|03.11.10 at 7:48 pm ET|
After 65 regular season games, definite patterns emerge. Recently, the trend has been that the Bruins will score first and then sit on their sticks until the other team comes back and the games goes to the final minutes if not overtime and a shootout.
Well, the Bruins did their part again in the first period at the Wachovia Center against the Flyers. Blake Wheeler broke through at 13:15 in the first with a backhand that beat Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton. The play started with David Krejci winning the puck on the half wall of Boston’s defensive zone and starting a 3-on-2 break the other way. He waited on the wing with the puck until the circle and hit Wheeler who side-stepped defender Lukas Krajicek and deposited the puck in the net.
After a slow start to the game the Bruins finally got some motion in gear and registered 13 shots on Leighton, all in the second half of the period.
Shots through first period:
Boston — 13
Philadelphia — 9
|03.10.10 at 3:55 pm ET|
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell announced Wednesday afternoon that Penguins forward Matt Cooke will not be penalized for his hit to Marc Savard’s head Sunday that left the Bruins center with a concussion. Campbell noted that he did not suspend Philadelphia’s Mike Richards for a similar hit on Florida’s David Booth in October. That hit caused Booth to miss 45 games.
Campbell said that if proposed new rules are in place next season, Cooke would have received a suspension.
Prior to the decision, Cooke spoke with reporters following Pittsburgh’s practice and expressed concern for Savard. “I made efforts to contact him,” Cooke said, according to the team’s website. “I did as much as I could.”
Asked what he thought while watching a replay of the hit, Cooke said: “I didn’t see anything different than the way it happened in the game. I tried to finish my check.”
Added Cooke: “I think there needs to be black and white rules because my hit was technically within the rulebook. No one likes to see anybody get hurt, whether it is your team or somebody else’s. It’s an unfortunate part of our game with the speed it is played at now. I think [general managers] are having a meeting right now. The important thing is finding out what the right wording or rule is. Hopefully something comes out of it.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma also weighed in on the situation. “I think no one likes to see the severity of that injury,” he said. “Nobody likes to see a player down on the ground like that. I hope that I go the rest of my games on the bench not seeing something like that again. It’s a difficult situation for players to be in. I know Savard is going to try and score a goal, and Matt Cooke is going to try and go out and stop a guy from scoring a goal when there is five minutes left to go in the game, and you’re up 2-1. That’s the nature of our game and at the speed we play, it’s the physicality of our game. Those are great things about our game, and it’s tough. I think we’ve tried to do it in the past and it’s still gray. It’s just something that we’ve talked about for a while now. We’re still working on it and still trying to come up with verbiage that is clarified for players with the puck and players without the puck.”
|03.10.10 at 2:41 pm ET|
Was the Matt Cooke hit on Mark Savard intent to injure?
I was traveling when the game was on so I didn’t see it live, and I’ve seen it three or four times since then and I really want to slow it down. The word predatory does come to mind. And you know, I don’t have any trouble with that. When you’re playing hockey, you’re supposed to finish your checks. I don’t think he meant to give him a Grade 2 concussion. That’s Matt Cooke’s game. He’s supposed to be a guy that finishes his checks, that agitates a little bit, that can play a little bit of hockey. He’s not a slug, But he’s no Sidney Crosby. His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.
Do you think he should be suspended?
I want to get another look at this thing because it looks to me on the Mike Richards hit earlier in the year. It was almost in the exact same spot on the ice, it was a very similar situation. I think given the rules of the today, I don’t think it’s a suspendable offense. Having said that, the GMs are meeting in Florida and they’ve set up a committee specifically to study head shots, a lot of that has to do with bigger guys, harder shells on the shoulder pads and the frequency with which guys seem to be going down with head shots. There’s tremendous sensitivity to it. GMs have heard the call. They have a committee of eight general managers who will spearhead it and look at all the various types to see if and what they should do to make things a little bit easier on the players.
Did you think a response should have come from the Bruins players?
