Horton, McQuaid missed, should be at full strength next year

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Horton, McQuaid missed, should be at full strength next year

While its no excuse for any hockey team once the playoffs are over, the Boston Bruins werent a healthy team against the Washington Capitals.

They were missing their Game 7 playoff hero in Nathan Horton and one of their biggest, toughest defenseman around the net in Adam McQuaid, and that did have an effect against a Washington Capitals team that played an unexpectedly heavy style during the playoffs.

The size thing cant be understated. Even when you look at, and our replacements, I felt if we get past this round and thats what happens when theres so much parity. If you can get past this round I think you can do some damage, said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. You get a different mindset when youre past that first round. To grind guys down, you need some size and you need some grit. If you look at McQuaid and Horton, I know Horton is a scorer but hes big that he tires out defensemen. Same thing with McQuaid.

When you go back and you look, so youve got Horton, Michael Ryder, Rex Mark Recchi and those guys, for all their style of play they were heavy players. So yeah, you miss some of that this year. When you dont have Horton and McQuaid, it magnifies that and you saw it in Washingtons third and fourth lines. Those are some big, heavier guys like Joel Ward, Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer; those guys lean on people and over a seven game series when teams are close it makes a difference.

The good news for the Bruins now that the season is over: Horton and McQuaid should be fine headed into next season. A full summer off should do wonders to clear the concussion-caused fog plaguing both players, and Chiarelli was counting on both players for next season.

I expect both to make a full recovery. I havent met with McQuaid yet today, but I met with Horton and he was good, said Chiarelli. He said hes feeling a lot better and looking forward to next year. With tracking McQuaids progress in the playoffs, he was coming around and I expect a full recovery.

The Horton injury is clearly a bigger concern, but the winger shouldnt lack for motivation next season with good health and a contract year on tap for the power forward. Theres also no question the Bruins are a better team with these players in the fold, and thats when the Bruins were at their best last season back in November and December.

Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

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Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

The Bruins have three players headed to the IIHF Hockey World Championship, which begin this weekend in Russia.

Brad Marchand was invited to play for Team Canada early on in the process, coming off his 37-goal season for the Bruins. Last week the Czech Republic added 19-year-old right wing David Pastrnak to their squad with plans to skate on a line with the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec.

And Frank Vatrano -- who scored a total of 44 goals between Boston and Providence in this, his first full professional season -- was added to the Team USA roster this week. Vatrano, 22, confirmed it on his own Twitter account on Tuesday night prior to hopping on a flight bound for Russia:

Torey Krug played for Team USA last season, but was unavailable this time around after undergoing right shoulder surgery just a couple of weeks ago that will have him sidelined until late October. 

Vatrano is one of four Massachusetts players on this year's version of Team USA. The others are Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon, Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin and Devils D-man David Warsofsky.

Both Marchand and Pastrnak previously suited up for their countries in the World Junior championships, and Vatrano played in the U.S. National Team Development Program prior to playing college hockey at the University of Massachusetts. Vatrano also previously represented the U.S. at the 2012 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic, where he helped Team USA claim the gold medal.

The IIHF Men's World Championships will start Friday and run until May 22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. It features featuring many of the NHL players that aren’t participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

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Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

Ahead of the expansion draft, teams may look to get something in return for players they’d otherwise lose for nothing.

May 4, 2016: If expansion hits, which Pens goalie is protected?

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May 4, 2016: If expansion hits, which Pens goalie is protected?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving a warm May the Fourth Be With You to everybody out there.

*Mike Francesa has declared sports radio war on former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, and it’s getting ugly folks.

 

*A humbled Bruce Boudreau, who really didn’t need to be humbled given what a nice man he is, will have a long line of NHL suitors interested in his services.

 

*The Northeastern University hockey team has gone to some extremes with their pregame wrestling matches.

 

*Pro Hockey Talk asks the question: if there’s an expansion draft, which goaltender should the Penguins protect given what’s going on in their playoff series?

 

*A really nice gesture within the PHT morning skate with Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper going to bat for a Lightning beat reporter that finds himself out of a job.

 

*Max Domi had a very memorable rookie season even if it didn’t end with any serious consideration for the Calder Trophy.

 

*The Nashville Predators got a little better this week with the decision to kick Mike Ribeiro up into the press box.

 

*For something completely different: these Han Solo uniform jerseys for the Durham Bulls’ Star Wars Night are the freakin’ truth.