Haggerty: Bruins find identity in beatdown of Habs


Haggerty: Bruins find identity in beatdown of Habs

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Its going to be difficult for the Bruins to turn away from the brutishidentity theyve carved out for themselves.But then again, why should they?

For the second time in three games the Bruins' mean streak set the tone, and they came away with a needed, emotional 8-6 victory over the hated Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

The Bs and Habs racked up 187 penalty minutes in a game played for Northeast Division supremacy with less than 30 games to go in the regular season, and at one point six Bs players and five Canadiens were jammed into the penalty box.The Bruins lead the NHL with 55 fighting majors this season in 54 games, and seem to have achieved their season-opening directive of becoming the biggest, baddest hockey team on the block. It's games like Wednesday night that make questions about Boston's toughness seem almost laughable.

Less than a week after handingthe Dallas Stars a spanking -- on and off the scoreboard -- the Bruins have found the formula they need to have success against even the best of teams. Sprinkle in plenty of emotion, add a resurgence of your top line that produced 3 goals, 8 assist and a plus-15 during the game, and mixina liberal amount of butt-kicking on the ice.

Ironically enough, perhaps Montreal goalie Carey Price said it best after letting in eight goals just weeks after representing Montreal in the NHL All-Star game.

It was just old-time hockey, really, going end end-to-end and scrapping it out, said Price.

The message was sent loud and clear by the Bruins: the division is ours and were pretty sick of losing to the Blue, Blanc and Rouge this season. The Bruins made their statement by scoring eight goals against the Habs and beating down them physically and spirituallyat the end of 60 minutes of schoolyard bullying.

It was the only way for the gritty, physical Bruins to slow down the fleet, skilled Canadiens, and if it reminded everyonein the sellout crowd at TD Gardenof the Big Bad Bruins -- well,then all the better.

The effort was huge -- especially when theyre a few points behind us in the standings. We really wanted to push them down and have that game in hand, said Brad Marchand. So especially after losing last game there when we were up 2-0, we really wanted to make a statement and show them that we mean business. Were going to get on a roll here and not give them any chance to catch us.

Thevictoryallowed the Bruins to settle some scores: Nathan Horton spent the latter half of the game chasing after P.K. Subban and trying to force him to pay for his transgressions against Marchand; Zdeno Charaoptedfor the popular tackle-and-face-wash combo against overtime celebration enthusiast Max Pacioretty when the line-brawl emergedin the second period, and even Price and Tim Thomas grappled at center ice when things bubbled over in the middle period.

But it also showed a team thats undeniably united after standing up for each other, and physically intimidating quality opponents in Dallas and Montreal whileputting to bed any questions about team harmony. The debate about public disagreements between Andrew Ference and Daniel Paille seem trivial and stupid when the hockey team comes out with such a resounding effort.

Any curiosityabout a Bs dressing room thats never even shown a hint of a problem this season should be considered officially answered with an exclamation point -- and perhapsa roundhouse right to the face.

We are going to stand up for one another. We are going to stand up to anyone and we want to be team-tough, said Milan Lucic. I think that is what we showed against Dallas and that is what we showed tonight.

More than one Bs player nodded repeatedly when asked if games like Wednesday nights BruinsCanadiens grudge match were as much fun to play in as they were to watch because, to date, that stands as the best NHL regular-season game this year.

Its a lot of fun to be in these games. Such a great team, great players, and its a lot of fun coming to the rink, said Horton. Playing with these guys, not only are they unbelievable on the ice, but theyre great off the ice. It truly is like a family and everyone loves each other.

Its obvious the Bruins cant bring Wednesdays intensity every night. This was a unique four-point night against the Canadiens, who are closest to them in the divisional standings.

But the Bruins have tapped into exactly what theyre capable of when the emotional, physical and spiritual commitment is present and it shows them what theyre capable of when theyre unafraid to embrace their Big Bad Bruin origins. It's interesting that two real "tipping point" games this season have come against Montreal. The first was the overtime loss at the Bell Centre in which Boston blew a two-goal lead late in the third period; the B's regrouped from that disaster and have gone 10-4 in the 14 games since then.The B's then took it one step further on Wednesday night, and found a way to beat the hated Habs this season after going 0-2-1 against Montreal in three games heading into fight night at TD Garden.

"It was a good win for us. We needed that, and we went out and got it, said coach Claude Julien. You know whatever happened, happened and I guess there is a rivalry that exists between these two teams and its still there. So, we came out and played our game.

The Bruins have 28 games remaining in the season and theyve uncovered the team identity theyve searchedall season for. That should be a scary proposition for the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself


Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching the Montreal Canadiens crash and burn in the Atlantic Division.  

*Max Pacioretty is certainly falling on his sword up in Montreal calling himself “the worst one on the ice” as the Habs really struggle to get going this season.

*Brad Marchand was on the Twitter machine after Thursday night’s win and having some fun with what his video game controller probably looks like when he plays hockey.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of the Erik Gudbranson boarding hit on Frank Vatrano from last night that looks like it’s going to get the Vancouver D-man suspended.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still adjusting to the changes that are taking place with the Arizona Coyotes as they struggle in the desert.

*The Maple Leafs are looking and acting like contenders early on up in Toronto, and that would be a very good thing for the NHL.

*For something completely different: The Backstreet Boys are going country? Now I’ve definitely seen it all.


Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

BRIGHTON, Mass – Another serious injury has hit the Bruins in the first few weeks of the season.

Adam McQuaid’s right leg is broken, he'll have surgery Monday and he’ll miss some significant time after he blocked a shot that knocked him out of the Thursday night victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The rugged, stay-at-home defenseman took multiple pucks of in successive games off his leg in the past two games against the Golden Knights and the Canucks.


Bruins GM Don Sweeney, in a Bruins statement released after practice Friday, said McQuaid sustained a broken right fibula and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Mass. General Hospital. He is expected to miss approximately eight weeks.

It’s a tough blow for McQuaid, 31, after he was able to play 77 games last season before missing the playoffs with an injury and has consistently battled injuries in his career while playing a hard-nosed, fearless brand of hockey.

“Adam [McQuaid] is seeing the doctors as we speak, so there will be an announcement about him,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier Friday at practice. “With Bergie [Patrice Bergeron] it’s a maintenance day where we felt it would be better after 20 minutes of ice to let it rest, and the same with [David] Krejci. Miller is a maintenance day as well. He got whacked, but he should be fine as well. We’ll have a better idea in the morning, but we expect all of the [maintenance players] to play.”

Bergeron, David Krejci and Kevan Miller were all missing from practice on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was maintenance days for all as they’re expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. 

Tuukka Rask is out indefinitely while in the concussion protocol after his practice collision earlier this week, but the good news is that Bruins goaltender was up and around at the practice facility on Friday rather than at home convalescing in a dark room.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the Black and Gold with a few bodies missing from practice: