Bruins

Talking Points from the B's 2-1 win over the Stars

Talking Points from the B's 2-1 win over the Stars

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars to start the 2019-20 NHL season. 

GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask had a couple of tough saves in the first few periods, but was at his best in the third with 16 saves while protecting a one goal lead. His best stop was probably on Joe Pavelski around the front of the net in the second period on a second chance attempt, but he was also solid early while stopping Roope Hintz cold on a breakaway. It was an encouraging effort from the B’s goaltender that normally gets off to a slow start in October, and could be a sign that there are better things to come from Rask at the start of this season. Either way he played a major role in Boston getting off to a winning start on a night when they really only played well for a half-game.

BLACK EYE: It was not a great start for David Pastrnak, who missed the net with three shot attempts and couldn’t convert on a drop pass from Connor Clifton in the first period that should have been an easy scoring chance from the slot. Pastrnak finished with zero shots on net in 16:47 of ice time and struggled right along with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in a game where the top line forwards looked extremely rusty. The good news is that the first game is out of the way for Pastrnak now, and Boston’s top forward line now gets a chance to be much, much better moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins took control of the game early when they scored on the first two shots of the game. Brett Ritchie scored his first goal in his first game as a member of the Bruins when he fired a wrist shot through the five hole of Ben Bishop, and then Danton Heinen and the second PP unit made it a two-goal lead when he likewise scored on a wrist shot from the face-off circle. The two goals were scored in the first six minutes of the game and that was all the offense they would need for the rest of the hockey game. It’s sure good that the B’s got off to that good start against a sleepy Dallas team because they needed every bit of it for the two points.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie Coyle didn’t score either of the goals, but he was still a dominant force in the game. Coyle had the direct assist on Brett Ritchie’s goal after he won a battle along the boards, and then he carried the puck in the offensive zone on the PP just seconds before Danton Heinen wired a wrist through a Coyle screen in front of Ben Bishop. So Coyle was actively involved in both Bruins goals, including the game-winning PP strike, and put up a couple of shot attempts, a takeaway and 6-for-11 wins in the face-off circle in 17:03 of ice time. It’s a good thing Coyle got off to a good start this season because many other B’s forwards are still a little slow to get going.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of blocked shots for Charlie McAvoy to lead the Bruins and show off the kind of rugged two-way game that he intends to play for the B’s this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Just a little bit more exciting than your average Tuesday night. It felt good, obviously whenever you can chip in. I really just wanted the two points." –Brett Ritchie to reporters in Dallas on scoring his first goal as a member of the Bruins.

Joe Haggerty's NHL power rankings>>>

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Haggerty: It was easy to love Don Cherry, but there's no defending him this time

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Haggerty: It was easy to love Don Cherry, but there's no defending him this time

Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry has been in hot water before with his controversial takes on "Coach’s Corner," but "Grapes" took it one step too far this past weekend and is done after nearly 40 years entertaining hockey fans between periods with his bombastic analysis.

It’s really too bad because Grapes found his niche on Hockey Night in Canada as an influential, old school combination of Archie Bunker and former NHL head coach while entertaining millions in Canada during national hockey broadcasts. He spoke directly to hockey fans and had the puck pulpit like nobody else has in the history of the sport.

His colorful wardrobe was as flamboyant as his opinions, and he always straddled the line between sports and real-world issues while never wavering in his vocal, fervent support of the military.

People at NHL rinks in Canada huddled weekly around the press box televisions on Saturday night to see what Cherry and Ron McLean had to say during the first intermission of games, and players themselves waited to hear whether they got attaboys or chastisement from the legendary hockey  voice.

Unfortunately for Cherry, the impassioned pleas for supporting the troops for this week’s Remembrance Day became his ultimate undoing. It wasn’t his pleas for everyday Canadians to wear symbolic poppies that was the problem, though.

Instead, it was singling out groups that Cherry didn’t see wearing the poppies.

"You people ... that come here, whatever it is. You love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that," Cherry said on Saturday night. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

Clearly nobody argues with Cherry’s wish that more people show symbolic support for the troops, but it was his reference to “you people…that come here” that’s divisive, offensive and certainly pointed toward immigrants to Canada.

