Bruins notes: Missed calls benefit Rangers

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Bruins notes: Missed calls benefit Rangers

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Claude Julien was the vision of an irate hockey coach in the first period after the New York Rangers scored the only goal of Saturday afternoons matinee at TD Garden, and he had good reason.

Derek Stepan made a nice tip off a Mike Sauer point shot to get a puck past Tuukka Rask, and give the Rangers a 1-0 lead they would protect for more than two periods of defensive hockey; but it never should have happened.

First Marian Gaborik was clearly off-sides entering the Boston zone with slightly more than six minutes gone in the first period, but it went unrecognized by the linesman, and a shot on net resulted in a face-off within the Bs defensive area.

This time Vinny Prospal cheated the draw, and jumped into the face-off circle early on a busted play that led to Sauers blast from the point that Stepan tipped home for his 20th goal of the season. With both teams within the NHLs top five in goals against average (the Bruins are third with 2.34 GAA and the Rangers are right behind in fifth with a 2.37 GAA), Julien knew that the goal was a big game-changer that early in the game, and was rightfully indignant at two major miscalls in a row.

Julien explained it in golfing terms, but its pretty clear he wasnt about to extend any golf clap courtesies for a refereeing crew that didnt have their sharpest afternoon.

It was a missed off-sides, but they make mistakes, said Julien. But then the guy jumps in and the guy who passed it to the point was obviously in and it should have been blown down. So, that one point, you know? Theres one mulligan but I didnt feel that they needed two.

Despite the bad calls, the Bs coach wasnt about to absolve his players for deciding not to show up until five minutes remained in the third period, however, and Julien intimated that his team was simply too soft on the puck against a big, strong, physical Rangers squad.

It took us a while to get going. I thought that the other team played a pretty solid game, said Julien in summarizing the game. They were strong on the puck, they were solid, they were gritty, and we were a little light on our sticks there for the first 40 minutes. That kind of put us in a bad situation and in the third period it was too little too late.

The Bruins missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot when they dropped the game to the Rangers as the Carolina Hurricanes lost their game on Saturday as well so the Bs will clinch a playoff spot with their next victory that can come as quickly as Sunday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Mark Recchis next point would tie him with Paul Coffey for 12th on the NHL's career scoring list. Recchi had been credited with an assist in Thursdays win over the Canadiens that was taken away by a scorer's change after the game.

The line of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and David Krejci had zero shots on net through the first two periods of play against the New York Rangers, and finished with only two shots on net in a rare off night for the Bs top line. Krejci, in particular, seemed to be having a tough time finding room to operate with the puck in the offensive zone, and really never made any adjustments in creating against the very physical Rangers defensive unit.

I think its that we didnt get pucks in deep and we didnt get our feet going early enough. Thats where we had success the last couple games, said Julien. So we forced a lot of things and consequently our top line didnt have a shot after two periods. And you know that when those kinds of things happen, were not doing the things that we should be doing.

Tuukka Rask earned the No. 3 star in the loss to the Rangers, and very nearly matched Henrik Lundqvist save-for-save in a performance thats dropped him to 5-2-1 over his last eight games, and makes it a bit more unlikely that the 23-year-old is going to push his personal record over the .500 mark this season.

Despite all that, Rask finished with 23 saves and stopped everything aside from the Derek Stepan tipped puck in the first period.

I think hes been pretty good lately. I think Tuukkas played pretty solid hockey for us in the last month, said Julien. Its been refreshing I think for everybody, including himself, and we can move forward here knowing that we got two goaltenders that can do the job for us.

The Bruins recognized legendary radio announcer Bob Wilson on Saturday afternoon with a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game, and the unveiling of a plaque dedicating the TD Garden home radio booth on the 9th floor in his name. Wilson was the radio voice of the Bs during the Stanley Cup teams of the 1970s captained by Bobby Orr, and has retired in recent years to New Hampshire where he continues to watch Bs hockey on a regular basis.

The Stanley Cup in1972 was certainly a highlight of my career and its the last Stanley Cup goal that the Bruins scored, said Wilson. It was interesting, Phil Esposito told me after the game that Bobby Orr came up to him on that final face-off with about 20 seconds, 30 seconds left in the game and he said Get the puck to me an Ill kill it off.

That was Bobby talking to Phil. Get it to me and Ill take care of the rest. It was an exciting time and the welcome at Logan Airport in the middle of the nightthat was fun.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.