Bruins skip morning skate; Canucks loose


Bruins skip morning skate; Canucks loose Staff Follow @csnnewengland
VANCOUVER -- The Bruins chose not to hold a morning skate this morning prior to Game 5, but the Canucks practiced and then met the press. Some highlights, courtesy Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardi and Kevin Walsh:

Coach Alain Vigneault on Ryan Kesler's line: "They've got to take it to the net, stay in front and compete for that netfront presence. All those guys can do that."

Both Sedin boys -- dubbed "Thelma and Louise" by ex-Bruin defenseman and coach Mike Milbury -- said they didn't feel "pressure" playing at home, despite what happened in the two games at Boston. Thing is, no one mentioned the word "pressure".

Daniel Sedin laughed when he was reminded that Thelma and Louise killed a guy.

Henrik Sedin: "I like the situation we're in. Two of the next three at home. If you had offered me this months ago, I'd have taken it."

Kesler and Henrik Sedin both smiled about having the last change. "This is what we played the 82 games in the regular season for," says Henrik Sedin.

Kesler was asked if he's hurt. "No." Then he was asked if he would say if he were. "No."

When asked if Chris Tanev would be in the lineup tonight in place of Keith Ballard, Vigneault replied: "We'll see."

When asked if Dan Hamhuis, who was injured early in the series, was going to make the trip to Boston for Game 6, Vigneault replied: "Yes." When asked if there was any chance of him playing, Vigneault merely said, "He's day-to-day."

Henrik Sedin says that the Canucks' 1-for-22 performance on the power play is surprising, but he feels there have been opportunities. "Rebounds are there," he said. "We just have to get to them."

Aaron Rome, who's suspended for the remainder of the aseason, was on the ice for the Canucks. Rome's agent, Jarrett Bousquet, said two days ago they were considering an appeal.

The Canucks seemed fairly loose here. Hamhuis didn't participate, but it was a full skate otherwise.

When asked Thursday about his confidence level and whether he expected to start Game 5, goalie Roberto Luongo answered an entirely different question -- albeit politely -- about how the Canucks didn't play well as a team. It was similar to a politician who has their own talking points and answers their own questions. It's evasive, but telling; as if the inner truth is too difficult to be voiced. But Vigneault stood by his man when asked directly whether Luongo would start Game 5. "You can bet on it. He's my guy."

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday


Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:




Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain


Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.