McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

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McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- There are plenty of familiar names and recognizable faces participating at Bs rookie camp this weekend, and theres also a forgotten man skating with the rookies at Ristuccia Arena.

The player in question is Zach McKelvie, a 26-year-old West Point graduate that had to fulfill his military obligations before getting a chance to pursue his dreams of playing professional hockey. The Bs originally signed the defenseman prospect in 2009 with an understanding that the Army would allow McKelvie out of his military obligation, but that never happened last year.

It was a great experience. I was an infantry officer in the army, said McKelvie. More than anything it was a learning experience, and getting to know the men and women that were deployed four or five times is extremely humbling and gratifying at the same time. I definitely wouldnt trade the two years served for anything.

I thought about hockey every day and I missed hockey every day, but I also took pride in wearing the US army uniform every day.

McKelvie was obviously rusty after spending the last year plus off the ice as a full-fledged military man serving his country, but Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning painted the picture of a two-way defenseman prospect reliant on strong skating ability to be effective.

Ironically enough McKelvie was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia over the last two seasons, but has begun to knock the rust off his game. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder still has enough things going for him in the skillsskating area that hell get a chance to hone his game in the minor leagues, and show exactly what interested Bs talent evaluators so much in the first place.

Hes a great skater. He hasnt played competitive hockey in a couple of years from college, but because hes such a good skater and he moves well out there -- and hes a competitive kid -- I think his timing will be off a little bit I think to start, said Benning. But I think once he gets his timing he could turn out to be a good player for us.

Benning is a keen evaluator of young hockey talent, and the Bs assistant GM believes theres still plenty of time for McKelvie to get his groove back with no hurry given Bostons stacked stable of D-men at the NHL level.

Hes a transitional player because he can skate so well, get back, get the puck, and hell either be able to carry it out or make a first pass to get the puck up ice or hell jump into play to join the play to help out in the offensive end, said Benning. Hes a good two-way player. But he hasnt played competitively in a couple of years so it might take him a little bit to get his timing back to show what he can really do. We like him as a prospect. Hes a high character kid and his physical tools are good, so once he gets his timing back he should be competitive at camp.

With the skills sitting close to the surface and the character to place his individual dreams on hold while duty called, McKelvie has already proven to be something special before skating a single shift for the Bruins organization.

Now he gets a chance to prove it on the ice for the Black and Gold.

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.