--Day 3: Three Sessions, One Story
I am upstairs (level three, ice level) at the TD Banknorth Garden.
I waltzed in here around 8:10. Legend has it that video coordinator Brant Berglund and equipment manager Mark Dumas "danced" in around 5:45. Ooooof.
I am going to employ this running bloggy kind of exercise, in the hopes of capturing as much as possible in the seats (away from the comp) and giving you as much as possible (on the comp).
The first thing I saw as I rounded the corner was David Krejci
sprinting down the locker room corridor wearing his "Work Will Win" t-shirt. Very appropriate for David, as his work ethic this summer has been amazing.
As far as I can tell, the team is split into two locker rooms, with the Rookies in the (very nice) space reserved for visiting teams, and the Vets in their own den.
NESN is here setting up shots and the equipment managers are preparing the new benches for population.
I love the new "seamless" glass along the sides of the rink, and word has it that the Garden has the most modern set of boards and glass possible. I have been trying to track down the building manager for a little info, but as you might imaging, the guy is pretty busy.
Speaking of busy, those of you who are coming in on Saturday, due to the expected inclement weather as much of the outdoor stuff as possible will be held indoors. Keep it here for the full lowdown, etc.9:28 a.m.
Wireless issue. Mitigation in progress.9:51 a.m.
Mitigation complete.Group A lines:
White: Schaefer, Savard, Karsums
Gold: Axelsson, Krejci, Kobasew
Gray: Hoggan, Nokelainen, Thornton
Brick: DiCasmirro, MetropolitDefensemen (in black):
Ference, Wideman, Stuart, Chara, CurryGoalies (in black):
Water break. There a lot of tanned, reddened faces out there. Coach Julien is running the show, with the entire coaching staff joining Our Boys, intently listening to one of their first lectures.10:03 a.m.
Modified 2-on2's. Two forwards, two D. Forwards carry the puck in, trailing D backs off, allowing a 2 on 1. Tough drill.10:06 a.m.
Coach Julien is VERY LOUD
Forechecking drill. Lots of contact.10:14 a.m.
First hip check: Wideman on DiCasmirro. Not bad.
After practice Dennis said that he was saving his better stuff for the regular season...10:29 a.m.
Brutal drill. One puck, two people. Go at it. Full contact down low. Forward at D-man, try to score, try to strip the puck. Ouch.10:35 a.m.
Cam Neely is in the house, down by the bench, True Believers. Not a bad sign at all, folks.
He is watching the B's pound each other in a 3-on-3 drill. Same concept, with the forwards trying to put the puck in down low, and the D and a forward trying to beat the stuffing out of the guy with the puck -- legally.10:53 a.m.
Sprints around the perimeter of the rink. Cool-downs every 45-seconds or so.11:04 a.m.
Last sprint. No puke.
That certainly didn't look like fun. Savvy led the cool down stretch following the round-the-rink circuits. Everyone looks to be fine. And thankfully, I didn't see any injuries in this, the first pro practice of the season. More in a bit...12:13 p.m.
I am back out in the bowl after a bit of talking with Our Boys.Right now, group B is:
White: Hendricks, Kessel, Murray
Gold: Sturm, Bergeron, Bochenski
Brick: Tevelyan, Thompson, Reich
Red: Pelletier, Mowers
Ward, Allen, Lashoff, Hunwick, Sigalet
Brown, Fernandez12:28 p.m.
Battery issues...gimme a few.2:20 p.m.
The Vets are done for the day. Bruins coach Claude Julien's second ever practice looked pretty similar to the first and with the drills looking the same as the first, there was not much new to report.
One thing of note: Andrew Alberts missed today with a cold. Nothing more. Fellow former Eagle Bobby Allen spoke with me after practice. Take a listen. Bobby Allen
Coach Julien's voice never hit the strength it did with the first group. And, looking back, he only hit that volume once -- I believe in response to a less than straightforward movement by one of his forwards.
Rookie defenseman Matt Hunwick did not look out of place, skating with the older guys. I was lucky enough to speak with him and have that convo on tape. Matt Hunwick
Speaking of rookies, I am going to head back out the bowl and see what's up.
3:47 p.m. The rookies are off and the ice is quiet.
From what I observed, Coach Gordon was doing his very best to give the kids a crash course on a system that would put them all on the same page in preparation for Sunday's game.
|Benning and Chiarelli |
Stop-and-start positioning was the order of the day, as Coach had the players run through various scenarios and blew his whistle anytime one of the skaters messed up or did something very well. Coach Julien and the rest of the staff, including B's General Manager Peter Chiarelli were also observing, intently.
