BOSTON – The young guns have received a ton of credit for the Bruins during their dramatic rise toward the top of the Atlantic Division, and rightfully so given the way that guys like 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, 21-year-old Jake DeBrusk and 21-year-old Danton Heinen have played this season. But it was the veteran Bruins players that stepped up and saved the day on Saturday afternoon in the B’s 3-1 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.
Patrice Bergeron scored a pair of goals and won 15-of-20 face-offs, Zdeno Chara was the Game’s No. 1 Star after playing 22:52 of shutdown hockey and both Brad Marchand and David Backes were multi-point scorers for the Black and Gold. It was probably natural that the young players were a little focus-challenged while getting ready to catch flights and head home for Christmas following Saturday’s game, and that’s what Bruce Cassidy saw a little bit of on the ice.
The veterans were grinding their way to a win, and refusing to lose focus in a game where that could have easily happened.
“We have talked a lot about the young kids, and rightfully so, they have earned that, but our veterans – we addressed after the game – they are the guys that were dialed in today and were our leaders. I was asked before the game a bit about that. I think, younger guys this time of the year, they might look ahead a little bit to the Christmas break, seeing their families,” said Cassidy. “They should be excited about that, but I think that’s part of the growing as a pro to make sure you’re focused, and then start thinking about [travel plans] at 4 o’clock. They fell in line, did a good job, but it was definitely our older guys that did the lions’ share of the work.”
Now all of the Bruins players, both young and old, are scattering to their homes across the world for a three-day Christmas break after winning 13 of their last 17 games, and in doing so putting themselves squarely on the NHL map for the playoffs this season.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while not at all minding a Tampa/Vegas Stanley Cup Final, though I think Winnipeg still has a few cards up their sleeve to play.
*Boston University head hockey coach Dave Quinn will be the latest to jump from the college ranks to the NHL ranks as he’s headed to New York as the Rangers head coach. A tough call for Quinn, who could have stayed at BU as a lifetime gig, but the presence of people like Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury and the high-profile nature of the Rangers gig certainly must have made it too difficult to pass up.
*Marian Hossa is sadly calling it a hockey career after a skin condition sidelined him a couple of years ago, and will be joining the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
*Interesting Q&A with Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee about the Stanley Cup dreams in Vegas, and what it’s been like to watch the organization grow this season.
*A brand new coach’s corner with Don Cherry talking about the importance of goaltending at this time of year with both Marc-Andre Fleury and Andrei Vasilevskiy standing out right now.
*Ryan Callahan has inspired the Tampa Bay Lightning with his courageous play this season, and has certainly been a difference-maker on the fourth line for the Bolts.
*Wondering what’s going on with the Philadelphia Flyers? Here’s a mailbag to keep you up to date with it all.
Boston University hockey coach David Quinn has agreed to a five-year, $12 million contract to become the New York Rangers coach, according to an ESPN report.
Quinn, 51, replaced college hockey legend Jack Parker at BU in 2013 and was 105-67-21 with the Terriers, reaching three NCAA regional finals with a runner-up finish for the national championship in 2015. Parker won 897 games in 40 years at BU, the third-most all-time and most for a coach at a single school.
Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury and veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk played at BU. Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada and Bob McKenzie of TSN had each tweeted that Quinn was the leading candidate to replace Alain Vigneault as Rangers coach. Vigneault was fired the day after the regular season ended. New York finished 34-39-9 and last in the Metropolitan Division.
The Rangers traded away veterans, including winger Rick Nash to the Bruins, at the trade deadline as they fell out of the playoff race and will likely try to rebuild with younger players under Quinn.