Morning Skate: Bartkowski getting Jagr lessons


Morning Skate: Bartkowski getting Jagr lessons

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to seeing “Thor: Ragnarok.”

*Matt Bartkowski says he has the best seat in the entire Calgary Flames dressing room while getting to sit next to the man, the myth, the legend and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.

*The Florida Panthers made an investment in Mike Matheson with his contract headed into this season, and he’s settling into an encouraging rhythm for them.

*Speaking of the Panthers, with Halloween over, it looks like James Reimer is starting to turn back into a pumpkin while filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo.

*Fun little video where Mark Schiefele and Tyler Seguin engaged in a little best-of-three in rock, paper, scissors to see who would leave the ice last in pregame warm-ups.

*Alex Ovechkin talks to the Washington Post about his creation of a “social movement” in support of Vladimir Putin.

*The margin of error is narrowing quite a bit for Carey Price as he let down the Habs with his performance yet again on Thursday night.

*For something completely different: With a son named Finn, I am very much interested in the Finn crossover between "Star Wars" and "Adventure Time".


Report: NHL asked that Marchand stop the licking

Report: NHL asked that Marchand stop the licking

The Bruins got a phone call from the NHL in which the league requested the team tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people after his Game 1 antics in the Toronto series, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

The item was No. 22 in Friedman's regular "31 Thoughts" column:

After Game 1 of the Toronto/Boston series, the Bruins got a, “We’d prefer if you could tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people” phone call from the NHL.

Marchand, the noted B's agitator, gave the Maple Leafs' Leo Komarov a lick on the face (he kissed him on the cheek earlier this season) after they tussled in the playoff opener. He explained that he thought Komarov "wanted to cuddle."

The Bruins open their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday after taking out the Leafs in seven games. We'll see if Marchand keeps his tongue to himself. 



Bruins are ready for a 'formidable' foe in the second round vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Bruins are ready for a 'formidable' foe in the second round vs Tampa Bay Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins have barely come down from the high of winning Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they’ve already got to set their sights on an even bigger challenge waiting this weekend in Tampa Bay.

The Bruins will next face the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who just edged out the Black and Gold for the top spot in the East at the end of the regular season when Boston dropped their regular season finale against the Florida Panthers. 

“Well, they won the Eastern Conference. I think it’s equally a formidable if not even more so task [than the Maple Leafs]. Not a lot of holes in their lineup. We had some success in the regular season against them,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “We’re going to have to find a way to replicate that and probably be even better. We had pockets of our game in this past series that we know we need to improve upon, and it’s going to take our best effort from start to finish to play against Tampa. We’re a confident group to go in. We deserve to be here. We’re moving on and I’m sure they feel the same way.”

The good news is that the Bruins took three out of four games from the Lightning this season, and have fared very well against the Bolts over the last couple of seasons. Tuukka Rask, in particular, has been very strong against Tampa and finished with a .926 save percentage along with the three victories against them this season. 

The bad news for the Bruins is that they’re a much better team than the Toronto Maple Leafs with a better defense, a better goaltender and a more explosive array of experienced forwards including Steve Stamkos, Hart Trophy favorite Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson among others. Certainly, they’re going to need better than the .899 save percentage that Rask posted in the seven games series against the Maple Leafs, and they’re going to need more support scoring beyond a Bruins top line that will have their hands full against Victor Hedman the Tampa defense.  

“It’s going to be a battle. They were a top team all year. They compete very hard, have a ton of skill, and they have a lot of depth,” said Brad Marchand, who finished second among the Bruins with five points in the four games vs. Tampa this season behind only the six points from Torey Krug. “We’ll look at them a little bit more in the next few days, but we’re going to enjoy this one tonight.”

One area where the Bruins are going to be able to do some damage? The Tampa Bay penalty kill was 27th in the league this season, and they’ll be going up against a Bruins power play that scored on 31.8 percent (7-for-22) of their PP chances in the first round against a better Toronto penalty kill. That will be one area where the Black and Gold can do a lot of damage, but they clearly go into the second round series as the prohibitive underdogs. 

In all truthfulness, however, the Bruins are playing with house money right now. They took that next step by going from a return to the playoffs last season to winning a round and advancing deeper into the postseason with the second round date vs. the Bolts. Sure, they have Cup aspirations and the B’s will push as deeply as they can on their postseason run, but there will be little pressure on the Black and Gold at this point to win a best-of-seven series that they’re not expected to win against the favored Lightning. 

That’s not a bad spot to be in for the young, gritty and battle-hardened Black and Gold.