Bruins

Bruins notes: NHL considers concussions rule

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Bruins notes: NHL considers concussions rule

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH, N.C. The NHL Board of Governors had their annual All-Star weekend meeting in Raleigh on Saturday, and concussions were certainly discussed.

But the consensus among the Governors, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league itself is that there isnt much presently that needs to be tweaked with Rule 48 or as its known in Boston, the Savard Rule that prevents blindside head shots and blows to the head from unseen angles.

Bettman admitted to a group of reporters prior to the Honda SuperSkills competition at RBC Center that concussions are up as an aggregate number in the NHL this season, but the commissioner also informed that headshots and blindside checks are also way down from seasons past.

It appears, and again I want to emphasize that it is a preliminary, the increase in concussions appear to be in the area of accidental and inadvertent situations as most did not involve any contact with the victims head by an opponent, Bettman said prior to the Honda SuperSkills competition at the RBC Center on Saturday. Im not saying no concussions came from hits to the head, but it appears the increase is coming from somewhere else.

While thats somewhat faulty logic because any concussions that a player like Marc Savard receives for the rest of his playing career can be traced back to Matt Cookes cowardly blindside elbow to the Bs centers head, many players are clearly pulling up in situations where blindside hits might have taken place in the past.

Either way, many NHL organization heads still want to keep making adjustments and changes that can help avoid concussions at all costs the kind of injuries that have Savard laid up and Sidney Crosby missing his third straight All-Star game.

"It's something the league is taking a very strong look at," said Bruins president Cam Neely. "Obviously, you want to keep the players in the lineup as much as possible. Concussions are an issue for the league and rightfully so.

We have a player like Savard out -- it's a big deal for us and it's a big deal in our market. Every team goes through it. When you've got guys out of the lineup, it affects your club."

Above and beyond the blindside hits, it would seem that the biggest culprits in these accidental concussions are the bulky, hard plastic shoulder pads favored by players and unforgiving plexi-glass above the boards in every NHL rink.

But GMs that havent recently been badly affected by franchise-crushing concussions had a bit more of a cavalier attitude about the concussion discussion, and felt it was all about Crosby missing time due to the injury.

"The concussion thing is the topic du jour, said Brian Burke. "It'll be shoulders next year if there's a rash of shoulder injuries. Frankly, I think the biggest reason we're focused on concussions is because of Sidney.

"If Mike Brown got that concussion, would you guys all be around with cameras asking about concussions? I don't think so."

The bottom line is that the NHL will again discuss the issue at the end of March when the GMs get together for their meetings, and that is when the framework of Rule 48 was put together last season following Matt Cookes cheap shot elbow.

"It's easy to say 'the league needs to do x, y and z on concussions' (but) it's not that simple," said Bettman. "Changing a rule which doesn't address what's actually causing the concussions may not be the right thing to do, changing equipment may not necessarily be the right thing to do.

"We spend a lot of effort on this subject, we know it's important."

Tyler Seguin said he enjoyed the All-Star festivities, though the 18-year-old said he lost feel for his stick and the puck while sitting out on the ice for nearly three hours through the entire SuperSkills competition.

Seguin also finished with a 97.1-mph slap shot in the hardest shot competition, and said afterward that Eric Staal picked him for it based on a summer Bauer camp in Atlantic Citythat the Canes superstar attended and took note of Seguin's shooting abilities."It was a great experience," said Seguin. "It was fun meeting all of these guys, and getting to know some of these super, superstars like Alex Ovechkin. He was on my team and that was pretty cool."You can learn a lot from watching these guys just like the kinds of things that I take away from all of my great teammates in Boston."

Seguin will fly back to Boston on Sunday and practice with the Bruins on Monday before flying back to Carolina with the team for Tuesday nights game against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

Tim Thomas became one of two goalies to be the first to ever participate in the fastest skater competition when he hopped on the ice in full equipment to dash against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Thomas stumbled and fell behind his own net during the first turn, but very nearly caught up to Ward at the finish line where he ended with an 18.895 second time."Everyone was saying he might fall, but you could how hard he was trying and how much he wanted to win there," said Seguin.

Ward said afterward that Thomas was the only other goalie that agreed to take part in the competition, and the Bruins goalie had a smile of enjoyment on his face the entire time he was involved."I started to lose and then I tried to catch it, but I couldn't. 'Down goes Thomas', I guess, instead of 'Down goes Frazier," said Thomas. "I had never practiced it, but that's okay. The hometown boy won, but I think everybody knows who the faster skater was."Thomas was asked what B's GM Peter Chiarelli might have thought while watching his prized goaltender take a tumble while getting involved in a fastest skating competition."Nothing. He sees it about five times every day at practice anyway. That's why I was able to get so fast...because I have a lot of practice falling."Thomas said that there were discussions about the goaltenders taking part in the shooting accuracy competition as well, but the B's goaltender had philosophical issues with the setup of the contest. "We talked about doingit," said Thomas with tongue planted firmly in cheek. "But then I saw that they were usingMcDonald's targets on the corners. I'm a Burger King guy, so I pulled out of the competition."

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.