Bruins

Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

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Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

It wasn’t a slam dunk that 19-year-old Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko was going to play in the QMJHL this past season.

In fact, Lauko admitted he had a lot of reservations when it was first discussed that the best move for the Czech winger would be to come over for North American junior hockey where he could begin to adjust away from the European game.

Lauko wanted to go right to the AHL in Providence after scoring a couple of goals early in his first NHL training camp before suffering an injury in a collision during camp practice with Noel Acciari. Clearly it was the right move for the teenager to head instead to junior hockey for his development, though, and that’s the way things played out for him in a year where he got better as things went along.

It still was tough as Lauko adjusted to a different language and culture over the course of the hockey season, but the top B’s forward prospect had zero regrets when it was all over with this summer.

Lauko didn’t skate at all in Bruins development camp a few weeks ago because his junior season had just wrapped up after Rouyn-Noranda made it all the way to the Memorial Cup, but the Bruins prospect says that his experience in Quebec ended up making him a better player. It also showed him to be a big game player as he led the way with his eight points (two goals, six assists) in the five games it took Rouyn-Noranda to hoist the Memorial Cup.

“I hated it for the first month,” said Lauko, who was playing through a lower body injury toward the end of his team’s postseason run. “But at the end of the season, you just look up and see that you won two trophies. It was the right choice after that. I think I changed a lot as a player. I improved my English, and I think I’m a different player after this season, different person. I’m just happy I made the choice.”

“It was a really big experience for me, through the regular season, playoffs and to the Cup. It was hell of a ride for us and I really enjoyed it. Just happy to have two trophies over my head after.”

He was always pretty good to begin as evidenced by his standout performance at last summer’s development camp, and in last fall’s Bruins rookie training camp as well. The 6-foot-1, 172-pounder has speed, tenacity and goal-scoring ability as evidenced by his 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games for the Huskies during the regular season. Then he poured on six more goals and 13 points in 19 games during the Memorial Cup playoffs and showed off the skill that got him drafted.

Now Lauko heads into his second NHL training camp one year bigger, stronger and more mature in his hockey game. Will he finally get his wish to be in either Boston or Providence this fall where he’s already shown some of the hard-nosed and skilled traits he’ll need to eventually stick at the NHL level?

"I think he came in last year and had a good training camp, he did a real good job of coming over to North America and adjusting a little bit. It was a little bit of a challenge early on. Tough going into Northern Quebec learning English and French at the same time to a degree,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “It was tough living-wise for him early on, but his game continued to grow and he played his best hockey at the end of the year. That's what we were hoping for. We will see when September and October comes with him."

Certainly the Bruins could use another top-6 or top-9 winger after they never replaced the departing Marcus Johansson, but it has to be considered a longshot for Lauko with more finished prospect products like Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn in the running for any vacant forward spots.

Whether it’s next season or a couple of years down the road, however, it’s beginning to feel like Lauko is going to be in Boston sooner rather than later. And he will make an impact with his two-way game when he finally does arrive after the Bruins selected him in the third round (77thoverall) in last summer’s NHL Draft.

“It’s hard to say (where I will play this season),” said Lauko, who signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins at the tail end of training camp last fall. “I will go into the year and just try to find a spot in Boston. You never know what’s going to happen. I will just stay positive and whatever happens is going to happen.

"I will just arrive here humble and prepared. I will try to fight for a spot here. If it will not go well, just keep working and try to fight for a spot during the season and next seasons.”

Lauko certainly has the right attitude and he’s got the goods as far as his game goes on the ice. Everybody will just have to wait a few months to see if the 19-year-old has matured enough to the point where he could use those electric skills and tenacity to challenge for a B’s roster spot at a precocious young age.

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NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

The NHL is officially returning to play.

The league and NHLPA ratified the Return to Play Plan and a new CBA deal Friday, paving the way for the 2019-20 season to finish. The regular season is over, but the league is not yet jumping into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The top four teams in each conference will determine their seeding for the first round by playing a round robin format. The teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will square off in a qualifying round that will use a Best-of-5 series format. The four winners of the qualifying series in each conference will be matched up against the top four teams for the first round based on seeding.

These games will take place in two host cities. The Eastern Conference games will be played at Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Here's the schedule for every round robin game and qualifying round series. Check back to this article after each game for scores and updated schedules.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning
Saturday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (No. 12) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (OT)
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

(No. 6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (No. 11) New York Rangers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Hurricanes win series 3-0

(No. 7) New York Islanders vs. (No. 10) Florida Panthers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Islanders 4, Panthers 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Panthers 3, Islanders 2
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

(No. 8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (No. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 5, Stars 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (No. 12) Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*

(No. 6) Nashville Predators vs. (No. 11) Arizona Coyotes
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Predators vs. Coyotes
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*

(No. 7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (No. 10) Minnesota Wild
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild*
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*

(No. 8) Calgary Flames vs. (No. 9) Winnipeg Jets
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*
Game 5, Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*
*If necessary

NHL Playoffs: Bruins hoping a showdown with rival Lightning brings their best

NHL Playoffs: Bruins hoping a showdown with rival Lightning brings their best

The Bruins have been stuck in a quagmire of half-measure efforts and rusty execution in their first two games played inside the Toronto bubble over the last week.

One was an exhibition loss vs. Columbus with zero consequence behind it, and the other was a half-hearted defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers last weekend that really didn’t feel Boston put its best foot forward.

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The hope headed into Wednesday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning is that a showdown with one of their fiercest division rivals will be exactly the kind of magic elixir needed to snap the Bruins out of their somnambulant state.

“I hope it does,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Tampa will bring out the best in the Black and Gold. “I went to the game [on Monday] and it was very physical and very spirited against Washington. They are developing a rivalry, and obviously with us and Tampa I’m expecting a lot of the same.

“It will be physical and competitive. We’re trying to build our game and get better every time out. We’re going to need to if we want to beat Tampa. I’m looking forward to it and I think the guys are too. It’s a tough mental [challenge] right now because we don’t know who our opponent is going to be next week. You still want to pick up wins, but you’re trying to balance that with the urgency of preparing for your first playoff opponent.”

The concern is definitely there with the Bruins given that Boston’s best players have been below average in the first couple of games, and that Tampa has historically been a tough matchup for them over the last few years.

Tuukka Rask has been rather ordinary against the high-powered Lightning in recent seasons — he went 1-2-1 with a 2.73 goals against average and a .902 save percentage in four games this season is 2-9-1 with a 3.09 GAA and a .887 save percentage in his last 12 games against Tampa Bay, including the 2018 second-round playoff series that the Lightning won in five games — and the Bolts are a deeper, more high-impact roster across the board while the B’s are wheeling out a second line of Nick Ritchie, David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman for Wednesday afternoon’s puck drop.

Clearly it isn’t Boston’s best lineup so much as it’s Cassidy attempting to get everybody on his roster a little bit of game action ahead of the conventional four rounds of Stanley Cup Playoffs starting next week. It won’t be Tampa’s best lineup either with Steve Stamkos out while still rehabbing from abdominal surgery, but they still feature high-octane offense with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, stalwart defense led by Victor Hedman and an all-word goaltender in Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The top competition won’t stop the B’s bench boss from having a long list of expectations for what he’s looking for against Tampa, and what’s been missing in those first two losses to Columbus and Philadelphia where the Bruins were outscored by an 8-2 margin.

“Sixty minutes of Bruins hockey. Or [65 minutes] if need be today is what we’re targeting. Hopefully that results in a win. You can play really well in short spurts and not win. Eventually, you keep playing well with a team like ours you will win. We’re looking for that 60-minute effort. We had 20 minutes the other night, a good start, playing our game. We got away from it in the second period,” said Cassidy. “Our puck management has to improve from the other night… no shooting ourselves in the foot. Taking the plays that are there.

“Offensively, we need to generate more. Some of that will be a shot mentality. Some of that is shaking the rust off. Some of that is having a little more purpose in our game [and be] willing to attack the net. Execute better all over the ice I think is the big thing we’re looking for. This will be our third game and by then you hope the players have now started to regain some of their individual skill level. Let’s see the execution improve and let’s see our puck management improve. I think the passion will be there. Tampa and us always have good, solid games. That alone will make us better.”

That’s the hope anyway. We’ll see how it plays out on Wednesday night where another middling performance from the B’s could really begin to get people worried around Boston.