BOSTON – The Bruins traded away their 2018 first-round pick in the Rick Nash deal, but they did just fine on their second- and third-round picks in June.
That’s my takeaway from today’s 2-1 shootout win over the Washington Capitals at the TD Garden.
Third-rounder Jakub Lauko scored the first goal and second-rounder Axel Andersson showed plenty of poise and mobility. Throw in a strong performance by Zane McIntyre in the net and it adds up to a 2-1 shootout win.
Here are quick hits on Lauko, Andersson and McIntyre.
While he didn’t score at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo last weekend, he was effective all over the ice. Today he broke through with a goal and continued to skate with lots of speed and energy.
“Yeah, it was good – the feeling after. I didn’t know what to do. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I scored, what do I do now?’ So, it was good. Nice feeling,’’ he said.
That’s another thing to like about Lauko. He has lots of personality.
Was he nervous before his first NHL preseason game?
“I’m never nervous, so I think it’s a good thing for me that I’m never nervous. So, yeah, just fun,’’ he said, after recording three hits, a couple of blocked shots and making some creative offensive plays.
Coach Joe Sacco was upbeat on Lauko.
“He played hard, 18-year-old kid, didn’t seem fazed by anything out there really. Competed, obviously scoring the goal is a bonus, but just the way he played the game, the way he approached the game tonight. It was a good start for him. I mean you don’t want to get ahead of yourself here, but certainly it was a good first game for him. He showed a lot of composure for his first game,’’ he said.
As he did in Buffalo, Lauko talked about doing all he can to play in North America this season, instead of going back to the Czech Republic.
“I’m trying. I’m trying a lot. I’m trying to learn on the ice and off the ice. And I hope I can stay for (the coming) season – here or Providence. I want to stay in America,’’ he said.
I have my doubts that playing in the AHL as an 18-year-old is the right next step. It seems to me that junior hockey – Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL holds his rights – is where Lauko would get the top-six minutes and power play time that he needs.
To me, this righty defenseman – who is 18 but looks, I don’t know, 15 – has gotten better with each game.
A superb skater, he was paired with Zdeno Chara today. He was composed with the puck in his own end and had some strong keep-ins at the other end. He was credited with the only assist on Lauko’s goal.
“Seemed really poised back there, wasn’t nervous, went back for pucks, didn’t seem to get rattled or anything. Even when the pressure came on him a few times he didn’t seem to back off, he stuck with it,’’ said Sacco.
The advantage of playing with Chara, who was in his third NHL season the year Andersson was born, wasn’t lost on the youngster.
“As I said before, he’s such a role model, and yeah, he’s great on and off the ice, so he made me comfortable,’’ he said.
Andersson, a puck-mover whose skills as a defender need work, is expected to play in Sweden again this season.
McIntyre was dialed in today, stopping 21 of 22 shots in regulation time and overtime, then all 3 in the shootout.
“He wasn’t tested early all that much and then when they started to press towards the third period, obviously towards the end there on the power plays that they ran up there, he played well. He made some big saves. He played well, and then he came up big in the shootout, so good on him, good start for him, too,’’ said Sacco.
McIntyre made a fine stop on a Brett Connelly one-timer off the rush with 5:40 left to keep the game knotted at one.
“Just kind of going through the ropes you learn to maybe take a little view of what’s going on in the neutral zone as they’re coming into the zone, so I was able to see he was a right shot on that right side and he was able to get it off quick, so I knew that I had to get over there fairly quick to stop it,’’ he said.
This will be McIntyre’s fourth year in Providence and his contract is up at the end of the season, so a strong start is what he and the Bruins are looking for.