I think we got caught up here in Grapes [Don Cherry] mania. Like, you’ve got to die in order to satisfy the blood lust in the stands. That’s not my shtick. If your whole attack during the course of pregame is to find out who is the most dangerous people on the ice, make sure you negate them. Part of negating them is physical play. You want to go after their best players, that doesn’t mean you want to separate his head from his neck. But you want to plaster him in the boards. You want to tire him out. You want him to maybe rush his passes. Remember when Pittsburgh came in here last year and Andrew Ference got Sidney Crosby so upset that Crosby dropped the gloves and went at it? That’s the kind of attack you want to have, the approach you want to have through the course of the day.
When this incident happened, because it was a questionable hit, a lot of the guys on the bench aren’t paying attention as closely as you would think. They are sucking wind and getting some water and probably 50 percent of the bench didn’t have a clear view of what was going on. Clearly, guys on the ice didn’t have a clear view of what was going on, guys who were ahead of Savard or maybe some guys that were changing. However, your best offensive player goes down with a resounding check ‘ borderline check under any circumstances, maybe cheap, maybe intentional. It requires a direct response immediately.
This is where my shorts got twisted listening to yahoos on many different outlets who said we should have gone right after Crosby and broken his legs and made sure he never played again. That’s just ridiculous. Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’t think so. You should have gone into that game ready to be physical on their best players because that’s the way you stop them from being affective. You limit their time in you space, you make them take a physical price, tire them out and in the meantime you hope you get through a game when they are not as affective as they could possibly be.
To say that because your best player went down you have to immediately turn around and go after vigilante justice is Neanderthal. We’ve got to get past that. A good hit does not necessarily merit an immediate response with a fight. That’s silly, too. I think they should have had a quick and immediate response, especially to go after Cooke and then continue to play the damn game with the kind of authority that they should have gone into the game playing with. That’s my point. But to think we have to go back to, “They hurt one of our best players, so now we’re going to go take out Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby by giving them cheap shots in the back of the head,” that’s Philadelphia Flyers hockey in the ‘70s. We’re past that. We should be past that, and if we ever revert to that, it’s the day I stop watching the damn game. Because that isn’t right. It’s just not right.
I love physical hockey. I love it when people get wired and play tough hockey, but I don’t want somebody running somebody up against the end boards when their face is up against the glass. I can’t stand that stuff. That’s cheap-shot punk stuff that needs to be punished immediately by the league, if not by the team.
I heard people say, ‘We didn’t respond. It was a 2-1 game we needed the points.’ I can tell you about a time we were playing in New York against the Islanders, we were three games from the end of the season and we desperately needed the points. John Wensink with Jean Ratelle and it was a tight game. Gerry Hart just jammed Ratelle into the end boards. Wensink didn’t hesitate. He grabbed Gerry Hart, slammed him into the boards, pounded his head a little bit because it was a cheap shot. He retaliated against the perpetrator of that. On the bench I was like, ‘Not now John, not now.’ And Grapes, who was still a little nervous about it, too, told the penalty-killers, “You’ve got to kill this one for us.” This is the way we lived, by these rules. If somebody goes after our best players with a cheap shot ‘ fortunately it worked out well. We killed the penalty, won the game, won the division. That’s the way the response should have gone in this instance. The consequences be damned at that point, because you got to stick by your best players. That’s the kind of play where the players can police the game.
Who do you blame the most for the lack of response?
I blame the players who were on the ice at that time. You have to take accountability for the guys who are on the ice. You can’t clear the benches anymore. You can’t have somebody on the bench jumping off. The guys that are there have to recognize that there’s been a code violation, if you will. The code changes all the time by the way. You have to recognize there has been a violation. Your best offensive player, who by the way if he is out for any length of time is going to make it very problematic because they don’t have that many weapons in this popcorn offense right now. They should have gone right after the perpetrator or even gone after anyone else that was on the ice to rattle the cage. You can’t be taken advantage of that way. The players on the ice have to look in the mirror after this is over and say, “Dammit, we should have done something. We should have done it right away.” And the coach has to back them up on that.
It was disappointing to see the Bruins as a team not respond later in the game.
