Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Canadiens

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Canadiens

GOLD STAR: He only played 9:04 of ice time, but the return of David Backes made a difference for the Boston Bruins. The 35-year-old was able to put a great one-timer shot on a picture-perfect David Krejci pass from the half-wall and roofed it past Carey Price for the powerplay game-winning goal in the third period. Never mind that it was Backes’ first goal of the season, but to have that kind of timing and ability to put everything on that shot after not playing for a month was pretty impressive stuff.

Backes finished with a goal, three shots on net, five shot attempts and a couple of hits while going 3-for-3 on face-offs and showed that he’s going to be able to help this Bruins team when healthy and armed with his good skating legs. It was simply a feel-good moment for Backes and the Bruins after enduring a rough month following his nasty collision with Scott Sabourin on the ice.

BLACK EYE: Somehow Claude Julien was complaining about it after the game, but Nick Cousins’ holding play on Torey Krug to set up the game-winner in the offensive was as dumb as it was the right call. Then to add insult to injury it was Cousins that played half-hearted defense in front of the net on the give-and-go play with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle to allow an insurance score for the Black and Gold.

Aside from those two hideous plays in the third period, Cousins with a minus-1 and one shot on net in 16:09 of completely non-descript play in the game. When it mattered, though, Cousins screwed up a couple of times and played a big role in the Habs imploding in the final 20 minutes of the game. But he certainly wasn’t alone on a sinking ship that’s lost eight games in a row.

TURNING POINT: Just a few minutes before David Pastrnak got the Bruins on the board in the third period, Brendan Gallagher was all alone on a breakaway after a disastrous turnover by Charlie McAvoy while Montreal held a 1-0 lead. Tuukka Rask got his body on the forehand bid from Gallagher to make certain it stayed a one-goal game for the Bruins and roughly three minutes later Pastrnak had scored and tied things up at one apiece.

It was part of a strong 28-save night for Rask overall, but it was a massive save at an important time in the game that helped set up three straight goals for the B’s in the third period to take the two points away from the Habs.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak now has 25 goals on Dec. 1, which is a pretty thing in and of itself. But it’s also how he scored flying up the wing and zinging one past Carey Price from the face-off dot off the rush and then kick-starting the B’s offense with his game-breaking ability. Once Pastrnak scored it seemed like the B’s got things into gear and the rest of the offense followed.

Perhaps most impressive of all, though, was No. 88 continuing to play hard even as big-bodied Habs players like Joel Armia and Shea Weber were taking big-time physical shots at him. It’s clear as he continues to score that other teams are going to target him physically and they did on Sunday night. But Pastrnak played through it, scored his goal as payback in the third period and finished with six shot attempts and a couple of hits in 20:37 of ice time.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games on home ice with a point to start the season for the Bruins. The B’s are 11-0-4 at TD Garden this season in the best streak in franchise history since they started the year 19-0-2 all the way back in 1973-74.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think you see it on my face. That was elation.” –David Backes on scoring the game-winning goal for the Bruins in the third period after sitting out the previous 13 games with a concussion.

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Many questions remain about risk and health as NHL talks return to play

Many questions remain about risk and health as NHL talks return to play

While the NHL made big news last week with the unveiling of its plan to return to play with a 24-team tournament expected to get going this summer — barring any unforeseen COVID-19 setbacks — there is still plenty to be hashed out.

The NHLPA and NHL will need to come to agreement on other aspects of the league’s return-to-play plan and teams will need to begin skating, practicing and preparing to play in the postseason tournament that’s still months away.

The NHL is expected to make a formal announcement that the 31 NHL teams can begin Phase 2 with small practice groups at NHL facilities sometime over the next few weeks, and the word is that NHL training camp won’t begin prior to a July 10 start date. This means we could be seeing Stanley Cup playoff hockey in August and September before a Stanley Cup is awarded to the winner of the 2019-20 NHL season sometime in the fall.

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The real question, though, is how safe it’s going to be for players, referees, team and league personnel and anybody else essential that’s involved to help make these NHL games happen in designated hub cities once they are up and running.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara acknowledged there is still plenty left to go when it comes to the issues of health and well-being while talking about a return to play with Bruins reporters last week.

“These are the questions that still need to be processed. After the approval of the format there are other steps that need to be gone over,” said Chara. “I’m sure this is one of those things that everybody needs to be aware of that the safety and health of players, staff, coaches and everybody working around [the games] needs to be taken care of. Those are the questions that will need to be asked and answered.”

