Bruins

Malcolm Subban getting back on Bruins' prospect radar

boston-bruins-malcolm-subban-92617.jpg

Malcolm Subban getting back on Bruins' prospect radar

BOSTON – Malcolm Subban needed a strong training camp performance in order to get himself back on the radar as an NHL prospect for the Bruins and the former first-round pick has accomplished that this month. In what may be his final appearance of the preseason, the 23-year-old Subban stopped 24 of the 26 shots and made 14 saves in the third period to lead the Bruins to a 4-2 win over a not-ready-for-prime-time Chicago Blackhawks lineup Monday night at TD Garden.

Subban was at his best in the third period protecting a slim Bruins lead and showing off some of the athletic skills that have always made him an intriguing prospect if the technique can ever catch to the natural talent. Afterward, it was pretty clear that Subban was laser-focused headed into the B’s final home game of the preseason and perhaps sending a message that nobody should forget about him after a couple of disastrous Boston appearances already on his NHL resume.

It certainly was a feel-good moment when he stuffed a series of chances for the Blackhawks, including a full extension kick-save stop on Erik Gustafsson and a couple of good reaction stops on Brandon Saad while scrambling around the front of his crease. Then Subban heard some love from the Bruins fans that saw him get pulled from his only Boston appearance last season and have watched him veer dangerously close to the “bust” category entering his fifth pro season.

 “Obviously it felt really good to hear the fans and stuff. But I just try to stay focused and dialed in," Subban said. "Obviously, it’s kind of hard sometimes. But I just try to stay focused like I said, stay dialed in and get the win and finish strong. I’m just trying to play my game and work hard. Hopefully, everybody sees that.”

The decision with Subban isn’t exactly an easy one for the Bruins but they likely don’t have a choice in the matter. He’ll need to pass through waivers if/when the Bruins cut him from camp and it’s hard to imagine they’ll carry three goalies on the NHL roster (Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin and Subban). The Bruins organization had already seemingly made peace with potentially losing him for nothing after leaving him unprotected in the Vegas expansion draft over the summer, but this preseason gives everybody a little hope that Subban could turn into a late-blooming goaltender prospect.

Certainly, the Bruins coaching staff came away impressed with Subban’s play after a bit of a sloppy first goal allowed to Saad. His presence as one of the final three goalies in camp speaks to how he’s played in the preseason as well.

”You get limited viewing in training camp, you only get a game, a game and a half, so you have to make the best of it, [Subban] did tonight. He was very good. The first goal was a hell of a tip,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “He got caught pulling off the post a bit, but he was rock solid after that. The other goal that beat him was a great shot. We had some breakdowns at different times in the game. Specifically, late there where it could have been scary, but he did his job. He was good. [We’re] very pleased with him.”  

It would appear at this point in camp at the NHL jobs are locked up with Rask and Khudobin as the goaltending tandem to start the season, but give credit to Subban for coming to an important training camp ready and focused to get himself back on the B’s prospect radar.

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

claude-julien-e1460337585663.jpg

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

BRIGHTON, Mass – The resume for Claude Julien speaks for itself in terms of greatness in Boston, so he certainly will get a warm ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first visit back to Boston since getting fired last February. Julien coached the Boston Bruins for 10 years, won a franchise record 419 games over that time span, made it to the Cup Finals twice and of course hoisted the Cup in 2011.

It won’t matter that he’s now the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens when Julien gets his video tribute, and basks a long ovation similar to the one he received when he was recognized for passing Art Ross on the B’s all-time wins list a couple of season ago. The warmth will be a little weird in the middle of a Bruins/Canadiens rivalry game, but it’s clear that Bruins fans appreciate the job done by Julien for such a long period of time.

The mutual respect was also clear when players like Patrice Bergeron spoke warmly of their coach ahead of last weekend’s showdown in Montreal, which the Bruins eventually pulled out in a shootout at the Bell Centre.

But it would seem the Bruins are starting to get a little tired of tossing verbal bouquets at the guy that’s now behind the Habs bench. It all started with Tuukka Rask’s postgame reaction on Saturday when asked if there was any extra emotion going up against his old coach for the first time.

“He was not playing a shift on the ice, so it doesn’t really matter. He was coaching, so it was nothing special,” said Rask, matter-of-factly.

So there wasn’t any added emotion for Rask going up against Julien’s new team for the first time?

“Nope,” said Rask.   

That line of questioning continued again after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Julien coming back to the Garden for the first time.

“Well, I can tell you what’s going to happen,” said Rask. “We’re going to start the game, at some point there’s going to be a video montage, we’re going to tap our sticks and the crowd is going to clap their hands and give him a warm welcome. Then the game is going to continue.”

Does Rask expect either he or some of his longtime teammates will get emotional if they see Julien showing some emotion during his ovation?

“No,” said Rask.

Is it really that cut-and-dry, the Bruins goaltender was asked?  

“It’s just another game,” said Rask, who improved to 8-15-3 lifetime against the Montreal Canadiens after last weekend’s shootout win. “It’s probably special for him to come back and be on the other side, but for us it’s just another game.”

Similarly, Marchand was much more understated speaking about Julien on Tuesday after speaking enthusiastically last weekend about the many discussions player and coach had about “becoming a better a pro” early in his career. But the Bruins winger wasn’t about to get all warm and fuzzy when asked about any greeting that his former coach is expected to get while the legendary Bruins/Habs rivalry plays out on the ice.

“I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m sure he is,” said Marchand, when asked about the fan reception from Bruins fans awaiting Julien on Wednesday night. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but I’m sure he’s excited to come back. He’s deserved that video and I’m sure a lot of people will be excited to see him again. I’m sure it will be a memorable game.”

Marchand went on to say he "learned a lot" from Julien during their time together, and clearly still has a high level of respect for his former coach. 

 Maybe it’s the very nature of the Bruins/Habs rivalry, or maybe the Bruins players are suffering from a little Claude Julien question fatigue with the two teams playing three times in a span of eight days. Maybe we're even finally seeing some of the Bruins players that had tired of the longtime coach's methods by the end of his long-running tenure in Boston. 

But it sure sounds like some longtime Bruins players might be over it when it comes to the “Claude Bowl” aspect of the ongoing rivalry week between the two storied rivals.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

columbus-blue-jackets-jack-johnson-11618.jpg

Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.

*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.

*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.

*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.

*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season

*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.

*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.

*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE