Bruins

Morning Skate 221: Lucic readying for trip home

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Morning Skate 221: Lucic readying for trip home

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
Looking forward to the four-day Milan Lucic homecoming set for Vancouver at the end of this week that will include his second career game against his hometown Canucks in the city he grew up in, thousands of bobble heads handed out at Milan Lucic Night on the Friday before the game and close to 10,000 fans crowded into the Pacific Coliseum to fete one of their favorite suns in scenic Vancouver.Lucic is trying to maintain a business-like atmosphere through a very important road trip for team-building and locking their team into place in the standings, but thats a challenge when so many once-in-a-lifetime type things are on tap for big No. 17.Its going to be a lot of fun, obviously, but more importantly we have a job to take care of while were out there, said Lucic. Thats what Im focusing on. Ive been here for four years and its only my second time going out West in Canada, so it doesnt happen that often. On to the links:

SportsNets Ian Mendes always shows off a pretty good sense of humor in his blog posts, and this week he creates the trades hed like to see made in the NHL purely for the comedic value. Interesting take from Vancouver Sunwriter Cam Cole after the Canucks shut it down for a day on their most recent road trip, and didnt allow any media access. I dont see things ever getting as dire as Cole does, but I guess Im just an optimist. Good piece by Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike McMahon on Jordan Heywood and his amazing comeback this season at Merrimack College after playing through blood clots in his lungs during junior hockey. The Carolina Hurricanes retired Rod BrindAmours number last weekend, and the heart and soul of the Hurricanes deserved every second of the praise. A good look by ESPNs Pierre Lebrun at the future of outdoor hockey in the NHL, and what could be ahead for both the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic after Sunday nights one-sided win for the Calgary Flames. Puck Daddy contributor Ryan Lambert learned that the Heritage Classic was a poor mans Winter Classic, and doesnt have the brightest of futures. It appears that Colorado coach Joe Sacco and GMGreg Sherman will survive whats becoming a pretty rocky collapse for the Avalanche, no pun intended, and a remaking of the team following the Erik Johnson deal. Former Northeastern University standout goalie Brad Thiessen is putting up big numbers between the pipes at the AHL level, and has become one of the top goalie prospects knocking on the NHLs door. A great if overly colorful -- piece outlining etiquette and the proper way to act in the press box when its your first time. Everybody in the business has had their first day covering a pro sporting event at the highest levels, and this might just help you survive it in fine fashion.

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

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

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Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

BRIGHTON, Mass – The resume for Claude Julien speaks for itself in terms of greatness in Boston, so he certainly will get a warm ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first visit back to Boston since getting fired last February. Julien coached the Boston Bruins for 10 years, won a franchise record 419 games over that time span, made it to the Cup Finals twice and of course hoisted the Cup in 2011.

It won’t matter that he’s now the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens when Julien gets his video tribute, and basks a long ovation similar to the one he received when he was recognized for passing Art Ross on the B’s all-time wins list a couple of season ago. The warmth will be a little weird in the middle of a Bruins/Canadiens rivalry game, but it’s clear that Bruins fans appreciate the job done by Julien for such a long period of time.

The mutual respect was also clear when players like Patrice Bergeron spoke warmly of their coach ahead of last weekend’s showdown in Montreal, which the Bruins eventually pulled out in a shootout at the Bell Centre.

But it would seem the Bruins are starting to get a little tired of tossing verbal bouquets at the guy that’s now behind the Habs bench. It all started with Tuukka Rask’s postgame reaction on Saturday when asked if there was any extra emotion going up against his old coach for the first time.

“He was not playing a shift on the ice, so it doesn’t really matter. He was coaching, so it was nothing special,” said Rask, matter-of-factly.

So there wasn’t any added emotion for Rask going up against Julien’s new team for the first time?

“Nope,” said Rask.   

That line of questioning continued again after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Julien coming back to the Garden for the first time.

“Well, I can tell you what’s going to happen,” said Rask. “We’re going to start the game, at some point there’s going to be a video montage, we’re going to tap our sticks and the crowd is going to clap their hands and give him a warm welcome. Then the game is going to continue.”

Does Rask expect either he or some of his longtime teammates will get emotional if they see Julien showing some emotion during his ovation?

“No,” said Rask.

Is it really that cut-and-dry, the Bruins goaltender was asked?  

“It’s just another game,” said Rask, who improved to 8-15-3 lifetime against the Montreal Canadiens after last weekend’s shootout win. “It’s probably special for him to come back and be on the other side, but for us it’s just another game.”

Similarly, Marchand was much more understated speaking about Julien on Tuesday after speaking enthusiastically last weekend about the many discussions player and coach had about “becoming a better a pro” early in his career. But the Bruins winger wasn’t about to get all warm and fuzzy when asked about any greeting that his former coach is expected to get while the legendary Bruins/Habs rivalry plays out on the ice.

“I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m sure he is,” said Marchand, when asked about the fan reception from Bruins fans awaiting Julien on Wednesday night. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but I’m sure he’s excited to come back. He’s deserved that video and I’m sure a lot of people will be excited to see him again. I’m sure it will be a memorable game.”

Marchand went on to say he "learned a lot" from Julien during their time together, and clearly still has a high level of respect for his former coach. 

 Maybe it’s the very nature of the Bruins/Habs rivalry, or maybe the Bruins players are suffering from a little Claude Julien question fatigue with the two teams playing three times in a span of eight days. Maybe we're even finally seeing some of the Bruins players that had tired of the longtime coach's methods by the end of his long-running tenure in Boston. 

But it sure sounds like some longtime Bruins players might be over it when it comes to the “Claude Bowl” aspect of the ongoing rivalry week between the two storied rivals.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

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Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.

*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.

*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.

*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.

*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season

*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.

*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.

*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE