Bruins

Morning Skate: The Force is with these Star Wars picks

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Morning Skate: The Force is with these Star Wars picks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving my two cents on the Last Jedi. There were some things I really, really liked about it. The action was well-done, it looked beautiful and there were some very cool surprises along the way. That’s as good as Mark Hamill has ever been playing Luke Skywalker, and I bought everything involving him. Rey continues to be a very strong character at the heart of the new movies. I even liked the Porgs. It definitely felt like a Star Wars movie in a way that the prequels absolutely did not, and so that’s a very good thing to start.

But some of the explanations and non-answers to burning questions from Star Wars fans was midichlorian-level disappointing, and the character of Rose is bound to become one of the most disliked since Jar Jar Binks. I just didn’t see much of a reason for her being in the story. The parts with her and Finn felt pretty unnecessary in general. There were a lot of attempts at humor throughout with some hits and some misses, and it feels like they didn’t learn any lessons from the way they under-utilized Captain Phasma in the Force Awakens.

All in all, as I said I mostly liked it and I think it will age well as people get used to some of the really eccentric choices Rian Johnson made with his 2 1/2 hours of storytelling. But I also understand why so many people straight up didn’t like it, or feel like the people controlling Lucasfilm are taking Star Wars in a path that’s making the things they originally fell in love with much less recognizable. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Kathleen Kennedy really pushed for one scene with Princess Leia that people have very mixed feelings about. That doesn’t really speak to me about what’s best for the story or the fans as much as it does about self-indulgence. If they go too far away from what people love about these movies, the diehard fans will end up walking away.

Here are my new rankings of the Star Wars movies including the Last Jedi:

1) Empire Strikes Back (accept no imitations, the GOAT).

2) A New Hope (The original will always be where the magic started)

3) Return of the Jedi (I just wish the Ewoks would have been Wookiees)

4) The Force Awakens (This had to be letter-perfect and it was)

5) The Last Jedi (The great sections of this movie make it worthwhile)

6) Rogue One (Proof there is life outside the Skywalker saga)

7) Revenge of the Sith (They should have titled it ‘Best of the Prequels’)

8) Phantom Menace (Worth it for the Pod race scene & the duel with Darth Maul)

9) Attack of the Clones (Some of the worst acting/dialogue in Star Wars history)

 *Speaking of Star Wars and hockey, kudos to this fan-created Bruins and Star Wars: The Last Jedi poster, and an interview with the biggest Star Wars fan that I know of on the Bruins, Brad Marchand.

*Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says that the Sens franchise “could look good somewhere else.” How is that not supposed to aggravate Senators fans that are already on the fence about this struggling team?

*A great speech from former BU standout Scott Young as he was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame this past week.

*Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant reflects on his “disappointing” end with the Florida Panthers when he was unceremoniously fired.

*Jordan Eberle is adjusting to New York life both on and off the ice, and it’s fair to say it’s quite a departure from Edmonton living.

*For something completely different: What a bizarre, sordid story with the wife of Lorenzen Wright reportedly mixed up in the death of the former NBA player.


 

Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 win over Flyers

Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 win over Flyers

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 4, Flyers 3

In Brief: The Bruins started out quickly, scoring two goals in the first before adding a short-handed goal from Chris Wagner in the second and an early third-period goal to put them up 4-0. Philadelphia made it interesting, though, and scored three goals in the third, including two in less than two minutes, before the Bruins finished strong and got the W. Lee Stempniak led the way with a goal and two assists. 

Bruins Preseason Record: 5-0-1

Highlights:

Shorthanded goal: 

What's Next:

WEDNESDAY: vs. Red Wings, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY: vs. Flyers, 6 p.m. (end of exhibition season)

Faster, stronger Ryan Donato a favorite to win a Bruins' forward spot

Faster, stronger Ryan Donato a favorite to win a Bruins' forward spot

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s not a lock until the puck drops opening night on Oct. 3, but it certainly looks like Ryan Donato is going to start this season just as he finished last year. That means Donato will be suiting up for the Bruins in a top-9 winger role where his offensive skills and natural hockey instincts can be used as a big asset for the Black and Gold.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising given that Donato finished strong with five goals and nine points in 12 regular season games once he’d signed out of Harvard, and then the 22-year-old found his way into the B’s lineup at the end of the playoffs as well. At this point Donato finds himself with a couple of different options dependent on the way the rest of the lineup shakes out, but as it stands now it looks like he’ll be either right wing on David Krejci’s line, or manning his natural left wing spot in a third line role with a center to be named later and David Backes.

It’s interesting that the Bruins shied away from using Donato on the right side during last year’s playoffs, but he’s certainly being viewed in a different light this fall after getting some NHL experience under his belt.

“Some of it is circumstance, right? We’re looking to fill that spot. Danton Heinen has looked really good [on the right side] from what I’ve been told. Those are probably options A and B to play on that right side [with Krejci]. I just think coming in at that time of the year last year, [for Donato] it was ‘get one position down.’ He’s got a little more experience under his belt and with the training he’s put in he’s stronger and faster,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Maybe in tight spaces he’ll be stronger on pucks on that off side. But we’ll see. He’s been fine on both sides.”

Either spot would put him in a good position to create offense, obviously, but the right wing position alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk would certainly a little more of a premium spot for a talented, natural goal-scorer.

“One thing about Ryan is that he doesn’t overthink things. He just plays no matter what side of the ice he’s on. His strength is still offense,” said Cassidy. “He’s going to produce there no matter which side he’s on. Donato is a bit of a wild card. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but we like where he’s at. We think that when he’s ‘on’ he can certainly [play a top-6 role]. He’s proven he can score in a short period of time in this league, and he’s doing it again in the exhibition season.”

To Donato’s credit, he’s not taking anything for granted and has the attitude that he needs to win an NHL roster spot with his work in training camp. So far he’s been very good and it’s clear to everybody that the 22-year-old got bigger, stronger and maybe even a little faster over the summer after diligently putting in the work at the B’s practice facility. It was one of Donato’s goals to get in the best position to win a spot on Boston’s roster out of camp and he’s most definitely done that with just three exhibition games left to go in the preseason.

“I trained hard this summer. I think they know my abilities and they know that I trained really hard this summer before coming in to compete for a job,” said Donato. “I’d be cutting myself short if I didn’t believe in my abilities to be a contender for any position on this team. So I want to work hard and hopefully I get to earn a spot.”

With a spot seemingly wrapped up for Donato, the question now becomes whether or not he can produce enough to cement his spot in the top-6, or play a good enough two-way game to be a third liner. If he can score goals and help make the second line a viable offensive force that would take care of one need that this Bruins team clearly had during their second round postseason series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Regular season games are the only proving ground to see whether Donato is a 20-30 goal-scorer or a guy like that Frank Vatrano that teased with flashes without ever actually truly developing at the NHL level. This humble hockey writer is betting more on the former than the latter for Teddy’s oldest boy, but time will tell on all of this for another Donato in Boston.   

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