Mat Barzal

Morning Skate: Poignant pregame moment in Florida from Luongo

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Morning Skate: Poignant pregame moment in Florida from Luongo

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament has been turned upside down.

*Good on Roberto Luongo for this moving, powerful speech about the Parkland, Florida tragedy ahead of last night’s Florida Panthers game.

*Former Bruins goaltending farmhand Michael Hutchinson is looking for a change of scenery from the Winnipeg Jets.

*The tide seems to be turning when it comes to whether or not Erik Karlsson will be traded, and perhaps it will happen sooner than people think as the Senators are in a tough, tough spot.

*Interesting piece about the confidence and the work that has gone into Mathew Barzal being an NHL success story as a rookie.

*For something completely different: Quincy Jones is sorry, everybody, after his daughters had an “intervention” with him.

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Morning Skate: Donato's stock rising with each Olympic victory

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AP Photo

Morning Skate: Donato's stock rising with each Olympic victory

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while Team USA continues its uphill journey toward an Olympic medal.

*Ryan Donato potted a couple more goals in a decisive win for Team USA over Slovakia in elimination play and has been one of the top American hockey players at the PyeongChang Winter Games in South Korea. Donato showed a little bit of everything in the performance with a sniper shot off a loose puck, another goal off the rush and he played through a nasty hit up high that appeared to bloody his nose. It’s no exaggeration at this point to say that Team USA goes as Donato goes after he’s secured two-goal performances in each of their victories.

Even better, Donato did it after a surprise visit from his old man, former Bruins player and current Harvard coach Ted Donato, after it was up in the air whether he’d be able to get away to South Korea to watch his son play. From a Bruins perspective, it’s all good things watching Donato score and lead the Americans on a large, global stage while his prospect profile grows with each play that he makes. It’s clear he’s going to sign with the Bruins and go pro shortly after the Olympics, with the only question being whether it makes a quick detour back to Harvard to finish up his college season prior to signing with the Black and Gold.

What’s less clear is the immediate future for Donato, 21. He continues to show high hockey IQ and a scorer’s toughness that’s allowed him to basically be a goal-per-game performer for the Crimson this season. Those will serve him well in the pros. But it would be unrealistic to think that Donato can jump right in and play for the Bruins at this late point in the season. It’s far more likely that he instead spends some development time in Providence after finally inking his entry-level deal.

The Bruins may have to burn off the first year of the entry-level deal when they sign Donato as has become customary with many of the college prospects, but it would be in his best interest to gain experience in Providence rather than sitting and watching as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson did last season. That experience has done him little good as he’s spent this season in Providence working up to being ready for his shot in the NHL.

What Donato could do for this year’s Bruins team is something else, however. His mere presence as a prospect about to join the pro ranks would allow the Bruins to part with one of their young players on the wing in a deadline deal trade. Anders Bjork would be the NHL-ready prospect most likely to move if the B’s had to give up one of their best and brightest in a big deadline move.

Bjork has speed and skill in large amounts and showed it in flashes when he was in Boston earlier this season, but the Bruins are dealing with a massive surplus of skilled wingers and left-shot defensemen in their prospect ranks right now. You can’t play them all in the NHL and Donato’s presence could and should allow Don Sweeney to deal one of them away ahead of Monday afternoon’s deadline.   

*Petr Mrazek is officially now in the playoff chase and also the newest goalie hope in Philly after getting traded to the Flyers from the Red Wings.

*Mat Barzal has overcome any bitterness about his previous experiences in pro hockey to become a Calder Trophy favorite with the Islanders.

*Interesting look at a typical practice with the struggling Montreal Canadiens from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Arpon Basu, who sees meaning in the mundane daily ritual.

*Larry Brooks seems to be dreaming of a lottery pick for the New York Rangers, who have not had one at the very top in a long, long time.

*Women’s Olympic Hockey will be expanding from eight to 10 teams for the next Winter Games, which is great news.

*For something completely different: Kurt Cobain would have been 51 today. Wow, that makes me feel wicked old.


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Talking Points: Bruins dominating and depth is the deciding factor

Talking Points: Bruins dominating and depth is the deciding factor

GOLD STAR: They weren’t rewarded until late in the game with actual points, but Tim Schaller and his fourth line cohorts were dominant throughout the game. They consistently pounded the offensive zone with long puck possession shifts and continued wearing down the New York Islanders defense before it finally broke in the third period. Schaller finally got on the board through a nice play by Sean Kuraly that his linemate popped in on the rebound. He finished with a goal and two points, and a plus-2 in 11:54 of ice time along with four shots on net. While it’s clear that the Bruins third line has been really productive over the last few weeks, the fourth line has also been serving notice that they’re going to be an impact energy group as well. Tuesday night might have been the fourth line’s best night of the season, and it was easily one of Schaller’s best games of the year.

BLACK EYE: John Tavares had a forgettable night as he was dominated by just about every line the Bruins threw at them. The Isles franchise cornerstone finished with minus-3 and just one shot on net in 19 minutes of ice time, and also lost 8-of-14 face-offs while getting worked by Boston’s down-the-middle crew. It was Tavares that was beaten cleanly by Riley Nash for a goal in the first period off the draw. Perhaps that threw Tavares off for the rest of the night, it was certainly a poor game on his part.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins worked to get a 2-1 lead entering the third period, and they truly dominated the middle 20 minutes by outshooting the Isles by a 17-4 margin despite getting just a single goal of separation. So the Bruins could have buckled holding a small lead, and almost did at the end of the second period when Mat Barzal went end-to-end through the Bruins defense in a play that ended with Nick Leddy jacking a ripped point shot off the post. After escaping that segment, the Bruins came out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to take home an eventual 5-1 win over the Islanders. The Bruins have shown an ability to finish strong and they did it once again against the Islanders after physically grinding them through the opening 40 minutes.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron only needed to play 14:22 of ice time, but he made it count while snapping home the game-winner in the second period when it was still a tightly-contested game. Bergeron batted a puck out of mid-air at the Islanders net, guided it toward his stick and then fired a puck at the skates of Jaroslav Halak in an incredibly heady play. In all Bergeron finished with a goal, a plus-1 rating, two shots on net, two hits and 12-of-17 face-off wins in a game where he got to rest a bit in the third period. But No. 37 was right where he needed to be during the money portion of the game before they run away with it late.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – The Bruins line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were finally on ice for their first 5-on-5 goal against this season when Brandon Carlo fell down with the puck right in front of the B’s net after a Bergeron D-zone face-off win. They deserved a better fate, but it doesn’t take away any of the dominant even-strength play they’ve had this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “[The Bruins] are a good offensive team and they don’t give up a whole lot. But it’s not good enough for our group starting with myself. We need to set the tone the right way and start playing to expectations.” –John Tavares, who paid the Bruins plenty of complements while taking responsibility for an Islanders team that didn’t play well. 

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