It created a media firestorm over the last few days that prompted a public apology from Cherry’s partner, McLean, on Sunday and pushed many to finally call for Cherry’s removal after a long history of xenophobic references during his Coach’s Corner segments. This time, Cherry’s bosses couldn’t simply let it blow over and it resulted in a change at what’s been a Hockey Night in Canada staple since the early 1980s.

“It has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," said Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley. "During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.

"Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game. We would like to thank Don for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada."

This humble hockey writer always defended Cherry because a.) he was entertaining and colorful with his hockey commentary, and that always makes for the kind of good TV that the NHL needs in its coverage and b.) scolding the 85-year-old Cherry for his views was akin to scolding one of my grandparents that had a hopelessly outdated view of society that was never going to change, or evolve, regardless of the circumstance.

But the comment was a bridge too far that rightly offended a lot of fair-minded people, and elicited some heartfelt reactions from friends and colleagues like The Athletic’s Arpon Basu and Hockey Night in Canada’s David Amber on Twitter.

There was no defending Grapes this time around, and instead, it’s another lesson to everybody that free speech doesn’t mean it’s also consequence-free speech. Cherry can continue to speak his mind and perpetuate his antiquated worldview, but he’s no longer going to enjoy the Hockey Night in Canada platform that he clearly took for granted on Saturday night with the clumsy way he offended so many hockey-loving people in the US and Canada.

None of it makes Cherry a bad guy as much as it makes him a bit of a relic that probably wasn’t meant to be on a national broadcast anymore. The shame of it all is twofold. It opens up old wounds for many people that feel like they simply want to belong and have bought wholeheartedly into the “Hockey is for Everyone” mantra championed by the NHL.

And it also leaves a giant void in the iconic Hockey Night in Canada broadcast with Cherry’s bombastic personality now missing, and nobody in the hockey world that’s going to be able to step into those dapper Don shoes anytime soon. It’s a bad situation all around, but one that almost felt inevitable given Cherry’s attitudes in a world that needs more understanding, tolerance and togetherness than ever before.

It’s just a shame it all had to end on such a sour note for a hockey voice that provided decades of entertainment to puck fans everywhere.

MORE HAGGS: Sloppy play catching up with the Bruins>>>

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With Torey Krug down, Urho Vaakanainen called up to fill void on Bruins back end

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With Torey Krug down, Urho Vaakanainen called up to fill void on Bruins back end

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins have called up Urho Vaakanainen from Providence on Monday and that, unfortunately, probably means the B’s will be without injured Torey Krug for the time being.

The 20-year-old Vaakanainen skated with Connor Clifton as part of the third defense pairing during Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena after his recall from Providence, and Bruce Cassidy said afterward that it’s a game-time decision between Vaakanainen and Steve Kampfer to fill Torey Krug’s vacant spot.

The best bet is that it will be Vaakanainen, given his ability to play big minutes, play equally at both ends and move the puck with his excellent skating ability.

Vaakanainen was off to a slow start with two assists in 15 games this season for the P-Bruins and wasn’t particularly sharp in training camp this time around for Boston after breaking camp with the team a year ago. Bruce Cassidy also mentioned that the 2017 first-round pick had some work to do with his practice habits, but that’s nothing new as young guys like Charlie McAvoy have also gone through that learning curve when it comes to Cassidy’s fast-paced practice sessions.

“The 12 forwards will be the guys that were out there and we’ve got a decision to make on the back end between [Steve] Kampfer and [Urho] Vaakanainen,” said Cassidy of Vaakanainen, who had both high and low moments while putting up four goals and 14 points in 30 games last season for the P-Bruins. “He’s played better, defended better. I think early on he was getting stuck out wide. I don’t know if that’s a European-sized rink issue or just an issue because of the way they play over there, but it showed in some goals against where he was getting beaten to the middle [of the ice].

“We need to make sure that is buttoned up if he’s in the lineup. He’s been moving the puck better and just more engaged in the game. He’s been practicing hard too and becoming a better pro, so all good things and his game is falling into place as well.”

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings with both Krug and Jake DeBrusk out for Tuesday night’s game against the Panthers, but not ruled out for Friday night's big game against the Maple Leafs.

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen David Krejci Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork Par Lindholm Zach Senyshyn
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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