Not going to disagree with you there. You can have a response after the fact. It’s never nearly as affective. These things I believe should be spontaneous combustion. Not a planned attack to find a way to seek vengeance. That’s not the way it should play out. It does sometimes but usually it’s not satisfying in terms of the viewerhsip. It’s not even satisfying in terms of getting revenge. Because if somebody like Cooke does that thing, then he knows that people are out to get him. He’s going to be aware of what’s going on the ice and be heads up all the time and should be. You can still get your pound of flesh, but do it then and suffer whatever consequences there are and you can look in the mirror and say, ‘We stick together as a team. We win as a team. We are going to go down as a team.’
Do you think Zdeno Chara should be more physical?
We drafted him in New York. We drafted him on two showings of tape, and he wasn’t even playing he was doing drills on the ice. I met him for the first time, he was a quiet, shy kid and a peach of a young man, who came from difficult circumstances. This is not a guy that relishes the role of being physical. It’s not a role that comes particularly natural to him. He certainly can defend himself. I asked him in our draft interview if he could fight. He said, ‘Better not to mess with me.’ That’s true of Zdeno.
Because he’s 6-foot-8, we’re asking him to be 30 minutes a game, fight, physical ‘ we’re asking a lot of this guy. And last year he delivered. But it doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s got to force it. But the team needs him to be more physical, yes. They need him to occasionally fight. They need him to step in when Lucic, who got smoked by Colton Orr, which may have broken his nose. The kid has been whacked around pretty good the last couple of years in search of a victory for his team. He needed someone to come in on the next shift and say, ‘Big Daddy’s home. OK, you took on Lucic, my turn.’ That would have been the response I would have appreciated from Big Z.
Will somebody do that [Tuesday night] against Colton Orr?
I’m not in the locker room. I don’t know. It’s now back in Toronto, in the hockey mecca, it would be a good time. At this point the moment is gone and now we are talking about setting something up. If Colton Orr is banging on Lucic or banging on anyone else that’s not likely to be a fighter in the situation, then it’s up to Chara or [Shawn] Thornton or [Steve] Begin, whoever you want to put in the physical category to step up. Right now that’s being questioned about their team. Their willingness to stick together under duress, nobody wants that question. It’s a question of macho and manhood.
Is this Bruins team too soft?
Yes. I’ll put this in context of the Bruins team of last year, where all the principals are still in place. They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster. And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’ll be a better team offensively.
What do you think of Colin Campbell as a disciplinarian?
The guys in the office have the toughest job in hockey. They never win a game and they never get it right by everybody’s sightings. I think there are certain set of parameters that he works under, and not always do I agree with them. But he doesn’t make a decision randomly. He doesn’t make a decision without looking at all the tape in the past history, discussing with a lot of different people. He’s got a mindset, agree or disagree with, but I think he does an honest job. I know he does an honest job. I think he might carry a little bit of his own prejudices, biases or influences into the decision. He likes the game played in a certain way and you have to be careful with that. He’s not responsible for the way the game should be played. He’s responsible for making sure the rules are followed.
If you’re a Bruins fan don’t you think Campbell has it out for your team a little bit?
Don’t confuse me with every Boston Bruins fan. I didn’t think the Patrice Bergeron hit by [Randy] Jones merited that suspension that everyone else was talking about. I talked about the way Patrice turned back. It was an unfortunate situation and two games was plenty, in my mind, for that situation. He put himself in a vulnerable situation, and I know you disagree with that. But the [Scott Walker] hit on Aaron Ward should have been punishable. It was a wicked cheap shot and he should have got a game for that at least, maybe two.
This one, I need a little more time with it. That’s how difficult it is for these guys to do the job. It happens in real time, the officials make the call and all of a sudden you go back and see it five or six times from different angles. It makes for a whole different dynamic. I want to see this one again. I want to see if it’s the shoulder or the elbow on a follow through. I’m not sure how he’s going to handle it. But I guarantee you this, they are grappling with it, they are struggling with it. They are stitting there with surrounded by GMs, many of whom are on a committee for head shots, and they’ve got to make the call. They’ll do whatever they can to make their honest and best judgment on it.
|03.10.10 at 12:44 pm ET|
The post-Olympics race for playoff spots is heating up. The high-powered Capitals remain atop our rankings, but there’s plenty of shifting going on.
