|03.15.10 at 8:45 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins’ struggles continued Monday night in New Jersey against the Devils in a game that confirmed suspicions of their inability to complete a comeback from a multiple-goal deficit.
With New Jersey holding a 3-1 lead late in the third, a one-timer from Dennis Seidenberg was redirected by Patrice Bergeron in front of Martin Brodeur’s net at 18:57 of the period to give the Bruins hope in a 3-2 game. However, they failed to get the equalizer in the final seconds with Tuuka Rask pulled, sealing their fate and the victory for the Devils.
Tim Thomas got the start for the Bruins, but it wasn’t more than an ugly first period before he was replaced and the Bruins were forced to seek new life under Rask.
A shot from David Clarkson from in between the circles was tipped by Rob Neidermayer at 9:58 for the Devils’ first goal, which gave them a lead that they would never lose.
Later in the period Martin Brodeur sent a pass down the ice to Clarkson, who caught it from center ice and never looked back, taking it in on the breakaway and giving the Devils a 2-0 lead. Zach Parise capitalized on a Mike Mottau rebound seconds later to make it 3-0.
To the Bruins credit, they did seem to find their second wind once Rask went between the pipes to start the second period. It was only 43 seconds into the period that Blake Wheeler tipped a Mark Stuart shot past Brodeur and got the Bruins on the board.
David Clarkson — The Devils forward appeared to have his first goal since November on New Jersey’s first goal, but after it was credited to Neidermayer he added one of his own later in the first period for good measure.
Martin Brodeur — In a game that highlighted the Bruins’ uncertainty between the pipes, the other goaltender again stood out, thanks to his 34 saves on 36 shots.
Mark Stuart — Stuart gets on here before Wheeler because he brought the whole package — offense, defense, and muscle — with him against the Devils en route to being the only Bruin to post a plus-one.
Turning Point — The Parise goal. It came so soon after the Devils’ second tally that it made an otherwise somewhat-close period look like an insurmountable hole as the Bruins headed to the locker room.
Key Play — Mark Stuart stapling Jamie Langenbrunner at the blue line with about six and a half to go in the second period. If the Bruins want to be able to carry any swagger it will be from big hits like this, which led to a fight with Rod Pelley seconds later.
|03.15.10 at 7:45 pm ET|
The presence of Tuuka Rask changed the tone of the game Monday night. That, of course, and the presence of scoring.
Mark Stuart, pinching in the offensive zone, threw the puck on net at an odd angle that was tipped by Blake Wheeler and slipped past the leg of Martin Brodeur just 43 seconds into the second period to bring the Bruins within two goals in a 3-1 game.
Stuart nearly had one of his own on the following drive when his shot from the point lanced off of Brodeur’s glove.
A close call came at 8:53 when Rob Neidermayer, positioned in front of Rask, redirected a shot from the point past Rask for what appeared to be the Devils’ fourth goal. The goal was waved off immediately and was confirmed seconds later.
Shawn Thornton and Pierre-Luc Letornee-Leblond participated in somewhat of a balet recital at 2:47 in a fight that never really got off the ground. Still, with the highly anticipated bout with the Penguins on tap, Bruins fans may be willing to take any sneak preview they can get.
A troubling play came when Milan Lucic, following a biffed attempt at hitting Andy Green, went face-first into the dasher in the middle of the period. He left for the locker room following the play but later returned.
The Bruins kept up the pressure late in the second period, including a drive that featured a couple of close plays involving Dennis Seidenberg. A 3-on-1 in the period’s last minute also looked promising but went for naught. Even so, the Bruins wrapped up the period playing with far more energy than they ever were in the first period.
Each team had 10 shots and through two the Devils are outshooting the Bruins, 22-21.
|03.15.10 at 6:57 pm ET|
One would think that one team outshooting the other by just one might dictate a close game. Not tonight, as the rout may be on early in Newark, with the Devils leading the Bruins 3-0 after the first period.
After a run of eight consectuive shots from the Bruins, the Devils applied a ton of pressure in the period’s 10th minute that culminated in a goal from Rob Neidermayer at 9:58. The goal came as a result of a tip from a David Clarkson shot. Patrik Elias likely would have made it 2-0 seconds later were it not for his wrister going wide of Thomas’ net. Though the stat sheet would be filled with penalty minutes for much of of the time after, smart goaltending got the Devils back on the board.
