September 12, 2011

Benning: Time for rookies to 'show why they're here'

by Jesse Connolly

Goalie Michael Hutchinson is expected to get the start for the Bruins on Monday night. (Dave Arnold Photography)

WILMINGTON – After three days of high-spirited, up-tempo practices at Ristuccia Arena, the Bruins’ band of rookies are now bound for Long Island.

It’s there that they’ll take on the Islanders’ rookies in a pair of contests, as Boston and New York will have their young guns square off for a second straight preseason. The B’s swept the two-game set last year.

The Bruins’ prospect pool boasts a wide array of skills, from the hard-nosed style of defenseman Marc Cantin to the elusive, Samsonov-like ways of Alex Khokhlachev. Assistant GM Jim Benning is encouraging the youngsters to simply do what they do best.

“I think anytime they play they’re going to play to win,” Benning said of the upcoming matchups with the Isles. “We told them to just show what they’re good at. If they’re skaters, skate. If they’re skilled guys, use their skill. If they’re hitters, you know, we got a good mix of a lot of different things in the group. They’re all here for a reason so just to go out there and show why they’re here and put their best foot forward.”

The B’s aren’t exactly going into these upcoming tilts without a solid idea of what to expect from each of their prospects, having done their due diligence and closely surveyed their showings in the early days of camp. However, there’s no denying that their performances in these upcoming games will have a major impact on their immediate futures.

“I think you learn a lot,” said Benning. “You learn what their make-up is, how hard they’re going to compete in a game situation when the pressure is on them, like what are they made of? The skill guys, are they going to create plays or are they going to create scoring chances?

“So usually what happens when they play under pressure, their skill or their toughness or whatever they’re here to show, should come to the top so that’s what we’re hoping to see from all the guys. All their different skill sets and toughness.

"We have some physical defensemen, we got some defensemen that can skate and handle the puck. We have skilled forwards but yet on the other side we got some big strong guys that hit and are going to look after their teammates, too. So it should be interesting. I’m looking forward to see how they perform as a group.”

The Bruins and Islanders are set to square off on Monday night at 7 o’clock. Michael Hutchinson is expected to be in goal for the Black and Gold.