Bruins

Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success

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Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success

WILMINGTON, Mass. The members of the first Bruins Development Camp six years ago still walk down memory lane with the Boston front office about it from time to time.
Milan Lucic will still casually mention to Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney just how tough that first development camp was prior to his solid rookie season with the Boston Bruins.
Clearly that first class of prospects including Lucic and David Krejci was a big success, but the Bruins continue looking for bigger, better, greater ways of doing things in the world of player development.
Weve tried to improve and tweak, and find areas on and off the ice that we can improve on, said Sweeney. Ive talked with Milan Lucic in the past a number of times about how hard the first one was. We didnt have any kind of blueprint to go off of, but our goal was to see how far we could push these kids to get them ready for training camp in September.
What weve found in some of these camps is that the kids emerge from them ready to compete, and have won jobs with the Bruins as a result of it. Thats the ultimate goal.
The Development Camp is the brainchild of Sweeney and has continuously done a remarkable job of getting wave after wave of young players ready for potential calls to the NHL level. Power skating, drills centered around effort and toughness near the net and off-ice bonding sessions have always been staples of the program, and the results are difficult to ignore.
Lucic, Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Jordan Caron, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Hunwick have all developed into NHL players as Bs development camp alumni, and that speaks to both the commendable job drafting by the Bruins scouting department and noticeable improvements in the player development process.
Its an ever-evolving project for the Bs organization, but both the camp and its results speak to the rising stock Sweeney is enjoying while contributing to a Boston brain-trust that includes Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Cam Neely and a group of trusted advisors and scouts.
It may not be this season or even two years from now, but its not difficult to see the Harvard-educated former Bruins defenseman running an NHL program as a general manager.
Nobody makes a team out here this week. Weve been very consistent in saying that, but the impression they make on us and hopefully we make on them is very important. Torey Krug is a good example of that, said Sweeney. He hadnt been at a camp, but we certainly followed and recruited him as a free agent. Thats a good example of how we set up the camp, keep it small in numbers and get to know these kids on a personal level.
Hopefully they get to know us as well, so they can get to know us, get comfortable with us and use us as resources. The questions that they may have should be answered.
Unfortunately Harvard prospect Alex Fallstrom is unable to participate in the on-ice drills due to an injury suffered late in the season while playing for the Crimson, but the other 22 Bs prospects were out on the ice showing the future is indeed bright in Boston while enjoying continuous success at the NHL level.
Dougie Hamilton looks, sounds and acts like a cornerstone NHL defenseman ready to learn at the feet of Bs captain Zdeno Chara, and capable of becoming the same kind of offensedefense hybrid producing 25 quality minutes per game.
Ryan Spooner might need some seasoning and strengthening at the AHL level, but his offensive skills, hands and playmaking were off the charts Thursday afternoon among the best and brightest Bs prospects.
Malcolm Subban was leaping and energetically flying from post-to-post while challenging shooters, and showing the kind of competitiveness and fire Boston is used to seeing between the pipes as six goalies compete throughout camp.
Alex Khokhlachev might have been the most promising forward of all as a 19-year-old Russian that will either be playing in the KHL or the NHL as a skilled scorer already ready to jump to the next level as a teenager.
That doesnt even mention Jared Knight, Matt Grzelcyk, Brian Ferlin, Torey Krug or Tommy Cross as Bs prospects that have stood out in the past, and are fully capable of developing into NHL players someday soon.
The development camp is perhaps one of the best examples the Bruins can put forth about all that they stand for as a hockey organization, and the tough-minded, proud mindset that is the Bruins Way the grinding, blue-collar, hard-edged philosophy that allowed them to win a Cup two seasons ago.
The hockey syllabus ranges from the way Bs players are expected to comport themselves on the ice, the dos and dont of Twitter as an NHL players, and everything in between.
The best part about this camp is that everybody in the organization pitches in, and pulls their own weight from the simplest things like getting lunch to guys running on-ice drills or John Whitesides running the off-ice stuff, said Sweeney. I love that aspect of the camp, and the kids take notice of that and they love it.
Im grateful the organization supports it and everybody chips in. Theres no one way to run it whether its with Matt Chmura preparing them for questions the media might throw at them, or the social media stuff which continues to be an important part of all our lives and has so many twists and turns to it that all these kids need to be exposed to and educated on.
Sweeney and the Bruins have come a long way from that first grueling week in July with a group of fresh-faced Bruins prospects that transformed into bearded Cup champions over the course of five years.
But one thing that will never change: the steady flow of hungry, young hockey players that show up in Wilmington every summer ready to make their mark on a Black and Gold organization ready to embrace them.
Theyre here again in July, and ready to be the next wave of Bruins stars like Lucic, Marchand, Krejci and Seguin before them.

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.

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In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.

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Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.

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Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season. 

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