Bruins

Canucks win special teams battle

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Canucks win special teams battle

BOSTON -- The bottom line when it was all said and done for the Bruins: the Canucks are going to win a special teams battle against Boston nearly every single time.

The Bruins were whistled for 15 penalties and 55 minutes worth of infractions, and handed the Vancouver Canucks 11 power play chances in the 4-3 loss to Vancouver on home ice. The Canucks entered the Saturday matinee leading the NHL with a power play thats been successful 23.6 percent of the time, and its their bread and butter.

Draw penalties by any means necessary, get the Sedins and Co. on the man advantage and then rinse and repeat. A combination of undisciplined mistakes by a slightly overhyped Bruins team and some very questionable whistles from referees struggling to maintain control led to four power play goals for Vancouver.

The Canucks went 4-for-11 on the man advantage and the Bruins went 0-for-7, and that was the ballgame just as it was during the Cup Finals. Vancouver is searching for a special teams fiesta and thats what they found at TD Garden courtesy of Dan ORourke and Don VanMassenhoven raising their hands early and often.

Our job is not to assess or comment on referees. Im not stupid enough to stand up here and criticize them. What I can tell you is that Vancouver scored four power play goals, so we gave them an opportunity to score on their bread and butter, said Claude Julien. Instead of criticizing the referees, I would much prefer criticizing us for the penalties whether theyre worthy or not, take the responsibility.

We knew before the game started that they have a good power play, and I thought two of them, two of the goals they scored, were nice power play goals, and youve got to give them credit. The other two, I thought we could have done a better job on them.

It was apparently early on when the Canucks earned a 5-on-3 advantage out of their prison yard-style attack on Shawn Thornton that special teams would be a factor in the game. The Bruins nearly killed off that power play, but finally broke down when Sami Salo found Ryan Kesler open for a scorched one-timer.

Sure there was also an Alex Burrows power play tip off a Cory Hodgson shot courtesy of a Tyler Seguin tripping penalty in the second period, but the real backbreaker was Brad Marchands five minute major and game misconduct for clipping near the end of the second period.

The Canucks scored two goals during those next five minutes a Henrik Sedin tip from the high slot off an Alex Edler shot and a Hodgson sniper shot to start the third period and the Bruins simply werent able to come back. Kevin Bieksa tried to paint Marchands actions as the reason his squad was ultimately successful, and took a few shots at the Bs after it was all over.

We play hard, but we are a disciplined team. Thats what separates us from the Bruins. They obviously play hard, but they tend to do stupid things, said Bieksa. The Marchand hit was a pretty stupid thing and Im sure hell be getting a phone call for that one. There is no reason for that. But we made them pay for that. We got to score two goals on that power play and thats the game. Marchand has got to live with that.

It might have been a different story if the power play had been able to do some damage against the Cory Schneider and the Canucks, but sadly their PP performance was yet another flashback to last years Finals with an empty 0-for-7 showing.

Combine that with the loss of Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand to game misconducts by midway through the second period, and it wasnt exactly a banner evening for the Bs and their penalties.

We had some pretty big obstacles to overcome, and some of it was losing two real good players out of your lineup and having a short bench. That didnt help, but had we stayed out of the box -- and not given them the power plays that we gave them -- I really felt, five-on-five, we controlled the play, said Julien. Thats where our strength is, and unfortunately, when you give up four power play goals in a game, youve got to look at yourself and take the blame. Its as simple as that.

The Canucks won the special teams battle and this days war, and thats one thing that cant really be argued.

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.  

Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

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Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while back in the good, ol' Eastern Time Zone.
 
*Really nice piece from Shawn Thornton in the Players' Tribune about the inspiration provided by his “Nanny” and how he’s come to truly love the community service and hospital visits while involved with professional hockey. He’s always been one of those athletes that just stops by children’s hospitals for a visit without needing the attention for it, and that is a credit to his great generosity and empathy for those brave kids.

 *You want a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps? Well, the world will certainly provide a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps.

*Defenseman Connor Murphy hasn’t been the player that the Chicago Blackhawks expected him to be since arriving in the Windy City.
 
*The Colorado Avalanche are adding a fancy stats and video man to their management group as they seek to keep improving the NHL product.
 
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk is returning to the NBC broadcast booth as his health will allow as he continues to battle cancer. Good to see you back, Edzo!

 *Erik Karlsson is finally set to debut for the Ottawa Senators after offseason foot surgery, and it will be a case of the strong getting stronger for a Sens team off to a pretty decent start.

 *For something completely different: Just in time for Halloween, Jennifer Tilly releases all of the behind-the-scenes secrets of working with Chucky.