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Morning Skate: Some interesting Olympic hockey rosters

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Morning Skate: Some interesting Olympic hockey rosters

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while NHL All-Star break is officially here.

*An interesting look at the Olympic rosters for the men’s hockey tournament in South Korea where Russia looks like the odds-on favorite with Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Voynov.

*For the first time in 50 years, the Pro Hockey Writers Association Conducted voting for "half-season" NHL awards, including a couple of new awards invented specifically for this exercise. Bergeron, McAvoy & Chara all made the finalist cut on the list, but one would hope that Bruce Cassidy gets a little more consideration for the Jack Adams Award when the real things get handed down at the end of the year.

*In a development that everybody should agree with, Brian Boyle will replace the injured Taylor Hall at the NHL All-Star game.

*Matt Cullen enjoys the return to Pittsburgh as a member of the Minnesota Wild, and gets a warm welcome back from the Penguins fans.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk continues to battle his cancer diagnosis, and it’s been great to see him back in the broadcast studio as of late. We’re all with you, Edzo!  

*For something completely different: God bless this soccer reporter, who keeps on going with his TV hit as the soccer players try to hit him in the head with launched soccer balls.

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Bruins' Kevan Miller 'getting closer' to return, says Bruce Cassidy

Bruins' Kevan Miller 'getting closer' to return, says Bruce Cassidy

Kevan Miller hasn't appeared in a game for the Bruins since April 4 due to a fractured kneecap, but there's finally some encouraging news regarding the defenseman's recovery.

On Wednesday, B's head coach Bruce Cassidy told Bruins.com's Eric Russo that Miller is "getting closer" to joining the team although there still is no projected return date.

“I don’t know if it’s two (days) on, one off, or what they’ve got him on,” Cassidy said. “But he’s getting closer. Until he’s with the team, it’s hard to project (a return date). Let’s get him with the team, get him in a normal sweater, get some contact and I’ll probably have a better timeline of when he can return. So far so good, he’s working hard on the drills he’s been given.”

With fellow defenseman John Moore also missing time as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Miller would be a welcome addition to the Bruins' blue line.

For now, though, the Bruins will be tasked with taking on a couple of tough Atlantic Division foes in their next two matchups. They'll host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET, then visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for a Saturday night matchup at 7 p.m. ET.

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Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruce Cassidy is obviously pleased that the Bruins have jumped out to a 5-1-0 start this season, but the B’s head coach also knows the team is playing with fire when it comes to their lackluster second periods.

Sure, the Bruins are outscoring opponents by a 4-3 margin in second periods this season, so it doesn’t appear to be a big deal statistically. But the B’s have also scored first in five of their six games thus far this season, and that plays into a bit of the middle 20-minute malaise that has been one of Boston’s weak spots in an otherwise encouraging start to the season.

Cassidy went so far as to call the second period effort “exceptionally poor” in Monday’s win over the Ducks as they were outshot 16-6, and admitted after Wednesday’s practice that they’ve been able to get away with the lollygagging as of late against less dangerous teams like the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. Certainly the superior play of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in the early going has saved them as well, but that isn’t going to be sustainable against a higher caliber of competition.

In fact that’s going to change with Atlantic Division rivals in the Lightning and the Maple Leafs on the docket over the next week.  

“We could probably fall behind [on the scoreboard] and then we’d see a better second [period]. I don’t want to go down that road if we can help it because we pride ourselves on starting on time. [It’s about] the details of the game and getting their attention,” said Cassidy. “This might happen [against Tampa Bay] or on Saturday. We may start seeing teams that aren’t as offensively challenged as the last few that we’ve had to let them off the hook.

“We might learn just because of the competition that we’re playing. I don’t think it’s anything that they’re not aware of. They lose their focus, they lose their details, the line changes are slower and the puck management is softer. Some of these things they kind of lose their way a little bit. Some of it is on us to get their attention, but some of it is on them that it’s part of their responsibility as well when they step on the ice. I’m not losing my mind over it, but I know it’s something that’s going to bite us in the ass at some point.”

Will the Bruins tighten up their second period issues, or will it be the fatal flaw that sinks them in some ultra-important games against Tampa Bay and Toronto over the next few days? We’ll soon find out as the real regular season begins to get going with Boston’s traditional rivals that can expose weaknesses that have been masked over the first few weeks of the regular season.

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