BOSTON -- Going into the B's game versus the red hot Washington Capitals on Thursday night (7:00 p.m. NESN, WBZ NewsRadio), there are two new faces in the Boston Bruins dressing room.
Czech born right wing Petr Tenkrat and Stanislav Chistov, a Russian left wing, are the 'new' guys in the room and have something in common beyond speaking with an Eastern European accent -- the two forwards want to make a big impression on the club that has given them another chance at a career in the NHL.
And although the two players have had different routes to the Boston locker room, both believe that they should be in the National Hockey League.
Tenkrat the Tenacious Tenkrat literally made that point last week as he scored a goal in his first regular season game with the Bruins (November 11th) when he beat goaltender Martin Gerber during the team's 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
As expected, the former Providence Bruin was happy to have made a solid contribution so quickly, but believes in his heart that he is good enough to have made the squad earlier in the campaign. In fact, Tenkrat told Bob Duffy of the Boston Globe just that following his first game heroics versus the Sens.
Tenkrat, who hails from Kladno in the Czech Republic, said that when he was passed through waivers and assigned to Providence at the end of training camp that he "didn't accept it."
He believed, instead, that he would try to get a second go at the lineup in Boston and prove that he could play and contribute consistently in the NHL.
"I came back to the States to play in the NHL," he told the Globe. "And that was what I thought they had in mind for me. But I didn't want to give up, and I decided to go down, work hard, and hopefully get another chance."
And, thus far he has made the most of that chance, converting a pass from his then-linemate Yan Stastny at the 13:47 mark of the second period last Saturday evening.
"I saw the goalie go down and I just faked a one-timer," said Tenkrat of his goal. "I shot it low and scored.
"Of course it was great," he told BostonBruins.com. "[In the] first game -- it was an amazing feeling. I just tried to play my best on the ice to help the team to win."
The goal in his first game with the B's, as well as his fine play on at least two lines, was a bonus, but certainly not unexpected for the veteran forward.
"I have played many, many games before," said Tenkrat, a veteran of 113 NHL contests coming into the season. "And I already know what is going on."
But he was not sure what was going on at the end of last week, or even where he would end up playing.
"It has been pretty tough," he told reporters last Saturday. "[On November 10] my agent called me and told me they were putting me into waivers.
"I was pretty disappointed…again," Tenkrat said, referring to his initial trip through the waiver process. "I just waited until 12:00 [on the 11th] and [Peter Chiarelli] called me and said you are going to play tonight and you have to be in the locker room at 5:00.
"I was happy," he said. "And I tried to forget everything that had happened in the past and just stay focused for the game."
That focus led to a goal and a spot on Mark Mowers' wing tonight versus Washington.
It also led to some unexpected admiration from his head coach, who indicated that he looked forward to seeing what else the forward could bring to the team in terms of production.
"He did come over here to play in the NHL," said Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis, referring, certainly, to the Boston Globe article. "That says a lot about him and his character.
"Even that little comment impressed me…after the fact."
Call Me Stan Chistov arrived in Wilmington on Tuesday and quietly went about his business in the locker room after putting in a solid effort on the ice during practice.
Like Tenkrat, he feels that he has a lot to prove to himself and the hockey world. But his scouting report at TSN.ca speaks of vast untapped potential. They said of Chistov:
Skates like the wind and is incredibly shifty. Has tremendous offensive upside that can intimidate defenders, especially when he attacks them one-on-one.
Needs a lot of work without the puck. Must learn how to play better within a system. Doesn't shoot the puck enough.
Career Potential: Top six winger.
"I am happy to be here," he told the media scrum after practice and in front of his new stall in the Bruins locker room yesterday at the Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington.
"So far it's been good," said Chistov. "Good guys in the locker room and good coaches."
But in the short term, the newest Bruins forward wants to make a good first impression on the ice, not just in the locker room.
"So, this is my chance," he said emphatically. "[The Bruins] gave me an opportunity and I have to take it, you know."
Chistov, whose hometown is Chelyabinsk, Russia, and who told BostonBruins.com that they could call him 'Stan,' had a whirlwind couple of days before reporting to Boston on Tuesday.
"I found out [Monday] morning," said Chistov. "I had just woke up, we had the day off…I turned my phone on and saw that [I had] a lot of messages -- and they said that I got traded."
Chistov is excited for a new start.
"Especially in Boston, a good hockey town with great fans," he said.
Speaking of great hockey towns, Chistov, a former first-round draft pick (5th overall) cites the myriad Russian players who skated during Detroit's latest Stanley Cup cycle as his role models.
And as you know, Coach Lewis knows a little about those players, having earned three Stanley Cup rings coaching with the Red Wings.
"I talked to him about that," said Lewis. "I said it's about time we had a Russian player on the team. I'm not used to not having any.
"He knew that in Detroit there were five. And he did play with Sergei Fedorov in Anaheim, so I talked a little about that with him."
And hopes are high for the young man.
"We saw him last year in the Spangler Cup," said Lewis. "He was playing for Magnitogorsk, the team that actually beat team Canada…for the gold medal.
"So I saw him then, and he looked pretty good over there.
"[Stan's] a good kid, I hear good things about him. I've talked to some people outside our organization that speak highly of him," Lewis said.
Mark in the Middle And the new line, with veteran center Mark Mowers in the middle, looks to resemble a space shuttle going into orbit -- with two rockets on the side, and the versatile, but speedy, orbiter in the middle.
"They're going to try and generate some more chances than another line might," said Coach Lewis. "But I don't want them to think that they have the green light just to go.
"They have to be as responsible as any line, defensively…just because there is a certain level of skill, you still have to be able to do defense and be correct positionally or correct with the puck."
However, the person who may have the toughest evening of all versus Washington, on either side of the puck, might be Mowers. And it's not because of Ovechkin or any of the Washington skaters.
When asked if he himself spoke any European languages, Mowers answered in the negative -- apparently having skipped those language classes at the University of New Hampshire.
"No. Those guys are pretty good with their [communication and English skills]. I don't think I will have to come to their side, they'll come to mine," he said after a chuckle.
Mowers was excited about the possibility of blowing some doors off the competition with his speedy wingers.
"Well, I think the energy part of it will probably stay," continued Mowers, who was himself a sniper at UNH but played more of a physical role with Jeff Hoggan and Yan Stastny before their assignments to Providence.
"I think we are going to go out there and use our speed to play in their end more than our end," said Mowers. "Those two guys are skilled offensive players and I am up for it…it should be fun."