Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John Grigg of the Hockey News,
...But there’s one under-the-radar player who is fast making a name for himself around the NHL and coming up in Calder chatter (at least when I’m involved) – Boston defender Matt Hunwick.
The 23-year-old native of Warren, Mich., is an alumnus of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the University of Michigan. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started this year – his second pro season – with the American League’s Providence Bruins, but was called up after just two games. His first NHL game this season came on Oct. 15, but then he sat out until November. When Andrew Ference fractured his leg, Hunwick got a chance to be a regular and has only missed one game since.
After failing to register a point through his first five NHL games this season, Hunwick reeled off a six-game point streak in which he tallied three goals and eight points. He currently has three goals, 14 points (tying him for 10th among rookies with Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan) and is plus-13 in just 21 games.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
...there’s a good chance that if Wheeler (11-9 -20, plus-19 in 33 games) continues to produce at his current rate, he’ll earn some extra cash to tack onto his $875,000 base pay.
Wheeler is in line to hit three $212,500 Individual A bonuses: scoring at least 20 goals, finishing among the top three Bruins in plus-minus, and making the All-Rookie Team. Wheeler is on pace to score 27 goals. He is second on the team in plus-minus, trailing only Marc Savard (plus-20). Among rookies, Wheeler is tied with Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski with 20 points, trailing Columbus’s Derick Brassard (25), Chicago’s Kris Versteeg (25), and St. Louis’s Patrik Berglund (21). Brassard dislocated his shoulder last Thursday and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
more on the Bruins
via Brian Hunter of NHL.com,
(Blake) Wheeler had already scored a goal early in the first to give the Bruins the lead when he broke in with teammate Dave Krejci on Blues goaltender Manny Legace—or at least he thought. The University of Minnesota product ending up putting on a spin-o-rama move to notch his 11th of the season.
“I initially was looking to make a pass back to Krejci,” Wheeler said. “He kind of abandoned me. He went off for a change and the only thing I could do was react. There was a guy coming at me and I just kind of reacted. I got lucky.”
Boston, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement today regarding Bruins center Patrice Bergeron:
“After first being treated at the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday, Patrice was diagnosed as having sustained a concussion, and was admitted to Mass General Hospital under the care of Dr. Peter Asnis.
“Since being admitted to MGH Patrice has undergone extensive testing, and all of the results have come back normal. When examined this morning, his condition had improved greatly over last night, and he was released from the hospital. There is no timetable for his return to the ice.”
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
The Bruins’ front office doesn’t seek this space for advice, but if I were general manager of the hottest hockey team on Causeway in 15 years, I’d try to tie down Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez today for three-year extensions worth an average $3 million a year. I could be wrong, but I think each of the 34-year-olds might bite (key stat: age 34). That wouldn’t be music to the ears of wunderkind Tuukka Rask, eager to launch his NHL career, but Thomas and Fernandez are proven NHL commodities.
more NHL notes including MacTavish and Hartsburg on the hot seat…
from Kevin Paul Dupont of Bruins Blog,
Frightening sight at 8:37 of the second period when Patrice Bergeron ran straight into an onrushing Dennis Seidenberg and took the blow directly to the left side of his face, leaving the Boston center facedown on the ice for some three minutes.
Bergeron, who missed most of last season with a Grade 3 concussion suffered Oct. 27, 2007, did not appear to lose consciousness. However, he was obviously stunned by the hit and lay motionless on the ice for about a minute before finally moving his legs.
After some three minutes on the ice, Bergeron was helped to his feet by teammates Chuck Kobasew and Marc Savard, who also then aided him toward the Boston bench. Some 15 feet from the bench, Bergeron skated on his own toward the bench door and exited under his own power down the runway toward the dressing room.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
In the Bruins’ plan for 2008-09, one likely scenario was to have Manny Fernandez reclaim his game, then swap the free agent-to-be before the trade deadline, replacing the veteran with rookie Tuukka Rask to back up Tim Thomas.
But with the Bruins merrily steamrolling opponents and both goalies combining to form the stoutest puck-stopping tandem in the league, general manager Peter Chiarelli may find that trading Fernandez brings more harm than benefit.
Today’s guest on the NHL’s conference call was Boston Bruins right wing Phil Kessel, who answered questions from numerous members of the hockey media.
Earlier today Phil was named NHL ‘First Star’ for the week that ended yesterday after leading the National Hockey League in scoring with three goals and five assists for eight points. The Bruins won three of four games for the week. Phil has the NHL’s longest active point streak, which is currently at 15 games, and the longest streak for a Bruin since Adam Oates had a 20-game streak in January and February of 1997. The Madison, Wisconsin native ranks second on the Bruins in scoring with 31 points and his 19 goals are third in the League behind Thomas Vanek of Buffalo, who has 24, and Jeff Carter of Philadelphia with 21.
Q & A
Q. Are you still playing mostly with Marc Savard at center and Milan Lucic on the left wing?
PHIL KESSEL: Yeah, that’s who I’m playing with right now. I enjoy playing with both those guys. They’re both great hockey players.
from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times,
Vaulting to a 21-5-4 record, with a roster filled with young, fresh faces who play a fun style of hockey, the Bruins have finally softened the heart of their city.
“In Boston, it’s a tough crowd,” General Manager Peter Chiarelli said. “People are now critiquing how we win. You know what? This is a good sign.”
The Bruins have lost only three games since the beginning of November, one of them in a shootout to the Rangers. They have won 16 times in that span, including a 5-3 victory last Monday against the Lightning. And they ended up lamenting having given up the three goals to Tampa Bay.
But the fans loved every minute. They watched one of their young stars, 21-year-old Phil Kessel, score at least a point for his 12th straight game, a streak he has stretched to 15 games. They howled at every hit and shot taken by Milan Lucic, who at 20 is fast becoming a folk hero for his scrappy play. Lucic is constantly serenaded by chants of “Luuuuu,” from an increasingly boisterous crowd.
from Bud Barth of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette,
Defenseman Dennis Wideman, a relative graybeard by comparison at age 25, was talking about the explosive development this season of the Bruins’ Baby Bombers — Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Matt Hunwick, Blake Wheeler and even Wideman himself.
“Those guys are all 100 times better than they were last year,” Wideman said, ignoring the fact that his improvement curve is just as steep. “If they keep going like this, and keep getting better and keep working, it’s scary what they could accomplish.”
It’s already frightening to see how far they’ve come just up till now. You can throw Patrice Bergeron into this bunch, too, considering he’s only 23 years old and is showing such remarkable progress in rebounding from that awful concussion of last year.
Without going up and down every roster, it’s clear that there’s not another NHL team that (a) has such a wide array of young talent, and (b) has seen such a drastic improvement in that many players in such a short period of time.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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