Bruins

Morning Skate: Bruins "stand on shaky ground," in Atlantic Division

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Morning Skate: Bruins "stand on shaky ground," in Atlantic Division

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while everybody is literally working for the weekend right now. Loverboy, please take a bow from wherever you are in Canada!

-- The Bruins “stand on shaky ground” within the Atlantic Division right now, according to Pro Hockey Talk in an offseason overview of the division. Yes and no. Certainly they look third best behind Toronto and Tampa, and that could become an even more distant gap if the Lightning were to somehow land Erik Karlsson in the next few months.

But we’re also talking about a team that racked up 112 points last season, has a large wealth of young players and prospects and featured the best line in the NHL last season with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. They are not on shaky ground within a division that features bad teams in Ottawa, Montreal, Detroit and Buffalo, and only the Florida Panthers as the kind of team that could rise up and challenge for a playoff spot. Did they get better in the offseason? Sure they did in a very incremental way. But they still seem like a lock for the third spot in the Atlantic and a playoff team, and perhaps even more if they can swing the right deal for a goal-scoring winger at some point over the next six months or so.

-- Congrats to Jarome Iginla on an excellent Hall of Fame career as he prepares to announce his retirement at the start of next week. He was an excellent throwback kind of power forward and a rugged competitor, and was a complete gentleman off the ice during his season that I covered him in Boston. He did seem to make some poor choices on the teams he joined up with later in his career – like eschewing the Bruins for the Penguins in 2013 at the trade deadline -- in the ultimately unsuccessful quest for a Cup, but that doesn’t take away from the consistency and class that defined his NHL body of work.

-- Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz says that he’s going to keep faith in his people running the hockey organization, but it sure does feel like they need a change. Just like the Bruins needed a change from Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien a few years ago.

-- Dylan Larkin looks to improve next season after building up a solid career arc over his first four years with the Detroit Red Wings.

-- Dean Lombardi might have been in the running for a management position with the Vancouver Canucks, but his current contract with the Philadelphia Flyers precluded that from happening.

-- For something completely different: I need more stories about this video beatdown in a Vegas McDonald’s like I need air to breath. It’s the Jerry Springer show come to life.

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Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

BRIGHTON – It’s obviously still early in Bruins training camp and the two separate groups haven’t even practiced together yet thanks to the week-plus trip to China, but a theme is most definitely developing for the Black and Gold.

Similar to training camp a year ago, the youthful wave of Bruins prospects are taking their preseason by storm in the very best way possible. A third-round pick just a couple of months ago, 18-year-old Jakub Lauko has two goals in as many games and has shown that he may indeed be a first round talent that was snagged a couple of rounds later.

“I’m never nervous, so I think it’s a good thing for me that I’m never nervous,” said Lauko, after suiting up for his first NHL preseason game for the Bruins. “So, yeah, [it was] just fun.”

There's a bevy of B’s young guns out there having “fun” right now.  

Former BU center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of a trio of young prospects vying for the third line center spot in Boston, and the Swedish pivot currently leads all Bruins players in preseason scoring with three points in two games. JFK has shown the strong two-way abilities that he’s always been touted for, and his passing skill has been on display in setting up fellow youngsters like Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato around the net. Speaking of Donato and DeBrusk, each of those young wingers earmarked for the NHL roster has a couple of counts in two preseason appearances as well.

Zach Senyshyn may have come into camp slightly under the radar after a so-so debut season in Providence last season, but he deposited a couple of goals in Tuesday night’s preseason win over the Capitals in Washington.

Trent Frederic scored a goal in the first preseason game against the Calgary Flames in China, and has teamed with David Backes for a big, strong and physical crash and bang line to this point in the preseason as well. Jack Studnicka, Cameron Hughes and Axel Andersson have all cracked the score sheet as well, and big winger Peter Cehlarik had two assists during the two China games vs. Calgary as well.

So in a camp where a couple of young players could come away with NHL jobs if their preseason performances are up to snuff, the Black and Gold young guns have been that and then some to this point.

That’s great news for a Bruins team that’s become accustomed to young players breaking through over the last few years, but the bad news for all these talented youngsters is that it’s going to get tougher from here on out. With the China contingent and the Boston-bound B’s crew set to be reunited at the end of this week, the training camp competitiveness is about to ramp up a few notches. There’s also the simple fact that things get quicker, more physical and more intense as the preseason goes along, and the veteran players began to really fight for their spots.

It’s the natural rhythm of training camp, and it’s about to become a little more eye-opening for a kiddie corps that’s been great thus far in B’s camp.

“Every year players coming into training camp and whether you’re a third-year player, second-year player, there’s always competition and there’s always somebody pushing from underneath [the NHL level], or pushing on a [camp tryout],” said Sacco. “Every team has young players that are hoping to push through and leave their mark to get their opportunity to play in the NHL.

“Once you see more players with NHL experience start getting into the lineups, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge for those young players to maintain that level that they had early on in the preseason. The ones that do, then you quite frankly start looking at them more and giving them a longer look.”

That will be the million dollar question for each of these young guys. There are plenty of cautionary tales of guys that flashed early in Bruins training camps in the past, but then couldn’t maintain that performance once the lineups got a little closer to NHL ready toward the end of the preseason. But there are also players, like Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, on the current roster that just kept producing and performing as young talents that played their way into Boston’s NHL plans earlier than anybody could have projected when they were first drafted.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s another one of those guys in this Bruins training camp with so many of them off to a strong and promising start. 

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Jakub Lauko banged up in Bruins practice after strong start

Jakub Lauko banged up in Bruins practice after strong start

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins may have dinged up the brand new sports car that they just zoomed out of the show room.

Standout rookie winger Jakub Lauko had a collision with Noel Acciari during drills in the second session of Thursday’s camp practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and got “banged up” according to Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. The 18-year-old didn’t return to the practice session on Thursday and is currently being evaluated by the Bruins medical staff in a set of events that doesn’t look all too encouraging.

“He got banged up in one of the drills in the second half there, so he’s being evaluated as we speak now and we’ll know more later,” said Sacco.

It could be a “Welcome to the NHL” moment for Lauko colliding with the rock-solid Acciari as a friendly fire incident in practice, and the hope is obviously that it doesn’t hinder the momentum that the third round pick has already built in training camp. Lauko has two goals in two games and has shown blazing skating speed, an ability to finish around the net, tenacity and a bit of an edge to his game that has him playing much older than his teenage years would initially indicate.

With the rest of Boston’s China contingent coming back to camp at the end of this week, the rest of camp would have been a great chance to show if Lauko is nearing NHL readiness or if he’s merely a young guy flashing his skill at the start of the preseason.  

In other injury news, Torey Krug and Acciari returned to taking contact at training camp and remain on schedule to get into some preseason games toward the end of camp. Anders Bjork is still being held out of contact in camp practices, and both Sean Kuraly (lower body) and Ryan Fitzgerald (lower body) are missing from practice after suffering injuries in preseason games. Patrice Bergeron (back spasms/groin surgery) has yet to make an appearance in training camp this date, but still has a couple of weeks to get ready for the season. 

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