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Lashoff Looks to Turn Heads

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Lashoff, left, is congratulated by teammate Boston Bruins left wing Marco Sturm of Germany after scoring a goal against the Atlanta Thrashers during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Boston on Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Wilmington, MA -- Matt Lashoff is a pretty happy guy, but if you speak to him, don’t label him as an “offensively minded” defenseman right off the hop, or his world (or yours) could go sour pretty quickly.

“This year is the year for me, that’s the way I am looking at it,” said Lashoff. “There is nothing else in my mind and I’ve prepared myself better than I have ever before.”

Lashoff understands his position in the Bruins organization – namely that there are a lot of defenseman in the system and only six or seven spots to be had -- and he is determined to make it very difficult for management to send him back down I-95 later this month.

“I feel a lot better than I ever have coming into this year,” continued Lashoff as he took off his gear during a conversation that followed a captain’s practice on Thursday. “I think last year I was still fighting that injury a little bit, but this year I couldn’t feel better.

“I’ve been skating a lot with some high caliber guys and I actually stayed in the area this summer, so I was around the organization and around some good people who got me ready.

“I am feeling really good and feeling really confident,” he said.

Confidence is key, particularly for an NHL defenseman and while Lashoff might be known best for a YouTube video highlighting his offensive moves, this is one blueliner who also wants the word defense thrown around consistently when his name is mentioned.

“That’s one of the main things that I am going to try and (do) through this camp,” he said. “I’m going to try and break that mold.

“Obviously, that’s the main thing that I am going to bring to the game -- being offensive and creating things that some people can’t from back on the blueline -- with some skill and some skating ability.

“But I am going to try and break that (stigma) of everyone kind of pegging me as only offensive minded, but pretty bad defensively.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Mathieu Darche (21) battles Boston Bruins' Matt Lashoff for the puck. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
“I never really thought that was true,” said Lashoff.

When asked about his time in Providence, the defenseman said that his experiences last season would help him in his quest to land an NHL job during the upcoming campaign.

“Last year was good for us as a team,” said Lashoff of his time with the P-Bruins. “I think everyone has to be pretty happy with it, especially if you look at all the guys who moved on to bigger and better things.

“But, from a playing standpoint, you have to remember the things that were ingrained in your head from the coaching staff – what you need to do on the ice, sacrificing you body and playing positional hockey.

“Mainly, it’s about doing your job and not worrying about trying to do two or three peoples jobs, and keeping it simple,” he said.

These days Lashoff admits he has to have the proverbial blinders on, and that he has to focus on what he needs to do and not worry about the competition for roster spots.

“Looking back on past camps you see what you did and you try and improve on it,” he said. “Last year I was thinking, thinking, thinking about making it or not making it and I think this year it’s not going to cross my mind.

“You have to go about your business professionally, get the things done that you need to get done, worry about your own performance and be prepared for the next day.

“Those are the biggest things, because stuff is going to happen at training camp and it’s going to happen during the year, too. You are going to make mistakes all the time and the best thing, especially in this situation, is to put them behind you and move on to the next shift, next play and the next day.”

So, as he prepares for 2008-09, the man called “Lash” is ready to show he is ready for the show.

“Yah,” he said. “It’s going to be a real good camp this year.”

Notes: Following their  goalie camp Thursday, Tuukka Rask and Kevin Regan stayed on the ice for another informal scrimmage where smiles were more prevalent than shots. Andrew Bodnarchuk, Zdeno Chara, Shane Hnidy, Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Matt Lashoff, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand,  Jeremy Reich, Nate Thompson, Shawn Thornton, Aaron Ward and Dennis Wideman were the skaters in the captain's practice, which featured the first drills of the year (led mostly by Ward) prior to the game.
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