Bruins

Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

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Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

BOSTON -- Its pretty clear the Montreal media is pushing the Max Pacioretty making his heroic return against the Bruins story angle this week, but the Bruins arent biting.

Pacioretty has had an eventful week. He injured his right wrist a problem that many in the Habs media corps quickly diagnosed as a broken wrist and then potted two goals in Montreals big 5-1 victory over the Flyers after he was expected to miss the game.

That sets up a dramatic game against the Bruins for the Montreal winger, his first since his season was ended after Zdeno Chara checked him into a Bell Centre stanchion. The violent crash into the turnbuckle ended with Pacioretty unable to move on the ice with a fractured neck vertebrae and a severe concussion, and with rabid Montreal fans calling for criminal charges against the Bs captain in what the NHL ultimately termed a hockey play unworthy of supplemental discipline.

Everybody remembers the March 8 game in Montreal that ended the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Connecticut natives year. Everybody remembers the Dr. Recchi jokes in Quebec when the future Hall of Fame winger took issue with Pacioretty going to the movies just days after being diagnosed with a concussion. Everybody remembers the boos and CNN crews following Chara like he was Frankensteins monster when the hit made the 6-foot-9 defenseman out to be Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal.

So there are natural narratives for Pacioretty and Chara headed into Thursday nights epic tilt between the Bruins and the Canadiens, but the Bs players arent really worried about any one individual Canadiens player given their 3-5 start to their season.

Theyve got to get back on the winning way, and quell the chatter about Stanley Cup hangovers and substandard offense.

Chara didnt address the media on Thursday, but said on Wednesday hed basically turned the page, whether Pacioretty was on the ice or in the stands.

Im just excited to play the game, said Chara without fully addressing the Pacioretty end of the question. The games are huge. These games are big. Im not even talking about the rivalries. Im just talking about the standings.

Im sure where both teams are they are going to be good games for both teams. Itll be one of those games everyone will be really ready for it. Those games are exciting to play against each other, but theyre also very important games. We dont want to fall any deeper in the standings.

Mix their lackluster opening month with last springs seven game battle between the two teams in the first round of the playoffs, and there are plenty of factors that make these games interesting without rehashing the Pacioretty hit.

Most would argue that the bloodbath game between Montreal and Boston in February of last season with 182 penalty minutes, no less isnt going to happen on the Garden ice tonight no matter which way the game trends. The points are too important to a pair of hockey clubs that had high aspirations heading into the year, but are shooting themselves in the foot in October.

Its going to be a great challenge for both sides, said Kelly. Were both not where we want to be in the standings, and it gives us a great opportunity to play six plus periods against each other where there is some history there.

But what about Pacioretty?

I dont anticipate there being anything. Both Pacioretty and Chara are playing well right now, said Kelly. Its good to see Pacioretty back playing and to see Chara at 100 percent.

I honestly forgot about it. I thought about the playoffs more with Montreal and that seven game series that was one of the best series Ive ever been a part of. That was on my mind more than the Pacioretty hit.

Thursday should be about the Habs and Bruins simply needing a win to stay out of the Northeast Division cellar, not settling individual scores. It could also be a coming out party for a player in Pacioretty thats leading the Canadiens with four goals and nine points this season. That would match Tyler Seguin for Bostons team lead in points, and is more goals that anybody in a Black and Gold uniform this season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said that the bottom line with Pacioretty is hes healthy and playing well, and the Bruins were happy to see a fellow hockey player able to come back from serious injuries.

The one thing were happy about and that would be for anyone else is that hes healthy, said Julien. "As a player in the league you dont want to see somebody end their career in an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player come back and be healthy.

As far as thats concerned, hes healthy, weve turned the page and now its time to move on.

If anybody knows about unfortunate incidents its the Bruins as they've ssen Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron both felled for long periods of time due to concussions. Luckily for the Habs and Pacioretty, the after-effects of his injury seem to be nothing like the long-term effects on Savard. Much like Bergeron, the Habs forward has returned to full health with last years nasty collision firmly in the rear view mirror.

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.

