Isles' Grabner steals rookie show at Garden


Isles' Grabner steals rookie show at Garden

By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- It was the tale of two rookies. Both first-round picks. Both at the TD Garden on Wednesday night.

But only one was playing.

Unlike Bruins rookie forward Tyler Seguin, New York Islanders rookie winger Michael Grabner wasn't drafted last summer. He was taken 14th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006. Seguin was taken second overall in 2010.

But having only played 20 games last season for the Canucks, Grabner is still categorized as a rookie this season with the Islanders.

On Wednesday night at the TD Garden, while the healthy-scratched Seguin sat high above the ice on the ninth floor, New York's rookie scored his team's only two goals, giving him 33 on the season in 74 games.

Grabner leads all rookies in goals, and is a clear-cut candidate for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

In fairness to Seguin, Grabner -- while a previous first-round pick -- is four years older. And since being drafted in 2006, Grabner had played three full seasons in the AHL prior to what's now being called his "rookie" year.

Still, Grabner hasn't disappointed the Islanders since being picked off waivers in October. The Florida Panthers placed him on those waivers with the purpose of sending him to their minor-league team.

Grabner went to New York with something to prove, after Vancouver traded him to the Panthers' organization at the 2010 NHL draft, the same draft in which the Bruins selected Seguin No. 2 overall.

Neither player's rookie campaign can be compared to the other. That was evident on Wednesday night as Grabner tied the game at 1-1 in the opening minutes of the second period with a one-timer from the right circle on a power play. He followed it up later in the period by cutting the Bruins' lead to 3-2, after he flat out beat Tomas Kaberle to a race to the puck at center ice, while the Islanders were on the penalty kill.

Grabner took the puck and skated in all alone, only to beat Tim Thomas with a deke and a quick flip into the top-right corner of the net.

"What can you say? It's almost like, when you chip a puck out into the neutral zone, he's got a chance to track that puck down, and make something very exciting happen," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano after his team's 3-2 loss to Boston. "And that's what happened tonight. We got a little turnover, and Josh Bailey just chipped it out, and Grabner made a great move on Thomas there.

"He's just been working hard," added Capuano on his speedy winger. "And when you work hard in practice, and you do the right things, it pays off for you."

That's not to say Seguin doesn't work hard in practice, or do the right things when he's on the ice. After all, the 19-year-old has played in 72 games this season, totaling 11 goals and 11 assists.

And perhaps if the Bruins weren't one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Seguin would have the luxury of playing more minutes, and seeing consistent time on the top line.

But Boston coach Claude Julien is in a position where, not only does he not have to give Seguin those minutes, but he doesn't even have to dress him, regardless of how hard he might work, and how much more improved he's looked in recent weeks.

The Bruins are playing for a Stanley Cup. The Islanders are, well, playing two more regular-season games and then teeing off.

It still can't be denied that Grabner's individual rookie season has been better than Seguin's. But those factors -- older, more experienced, getting plenty of ice time on a going-nowhere team with no expectations -- will always make one wonder what the results would have been if the shoe were on the other foot.

"It was nice to get a couple goals," said Grabner. "Obviously, it would be nicer to have a win in the bag. I'm just not going to change my game. I think the whole team worked hard tonight.

"Like I said before, I just try to go out there and play my game," added Grabner. "I was drafted to score goals. It has been going good this year. Hopefully I can keep it up the last couple of games."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.