Keaton Ellerby

Florida GM Tallon on ’07 first-rounder Ellerby: “It’s time for him to grab the bull by the horns”

Keaton Ellerby is officially on notice.

The Florida Panthers defenseman — who’s failed to make good on the promise that saw him taken 10th overall at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft — was called out by GM Dale Tallon in a recent interview with The Hockey Writers (via the Florida Sun Sentinel).

“Now it’s time for him to grab the bull by the horns,” Tallon explained. “He has the ability, he’s a great skater, he’s got a good shot. I challenged him at the exit meeting that he needs to get prepared this off-season and get stronger mentally and physically.”

Ellerby took a step backwards last season after what appeared to be a breakthrough 2010-11 campaign (54GP, 2G-10A-12PTS, 16:06 average TOI). The 24-year-old only appeared in 40 regular season contests, recorded just five points (no goals) and saw his ice time dip to 15:23 per game.

To make matters worse, a lower-body injury limited him to just one appearance in the Panthers’ opening round playoff loss to the Devils.

Ellerby also catches a lot of heat because of his draft position and the defensemen taken shortly afterward — the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh went 12th overall and St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk went 14th. Both are thriving on their respective clubs: McDonagh finished 11th in Norris voting last season, Shattenkirk 18th.

That said, brighter days could be ahead for Ellerby. He signed a one-year, $700,000 extension with the Panthers this summer and projects to be a top-six blueliner this season.

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.