Bruins

Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

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Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. There was no confirmation that Journey was playing in the background as he spoke, but there was a distinct Dont Stop Believing tone to Mark Recchis message when he addressed the Bruins prior to Game 3.

The 43-year-old Recchi, along with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, came together to form the Black and Gold's leadership triumvirate two years ago, and forged it with another strong season this year.

So on a team full of leaders, and in a time of need prior to Game 3, it was Bergeron who raised his game on the ice and it was Recchi who spoke to the team about his experience in 2006 while a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes

It was about the guys believing in each other said Recchi. "I joined the Hurricanes with 20 games left and saw how much the guys believed in what they were doing. They stayed with it and everyone believed in it. Its all about believing and believing in what weve done all year. Believing in each other and trusting what weve done all year. Trusting each other, and thats what it comes down to.

"If the Bruins didn't trust each other then we wouldnt have won Game 3, and now we have to believe in each other even more in Game 4 on Thursday. Trust each other that each guy is going to go out and do their job, and do good things for the hockey club like we have all year. If we do that, then weve put ourselves in good position to win a hockey game. If not then well be making it very hard for ourselves. Theres no better step than Thursday trying to get home ice back, and then we get back home and see where we go from there.

That 'Canes team was actually down 2-0 after a pair of home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, and roared back to defeat the Habs before winning right on through the Stanley Cup Finals. The easiest change in Carolinas fortune was the insertion of rookie goaltender Cam Ward into the series before a Game 3 win that turned things around.

But Recchi did his best Steve Perry impersonation while drawing parallels between that Carolina squad and this Boston team as the B's attempt the same unlikely, come-from-behind feat against the high-flying Habs.

Being through something like that shows you that you can do it, and that it can be done, said Recchi, his blue eyes flashing with excitement while hearkening back to the Stanley Cup memories. It was a lot of work, but you have to stay focused. Weve done it on the road all year, and its showed. We have to play another one, and were going to have to be even better in Game 4.

There are technical sides to winning hockey, to be sure.

The Bruins have to pursue all the textbook diligence in Claude Juliens hockey system, and that means dumping pucks deep, forechecking with reckless abandon and containing the speedy Montreal snipers. Most importantly, the Bs cant shoot themselves in the foot as they did with bad defensive zone play in the first two games.

A pair of soft five-hole goals allowed by Tim Thomas in Game 3 didnt help, either, but they survived those gaffes.

Theyre fast and theyre a very good hockey team said Recchi of the Canadiens, who should be hungry for a win in Game 4. So we have to be smart and understand that first five goals they scored in the series were off turnovers. They were basically all in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, and we have to be smart and wary of that. Were fast, too, but the system they run thrives on turnovers and theyre very good at it.

While Recchi has been solid with three assists and a plus-1 in three games and instrumental in calming the teams psyche off the ice, its been linemates Bergeron and Brad Marchand who have taken it to another level in each of the three games thus far.

Marchand has been all over the Montreal cage with golden scoring chances he hasnt quite yet buried.

The line has scorched the defense corps of Jaroslav Spacek and Brent Sopel regularly in the three games, and Bergeron has been Bostons best player from the beginning to current end of the series.

His Game 2 goal nearly pulled the Bruins back into that game, and his Game 3 effort all over the ice in a must-win match at the Bell Centre was downright inspired hockey.

Better than that, Bergeron has thrown his weight around in the playoffs with a bit more ferocity. The 25-year-old has also been noticeably more vocal in his own dressing room and in the face of opponents, and all of that reveals just how engaged Bergeron has been during the postseason.

Hes probably been our best forward. Hes such a good player for us. I think he was the No. 1 Star in Game 3 and I thought he was the best player out there, said coach Claude Julien. He just competes hard. Hes so focused and determined, and everything about his game is professional whether its conditioning, whether its rest or whether its focus or showing up for every game ready to play.

There are times when we talk about Patrice and say he hasnt scored in a little while, but no matter what he is doing something to help the hockey club. Thats what you want from your players. Hes more vocal than he ever has been. Earlier in his career he was a young player feeling his way through, but hes pretty confident now about his leadership role and qualities. Hes one of those guys that doesnt speak every game, but when he does speak he has their attention.

The one thing that does need to change: Bergeron is averaging almost three minutes of ice time less per game during the postseason than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, who have floundered with a combined minus-4 for much of the series. Bergeron is averaging a crisp 36 seconds per shift and getting on and off the ice with machine-like precision while also fully admitting that some of his shifts are a bit shorter due to his penalty-kill duties. Lucic (51 seconds), Krejci (53 seconds) and Horton (48 seconds) are all staying out on the ice for longer stretches of time with each shift, and tiring themselves out while going up and down the ice multiple times per twirl.

Perhaps its time for the Bs top line to get in line with the rest of the squad, and cut things down a bit to make sure theyre not caught on the ice at the tail end of Herculean shifts.

That hasnt been the case for the line of Bergeron, Recchi and Marchand, which has been so good for the Bruins this postseason.

Recchi and Bergeron should know the numbers headed into Game 4, and some of them can be pretty daunting.

According to the web site whowins.com, the lower-seeded teams up 2-1 in a series -- as Montreal is currently -- have advanced 60.5 percent of the time in the history NHL playoffs. But that numbers skyrockets to 87.8 percent of the time if the team goes up 3-1 in the series with a Game 4 victory.

If the series gets to 2-2 its pretty much 5050 which teams come out on top, and that means the Bruins have to like their odds if they can eke out another victory at a riotous Bell Centre lusting for a win.

Itll be tough without question, but the Bruins being led by Recchis head and Bergerons heart are in a pretty solid place to start.

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

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

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“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

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