|03.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET|
NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in with Dale & Holley show (audio here) to talk about Thursday night’s Bruins-Penguins game and the potential for nastiness involving Penguins villain Matt Cooke. Milbury said he’s heard that NHL vice president Colin Campbell will address the teams prior to the game. Said Milbury: “That’s what I’m hearing. I don’t know what he’s going to say, but I’m sure there will be references to past incidents, [Todd] Bertuzzi-[Steve] Moore, for example, and he doesn’t what any nonsense and what-not, which is good. We had such a great buzz after the Winter Classic. We had such an incredible buzz after the Olympics, and now we get stuck and mired in this Neanderthal B.S., which is really unfortunate for the sport.”
Milbury said he expects the Bruins will seek retribution early. “I hope it isn’t silly. I hope it’s mano-a-mano and confrontational and sends a message to Matt Cooke that this isn’t going to happen. And I actually think if it happens twice, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. But I don’t want it to deteriorate. … The actual game had such a positive buzz. I don’t want to lose that in the circus sideshow here. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think there’s a need to go after Sidney Crosby in any untoward way.”
Added Milbury: “The Bruins, their macho is challenged, their ego is challenged, their self-esteem is on the line. I think they’re going to feel compelled to get even, whatever that means. I’m not so sure they have to. I wish all this stuff happened spontaneously rather than a planned event, but it happens.”
Milbury said it’s important not to let things get out of hand, for the sake of all involved. “We want a hockey game,” he said. “A hard-played and well-fought — no pun intended — hockey game, where if there’s a way to get some measure of justice when you feel like justice had not be been served on a cheap-shot hit to your teams’ most valuable player, so be it. So be it. Man, oh, man, this is not a real war, this is a professional hockey game to be played hard and within the boundaries of the rules, for the most part. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that people get hurt out here.”
As for Campbell, Milbury said: “I think he’s done … what he thinks is right, by the book. You may have issues with that, but I know Colin Campbell well enough to know he takes the job seriously. … He struggled with it. He struggled with this decision big-time.”
Milbury said the Penguins should let Cooke know his dirty play will not be tolerated any more. “It’s disgraceful if they haven’t addressed it already,” Milbury said.
As for the Bruins’ chances to make the playoffs, Milbury said: “I think it’s going to be Boston or New York, and I give the edge to Boston now.”
|03.18.10 at 12:46 pm ET|
|03.18.10 at 12:26 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed and unusually large group of media after their morning skate on Thursday before their game against the Penguins. Like the Boston players, Julien deflected most talk about how his team will handle Matt Cooke after his hit that put center Marc Savard out for the season with a Grade 2 concussion on March 7. Julien also noted that Blake Wheeler, Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Wideman did not participate in the morning skate because of a flu bug that is going around the team and that each will be a game-time decision.
Here is the transcript courtesy of the Bruins media relations staff:
On what his message was and will be for Bruins, in light of all of the media attention surrounding tonight’s game:
I don’t think I have to say everything I said in that dressing room. The one thing I can tell you is there’s an importance for us to win and get ourselves in the playoffs. That’s obviously pretty important for us, and the rest will take care of itself.
On if the best retribution in his mind (despite others’ opinions) is to win tonight’s game:
You can do [it] a lot of ways, and we’ll deal with the situation when the situation comes about, but we know that the number one thing is to win a hockey game here.
On what he thinks Colin Campbell and Terry Gregson will say to him, Dan Bylsma, Peter Chiarelli and (Penguins GM) Ray Shero today:
No idea. Really, no idea. I’m preparing for my game and whatever they tell me, we’re going to listen and see what they have to say, but I have no idea. Obviously they don’t want this to get out of control. That’s why they’re here and they’re certainly going to keep a close eye on it, including the referees and I think everybody knows that.
|03.18.10 at 11:49 am ET|
|03.18.10 at 11:44 am ET|
There is blood in the water.
The Bruins know it. The fans know it. The media especially knows it. When Matt Cooke and the Penguins take the ice Thursday night at TD Garden, the entire NHL community will be watching to see how the Bruins respond. The situation has become serious to the point that NHL vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell and director of officiating Terry Gregson will be in attendance at the game and will address both coaches before the puck drops.
The players are not saying all that much though. Really, there is not much they can say. The instigator rule and prevents them from saying that they are going to go out and take Cooke down and purposefully going after specific players for vigilante justice has become a sensitive topic in the league. Either way, the eyes of Boston will be on Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart and Milan Lucic to step up against Cooke early and often.
Thornton knows there is hype coming in but he is just not buying it.
“You [the media] are the ones that keep hyping it,” Thornton said. “Obviously we are not happy with [Savard] being hurt but we need the two points, we are scraping for a playoff spot.”
Do not get Thornton wrong. He is an old school type of player and understands his role on the team. At the same time, he is not looking for his own suspension and is not a fan of the instigator rule though he understands why it is in place. The letter of the law (rule 47.11 in the NHL rulebook) defines an instigator with the following criteria — “distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.”
That last part would definitely apply in the case of Cooke v. Bruins.
“I am not a big believer in this [instigator] rule anyways,” Thornton said. “We also have guys in this league who aren’t as honest anyway so I understand why it is there.”
Every Bruin is more or less saying the same thing — we need the two points tonight because we are fighting for a playoff spot. That is the bottom line.
“The focus is on the game, we have to have two points,” Steve Begin said. “It is very close right now for the playoffs. That is all that matters, that is how we are thinking this morning. I don’t know what is going to happen, what he [Campbell] is going to talk about.”
The media dug at Begin and Thornton, asking about Cooke and the Penguins with variations of the same question (ie, what are you going to do tonight?) but the answer was just about always the same — we want the two points.
“We are just approaching this game as one where we need the two points,” Tim Thomas said after deflecting a question on how the Bruins dealt with instigators like Sean Avery last year. “We are on that border for the playoffs so the most important thing is the two points.”
The game in question from last year was against the Stars in early November. The Bruins, with Marc Savard leading the way against Avery, got into a brawl that ended up sparking the team on a run from November to February last season and was one of the defining moments of the year. Thursday’s game has a chance to be a defining moment for Boston if they can deal with the Cooke issue on the ice and register a convincing win against one of the top teams in the conference. At the same time, no one can plan a defining moment.
“Those type of games, you can’t plan them,” Thomas said. “If you plan them and try to make it into a game like that then it hardly ever works. So, it could be a big win for us to make sure that we are in the playoffs. Beyond that, who knows? You just have to play.”
On the other end of the aisle, the Penguins have their own problems to deal with. They are coming to Boston on the back end of a back-to-back after being dropped 5-2 by the Devils last night and are now tied with New Jersey at the top of the Atlantic division with 87 points.
“I don’t know, I am not on their side and I don’t know how they are going to react,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “You never want to see a guy get injured like that, it is very sad. But hockey happens fast, everything happens fast and it sucks to see [Savard] go down like that and it looks like the rules are going to change a little bit and hopefully we can prevent stuff like that from happening.”
Cooke’s teammates know that he will be looking out for himself come game time.
“[Cooke] is going to come out and play the way he plays,” Eric Godard said. “He always shows up and plays the same way every night. So, I would not expect anything else tonight … [Cooke] always has his head up. He is more than able to take care of himself.
|03.18.10 at 8:31 am ET|
Andy Brickley, NESN analyst for Bruins games, checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about Thursday’s night’s game between the B’s and the Penguins. (For the audio, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)
Brickley said he has no doubt the Bruins will seek revenge on Penguin Matt Cooke for his hit on B’s center Marc Savard. “No question [the Bruins] need the points, given the situation that they’re in in the Eastern Conference, but that will be secondary tonight,” Brickley said. “This is an opportunity for the Bruins to respond, something they didn’t do at the time when Savard was hit by Matt Cooke, and they will take every opportunity to make sure their character is no longer in question.”
Brickley said he expects both teams will be eager for the confrontation to take place as soon as possible. “If I was Danny Bylsma, the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I would make sure Matt Cooke starts tonight. Don’t give it a chance to continue to percolate. Wait for his first shift and allow the crowd and everybody else to get behind this. And I would expect Boston to line up guys like [Zdeno] Chara and [Milan] Lucic and [Mark] Stuart, and make sure it’s a very long night for Matt Cooke.
“You almost feel like don’t suspend this guy, make him have to play the full game, he can’t take any shifts off, he has to play the full 60 minutes. That might be the best retribution.”
Brickley said the Bruins need to go right up to Cooke and put him on the spot. “You call him out,” Brickley said. “It’s very plain and simple. You want to make it the longest night you can possibly make it for him.”
