Haggerty: 10 thoughts from Bruins-Capitals

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Haggerty: 10 thoughts from Bruins-Capitals

BOSTON -- Here are ten thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Capitals off to a scoreless start after the first 40 minutes of action at TD Garden.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Vicious hit by Jason Chimera on Adam McQuaid that immediately set the big defenseman down to the ice covering his head and face. McQuaid actually turned his back toward Chimera at the last instant and didnt seem to see him coming with his head down, but Chimera took upwards of 10 strides and high speed before leveling the defenseman once his back was to him. Coming in way too fast with recklessness on a textbook charging call, and Chimera gets bounced from the game. Would expect hes going to hear from Brendan Shanahan after that hit for same reasons Andrew Ference got banged with a suspension. McQuaid left with an apparent cut on his head after he was down on the ice for a while. Would be stunned if hes not concussed.

2) Tomas Vokoun sees a handful of shots and then is gone with what might have been an aggravation of his groin injury. Michael Neuvirth back into the mix for the Capitals between the pipes, but it isnt going to make much difference if theres almost no offense being generated.

3) Alex Ovechkin has one shot and less than four minutes of ice time in the first period. Didnt even notice him out therethats how invisible hes been tonight.

4) Good chances for Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic among their seven shots on net, but not enough dirty work being done around the net right now.

5) So far, so good with Joe Corvo.

SECOND PERIOD

1) Adam McQuaid wont return to the game after taking a hit from behind by Jason Chimera in the first period, and the Bruins are already without Dennis Seidenberg heading into tonight. All of a sudden their depth is being tested and they might actually need Torey Krug to play. Clearly Mike Mottau should be getting call this weekend if McQuaid is hurt, but wouldnt that make things interesting?

2) Nine shots on net for the Capitals and their player skating with the most desperation (Jason Chimera) was tossed after a dangerous charge into Adam McQuaid. Amazing to watch how Washington looks like theyve basically packed it in this weekend.

3) Seven hits combined for Johnny Boychuk and Greg Zanon. Both players throwing the body around, and Milan Lucic rocked Troy Brouwer with a hit against the side boards midway through the period. It looks like the Bs are starting to crank up the physicality and hate a little bit. Good defense by the Bruins holding the Capitals to nine shots on net in another impressive job choking the offense out of the opposition.

4) Great stat by WEEI.coms Michael Berger, Bruins are 1-14-1 when held scoreless through two periods this season. That doesnt exactly bode well tonight for their chances to clinch a playoff spot.

5) One shot on net and no hits for Alex Ovechkin in 13 plus minutes of ice time through the first two periods. Not much of a visible factor at all. That seems to be the story for his entire season, doesnt it?

Jae Crowder: Bucks came out and "hit us in the mouth" early, good test

Jae Crowder: Bucks came out and "hit us in the mouth" early, good test

Jae Crowder and Brad Stevens react to the Celtics loss to the Bucks on Wednesday night, followed by Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine talking about where this loss leaves Boston in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Haggerty: Bruins plan to take it slow with McAvoy, unless . . .

Haggerty: Bruins plan to take it slow with McAvoy, unless . . .

BRIGHTON -- Nobody doubts that 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy is going to be a game-changer down the road for the Boston Bruins.

The Boston University sophomore, expected to be in the NHL next season, is the crown jewel of a draft-and-development movement led by general manager Don Sweeney over the last three years. And if McAvoy hits the ground running with the Providence Bruins over the weekend, he may even make his NHL debut with the Bruins sometime in the next 10 days, even though playing in as much as a single game with Boston this season would burn a year off his entry-level contract.

"[The NHL] is still to be determined. It will be contract first and [the AHL] as a good first step for us," said Sweeney after signing McAvoy to an ATO (Amateur Tryout Agreement). "He's made the decision to leave [college] and we're excited about that process. It leaves some options open [for McAvoy], but first and foremost gets him playing and acclimated to pro hockey."

But there's also the reality that a 19-year-old like McAvoy is going to face challenges in pro hockey. Mastering the defenseman position at the NHL level is an extremely complicated process. It's the reason we see a lot more teenage forwards take the league by storm than teenage D-men, who typically need more development time in the AHL to hone their skills at both ends of the rink.

"[The challenge] would be getting him to figure out what works at this level and what doesn't, just like if he were in Providence," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy about the theoretical possibility of McAvoy playing in Boston soon. "We've used seven defensemen here over the last eight weeks and they've done a good job for us, so we'd have to see where he fit in and go from there . . . I've seen him here and there, but I don't know enough about his individual game at this point to know what he would specifically need to do . . .

"[Defense] is a tougher position in the NHL because mistakes are magnified. If you're a forward you've got another layer of defense to support you, so you can get away with some of that stuff. I think that's why you see generally that most of the rookies that age in the NHL are forwards."

Torey Krug signed with the Bruins out of college five years ago and had a one-game cameo with them before spending the entire next season in Providence. Krug says now that, looking back, he knows he wasn't ready to play in the NHL coming out of school and needed a season to sort things out defensively against bigger, stronger, smarter and faster opponents.

"The speed itself wasn't much of an issue, but if you fall asleep even for a second it's going to turn into a scoring chance for the other team," Krug said of the adjustment from college hockey to the NHL. "These games are not easy to play in, even for veterans in the league . . .

"I thought offensively I was ready [right away], but defensively I had a lot to learn. It's a tough league to play in. Offensively it was fun, but defensively I had my share of hiccups realizing I had to go down to Providence to work on some things."

McAvoy isn't expected to follow Krug's path. He'll get development opportunities at the AHL level at the end of this season just like fellow young D-man Brandon Carlo, who used last spring's AHL experience to vault directly into the NHL this season as a 19-year-old playing top-four minutes right from opening night.

It's also the track taken by Zach Werenski last year with the Columbus Blue Jackets. An AHL playoff run fully prepped him for his breakout season as the league's best rookie defenseman.

"It's a long time ago, but I used that [ATO] myself as a benefit and I've always been an advocate of it, and I think Robbie O'Gara, Danton Heinen and Carlo all [did it]," said Sweeney. "All the players that have been able to come on and play at a very high level against men, generally in a playoff stretch drive or the playoffs themselves, it's a unique [experience].

"When you first turn pro, you're introduced to it at a really high level and you have to adjust to it on the fly. It's about structure and understanding the voices you're hearing. And reading and reacting at the pro level are all very important [skills]. [I think] it's a great on-the-job training exercise and right now Brandon is the best example of it. He's been able to jump into our lineup this year, and that's a testament to him and also the work he did last year."

So the Bruins should take their time with McAvoy, though also allow that he could be a dominant exception to the rule and become a force right out of the chute. It certainly appears Sweeney is going to leave that door ajar,  to make sure the Bruins don't miss out on anything with a young defenseman who's already drawn comparisons to Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty.