Bruins notice goalie interference calls on the rise

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Bruins notice goalie interference calls on the rise

While the NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson contends theres been no change to the way officials are enforcing goaltender interference infractions this season, the Bruins have noticed a high level of calls in their first two weeks worth of games.

There were a pair of important and controversial goalie interference calls that took place in Saturdays 1-0 Bruins win over the Leafs, but most people were talking about the goaltender interference call on Ottawa from Sunday nights game between the Senators and Canadiens.

The call in the MontrealOttawa game came as video replays showed that Carey Price was outside his crease, and wiped out a potential game-tying goal for Andre Benoit in the third period.

Likewise a Cody Franson game-tying score for the Maple Leafs was wiped out in the first period when Tuukka Rask was bumped outside of the crease by Nazem Kadri, and that caused a healthy amount of uproar in Canada.

There have been four goaltender interference calls for two-minute minor penalties in Bostons first eight games, and at least three goals have been wiped out for incidental contact including two scores Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Perhaps Tuukka Rask is the wrong person to ask about it on the Bruins when looking for an impartial observer, but the Bruins goaltender doesnt seem to mind being protected very much.

I havent seen that many. I saw a couple in our games, but I dont know if theyre keeping a closer eye on them or not, said Rask, who is 5-1-1 with a 2.10 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Calls have been made during play. Sometimes theyre questionable and sometimes theyre not. I know I got called out for saying I was flopping around.

I know its a difficult challenge for referees because some goalies like to challenge the shot and come out of the crease a little bit. Then they get bumped and its tough to not make that call. Its a fine line. Im sure the refs have been told to keep an eye on those because its always a close call.

The Bruins havent been hosed, to use some Canadian parlance, by the goaltending interference calls, but one of the plays from Saturday nights win in Toronto was the same sequence that led to Brad Marchands injury. Toronto goalie James Reimer kicked out his leg pad as Marchand crashed the net, and Marchand tripped over the pad into the end boards.

Tyler Seguin eventually scored what appeared to be an insurance goal after a puck deflected off his body into the net during an ensuing scramble seconds later, but it was waved off because of the incidental contact earlier in the play with Marchand. Claude Julien said theres been a bigger pattern of more penalties being called this season across the NHL.

Some of increased penalty calls might have to do with players not in optimal game condition cheating more in the first few weeks of the season, and referees that are paying closer attention to a number of different things.

But Julien has definitely observed the orange safety cones practically installed just outside the goalie crease area.

We all know that there are a lot of penalties being called given the adjustments to the rules and youre seeing it all over. You look at the penalty killing column in league stats and almost every team is in the same area with X amount of penalties. So its consistent throughout the league, said Julien. Just look at our game in Toronto. To be bluntly honest it was questionable on Tuukka and it was extremely questionable on Brad Marchand. Reimer sticks his pad out and trips Marchand outside of the crease and then we scored.

Theyre very sensitive to that. Its not just us. Its all around the league. Maybe theyre sending a message to everyone to stay away from the goaltenders and then theyll soften up a bit once we start being a little better about it.

If teams continue to get whistled for goaltender interference on plays when the keeper is clearly outside the crease, then expect that march to the penalty box to continue for the rest of the shortened NHL campaign.

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season. 
 

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins were supposed to hit the ice for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday following their empty 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, but those plans were scrubbed.

The reeling Black and Gold instead cancelled practice, with only Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zane McIntyre taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena and the rest of the B’s hitting the giant reset button after an embarrassing loss.

“I think it’s one of those [things] where you’ve got to regroup and recharge the batteries, and feel better,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Maybe a little bit of fatigue was part of it [Monday vs. the Isles] and you use a day like today to look forward, look at videos and be better the next day. It happens today and we have another game tomorrow [against Detroit].”

While it is true that the Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have played more games than anybody else in the NHL in this wacky season with a condensed schedule, the B’s leaders weren’t having it as an excuse with both the Maple Leafs and Senators holding an incredible six games in hand on Boston. Blown opportunities against bad opponents are exactly the recipe for missing the playoffs, as they have in each of the past two seasons, and the Bruins are tracking to do that again.

“All of the teams are in the same situation. It’s about managing and finding ways to be at your best every night and in every game. Yes, maybe [the condensed schedule] is part of it, but you can’t just put the blame on that. We’re professionals and we need to show up every game.”

The Bruins didn’t show up against the Islanders on Monday afternoon and basically pulled their second no-show vs. the Isles on home ice this season. There’s no excuse for that given the B’s current situation battling for the postseason. 

Maybe a day off the ice will improve that situation and maybe it’s simply rewarding a team that didn’t earn it on Monday afternoon, but the B’s have to hope it’s much more of the former than the latter.