Notes: Bruins turn attention to Flyers


Notes: Bruins turn attention to Flyers

By JoeHaggerty

BOSTON The Bruins are ready for Round Two against the Flyers.

After Boston survived seven games against the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia made it through a seven-game battle with the Buffalo Sabres, it allowed for a collision course between the Bs and the team that crushed their Stanley Cup dreams last season.

Worse than that it made Boston the equivalent of the Washington Generals in the hockey history books after they lost four straight games to the Flyers and blew a 3-0 lead in Game Seven.

But enough about a collapse that will be mentioned another million times between now and the end of the series. While the fast, skilled, flop-happy Canadiens proved to be a difficult matchup for the Bruins in the first round, the bigger, deeper, meaner Broad Street Bullies would seem to be a better match for the Big Bad Bruins over the course of a seven game playoff series.

A team that pulled the starting goalie three times in the first round series against the Buffalo Sabres would point toward a huge flaw on Philadelphias roster, but Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli knows that his team will be up against an evenly-matched foe.

Well theyre bigger, first and foremost. I think thats a huge difference. You saw that Montreal stretched the ice, and theyre always coming at you, said Chiarelli. These guys dont stretch the ice as much, but they can go to the weak side a lot in their neutral zone.

Theyre coming in rushes, but they dont stretch it as much. Theyre like North-South, theyre like us to a certain degree. Theyve got skill players, theyve got some heavy players. Obviously there are more similarities between us and them than there are between us and Montreal.

The Bruins set an NHL record by going a fruitless 0-for-21 on the power play in the first round against the Montreal, and are the only NHL team to win a seven game playoff series without potting a power play goal. Chiarelli said that the coaches and players are doing everything they can to put some life back into the man advantage, and saw some problems cropping up from making too many changes to try and spark scoring.

I was thinking about this last night. Trust me, this is a topic that we have addressed all year, every day. I see a group of guys that -- beaten down is the wrong word but weve been on them so much to succeed and have different looks, said Chiarelli. You reach a point where you are diminishing returns as far as trying to make changes, so its been a frustrating exercise. The give away that led to the Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal we tried to change the entry to a delayed entry, and it didnt work.

Because were having trouble getting set up on the power play. So its frustrating for me to watch. I know these guys want to succeed at it. I know the coaching staff thats been at the top of their list. Its been at the top of your list too, everyones list. Were going to figure it out. I know Tomas Kaberle has been under some heat too and its not his fault. Hes in the mix with everybody and were trying to figure it out. Part of it I think is nerves. Part of it is maybe they are squeezing their sticks too much. Its not fluid and these players have some fluidity to their game as far as making plays. So we have to figure it out and its going to be an important component again in this next series.

Chiarelli indicated that the Bruins escaped the first round series victory over the Montreal Canadiens with their health intact, and dont have any notable issues heading into the second round.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

BRIGHTON, Mass -- The Bruins lost Matt Beleskey for six weeks to a knee injury this week, and now they’re hoping to get another winger back now that 22-year-old Frank Vatrano has rejoined the Bruins at practice.

Vatrano was wearing a red no-contact jersey at Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but his presence along with the other players at the team skate means that he’s moving closer toward a return to the B’s lineup. While initial timetables for his recovery from foot surgery had him in the early January range for returning to the Bruins lineup, it appears that he might be at least a couple of weeks ahead of that initial expectation.

Either way Vatrano is happy to be back on the ice with his teammates after the torn ligaments in his foot wiped out his training camp and the first two plus months of the regular season for him.

“It was a big step for me today. It was nice to be out there with the guys for the first time,” said Vatrano, who scored a combined 44 goals last season for Providence and Boston in a breakout season with the B’s organization. “I’ve gone through the rehab and done everything I need to do to get back playing, so now the next step is getting back on the ice with the guys. I felt great, so now it’s just waiting to hear the news when I start playing again.”

While Vatrano is still a young, relatively inexperienced player with just one full year of pro hockey under his belt, the sense from the Bruins is that he’s going to help a team that’s currently ranked 25th in the NHL in offense. Claude Julien was encouraged by seeing him out there in the red, no-contact jersey that his teammates were chirping him about, and said that his level play at last spring’s world championships should give him confidence when he jumps back into a big role with the Black and Gold.

“It’s a step in the right direction for Frank. That’s the best way for him to get to the pace of our game because it’s going to take a while when you’ve been out that long,” said Vatrano. “I think his experience at world championships last year is a real blessing in disguise because he gained a lot of confidence there. I think that’s going to help him a lot more than had he not gone.

“He played against a lot of elite players last year, and he fared really well. I think he’ll be coming in now with some confidence, and we just have to sure coming in that we give him every opportunity to succeed by using him properly, and giving him a chance to find his game.”

That certainly sounds like the Bruins are preparing for a top-6 role and maybe some power play time once the young, sharp-shooting Vatrano is back up to full speed. That should be fun to watch once he’s ready to play, and ready to again unleash that shot and release that rivals anybody else for tops on the Bruins roster. 

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place.