Peverley brings added ingredient to Bruins

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Peverley brings added ingredient to Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The Bruins first choice this summer to replace Mark Recchi on Patrice Bergerons right wing was the versatile Swiss Army Knife of NHL forwards.

That Swiss Army Knife has a name, and its Rich Peverley.

Hes fast, shifty, creative, hard-nosed, hard-working and responsible in the defensive end of the ice, and Peverley also has all kinds of chemistry with Bergeron and Brad Marchand a fact that was evident to even the hockey neophyte trying to execute the wave in the lower bowl at TD Garden during Bostons 6-3 win over the New York Islanders in the home preseason opener.

Peverley can even take face-offs in the instances when Bergeron is kicked out of the face-off circle, and hell kill penalties and be one of the trusted players out on the ice closing out narrow leads. Armed with all this information Peverley wasnt shying away from his desire to supplant Recchi at the right wing spot.

Well, I think we all know theres competition there for that right wing spot and obviously they play well together, said Peverley, after finishing with a goal and two assists that helped stir up a third period explosion. But I think nothings set in stone. Going forward here it could be anybody.

Peverley had three points in the third period and helped spark the Bs to four unanswered goals en route to the two-goal victory. More importantly he looked like a natural fit with Bergeron and Marchand flying up and down the ice.

Their speed and creativity including Peverleys beauty of a dish from behind the net to Dennis Seidenberg darting to the backdoor on the power play elevated them above every other player on the ice Friday night.

Perhaps it shouldnt have surprised anyone as Peverley had skated with the dynamic Bruins duo at points toward the end of last years regular season.

Peverley also spelled Recchi for occasional shifts during the playoffs as the Bruins coaching staff attempted to reap the most out of that outstanding trio of forwards, so there didnt need to be any grand introductions on the ice. It amounted to a winger with speed and 20-goal potential finding a way to fit with a couple of supremely talented 20-something hockey players.

The game-winning goal made that fact plainly obvious as each forward touched the puck on the play in tic-tac-toe fashion before Marchand flipped a shot past the flabbergasted defense into the open net. It demonstrated an unspoken vibe that all three forwards admitted feeling and enjoying on Friday night.

It also had Bergeron smirking postgame at the thought of starting the season together as the PBM (PeverleyBergeronMarchand) line.

Obviously we're not starting from scratch. You know we've all played some games last year. Peverley has got that speed and he's so smart with the puck. That makes plays easy, said Bergeron. You know whatwe really read each other very well. We didn't talk much on the ice at all.

We were just executing and just reacting and playing with instincts and when you do that, you know it makes the job easy for everyone on the ice.

Though theyve only been together for one highly productive preseason game, its hard to envision Claude Julien experimenting with too many line combinations beyond the one thats already snatched the jackpot.

Tyler Seguin will likely get a look with Bergeron and Marchand as well, and the 19-year-old deserves it after the work and dedication he put into his offseason. Not to mention the similar skill and skating speed he could add to that line himself.
It would also seem that Benoit Pouliot will earn a few reps at some of the top line spots, and skating right wing with fellow French-Canadian Bergeron and Marchand could be a scenario that gets a few chances to work.

Thats all well and good with both young guys deserving a look.

We can look at different things. It will depend on the games and whos in and whos out. Theres no doubt well have a look at our options, said Julien. Weve seen Tyler Seguin at centerit doesnt mean hes going to play there, maybe winger. Hes another guy that can add some speed, but well try to balance things out once we know who those guys are that are going to fill in those spots.

You lose Michael Ryder and you lose Mark Recchi, two guys that play the right side. So we got to be able to see whos going to fit where.

Sure, there will be more than one possible fit for that coveted right wing vacancy on the Bruins.

But its pure hockey folly to step in and separate a trio of forwards that are clicking together with chemistry, instincts and perhaps even a little gift from the hockey gods and Julien isnt going to mess with a good hockey thing after watching how important Bergeron, Marchand and Recchi were to last years Cup win.

It was those three that really hammered home the win over the Canucks in Game 7, and it was that particular line that also plays the shutdown role against the oppositions best offensive players during the season. Thats not an easy job description for three forwards to live up to each and every night, but perhaps Peverley is up for it. A similarly effective line could give the Bs a leg up on the seemingly impossible task of repeating.

The 29-year-old former Flames and Thrashers winger isnt going to camp in front of the net and battle with NHL behemoths like Recchi did before, but the famous Peverley could make the new look line very deadly.

Rex Mark Recchi was very smart and he knew exactly where to go. He liked to be in front of the net, though, and we knew that, said Marchand. So we would just kind of do our thing in the corner and bring it to the net -- and Rex was there.

Peverley is always very creative. Hes quick and smart with the puck, so it just adds another look to our line. Were three quick guys out there and good with the puck, so were making some pretty good plays.

The good plays started in Friday nights preseason opener, but there seems to be a lot more where that came from for the PBM line in the future.

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

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs