Morning Skate: Sabres, Canadiens cry over Bruins


Morning Skate: Sabres, Canadiens cry over Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. Talk about the perfect storm brewing between other Eastern Conference teams earlier this week in Montreal.

The Canadiens and the Sabres played their first game against each other right out of the All-Star break, and it was a typically nasty Northeast Division affair. There were bone-crushing hits doled out and plenty of words chirped in both French and English, but there was one little wrinkle that must have amused the Bruins.

Buffalo and Montreal basically descended into a war of words over which team acted the part of the bigger punk when it comes to playing victim to the Bruins. Buffalo center Paul Gaustad starting by nonsensically yelling Wheres Chara? to Max Pacioretty, who of course was on the receiving end of a turnbuckle smash at the Bell Centre last season that left him with a fractured vertebrae and severe concussion.

But that wasnt the end of it. P.K. Subban, of all people, was among a group of Canadiens players that verbally slammed Gaustad and the Sabres for failing to defend Ryan Miller when Milan Lucic rammed into him earlier this season. It was almost like a couple of weepy ex-girlfriends on a reality show arguing about which one got dumped worse by the eligible bachelor.

But thats essentially what the Bruins have done to a pair of their Northeast Division rivals with their smash-mouth and intimidating style of play. The Bruins dont even to be on the same frozen sheet with the Sabres and the Canadiens to play the role of the schoolyard bully when it comes to their scraps.

That is true intimidation. On to the links:

Mitch Melnick from TSN 990 lays out the reasons why Pierre McGuire would make an excellent GM of the Montreal Canadiens with the esteemed franchise badly in need of leadership.

FOH (Friend of Haggs) Nick Cotsonika gets in deep with the CBA and the two opposing sides in his Three Periods column for Yahoo! Sports.

The Hockey News Adam Proteau gets hockey apologies from all 30 NHL teams with the second-half of the regular season getting underway.

The Pro Hockey Talk boys have the scoop on Dallas Stars owner Tom Gagliardi talking about his Stars club getting active at the NHL trade deadline.

The creative team has come up with a trailer for a movie we like to call Hashtag: Free Joe Haggerty and its a pretty damned hilarious segment on the Great American Hockey Show.

Boston homeboy Ryan Whitney has missed the majority of the season with ankle issues, but returned with a solid game last night for an Edmonton Oilers team thats really missed him.

For something completely different: the first three minutes of the next episode of the Walking Dead courtesy of Perez Hilton.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Patriots acquire linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Lions


Patriots acquire linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Lions

The Patriots acquired Kyle Van Noy, who was the Lions’ 2014 second-round pick and starting linebacker this season, on Tuesday. 

Why former Pats executive Bob Quinn would send a starter East for what is reportedly just a conditional draft pick is something we’ll try to ferret out.

The Patriots were no doubt interested because they lost Jonathan Freeny to IR with an injury, rookie Elandon Roberts is an undersized thumper (Van Noy is 6-3, 252) and Shea McClellin is well, just… there so far.

Van Noy has two years remaining on his rookie deal so -- provided he shows something -- he could be around awhile. The move -- one week before the trade deadline -- is a familiar one from the Patriots who added players like Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers in 2014 prior to their Super Bowl run.

This story from last season indicates that Van Noy’s lack of production in his first two seasons with the Lions was merely a matter of circumstance. 

Perhaps. We’ll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, the name Van Noy made me perk up because I remembered him as having a central role in the excellent book The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.

Read the excerpt on Van Noy here. It will give you a better understanding of the road he’s traveled.