David Clarkson took a long pass from Martin Brodeur at center ice and raced up the ice untouched for a breakaway goal at 17:23. It was Brodeur’s third assist of the season.
Seconds later, Parise took a rebound from a Mike Mottau shot and put it past Thomas to give the Devils a 3-0 lead.
But enough about the Bruins’ inability to compete at the moment. With the Penguins in town Thursday, much of the focus is on the physical aspect. After Blake Wheeler went off just 52 seconds into the game for hooking, the Bruins’ penalty kill, which entered the night third in the NHL, went to work and effectively killed off a Devils power play that consisted of two shots. The highlight of the penalty kill came when Tim Thomas made a nice save through a screen on a shot from the stick of Travis Zajac.
A few minutes later, Dennis Seidenberg stapled Zach Parise in the corner and was retaliated upon by Jamie Langenbrunner, who went off for unsportsmanlike conduct at 5:34. After a shorthanded bid from the Devils, poor puckwork deraliled what dew opportunities the Bruins were able to muster on the power play.
Shortly thereafter Vladimir Sobotka has one of the best opportunities of the period when he was stuffed by Martin Brodeur on a wraparound.
Mark Stuart crushed Jamie Langenbrunner with about six and a half minutes remaining in the period and seconds later was squaring off with Rod Pelley at the blue line. Both went off for fighting at 13:50.
The Devils outshot the Bruins 12-11.
|03.13.10 at 9:46 pm ET|
Summary — Two longtime Original Six rivals faced off for the last time during the regular season on Saturday as the Bruins and Canadiens went for a tilt at the Bell Centre in Montreal. With two points separating the teams for the final two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference heading into the game the contest was an important one for both teams and (team) was able to prevail 3-2. Tuukka Rask got the start for Boston and made 24 saves in the loss. He was opposed by Jaroslav Halak who was sturdy in stopping 21 pucks in the winning effort.
The Habs jumped on top of the Bruins in the first period. The first goal came courtesy of the power play (Mark Stuart holding 5:02) when Andrei Markov let go of a wrist shot from the blue that had eyes through traffic in front of Rask and deflected off of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the opening score.
The Canadiens would strike again within the last minute of the period right after killing a penalty when Sergei Kostitsyn wrapped a backhand around the net to beat Rask at 19:40 for the two-goal advantage heading into the second period.
Boston cut the lead in half at 1:12 of the second period. Michael Ryder took a pass from David Krejci and rushed down the left wing on a break and sent a backhand centering pass to Blake Wheeler rushing down the middle lane. Wheeler just need to tap it through Halak to make it 2-1.
Kostisyn struck again early in the third when he took a puck that had an odd bounce off the back boards that came back onto his stick to catch Rask way out of position and leave an empty crease for the easy goal and a two-score advantage.
Boston would not go quietly. Milan Lucic made it a one-goal game at 11:46 in the third when he stick-handled on the half wall and into the slot to send a wrist shot on Halak that fell through the goaltenders pads and into the net to make it 3-2.
Sergei Kostitsyn — The perpetually pesky Montreal forward scored the Habs’ second and third goals of the game to put the Bruins away.
Andrei Markov — The Canadiens’ defenseman scored the first goal of the game and assisted on the second to propel Montreal’s early game attack.
Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored his 16th of the year and second in two games with his second period strike.
Turning Point — The pivotal separation goal came at 1:41 in the third period when Kostitsyn threw the puck off the backboards and was the lucky recipient of an odd bounce that put the puck back on his stick while crashing the net without breaking his stride. Rask was caught on the edge of the crease following the puck which left Kostitsyn and empty net. With Lucic’s goal later in the third the strike proved to be the game winner.
Key Play — As the Bruins tried to come back in the last five minute of the game Halak stuffed a point-blank shot from Marco Sturm that would have been the equalizer. Boston would not seriously threaten the Canadiens lead again.
|03.13.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
The second period started off much better for fans of the Black and Gold.
