Marchand and Subban step into the ring

572978.jpg

Marchand and Subban step into the ring

BOSTON -- It was bound to happen sooner or later between the nose that knows, and the demonstrative defenseman that needs to act like he's been there before.The newest chapter in the BruinsCanadiens rivalry opened up Thursday nightwith Brad Marchand and P.K. Subban finally dropping the gloves multiple times, and finally engaging in an honest-to-goodness fight to end it all.

The duo has been involved in plenty of chippy play overthe last season plus, but that finally bubbled over into theextended dropped gloves session with the decision going to the smaller, scrappier Marchand. It also acted as the most exciting point in the B's 2-1 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.
It started with Marchand jumping on Subban for a few choice shots that sent each player off with matching holding penalties in the second period. Then both players went at each other coming out of the boxbefore they were separated by the refs and slapped with delay-of-game penalties. Both tone-settersthen finally got down to business by dropping their gloves, elbow pads, helmets and any other piece of hockey armor in a full hockey yard sale -- not to be confused with its skiing cousin -- before engaging in some old-fashioned hockey fisticuffs.

Both sides have been waiting for the antagonists to finally drop the gloves since Subban smoked the Bs winger with a bone-rattling body check at the Bell Centre early last season, and it all went downin a Boston defeat that sank the B's into last place. Give Marchand credit for attempting to spark his team with some emotion, but the Bruins once again eventually flatlined.

Stuff happens in a game. Emotions ran a little high, admitted Marchand, who said the fight escalated from a conversation prior to a face-off. I think it all started off the draw. He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and then I grabbed him and he grabbed me.

I thought he wanted to go then so I dropped my gloves. But when we were in the box he asked me to go and I said no. And then back in the second time he asked me again, and I couldnt say no. So it was nice to get it out of the way.

The bout included a series of wild, off-target Subban haymakers that Marchand was able to avoid, and a few short right-handed jabs from the Honey Badger that scored points with the suddenly frenzied crowd. Unfortunately the Bruins couldnt ride the momentum for long enough, and Raphael Diaz smothered a seemingly sure Patrice Bergeron goal into an empty netin the second that followed Marchands bout.

The MarchandSubban bout the second career fight for the Bs trouble-maker after a bout against Andrew Coglianothe Oilers in Edmonton last season probably would have been looked as more of an emotional starter had the Bruins won the game. But it did expose Subban as a hockey fighter thats going to get his clock cleaned pretty badly if he ever scraps with somebody that knows what theyre doing.It was Subban's fifth career fight at the NHL level, but he appeared like he might need to go back to the drawing board given the checks that his wordsand haughty actions can sometimes write on the ice.

Im not a very good fighter, so, I guess you could say I was going for the knockout, but it was a pretty bad attempt, said Subban, who said after the win that he would consult the video with Georges Laraque and Travis Moen to improve his fighting technique. So I dont know, Im probably better to keep my gloves on most of the time.

I know Marchand pretty well and its just a matter of us both being frustrated out there and thats how you settle your differences. I mean, we were kind of laughing about it after, we gave each other a pat on the pads, I dont think theres any true animosity between us two.

Who knows when the next bout will come for the flamboyant Subban, but its more than likely not the last time the Habs defenseman will be dropping the gloves against a Bruins team unafraid to show their dislike for him and his in-your-face game.Marchand and Subban Part II coming to a rink near you this winter and beyond.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats