Bruins

Morning Skate 329: Early look at the NHL Awards

Morning Skate 329: Early look at the NHL Awards

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comBOSTON With only weeks remaining in the regular season, that means it will soon be time to vote on the NHL Awards handed out each summer in Las Vegas amid the glitz, glamour and Vegas trapping that scream out anything but the National Hockey League.Here are some candidates Im kicking around for each major award while counting down the days until the official ballot lands in my email inbox.Hart Trophy: Daniel Sedin, Corey Perry, Tim Thomas, Pekka Rinne, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Sedin, Jonathan Toews, Henrik Zetterberg, Lubomir Visnovsky, Nicklas Lidstrom, Keith Yandle. My thinking: Plenty of good candidates beginning with Daniel Sedin and his 96 points as the lead horse in the race with plenty of other candidates at every other position with some excellent hockey resumes. Pretty amazing that there are three Henriks in my MVP discussion kind of tells you what direction the NHLs elite are headed toward.Norris Trophy: Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Lubomir Visnovsky, Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien, Christian Erhoff, Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Drew Doughty, Brent Seabrook. My thinking: Theres an upper tier of defensemen in this years crop including Lidstrom, Visnovsky, Yandle, Chara and Weber that should dominate the voting as some of the other name defensemen really didnt live up to their hype this season. Lidstrom may walk away with another one at zz years old this season.Vezina Trophy: Tim Thomas, Pekka Rinne, Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ryan Miller. My thinking: When a guy like Tim Thomas is 10 points ahead of everybody else in the save percentage category and setting modern day NHL records, there really isnt much a race. You can make some nice arguments for good goalie performances on lesser hockey teams, but there should be an investigation if Thomas doesnt take it home.Calder Trophy: Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, Michael Grabner, Tyler Ennis, Taylor Hall, Brad Marchand, Cam Fowler, P.K. Subban, Kevin Shattenkirk, Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky, James Reimer. My thinking: Jeff Skinner is the leading scorer and was the It boy at NHL All-Star weekend, but this is Logan Coutures award after watching him burst on the scene in San Jose. A pretty impressive rookie crop that really outlasted both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin when it came down to it.Selke Trophy: Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards, Travis Zajac. My thinking: This should be Keslers year to take home a trophy along with the rest of the his Canucks teammates, but Toews, Bergeron and Richards all deserve real consideration with Datsyuk battling through so many injuries this season.Jack Adams Award: Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, Dan Bylsma, Guy Boucher, Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Alain Vigneault, Mike Babcock, Dave Tippett. My thinking: After playing through the blaring spotlight of HBOs 247 cameras and an underachieving first half that had many people calling for his head, Bruce Boudreau has emerged with a team playing great hockey in the second half of the season. He deserves plenty of consideration, though this may come down to Vigneault for the season hes enjoyed with the dominant Canucks or Boucher helping to steer the Lightning to their first playoff berth since 2007.On to the links: A one-on-one interview with the Vancouver Sun andMontreals Mike Cammalleri about a wide-ranging number of subjects.Joe Yerdon and the NBC Pro Hockey Talk crew shine the proper amount of light on Scott Arniel for calling it like he sees it in Columbus. Adrian Dater goes through some Monday morning quarterbacking at Versus.comCSNPhilly.com hockey insider Tim Pannacciohas the scoop on ticket prices being raised for Flyers fans in Philadelphia.According to the boys at Wicked Good Sports, there is nobody that the Bruins should play in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.CBCs Elliotte Friedman weighs in with his 30 thoughts including a pair of thoughts about the whole Mark RecchiMax Pacioretty saga that played out last week between Boston and Montreal.Bruins President Cam Neely sits down with Felger and Mazz on 98.5 the Sports Hub to talk about the upcoming playoffs.

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

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Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

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After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

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'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.