The Boston Bruins played on the road the last two games in Washington and Detroit. The Bruins lost a lively game in DC 5-4 in OT and won last night at the "The Joe" 3-1. Niklas Svedberg took the loss on a Troy Brouwer goal in overtime and looked less that inspiring during the loss. Alex Ovechkin had two goals and after spotting the Bruins a 4-2 lead after two periods, roared back to force OT and steal the win. While Coach Julien overall was pleased with many players performance and efforts, he felt the team allowed the Caps back in it and lost the initiative the last 10 minutes of the game and through the OT.
Bruins that impressed in DC were Seth Griffith as he continues to push his dark horse camp to nail down a place on the team. Griffith scored two goals as did Matt Fraser who popped in a power play tally. Simon Gagne finally got a real goal and has seemed to find his skates after taking last season off. Zach Trotman was on the ice with the give away in OT and may have sealed his fate with an expectation now of being demoted to Providence. He hasn't been pushing in my opinion in the same manner as last year when he was the last defenseman cut by the team. David Warsofski on the other hand is pushing very hard and making it difficult to envision that he won't be on this team on October 8th, regardless if Torey Krug should sign. Reilly Smith should take note also as Griffith has had some great chemistry with Bergeron and Marchand and even if he signed, might at best find a spot on the right side of the 3rd or 4th line.
Last night against Detroit, Doug Hamilton stepped up with a goal and an assist with a +3 as he led the defense in assisting Rask and Jeremy Smith in defending the Bruins net. Hamiliton has been displaying some extra confidence and seems as if a major light has turned on and elevated his game. He's come into camp stronger and 10 pounds heavier than last year, yet seems smoother and quicker with the puck. Defensively for me, has been the surprise of Adam McQuaid who not only looks heathy, but stronger and more determined to stay a member of this team. He's been a bear in the corners and throwing his body in front of shots. I thought McQuaid might be on the outside looking in as the seventh defenseman but it's Miller and Bartkowski hanging on the fringes as camp unfolds. The other goals scored last night were by Marchand and Ville Leino. Milan Lucic saw his first game action last night and while he didn't stand out, he also didn't look too out of place after missing time recovering from his wrist injury.
At this point analyzing the team, I have a feel that Matt Fraser may spend some time with Krejci on the first line now that Lucic is back and we might get a look at Eriksson playing with Soderberg again with Kelly on the left wing. I still feel the right wing fourth line spot is open and there are several players that could possibly win it. My thinking right now is that with Campbell hurt, Spooner centers with Paille on left wing. If Spooner sticks on the team, it could be farewell to the idea on Torey Krug getting an offer as he seems the logical choice to fill Krugs spot on the power play with Chara down low and Boychuk on the right side. Hamilton seems to be the logical right side anchor on the second power play with Bergeron, Soderberg and Bartkowski. That leaves Eriksson, Fraser and Marchand to fight it out for the open spot. Right now with Fraser's natural hard shot, he seems to be the man.
Defensive penalty kill pairings look to be Bergeron and Marchand and Kelly and Eriksson with Paille waiting/looking for a partner to be paired up with at forward. Rask has looked adequate, but seems to be holding back a bit. Jeremy Smith I feel is making the bid for backup very tough on Svedberg in goal. Smith deserves a chance to start one of the three remaining games and Rask should plan on the last preseason game as a final tuneup for him.
Regards Reilly Smith and Torey Krug, I'm starting to sense a frustration of the Bruins management with them and while I think eventually Smith will sign, I do believe he'll have to earn his spot now. Loui Eriksson has in the last week earned his way in to speculation of trade talks as his camp has lacked luster. I do believe the fading hopes of Gagne and Leino of making this team grow daily as we are seeing some special efforts from players like Caron, Fraser, Griffith, Sexton and Fallstrom to make this team. I expected bigger pushes from Khokhlachev, Lindblad and Florek during camp, but they just don't seem to have the extra added something right now to get noticed. I wouldn't be surprised at this point to see Bracken Kerns and Chris Breen assigned to Providence as keepers, they have played well, but are too far down the depth chart while showing they deserve jobs. I expect the Bruins to have 27-28 players only come Thursday this week in Rusticcia Arena practicing as Coach Julien makes final decisions for the opener on October 8th. I don't think it will be long before announcements that Linus Arnesson and David Pastrnak will be heading back to Sweden to get healthy and play. As the Providence Bruins start their official preseason on Wednesday, expect there to be a log jam of 10-12 defensemen to play for 7-8 spots. Right now I expect Trotman, Breen and Morrow to be locks and Casto, Eminger, Cross and Simonelli to fight for spots. That could be compounded if Warsofski is sent down.
The other tid bit making the rumor mill is John Boychuk possibly being traded to Detroit or the New York Islanders. I think it less likely and possible that he'll stick around awhile as I believe the Bruins may trade the rights to Krug if this drags into the regular season.
Until Next Time !