Some NHL players like Leafs winger Mitch Marner already expressed concern about any NHL personnel with underlying health conditions like Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi, who has Type 1 Diabetes. Clearly there are also some older NHL coaches like Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville and John Tortorella who could be more at risk if a COVID-19 outbreak were to happen during these playoffs, and that doesn’t even take into account older NHL assistant coaches as well.

“I’m all down for starting everything up [with the NHL season again]. Let’s rock. [But] what if someone gets sick and dies? It's awful to think about, but still," said Marner of Domi, his former London Knights teammate, a few weeks ago during a video chat with fans. "There's dudes like [Max] Domi who has diabetes. If he gets it, he's in [a predicament]."

TSN 690 radio host Tony Marinaro admitted on an NBC Sports Boston Zoom call with James Murphy and yours truly last week that it’s a “scary” scenario for the Canadiens given their situation with players and coaches. It wouldn’t shock anyone if there may even be some hesitant players who opt not to return to play this summer depending on their individual health situations and concern level.

“I just got off the phone [on-air] about an hour ago with Dr. Leighanne Parkes, who is an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and I asked her about Max Domi. I asked her about Max Domi because as we know with this COVID-19 that it’s mostly the elderly that are losing their lives. But if there is somebody losing their life before the age of 80, then it’s someone with an underlying health condition. Max Domi is a Type-1 diabetic and that is scary and extremely dangerous.

“I asked her about the [21-page] document put out by the NHL for their health protocols [during the return to play] and she said it was a well thought out document. She said the NHL has covered most of the bases, if not all of them, and it was really well thought out. But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to individual choice, Max Domi’s individual choice. But it really is scary and it really is dangerous for a player with a pre-existing condition.

Even though the protocol is there and the document is there and they take all the safety measures, do you want to take the risk? Would I? No. Would you? Probably not. But if there is one thing our experience has shown us, we’re not wired like these [NHL players]. These guys want to play. I can’t speak for Max Domi, but if I were a betting man I’d bet that he would play.

Domi himself admitted it was on his mind while talking it over on a conference call with reporters a few weeks ago amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent NHL work stoppage.

"Being a Type 1 diabetic, it's something that raises some concern. But you really don't know how everyone's going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn't change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn't have [diabetes]," said the 25-year-old Domi, who is third on the Canadiens with 17 goals and 44 points in 71 games this season. "Everyone is affected by this in their own way. A lot of people have been struggling.

“A lot of people have suffered loss. It's been a really tough time for everyone, and you have to be sensitive to that. You have to understand that this is very real. People have gotten sick from this. People have died from this. All you can really do is do your part, stay at home, stay safe and be respectful of any rules that were put in place.”

The good news is that most teams, and subsequently most players, will be eliminated from playoff contention within the first few weeks of a Stanley Cup playoff return-to-play. The attrition of playoff rounds will quickly lessen the amount of people, both quarantined and coming into contact with each other, present at the hub cities.

A few shortened playoff series at the start of the NHL tournament could make that an even more expeditious process that’s as safe as it can possibly for everybody involved. But at the end of the day it will be about some level of risk for each and every NHL player involved.

It all boils down to a very personal decision — and it shouldn't be all that surprising if not every player signs up to assume that COVID-19 risk once play does resume.

Who are the Top 10 NHL players from Massachusetts?

Who are the Top 10 NHL players from Massachusetts?

There’s a strong tradition of hockey in the state of Massachusetts, and not so surprisingly there is also no shortage of standout NHL players from this state.

A great deal of those talented players arrived in the years since Bobby Orr first came to town in Black and Gold and brought with him a hockey rink boom all over the Commonwealth, so there’s no coincidence to the timing of it all.

Another non-shocker: The greatest generation of Massachusetts hockey players continues to be the 1990’s when Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Tony Amonte along with Bill Guerin grew into dominant forces of talent at the NHL level. There may never such a concentration of star NHL players from Massachusetts all playing at the same time.

There were older pioneers and standouts, of course, like St. John’s Prep phenom Bobby Carpenter, one of the few high-level elite Massachusetts guys that laced up for the B's, and Acton-Boxborough’s Tom Barrasso on those Stanley Cup teams in Pittsburgh. Here’s a list of the top-10 all-time NHL players born in Massachusetts with apologies to Scott Young, Mike Milbury, Cory Schneider, Tom Poti, Tom Fitzgerald, Chris Nilan, Shawn McEachern and Jay Pandolfo for not quite making the cut.