Friday, January 29, 2010

Joe Colborne back on TV tonight

OK- a 2010 draft hopeful he is not, but B's top prospect (in my humble opinion) Joe Colborne and his Denver University Pioneers will be back in action on the NHL Network tonight at 8:30 pm ET when they take on the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

Colborne and Co. are televised for the second week in a row, which is a nice bonus for B's fans with access to the NHL Network.

Last week, the 16th overall selection in the 2008 NHL draft scored a nice power play goal, but didn't do a lot to stand out beyond that one excellent play. He's big, but doesn't always move his feet a lot. He glides and coasts, which reminds a lot of people of the way Joe Thornton plays. It looks like he isn't working hard at times, but at the end of the night, he has two or three points.

I'm not saying Colborne is Thornton, but when he is at his best, he's fighting for pucks along the walls, using his superior size and strength to protect the puck down low, and going hard to the net. Like Thornton, he is a terrific playmaker with the superior vision, instincts and soft hands to make plays all over the ice.

For more on Colborne and the rest of the Bruins prospects, here is a link to the web version of the Boston Bruins top-10 prospects story I wrote for the January edition of New England Hockey Journal.

If I could do it again today, I'd swap places between Max Sauve and Zach Hamill, but that is a minor adjustment in the grand scheme of things. What has become clear by tracking and reporting on the B's prospects this year is that they need some high-end talent on defense, the wing and even in net. Funny, but Cam Fowler/Brandon Gormley/Eric Gudbranson, Taylor Hall/Nino Niederreiter/Emerson Etem and Jack Campbell/Calvin Pickard/Max Clermont would all fit the bill for them.

The way things are sitting today, the Bruins have a very good chance of addressing multiple needs in the coming draft on paper, but even with some big names, the jury will be out until they can prove themselves at the NHL level.

UPDATE: Watched the game and Colborne looked very good early, scoring a beautiful backhand goal just 90 seconds into it. He took his big frame to the front of the net, pounced on a rebound and flipped it up and over the goalie for the 1-0 lead. The first few shifts he was involved and moving his feet, but as the game wore on, I saw some of the old criticisms of Colborne surface: too much coasting, not enough jam along the boards, invisible over stretches of the game. There is no questioning his talent. On one play in the second period, he used his speed to gain position on the outside, beating the defender and then used his big frame to shield the puck. Although he didn't have much of an angle, he tried to bank the puck into the net off the defender who had scrambled to get back into the play. It didn't work, but it showed the kind of advanced offensive game Colborne possesses.

A night later, he had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory to complete the sweep in North Dakota. One report said that Colborne was given his team's "hardhat" award for the hardest-working player in the two-game series. Encouraging, sure. And, it underscores that sometimes, what may look like someone not putting forth an effort from the stands or on television ends up not being the case. Obviously the DU folks were pretty happy with Colborne's play.

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