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There are pros to his game

Karsums looking to stick in Boston

WILMINGTON -- The first impression Martins Karsums hoped to make didn't go the way he expected last season.

This year, he doesn't plan on a repeat.

The 20-year-old forward from Riga, Latvia, who is participating in the Bruins' informal skates at Ristuccia Arena this week, tried to open eyes during training camp last season. But an injured right ankle, which had kept him off the ice for the previous nine months, slowed Karsums, keeping him from signing a pro contract and sending him back to junior hockey.

Ankle: healed. Confidence: high. Preferred destination: Boston instead of Moncton, New Brunswick.

``I hope I'm not back there," said Karsums of Moncton with a laugh. ``I'm not sure I could be here in Boston, but maybe I can make it in Providence."

Karsums, the 64th overall pick of the 2004 draft, scored 34 goals and 31 assists in 49 games last year for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats. Karsums signed with the Bruins May 22, but if he doesn't make the Boston or Providence rosters, he can be returned to his junior club as an overage player.

Last season, Karsums and the Wildcats, who were led by current New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan, won the league championship and advanced to the Memorial Cup. Also on the Moncton roster was recent Bruins pick Brad Marchand (71st in the 2006 draft), who recorded 29 goals and 37 assists .

The 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound Karsums is one of the club's Special K's (Phil Kessel, Petr Kalus, David Krejci), four prospects who are fighting for NHL jobs. Karsums is a dark-horse candidate for a fourth-line spot with the parent club, but given his speed, strength, and skating ability, the wide-shouldered forward could be a featured player in Providence.

While Kessel is a sniper who thrives in open space, Karsums prefers to grind in the corners and in the slot, and isn't afraid of contact.

``I don't think it matters," Karsums said of his height. ``I can still do the hard job in front of the net. I can stand there, dig pucks out, and play hard in front of the net."

Local flavor
Karsums had high praise for Bay Staters Keith Yandle (Milton) and Adam Pineault (Holyoke), who were his teammates in Moncton last season. Yandle, whose older brother, Brian, captained the University of New Hampshire last year, scored 25 goals and 59 assists as a defenseman in 2005-06. Yandle was picked by the Phoenix Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2005 draft.

Pineault, who played at Boston College in 2003-04 before withdrawing from school, scored 29 goals and 30 assists last season. Pineault is property of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected the forward in the second round of the 2004 draft.

``He can do everything -- skate, score, play defense," Karsums said of Yandle. ``I think both of them can play in the pros."

Sox talk
Despite the implosion of their cross-town mates, several of the Bruins kept up the Red Sox chatter after the skate. Season ticket-holder Paul Mara gave a thumbs-up to Josh Beckett's seven-inning performance against Oakland Tuesday. Brad Boyes, a Blue Jays fan, shook his head about the Sox' collapse and expressed his confusion over baseball's trade deadline and how player swaps continue after July 31. ``Keep the faith," said Mara . . . Zdeno Chara again led the workout, cranking some sizzling one-timers from Boyes at the start of the skate. Nothing like the smell of burning rubber in the morning. Smells like winter . . . Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, who skated Tuesday, sat out yesterday's session . . . Boyes expected linemate Patrice Bergeron to arrive here next week. Bergeron is working out in Quebec . . . Brad Isbister signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. The forward had six goals and 17 assists for the Bruins last year . . . Still sitting in the corner of the dressing room are seven of ex-Bruin netminder Andrew Raycroft's black Reebok sticks.

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