Bruins

Notes: Julien excited about Pouliot, Corvo acquisitions

191545.jpg

Notes: Julien excited about Pouliot, Corvo acquisitions

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The connection between Claude Julien and Michael Ryder is well established.

Ryder played for the Bruins coach during his final season with the Hull Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior League and for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL, and then during both stints with the Montreal Canadiens and the Bruins. The enigmatic Ryder has enjoyed some excellent seasons under Julien, but hes also been head-scratching in his inconsistency under the familiar coach.

But they had always been together and they eventually won the Stanley Cup last season as coach and player, with Ryder summoning some clutch performances during the postseason after an underwhelming regular season campaign. So it was natural to ask the coach if there was any adjustment without one of his normal hockey pupils ready to take orders after Ryder agreed to a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars.

Ive done it before and for Michael he went out and got himself a contract that gave him some security, said Julien. You have to respect that for him and from players at this stage of their careers. I guess they get into their thirties and Tomas Kaberle is the same thing. He got himself a nice three year deal.

You have to respect that sometimes. You try and keep those guys but at the same time new blood is never a bad thing into your lineup. Michael has been extremely good for us, especially in the playoffs. I dont think hes ever disappointed in the playoffs. His seasons hes had some ups and downs, but his playoffs were good enough that someones giving him another opportunity. So he moves on and so do we. We bring in another player that we think can certainly help our hockey club.

The other player that Julien is referring to, of course, is former Habs winger Benoit Pouliot, but Jordan Caron is expected to compete for the open winger spot as well along with a youngster like Jared Knight. Caron became a Julien favorite in no time at all last fall after the Bs coach watched him perform in development camp and he made the team out of regular training camp in September.

So it could be one Julien favorite replacing another if Caron gets the bulk of the playing time headed into next season, but Pouliot is certainly going to get a long look after signing a 1.1 million deal with the Bs. Julien went so far as to draw a Pouliot parallel with Nathan Horton as an underachieving player that might find a little more success with Bostons structure, coaching staff and talented roster.

Hes actually a kid that grew up maybe fifteen, twenty minutes away from where I grew up. So Ive seen him enough and know enough about him. I think hes going to be a really good acquisition, Julien said. I think his skill level is extremely high. I know that a lot of people seem to think that he underachieved. We feel that we probably will be able to give him a better opportunity here with the space thats open for him.

From what I saw when he played for Montreal, there were times where he was really physical. We saw him get in a fight with David Krejci but also involved in the corners and then being physically engaged I guess. I think in this surrounding here in Boston knowing hes got good support and our team has everybodys back, I think that its even going to be even a better situation for him. But at the same time we expect him to come in and demonstrate his skills and use his skills that everybody seems to think he has. Im really optimistic about him.

The Bs coach was also excited about the potential switch of Kaberle for Joe Corvo, and the skills that the well-traveled veteran defenseman could bring to the table in Boston.

I think you know you look at Corvo whos got a really good shot," Julien said. "Hes a player that may be a little bit more physical and more engaged. Were going to have to work with him as far as making him understand the way we play here. I think the way we play will certainly help him a little bit. Because we dont want him running around . . . we want him playing well positionally. He skates well and hell move the puck well.

Claude Julien said that hes only managed about a week away from the hustle and bustle at his summer home in Ontario, but hes already feeling refreshed and ready to jump right back into things next season with his hockey team.

Its been great," he said. "We went from winning the Stanley Cup to the draft and then back here to development camp. I spent about a week now at my summer home which is nice to kind of get away from things a little bit . . . but its been great. Its going to be short but at the same time, I didnt think Id feel this way at this time this soon but Im looking forward to getting going again. Thats just the way we are.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated that new team power skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze will work with the big club as well as the younger players throughout the season.

Hell spend some time with our club and throughout the year, yeah," Chiarelli said. "Hes going to focus primarily on our Providence team, but hes going to spend time with the Bruins whether its one-on-one or one with a small group. Hell spend some time with our big club. Hes good, very good, you saw, hes dynamic. Its all about edges with him and thats important. I talked to a few of the guys after the first session and their groins and their rears and their lower back were all really, really sore. To me thats good when those things are pushed.

The height and weight of Dougie Hamilton was a hot topic for Chiarelli, who has been pretty consistent in his stance that the 18-year-old defenseman needs at least another year of junior hockey before hes ready for prime time. There needs to be some serious muscle and strength added to the still-growing 6-foot-5 frame, and the Bs GM would like to see at least another 20 pounds added over the next couple of years.

If he can get to 220 pounds thatd be great . . . and he could. With his frame and hes still growing. I think hes still growing . . . we had one posting measurement at some point toward the end of his season, and hes grown a quarter of an inch or a half an inch since then.

The weight gain has got to be done properly and Im sure hell do it. I know hes conscientious about that. His parents are two former Olympic athletes. Hes got core strength too so 210 pounds would be great.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

cp-spark-bruins-celebrate-111917x.jpg

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.