|Bruins year in review: Top rookie||06.22.11 at 3:09 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the year and save of the year. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.
BRUINS’ TOP ROOKIE
Brad Marchand: 21 G, 20 A, 41 points (regular season); 11 G, 8 A, 19 points (postseason)
“I was impressed with with Marchy from the moment I saw him play. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with him, but having seen him early in training camp’¦ then just build his way up and keep getting better and better, to be honest with you, he was so important to our team. When we were successful, usually Marchy had a big game or played well.
“Playing with Marchy, I enjoyed it a lot’¦ He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s worked for it. He had the opportunity. He made the team and he started with us and worked for his ice time. Rightfully so, he’s an important part of this team. To even do what he did in the playoffs, that’s even more important, and says more about him as a player that he can step up in those big games.”
At the beginning of training camp, Tyler Seguin was a household name in Boston. He was perhaps the only Bruins rookie a Bostonian could pick out of the very lineup Seguin assured he had yet to crack. By the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, people were talking about a few Boston rookies. Seguin’s goals got him the hype and Adam McQuaid‘s mullet got him the cult following and customized t-shirts from Andrew Ference, but no Bruins rookie came close to bringing it the way Brad Marchand did.
When the B’s opened the regular season in Prague, Marchand was a fourth-liner who got around 10 minutes of ice time. When the season ended, he had assisted the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and scored two of his own. When all was said and done, Marchand hoisted the Cup having scored 11 goals in the postseason, one behind David Krejci for the postseason lead. He worked his way from being a famed member of the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to forming perhaps the team’s most consistent line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, and aside from missing time after being rocked on a beautiful P.K. Subban hip check in December, the 5-foot-9 Marchand looked invincible in the process.
The story of Marchand’s preseason confidence has been well-documented. He told both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien that he would score 20 goals (the very number Milan Lucic was optimistically aiming for prior to the season) in his first full season. Chiarelli told him to think about what he was saying. While thinking may never be Marchand’s game, he certainly backed up his words by popping 21 in the regular season.
The downside with Marchand is that with the good, you must take the bad, but depending on how you look at it, the bad isn’t all that bad. He crosses the line often, whether it be with his on-ice actions or words. He was suspended for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head, but at the end of the day he’s a far cry from a dirty player. He’s one of the Bruins who have been guilty of embellishment, but with Marchand, it’s nowhere near the point of some of the players the B’s saw in Montreal and Vancouver. If anyone wants to deem Marchand’s feistiness a problem, it’s a problem every team in the league would love to have. He’s a special type of player, and the B’s are fortunate to have someone who’s just as good in all three areas of the ice and at killing penalties as he is at getting under opponents’ skin and scoring goals.
Now, after a rookie year in which he became a hero in Boston, Marchand will get paid. A restricted free agent, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better time to be due a raise, as it should be a big one. He had a salary cap hit of $821,667 last season and could now get upwards of $3 million.
Just a note before we get to the honorable mention section: While McQuaid was a far more mature player in his rookie campaign and provided far more stability than Seguin did (it’s an apples and oranges comparison anyway given the difference in age and position), the argument could be made that the B’s could have won the Stanley Cup without him. In this scribe’s opinion, the Bruins would not have won the Cup were it not for Tyler Seguin. The youngster may have singlehandedly changed the Eastern Conference finals with his performance in the second period of Game 2. As a result, if we had to make this thing a list, Seguin would be the runner up to Marchand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid
|Max Pacioretty obviously upset Bruins won the Stanley Cup||06.22.11 at 12:01 am ET|
Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty signed a two-year contract extension with the team this week, and upon signing told The Score that he could not watch the Bruins celebrate winning the Stanley Cup last week given that the Habs nearly eliminated the B’s in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Pacioretty did not play in the series, of course, as he missed the rest of the season after a March 8 hit into the stanchion at the Bell Centre from Zdeno Chara left him severely concussed and with a fractured vertebrae.
“I’m going to be dead honest with you, I actually turned the game off when I knew it was over. I didn’t want to see any of that,” Pacioretty said of the celebration. “Just knowing that that team won the Cup was definitely hard, because I know that we were so close to beating them.
“Maybe if we had a full roster, we would have beaten them. It’s unfortunate, but it’s given me a lot of motivation this summer, and I hope to use it to be strength and be able to do whatever it takes to get ready for next year and hopefully be the one lifting the Cup next year.”
Pacioretty’s recovery from his concussion has gone well, much like that of Nathan Horton, who was lost for the rest of the Stanley Cup finals in Game 3 on a head shot from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome. A host of the show asked the Habs forward a very leading question, seemingly to get him to call out Horton for embellishing much like Mark Recchi did of Pacioretty, but Pacioretty, who had tweeted his well-wishes for Horton at the time of the Rome hit, was just happy to see that his rival was OK.
“Concussions are a weird thing. Everyone’s brain is different, so it doesn’t matter really how hard you’re hit or how hard you’re knocked out for. Everyone’s brain reacts differently,” he said. “I think mine was similar to the case of Horton’s, where we were both unconscious for a long period of time but came back a couple days later and had no symptoms since. I hope the same for him and I would never say he embellished his injury at all. I know exactly what he’s going through and I hope a lot of fans out there are trying to realize the same thing now.”
As for Recchi’s and many people on Twitter’s reaction to him seeing a movie days after his concussion, Pacioretty still seemed a bit burned.
“It definitely shows the type of fans that Boston Bruins fans are,” Pacioretty said, “because I definitely still — I try not to look at it, but through Twitter I still get some pretty nasty stuff regarding embellishing injury, and it’s sad that people can actually think that way, especially after it happens to someone on their own team.”
The NHL reworded Rule 48, which focuses on hits to the head, on Tuesday. Pacioretty has made his thoughts on Chara’s hit very public, and was outwardly disappointed with the league when Chara was not suspended. He hasn’t let up on his line of thinking.
“It was definitely frustrating,” he said of the fact that Chara, who was tossed from the game, was not suspended. “It’s like what everybody really talks about. They’ve got to stay consistent with head shots. It might not be the same type of head shot as everyone else’s experiences, but everyone who plays hockey knows that that’s an illegal play. I mean, he got kicked out of the game, and it ended up with me having a broken neck and out for the season with a concussion as well, so I definitely would have liked to see something. That didn’t happen, but I hope down the road that they can clean up the game a bit and keep stuff like that out of it. Players don’t want to see it and fans don’t want to see it either. There’s definitely no place for it.
|Rewording of Rule 48 is official||06.21.11 at 5:44 pm ET|
The NHL Board of Governors has approved changes to two rules, and as such both boarding and Rule 48 (illegal check to the head) have been reworded. The more hot-button of the two is Rule 48, as each year it seems hits to the head leave vulnerable players concussed and teammates stressing that such hits need to be removed from the game.
Under the new wording of Rule 48, the terms “lateral” and “blindside” can no longer be found. For a rule that’s always been up for interpretation to a fault, the emphasis on simply not targeting the head is a little less clouded.
Here’s the new wording:
48.1 Illegal Check To The Head ‘ A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.
48.2 Minor Penalty ‘ For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
48.3 Major Penalty ‘ There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.4 Game Misconduct ‘ There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.
48.5 Match Penalty ‘ The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.
Here’s part of the previous wording, as was applied to Brad Marchand‘s hit on R.J. Umberger when the B’s rookie was suspended:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head ‘ A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
|Bruins year in review: Save of the year||06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year and fight of the year. Up today is save of the year, and it should be fresh enough in people’s minds to remember.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
Tim Thomas on Steve Downie, Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay
“I was thinking, ‘Thank God he saved it.’ We were up by one goal in Game 5, so that was possibly the turning point in the series. They could have scored, won, gained momentum and had a chance to go back home and win. I was happy, but there’s been a lot of moments like that when there’s just a sigh of relief that ‘there he goes again.’ As amazing as his saves are, I don’t think anybody in here is amazed that he makes them, because he’s so good.”
A shoo-in for the Vezina, Tim Thomas had enough candidates for this before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Then he turned in what may be remembered as one of the greatest stick saves of all time when the stakes were just about as high as they could be.
With the series tied at two games apiece and the Bruins holding onto a 2-1 lead in the third period, Eric Brewer took a slapshot from the point that went wide of Thomas’ net. With Thomas at the top of the crease, it would seem that Steve Downie would be a fortunate man to have the puck bounce off the endboards and right to him next to the net. Downie went to put the put in the net to tie the game, but Thomas came to the rescue, knocking the puck down in mid-air with his stick despite hitting the post with his blade. No player had a better view of the play than Gregory Campbell, so his amazement with Thomas’ save should not be taken lightly.
The save yielded an insane reaction from the Garden crowd, and the Lightning would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the game. Tampa would eventually pull Mike Smith for an extra attacker, and Rich Peverley would put the game away with an empty netter.
This was just one of the many outstanding saves Thomas made in a postseason in which he was the easy Conn Smythe winner. While his regular season was record-setting, his postseason was even better. There may be no better illustration of how Thomas stepped up than that save.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Thomas on Brian Gionta (Game 5 of quarterfinals), Tim Thomas on Francois Beauchemin (Dec. 4), Tuukka Rask on Kyle Brodziak (Jan. 6)
|Nathan Horton hopes offseason work won’t change much with concussion||06.20.11 at 4:06 pm ET|
Though Nathan Horton played the postseason with a separated shoulder before being knocked out of the Stanley Cup finals with a severe concussion, the 26-year-old Bruins’ right wing can’t complain. Not that he ever could, of course.
The happy-go-lucky winger will be able to return home to Ontario this offseason, take some time off, and hopefully prepare for next season as he normally would. The effects of the concussion — his first since he fell off the monkey bars as a child — shouldn’t put a damper on his offseason the way they kept him from competing in Games 4 through 7 of the finals.
“The last couple of the games of the playoffs I had a little bit of a headache, but the last few days have been nothing,” Horton said at the team’s breakup day. “I’m symptom-free, I feel great. Nothing’s really bothering me.”
Horton said that the headaches came on worse the more he thought about wanting to be on the ice, and that he considers himself fortunate that the blindside hit he took from Aaron Rome didn’t yield a worse result.
“For how it looked, you would think it was a lot worse. I did get headaches, and that’s about it.”
It was a scary scene when the B’s postseason hero went down in the first period of Game 3, as the hit left him down on the ice, expressionless with one hand raised while the rest of him remained still. Horton said he doesn’t know why his hand was up, and that he does not remember anything before his ambulance trip to the hospital.
“If my arm was up,” he said Sunday, “I don’t remember doing it.”
Horton, who was acquired from Florida nearly a year ago, had right goals and nine assists for 17 points in his first taste of the playoffs, including three game-winning goals (two of which clinched series in Game 7 wins over the Canadiens and Lightning).
When the time comes for Horton to begin working out, he said he will be in contact with the Bruins to make sure both sides are on the same page as it relates to his recovery from his concussion.
“I’m sure I’ll be talking to them about stuff and just going from there,” he said. “I haven’t done anything stressful or stuff like that, so I’ll take a couple more weeks off and I should be fine, but I’ll definitely be talking to them for sure.”
Much as been said of Horton’s cheery attitude at all times, which one could view as ironic given that he had a reputation of being indifferent while playing with the Panthers. Horton had a feeling when he came to in the ambulance that his postseason was done, and asked whether that was the first time during his debut season in Boston that he wasn’t smiling, Horton’s answer was predictable.
“Nah,” Horton said. “I was still smiling.”
|Andrew Ference, Bruins make their Cup run last with tattoos||06.20.11 at 2:47 pm ET|
Andrew Ference is far and away the most heavily-tattooed man on the Bruins. While the likes of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin sport notable ink as well, Ference is essentially the Travis Barker of the team’s dressing room.
That’s why it’s no surprise that he set up a tattoo room for the Stanley Cup champions on their final day at the Garden. Ference, who travels to Calgary every offseason to get his ink done at the Smilin’ Buddha parlor, said Sunday that the plan to celebrate a Cup championship with tattoos was a long time in the making. Ference’s tattoo artist told him back in 2007 that if the Bruins ever won the Cup, he’d be there.
“I usually have to back there to get tattoos finished or done during the summer, and he told me years ago when I first got traded to Boston, he said that he loves Boston and has always wanted to come here,” Ference said. “He told me right then, ‘If you guys ever win, I’ll come down and tat all you guys up.’ I’ve seen him every year since, and he tells me every year, so I sent him a quick email after we won, and he hopped on a plain, and here he is.”
Ference said that “probably over half” of his teammates would be getting tattoos to commemorate the Cup run.
“Different things,” Ference said. “Some guys are just getting some writing, some guys are getting the ‘B’ or the Cup and ‘B’ combo or something like that. I think [Mark Recchi] is getting all of his done from past Stanley Cups.”
Ference, whose arms are nearly covered in tattoos, said he is “getting the spoked ‘B’ for sure,” while other teammates seemed uncertain as to what they’d be getting.
|Bruins year in review: Fight of the year||06.20.11 at 1:48 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year, and up next is fight of the year.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Shawn Thornton vs. Eric Boulton, Dec. 23 vs. Atlanta
“I think that’s what has come up through the whole season is the resiliency of our hockey club. That [game] was the start of it and there were a lot of other examples other than that, but that was the way our team was.”
When the Bruins were shut out at home on Dec. 20 by the Ducks, it seemed they had hit rock bottom. The B’s had won just one of their last five games, and it was only natural to wonder whether Claude Julien was done as coach of the team. The Bruins had two days between the loss and their next game, their last before the holiday break, and they spent both days at Ristuccia Arena trying to reignite the fire that had seemed to have gone out.
Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron got into during the first practice, as did Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk. The team was angry, and with Julien ramping up the practices to create some intensity, the players were ready to take it out on the nearest person they could find — including each other.
When that Thursday finally rolled around to make a statement against an Atlanta team that had embarrassed them in late November, Thornton took it upon himself to wake his teammates up. Thornton dropped the gloves with Thrashers winger Eric Boulton right off the face-off. The two had fought in that Nov. 28 game, but this fight meant way more to the Bruins’ season.
It was an even bout that lasted well over a minute, so though Thornton came far from pummeling Boulton, he may have changed the entire Bruins’ season by making sure he showed his teammates that it would be an emotional game, and that it was. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Thornton also scored a pair of goals in the 4-1 win.
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