Morning Skate: Linden pumped about Canucks' makeover


Morning Skate: Linden pumped about Canucks' makeover

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting in the last weekend without hockey for a long, long time.

*Vancouver Canucks President Trevor Linden is pumped about the transition his Canucks franchise is going through, but it’s still pretty early to see how well it’s going.

*Is Cam Ward ready to really take on a backup goaltender role for the Carolina Hurricanes? He says so, but it’s a difficult change going from starter to backup.

*Dmitry Kulikov is looking forward to putting last year’s tough experience with the Buffalo Sabres behind him and pushing forward with his career after the Winnipeg Jets showed him the money in free agency last summer. I thought he might be an option for the Bruins on July 1 until I saw the kind of money being thrown around for D-men on Day One of free agency.

*Congrats to 30 years on the sportswriting beat for FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Harrington, who is always a pleasure to see during Bruins road games in Buffalo.

*Don’t you dare call it a rebuilding season for the Philadelphia Flyers if you happen to run into Ron Hextall.

*PHT writer Adam Gretz has the details on the aforementioned Vancouver Canucks signing Thomas Vanek to a one-year contract after his NHL destination was up in the air for most of the summer.

*For something completely different: I’m not sure what took them so long, but the sequel to "Super Troopers" is finally on its way.



Backes cut by errant skate blade in scary incident during Tampa game

File Photo

Backes cut by errant skate blade in scary incident during Tampa game


TAMPA – It’s always scary when errant skate blades injure players on the ice, and that appeared to be the case in Tampa Bay on Saturday night as David Backes rushed off the ice after a scrum in the Lightning end. 

It appeared that Yanni Gourde’s skate blade cut Backes in the right thigh area after he went down to his knees while heading toward the Tampa net, and the Bruins power forward immediately skated off the ice while putting no weight on his right leg. It wasn’t immediately known whether Backes would return to the game or not for a Bruins team that was already missing Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy from the lineup with injuries. 

Backes had been moved up to the Bruins top line for Saturday night’s big game against the Lightning as a result of those injuries, and scored one of Boston’s two first period goals in taking an early lead against the Atlantic Division-leading Bolts. We’ll have more updates as they come in on Backes from Tampa Bay after that scary incident in the final minute of the first period.


Slowed after a hot start, Rick Nash looking to 'open up the gates' on offense

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Slowed after a hot start, Rick Nash looking to 'open up the gates' on offense

TAMPA, Fla. – Rick Nash stormed in smoking hot for the Bruins after his trade to Boston ahead of the NHL trade deadline. He had two goals, three points and a whopping 15 shots on net in the three games after jumping into the lineup.

But it’s been a bit of an offensive slowdown for Nash with one goal and two points in his past seven games on Boston’s second line as they’ve shouldered a bit more offensive responsibility with Patrice Bergeron out. Nash, 33, it’s been par-for-the-course for a career where goals have come in bunches and offense moves in bursts that have become more spread out as he’s gotten a little older.

“It seems like my whole career I’ve always scored in bunches,” said Nash. “The chances are there. That’s the positive thing, but usually, it takes a funny one to go in to open up the [flood] gates. If we get a bit more traffic around the goalie it helps, and get a few more shots from the inside than the outside, where it’s tougher to score. You look at the highlights every night and the goals are all scored right around the net.”

Nash has enjoyed his share of chances in those seven games with 23 shots on net and at Carolina on Tuesday night was the only real stinker for him among the bunch. He's been around the net with his 6-4, 220-pound frame, working on the chemistry with David Krejci and actually skating better than most around the Bruins might have hoped for such a big-bodied player.

So, Bruce Cassidy is expecting his big power forward to finish some of those chances as he heats up a little bit offensively.

“I think he’s had one game where he didn’t have very many opportunities, but other than that he’s been around the net every night. It just hasn’t gone in as much as we had hoped,” said Cassidy. “So I don’t know him well enough to know whether that’s a trend, or if he’s just a little snake-bitten.”

The bottom line with Nash is that he’s consistently been a beast around the net and a puck possession force that can’t be derailed by defensive players attempting to take the puck from him. It will be interesting tonight for Nash playing against a number of his former teammates with ex-Rangers Ryan Callahan, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh now all members of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That familiarity, along with the teams vying for the Atlantic Division top spot, should make it a special night for Nash along several lines.

“His size is his biggest asset I think, and the way he can hold onto it and control the play. Sometimes he grabs the puck and you can’t take it off his hands. He reminds me a little of Jaromir Jagr when you played him, and he sticks his butt into you and you can’t do much with it,” said former New York Rangers captain and current Lightning forward Callahan. “It’s tough to see him go to Boston where it’s a divisional rivalry, but I know what kind of guy he is, what kind of player he is…and that’s a huge pickup for Boston.”

In a huge game against the Lightning, who the B's are chasing. Facing his old Rangers buddies, Saturday night would certainly be a perfect time for the Nash goal-scoring floodgates to open for an undermanned Bruins team looking to make a stand.