|Julien, Bergeron react to new blindside rule||03.25.10 at 3:11 pm ET|
The NHL finalized a new blindside hit rule on Thursday that will ban blindside hits to the head, effective immediately. The rule is intended to prohibit “a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact.”
“I don’t think there are too many people who are going to argue against it,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think the players want a little bit of security when it comes to that and what I personally like about the rule is that there is responsibility for both sides. You can’t expect the player carrying the puck to be able to see what is behind him in a way where there is what is called blindside hits but at the same time also puts the responsibility for the puck carrier. If you are going to put your head down and you get hit head on it becomes your responsibility. They are not taking hits out of the game and they are putting the responsibility, and the right responsibility, on both players.”
Julien said that coaches were shown a video of the type of hits the league is talking about but, to be sure, the rule was sped through the system after the brouhaha of Matt Cooke’s hit to Marc Savard on March 7. The Flyers’ Mike Richards hit to Florida’s David Booth earlier this season was also impetus to implement the rule. Booth missed 45 games after the hit.
The rule initially calls for a suspension for blindside hits with no in-game penalty this season though it is likely that an in-game penalty will be instituted by the start of the 2010-11 season.
“Personally, I think it is pretty black and white,” Julien said. “A blindside hit or a head on hit. We are talking about hits to the head. You can hit from the side, as long as you are not hitting the head … To me it is pretty clear the way it has been explained and if they want to put it into play anytime I am for it because it doesn’t take practice, it takes common sense.”
Patrice Bergeron, no stranger to concussions after questionable hits, completely agreed with Julien that the rule is more common sense than any type of game changer.
“For me it is a rule that is kind of common sense,” Bergeron said. “It is a rule that should have been in place and now that it is I hope everyone’s going to think about it … I don’t think it is going to change the game, I think it is still going to be a physical game. There will still be some good hits but those hits, direct to the head are careless and there is no need for it and I am just happy that there is a rule in place now.”
Ultimately, Bergeron said, it is up to the players to do the right thing on the ice.
“I think in between the players we need to be responsible, we need to think about the actions before we do it,” Bergeron said. “Kids are watching, it’s something important but first and foremost it is the players.”
|Orr on focusing on Cooke: ‘That’s silly’||03.18.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
Before and after Thursday’s game against the Penguins the Bruins will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions team. Many of the major alumni from the era are in attendance at TD Garden and were made available to the media in an afternoon session in the executive suite on the second level of the stadium. Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith and Fred Stanfield, among others were in attendance to rehash the memories of that great Bruins team.
Yet, the members of the last great Bruins dynasty could not completely escape the drama that the current incarnation in embroiled in. For the most part they were diplomatic and are trying not to stoke the fire and the media did its best to keep the topic on 1970 as opposed to 2010.
“Just getting together and seeing the guys again is really what it is all about,” Orr said. “I have to thank the Bruins for doing this. They have really been first class.”
Orr was bullish on the notion that the 1970 team would still be a great squad even in the current era of the NHL.
“We had a pretty good hockey team,” Orr said. “If you look at our lines they would be a pretty good team today too. We were pretty close. I don’t believe we had any ego problems or anything like that and we knew it was more fun to win than to lose and we loved to win hockey games … we didn’t need anyone else taking care of our problems, we could care of those ourselves.”
The group of reporters around Orr held out questions about Matt Cooke and the Penguins for about six minutes before finally succumbing to the temptation to ask one of the greatest hockey player of all time what he thinks about the situation. He reiterated what the current players said earlier Thursday — it is about the two points and to make it a point to go after Cooke would be “silly.”
“The Bruins have to go out tonight and play. It is two points, they are in a fight. And the Penguins are struggling a little bit. First of all I think that it is going to be a heck of a hockey game. It would be silly for the Bruins that their key thing to be to go after a player,” Orr said. “That’s silly. It would be a silly thing to do, it would be a silly thing for all of us. I was listening to a talk show coming in and the fan was ‘you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to take [Sidney] Crosby out.’ Come on. That is silly.”
Orr did express his opinion on the nature of the hit and what he thinks of Marc Savard.
“In my mind, it was an illegal hit. In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, who is a great hockey player, you bump him, you grind him, you get in his way. But, he is a player that you don’t run over like that. There were periods where that was understood that,” Orr said. “It would be like like me, during my time, running over Jean Beliveau from behind or blindsiding him. You just don’t do that. I was a pain in the you know what, so I was hit a lot. I would hit so I am going to get hit back but Marc, you just don’t do that to him.”
Orr was asked if the rules changes between his era and the current era has led to more hits like the Cooke’s on Savard but understands that the players cannot be given free reign over vigilante justice.
“The rules are pretty strict on things like that. I believe that if they let the players police it for a little while everyone will soon understand but I am not sure they will let them do that,” Orr said.
|Julien: This is not the 1970s||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.
|Bruins looking for win first, Cooke second||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.
|Thornton on D&C: No one should ‘push us around’||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.
|Bruins road win streak halted by Penguins||03.07.10 at 5:40 pm ET|
Summary — For the last time ever in the regular season the Bruins travelled to Pittsburgh to play in Mellon Arena against the Penguins and came away losers by a 2-1 score in a Sunday matinee. Tim Thomas got his third straight start for Boston and took the loss with 27 of saves. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury took the decision with 15 stops. The loss snaps the Bruins five-game road winning streak.
The Penguins jumped all over Boston in the third but Thomas stood tall in the losing effort after getting peppered through most of the period. Thomas did give up the game-winner early in the final frame to superstar Evgeni Malkin on a dump shot through a screen down the right wing.
After a scoreless first period the Bruins struck first on the power play when Blake Wheeler was able to sweep a loose puck out from under Fleury at 3:12 in the second. The Penguins came back about five minutes later when Pascal Dupuis put the puck in a scrum in the crease in front of Thomas and banged on it until it trickled passed for the equalizer at 8:57.
Bruins’ center Marc Savard took a hit and elbow to the head late in the third period by Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. He was carted off the ice on a stretcher. No word on the type or severity of the injury but a concussion would seem likely. Cooke was not issued a penalty for the hit.
Patrice Bergeron played his first game since the Olympic break after sitting the previous three with a groin injury. Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a minor knee injury and did not dress.
Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender picked up his 31st win of the year with steady play and a solid defensive effort in front of him.
Evgeni Malkin — The “other” superstar in Pittsburgh scored the go-ahead goal for his 23rd strike of the year early in the third period.
Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored the first goal of the game for only his second strike in 17 games when he tallied on the power play in the second period. The goal was his 14th of the year.
Turning Point — The start of the third period was where the Penguins turned on the heat. Malkin scored the go-ahead goal early in the period and the Bruins could not slow Pittsburgh down the rest of the game as the Penguins dominated the positional play in the final frame.
Key Play — The Penguins new addition of Alexei Ponikarovsky at Wednesday’s trade deadline paid dividends in the third period. Malkin came down the right wing on the rush and threw a dump shot on Thomas that passed through a moving screen by Ponikarovsky on its way to the back of the net. Pittsburgh turned on the heat after that and pressured the Bruins for the rest of the third on its way to the victory.
|Paille nets two in first period against former team||02.09.10 at 7:55 pm ET|
The Bruins look a lot crisper than the Sabres in the first period at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Boston is taking advantage of a plethora of Sabres turnovers to put pressure on star goaltender Ryan Miller and take a 2-0 lead into the second period. It is the fourth straight game where Boston has held a 2-0 lead and the Bruins are 1-0-2 in those games.
Daniel Paille is comfortable playing in Buffalo. The Sabres drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft (20th overall) and he made his NHL debut with them in the 2005-06 season and played 195 career games with 35 goals before being traded to the Bruins on Oct. 20 for a third and a conditional fourth round picks. Paille beat Miller by picking the puck up in the trapezoid and wrapping it around at 4:51 for the early Bruins advantage.
Then he did it again.
Paille started the sequence by digging the puck out of the corner and cycling it back around the net to Derek Morris who crossed it across the blue line to captain Zdeno Chara. The big defenseman wound up and fired a shot towards Miller. Paille, who cycled along with the puck, crossed in front of Miller at the same time as the puck and got a piece of it for his second goal of the period that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Tuukka Rask has blanked the Sabres through the first. Buffalo has generated shots but not a lot of chances.
Shots through first period:
Boston — 11
Buffalo — 17