 

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

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Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

BOSTON – It feels like the Bruins might finally be hitting their critical mass with all of the injuries in the first few weeks of the season.

The B’s were down Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Krejci as the new injuries Saturday night and clearly missed those players, along with the others currently out with injuries in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The Bruins had a three-goal lead in the second period and a two-goal lead in the third but frittered away both while allowing the hapless Sabres to outshoot them 21-6 in the third and overtime.

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Anton Khudobin battled his rebound control for most of the game while facing 42 shots on net but it was the absence of Miller and McQuaid in the D-zone that made it a little too easy for Buffalo to push Boston when it mattered late.

Torey Krug was on the ice for the last three of Buffalo’s goals and was out penalty killing late in the third period in a spot where he would never have been in if the B’s were healthy on the back end.

“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world. They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done. And that’s why they are paid to get it done,” said Bruce Cassidy. “So yes, we miss them. But, last week we missed other players. So the guys that are out there, it’s up to them to get it done, right?

“It didn’t happen tonight, and hopefully we learned from it and can be hungrier the next time. There’s not much else to analyze that. That was it. Someone had to play in that situation. We pick guys who we figure would get the job done, and it didn’t work out for us. Next time, we’ll keep working at it.”

As part of the injury factor, there are also players that are banged-up and back in who are also clearly not back to full strength. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are both back from their early-season issues and Krug continues to play with a healing fractured jaw, but all three key players combined for just a single assist and three shots on net in a game that featured nine goals.

Krug was the most noticeable weak link in the loss as he was overwhelmed in the D-zone on the game-tying goal when an Evander Kane shot bounced on him on its way into the goal. Krug was down on his stomach after losing his balance while battling in front of the net. Krug then was out for an extended period in OT before bumping a Sabres player around the crease who fell into Khudobin just as Ryan O’Reilly was pushing the game-winning goal past him.

Krug spoke on Saturday morning about feeling like things were starting to come together for him but he finished a minus-3 against the Sabres with his big, bad teammates out with injuries. He's a startling minus-8 after the first two weeks of the season.

“Obviously we have to do a better job tonight. Two-goal lead in your own building, it’s got to be the hardest place for the opposing team to come in and overcome that. We’ve got to be better,” said Krug. “I thought I had an opportunity to win a battle in the corner on that loose puck. Just trying to swat away and all of a sudden it comes out the other side, and we just couldn’t overcome. That’s survival mode. “Especially when they were able to make changes like they were. We just got to stay calm, composed, and make sure we’re not getting beat one-on-one. We obviously managed it for a while, but we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

It was also clearly about Khudobin, who had a big chance to put the Bruins team on his back with Rask out with a concussion. The Russian netminder made 37 saves and at times looked energetic and ready to battle between the pipes but at other times couldn’t make the clean save that the Bruins needed in order to get a whistle and calm things down. In OT, Khudobin couldn’t make a clean glove save on a Rasmus Ristolainen tester from the high slot that would have allowed the Bruins to get some tired players off the ice in the 3-on-3 OT.

Instead, Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were out on the ice for 2 minutes, 15 seconds and eventually got beaten on O’Reilly’s play that took the puck straight to the Boston net. Cassidy called it an “erratic” night for Khudobin when they needed calmer, more poised play from their goaltender and that was clearly a reflection of the Black and Gold missing Rask.

“[Khudobin] was erratic. He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. [He] certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him,” said Cassidy. “But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out [on plays] that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.

“[There were instances] in the third period, plus overtime, where we needed to calm the game down. Whether it’s a face-off, even right before the overtime goal, we had opportunities to get possession out of that pile. They came out with it. And that’s what I said. They were hungrier than us. Late, they won more pucks. If we win that puck out of that pile, we might not be talking about losing. Maybe we get out of trouble and it goes our way. We’ll never know.”

Maybe things would have gone the Bruins way if they had more of their walking wounded back and contributing. Instead, it feels as if the B’s are being tested with new, damaging injuries with each passing day. A number of those had a direct impact on a brutal loss to the Sabres on Saturday night. One has to wonder if there are more of those coming until the Bruins can start stabilizing their medical situation.