Schneider prevails in homecoming

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Schneider prevails in homecoming

BOSTON -- Cory Schneider's last start in Boston came in March of 2007 with Boston College, during the Hockey East Finals.

He returned as a starter on Saturday as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and did what Roberto Luongo couldn't do in three Stanley Cup Final games last year: win.

Schneider was part of last year's Canucks team that lost to the Bruins in seven games. But he didn't make a start. He got the call on Saturday, though, and made 36 saves in picking up his ninth win of the season, in a building he's quite familiar with.

"I think our whole group is real happy for Cory," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver's 4-3 win over the Bruins. "He's been in our organization here for five years. A really quality kid, and he spent three years with our farm team, worked real hard at his game, and last year got an opportunity to come up and spend the whole year with us. And he was a huge part of our team when we needed him. He always stepped in and did a great job.

"He never had the opportunity to play in front of his friends and family, and we thought that, after analyzing not just that -- because there were other areas to analyze -- but I just thought that he'd give us a good game. We've got two good goaltenders, and he played well for us tonight."

Schneider is a Marblehead, Mass. native. His parents, brother, and friends were in attendance. But it was clear from the get-go, he wasn't at B.C. anymore, and Bruins fans only care about the color of the jersey.

"It's a different vibe, but we got a good taste of it last year," said Schneider. "So, it's nothing new. It was completely expected. It's a great atmosphere to play in. It's a fun building to win in. But for me, it was fun to play in front of people who have grown up cheering for me and supporting me my whole life."

And clearly, the bad blood between these two teams is just getting worse. That was evident four minutes in, when an all-out brawl broke out in front of Vancouver's bench.

The last time the Bruins were in that type of melee with a team in the regular season was last year agains the Montreal Canadiens, and it ended up with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price dropping the gloves.

"I was looking down at Tim Thomas to see if he's coming," said Scheider, when asked what was going through his mind during the brawl. "But he stayed in his net, and I stayed in mine. He didn't look that interested in it, and neither was I. As a goalie, it's not my place to be grabbing guys and jumping guys unless I have to, or if their goalie gets in there."

Thomas and Schneider stayed in their nets, and Schneider was able to one-up one of the best goaltenders in the league.

"It's a great feeling," said Schneider. "As a college player, I didn't know if I would ever get the chance to play here again. So to be able to come back and have this opportunity in front of a lot of friends and family and people at home watching, it was really cool, and I guess even more special because we don't come here very often. I'm glad we got the win."

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

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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

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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