Haggerty: Youth will be served on this year's Bruins

Haggerty: Youth will be served on this year's Bruins

BOSTON --The motto for this year’s Bruins team might come out of what’s now considered a classic rock Guns N’ Roses song: “Take it slow and it'll work itself out fine, All we need is just a little patience."

Clearly Axl Rose didn’t have the B's in mind when he took pen to paper to write “Patience,” but that’s exactly what Don Sweeney, Bruce Cassidy and Cam Neely have signed on for this season with a major influx of young talent. Not only is the talent flush in numbers -- with rookies Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly starting the season with the Bruins -- but all of those first-year players are expected to fill major roles for Boston.

It certainly makes for an exciting time for a Bruins group that should again compete for the playoffs this season, and might only be a year or two away from building really something special.

“It’s exciting,” said Bruins president Cam Neely. “It’s been a few years in the making, to see some of the young kids being able to push for jobs. It looks like a couple [of youngsters] have done that.

"[You] have to give credit to drafting properly. Then once you draft them, you have to do a good job developing them. It starts with our development camp, and having these younger players understand what our expectations are of them, where they need to work on their game to get to the NHL level.

“I think we can really build off what we did last year. I saw a little different style of play, and the league has gotten faster. Our coaching staff has helped us become faster with the way we practice and how Butch [Bruce Cassidy] wants us to play. I think, even though we lost in the first round, it was a close series. I think it was the first time for some of our players to play in the playoffs. They haven’t – understanding what it’s like to play in the playoffs, and they got a taste of it. I hope they are hungry for more.”


Bjork is slated to be top-line right wing, and use his blazing speed, high-end skill and good instincts to produce plenty of offense and points with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. DeBrusk will start the season at left wing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak, and will fill the power-forward role of net-front finisher and winner of battles that has often been successful with the playmaking Czech center throughout his career. McAvoy will start the season in a top-4 role paired with Kevan Miller, but the 19-year-old is going to be a workhorse playing in all situations, moving the puck and shouldering a heavy burden for a D-corps that’s probably still a year or two away from being a truly dominant group again.

The role for Kuraly still isn’t completely defined, but it’s clear that he’s got a friend in David Backes after the two big-bodied forwards showed chemistry and production during the playoffs together. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him settle into a third-line role with Backes, where he can work up the same straight-line, north/south game that proved so successful in the postseason against the Senators.

Certainly it’s all adrenaline and reality setting in on the coolness of being an NHL player for these young guys, but for most, if not all, there will be ups and downs as they navigate for the first time through the sometimes unforgiving world of the NHL.

Much is expected of these prospects and more of Boston’s youth movement in Sweeney’s third season guiding the Bruins franchise, where his five year plan should be fully entrenched with the draft-and-development effort paying dividends.

“I think we do have to have some patience, and some understanding that we’re going to go through some of those [rough] time periods,” said Sweeney. “We have a core group that’s going to pull us through those periods, and we have depth during those times when guys do stub their toes where we can withstand some of those times of struggles. But the results also take over from here, to tell you the truth. That’s what this league is and we have to be cognizant of that while balancing the patience part of it.”

Certainly the teaching style that Cassidy employed for close to a decade at the AHL level in Providence is going to be an asset with the younger players. The head coach will preach aggression and creativity within a controlled systems environment, and mistakes will be tolerated as long as they’re not repeated and devolve into chronic issues on the ice.

That’s a far cry from Claude Julien, who seemed to no longer have the patience to live through youthful mistakes when a conservative, defensive-minded option could be at the ready. The other factor working in Boston’s favor is the established veteran core that’s embracing the infusion of youthful talent that they so desperately need.

Brandon Carlo went through the rookie experience with the Bruins last season, and he said that a big part of his successful season was the unflinching faith that both Bruins management and his veteran teammates showed.

“It was great,” said Carlo. “I definitely needed it at times, and for them to show trust in me definitely helped me keep my confidence up when I wasn’t playing as well. Getting that opportunity was pretty special, and allowing me to stay in the lineup and learn from my experiences was beneficial. [Zdeno Chara] was definitely a big help during those times. At practice he could tell I was a little frantic at times because my confidence wasn’t all there, and he would tell me to take a step back, realize that I’m in the NHL right now and wasn’t going anywhere. I just needed to work on my game. [Chara’s words] were so helpful for me.”

Certainly the Bruins may not hit with all of these young players, and there will be growing pains with a pair of rookies among their top-6 forwards and two more first or second year players in their top-4 on defense. But patience isn’t going to be a dirty word for the Bruins this season as they mix their draft-and-development future with the established players of the present while looking for just the right mix for success.


Talking Points: Marchand puts Bruins on his shoulders late


Talking Points: Marchand puts Bruins on his shoulders late

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand decided to put the team on his shoulders late in the game, and not allow the Bruins to lose in Detroit. Marchand snapped off a slick cross-ice pass to David Pastrnak for the game-tying goal late in the third period with the goalie pulled, and then scored on a filthy backhanded finish in a breakaway in the 3-on-3 OT. Marchand finished with five shot attempts, a goal, two points and a plus-1 rating in 21:27 of ice time, and should put these highlights in his greatest hits reel for Hart Trophy consideration at the end of the year. Marchand is so fun to watch in those moments when he elevates his game with everything on the line, mainly because he is one of the few players that can do it.

BLACK EYE: Henrik Zetterberg looked every bit of his 37 years of age in this game finishing with a minus-3 and with just one shot on net during an otherwise decent, disciplined effort from the Red Wings. Zetterberg is really the poster boy for all that’s wrong with Detroit through no fault of his own where he’s a reminder of past Red Wings glory, but he’s not a player that should be around anymore as they build around younger players. Zetterberg can still play in the league and be pretty good, but he’s also not what he used to be when the Red Wings were perennial Cup contenders. It’s amazing that he was on ice for all three of the goals scored by the B’s in this one.

TURNING POINT: Bruce Cassidy pulled the goalie with slightly less than two minutes to go in the third period, and it turned into a good call as the Bruins skill players went to work with a scrambling Red Wings group on the ice. Marchand authored an elite, cross-ice pass through three Red Wings players in the middle of the ice to a waiting David Pastrnak for the game-tying goal, and that at least guaranteed the Bruins a single point in a game where they hadn’t played really well. That’s what good teams do: Grind out points when they’re not at their best, and somehow find ways to win some of those games by any means necessary.

HONORABLE MENTION: Noel Acciari helped the Bruins get some energy in the third period when he scored a gritty goal in front of the Red Wings net on a loose puck. Acciari attacked the end boards after the Red Wings had won a defensive zone face-off and forced a turnover on the exchange between Detroit D-men. That aggressive play turned into a shot at the Boston net from Tim Schaller, and then a follow-up from Acciari where he spotted the loose puck and flipped it past Jimmy Howard for the Bruins first goal of the game. Acciari only ended up with a shot on net and two hits in 10:50 of ice time, but it was exactly the kind of contribution that every team is looking for from their fourth line. Acciari came up big in this game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of wins in a row for Tuukka Rask, who made 31 saves and played solid for a Bruins team that didn’t play very good hockey in front of him for most of the game. 

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I didn’t see even see Marchy. I thought he was going to shoot it, and I just saw it at the last second. It wasn’t an easy shot and it was coming in pretty hot, but I got it down on the ice and was shooting at an empty net.” – David Pastrnak, on receiving the cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand through three Detroit defenders for the game-tying goal in the final minutes. 

Bruins tie it late, beat Red Wings 3-2 in OT behind Marchand


Bruins tie it late, beat Red Wings 3-2 in OT behind Marchand

DETROIT - Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the game-winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but twice rallied from a one-goal deficit for their ninth win in 11 games. Detroit has dropped 10 of 11, although the Red Wings have earned a point in five of those losses.

David Pastrnak tied it with 1:26 remaining in the third period, extending his point streak to nine games. The Bruins had pulled goalie Tuukka Rask with more than two minutes left, and Marchand's pinpoint pass from the right side made it through traffic to Pastrnak at the left of the net. His 15th goal of the season sent the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Marchand skated in ahead of defenseman Mike Green and stickhandled to the right before backhanding the puck past goalie Jimmy Howard from a sharp angle.

Noel Acciari scored the other goal for Boston. Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar scored for Detroit.

Tatar opened the scoring on a second-period power play, beating Rask only 13 seconds after Patrice Bergeron received a minor penalty for tripping. Tatar's wrist shot made it through with teammate Justin Abdelkader standing in front of the net as a screen.

Pastrnak, playing his 200th career game, nearly tied it moments later when he skated in behind the Detroit defense, but Howard stopped him.

Acciari tied it early in the third after a scramble in front of the net, and Boston went on the power play when Green was whistled for holding. But Larkin scored short-handed on a breakaway to put Detroit up 2-1.