the annual Black and White game on the horizon signifyi
The initial stage of training camp is over for the Boston
Bruins, with the annual Black and White game on the horizon signifying the
start of the exhibition schedule. So far, the Bruins camp has been an eventful
The Russian man of mystery, forward Sergei Zinovjev,
has been missing in action due to visa problems, delaying the already high
anticipation of his arrival state-side. If Zinovjev doesn’t get things
straightened out soon, he may find himself too far behind the rest of the
Bruins hopefuls and find himself starting the season in Providence.
Goaltender Hannu Toivonen and center Patrice
Bergeron have been the talk of camp among the prospects that didn’t have
visa problems. Toivonen with his amazing reflexes and flair have put a lot of
excitement into the fans of the Boston faithful. In particular he showed a very
good glove, making a couple of stunning glove saves. Bergeron meanwhile, has
showed good vision, passing skills, and defensive play. He still has a way to
go before becoming an NHL regular. A little more muscle wouldn’t hurt either.
But by putting him between Sergei Samsonov and Glen Murray during camp, the
Bruins showed how highly they think of Bergeron, the young man who Bruins
scouts compared to Adam Oates.
Another young player who hasn’t been talked about as much as
the previous three, but should, is defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. He has
stepped up big time during camp with some exceptional defensive play, not being
as timid as he was last year. He has also impressed by doing the small things:
making solid poke checks, tying up fore checkers in the corner so his defensive
partner can get the puck, and solid positioning. He’s had a far better camp
then any other young defenseman on the roster, and if he continues like this
during the exhibition schedule he should be on the Bruins roster on opening
Defenseman Milan Jurcina, a behemoth of a young
man, has had a good but unspectacular camp. He is ticketed for Providence this
year, and nothing suggests otherwise. He’s one to watch though, and should be a
solid contributor down the line.
Martin Samuelsson, Andy Hilbert, and Ivan
Huml return as the leading candidates among the youngsters for a spot with
the big club. Hilbert and Huml have been disappointing thus far though. And
Samuelsson only looks slightly better, and a little stronger. Hilbert just
doesn’t seem to have the drive that the great talents do, something that has
been said of him in the past. And if he doesn’t wake up soon he’ll be put into
a large list of great talents that just never put it all together at the NHL
level. Huml had a good year statistically and was among the rookie leaders but
his lack of defensive play and inconsistency along with timid play when it came
to the physical aspect of the game earned him a demotion to the AHL. All he
needs is some confidence and to show his opponents that he won’t be pushed
around. He definitely has the talent to be a second line scorer in the NHL.
Samuelsson meanwhile had endurance problems coming from the short season in
Europe to the long schedule of the NHL and AHL. When he earned a call up he
could only play short shifts before huffing and puffing. It looks like he’s
somewhat addressed that issue and should have an even better year than last.
The forgotten man since the signing of Felix Potvin, Andrew
Raycroft has looked lethargic in drills and scrimmages, and it looks like
the acquisition of Potvin and the emergence of Toivonen is affecting him a
little. If he wants to be an NHL starter he needs to step it up during the
exhibition schedule or he may well become trade fodder.
Leading the way in the feisty department, forwards Masi
Marjamaki and Patrik Valcak both showed some impressive displays of
aggression and borderline dirty play, including some aggressive stick work and
physical play. The Bruins haven’t had a real pest with talent since Ken
Linesman donned the spoked B in the late 1980’s. But that may soon come to an
end in the near future if either one of these two pan out.
The surprise of camp may be forward Matt Hubbauer. Invited
on a tryout basis, he has shown some speed, agility, stick handling, and a good
wrist shot. He may not be very big at 5’10” and just under 200 pounds, but has
the heart needed to make it. A minor league contract would be a wise investment
Another invitee, forward and pugilist Brendan Walsh has
come into camp and done what he has to in order to earn a contract by fighting
fellow tough guys Colton Orr, and fan favorite PJ Stock. It will be hard
with Orr, Doug Doull, and Darren Van Oene already under contract and
slated for Providence. It is not out of the question though.
Nate Thompson, a sixth round pick in this past
year’s draft, has shown good stickhandling, fore checking, and a strong wrist
shot. He could end up being a sleeper down the line.
Forward Jan Kubista and defenseman Tuukka Makela
were cut after only a couple of days of regular camp. Makela was not
impressive during his stay. He showed below average puck control and passing
ability and overall just looked uncomfortable out there. Kubista wasn’t even on
the roster long enough to make a strong impression. Steve Solina and Josh
Prudden were also cut after the first week.