Morning Skate: Will Subban breathe new life into Crosby?

Morning Skate: Will Subban breathe new life into Crosby?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while having been thoroughly entertained by the great product that the NHL and NBC Sports put on last night for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Good stuff, everybody.

*Don Cherry didn’t enjoy the bad breath and Listerine drama from PK Subban drawing in Sidney Crosby during the Stanley Cup Final, and thinks those kind of antics are going to end up ticking off Crosby more than anything else. I don’t know. I think it’s really starting to bother the best hockey player in the world and Subban has been exactly the kind of personality that the NHL has badly needed on their biggest stage. The Stanley Cup Final setting was made for PK and his undeniable style.

*Justin Bieber came under fire for wearing some Pittsburgh Penguins gear, so he did what every Millenial does these days…he took to Twitter to defend himself and gave us a look into his dizzying powers of logic and reason.

*As referenced above, it was a great show on NBC Sports last night with Charles Barkley and Carrie Underwood serving as intermission guests and the Round Mound of Rebound openly rooting for an alligator to eat Jeremy Roenick. It was fun to watch and NBC gets the kudos for embracing the star power of the series. As it turns out, Nashville is a phenomenal setting for a signature NHL event. Maybe the league should consider moving their NHL Awards to Music City on a permanent basis rather than Vegas. Just a thought.

*Subban’s act may be wearing thin on hockey purists and the Penguins as well, but it’s all part of the successful game plan if the Predators end up winning the Cup.

*Pekka Rinne has rebounded nicely for the Predators, and the Finnish hockey commentators rewarded us with this amazing call of his series of saves in Game 4.

*Interesting, Darren Dreger says there is a “slight chance” that Penguins D-man Kris Letang could return in the series for Pittsburgh, which would be a huge boost.

*What a stone cold pro this gent in Nashville is while doing his sports report with a couple of over-amorous Predators fans full on making out behind him.

*For something completely different: Frank Deford was one of those sports journalism giants that you marveled at when I was a kid. He was one of the first to do the video essays that so many make attempts at these days. It was a big loss when he passed and that loss was felt across all sports, including pro wrestling.


DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.


In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.


Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.


Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season.