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NHL will not change offsides rule on Coach’s Challenge

03.07.17 at 5:21 pm ET
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The NHL will not tinker with their rules on offside challenges. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The NHL will not tinker with their rules on offside challenges. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The NHL is unlike any other pro sports league for a number of reasons.

I mean, their annual lockout every decade or so is as unique as it is embarrassing among the United States of America’s big four sports.

But in between collective bargaining agreements, and on a year to year basis, the league seems to look for tweaks and fixes to increase scoring and the speed of play… while also implementing rules and ideas that prevent the league from accomplishing those goals.

Nothing embodies this more than the still fresh Coach’s Challenge.

In its second year, the challenge has given NHL bench bosses the ability to challenge goals on the ice just moments after they happen — without the use of a weird red flag tucked away in socks like in the NFL — and includes the coach’s ability to challenge whether or not a player was offside on the zone entry that came before the goal.

It is the grinding halt that the game does not need. And it’s (unfortunately) not going away anytime soon.

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Brad Marchand hits another milestone in losing effort vs. Senators

03.07.17 at 5:27 am ET
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Brad Marchand has hit the 30-goal mark for the second season in a row. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand has hit the 30-goal mark for the second season in a row. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins struggled to do much of anything offensively in their 4-2 Monday night loss in Ottawa. That’s not the first time that’s happened this year, and it won’t be the last. But one constant remained, even in defeat, and that’s the excellence of Bruins winger Brad Marchand.

In a 17:54 night, the crafty winger was held to just two shots on goal, but made one count in a big way with a power-play goal for the Black and Gold. It was the goal that brought the Bruins back within one, but ultimately did not matter in what finished as a two-goal defeat to the Sens for the second time in as many contests this season.

That’s not to say that it did not matter to Marchand, though, as the goal counted as his 30th of the season, scored in just 66 games this season.

The goal was more than just No. 30 for the 28-year-old, too.

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Bruins struggle to play from behind once again in loss to Senators

03.06.17 at 10:59 pm ET
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The Bruins lost to the Senators for the second time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins lost to the Senators for the second time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Bad starts have not been common under Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. Playing from behind has been even less common. The two go hand in hand, you’d think, and ultimately proved to be the club’s downfall in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Senators on Monday.

It started when the Bruins allowed Derick Brassard to score just 1:21 into the first period. OK, not the best start, but nothing the club could not come back from. It got worse, however, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored 2:04 after that, and then the Bruins were officially in trouble.

Against Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, a player who entered play with 18 wins and a .930 save percentage in 27 games this season and with just eight goals allowed over his last five starts, playing catch-up hockey was a recipe for certain death at Canadian Tire Center.

And forced Cassidy to once again coach from a position that has not necessarily been one of his strengths through 11 games.

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Bruins and Senators set to resume biggest series of the season

03.06.17 at 6:43 pm ET
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The Bruins begin one of three more meetings with the Sens this season tonight in Ottawa. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins begin one of three more meetings with the Sens this season tonight in Ottawa. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Do you remember what happened the last time the Bruins played the Senators? For the record, you have every right not to remember.

The only prior meeting between these two teams this season came on Thanksgiving night earlier this season. And it was a sleepy, boring game in which the Senators took it to the Bruins in the second and third period for a 3-1 victory. The Sens did a lot of things to the B’s in that game, but their greatest asset was their ability to limit what the Bruins did through the neutral zone with a clogging type of game that Guy Boucher was known for during his first NHL go round.

It was just one of many forgettable losses that this team suffered in the first half of the season — others include a 5-0 home loss to the Wild and 2-1 Black Friday loss to the Flames — but tonight’s game is one that the Bruins cannot afford to forget about.

With a schedule featuring just 17 more games to determine their playoff fate after back-to-back misses, the Bruins will match up against the Sens two more times after tonight, so three games in total. The Sens have two games in hand over the Bruins, and hold a two-point advantage over the Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division.

In essence, these games can and will make a major difference for the Bruins between now and April.

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Bruins could drop ‘interim’ tag from Bruce Cassidy’s title before season ends

03.06.17 at 9:30 am ET
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The Bruins could make a decision on Bruce Cassidy before the season ends. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins could make a decision on Bruce Cassidy before the season ends. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have wins in eight of 10 games since Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien as the team’s head coach. Still, though, the ‘interim’ tag next to head coach title remains there next to Cassidy’s name.

That’s to be expected from second-year general manager Don Sweeney.

There’s no sense in rushing to a decision before the stretch run finishes, especially given this team’s recent history, with collapses out of postseason contention in back-to-back season finales. And why make a call before you see what other names are out there for this team or before everything settles on what’s been a painfully up and down and back again season in Boston, right?

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that Cassidy will finish the season without a promotion of sorts to his name, according to Sweeney.

Not if Sweeney continues to see the positives that have come with this club’s climb back into control of their own spring destiny.

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Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will play after taking 25 stitches to neck

03.05.17 at 8:36 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid is expected to play after taking over 20 stitches to the neck on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Adam McQuaid is expected to play on Monday after taking over 20 stitches to the neck. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

I don’t need to tell you that Adam McQuaid is a tough dude.

But it’s probably worth repeating after Saturday night’s finish to the Black and Gold’s win, where McQuaid was clipped across the throat by David Backes’ skate blade in the final few minutes of a 3-2 final.

The 30-year-old McQuaid actually stayed on the ice and finished his shift, too, and ultimately required 25 stitches after the game in what could have been a far more severe injury by mere inches.

“Definitely a really close call,” admitted McQuaid. “Couldn’t help but thank God that it wasn’t a scarier situation.”

Absent from Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena and sporting a nice cut to the right side of his neck, McQuaid also confirmed that he plans to play in Monday night’s game in Ottawa.

“I should be good to go,” said McQuaid, who recently switched to wearing a visor after multiple close calls with pucks and sticks to his eye in December. “Obviously barring any unforeseen circumstances.”

“He’s a tough customer. I’m not telling you something that you don’t already know,” Cassidy, whose team has won eight of 10 games played with him as the head coach, said. “It’s a scary injury…he even stayed on the ice.”

And he’ll be right back there on Monday night.

Drew Stafford makes immediate impact in Bruins debut

03.04.17 at 11:36 pm ET
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Drew Stafford had an assist on Ryan Spooner's game-winning goal on Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Drew Stafford had an assist on Ryan Spooner’s game-winning goal on Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins claimed that they knew what they were bringing to their team in deadline pickup and veteran forward Drew Stafford.

But not even could B’s general manager Don Sweeney or interim head coach Bruce Cassidy have expected this production out of the gate.

A veteran of over 700 NHL games, the 31-year-old suited up in Boston colors for the first time on Saturday, skated on a line with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner, and wasted no time in making a noticeable impact for the club in a 3-2 win over the Devils at TD Garden.

In just 14:07 of time on ice, Stafford put seven shots on goal, threw four hits, and came through the primary assist on the game-winning goal from Spooner, scored 8:18 into the third period.

Named the No. 1 star in the win, Stafford did even more for his new club’s eighth win in their last 10 games.

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