Gagne (concussion) hoping to make an impact


Gagne (concussion) hoping to make an impact

NEWARK, NJ -- Simon Gagne is hoping to make his presence felt in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The 32-year-old winger has been out since just after Christmas with a concussion suffered against the Phoenix Coyotes. Hes experienced major troubles returning from concussions in the past, but Gagne has resumed practicing with the team and says he feels good.

The winger said during Tuesdays Stanley Cup Finals media day that he wouldnt return to action unless he was 100 percent after the complications in 2007-08.

With those types of head injuries I had never really waited until I was 100 percent before, said Gagne. This time I did that. I stayed in LA the whole time and I never lost the feeling for the team.

Gagne has been cleared for a possible return, but its hard to envision him displacing somebody in a playoff-tuned Kings lineup. Its the same combination of LA hockey players thats needed only 14 games to pillage their way through the Western Conference.

Every hockey player wants to play. Its difficult to sit out, said LA assistant coach John Stevens. Hes worked hard and got himself back physically where he needs to be. Hes really close to being available if it gets down to that. Simon has had a lot of success and hes been at this point before without having success.

Im sure hes anxious to get in there and play, but more than anything hockey players want to help their team win. To his credit every day hes becoming a better player and more ready to play. Thats what he needs to do.

Gagne cleared all of the concussion testing two weeks ago, and he says there are plenty of positives for his return to the Kings lineup. Gagne is something of an NHL good luck charm as he was in the Cup Finals two years ago as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, and made it Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But a successful return to game action could be difficult. New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle likened trying to return to playoff intensity after a concussion to trying to jump on a speeding train.

The speed of the game is always maxed out when two teams stand just four wins away from hoisting the Cup. Gagne understands all this, and said he knows what to expect after previously experiencing the playoff line of fire.

For sure there will be some adaptation to it. I felt good in practice and I felt good shooting the puck, said Gagne, who missed 48 games this season with injuries. I feel good one-on-one, but playing in a game is a totally different situation.

I think the plus on my side is that I know the level that the game is going to be. Two years and even last year losing Game 7 in the conference finals: its still so fresh in my mind. I think I could put myself into it really quick. Having that experience will help, and at this point in the season not a lot of guys are 100 percenteven mentally or physically. Some guys are very tired from playing so many games in such a short time. Im 100 percent and Im fresh, so thats a plus on my side.

So which tired forward is Gagne looking to edge out of the lineup in the playoffs?

Dustin Penner and rookie Dwight King have both been outstanding on the left wing in the postseason, and it might just take an injury during the Cup Finals to open the door for Gagnes triumphant return.

But its a testament to the Kings depth that a guy thats scored almost 300 career goals stands as the first man into the breach for Los Angeles when injuries arrive. Gagne is ready to step in when hes needed.

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder.