Bruins

Haggerty: Recchi's aim (at Habs) is true

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Haggerty: Recchi's aim (at Habs) is true

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

Mark Recchi isnt out of his mind, and he certainly isnt a stupid man.

The 43-year-old future Hall of Famer holds purpose to his words at all times and has a knack of saying exactly what his team needs to hear when it needs to hear it. Its a time-honed skill somebody attains after spending decades in NHL dressing rooms, and has developed a clear understanding of the natural rhythms of a season.

So when the 20-year NHL veteran spoke to CSNNE.com contributor Mike Felger on his 98.5 the Sports Hub radio show Wednesday, he had to know what he was doing.

Recchi agreed with Felgers assertion that perhaps the Canadiens embellished Max Paciorettys health situation a little bit while desperately trying to lobby for a Zdeno Chara suspension.

Hes okay and hes getting better, Recchi said. I mean, we know Pacioretty was at a movie, I mean he wasTweeting at a movie five days later. You know, obviously, if you have abad concussion like this, youre not going to be at a movie. So wereglad in that sense that hes getting better, but it was a hockey playand the injury happened.

The Bs veteran was then presentedwith Felger's long-stated theory that the Habs have embellished injuries for calls inthe past, and the question as to whether there was some overstatement of Paciorettys severe concussion by Montreals hockey club.

Well,I mean, he does have a fractured vertebra, but the concussion wasreally a non-factor. Maybe a day he felt it and then he was fine acouple days later, said Recchi. I believe, yeah, they were trying toget Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit. I guess interms of that side, you have to look at it and I guess they were tryingto do what they could to get him suspended.

Sure, Felger can be convincing, making outlandish declarations sound like common sense, but even hes not skilled enough at radio interviews to trap a wily veteran like Recchi into saying something he doesnt want to particularly on the eve of the biggest game of the season for both clubs.

Theres no question the Habs had motive to trump up Paciorettys injuries, given the sliver of points that separate the Bruins and Canadiens in the standings, but as to whether or not they actually did it, well, thats a strong accusation.

Its even stronger still when its acknowledged Pacioretty fractured a vertebra in his neck, and was knocked out cold on the ice after Chara ran him into the Bell Centre stanchion.

But Recchi believes there might have been some gamesmanship going on by the Montreal franchise to get Bostons irreplaceable stalwart defenseman out of the lineup.

Later, Milan Lucic appeared on the same radio station and had similar sentiments when asked about Paciorettys miraculous recovery from a Grade 3 concussion and talked about the personal experiences hes had with Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard and the severe concussions that kept them literally in the dark for months at a time.

I remember it like it was yesterday when Patrice couldnt even get up to open the blinds in his house for two months, said Lucic. If you ask Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby who suffered a concussion right after the first of the year, Im pretty sure hed tell you that he hasnt been able to go to the movies over the last two months.

Both Lucic and Recchi have stressed throughout the last few weeks that the entire Bruins organization was glad to hear Pacioretty was going to fully recover, and it seemed this embellishment had more to do with the organization than the individual player.

So what could be possibly have been gained by Recchi and Lucic taking the bait with talk of Paciorettys concussion?

How about a leadership move by a couple of big personalities within the Bs dressing room capable of taking some of the considerable media heat off Chara and instead putting it on themselves with their comments? Chara was staked out by the teeming number of Montreal reporters at an off-day practice on Wednesday, and its pretty clear at this point hes had to deal with more than his share of questions, angry comments and vitriol after the Pacioretty hit.

That media fever pitch would become even worse if the Bruins and Habs engage in a first-round playoff series as seems likely to happen at this point.

If Recchi and Lucic can take some of that withering scrutiny away from Chara with emotions running on both sides and the Bs needing every last bit of menacing intimidation that their 6-foot-9 defenseman can bring to the table then perhaps their goal was accomplished. Chara has been good in the six games since the Pacioretty incident with 2 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-5, but theres only so much one player can handle before cracks start to show.

Recchis comments could also serve as a way to provoke the Canadiens players into a more emotionally charged response Thursday night a plan that backfired on the Habs the last time they were on the Garden ice racking up 187 penalty minutes amid bloody defeat.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned both GMs Montreal's Pierre Gautier and Boston's Peter Chiarelli about a repeat of that gong show this time around, but the Bruins know that physicality and intimidation are keys to their success.

We cant lose that edge, said Lucic. Its unfortunate that a guy got hurt on a hockey play that weve seen 1,000 times before. We cant lose that edge, and we still need to play physical.

The Big Bad Bruins have circled the wagons to protect one of their own, regained the swagger they lost somewhere along the way after Pacioretty was wheeled off the Bell Centre ice, and know a clean two-point victory can virtually lock up at least the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thankfully itll be less about explosive words Thursday night, and all about the two teams colliding one last time on the ice after weeks of hype, harsh accusations and dopey 911 calls.

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

Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

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Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

BRIGHTON, Mass – It would appear that Bruce Cassidy is ready to start shuffling the deck up front after a slow start to the season.

With the Bruins ranking among the league’s worst both offensively and defensively just a handful of games into the season, they are both introducing a few new forwards to the mix while hoping for full health to a couple of other ones. 

First off, the Bruins appear that they might get David Backes back for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after his bout with diverticulitis, supplying some badly needed size, strength and net-front tenacity on the wing. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) might not be too far behind after going through a full practice wearing a no-contact jersey. The return of No. 37 would help in any number of different areas once he’s good to go, and would have a cascade effect on the rest of the forwards.  

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Getting both players back in short order would give the Bruins a toughness around the net that was certainly missing against Malcolm Subban and the Golden Knights, and hasn’t been there consistently this season with No. 37 and No. 42 out of commission.

“[Bergeron] is progressing. In the past we’ve ruled him out ahead of time, but we’re not ruling him out for [Thursday vs. the Canucks]. Backes looks closer to being ready to play,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Some of the games that have gotten away from us, those guys are glue guys that really add that element to us to keep us on the rails without the game getting away. Some nights you just need their offense or some hard defending, and you miss their leadership obviously. They’re all good players, but most of them you know they’re bringing that North/South game and a few good shifts here or there could have got us back on track.

“[Bergeron] is underrated in his ability to get to the front of the net especially with Marchand and Pastrnak on his wings. So we miss that part of it: Getting there on time, making plays and finishing off plays. Backes is just a big body there and you certainly miss that part of it. With Vegas the other night that was one of the biggest things we were missing was getting second chances, shooting for second chances, hitting the net and getting those rebound chances against a team that was harder to get inside on.

A few moves on Wednesday might also suggest some on-the-fly changes with some forwards that haven’t been working out with the Black and Gold. Ryan Spooner suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday night against Vegas, and it sounds like it might not be a short-term injury for the center with just one point in his first five games. Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano also haven’t produced much in the first couple of weeks of the season, and could be in danger of losing roster spots to Providence call-ups Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik.  

Both players were late cuts from training camp and were showing the blend of size, strength, skill, experience and production that Boston needs more of as they search for answers among their forward group. Beleskey, Spooner and Vatrano have combined for one point, a minus-6 rating and just 12 shots on net in a combined 14 games this season, so clearly that is one of the first spots to look for upgrading the roster from within.

“[A tryout period] is a good way to put it. We talked about that in training camp when we had a long look at guys, but not Cehlarik because he didn’t get a chance to play [because of shoulder surgery]. He obviously piqued our interest last year and did a lot of good things for us,” said Cassidy, who has been in a state of constant flux putting forward lines together due to injury and ineffectiveness. “We just went in a different direction at the trade deadline, but we brought him up to give him a look. We have a decision tomorrow and I’m not going to say whether [Cehlarik] is in or out.

“He’s really played well in Providence, and we just thought he might be able to help us. Some of it may depend on the health of the other guys as far as who’s in and who’s out. If both Cehlarik and Agostino are both in the lineup there’s a chance [they might play together]. They were with [Riley] Nash today in the middle, and he has some of the same qualities as JFK down in Providence. But until we sort through who’s in for tomorrow, and that starts at the top with Bergeron and Backes, then stuff will fall into place for all of them.”

Depending on how Don Sweeney plays with his 23-roster spots, perhaps the time has come to put one of those players on waivers for a trip to the AHL. Simply based on merit it would be Vatrano and the total nothingness he’s shown in his first four games this season, but there would also be a legitimate concern they’d lose the 23-year-old Massachusetts native on waivers for nothing.

For their part, players like Agostino and Cehlarik ripped up the AHL while teamed with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in Providence, and were just looking for their chance to carve out a role in Boston. Now they may get their chance based on others not really grasping their opportunity, and they’re ready if that’s the case.

“It’s encouraging for me, but I’m just taking things day-by-day. I’m not looking past anything and I’m looking in the past. I just take things as they come here,” said Agostino, who leads the Bruins two goals and seven points in three games thus far. “This isn’t my first time [up at the NHL], so I’m just going to do whatever I can to make the best impression possible.”

What if Agostino and Cehlarik, a career AHL player and a former third-round pick, can’t make the impact that the Bruins are looking for?

Hopefully by then the Bruins will at least have their top two lines healthy and firing on all cylinders, and can continue to mix and match things in the bottom six until they find a combination of forwards that work. But it may come to a point where the Bruins need to look outside the organization for an impact forward or two, or at least find somebody that can make an impact on the ice rather than will themselves invisible.

Only Beleskey has been at all effective this season as he’s dropped the gloves and played physical at times, and certainly can still be an effective third or fourth liner with the right players skating alongside him. For those reasons along with the massive contract money still owed him, Beleskey should be given every opportunity to succeed in Boston. But one thing is clear at this point: There is too much dead weight on the Bruins roster right now at the forward position, and something needs to be done about it if they hope to pull themselves out of their early-season funk.   

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Groin tear to sideline Bruins' Spooner for four to six weeks

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Groin tear to sideline Bruins' Spooner for four to six weeks

The Bruins have absorbed another substantial injury to their forward group with the news that Ryan Spooner will be out 4-6 weeks with a torn groin. According to sources, it was something he was playing with for some time before the right adductor muscle in his groin finally tore in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

With Spooner out of the Bruins lineup, there will be challenges to both team speed and to a power play unit that the fast-skating center was a key contributor over the last couple of seasons. Sean Kuraly was centering Tim Schaller and David Backes in Spooner’s absence during Wednesday practice, but it remains to be seen how they’ll go about filling the void for the next couple of months.

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“We’re no different than anybody else. We’d like to have our full complement [of players],” said Bruce Cassidy, when addressing the injury situation. “To be healthy and 100 percent in this league is tough, but we’d love to be there.”

Spooner was very clearly slowed by something at the start of the season with just one point and four shots on net in his first five games of the season along with a minus-2 rating, and that’s a tough development for a player like Spooner that relies on his speed and skating for much of his effectiveness at the NHL level. It will be interesting to see if Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson eventually gets a look given his fast start at the AHL Level, and the fact that Spooner is on a one-year deal that may see him playing somewhere other than Boston next season, or perhaps even following this spring’s trade deadline. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE