Bruins get a grasp of realignment


Bruins get a grasp of realignment

PITTSBURGH The Bruins had to have the new NHL realignment plan explained to them a couple of times in the afterglow of a meaningful victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton both had surprised looks on their faces when they learned that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers will be joining them in the Snowbird Conference when things finally shake out.

Thats the most meaningful change for the Bruins. Rumors about previous plans had both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins joining the Northeast Division for an incredibly tough super-conference, but instead both the Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets remained in the Western Conferences.

The Bruins will play their current Northeast Division opponents plus Tampa and Florida six times per season, and then will battle with those teams through the first two rounds of the playoffs each season. It conjures up images of the bloody old Adams Division battles featuring the Bruins and heated rivalries with the Nordiques and Canadiens among others.

The hope is the new alignment will rekindle many of those rivalries just as the Bruins and Habs have maintained theirs through seemingly annual meetings in the postseason.

The realignment plan was overwhelmingly approved by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday night during their Pebble Beach meetings, but may not take effect next season as the NHLPA also needs to weigh in on the configuration.

But the changes still held interest for the curious Bruins players. Gregory Campbell played five seasons for the Florida Panthers before landing in Boston, and he said the move could open an entirely new competitive door for the hockey teams remaining in the Sunshine Belt.

I guess it's more travel. One of the things that was nice about coming from Florida to Boston was that the travel was so good, said Campbell. Most teams are within an hour plane ride of us, but its something that were all going to have to adjust to. Those are good and talented young teams being added to our division. Theyre up and coming, so theyll be good in the future.

So itll make things more difficult, but I also think its good for hockey. When you play in Florida you dont really have the rivalries. Theyll see firsthand the rivalries in our division, and I think we have some of the best rivalries in the league. Those arent huge hockey markets in Florida, so the change to play against bigger hockey markets on a more regular basis is a good thing for the league.

There are still some kinks to be ironed out with the realignment plan rolled out quickly by the NHL, but it seems there are few that had issues with the way things were handled by the powers that be. Classic rivalries are kept together, the Red Wings have an easier travel schedule and the Winnipeg Jets will be located in a more geographically logical place once things get started.

Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team


Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into. 

*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad. 

*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.  

*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years. 

*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair. 

*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season. 

*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters. 

*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both. 


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

While the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Tuukka Rask is dealing with a knee injury, there are still some significant muscular issues to work with concerning his left leg. 

According to former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast, the Bruins franchise goaltender has been dealing with a hamstring issue that’s also become a hamstring and groin issue as he tried to play through in the first week of the season. Rask clearly tweaked something in his left leg opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, missed the Saturday night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and then appeared to aggravate the injury in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils. 

According to Ward, it’s hamstring and groin issues for Rask as the Bruins attempt to survive without him while potentially working toward a possible return for the Finnish netminder this weekend vs. the Red Wings. Rask hasn’t skated with the Bruins since finishing out the 2-1 win over the Devils last Thursday night, and tweaking the problematic left leg in the process. 

“What I was told is that it was left leg, and that at first it was hamstring and now it’s possibly hamstring and groin,” said Ward to CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty on the Great American Hockey Show podcast. “You’re always concerned when you’re a goalie and it’s your legs, right? It’s the push-off. The crazy part was watching it on video where the shoot came from the left side and went wide, and the next time he injures it shot comes from the same spot, misses it wide and [Rask] is in the exact same position wincing.

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“I think [the Bruins] are smart rather than trying to play a guy that’s 90, 80 or 70 percent, whatever it is, to just get it over with. Endure the short term pain to get the greater gain, and that’s having Rask in there. There’s no greater endorsement to keep him out than seeing the [bad losses without him] because you need a healthy Tuukka to let the rest of the team settle.”

It’s been disastrous without Rask, of course, as the Bruins have allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses to the Wild and Rangers with rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre between the pipes, and Anton Khudobin out for three weeks while sporting a cast on his right hand in the last B’s game at TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, Rask (3-0-0, 1.67 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage) is trying to heal and time it perfectly so he returns once he’s past the danger of potentially blowing out the muscles in his left leg and making the situation even worse than it already might be. 

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.