1. (1) 44-13-9 Deadline deals by George McPhee, adding versatile center Eric Belanger, rugged Scott Walker and skilled defenseman Joe Corvo, make the Caps a serious contender.
2. (3) 43-17-5 The big game ability demonstrated by Patrick Kane in the Olympic gold medal game provides some indication the Blackhawks will have plenty of playoff leadership when the road gets tough.
3. (2) 42-14-9 Likewise, the no-show performance by Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle during the gold medal game shows the Sharks still have an unsurpassed ability to disappear when it matters.
4 . (9) 40-22-4 Would anyone really mind if Matt Cooke were suspended for the season?
6. (5) 39-22-5 Good luck in the desert, Derek Morris. Mr. Chiarelli found you a nice landing spot.
8. (6) 35-20-9 Has Ilya Kovalchuk made the Devils a better team? They’re just 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
9. (8) 37-22-4 Talk about under the radar. Avalanche forward Chris Stewart suddenly received league-wide attention, being named as the NHL First Star for the week ending Sunday. Stewart leads Colorado in goals (24) and plus/minus (plus-13).
10. (11) 35-20-9 The Sabres will play just six of their final 17 games at home. A five-game road trip that begins Saturday in Detroit could greatly impact how the battle for the Northeast Division title plays out.
12. (14) 31-21-12 How funny would it be if the Red Wings grab the eighth playoff spot in the West and face the Sharks in the first round? Come on, the Sharks drawing the playoff-tested Wings in the opening round, that’s good stuff.
|03.10.10 at 9:40 am ET|
UPDATED AT 1:30 WITH MORE FROM INTERVIEW
Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning (listen to the interview here) to talk about the Marc Savard situation and explain why none of his teammates responded when the center was felled by a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.
Asked why no one had Savard’s back after he got knocked cold, Thornton said: “That’s a great question. I think when the incident happened, I don’t think a lot of people knew it happened, because it happened late, and I think everyone was focused on the puck. That being said, though, when you see your star player on the ice, the response I feel should be immediate by somebody that’s on the ice.” Added Thornton: “I don’t want to take anything away from my teammates or bad-mouth anyone at all, [but] I’m pretty positive if I was on the ice something different might have happened, though.”
Thornton said he was on the bench and did not see the hit when it happened as it was behind the play. “I think the hit was a couple of seconds late — that probably being the dirtiest part of it,” Thornton said. “I was focused on the puck, also. But I did see Savvy laying there, and I wasn’t very happy about it.”
Thornton explained why no one went after Cooke later in the game. “That happened with about 5:30 to go in the game, I think. [Cooke] had one more shift. The rules being the way they are nowadays, it’s tough to go and rectify a situation with under five minutes. I think it’s a $10,000 fine for the team and a $5,000 fine for the coach and then a suspension or a fine for the player, too. So, it’s tough to do it at that point of the game, especially when it’s 2-1 and you’re trying to win, too. But I agree, something should have happened. When someone turned around and saw Savvy laying there, I think it should have been addressed, too.”
Added Thornton: “I know guys that were on the ice were very upset after the game. We have a good bunch of guys here. Everything happened in a split-second. You’ve got to realize the refs get in there really quick sometimes. I’d have to see the replay to really know the exact details of it. When you see a teammate laying there, we care about each other, and I’m sure it might have been a little bit different [in retrospect].”
Thornton warned not to expect someone to jump Cooke if the Penguins forward is on the ice when the teams meet again March 18 at TD Garden. “There’s not much you can do, the way the league is,” Thornton said. “You wait and see what [league disciplinarian Colin Campbell] does with the decision, I suppose, and that’s about all you can do. The way the game is, it’s not like it was 10, 20 years ago, where you could just go put five guys out on the ice the next time he comes into town and beat the snot out of him, because you’ll end up getting a bigger suspension than he did for hitting him. The game’s changed a bit that way. Do I agree with it? No, I’m kind of old school. I’m more an eye-for-an-eye guy on the ice. That’s the way it is nowadays. So, I guess you just come back and play and put it in the back of your mind. I don’t know. You take care of it when you can. But I doubt it will be a retaliation right away like people expect, because you just can’t get away with that anymore, unfortunately.”
Thornton also noted that Cooke isn’t likely to accept an invitation to fight. “He has a track record of doing things and then not backing them up,” Thornton said. “So, I think it’s a little easier said than done. I would have no problem grabbing him and defending my teammate, but I think he would just fall to the ground and the refs would get in there and nothing would get accomplished anyways.”
Asked about comments from Mike Milbury on Tuesday’s Dale & Holley show that the Bruins are soft, Thornton was caught off guard. “I id not hear that. I don’t know what to say, because I just heard it two seconds ago. I don’t agree with him, obviously. I think that when we have everyone healthy and everyone in the lineup I think we’re probably one of the toughest teams in the league,” he said.
Thornton also didn’t agree with critical comments from Don Cherry after Milan Lucic had his nose broken in a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr last week. Cherry implied that Lucic wanted the refs to bail him out. “I wasn’t a big fan of that [analysis],” Thornton said. “I thought it was a good fight. They both let go of each other and I thought the refs did a good job of getting in there at the right time. I watched the fight over to see … what he was getting at, and I honestly didn’t see it.”
Asked if the B’s lack of response should send any kind of message to the rest of the league, Thornton replied: “It better not. I’ll go on the record and say that nobody should be coming into our building trying to push us around. I don’t have [any] time for that.”
Thornton responded to an audio clip of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell saying Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard appeared to be legal, meaning that Cooke likely will be in the lineup when Pittsburgh comes to TD Garden on March 18th.
“Well, I thought he would be anyway,” Thornton said. “It was very similar to the [Mike] Richards hit on [David] Booth and I know Richards didn’t have the priors that Matt Cooke did. I know that the decision is going to come down today, but I assumed he wasn’t going to be getting the 20-game suspension that would put him out of their lineup for the rest of the year anyway.
When asked about what such a reaction means for the league, particularly since general managers are meeting and discussing hits to the head, Thornton said that he sees them trying to change the game. “I guess they are trying to turn the page on the way the game used to be,” he said. “I understand it; it’s tough. I guess his elbow didn’t come up ‘ I thought it was a little bit late personally ‘ but if it is a shoulder to the head, there technically isn’t a rule for that now. I guess that is what they are discussing and they should be.
“But at the end of the day I think it has to come down to the players in the league,” he added. “I’m a big believer in finishing your check and playing as hard as you can, but going out with the intent to injure someone, I think that says something about us internally. Yeah, we are on different teams, but when you think about it, there are 800-something guys in this league and we are supposed to all be on the same page. Trying to go out and hurt guys for the sake of hurting them, I don’t agree with that.”
Thornton was also asked if he thinks that coach Claude Julien might tell his players to leave Cooke alone when the two teams meet. He said that he is “going to assume nothing is said. I won’t know until we get closer, obviously, but I think nowadays when you are at this level, you are supposed to know what to do and you don’t need to be told what to do or you would probably be back in the minors, where I was for the first 600 games.”
The issue of the Bruins’ lack of response to the play has been a hot topic, but Thornton said he does not believe that it will cause problems in the locker room upon Savard’s return. “I think that is a little overstated. Everyone here has the best intentions, and sometimes things happen quickly and you can’t change it,” he said. “There is no point in dwelling on it, and Savvy is not that type of guy. He knows we are all in this together and he is a great guy, so I don’t think there is any tension at all in this locker room.”
Thornton was asked about whether he thought about trying to get revenge in Tuesday night’s game on the Maple Leaf’s Colton Orr for the broken nose he gave Milan Lucic. Thornton said the thought had crossed his mind.