The Bruins cut the 2-0 lead in half within the first two minutes of the frame. David Krejci started an odd-man break by feeding a rushing Michael Ryder who flew down the left wing and waited just long enough on his way to the goal line to that when he sent a backhand pass back at the crease that Blake Wheeler got an easy tip passed Jaroslav Halak to make it 2-1 at 1:12.
The Bruins did their best to give the Habs back the momentum with two penalties through through eight-minutes of the period. Marco Sturm took the first at 3:40 with an inadvertent elbow to the head right in front of the Boston bench. The next penalty was an interference call on Mark Stuart, his second penalty of the game, with an interference call at 9:32. Unlike Stuart’s first penalty, the Habs were not able to score due to some quality goaltending by Tuukka Rask and the smart killing of forwards Daniel Paille and Steve Begin.
The teams played two minutes of 4-on-4 after Canadiens’ forward Andrei Kostitsyn had an interference penalty with a little bit of late hit that Milan Lucic took exception to and went after Kostitsyn after the play, washing a glove in his face to take a roughing penalty at 2:36. With nine-seconds left in the 4-on-4 the Habs Josh Gorges took a hooking penalty against Vladimir Sobotka on the rush. It was not much of a penalty but tempers started to rise late in the period between the longtime rivals and the refs look to keep control.
Shots through second (total):
Boston — 5 (11)
Montreal — 9 (16)
|03.13.10 at 7:57 pm ET|
Barring any dramatic playoff runs, Saturday’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens will be the last time the teams see each other this season. The Habs lead the series 2-1-2 and start the day two points ahead of Boston in the playoff picture (though the B’s do have three games in hand).
The Canadiens would love a clean win to put the Bruins behind them and started the first period like they were on a mission to do just that. Boston went on a quick power play (Hamrlik elbowing 2:46) but could not generate much and ceded the man-advantage to the Habs a few minutes later (Mark Stuart holding 5:02).
The Canadiens knew what to do.
Montreal took a minute setting up the power play and set up Andrei Markov for a wrist shot that weaved through traffic (probably off Bruins’ defender Dennis Seidenberg) passed goaltender Tuukka Rask for the early lead.
The Habs kept the pressure on Rask and the Bruins for the latter half of the period with aggressive play in all three zones. They were rewarded for their effort much like the were on their first goal — kill a penalty then come back and light the lamp on the other side. Jaroslav Spacek went to the box (tripping 17:03) but the Habs kept the puck tied up on the half wall and eventually broke out in the final seconds of the power play with a breakaway by Tomas Plekanec that Rask was able to stifle.
It was too early for Rask to let his guard down though as Sergei Kostitsyn snuck in with the puck and scored on a backhand at 19:20 to gives Montreal a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. The Bruins have not trailed by two since the last time they played the Canadiens in the first game back from the Olympic break.
Shots through first:
Bruins — 6
Canadiens — 7
|03.12.10 at 12:59 pm ET|
After no suspension was given to Matt Cooke for his hit on Marc Savard ‘ which may have ended the center’s season ‘ Colin Campbell, the league’s vice president and director of hockey operations, spoke with Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the process of giving out suspensions in the NHL.
Bruins fans have been up in arms about the decision not to suspend Cooke, and Campbell gave a response.
‘You think I like what happened to Marc Savard?’ Campbell said. ‘I coached him. I was his first coach for the New York Rangers when Marc broke in. I didn’t like what happened to Marc Savard, no one likes what happened. You would like to do something to the player who did it. You have to stay consistent and I can’t make up a rule for a play.’
Campbell also discussed the new rule changes next season that would aim to curb hits to the head and warned what could happen if things got ugly in the next Penguins-Bruins matchup.
Read below for the transcript. To listen to the interview, click here.
Would it be a shock to you to know that you are not a fan favorite in Boston?
Really, you think?
We thought you would suspend Cooke so he wouldn’t be on the ice on Thursday? So that’s good that he will play.
You have to be careful, though. I understand that you want to exact justice. We had a hit a few years ago in Colorado and Vancouver, and they didn’t feel that the right thing was done. They thought they would take justice into their own hands, and next thing you know you got a real mess on your hands when [Todd] Bertuzzi broke [Steve] Moore’s neck. You have to be careful how it’s done.
Explain your logic that the hit on Savard was not a cheap shot that may have ended his season?
