It’s got to go to the back of the net.

“With the way Tuukka has played, and our defense has been stingy and our penalty kill has been on, four goals should be a win for our team. It hasn’t always been easy for us this year. It’s been a process, but I think you’re starting to see the things that you need to see in order for us to score goals. We’re going to the front of the net and getting extended offensive zone time, and then you find a few guys like Pasta in the slot. That’s a good recipe for us.”

Then there’s Ryan Spooner, who enjoyed his best game of the season on Monday night and set up the B’s third goal of the game with his speed and creativity. It was noticeable watching Spooner play with his unbridled skating speed and creative playmaking, and it made a discernible difference in Boston’s overall offensive attack against Florida. It’s something that Claude Julien is hoping to see more of moving forward from Spooner after recent trade rumors really seemed to spark the 23-year-old center, and also knocked some of the inconsistency from a player that’s extremely dangerous offensively when he’s “on.”

“It’s obvious that if Ryan wants to give us those kinds of games, then we have lots of time for him. When he doesn’t we just can’t afford to give him that kind of ice time,” said Julien. “There are games where he hasn’t been as involved, and it’s obvious and apparent to everybody that when he’s not getting involved then he’s not helping our team. When he is playing the way he did yesterday, we can certainly use that player more than not. We’d love to see him get consistent with those kinds of games.”

So while it’s clear the Bruins aren’t completely out of the woods offensively and there are still players like Patrice Bergeron sitting below their usual offensive numbers, it’s also been a little mystifying to watch Boston struggle so much offensively given their talent level.

The Black and Gold fully realized that potential in taking a tough divisional game from Florida on Monday night, and they hope it’s something to build on as the schedule doesn’t let up at all in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Dave Dombrowski is collecting stars and talent over at Fenway Park. I dig it.

*Interesting piece about switching teams in the NHL and leaving behind old allegiances when the job calls for it.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Harvey Fialkov looks at the connections between the Bruins and the Florida Panthers, and more specifically with the Panthers and the Boston-area.

*A rumor round-up across the NHL including the humorous nugget that the Bruins are looking to move Jimmy Hayes. Yes, they are looking to move Hayes. They are begging some other NHL team to take on the player and the contract for somebody that has one point since last February. It’s not happening.

*Escrow is at the heart of the next negotiation between the NHL and the NHLPA, and I really thought it was going to be years before I’d have to even think about the CBA again.

*Tough break for the Florida Panthers losing Keith Yandle for a long period of time after he was injured last night vs. the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has the story at Pro Hockey Talk.

*Wild coach Bruce Boudreau talks his “bucket list”, which includes a lot of movies and even a stint as a movie reviewer for the Manchester Union Leader back in the day.

*Sounds like Pat Maroon might want to sit out the next few plays after calling hockey a “man’s game” among other things.

*For something completely different: Yup, I’m pretty okay with the Red Sox blowing up the prospect cupboard for Chris Sale.