Bruins

Morning Skate 214: Lemieux in tough spot to talk

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Morning Skate 214: Lemieux in tough spot to talk

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

PHILADELPHIA Life in the NHL certainly isnt boring.Within the last week, a pair of games filled with fights, hate and blood boiling on the ice grabbed everybodys attention with the second one garnering nearly double the penalty minutes of the BruinsCanadiens tilt and crossing the line from tough hockey over into thuggery. The New York Islanders embarrassed themselves, plain and simple, and guys like Trevor Gillies, Matt Martin and Michael Haley werent looking to make plays or win a hockey game. That trio of meatheads was looking to intimate, hurt and get even with the Pittsburgh Penguins after Brent Johnson had broken Ricky DiPietros face in the game leading up to that rematch.Their actions were as filled with ill intent as you can get on the ice, and they deserved to have the book thrown at them with the lack of mercy that Cobra Kai was famous for. So they deserved to get the book thrown at them, as did Eric Godard for leaving the bench in an understandable move that the Pittsburgh enforcer knew was going to cost him in the wallet.Somewhat predictably there was unrest in Pittsburgh that the punishment wasnt severe enough to fit the crime, and it prompted Pens owner Mario Lemieux to fire out the infrequent-but-weighty missives hes become known for now that his Hall of Fame playing career is over.Lemieux said in a release: "Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be," the Penguins owner and Hall of Famer said in a statement released by the team. "But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn't hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that."The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed."There are even those within the Bruins dressing room that wholeheartedly agreed with Lemieux, including former teammate and future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who has seen plenty in his 20-plus years in the NHL and recognizes the kind of gong show incidents that need to be dealt with swiftly and decisively."Good for Lemieux," veteran Bruins player Mark Recchi told CSNNE.com. " I'm glad he said it because the NHL sanctions weren't strong enough. Not even close.That was completely premeditated by the Islanders and theres no place for that.So on many levels Lemieux is correct to intervene on behalf of all players, but more specifically his Penguins players that hes clearly looking out for. But theres no denying the hypocrisy that Andrew Ference wisely avoided in this entire debate when he simply spoke the truth about Daniel Pailles hit against the Dallas Stars.Its a charge that the great Super Mario cant avoid because he forked over a wheel barrel of cash to re-sign Matt Cooke this summer after the Pittsburgh hatchet man became a free agent. Cooke was fresh off the Marc Savard cheap shot elbow that has him reviled around the NHL, and especially in Boston, and Lemieux could have made a statement against that type of cheap hockey.But he decided to keep his deal with Pittsburghs own little hockey devil going, and put the safety of every other player in the NHL at risk by encouraging Cooke to continue attempting to end the careers of players as hes potentially done with Savard after last March.That decision was as wrong as they come, and is in complete contrast to every word Lemieux uttered in the wake of fight night at Nassau Coliseum. Nobody is going to care one whit if a hockey great like Lemieux pipes up simply when something is happening in his own backyard as opposed to across the league.Do us a favor, Mario, and sit out the next shift on the ice when your team is treated unfairly because everything that took place with your own team hatchet man last season was the pure definition of the term unfair.On to the links: An interesting look at NHLplayer Mike Rupp, and the simple philosophical differences between one hockey player and a monstrous entity like the NFL. A good even-handed take on the Lemieux statement by USA Todays Kevin Allen as opposed to the two-hander I just tossed at Super Marios ankles. Friend of Haggs (FOH) Rob Simpson has a lot of thoughts over at MSG.com and Im always glad when he shares them with me. Michael Russo takes issue with Lemieuxs statement on VERSUS.comand comes up with a similar verdict as I did: guilt by hypocrisy. Ryan Miller once again shows that he is both very thin and very thin-skinned when the going gets tough for him. Apparently the big, though Sabres media was too hard on him after his 31st straight start for Buffalo. Rick Nash and Steve Mason are slowly dragging the Blue Jackets back into the playoff picture. The question is whether its too late. A good look by Andy Strickland at potential NHL lottery pick Ryan Murphy at truesports.com.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.