Bruins

Gabrielle showing some fourth-line swagger in camp

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Gabrielle showing some fourth-line swagger in camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Jesse Gabrielle didn’t hesitate when asked what his goal was in his first full NHL training camp.

The former fourth-round pick said he’s in camp to win an NHL job with the Bruins right off the bat, so clearly, Gabrielle, 20, doesn’t lack for the confidence he’ll need to do it. He showed a little of the reason behind that swagger on Monday night when he scored one of the three B’s goals in Boston’s 3-2 preseason-opening win over the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec City.

It was a big spot for Gabrielle, who was playing with Noel Acciari and Riley Nash in the kind of fourth line audition for NHL spots that hopefuls must flourish in during camp.

“They’re putting me in a really good spot to show that I can play at this level and hopefully earn a roster spot like I said. I’m just going to go out there and play hockey,” said Gabrielle. “People say I need to find the line and stuff, but [Brad Marchand] did too at this level. I just need to find where that line is and I think management is giving me good feedback on all that stuff.

“I know that I’m really good when I fore-check. When I’m the F1 and really just bearing down and getting in there and hitting people, getting to the net and scoring goals, I can only do that when I’m playing high energy and high pace. I just always want to be the first guy on the puck. [Coach Cassidy] likes guys that can skate, and that’s good for me because I can skate.”

It’s that offensive component combined with his energetic, agitating style that’s drawn comparisons to Marchand throughout his junior career and saw him total 75 goals for Prince George the past two seasons. It’s that same combination of attributes that could make him a dark-horse candidate for the fourth line if he can continue to make things happen each time he’s on the ice.  

From the sound of it, Cassidy is already leaning in a certain direction for his energy line based on last season. Tim Schaller, Riley Nash and Noel Acciari all played significant roles for the Bruins last season and it looks like Sean Kuraly is going to enjoy the inside track for the 13th forward spot based on his strong showing in the NHL postseason.

Gabrielle understands the high volume of quality forwards in camp and the serious competition for the fourth line after the established group really found their vibe late in the season. There’s a pretty good chance Gabrielle begins his pro career at Providence, where he can learn the nuances of being an energy forward at the pro level and figure out where “the line” is before he begins earning an NHL reputation.

He’s not letting that stop him from putting his best skate forward, though, and standing as another in a large group of talented, young forwards showing in camp that they’re close to ready for the prime-time action.

“I think the fourth line role is a good starter for me, and I just play with pace and energy…that’s all I can do,” said Gabrielle. “Camp has gone well. I’m showing that I can play at this level, and hopefully, they see it too. There are a lot of good players here and a lot of guys that can play in the NHL, but only a certain number of spots.

“You’ve just got to try and separate yourself, and show that you can do things that maybe other guys can’t really do. But at the same time, these guys are all my teammates and brothers. They’ll still be my teammates even if I don’t end up starting in Boston. Right now, I’m just focusing on putting my best foot forward.”

Gabrielle is doing that early in camp, but he knows he must keep the pedal pinned to the floor if he’s to become a surprise member of the NHL roster little more than a month from now. 

A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.

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