Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Sabres


Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Sabres

BUFFALO Here are fifteen thoughts from the third period with the Bruins falling to the Buffalo Sabres by a 6-0 score after 60 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.

First period:

1) Tough first 20 minutes for Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara, who were on ice for both of Buffalos goals in the first. The first goal allowed was a tough bounce off Gregory Campbells raised stick after a Christian Ehrhoff point shot, but the second score was Boychuk and Chara getting turned around in their own zone by Ville Leino and Jason Pominville. Tough night so far.

2) Congrats to Shawn Thornton for his 100th career NHL fight with Cody McCormick just minutes into the first period. It appeared that McCormick asked to dance and both players got a couple of strong shots before the fight quickly ended.

3) Tuukka Rask fighting the puck a bit. Some odd-looking save attempts and several tough rebounds right around the net aside from the two goals allowed on nine shots. Looks like the three-game losing streak could become a four-game losing streak if hes not careful.

4) Lousy non-goal call on the Bruins early in the game. It appeared that Milan Lucic had redirected a puck over the goal line, but it was waved off due to Rich Peverley's goalie interference on Ryan Miller. Miller was outside the crease and there was little contact between Peverley and the Buffalo goaltender on the play. Clearly there is some sensitivity to Miller against this Bruins team after the Lucic incident earlier this year, but that was a blown call that cost Boston a needed goal in the early going.

5) Patrick Kaleta started a fight with Milan Lucic at the face-off circle, got a couple of Lucic right-handed bombs to his face before he crumpled to the ice and then raised his hands as if victorious while skating the penalty box. Perhaps Kaleta was celebrating A) the fact he didnt get killed by Lucic or B) that he baited Lucic into leaving the ice for five minutes in a trade-off won by Buffalo. Either way Kaleta still looked dumb wearing that visor and starting a fight.

Second period:

1) Tuukka Rask appeared to be fighting the puck in the first on a series of bad rebounds, and he was yanked by Claude Julien after giving up Ville Leino backhander to start the second. Just not a sharp night for Rask in first game hes been pulled from by the Bruins this year. Some may remember Rask was also pulled in Buffalo last year.

2) Disinterested defense on a couple of Buffalo goals, 0-for-6 on face-offs and no presence on either side of the puck for David Krejci tonight. He certainly looks like hes taking some seriously passive disinterest in this game.

3) Shawn Thornton with two fights in this game and he looks genuinely angry at any number of things. He gets 17 PIMs for roughing, fighting and instigating while pounding Mike Weber with a series of left-handed punches after Weber went after Benoit Pouliot at the end of his shift.

4) Patrick Kaleta scored a goal for Buffalo to make it 4-0. A Kaleta goal can only be described as the greatest hockey insult that Buffalo can throw at an opponent. But all that being said, give Kaleta credit for being a factor tonight and for doing an adequate job antagonizing the Bruins while also producing.

5) Of Bostons 16 losses this season, ten of them have been against teams that are out of the playoffs. It certainly looks like it will be 11-out-of-17 for the Bruins after tonight. Theres a clear loss of focus against lackluster teams the Bruins cant get motivated to play against.

Third period:

1) Claude Julien placed David Krejci with Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot by the end of the third period. It appears Krejcis time on the third line might be ending after a non-existent performance tonight vs. the Sabres.

2) Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk were minus-3 tonight and pretty clear that Chara was cajoled into a frustration penalty by Patrick Kaleta after a particularly abrasive forecheck against the Bs defenseman. Perhaps the worst game of the season for the Bs captain after a day off on Tuesday.

3) When Ville Leino has been one of the best players on the ice after a tough year in Buffalo, you know that its been a bad night for the Black and Gold. Not sure I can say a single player showed up aside from Shawn Thornton.

4) Give Shawn Thornton credit for going after Mike Weber while coming to the defense of Benoit Pouliot. Weber hit Pouliot as he was heading toward the bench and Thornton immediately went after Weber while dropping him with a flurry of left-handed punches. That was his second fight of the night and the reason hes the preeminent enforcer in the NHL.

5) Patrick Kaleta causing more troubles at the end of the third period while drawing penalties all over the ice. He managed to induce Milan Lucic into 15 minutes of penalties in the loss by simply being the aggravating rat role he plays for the Sabres. After his second nuisance act the Sabres game ops people played Sweet Caroline in a clear effort to taunt the team from Boston.

NHL Notes: Carlo sticking with his strengths in the D-zone


NHL Notes: Carlo sticking with his strengths in the D-zone

By all accounts, 20-year-old Brandon Carlo has been outstanding for the Boston Bruins.

The rookie D-man was remarkably strong and consistent skating with Zdeno Chara as a top-pairing shutdown D-man before the Bruins captain went down with injury, and he was still very good after adjusting to life without partner Big Zee over the last six games.

Carlo had a couple of assists and a plus-3 rating while topping 20 minutes of ice time in each of the games without Chara, and rightly saw it as an opportunity to show what he could without the 6-foot-9 safety net on his left side. It’s exactly those kinds of challenges that spark Carlo’s competitiveness and get the fire burning that he so desperately needs in order to play at such a high intensity level every night in the NHL.  

“Zee helps me a lot, but I feel like at the same time I have the strengths to be able to handle myself on my own in this league,” said Carlo, who leads all rookies by a wide margin with his plus-12 rating for the season. “It’s a great opportunity to get out there and build relationships defensively. I just take it as an opportunity to prove myself in this league by myself. It was an opportunity to gain some confidence in different ways. With Zee playing so well and with such great chemistry between us, it gave me a whole bunch of confidence.

“Playing with different guys and matching up against the other team’s best players or matching up with third and fourth lines and maybe taking a few more hits, it shows that I can play anywhere in the lineup. It’s another great opportunity to prove myself.”

Well, Carlo has proven himself and passed that test along with all of the other NHL rookie exams set in front of him more than a quarter of the way through the regular season.

Clearly there are obvious gifts with Carlo plain to anybody watching him for the first time. He has the 6-foot-5, 203-pound frame that simply can’t be taught and that size allows him to win battles against stronger, more experienced opponents looking to do battle with him in Boston’s defensive zone.

He also has a very good point shot he consistently threads through traffic, and that has him on pace for a very respectable seven-goal, 20-point rookie campaign without any power play time mixed into his ice time. The decision-making with the puck and the passing is tape-to-tape more often than it’s not, and Carlo usually does a good job of avoiding the kind of high risk passes that can turn into goals against while battling other team’s top line players.

He keeps it simple and keeps it focused on defense, but Carlo also shows there is more surface to scratch with his offensive game.

Some of Carlo’s talents are a little less apparent to the casual observer, however.

The defensive stick-work, in particular, is something that you notice after watching Carlo shut things down in the D-zone night after night. He uses his long wing span and king-sized stick to poke pucks away from attackers, and has an uncanny ability to sweep the puck away from speedier players that were able to get a step on the big D-man.

“The one thing is that he’s so long and his stick is so long, it gives him time to recover because as a young kid in the league you’re going to make a lot of mistakes,” said Torey Krug, who has had to learn to survive in the NHL without those particular gifts. “He has the ability to come back and recover. The second part of that is being unfazed by it. He can make a mistake on one shift, and the next shift he shrugs it off and says ‘Okay, I’m not gonna get beat like that again.’ He has the ability to overcome that. He has the right head on his shoulders with the willingness to listen, to learn and to just keep getting better.”

The stick-checking in the D-zone is exactly how somebody would teach their hockey-playing kids to utilize the stick in the defensive zone, provided those puck prodigies were 6-foot-5 with excellent strength and hand-eye coordination to boot. Carlo said it’s something he’s nearly always been able to do as a big-bodied defenseman, and that certainly was reinforced by his coaching at the WHL level with the Tri-City Americans.

