Bruins

Khokhlachev to KHL in Russia 'not set in stone'

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Khokhlachev to KHL in Russia 'not set in stone'

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins havent given up hope that Alex Khokhlachev is off to the Mother Russia and the KHL next season, even after the forwards Windsor Spitfires GM said last week it was basically a fait accompli.

The 19-year-old Russian prospect and 2011 second-round pick will attend Bruins training camp in September, and could stay in North America should he make the NHL club. Thats not completely out of the realm of possibility given Kokos talent and his ability to stand out last season among the best Bs players in regular training camp.

Koko dominated the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires over the last two years, and hes looking for a bigger challenge next season whether its the KHL or the NHL level.

We expect Koko to develop whether its playing in the KHL or playing over here, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. If he makes our team out of training camp then hell be playing here in Boston. So I dont think its set in stone.

Weve charted out a path of where hell be. Hes intrigued by playing at higher levels. I think we saw in World Juniors that when hes playing with better players that it elevates his game. We saw that in training camp last year and he just got better and better as we went from rookie camp to exhibition games.

Sweeney didnt confirm that Koko would be headed to the KHL if he doesnt make the Bruins, and deferred to GM Peter Chiarelli as the final authority on the Koko subject.

But the likelihood remains that hell be playing for his fathers Spartak team in the KHL next season. That would be Khokhlachevs plan if he doesnt make the Bruins out of camp. At 19 years old, he's too young to play in the AHL for the Providence Bruins next season.

That would leave the Bruins only until June 1, 2013 to sign Khokhlachev before they would surrender his draft rights, and thats something GM Peter Chiarelli and his front office would like to avoid given Khokhlachev's considerable upside.

He has that skill level to be able to do elevate to the highest levels of hockey, said Sweeney. Its the same things as with Ryan Spooner, its about acquiring the strength and the habits between now and training camp. Whether he can do that remains to be seen.

If theres a work stoppage that wipes out Bs regular training camp, then the Bruins brass might never see Koko this fall. But thats a story for another day. For now, the chances are slim that he can bypass the KHL by cracking the Bruins squad.

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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