The saying goes that “it’s just one game” – a preseason one at that – but the Bruins’ top offensive line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic already have fans excited about the possibilities for the coming season after combining for six points to lead the black and gold to a 6-3 victory against the Canadiens tonight. Rookie Malcolm Subban also stopped all 12 shots he faced in his goaltending debut, and three third period goals by the Bruins put the nail in the Montreal coffin to get the new season started on the right foot.
It was a big weekend for Bruins rookie hopefuls as they traveled south for a weekend trio of games in preparation for full training camp which starts on Wednesday. Despite a loss to the Panthers and ties with the Lightning and Predators rookies, a number of players had impressive performances as they battle for attention.
With the clock ticking down past the one week mark ahead of the April 3rd NHL trade deadline, the rumors surrounding potential trade targets for the Boston Bruins continue to run hot. The biggest name is obviously Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, who is all but guaranteed to be in a different uniform come next Wednesday. While Iginla seems to currently be the prime target, there have been numerous other names popping up this week (and today) as well, including Edmonton defenseman and Boston native Ryan Whitney.
The Bruins also announced they’ve recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence, just to keep things interesting.
Revenge was sweet this morning for Team USA, who laid a 5-1 beating on Team Canada to advance to the World Junior Championship final on Saturday morning. The loss was Canada’s worst since their world junior program began in 1982.
After falling to Canada just four days ago in the prelims, the American offense has exploded for 21 goals in three games, led by Boston College star Johnny Gaudreau, who followed up a quarterfinal hat trick with two more goals in this morning’s win.
It was clear early that an extra day off for Team Canada was no favor, as they were noticeably flat and terribly sloppy in the opening period, especially in their own end. And as flat as Canada was, USA was that sharp. Defenseman and USA Captain Jake McCabe (BUF prospect), not normally known for his scoring, netted two goals in the first to put USA up 2-0 after one.
It was the same story in the second as just three minutes in Gaudreau went top shelf after a nifty toe-drag move in the slot for his first goal, and Harvard’s Jim Vesey ended Canadian goalie and Bruins prospect Malcolm Subban‘s morning early after he found space streaking through the right circle and buried a wrist shot far side.
Despite an early shorthanded goal by Canadian forward Ty Rattie early in the third to get the score to 4-1, solid play by US goalie John Gibson (ANA prospect) kept the Americans confidently ahead, and Gaudreau’s second goal with five minutes to go sealed the deal. You can check out the highlights below:
The US will now face Sweden on Saturday morning for the gold medal, while Canada will face Russia, who fell to the Swedes 3-2 in the other semifinal, for the bronze medal. The tournament final game has a much more reasonable 8am start time, so set the alarm and start the day off right.
In terms of Bruins prospects, this game was obviously pretty ugly. Obviously Subban would be the first one to jump on after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots before being pulled midway through the second, but the stats don’t really tell the story. Subban was screened on the first two goals of the game, especially on the first as there were no fewer than five players battling in front of him. On the third goal he faced a fly-by screen and let’s face it, few goalies would have stopped Gaudreau’s wrister. Vesey’s goal would probably be the one he would have wanted back, as he was deep in his net and with his team down 3-0 that would be one that you’d need your goalie to stop to give the team a chance. All in all the defense in front of Subban was terrible, as the US continued to dangle through the Canadians even after Subban was pulled.
This includes Dougie Hamilton, who had an unimpressive game as well. He mustered just two shots on net and finished a -2 for the game. He wasn’t as awful as some of his defensive counterparts, but Canada needed its stars to show up and Dougie was pretty quiet. He did have some good power play looks in the third, but he couldn’t beat Gibson. This was all after he reportedly spoke to his team before the game to caution them against the extra day layoff from his experiences last year. His leadership is obviously a good sign, but it’s just as important to back it up with his play, and he didn’t do much to turn the tides for his team.
Canadian forward Anthony Camara was a non-factor, though he did continue to play hard and physical throughout the game which was good to see. Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev was quiet in his team’s loss to the Swedes as well.
Here’s an abridged version of ‘Loose Pucks’ for today, as there were a few updates from the last night’s lockout negotiations.
We mentioned earlier that the new CBA will probably include one-time ‘Amnesty Buyouts’ for teams to get out of bad contracts. The report now is that each team will get two of these. Fellow Bruins blog Days of Y’Orr has a good take on who might be on the chopping block for the black and gold.
The NHLPA decided against moving forward with a disclaimer of interest as its deadline passed last night, though now it seems the players will vote for a second window, this one 48 hours, to disclaim again. Obviously the decision not to disclaim last night should be a relatively good sign, especially knowing that Donald Fehr had full power to make that decision himself.
Who really knows what the state of negotiations are at this point. Talks reportedly grew contentious last night over HRR reporting, which led to the second disclaimer vote mentioned above. This is what my Twitter feed is looking like these days:
Just hours after their elder countrymen captured the Spengler Cup, the younger Team Canada was back on the ice in Russia at the World Junior Championship this morning taking on the tournament hosts. With a quarterfinal bye on the line, the Canadians remained undefeated in the preliminary round as they knocked off Team Russia by a score of 4-1.
Once again it was Bruins first round pick from last year’s draft Malcolm Subban between the pipes for Canada, just a day after he shut down Team USA. He didn’t have to be nearly as sharp as he was against the US however, as his teammates kept much of the play in the Russian end with strong defense and heavy offensive zone time. He did finish with 21 saves on 22 shots, the lone Russian goal coming off a Nikita Kucherov wrister from the slot that beat him top shelf. He did have a highlight reel save in the second period to keep Canada ahead by two, going cross crease to stuff another Kucherov opportunity. Here’s the video:
Subban also had a penalty shot save to keep the score 4-1, however the game was well in hand at that point with just 19 seconds left.
Perhaps just as good to see for Bruins fans was Dougie Hamilton breaking his scoring drought with Canada’s first goal. Hamilton looked uncomfortable and had trouble finding the net from the point against the US, despite being on the ice for two two-man advantages. It was a different story this morning though, as shortly after Russian Valeri Nichushkin earned himself a five minute major and game misconduct for his hit from behind on Canadian Tyler Wotherspoon, Hamilton blasted a one timer off a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins feed just under the crossbar to beat Russian goalie Andrei Makarov. Here’s the video of the goal:
It was one of six shots on net for Hamilton, who finished a +1, and looked far more comfortable in his own end and moving the puck.
Other Bruins prospects featured in the game were Canadian winger Anthony Camara and Russian centerman Alex Khokhlachev, both who were relatively quiet. Khokhlachev again played along side 2012 Edmonton first rounder Nail Yakupov, but was held scoreless despite managing three shots on yet. Camara was relegated to fourth line duty and managed a shot on goal, but was held off the scoresheet as well.
For Canada, Nugent-Hopkins added to his tournament leading point total with three assists, bringing the count to eleven, four ahead of the US’ Alex Galchenyuk. Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele added a nifty backhand goal for Canada as well. You can catch full game highlights courtesy of TSN by clicking HERE.
Canada will be off until Thursday, awaiting an opponent from the quarterfinal games. Team USA earned one of those quarterfinal berths with a convincing 9-3 victory over Slovakia, and they will take on the Czechs on Wednesday with hopes of moving on. The Russians will take on the Swiss in the other match-up.