Bruins

Julien: 'Great chance' Hamilton will make Bruins

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Julien: 'Great chance' Hamilton will make Bruins

ANDOVER, Mass. Claude Julien has made good use of his time while having no hockey club to coach with the NHL in lockout mode.

The Bruins coach and former Jack Adams Award winner has been a regular attendee of both practices and games for the Providence Bruins since camp started at the end of September. He also found time to pay a surprise visit to a girls hockey team at Phillips Andover Academy on Thursday evening, and give the young players a few tips while chatting them up from the bench.

Getting an opportunity to talk to youth hockey players is always great. Today, it was talking to young girls and it kind of reflects on me because I have a daughter thats going to start playing hockey, said Julien. Im really looking forward to that. Just like I told the girls today, its all about having fun at the end of the day.

Julien also just returned from a scouting trip in Canada to watch top prospects Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban play in the OHL. Julien got a chance to see Hamilton up close and personal during last years training camp, but it was his first chance to see the 2012 first-round pick in action between the pipes.

The Bs coach was impressed with Subban, and came away believing that Hamilton has a great chance to play in the NHL this season once the lockout is lifted. The 2011 first-round pick has seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games to start the year with the Niagara IceDogs, and has a plus-8 rating while working as the most dominant defenseman in the entire OHL.

While its always difficult to gauge how NHL-ready a player could possibly be while watching them as a man-among-boys in a junior league, its also difficult to see Hamilton anywhere but Boston once the regular season gets started.

Ive been quite busy. Ive taken advantage of the situation spending most of last week in Providences camp. I also just got back from the road watching our prospects in Canada in the last few days, said Julien. Dougie was very good. Both of them were good, actually. They did a great job of staying focused.

Dougie is such a big player and hes gotten so much stronger. He was just outstanding. It was impressive to see him. Id say he has a great chance to stick in the NHL. Youve got to give the player a chance to show that he can, and sometimes you dont know until he goes up against stronger players. But what I saw told me that he deserves the opportunity. Id lean more toward him having a great chance to crack the Bruins lineup than not.

Hamilton is already expected to report to Boston from Niagara as soon as the NHL lockout is lifted, and Juliens assessment of his skills simply reinforces that its Dougies roster spot to lose on the defensemen corps.

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor-league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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