Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while really enjoying watching “Justice League Action” on Cartoon Network every Saturday morning with my 4-year-old son. It’s just like the old days with the Super Friends on Saturday mornings.
*The window is still open for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win a Stanley Cup or at the very least make the playoffs. It’s teams like the Lightning and their expected improvement that are going to make it a much tougher road to hoe for the Black and Gold to get back into the Stanley Cup playoffs this coming season. I don’t see how the Bolts don’t make it in.
*PHT writer James O’Brien has NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shooting down Nassau Coliseum as a viable choice to again house the New York Islanders. I don’t blame him given what an outdated dump that place is these days when compared to state-of-the-art NHL arenas, but the Barclays Center in Brooklyn isn’t a long time workable solution either.
*It sounds like things could get a little contentious with a worker’s compensation lawsuit from former NHL player Mike Peluso against the league, and possible subpoenas for Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Lou Lamoriello.
*It’s cool that the NHL is getting the Star Wars/Superhero treatment with their first official round of “Funko Pops!” dolls that essentially look like bobbleheads.
*It’s a contract year for Rick Nash and the New York Rangers in the kind of situation he’s never found himself in during his NHL career.
*For something completely different: Congrats to Rebecca Lobo and the rest of the inductees to the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame class.
GOLD STAR: It had to feel good for Ryan Spooner. The speedy forward played a great game, finished with the game-winning goal in Claude Julien’s return to Boston and had both four shots on net and four registered hits in 16:07 of ice time. His goal was a level of grit and buy-in that he didn’t always have when Julien was the coach, but it’s one that he’s found more and more since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the B’s bench. Spooner drove the puck straight toward the net, and attempted to throw a pass backdoor to Matt Grzelcyk. But instead the puck bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and ended up in the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. For a player that long struggled under the watchful eye of Julien, Spooner’s night continued a stretch of very strong play since coming back from injury.
BLACK EYE: Jonathan Drouin was supposed to be a game-changing center for the Canadiens after being moved from Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t even been close to that, or actually being a center, for the Habs this year. Drouin really didn’t bring much of anything on Wednesday night with a couple of shots on net, a giveaway and a 1-for-9 on the draw in his 17:04 of ice time. He was like so many of the other players on the Montreal roster that didn’t show up with their best in a rivalry game between the Bruins and the Habs. Even worse than that they didn’t show up in a game they desperately needed to win if they wanted to stay relevant in the playoff race. With the minus game again on Wednesday, Drouin is also now a minus-20 on the season in what’s been a truly disappointing year.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins bounced back strongly after giving up a goal on the first shift of the game, and really took things over after the fortunate bounce for Jakub Jerabek got the Habs on the board early. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens by a 25-13 margin in the first two periods, dominated play and posted a goal in each of the first two periods to get the B’s on the board. From that point on it was smooth sailing and Boston only needed to collect a couple of insurance goals in the third period to truly seal Montreal’s fate. What was surprising was that the Habs showed little fight or pride while slowly sinking into the mud during the game, and never ever provided any real challenge to the Bruins in a game that was still separated by just a single goal until later in the third period.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had one of his better games for the Bruins with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:58 of ice time. It was an empty net goal that rounded out the scoring in the third period, and he finished with four shot attempts, a takeaway and 16-of-20 face-off wins in 15:58 of ice time. In general the Bruins frontline centers absolutely and thoroughly dominated Montreal’s poor excuse for players down the middle of their lineup, and Krejci was a big part of that in helping set up Spooner’s game-winner as well. Krejci was also a player that had his differences of opinion with Julien when he was coaching the Bruins, so the big game for him on Wednesday night also must have felt pretty cathartic when it was all said and done.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games for Tuukka Rask’s current point streak where he’s put together a 13-0-2 record that dates back to his four game benching in the middle of November. He finished with a solid night’s work of 21 saves in the win over the Habs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We laid an egg.” –Claude Julien said that phrase in both French and English to discuss a truly pathetic performance for his Canadiens team in what should have been an intense Bruins/Habs rivalry game on national television.
BOSTON – It was a nice night for Claude Julien in his return to Boston with a well-done video montage and a warm ovation from the still-appreciative Bruins fans. But that’s where it ended for the Habs coach as his hockey club pretty much no-showed for the game and rolled over in a 4-1 win for the Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens scored the game’s first goal just 31 seconds into the game when a Jakub Jerabek perimeter shot bounced off Zdeno Chara in front and skipped past Tuukka Rask. But it was all Black and Gold after that with David Pastrnak tying things up six minutes later, and the Bruins outshooting the Habs by a 13-7 margin in the second period while extending their lead.
This time it was Ryan Spooner taking the puck to the net and watching as his centering pass attempt bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and into the net. It was three goals in his last four games for Spooner, who had to feel a pretty big sense of satisfaction at netting the game-winner against a coach he clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye with early in his B’s career.
Brad Marchand added a necessary power play strike in the third period to give Boston the insurance marker that they needed, but it didn’t really matter against a Canadiens team that was pretty lifeless for long stretches of the game.
Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and went into lockdown mode after the first goal allowed, but truth be told the Canadiens didn’t have much in the way of quality chances throughout the game. David Krejci added the empty net goal late in the third for icing on the cake in a pretty one-sided affair for a Boston/Montreal rivalry game.