Bruins

Morning Skate: Dream come true for 10-year-old Babson 'rookie'

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Morning Skate: Dream come true for 10-year-old Babson 'rookie'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world while passing along all the happiness at the great start for the Vegas Golden Knights to start the season.

*Congrats to the Babson College hockey team and 10-year-old Coleman Walsh after Coleman was made an honorary member of the Division III team on Tuesday in an “inspirational draft day” organized by the non-profit Team IMPACT. Coleman has endured a pair of open-heart surgeries after he was born with Williams Syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects numerous parts of the body. Doctors now constantly monitor his cardiac condition.

He also developed a deep love of hockey in those sometimes difficult times and even spends time in the summer watching hockey highlights on YouTube and has memorized all 31 of the goal horns in arenas across the NHL.

“I can’t wait to be involved in the practices and the games,” said Coleman, a fourth-grader who lives in Walpole, Mass., with his parents Nanci and Matt and his older brother Andrew. “I love all the excitement [of hockey] and lots of stuff. I love the hitting and the fast-skating, and I really like the Jumbotron too.”

Coleman’s favorite hockey player is Zdeno Chara (“I like how strong and smart he is”), and he said he faithfully goes to one Bruins game a season with his family. 

Now, he’ll be seeing a lot more hockey as the connection with the Babson team means he’ll be spending practice and game time with the young men at least a few times a month. In a cool touch, Anaheim Ducks forward and Wellesley native Chris Wagner made a video for Coleman and his family welcoming them to a Babson team that includes his younger brother, Paul.

“We’re so excited to be able to do this as a family,” said Nanci Walsh. “Things that are important to Coleman are being a part of the community and doing the things that he’s interested in, and it’s not as simple for us as signing him up for something considering his disabilities and health. 

“For him to be able to be on a team, see what teammates do for one another and be around these young men that are so giving and generous with their time, it’s really exciting for him and for us. Hockey is his real passion, and it’s the one sport that he thinks about all the time and talks about all the time. It’s the one thing that carries through as a big part of him.”

To hear Team IMPACT Executive Director Seth Rosenzweig tell it, while Coleman becomes a member of the team, his whole family gets drafted by the program and will become part of that unique, bonding that only sports can provide.

“The ultimate goal is for [Coleman] to not only come out of with some good stories but also to develop his goals around confidence, coping mechanisms and the tools that will allow him to have his most successful life possible,” said Rosenzweig. “We also know this will have a huge impact on the family that will all be actively involved in the program and that it will have a big impact on these college athletes around character, integrity, empathy and perspective while also hopefully getting them thinking about philanthropy and civic-mindedness. It’s kind of a win, win, win.

“We’ve had a lot of success with hockey. It’s the right-sized team where everybody that’s on the team can develop a relationship with the family. It’s not too big and not too small. [The hockey players] have that fight and grit in them which is a common characteristic, and I think we’ve found that the hockey teams will go a little above and beyond what’s required in the partnership with the kids.”

According to Rosenzweig, Team IMPACT has almost 1,300 kids like Coleman in the program and more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states partnering with them. Rosenzweig said the challenge at this point is getting the word out to families with children battling life-threatening or chronic illnesses to let them know that these opportunities with college teams and college athletes are there if the timing is right. For more information about Team Impact, people can go to www.goteamimpact.org if they’d like to get involved.  

*Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Claude Julien is saying the Canadiens are having a hard time putting the puck in the net after another loss to start the season. And the power play is dreadful too. Man, it doesn’t sound good in Montreal right now.

*Elliotte Friedman has his thoughts from around the NHL after the first week, including the future arena hopes for the New York Islanders.

*Here’s a philosophical question for you: Did a hockey team really visit the White House if their team Twitter account basically ignored the whole thing? It was such a weird approach to this whole thing by the Penguins.

*Alex Burrows got a nice hand from the Canucks crowd in his first trip back to Vancouver since becoming a member of the Ottawa Senators. I wonder if he bit anybody in celebration of the big moment.

*The Edmonton Oilers are finding that things are a little difficult this time around after last season’s success.

*For something completely different: Here’s another hilarious episode of “The Camera Guys” with Moose’s beard playing an inspirational role.

 


 

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

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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

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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.