Tim Thomas, John Tavares

Tonight on Versus: Isles-Bruins showdown brings youth and intrigue


When you look at the Islanders and Bruins facing off tonight (7 p.m. ET on Versus) you see one team looking to build on a dormant legacy while another looks to continue their season rolling in the right direction and shaking off a Stanley Cup hangover.

The Islanders have rolled through three goalies and rode the coattails of a man-child in John Tavares. Boston has sleepwalked through the first month of the year, but after two straight wins including a 7-0 stomping of Toronto, appear to have gotten it figured out.

For Boston, getting it figured out means working through line changes and new chemistry. Part of that new chemistry involves 2010 #2 overall pick Tyler Seguin settling in on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Seguin’s hat trick against Toronto certainly looked nice. While David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton get it back together, Seguin’s line has been stellar. Going with the old adage of “the youth shall lead them” is fitting in well for the Bruins.

It’s much the same on Long Island as John Tavares has been out-of-this-world good for New York. His great start is showing that the Islanders have someone special to lead the way offensively in New York, but for the Islanders to succeed they need more production from just about everyone else. If Tavares’ skills can rub off on guys not named Mark Streit (who has also been outstanding), they’ll be i better shape.

Instead, we have a pair of teams with the same number of points looking to get better. For the Islanders, getting a nice night in goal out of any of their troika of Rick DiPietro, Evgeni Nabokov, or Al Montoya would go a long way towards that. Tim Thomas and his Movember mustache and mask will hope to keep the Islanders at bay. If the Bruins can’t do that, it’ll feel like they need to go back to square one to get things going.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.