Bruins ready if Sabres decide to get nasty

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Bruins ready if Sabres decide to get nasty

While the age of lawsuits and heavy NHL fines has dulled the tough talk leading into hockey games that are expected to be nasty, the feeling in the Bruins dressing room was that someone will try to set the tone with physical play when Boston hosts the Sabres Thursday night.

We know theyre a deeper and tougher team, said Tyler Seguin. I have the most confidence in our team with Milan Lucic and toughness. I dont think well have a problem with that.

It's the first matchup of the year between the Bruins and Sabres. The tone for last season's matchups was set when Milan Lucic dumped Ryan Miller to the ice with a bulldozer hit and then the Bruins took care of their business without even a whimper of protest from Buffalo.

That incident really inflicted damage on the Sabres psyche, which likely didnt even start to heal until after Paul Gaustad dropped the gloves with Lucic in their next meeting at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. But after the season, there were still whispers that the Sabres didnt have the proper heart or courage needed to be an elite hockey team. Without those things, they would continue to be perpetual divisional doormats for the Bruins.

Its difficult to stand toe-to-toe with the schoolyard bully when a team has a roster full of skilled munchkins like Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe, or flopping, agitating rats like Patrick Kaleta (who wont play against the Bruins after sustaining a sprained neck against the Maple Leafs that landed him in the hospital). But the Sabres addressed their need for toughness in the offseason by signing 6-foor-8, 260-pound enforcer John Scott and trading for noted Bruins harasser Steve Ott. Both will be in the lineup for the Sabres on Thursday night for what's expected to be an Adams Division-style bloodbath.

Scott has been itching for a fight with Bs enforcer Shawn Thornton for the last two years after some harsh words were exchanged between them when the behemoth was a member of the Blackhawks organization. But there may also be a target still planted on the back of Lucic after trucking Miller so Scott might just go looking for vengeance there.

Perhaps it becomes a situation where 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara finally feels like somebody in his weight and height class is ready for the 'Z' Challenge -- something that many have tried and failed in the past.

Im sure itll be a hard-fought game," said Bruins forward Chris Kelly. "We always have good games with them. They always come out hard and we need to do the same. Theyve added a few guys and in the right time and place they have those guys that will fight a little bit more. Last year was last year. After what happened in the next game Lucic did what he had to do with Gaustad and thats over.

By no means are we thinking about that. This is a good hockey team in Buffalo and when its a shortened season youre playing these teams a lot of times. So the two points are the thing. I dont think theyre going to jeopardize trying to get the two points by doing something foolish.

With all of this circling as the back story, the Bruins are suiting up for battle just in case the fight comes to them. Chris Bourque will be a healthy scratch after going scoreless in his first six games with the Bruins, and 6-foot-3, 209-pound AHL enforcer Lane MacDermid will suit up for the Black and Gold.

The 23-year-old MacDermid had five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and seven fighting majors in 32 games with the P-Bruins this season, and racked up 14 fights between the AHL and NHL last season.

MacDermid made his debut with the Bruins last season at Madison Square Garden and fought Mike Rupp on his very first shift of the game. Hes also dutifully watched and waited as a healthy scratch for the first six games of this season while waiting for his chance to play. So it goes without saying that he should be ready to go when the call goes out to the Bruins fourth line tonight to bring some energy and perhaps match the aggressiveness Buffalo throws on the ice.

MacDermid has got to play a little bit, said Julien. Were going to sit Bourque out tonight. I had a good talk with Chris this morning. I think hes putting a lot of pressure on himself right now and is certainly not the Chris that we know.

With the past history in mind is Julien expecting the Sabres to come out with a glove-dropping, punch-throwing point to make tonight?

Youll have to ask Buffalo that question, said Julien. Youre asking the wrong coach."

So, Lindy Ruff?

"We added Ott and Scott for added team toughness and to make us an overall grittier team," the Sabres coach said. "It had absolutely nothing to do with the Bruins. You try to win the puck battles and territorial battles. We have to win a game. In a short season we need points. We dealt with it last year where Gaustad fought Lucic and where Robyn Regehr fought Chara. We played a couple of great games and took away points. Hockey is about winning the physical battle and winning the mental battle. We're here to get the points."

Whatever's being said, the answers will be obvious when the Bruins and Sabres drop the puck for a game that might just live up to the hype fueled by hard feelings.

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.