Bruins

Haggerty: Ward's attackers unfairly sully Boston's reputation

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Haggerty: Ward's attackers unfairly sully Boston's reputation

Theres no underestimating the anonymous mob mentality of the Internet.

It comes right along with the unseemly phenomenon of message board commenting, and the keyboard courage people with hate in their hearts routinely display when hiding behind faceless social media accounts.

As a famous Jedi master once said, its a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

The hateful, ignorant masses reared their classless heads again in the early morning hours on Thursday when some loosely classified Bruins "fans" attacked Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward via his Twitter account.

The Caps forward had the audacity to score the game-winning overtime goal in Washingtons 2-1 win in Game 7 to end Bostons season. And, on top of that, he was African-American.

So the dumbest faction of Bruins Nation attacked Ward with all manner of vitriolic, classless tweets and racially motivated messages.

Theres little doubt every last one of those responsible for the ugly words sent to Ward should be publicly embarrassed and swiftly forced to answer for their misdeeds. Bruins followers should be ashamed for the way this distinct minority sullied the image of the proud Boston Bruins franchise by dragging the teams good name into a head-shaking cesspool of intolerance.

It actually prompted the Bruins to release a statement on Thursday: The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in now way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.

The NHL chimed in with its own statement a little later on Thursday, as well: "The racially charged comments distributed via digital media following last night's game were ignorant and unacceptable. The people responsible for these comments have no place associating themselves with our game."

Clearly the Bruins have nothing to apologize for. In some ways its similar to the riots in Vancouver after the Canucks dropped Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Bruins. People rioted, burned cars and created a public nuisance in the downtown following defeat, and the entire city took on the bad reputation caused by a few anarchists.

Not everyone in Vancouver wearing a Canucks jersey was an arsonist or an anarchist hell bent on destroying their beautiful city and giving Canucks fans a bad name.

In the same vein, the insensitive remarks thrown at Ward have reopened past accusations that Boston is a stodgy city forever unfriendly to those who look, act or believe differently than the Irish-American majority. NBC Hockey Talk dug up 30-year-old quotes from Celtics great Bill Russell as he discussed an area that -- during his playing days -- never adopted him as an African-American sporting superstar.

The city of Bostons past reputation for troubling race relations is nothing new, and it cant be denied that Russell was wronged in virtually every way possible when he lived in the Boston area in the 1950s and '60s.

But times have changed. Russell is now treated as a hero whenever he returns, and the city in recent years has embraced stars like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Vince Wilfork, David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez . . . among many others. And theres also this little inalienable truth: There are idiots with Twitter accounts in every major North American city who will send out hate-filled, reprehensible tweets to any player in Wards situation. Its not something unique to Boston, and unfortunately it's becoming more commonplace with each passing day.

The city of Boston, though, will be forced to answer for this particular handful of anonymous morons, who would cower from real confrontation much the same way they'd cower from a Zdeno Chara elbow to the head.

You know, a Chara elbow might be the best solution for this group of cyber-tough guys, no matter where they hail from.

Perhaps then, the easy, hackneyed racial history wont be a part of the narrative based on the actions of a few chuckleheads who cant stand losing a kid's game.

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.