Thomas 'not calling sour grapes' on overtime goal


Thomas 'not calling sour grapes' on overtime goal

BOSTON -- It was there for the taking. And everybody knew that one little mistake could be the difference-maker.
That mistake came in the form of a failed dump-and-change in overtime of Game 7 on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.The Bruins made the mistake. The Capitals made them pay.
Joel Ward put home a Mike Knuble rebound, three minutes into the sudden-death overtime, giving Washington a 2-1 win in the game and a 4-3 win in the first-round series that was played as closely as a series has ever been played.
Game 7 marked the fourth overtime game of the series, but the 2-1 result marked the seventh game of the series that resulted in a one-goal decision. And it was the first time in NHL history that all seven games have ended in a one-goal difference.
"It was there for us to win," said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk after the loss. "So tight, even one little mistake and they're going to score, and they did that. But that's what they were trying to do. They were just sitting back, waiting for a mistake and to capitalize, and they did."
Knuble blocked Benoit Pouliot's attempted dump-and-change from the neutral zone, and skated hard up the left wing on an odd-man rush with Ward streaking down the ice with him, to his right.
"It hit me right in the shins," said Knuble. "I knew they were all going for a line change. Ward wasn't going to get the pass. I was going right to the crease with that one. I'm glad he added the finish there at the end."
Knuble drove the puck hard to the net, with Thomas making the initial save. But Ward swooped in and put home the rebound with traffic in front, ending the Bruins' season.
"I knew he was going to take the puck to the net," said Ward. "I wasn't really looking for a pass across, and I was just trying to follow it up, just in case there was a puck that squirted loose or a rebound. I just kind of saw it and then gave it one of the hardest whacks I've ever given a puck."
Ward's "whack" ended up in the back of the net. From Tim Thomas' perspective, Knuble's body was preventing him from seeing the rebound at all.
"You see Knuble coming down with the puck and coming to the net hard," said the Bruins goaltender. "He had himself in a position, he's a big strong guy, where it looked like to me where he could cut across the net, or he could go both ways. So I had to play him straight up, and when he got closer to me, it got stuck on his backhand, so I was just trying to play him honest and wait for him to take the shot. I didn't want to go down until after he released the puck because I didn't want him to be able to go up and over my pad. And then he threw it at the net, backhand, and his momentum continued into me.
"I'm not calling sour grapes, but it's reality, and it pushed me out of the way, just enough to open up the net for Ward to put it in," added Thomas. "I didn't even see Ward put it in. I knew the rebound was going that way, but my head was probably in about his stomach."
Sour grapes or not, Ward's overtime goal put the finishing touches on a series that was played as closely as a series has ever been played.
"No doubt, it made it an interesting series," said Bruins coach Claude Julien on all of the one-goal games. "I don't know why people would even think that it would have been one-sided, when you look at their team. I mentioned it numerous times, I don't believe they're a seventh-place team. There's too much talent on that team, to be that. They righted the ship at the right time, and they're playing some great hockey right now.
"And that's what it seems to be all about in the playoffs nowadays," added Julien. "When you look at the teams that have been knocked out, it's whoever's playing their best hockey at the right time."

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season. 

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.