|Darren Pang on D&C: Bruins ‘set for another challenge at the championship’||02.26.13 at 12:14 pm ET|
NBC hockey analyst Darren Pang checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the Bruins’ fast start and the Blackhawks’ even-better performance.
The Blackhawks have earned at least a point in each of their first 19 games with their NHL-record 16-0-3 start.
“That is incredible. I’m just amazed at the run that they’re on right now,” said Pang, a former goalie who played three seasons for the Blackhawks in the 1980s. “I’m in St. Louis right now and going to Toronto tomorrow for a Leafs game, but I should be back on Thursday and the streak will be on the line when the Blackhawks and the Blues play at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday. That will be a heck of a game. It always is. They don’t like each other. It is actually one of the true rivalries in the game. Once they get one playoff game behind them, if they end up facing each other in the playoffs this year I think people will really see how much St. Louis and Chicago don’t like each other. But I know that the Blues will want to end that great run that the Blackhawks are on on Thursday.”
While the Blackhawks clearly are the favorites in the Western Conference, there are a few teams that could make the claim in the East. Pang said the Bruins have the best chance.
“I think we have to be fair to how both Pittsburgh and Montreal have played, but I think there’s more strength in Boston than either of those teams,” Pang said. “It’s almost like last year in the West. There were teams that had more points than the LA Kings, but trust me, no one in the West wanted to play the LA Kings even though they were the eighth team. And it’s because of the way they’re built. They’re built with big, strong redwood trees on the wing, they’ve got good centermen up the middle of the ice, good depth, good defensemen that move the puck, and a horse on the blue line, and great goaltending. So, the same thing could be said about the Boston Bruins. If I were a team in the East, the one team I wouldn’t want to play to begin it all would be the Boston Bruins because I think they’re set for another challenge at the championship.”
One big reason for Boston’s early season success has been the play of goalie Tuukka Rask.
“I’m a big Tuukka Rask believer,” Pang said. “I think he’s waited his time. He’s ready to be a main guy. I like the way he handles things, he’s competitive, technically really sound. I’m impressed but I’m not surprised. A couple of years ago, before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, when Tuukka had the ball and ran with it, he was pretty darn good and that was three years ago. So I knew he’d be ready for this challenge that’s ahead of him right now.”
Zdeno Chara showed surprising dexterity for a 6-foot-9 defenseman Sunday, pulling off a spin move and scoring against the Panthers in the B’s 4-1 victory.
“That was elegant,” Pang said. “Like Jean Beliveau was such a gentleman on the ice — competitive, it doesn’t mean you’re not competitive, but just the grace and the elegance that the big fella did that at was absolutely amazing. It wasn’t just the spin-o-rama, it was the saucy backhander. Not many guys can pull that heel-to-toe backhander off and go top cheese under the bar and in. That was what was spectacular, and at his size, no less.”
|Physically, Bruins have little to prove vs. Sabres||02.10.13 at 10:38 am ET|
Sunday night marks the Bruins’ rematch with the wicked John Scott. The B’s can finally right the wrong that was done to them and serve justice to the terrible-spirited man who had the gall to fight someone willing to fight him.
In case you can’t sense the sarcasm, Scott has nothing to answer for. He doesn’t have to answer to Shawn Thornton, and he certainly doesn’t have to answer to Zdeno Chara. Maybe he will, but the line of thinking that the Bruins were wronged and failed to stand up for Thornton after Scott pulverized him on Jan. 31 makes absolutely zero sense. Both fighters consented and it didn’t work for Thornton against the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder.
This wasn’t Matt Cooke elbowing Marc Savard, nor was it Milan Lucic trucking Ryan Miller. Thornton suffered a concussion in the fight, but there was no foul play. Nobody needs to stand up for anyone because no wrong was done.
“I don’t even know where that [expletive] comes from,” Thornton said this week. “Listen, Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s on me.
“Listen, if I knocked him out I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It’s part of it. We’re both men and it happens.”
None of the Sabres have anything to answer for anything with the exception of Drew Stafford, who elbowed Dougie Hamilton in the face in the third period with the game tied at four goals apiece. That infraction went unpunished, so perhaps Stafford, who has never had more than one fight in a season, will be challenged at some point Sunday night.
As for Scott, it’s understandable how Bruins fans can watch one of their beloved bruisers (and one who always has the back of his teammates) get clobbered and want some sort of vengeance, but that just isn’t the way things work when the fights are clean. If winning a fight meant having to fight another guy or two from the other team, the role of an enforcer would be absolutely unbearable.
Just look at Thornton’s linemate, Gregory Campbell. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world (6-foot-flat, 199 pounds), and he’s lost to guys bigger than him (Cody McCormick beat him pretty good in 2011). Yet Campbell has never thought after losing a fight that somebody else should stand up for him. These guys have pride, and you’d have to think the last thing they’d want is for someone to go out and fight someone because they couldn’t get the job done themselves.