Asked about the possibility of Cooke refusing to engage a Bruins challenger, Brickley said: “That would not be the best course of action for Matt Cooke, and I don’t expect that to happen. I don’t think that will be allowed to happen. This is a guy that plays on the edge, he’s a repeat offender. If you took a look at the list of players that he’s fought in his career, it’s not a who’s who of the tough guys in the NHL, so I guess there’s that possibility, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Brickley said he still is unable to understand the reasoning behing the league’s decision not to suspend Cooke. “They got it wrong,” Brickley said. “Plain and simple. Colin Campbell got this wrong. This was a blindside hit to a defenseless player in a position where he had no idea the hit was coming. It was predatory in nature, he targeted the head, and he’s a repeat offender. How can you not suspend this guy? I don’t understand the logic behind it. They had an opportunity to make the right call, the make a difference. … They dropped the ball.”
Added Brickley: “There’s no logic and there’s no reasoning sufficient for me to be able understand the rules that come down from the office in New York. Colin Campbell is going to be in attendance tonight. The two teams will be addressed. Warnings will be put out. They created this culture ‘ they created it, and now they want to manage it.”
As for the Bruins’ lack of a reaction in the game when the hit took place, Brickley said: “Nobody really got a real good look at it outside of Michael Ryder, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. … Sometimes you just don’t see it when you’re out on the ice.”
|03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Bruins apparently now get it.
They understand that the season hinges on every single game, every single shot and every single shift. On Tuesday night, with a 5-2 road win over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., they showed just 24 hours after a slow start doomed them to a 3-2 loss to New Jersey they can bounce back and finish a season-long trip on a positive note.
And they showed their ultimate focus, while the hockey world is focused on Thursday’s potential “revenge” game against Matt Cooke and the Penguins at TD Garden. It’s a contest that fans have circled and highlighted since Marc Savard was lost to an elbow/shoulder from Cooke on March 7.
The Bruins have 74 points and solidified their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two huge home games coming up with the Penguins and then the Rangers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on national television.
The Bruins wasted no time showing they meant business. We’ll do the same in breaking down a win that gave the Bruins a 3-3-1 road trip.
STARTING FAST, FINISHING STRONG
Dennis Seidenberg set the tempo of the game right out of the chute when his shot from the right point was redirected past Manny Legace by Patrice Bergeron just 23 seconds into the game. Seidenberg’s play was typical of the Bruins defensemen all night as they jumped into the play to jump-start the offense.
The starting fast theme continued two periods later when goalie Tuukka Rask stopped Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal in the opening 30 seconds of the third as the Hurricanes were trying to convert a power play to tie the game. Instead, the Bruins came back with a rush of their own and capped it when Mark Recchi scored 45 seconds into the final period.
The Bruins twice had two-goal leads, at 2-0 and 3-1, and both times, Carolina cut it to one. But on this night, the Bruins found the finishing kick.
Michael Ryder took advantage of a horrendous turnover by the Canes and ripped off a one-timer that made it 4-2. David Krejci’s spin-o-rama job with 7:33 remaining put the game on ice and allowed the Bruins to finally look ahead to their grudge match with Cooke and the Penguins on Thursday at the Garden.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Bruins had five different goal-scorers on Tuesday night. Starting with Bergeron, and continuing with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci, the Bruins spread it around on Tuesday. What was evident was that every line was skating hard. That, combined with the defensemen jumping into the play made for a formidable and productive combination.
Yes, the Bruins were again out to lunch on the power play, going 0-for-4. But that was offset by their five-on-five scoring chances.
FINGERS CROSSED FOR BERGY
With just under three minutes remaining in a game that was going entirely the way of the Bruins, they had a reminder of just how frustrating this season has been. Mark Stuart picked up a loose puck at the left point, just inside Carolina’s blue line, and rifled a shot toward the net. Patrice Bergeron, as he did on the game’s first goal, got in front of Legace to run interference. But unlike Seidenberg’s well-placed drive, Stuart’s blast elevated quickly and caught Bergeron on the inside of his right knee.
Fortunately, x-rays following the game on Bergeron’s leg were negative but the shot was sure to have left a mark just the way Bergeron has on the Bruins offense all season. Bergeron, as head coach Claude Julien has pointed out all season, has been the single-most consistent player on the roster and they can ill-afford to lose him and Savard coming down the stretch.
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