Bruins

Beleskey gets his groove back, and Bruins are delighted

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Beleskey gets his groove back, and Bruins are delighted

BRIGHTON -- After the most disappointing season of his NHL career, Matt Beleskey has turned a summer of motivated work into a training camp of results.

The 29-year-old was at a bit of a crossroads with the Bruins after a knee injury, and the associated conditioning issues, dropped him to three goals and eight points with a minus-10 in 49 games.

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Beleskey was talked about in trade rumors and left unprotected in this summer's expansion draft. Some even wondered if the Bruins might attempt to buy out the final three years of his contract. But Beleskey wound up staying, and was determined to put in the hard offseason work necessary to get back to his previous level of hard-nosed, maximum-effort play.

So far it's worked. In training camp Beleskey was a gritty, physical player able to keep up with the high-tempo pace and make the subtle plays -- screening in front of the net, forcing mistakes on the forecheck -- while adding occasional offense as well. It was the Beleskey that the Bruins needed to see in camp amid a highly competitive group of forwards, and he’s satisfied with the way things played out now that the regular season is around the corner.

It would be a huge benefit to the B's if he can get back to the guy that parlayed his hard-nosed approach into 15 goals and 37 points in 80 games during his first season in Boston.

“It’s a good start. It’s what I came back to do,” said Beleskey of his promising showing in camp. “Now it’s the real thing and time to get going. I don’t know how to explain it, but you just feel better. You feel that work you put in, and you feel faster getting to pucks and taking advantage of opportunities.

“It’s good to see the work pay off, but it’s just the beginning. I’m excited to be where we’re at and now it’s just time to get going.”

The one big question is where he'll will fit into the mix up front. Beleskey could be a quick fix for a top-6 left wing spot if Jake DeBrusk struggles out of the gate with David Krejci, but it looks like he’s destined to start on the bottom-6 until he shows that his offensive game is all the way back. Beleskey skated at left wing on the third line with Ryan Spooner and David Backes at Tuesday’s practice ahead of opening night, and that’s the kind of spot where he’s likely to begin the season.

No matter where he’s positioned to start the season, the good news is that the Beleskey of two years ago looks to be back with his pounding physicality, high energy and offense that’s a little better than you might expect.

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Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

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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.  

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Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

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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.


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