Young Bruins impress in developmental camp

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Young Bruins impress in developmental camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON It was a brief respite to be sure, but little more than a month after capturing the Stanley Cup the Bruins were back on the ice at their practice facility in Ristuccia Arena.

It wasnt the Cup-winning Bs, of course. They have scattered to the four corners of the earth for the next six weeks before they have to return for training camp in September. But the baby Bs have taken their place.

First-round pick Dougie Hamilton took his first twirls in a Bruins uniform, promising forwards Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner returned a year bigger, stronger and determined to make a push for a roster spot, and Bs fans got their first look at the man they call Koko 2011 second-round draft pick and Russian winger Alexander Khokhlachev.

Knight and Spooner showed off the sizzling wrist shots that caught the eyes of the Bruins staff last fall during training camp, and Knight in particular looked like hes packed on some muscle for an important training camp. The 2010 second round pick has even taken up triathlons this summer as a way to vary his conditioning and exercise while getting ready for a run at a Bs roster spot.

Knight, 19, showed he can take the puck toward the cage with force, and the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder smashed into goalie Michael Hutchinson in the biggest collision on the ice during the entire Thursday afternoon practice session.

Your hopes are that everybody gets away healthy, first of all, said Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney. Obviously Jared drives to the net and its probably typical. I was talking to Doug and Marc Cantin, two guys in the OHL, and it wasnt any surprise to them that it was Knight who ran into Hutch Michael Hutchinson. But Mikes fine and Jareds not going to change his game.

"I think overall we have fresh faces in here, we have some older guys who are returning -- and you hope that you blend that together right away. Maybe some of the older guys kind of, you know, give them a little heads-up because some of these kids are coming in here wide-eyed. You tell them that the Bruins are here to learn about you, youre here to learn about the Bruins and how we do things, and then learn about yourself and where you need to go between now and September. Wherever youre going to go play we want you to be a sponge throughout the course of the week. There are a lot of teaching moments that happen throughout the course of this week that you should really file away and learn from.

Hamilton drew the biggest crowd around his locker stall immediately after the first day of practice, but despite all the fanfare, its pretty clear he knows theres a long road of development ahead of him. He showed off the smooth skating ability and the powerful shot, but he said that theres plenty to do before hes ready to make a run at an NHL roster spot.

I definitely have to get stronger. Ive grown a lot in the last few years in my bantam year I was 5-foot-9, 145-pounds and that was four or five years ago and get used to that, said Hamilton. There are times when youre a little uncoordinated, and Im just trying to fill out into my body. There are a lot of college guys here and Im a little undeveloped while being one of the youngest guys here. But Im happy for my own personal goals and what Ive done.

You learn about yourself. You learn about what you need to improve on. I think the coaches are going to help me out, and show me some things that I can incorporate and work on for the rest of the summer. Thats what Im trying to do.

While its always difficult to gauge defensemen during development camp drills, Sweeney liked what he was of the youngster as he makes first impressions with the Boston staff this week.

Hes a big boy. He moves really well for a kid thats 6-foot-4. I like his overall approach to the game. He looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play, said Sweeney. Its a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, hes a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development. Were really excited to have him.

There is plenty of excitement about the entire next wave of Bs players represented at the development camp this week, and thats big news considering 18 members of the defending Stanley Cup champs will be returning for another kick at the Cup next season.

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

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden. 

Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

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Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It’s been a long month of bag skates and lonely practices for Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow.

That’s about to change thanks to injuries to both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller, who are both not expected to be able to play against the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon at TD Garden. That means Morrow will be in the B’s lineup for the first time since a Dec. 12 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a span of 16 consecutive B’s games that the 24-year-old has been watching from the press box.

Morrow skated in a pairing with John-Michael Liles in Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Monday’smatinee, and obviously he’s looking forward to getting back into games given this season’s sporadic practice schedule.

“[Playing well after sitting for long stretches] isn’t necessarily something you want to be good at, but if you are good at then it’s a good tool to have in your bag. It’s a confident feeling that I’ll be able to come in [and play well],” said Morrow, who has an assist and a minus-3 rating in 13 games for the Black and Gold this season. “I’ve stayed in good shape and worked hard in practice, and that’s all I can do up until this point.

“Put simply, [this year’s compacted schedule] is exhausting. Countless times I’ve skated by myself, and anybody would tell you there’s nothing harder than skating by yourself on a sheet of ice. Mentally and physically it’s just exhausting. There haven’t been many practices and there haven’t been many game-type situations in the practices we do have. Skating with the whole team is almost like a pregame skate scenario. But you’re still skating every day, so it’s putting it upon yourself to go out there and stay ready for things.”

The one issue for Morrow, a former first round pick, over the last couple of seasons has been maintaining a high level of play once he draws his way into the lineup. It feels like there’s a drop-off in his play once he’s played a few games in a row whether it’s physical mistakes or mental lapses in his play, and that’s something he wants to avoid when given an opportunity to suit up.

“I feel like when I have played this year that I’ve been quite consistent and that I’ve played well,” said Morrow, the last remaining part of the 2013 Tyler Seguin trade still in a Bruins uniform. “I’m just in a situation that the cards are playing out the way that they are, so it depends on how many games I get whether it’s one, two, 30 or however many games are left [in the season]. It’s realistically entirely up to me. If I can shake the rust out in the first couple of shifts and start from there, it’s going to be a big positive in my book. It’s the really the only option I have left now.”

Given that Colin Miller began skating on his own on Sunday morning, it might not be a very big window for Morrow to impress upon the coaches just how badly he wants to play. But one would expect he’s going to bring his best on Monday against the Isles with the hopes that it will be somebody else sitting up in the press box when it once again becomes a D-man numbers game for the 7-8 players for six lineup spots.