I can understand by the tone and what your question is that you don’t agree, but it’s not my line of thinking. We meet regularly with the general managers. We have a criteria we use on these hits. Cheap shots or head shots are elbows and sticks. In hockey, shoulder checks are allowed. I’ve suspended people before when they hit players in the head late and we have criteria for late, this wasn’t late. We have criteria for the players who jump and he didn’t leave his feet. We have criteria when it is unsuspecting, maybe when a player dumps the puck in and his heading to the bench and isn’t expecting to get hit. Marc had just shot the puck and he was in the slot area, so he shouldn’t have been unsuspecting, and we’ve had examples of that before. It certainly wasn’t the popular decision, but you can’t do this job and be the good guys or popular guy all the time. You have to use criteria and be consistent and thinking it was the right thing and not the popular one for sure.
Was Savard not blindsided? Was he not vulnerable? He didn’t see it coming.
Neither did a lot of players that Scott Stevens hit. I’m sure I can pull a few Boston hits where players weren’t suspecting because they didn’t think they were going to be hit, but they were. Unsuspecting is if you are not driving through the hockey area. Marc just shot the puck. We have two other plays where [Jeff] Carter from Philadelphia hit [Ansi] Samela from New Jersey when he just shot the puck and scored. Same sort of play. Probably the most similar play, [Duncan] Keith from Chicago a pretty good player was hit by [Drew] Stafford from Buffalo, in almost the same kind of play where Keith is shooting on off side as Marc was. He was hit just after he released the puck late, in our estimation of late, and Keith missed four games to a concussion. We looked at it and we said we are not in the area where we are penalizing blows to the head by shoulders and that’s what we went into this meeting before the Savard-Cooke situation. We went into this meeting with the general managers to say I guess it’s time with the speed we generate, with the size of our players that we have to look at this.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you watched this hit in a room with eight people for an hour and a half?
No. We went into the meeting before the Savard hit with this in mind to address shoulder hits to heads. They took this hit into consideration. When we added it to our 150 hits over the past four or five years to address this. WIth my own staff, I have a staff of about seven people that watch games every night. We watched this hit for say an hour.
Did everyone come to a consensus that this hit was clean?
Our staff agreed it was a consensus, even though we didn’t like it. We don’t like Cooke. We don’t like the way he plays or some of the things he does, but we couldn’t find criteria that was consistent with suspending him.
How late is late?
How late do you think it was?
How late do you think it was?
You mean like split-second? I’m asking you. You are the guy that knows the precedence. How late does it have to be to be late in your mind?
We’ve had two hits in the past five or six years that have been more than a second that we suspended, and they were both by the same player, Cam Janssen who is now with St. Louis. I don’t know if you can remember Scott Stevens hit on Paul Kariya in the finals. That was half-a-second late. On our machines you can have 30 clips, for lack of a better term, which adds up to a second. This one was 18. Thirty is one second. When people see this hit, you see it in fast motion, but slow motion looks like three or four seconds late. This one was 18. A little bit over a half-a-second.
That’s not qualified as late?
Not through the criteria we’ve used. We’ve debated this with general managers time and time again. Darcy Regier had the situation where [Chris] Neil hit [Chris] Drury about three or four years ago when Drury was playing for Buffalo, and he was about 21, which would be maybe three quarters of a second, in that area. They still didn’t determine that as late.
Would what happened to Savard be illegal and suspendable next year
Why can’t they just change the rule instantly?
We are in the midst of trying to do that. The process normally when you make a rule change is the general managers agree at this meeting we have in February or March. It then goes to the competition committee that was established in the last CBA, which has five players on it. We give the competition committe, made up of four general managers and owners, our recommendation on what we would like to do. We need a seven out of 10 in votes, and we need two players of that committee to vote with the general managers. If we don’t then we can’t take it to the board of governor’s to get it ratified. I’ve talked to some people at the PA, and it’s a little bit crazy if we have this hit again, we are going to look a little bit foolish as a league if we are going to have to wait because there is a process in place. If everyone agrees, then we need to address it right now because we don’t want players like Marc Savard or anybody laying at home with concussion syndromes and headaches, etc.
Didn’t you change the rule immediately when Sean Avery did the thing with the stick?
