Bruins

Hagg Bag, Summer Edition: Will the kids be all right?

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Hagg Bag, Summer Edition: Will the kids be all right?

With the Bruins in the middle of the NHL dead zone for activity and offseason transactions, there isn’t much that’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks. The draft and first waves of free agency are well into the rear view mirror, and there won’t be another wave of veteran free-agent signings for another couple weeks once camps are almost at hand. Certainly, the ongoing negotiations between the B’s and David Pastrnak is something to think about, but there’s a very real possibility that doesn’t get resolved until camp has arrived in September.

Perhaps it goes even longer than that, so there will be plenty of time to dissect the pros and cons of the negotiations while it’s happening. So, with that in mind, let’s open up the summer Hagg Bag mailbag and let things air out for a while. As always, these are real tweets to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag, emails to my account at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com and messages to my CSN Facebook page.

Without further ado, on to the bag:

B’s should've drafted DeBrincat over [Trent Frederic]. Higher ceiling but risky due to his size & speed. Pure sniper though. Chicago didn’t hesitate

--Jeff Almeida (@almeida022680)

JH: Yeah, this is one that we’ll have to see how it plays out. Frederic is coming off a very strong freshman season at the University of Wisconsin and he looked better at this summer’s World Junior Summer Showcase than he did last season. You see a little more skill and willingness to make plays with the puck, but he still looks to me like a third-line, big-bodied center that isn’t going to be a major offense producer in the NHL. He certainly is big and strong, has good leadership skills and plays with tenacity. He gets a lot of the important D-zone face-offs for Team USA late in games when it can mean the difference between a win and a loss, and there’s something to be said for that.

But the only way I want a first-round pick used is if Frederic turns into a David Backes-type player. If he’s a 12-goal, 40-point guy who plays a good, hard, two-way game, then that’s somebody you can find in the second or third round. Alex DeBrincat led all of junior hockey in points last season and was selected in the first few picks of the second round in 2016 after Frederic went at the end of the first. He may never pan out at 5-foot-7, but I like that the Blackhawks took a risk on a player with high skill who could pay off in a Johnny Gaudreau or Tyler Johnson kind of way. It’s the same philosophy of going high-risk, high-reward in taking Kailer Yamomoto in this summer’s first round rather than playing it safe with two-way defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. The Bruins have started getting conservative with their first-round picks even though they’re loaded with prospects. That’s now how I’d be running things if I were them.

Hey Joe, have there been any talks between Stafford's camp and the Bruins for a new contract?

--Matt McGuirk

JH: There’s been an open line of communication between Stafford and the Bruins, but it looks like he might be one of those players who needs to go into an camp on a tryout basis. There may be a big group of those types headed into fall and perhaps he could come back to Boston in that kind of a capacity. A veteran like that would be good insurance in case many of the young wingers aren’t ready for prime time once big- boy camp starts, but I don’t want to see a guaranteed contract for Stafford potentially blocking the way for Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen.   

What are your thoughts?

--Angry Grampa (@angrygrampa603)

JH: Remarkably few and far between.

 
Who do you think will make the jump from the ahl to nhl from providence?

-Dylan (@dylana45)

JH: I think Jake DeBrusk will get a long look in training camp and might get a chance with David Krejci if the Bruins opt for Anders Bjork on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. If I had to guess, I don’t think Zach Senyshyn will be ready for NHL duty right off the hop this fall. I also wouldn’t rule out Danton Heinen stepping up and riding the momentum he built up over the second half of last season in Providence. He was a stud in the playoffs for the P-Bruins but he needs to be much more assertive with NHL players than he was last season. Most nights in played in Boston, you didn’t even notice him out on the ice.

what excites u most about #ThorRagnarok, #BlackPanther & #AvengersInfinityWar ?

--Thomas Deon (@tdeon26)

JH: I honestly wasn’t a big Thor fan growing up, but I have liked his standalone movies and look forward to him having a space buddy movie with Hulk. Plus, I dig that they’re introducing Hela and Valkyrie in this one too. I was sold at the trailer. I’m certain I’ll love Black Panther and Infinity War as well, but that’s the one I’m most looking forward to see until I get a better look at some of the Infinity War teasers and trailers.  

Joe, when do you think you'll have a positive comment on anything bruins?

--Bruins4life (BackusDaryl)

JH: Check back around January, and we’ll see where I’m at. BTW, I was glowingly positive about the step this Bruins team took in getting back into the playoffs along with the prospect waves that are strengthening the roster. Maybe you should read and listen a little bit more often? Or you could possibly thank me calling them like I see them when it came to the need for a coaching change last season? Those kinds of changes don’t always happen if the media are a bunch of Black and Gold pompom-waving cheerleaders, or when super-fans like you are afraid of asking the tough questions. Just a thought.

Do you think the Bruins still have an eye on adding a top four defenseman, possibly during preseason from a team close to the cap?

--Corey (@cheaward)

JH: If I were to give an educated guess, I think the Bruins will go into the regular season with what they currently have for defensemen. They’ll take a look at Kevan Miller on his left side playing with Charlie McAvoy as a pairing. Perhaps they’ll even try Torey Krug with McAvoy as well in a super-puck moving pair. I have my doubts that Krug-McAvoy could survive defensively with the right shot D-man still in his NHL infancy, but I also think he’s capable of rising to the occasion when he faces challenges with the Black and Gold.

If those combos don’t work out over the first few months of the season, then you’ll see Don Sweeney and the Bruins step up their top-four defenseman search in earnest. Or perhaps somebody like Jakub Zboril will be ready for NHL duty after spending some development time at the AHL level? I don’t think another rookie or young D-man is the answer, though, with 19-year-old McAvoy and 20-year-old Carlo already among their top-6. They need a young, veteran two-way defenseman that can keep up with McAvoy and potentially play a lot of minutes. Those guys don’t come cheap. That’s exactly why it’s an ongoing search for Sweeney and the B’s that feels like a perpetually unfulfilled thing. 

Who do you think gets cast as Adam Warlock in GotG3?

--Dan Noonan (@dnoonan222)

JH: I was out of my comic book-reading prime by the time the Infinity War came along, so I’m not super-familiar with Adam Warlock beyond his look and the fact he played a major role in that storyline. But given what I know I’d say perhaps like Brad Pitt, or maybe the actor that plays Jaime Lannister on "Game of Thrones". I’m really interested to see what role he plays in Guardians, and if that plays out into something greater in the MCU.

Joe how much do you think the Bruins are going to rely on McAvoy this year? Fans expectations are high but he is still a rookie

--Struzz15 (@struzz15)

JH: I think the Bruins are counting on McAvoy to be a top-four defenseman who can play in all situations right off the bat. I think there will be ups and downs for him in his first full pro hockey season, but getting his feet wet in the playoffs was a huge NHL orientation program for him. I think it’s still a little premature to expect great things from McAvoy and Carlo this season as they’re still developing as young players, but you can see that Boston’s back end is going to be a huge strength of this team a couple of years down the road.

As a B’s public service announcement, I think it’s best if Bruins fans back off the expectations for McAvoy a bit this season and let him gradually grow into the elite No. 1 defenseman that his skills indicate he can be.

Terrible trade. Whats 2 2nds worth? A guy like JB55 or a guy like Brett Connolly? These players are not at the same level. #assetmanagement

--Top Corner (@TopCornerShot99)

JH: Thanks for reminding me. I was just starting to forget about that one. There’s some negativity for Mr. Positive from a few questions ago.  

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.

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