Simple math: Allen on bubble
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia - He was one of the feel-good stories last season, the Massachusetts boy and Boston College alum who finally got an opportunity to play regular minutes in the NHL.
But Bobby Allen knows as well as anybody that history is just that, especially when you're in a perpetual dogfight for big-league employment.
"I think I have a little better idea of what's being expected of me coming into camp this year," said Allen. "The type of role I had last year, being a third-pair type of guy, getting some minutes, and making simple plays. Don't try and do anything that's out of my game. Just keep it simple, make smart plays, and let everything take care of itself."
The 28-year-old Allen, who had played in only one NHL game before last season, appeared in 31 in 2006-07, logging three assists. Allen saw the entire spectrum on the defensive depth chart, partnered with Zdeno Chara for one stretch and a healthy scratch for the stretch run.
This year, Allen is on the bubble again. Chara, Andrew Ference, Aaron Ward, Andrew Alberts, Dennis Wideman, and Mark Stuart are most likely being slotted into the six blue-line spots. Allen is scrapping to take one of those spots or become the seventh defenseman, with youngsters Matt Hunwick and Matt Lashoff his primary competition.
Allen, who played for coach Claude Julien in Hamilton (AHL), doesn't plan to alter his game. He's a defensive-minded defenseman who can make crisp passes and move the puck out of his zone.
"Just getting a chance to play last year, I proved to myself that I can play," Allen said. "I always thought I could play in the NHL. I thought I played well enough. So I came to camp with a completely different mind-set, not really afraid to make mistakes. Just go out and play a simple game."
Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec scored a natural hat trick to lead the Canadiens to a 4-3 exhibition win over the Bruins yesterday before 9,967 fans at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Plekanec scored two goals in the first period, then turned the trick with a second-period power-play goal. Chuck Kobasew scored Boston's only goal after taking a feed from David Krejci and tapping a shot past goalie Jaroslav Halak at 17:02 of the second period.
Manny Fernandez, making his second appearance of the preseason, played the entire game and stopped 33 shots.
Phil Kessel played on the wing for the second straight game, indicating that the second-year NHLer might be moved out of center ice this season. Kessel scored Boston's third goal with 9.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Staking his claim
With his performance in camp and two game appearances, Glen Metropolit is making a strong push to serve as one of the team's depth forwards.
Metropolit said he's heard that several teams are kicking the tires on his services, which might force the Bruins to act quickly to sign him to a contract (most likely for one year). Metropolit hinted that if another team or two offers him a deal, the Bruins would have the last crack.
"I already feel like I'm part of this thing," said Metropolit, who didn't play yesterday. "I hope it works out here."
Metropolit, who started 2006-07 centering sharpshooters Slava Kozlov and Marian Hossa in Atlanta, said Julien has been clear in defining his role with the Bruins: as a two-way forward who uses his wheels as well as his smarts. So far, Metropolit has done just that, skating at center and wing.
"It's only been exhibition games," said Metropolit. "But I'm happy with what I've done."
The Bruins assigned Jonathan Sigalet and Vladimir Sobotka to Providence and returned Mikko Lehtonen to Espoo (Finnish Elite League) yesterday, leaving them with 31 players in camp. The club might make one more round of cuts before Thursday's rematch against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre . . . Glaring stats from Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto: zero shots and 11:10 of playing time for Brandon Bochenski, who was expected to carry a scoring role this season.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at FShinzawa@globe.com.