No. We didn’t change the rule. Don Van Massenhoven was doing the game, he skated over to the Rangers bench and said, ‘This is an unsportsmanlike penalty. You can’t do that.’ Of course the competitiveness of our coaches I got three or four calls the next morning can we do this is this legal. We said no that it is not. So we sent out a memo saying that this play is not legal. They are calling this play unsportsmanlike. The referee in the game went over and said if it persists it is an unsportsmanlike penalty and the players association grieved our process saying we can’t do that we have to call up the competition committee. I said, ‘I can’t call up five players in the middle of a playoff.’ Our teams are playing right now and this is not a rule change, this is interpreting this for you. It wasn’t a rule change in the middle of a game or a season.
Do you worry about somebody taking out a superstar in a playoff series?
I worry about any player, not just the superstar. I understand what you mean from the competitive aspect, but I worry about any player being hurt with a check like this, and I worried all along about this. I think every time you make a rule change you are not sure exactly what is going to come into play. When we changed the rules during the lockout, we took the red line out. We took away hooking, holding and interference. We generated a lot of speed in the game and for example the Washington vs. Pittsburgh series was maybe one of the best series, if not the best in a long time. The finals was great. Having said that, the speed we generated, the contact, the hits that are happening out there now, this is what you have and now we have to address that. On a lot of these plays you have no alternative but to use a body check. You can’t use your stick. You can’t reach out and grab a guy because you will get a penalty. It’s so competitive now that players don’t want to take penalties. They have to use their bodies to stop people and this is what the result is.
A body check to the shoulder or chest is much different to the head.
Exactly. It wasn’t illegal before to use your shoulder to hit a players head. Elbows yes, jumping yes, but not shoulders. What you will get when we change this rule eventually, hopefully sooner than later, you’ll get some players embellishing that they got hit in the head to draw a penalty. They will lay down. We got that when we put the hitting from behind in. Players will jump their feet up, go against the boards and lay dow for a while to try and extract the penalty to win the game. That’s another yin for yang when you make these rule changes.
What if Michael Ryder decided to go after Cooke and got revenge immediately? Would he be subject to fines from your office?
It depends what he did. If he did something illegal, yes.
Couldn’t you suspend Cooke if you wanted to?
You think I like what happened to Marc Savard? I coached him. I was his first coach for the New York Rangers when Marc broke in. I didn’t like what happened to Marc Savard, no one likes what happened. You would like to do something to the player who did it. You have to stay consistent and I can’t make up a rule for a play. In this case I couldn’t make it up because something is going to happen. The way it works out if something happens in two days and we don’t like the guy, let’s make something up and sit him down. We don’t like him, even though we think it wasn’t OK, he didn’t have to do what he did. When he said intent to injure, it’s got to be for a match penalty for elbowing. A match penalty for intent to injure cross checking. A match penalty for intent to injure for kneeing, for biting, for a sucker shot on a punch after the fight is over. You have to have a reason to match the intent to injure to something.
Sometimes the elbow is part of the upper arm?
I know, but this wasn’t an elbow, it was a shoulder. We looked at everything. Normally we have to make the decision between 10:30 at night and 11 the next morning because our policy is to make a decision before the team plays its next game. In this case, we had from Sunday until Thursday, a rarity for a team not to play that long. We had lots of times to make up things, but we couldn’t make up anything. I wish I could have but we couldn’t.
Does Cooke’s track record not give you more leeway to do something?
Only when we find that the act he did is wrong, then we can jump on him hard. But we have to find out that he was wrong in what he did.
Will you be on high alert when the Penguins and Bruins meet again?
You blew by my first statment. What happens is not good. Having Marc Savard or any player injured, you don’t like those things. That was our main thrust, concussions. We have to reduce concussions Even though we have a lot of games and we have 50,000 to 60,000 registered hits a year, there is probably 10 to 15 we don’t like. We want to reduce the concussions. Having said that, what happened with Moore and Bertuzzi and the ensuing court cases that are still ongoing, the lawsuits are huge, a $35 million law suit has been registered, ownership, managers, coaches, players have been brought into court. You have to be careful when you get into a situation like this, because it can become a lot bigger than what we have now.
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