“There were not a lot of teaching points there. The stick is just something that I’ve always just loved using,” said Carlo. “Whenever I was on 1-on-1’s with my teams the guys would hate going against me because my poke check was so good. It’s just something that I really took pride in, developed and just got better and better with over time. There are certain things guys have told me [over the years] like using the straight back-and-forth instead of the windshield wiper [stick check].

“With my size I kind of had to adapt to the long stick, and I really enjoy using it [as a defensive weapon]. It gives me an extra step and an extra opportunity to get the puck away from guys too, particularly when they get behind me. It’s nice that I can use that long reach to get me out of sticky situations at times.”

Claude Julien made certain to point out that it’s something Carlo brought to the table prior to joining the Bruins organization, and was noticed immediately by the Providence Bruins coaching staff last season in his handful of games with them. It’s something of a rarity for a 19 or 20-year-old player to have that kind of stick technique down to a science to the point where it becomes a defensive weapon for him at the NHL level.

It’s also something that’s made Carlo’s transition to the NHL almost seamless despite just eight games of AHL experience entering this season.

“Most young guys always have two hands on their stick and it’s up around their waist, and you have to do a good job of teaching them to keep one hand on the stick with sticks on pucks,” said Julien. “Those are the kinds of things where it’s hard [sometimes] to break younger players in because for some reason they’re told to keep two hands on their sticks when they’re younger. At this level we need the one hand to have sticks on pucks.

“That’s what came out of last year when he first got to Providence. He had a very good stick and that’s what we were told. He had that before he came here, and that was one of his strengths. You continue to work with him because that has been one of his best weapons. Zdeno is probably one of those guys that’s going to tell you it served him extremely well, so he’s learning from the best when he’s playing with [Chara]. No doubt that’s been a big part of why he’s able to play here right now is because he defends well, and he uses his stick well.”

It’s exactly those kinds of fundamental strengths that have the Bruins believing they’ve got the real deal in a top-4, shutdown D-man in Carlo, and that the 20-year-old Colorado native has played himself into a big part of the big picture future for the Black and Gold. 


*Seeing Brad Marchand lose it on a linesman Saturday afternoon in Buffalo reminds me of his preseason comments on getting on the good side with the refs this season. Marchand had just engaged in a scuffle with Rasmus Ristolainen, and then the Bruins winger engaged in a verbal scuffle with one of the officials during the ensuing face-off. Cameras caught Marchand saying “Do your job! Do your job!” before dropping a couple of clear F-bombs his way before the puck was dropped. Well, so much for racking up the brownie points to change the reputation with the refs, eh Brad?

*In case it isn’t already obvious, expect the Bruins big trade acquisition prior to the deadline to involve a top-6 forward that can put the puck in the net rather than a top-4 defenseman. They could use both, of course, but they are looking to find somebody that can finally fill into Loui Eriksson’s left wing role on David Krejci’s line, and both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller haven’t been perfect solutions for the playmaking Krejci. Certainly the Black and Gold will look at 22-year-old Frank Vatrano when he comes back as well, but there’s no telling how long it’s going to take a youngster like that to fully come back from foot surgery. The Bruins may just hedge their bets by going out and getting another winger after putting together a whole collection of centers on the roster this summer.

*Continued prayers and thoughts for Craig Cunningham as it sounds like he’s on the road to recovery in very slow steps out in Arizona. He is a great kid and deserves all the positive thoughts that Bruins Nation can send out to him.

*If you haven’t already, go out and pick up fellow Bruins writer Fluto Shinzawa’s new book entitled “Big 50: Boston Bruins: The Men and Moments that Made the Boston Bruins.” The Boston Globe writer goes deep into the B’s history books for some Old Time Hockey anecdotes and characters, and also gives you a close-up view of the last 10 years as he’s covered the daily doings of the Black and Gold. It’s not that big of a book either, so it looks like the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer for the Bruins fan in your family.

Remember, keep shooting the puck at the net and good things are bound to happen.