Bruins on defense as they prepare for this month's draft

Bruins on defense as they prepare for this month's draft

BUFFALO -- The bad news for the Bruins: There isn’t a consensus No. 1 defenseman in this year’s crop of draft-eligible players, a major Boston need with Zdeno Chara turning 40 this season.

The good news: It appears there'll be a number of top-4, puck-moving defense prospects available when the Bruins make the 14th overall choice in the first round. They'll probably get a player who will assist them in transforming their roster a couple of years down the road, when the draft class of 2016 starts breaking into the NHL ranks.

One of the mobile, puck-moving defensemen the Bruins have in their sights is New Westminster, British Columbia native Dante Fabbro, who has committed to Boston University next season.

“[Boston] is a cool city. It was definitely one of the reasons why I’m going there, but the big thing is the hockey and the coaching, and the recruits coming in,” said Fabbro, who said he expected to at least stick with the Terriers for a couple of years before turning pro. “I’m just blessed to be going to a great school in an obviously great city.

“I did interview with the Bruins [at last weekend's Draft Combine], but it’s one of those things where you don’t know what they’re thinking. I’m just grateful to come in here, get to work out and get a chance to do all of this. I’ll be getting to school in July to take classes and start workouts, and I’m just looking forward to getting settled in and comfortable there.”

Fabbro’s name has been linked to the Bruins more than most others in the weeks leading up to the draft, even more so than current BU blueliner and fellow first-round prospect Charlie McAvoy. Fabbro, 17, is coming off a junior hockey season where he posted 14 goals and 67 points in 45 games for the Penticton Vees -- one of his teammates was fellow prospect Tyson Jost -- while keeping his college hockey eligibility intact.

Fabbro can move the puck smoothly, has a sturdy frame (6 feet, 184 pounds) ready to take on more size and strength, and boasts the kind of playmaking skills and willingness to work at both ends of the ice that the Bruins covet. His puck-moving abilities, keen hockey instincts and knack for generating offense have drawn comparisons to another cornerstone BU defenseman that the Bruins have been linked to over the last couple of years.

“To me, he reminds me of Kevin Shattenkirk at exactly the same stage in his hockey career prior to his heading to Boston University,” said one veteran NHL talent evaluator. “He can do it all offensively, will be a productive power-play guy at the NHL level and will have enough size to play competitively at both ends of the ice. Fabbro plays with a great pace to his game, and is always looking for opportunities to push the puck. I really like his game.”

The aforementioned qualities are exactly what attracted Boston University to the British Columbia native in the first place, and could give the Terriers a pair of first-round picks on defense next season in the solid McAvoy and the explosive Fabbro.

Fabbro is at least a year or two away from being NHL-ready, and he aims to make even more gains in the skating and strength departments during his time on Commonwealth Avenue. He sounds excited that the Bruins appear interested in him, and his attitude fits right in with the B’s philosophy of tracking down complete players.

“There are a lot of guys: [Drew] Doughty, [Duncan] Keith and [Shea] Weber,” said Fabbro, when asked who he models his game after. “I’m a Ryan McDonagh-kind of guy. I just like to play that two-way style, be a leader and a captain and be that offensive guy while also shutting down top lines.

“Everybody is a great player here [at the Combine], and there’s a reason why they’re here. It’s just one of those things where subtle differences can separate somebody going top-10 from top-20 or top-30. I’m just looking to be myself, and to come in here and make an impression with teams. I’m just grateful to be here. Not a lot of kids get to enjoy this opportunity.”

Fabbro grew up a Canucks fan in BC, but says he doesn’t hold any grudges over the nasty 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Good thing, because if the Bruins select him he'd become a big part of their rebuilding plans going forward.

With a goal, of course, of getting back to the level where you make enemies of opposing fan bases . . . like Vancouver's.

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

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Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

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