“[Orr] is their tough guy and I’m ours,” he said. “That being said though, Lucic is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and can handle himself with the best of them. It crossed my mind, but at the end of the day I didn’t think it was necessary. I think Looch challenged him or he challenged Looch and at the end of the day I thought it was a great fight. Looch got a busted nose out of it, but if you had to exact revenge every time someone got a busted nose there would be a fight every game. I’ve had mine busted a few times, too. So it was a good fight ‘ two tough guys going at it ‘ so I had no problem with that.
|03.09.10 at 9:42 pm ET|
Summary – Without two of their biggest stars the Bruins struggled to put the Maple Leafs away on Tuesday and ultimately fell to Toronto 4-3 in overtime. Nikolai Kulemin had the game-winner for the Leafs with 49-seconds left in the extra frame. Tim Thomas started for the Bruins and took the decision with 26 saves. The Leafs went with Jonas Gustavsson who was shaky but effective in stopping 26 of shots in the winning effort.
Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara was scratched for the game with a lower body injury. Center Marc Savard missed his first game after sustaining a grade two concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.
Mark Recchi scored his 13th goal of the year in the first period when he caught the rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point and banged it back into the net with Gustavsson out of position to the left of the crease. The Bruins killed three penalties in the period (one a 50-second 5-on-3) to stymy the Leafs chances heading into the second period.
The Leafs tied it in the middle of the second when Wayne Primeau found himself on an odd-man rush and beat Thomas five hole for Toronto’s first strike of the game. Boston went back ahead with on the power play during a two-man advantage when Dennis Wideman hit a slap shot from the point that deflected off Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who banged it passed Gustavsson to make it 2-1 at the 13:49.
Once again, it would not last.
The Leafs Carl Gunnarsson broke back with his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the circle that deflected off a Bruins’ player to make its way through Thomas to send send the game to the third tied at two.
The back and forth theme continued in the third. Patrice Bergeron scored a go-ahead goal on a rebound early in the period only to watch the Leafs come back when Luca Caputi swept a bouncing puck passed Thomas at 7:13. It was the third time in the game the Bruins went ahead by a goal only to have the Leafs tie it.
Mark Recchi — The veteran forward had a goal and two assists to help pace the Bruins.
Luke Schenn — The Leafs defenseman picked up two assists to give him 10 for the season.
Marco Sturm — Sturm scored his team-high 20th of the season and added an assist. It is the seventh time in his career that Sturm has registered a 20-goal season.
Turning Point — Caputi battled in the crease with Thomas and Boston defenseman Mark Stuart for a loose puck seven minutes into the third period. Thomas could not corral the bouncing puck and Stuart was a step to slow in trying to clear it and Caputi swept back into the play to push it passed Thomas and tie the game at three.
Key Play — Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski raced down the left wing in overtime and had enough time and space to pick out Kulemin on a parallel rush down the center towards Thomas. Grabovski made a good pass, Kulemin took a step to his left and beat Thomas for the game winner.
|03.09.10 at 8:34 pm ET|
The Bruins keep banging on the Leafs and are trying to push in the offensive zone but, like it has been all year, goals are hard to come by. Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has not been spectacular but he has been good enough against Boston’s anemic attack to keep the Leafs in the game.
All the effort in the offensive zone puts extra pressure on Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas and it came back to bite them when Wayne Primeau found himself on and odd-man break in the middle of the period. Primeau blasted from the right wing and it beat Thomas five hole to tie the game at one at 10:34.
But the Bruins got it back. After killing off a 5-on-3 in the first period, Boston got a two-man advantage of its own when Jeff Finger (holding) and Luke Schenn (delay of game) went to the penalty box. The Bruins had 25 seconds to score but only used 13 when Dennis Wideman hit a shot from the point that deflected off Mark Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who put it away to put Boston on top once again. The score was Sturm’s team-leading 20th of the year, the seventh 20-goal season of the year.
The Leafs came back at the end of the period when Carl Gunnarsson hit a shot from the top of the circle that directed off a Bruins’ player through traffic that was enough to beat Thomas and tie the game heading into the third.
Shots through second (total):
Bruins — 11 (21)
Leafs — 8 (13)
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