I just got back from the Boston Bruins morning skate in Waterbury, VT. The Bruins spent an hour and a half on the ice.
It was a very high paced practice. A lot of passing drills and a ton of skating.
A few notes from the practice. Not in any order.
Patrice Bergeron looked really good. Fast, great shot, worked some one on one with Zdeno Chara which showed a lot of contact. Was one of the last players on the ice with Assistant Coach Doug Houda shooting one timers.
I couldn't get over how big Chuck Kobasew looked. He looks like he will be back into the swing of things when the season kicks off. He too spent a lot of time working on one timers and receiving the pass down low.
Tuukka Rask, BIG! Very tall. When he goes into his butterfly, he takes up the whole net. Was very impressed with how he practiced. I also saw him when he came out of the rink. He looks like a 14 year old who just had a growth spurt. Tall and skinny. The B's need to put some muscle on him quickly if anyone thinks he can man the net for the Bruins game in and game out.
Blake Wheeler. Me and my buddies just kept coming back to him. Big body with a wicked shot. I had to keep reminding myself he played in the NCAA last year. He worked with Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron. They are seeing each other very well on the ice. I will go as far to say, he will be sticking with the Big Club when the regular season opens.
Which brings me to who is the odd man out if Wheeler is in. Talk around the rink today was Jeremy Reich. It would be too bad as he played pretty well last year but it's business.
I really liked the look of Stephane Yelle. Just had a veteran way to him.
PJ Axelsson. I love seeing him skate. He is really good. He too could be a candidate to be moved. He has a salary to him and he is highly tradeable. Although I would like to see him stay, business wise it would make sense. Still a very solid NHL Player and has been with the team longer than anyone on the roster.
Phil Kessel was at the rink but didn't skate. He mentioned that he would skate tomorrow. Peter Schaefer did not skate today either. Both are nursing slight hip flexors.
Tim Thomas looked sharp as did Manny Fernandez. It sure didn't look like Manny had a thumb injury? He robbed Bergeron with a great top shelf glove save that made the crowd oooo and ahhhh.
All the players after a quiet night in Stowe, looked relaxed and fresh going into today's practice. There was a lot of banter going on on the ice that always builds good team bonding. Which is the whole point of this trip is to bond and relaz for the last week of the pre-season going into the regular season.
Coach Julien did make the Bruins skate hard at the end of practice. Two four minute speed sessions then one all out for a third four minute session. The players sure looked as though they felt it. Heck, all of us in the stands felt it.
I would like to thank Shawn Thornton for taking the time to stop for a photo with Hazel Brewster after practice.
The Boston Bruins will be meeting and greeting their fans at Ben & Jerry's headquaters in Waterbury, Vermont at 8pm tonight.
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