Talking Points: Rask lights out against Red Wings


Talking Points: Rask lights out against Red Wings

GOLD STAR: It was a banner return for Tuukka Rask after missing more than a week of action with a lower body injury. Rask made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season, and completely shut down the leaky defense that had allowed 11 goals in each of the last two losses. Rask was at his best when the Bruins needed him most, and he saved Zdeno Chara’s bacon with a big stop on Justin Abdelkader after the B’s captain turned a lazy outlet pass in front of his own net into a scoring chance for the Detroit forward. Then Rask kicked out a leg on a backhanded attempt from Dylan Larkin later in the same sequence, and then ably protected a slim one-goal lead in the third period as the Red Wings poured nine shots on net.

BLACK EYE: Steve Ott played only 8:58 of ice time, and still managed to show he’s still one of the dirtiest players in the league. The Detroit fourth liner spent his first shift of the game spearing Bruins captain Zdeno Chara between the legs, and then drew Chara into matching penalties when the 6-foot-9 defenseman began cross-checking the Red Wings agitator into oblivion. Aside from slashing Chara in the groin in cheap fashion in the early going, Ott managed a couple of hits and a lost face-off with zero shots or influence in the game in his short minutes for the Wings. It’s almost like he just put on ice to take a run at Chara in the early going, and then did his best grocery stick impersonation for most of the rest of the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins finally dominated in the second period, and then won the game. These two things are certainly not a coincidence. The B’s outshot the Red Wings by an 18-8 margin and dominated play for most of the period, but it looked like things were going to be an exercise in frustration when Tim Schaller’s breakaway bid zinged off the knob of Jimmy Howard’s stick in a near miss. Instead Schaller stuck with it, and on a following shift he saw his bad angle shot trickle through Howard’s pads as he couldn’t shut off the near post. That would be Boston’s only goal of the game, and give the Bruins one of their few second period “wins” this season.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Schaller has been a pleasant surprise on a fourth line that’s also been a pleasant surprise for the Bruins this season. Schaller has been gritty enough to drop the gloves on one occasion, and has shown a bit of offensive ability while also boasting the kind of skating wheels that the Bruins can always utilize. Schaller finished with the goal, a plus-1 rating, two hits, three shots on net, four shot attempts, a blocked shot and 1-for-1 in the face-off circle in a strong 12:47 of ice time. Schaller also had the two best scoring chances of the game for the Bruins: a breakaway wrist shot that bounced off the knob of Jimmy Howard’s stick in the second period, and then the bad angle goal that proved to be the game-winner for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-0-0 – the record for the Bruins this season when Tuukka Rask is between the pipes. Conversely, the B’s are 0-4-0 when anybody besides Rask has been given a start this season. I'm guessing the "Trade Tuukka" crowd is going to sit out the next few plays. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You won't see too many pretty goals from the fourth line. But nobody asks how [they’re scored], right?" -- fourth line left wing Tim Schaller on his game-winning goal, which was a bit of a soft goal allowed by Jimmy Howard after a solid decision to shoot from a bad angle.

Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

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Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while the Bruins are finally back in Boston.  

*Larry Brooks says that the NHL playoff system is broken as it continues to “pass off mediocrity as parity.” I don’t really agree that there’s a big problem, but it will be too bad that one of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams (Boston and Tampa Bay) will be done after the second round of the playoffs.

*A pretty cool gesture from the Montreal Canadiens as a group of them wore turtlenecks during warm-ups on Saturday night prior to playing Tomas Plekanec for the first timer as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Congrats to the Team USA Paralympics squad for capturing another Gold Medal for the Red, White and Blue. What a great story they are.   

*Evander Kane opens up about Winnipeg, his past on social media and hockey culture as he seems to have found a place where he’s comfortable in San Jose.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are suspending their GM search until the group of available candidates can widen in the offseason. That was probably always for the best.

*The New York Islanders are getting a little weird with things here late in the season as they’re taking a look at John Tavares on the wing. Hmmm. Seems like an odd move.

*For something completely different: A great return for Bill Hader to Saturday Night Live where he revisited a number of his best characters.


Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

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Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

TAMPA – David Backes certainly didn’t escape the scary situation with an errant skate blade unscathed, of course. 

The 33-year-old limped his way to the Bruins team bus out of Amalie Arena after Boston’s 3-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and needed approximately 18 stitches to close up the gash on his right thigh. But Backes was still able to joke about it as he exited the dressing room while knowing that it could have been much, much worse with that kind of freak accident on the ice. 

"I'll play a second period one of these days,” said a smiling Backes, who was forced out of Saturday night’s loss with the skate blade cut in the last minute of the first period and exited the Florida loss as well after catching a match penalty in the first period as well. Luckily for him, there was no structural damage to Backes’ right leg after Yanni Gourde caught him in the thigh area as both players were down on the ice around the Tampa net.

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There was a lot of blood, however, as he quickly exited the ice, sped past the bench and headed right to the Bruins dressing room with Bruins trainer Donnie DelNegro trailing right behind. 

“I went in and saw him between periods. He’s okay. There’s no structural damage. There will be concern going forward about swelling or infection, but it looks like he’ll be okay. We’ll classify him as day-to-day, but I don’t know if he’ll be ready to play on Monday,” said Bruce Cassidy of Backes, who actually scored the second goal of the game for the Bruins as a power play strike. “You see a guy coming off like that and you see the blood pooling up, and you’re always worried they could hit an artery somewhere. He was able to get up. That was the first good sign and he was able to be tended to quickly. 

“It is scary. But we were told it would be a deep cut that would require some stitches, and it wasn’t too dangerous.”

For now it just becomes an eventful month for Backes where he’s been suspended, tossed out of a game with a match penalty and now forced out of a game after a freak skate blade incident, but there’s no doubt he’ll return better and stronger than ever in rapid fashion as he’s done through the last two seasons with the Bruins.