Several of the players looked to be less affected by the, by now, chewed up ice (there have been three sessions, after all) and relative heat of the arena. And as usual, Brad Marchand
heads my list of hard working players. But you can also add Mr. Lucic and Mr. Rabbit.Today, the Rookies were also in some semblance of lines:
Gold: Lucic, Sobotka, Jorgensen
Red: Marchand, Hamill, Lehtonen
Brick: Orr, Rabbit, Bitz, Knackstedt, Collins
Ostrcil, Reul, Bodnarchuk, Boyle, McQuaid
As many of you will remember, last year's coaching staff often had the B's do positioning drills with their sticks upside down, so that where they were in relation to the puck handler was more important than the use of their stick.
Today, Coach Gordon employed this technique, as well.
Forward Byron Bitz, former captain of the Cornell Big Red, gave us the lowdown on the rookie practice. Click on the link below. Byron Bitz
All right folks, I have more to add, but I have to beat the traffic home.
Check back later for some treats...9:42 p.m. Postscript
|John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker. |
Well, I am back from a family party (happy birthday Nonna!) and am looking at my e-mails and some of your questions. I also got some pictures in my e-mail and have a three short podcasts. So, give me a few minutes to sprinkle the piece with podcast's and pictures and think about your questions. Keep it here.10:23 p.m.
I am on my last legs folks. But here goes some discussion of you questions.
Many of you have asked if any of the rookies have a chance to make the big club. Here's the deal. There are already too many pieces to the puzzle on the Veteran side, so I would think that it would be a long shot for one of the very young guys to unseat an NHL or AHL player -- however, Coach Julien has consistently said that he has no preconceived notions about this team and that there are spots available to be won.
So, let's see how the next couple of days go.
A few more people asked about the new guys, Nokelainen and Metropolit, and how they are fitting in.
I have been impressed by both, quite frankly, and have enjoyed the smoothness and creativity brought to the table by Mr. Nokelainen. Metropolit also seems like a very useful forward at both ends of the ice.
But, as I said above, I think it is too early to pencil anyone in anywhere.
Another question: How does Manny look?
A short answer: Comfortable.
He and Timmy are new locker room neighbors and I have seen them getting along fine, thank you very much. However, if there are two more intense competitors in hockey, tell me where they are.
Manny does not look to be having any issues with his repaired knee, and continuously works at his game like a pro.
Less spontaneous than Timmy, both men have made some spectacular saves despite their disparate styles. Thomas, as is his habit, consistently throws everything from his head to his toes at the puck, while Fernandez could described as technical, and plays his angles quite well. Both men seem to be ready to compete for time between the pipes and I can already see them pushing each other.
Coach Julien consistently states that BOTH goaltenders will be important to the club's turnaround and is clearly enamored with the idea of having two guys who have been #1's in the past. When people ask him about Manny's merits, Coach talks about them, and then Julien likes to mention that Thomas has played some pretty good goal, too.
Reporters have consistently joked with him and have asked who his starting goalie will be each of the last two days. Julien flashes an amused grin and just shakes his head.
Rookie goalie Tuukka Rask
has also been impressive in the rookie practices, but just like Hamill, Marchand, Lucic and Co., I think it is too early to be making predictions about his immediate future.
I'll tell you one thing though, T-Rask is unflappable and very skilled -- a true joy to watch.
One more question: Have the Bruins addressed the team's toughness?
Another short answer: Yes.
Not only are Jeremy Reich and Shawn Thornton
bringing their considerable talents to the table, but Zdeno Chara
has hinted that whatever was stopping him from dropping the gloves or playing with the kind of ferociousness that he had displayed in his Ottawa incarnation, has gone the way of the Dodo. Add to that the hard-nosed style of not a few of the players in camp (Hoggan, Thompson, Lucic, etc.) and you have some serious toughness and grit skating around.
Honestly, I don't think toughness will be an issue -- either at Providence or in Boston.Last thoughts...
Fan fest is on for tomorrow, but will be reigned in a bit because of the weather. Inside, a slap shot booth will be set up and so will a face painting and caricature tables. However, if moonscapes and bungee runs and obstacle courses are your forte, you may want to plan for a return trip on Sunday -- as outdoor activities have been nixed for Saturday.
Plenty going on tomorrow, what with the practices and scrimmages, however. So don't be afraid to come on in.
And don't forget that the Bruins ticket on-sale is tomorrow, as well...and the rookie game on Sunday in CT.
My pillow is calling. Tomorrow is another busy day.