Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories


Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories

Peter Chiarelli has heard the conspiracy theories that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHL. Whenever a borderline hit or questionable hockey play involves the Stanley Cup champs, the media and fan bases swirl up a concoction of Colin Campbell-fueled conspiracy theories that leave the Bruins free to burn and pillage the 29 other NHL organizations without any fear of retribution.

Never mind that Campbell is no longer the hockey executive in charge of handing out supplemental discipline to offending players. To those convinced theres something amiss when it comes to the league and the Bruins, logic and reason dont seem to actually apply.
They simply want to paint the Bruins as a team thats unfairly benefited from kid gloves when they are the offenders as a big, physical hockey club. Chiarelli said its all poppycock and hopefully Milan Lucic getting slapped with a one-game suspension for boarding Zac Rinaldo quiets some of that chatter.

That whole line of conspiracy thinking and Ive seen it on the record and stuff I mean, weve had our share of bumps along the way, with the Marc Savard stuff and the Patrice Bergeron stuff, said Chiarelli. I dont buy any of that stuff. Usually I look at stuff independently, and I think any arbiter will, or should. We may go forward at times now with getting a suspension, and I may complain on a case-by-case, but those are the rules that we play by, and Im okay with it.

The Bruins are a team that plays on the edge as evidenced by the recent 2500 fines handed out to Brad Marchand for slew-footing Matti Niskanen and to Adam McQuaid for kneeing Nick Foligno and they have players like Lucic getting banged with suspensions just like everybody else. Following a one-game playoff suspension for cross-checking Maxim Lapierre in the face, crushing Freddy Meier late in a game against the Thrashers last season that incited a team-wide brawl or slamming into Ryan Miller this season, Lucic was on thin ice in the leagues eyes.

So the hit from behind on Rinaldo was the perfect situation to make an example of Lucic, but hes also a player thats careful to keep his rage and aggression in control when it comes to his physical play. There arent many besides Ryan Dice Man Miller that view Lucic as anything but an honest player that plays an intense brand of hockey, and thats why the Bruins dont earn more suspensions.

For the most part the Bruins are bigger and stronger than nearly everybody else in the league, and can dominate without resorting to dirty tactics or edgy plays that could bring on injuries. That doesnt do much to further any conspiracy theories that have become more prevalent since the Bruins essentially bullied the Vancouver Canucks in seven games on their way to a Stanley Cup title.

The Bruins arent going to ask Lucic to play any differently now that the league is scrutinizing him more closely, and nor should they.

We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and people were clamoring that we got away with stuff. Maybe we did, maybe we didnt, said Chiarelli. But thats the way we built the team and Im going to continue to build it that way. If I could find another Milan Lucic, Id be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that."

We wont stray from how we built it, and well continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.

Theres little reason for the Bruins to shy away from the way they play the game of hockey. The Big Bad Bruins style has won them 19 games in their last 22 tries and again has them as the rightful top dog in the Eastern Conference for the first time all season. The Bs even weathered a game without Lucic after he served his suspension while missing out on a rivalry games against the hated Habs. It was a shame for Lucic given how much he enjoys playing and beating Montreal, but perhaps it will finally put to bed the notion that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHLs hockey ops department.

Nah, it actually probably wont. That would mean 29 other teams would need to look in the mirror and admit when they were beaten by a Bruins team that plays honest, punishing hockey that few other clubs can hang with.

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.