Bruins

Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

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Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With the threat of a two-minute minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct awaiting any player that throws an extended face wash, bites a finger or mockingly dangles his fingers in front of another players face, its expected that the finger play is going to cease in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

No more Maxim Lapierre finger-dangling, Alex Burrows finger-biting or retaliatory finger jabs from Mark Recchi or Milan Lucic. The message was sent loud and clear from Bostons side in a scolding by Claude Julien amidst the victorious Game 3 festivities, and it was backed up by the NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, in a discussion with the media during the Tuesday off day.

A habitual line-crosser like Brad Marchand knows that the series will still hold plenty of fury, intensity and physicality, but it appears as if the finger stuff has been played out three games into the Stanley Cup grudge match.

The finger stuff doesnt prove anything," Marchand said. "It doesnt do anything. Its good for a laugh or two, but for the most part its not effective. You dont want to be sitting in the box because of it. You can only see that so many times before its old news. Were done with the finger stuff.

While the killer face-washes are certainly going to be curbed on Wednesday night, it appears that just about everything else will continue to be in play between two teams with a huge game for control of the series.

"We're all fighting for something we've wanted for so long, Marchand said. Both teams won't let the other one take it from them.

If the Canucks take Game 4 and push a 3-1 lead in the series with Nathan Horton out of the lineup, thats a virtually impossible mountain to climb for the Black and Gold.

Meanwhile the Bruins can really push the momentum hard if they can even up the series and continue hammering away at the Canucks physically while slowing them down from their frenetic early game pace. There's an interesting pattern for the Canucks as theyre sitting at 5-5 in Games 3-5 during the middle of their four playoff series' in this seasons Stanley Cup run.

Were in the Finals right now, and the refs dont want any light calls to cost us games," said Marchand. "So the refs are not going to be calling it too safe out there. Theyll let us play and let us battle, and obviously if things get too out of control then theyll take care of it. Its the Finals. Thats how it's got to be. It has to be a battle every night with guys throwing their body on the line and making sacrifices.

Jordan Caron skated with the Bruins during morning skate for the first time during the playoffs, and will be a part of the pregame warm-up as one of Bostons 23 skaters following the season-ending concussion for Nathan Horton.

Tyler Seguin did such a good job when he stepped in and he was ready to play, Caron said. I think I just need to be ready like he was."

Marc Savard is expected to be in attendance again at TD Garden for the Boston Bruins after making it to one game during the Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Claude Julien wouldnt say whether Nathan Horton would be in attendance for Game 4 just 48 hours after his severe concussion at the hands of Aaron Rome, but the power forwards presence is doubtful given the symptoms and issues in the immediate aftermath of a serious head injury.

"I cant say one way or the other because I dont have an answer, said Julien. As you know being around a bunch of people is not the best thing for people dealing with concussions."

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

'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.