“I’ll be the first one to stick up for any of my players, but when you’re fighting, it’s your own battle, so to speak,” Campbell said. “If I lose a fight, I don’t expect anybody else to handle my battles. On the other side of that, it’s not that we’re not supportive of Thorty — everybody is — but he would say the same thing. A fight is a fight and that’s pretty much it.”
The B’s should be focused on team defense Sunday, as that Jan. 31 contest resulted in a 7-4 loss in which Chara played his worst game of the season and Tuukka Rask was left dealing with odd man rush after odd man rush.
You can expect a physical game Sunday night between the Bruins and Sabres. Buffalo went out and got Scott and Steve Ott so they could hang with the Bruins in that regard, but the B’s don’t have anything to prove as far as that goes. They’re still one of the toughest teams in the league, and Buffalo has a ways to go before they can say the same.
|Shawn Thornton doesn’t want Zdeno Chara to fight his battles vs. John Scott||02.07.13 at 1:19 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton skated with a group of teammates Thursday at Ristuccia Arena as he continued working his way back from a concussion suffered a week earlier in a fight with Sabres enforcer John Scott. Daniel Paille (upper-body) also took the ice, while Brad Marchand (shoulder) did not practice as he was examined by team doctors. Claude Julien would not rule out any of the three players for Saturday’s game against the Lightning.
Thornton, who has missed the last two games, said that he is “cleared for practice, cleared for contact,” and hasn’t been told whether he’ll play this weekend against Tampa Bay or Buffalo (Sunday).
Much has been made of the aftermath of the short-lived bout between Thornton and Scott. Thornton failed to get a punch in as the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Scott beat him convincingly, leading to some speculation from talk radio callers and select media members that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara should fight Scott on Sunday.
Thornton emphasized that he didn’t think there is anything for the B’s to avenge, as it was simply a fight that didn’t go in his favor. He especially stressed that he is against the idea of Chara fighting Scott as a result of it.
“I don’t even know where that [expletive] comes from,” Thornton said. “Listen, Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s on me.
“Listen, if I knocked him out I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It’s part of it. We’re both men and it happens.”
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|Zdeno Chara: Dougie Hamilton ‘way better than I was at his age’||01.13.13 at 3:24 pm ET|
Following the Bruins’ first day of training camp in front of approximately 1,000 fans at TD Garden, B’s captain Zdeno Chara sang the praises of fellow defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The 19-year-old, who was named the most outstanding defenseman in the OHL, is expected to make the team this year after being drafted ninth overall in the 2011 draft.
“You don’t see very often guys being so humble and almost shy come around and be so good,” Chara said of Hamilton. “We all can see he’s very talented and willing to learn, so it’s exciting for all of us to have a guy like that around and try to help him out as much as you can and see him growing as a person.”
Hamilton has long looked up to Chara, as he is also a taller blueliner (Hamilton stands at 6-foot-5, while Chara is the tallest player in the history of the NHL at 6-foot-9). Asked if he saw some of his younger self in Hamilton, Chara said that he wasn’t as advanced at 19 as Hamilton is now.
“He’s way better. He’s way better than I was, I can tell you right now,” Chara said. “He’s way better than I was at his age.”
Hamilton, whose Twitter avatar is a picture of him standing on the ice with Chara, lit up when told of the captain’s praise.
“That’s awesome,” Hamilton said. “Just watching him out there, you can see how good he is. I don’t get to watch that much NHL hockey because we’re always playing. But you go out there and watch him and he’s pretty sick. If I can learn from him and try to get better and just watch him, he’s going to help me out a lot. I’m really looking forward to that.”
For complete Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Some more prepared than others as Zdeno Chara, Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron return||01.09.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Three of the Bruins’ leaders were back skating with their teammates Wednesday, as captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly joined eight other B’s on the ice at Agganis Arena after spending the lockout playing in Europe.
All three players spoke highly of their time in Europe, as Chara played for Prague Lev of the KHL and Bergeron and Kelly played in different leagues in Switzerland. Bergeron actually played right wing for HC Lugano of the Swiss-A league, but it wasn’t the strangest experience had by a Bruin in Switzerland. That distinction might go to Kelly, whose first game for HC Red Ice was a little more taxing than he expected.
“I think they thought I had just played in the playoffs and was swinging over there, but I hadn’t played a game in seven months,” Kelly said. “I think I played about 40 minutes that night, so the legs were a little tired. It went into overtime, so it wasn’t like you could kind of pick your shifts to catch your breath.”
Despite the first game catching him a bit off guard, Kelly called his month in Switzerland “a great experience.” Though he returned to North America (he spent the last month or so in Ottawa) in game shape, he was at least a little rusty when it came to packing his hockey bag for Wednesday. He took the ice in Tyler Seguin‘s HC Biel jersey, as he had forgotten socks and a jersey.
“It’s funny when you get used to having a jersey and socks in your stall and then you’ve got to scramble to find a jersey and socks, and asking guys if they brought an extra towel to shower with after,” Kelly said. “It will be nice having a towel at the rink.”
The Bruins had 11 players in Europe at one point or another during the lockout, something that Kelly feels should be an advantage from a preparational standpoint as teams get ready for the 48-game regular season.
“It was never about the money or anything like that or going over there of a vacation,” he said. “I know guys in this locker room extremely well, and if they went over to play, it was to play hard and help that team and play hockey.”
|KHL did not try to keep Zdeno Chara||at 11:48 am ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time since returning from the KHL on Tuesday and amidst speculation that KHL teams were making big financial pushes to keep NHL players from returning to their teams, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Wednesday that he was not approached about staying in Europe.
“No,” Chara said after skating with teammates at Agganis Arena. “It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL is beginning or the deal [for a new CBA] is done, that I’m leaving. It depends on how the guys feel or how they want to decide what to do.”
Ilya Kovalchuk has been the most popular player whose future remains uncertain as the start of the NHL season draws near. Though he’s entering the third year of a 15-year, $100-million contract with the Devils, multiple reports have surfaced citing Devils sources who believe Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL. Islanders defensman Lubomir Visnovsky recently announced his intention to remain with HC Slovan Bratislava for the rest of the season rather than going back to the NHL.
“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll see,” Chara said of NHL players staying in the KHL. “I mean, what can I say? I can’t really make comments for them.”
Since forming in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) has become the NHL’s primary competition as hockey leagues go.
“There are some really, really skilled guys there,” Chara said. “Players are very highly skilled as far as skating and handling he puck and making plays. I think it’s less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise it’s a little bit different.”
Other new additions to Wednesday’s session at BU were alternate captains Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron.
|Bruins away from Boston roundup: Anthony Camara continues to impress||10.08.12 at 12:21 pm ET|
Here’s the latest check on the Bruins’ stats as they play elsewhere during the lockout. Not everyone is in action quite just yet, as Patrice Bergeron (Switzerland) and Andrew Ference (Czech) have signed with their teams but have yet to play. Shawn Thornton is still looking for work, so keep an eye on that situation as it unfolds.
[Certain leagues' stats take a little longer to surface on the various hockey statistics sites (HockeyDB is used for most of these), so some statistics might not be up to the day/hour/minute/etc.]
Swiss National League A
- In four games for EHC Biel, Tyler Seguin has one goal and two assists for three points and and a minus-4 rating. For any college hockey fans out there, Seguin is teammates with former UNH forward Jacob Micflickier in Biel.
- Zdeno Chara has a KHL game under his belt after choosing to play for Prague Lev last week. Chara did not record any points and has an even rating.
- 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev has struggled mightily with Moscow Spartak, and the 19-year-old could be leaving the KHL to return back to the OHL. The Windsor Spitfires, Khokhlachev’s OHL team, claimed the playmaking center on re-entry waivers last week to secure his rights in the event that he does return. In 14 KHL games, the Moscow native has one goal and a minus-5 rating. Khokhlachev only had OHL seasons under his belt before opting to play for Moscow Spartak, the team of which his father is the general manager.
- In seven games for Moscow Oblast Atlant, Bruins backup goalie Anton Khudobin has a 2.88 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage to go with his 2-3-2 record.
Czech Elite League
- After finally securing a deal in the Czech Elite League last week, David Krejci has one goal and an even rating through two games for HC Pardubice.
- Ference is in the Czech Republic and had his first practice for Ceske Budejovice HC on Monday morning.
Deutsche Eishockey League
- In two games for the Manheim Eagles, Dennis Seidenberg has not recorded any points and has an even rating game. Seidenberg chose the Eagles as his team for the lockout so he could play with his brother, forward Yannic Seidenberg.
- Through three games for JyP HT Jyvaskyla of the SM-liiga, Bruins forward Rich Peverley has one assist and four penalty minutes.
- Tough guy Anthony Camara continues to dominate in his fourth OHL season after scoring a hat trick in the season-opener. Through seven games for the Barrie Colts this season, Camara has seven goals and three assists for 10 points and a plus-1 rating. The Bruins’ third-round pick in 2011 also has 15 penalty minutes this season. It should be worth noting that Camara’s career high for goals in the OHL is 16, a number he should far surpass this season. Camara’s scoring has steadily increased over his OHL career, as he went from six to eight to 16 in his first three seasons.
- In seven games for the Niagara IceDogs, Dougie Hamilton has three goals and four assists for seven points and a plus-7 rating. Hamilton also has four penalty minutes.
- 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban has a 2.18 goals-against average and .929 save percentage through five games for the Belleville Bulls. His record this season is 3-2.