Bruins stand up during fight night at the Garden

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Bruins stand up during fight night at the Garden

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Why cant the Bruins and Stars play every night?

The unlikely rivals have developed an intense hatred for each other, built on some epically brutal games over the last few seasons -- including the famous game two seasons ago when both teams racked up 36 penalties for 146 combined penalty minutes and seven misconducts. Dallas and Boston added another gloriousOld Time Hockey chapter on Thursday night in a brawling6-3 Bruins victory at the TD Garden.

The only things missing were "the foil" and a good, old-fashioned brouhaha pouring out into the zamboni entrance.This one started out about settling an old score, but turned into one of Bostons signature victories of the season. It came during a stretch when the Bruins have gone 9-3 in their last 12 games and made significant moves up the charts in the Eastern Conference.

One of Bostons leaders within the dressing room said there was little doubt that the throwdown with Steve Ott and Sean Avery in 2008 a game that those Bruins pointed to as an early turning point in the season was still fresh on their minds when the Stars took the ice this time around. The Bruins went an amazing 23-2-1 in the 26 games following that contest two seasons ago, and have to hope for the same kind of bump after this one.

The only difference: That fight night from two seasons ago was in the opening month of the season. This time it was about two hockey teams battling their way through the February doldrums.

Well, that was almost like we just continued the game from the last time the Stars were in Boston. I mean we talked about it before the game, said Andrew Ference. Its about going out and starting like that. The fact that they have a team thats similar to ours, they can go out and get their noses dirty, and being in the West, as tight as it is, you know theyre desperate for wins here. I think they dropped a few of their recent games. Its what we expected, but not exactly what we planned, but thats the way it shakes out.

Simply said, Steve Ott and the Stars have a habit of poking theangrybear in the cage. And the Bruins play their best brand of hockey when somebody pokes at them in a challening fashion.

The poke happened right off the bat when Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton switched positions on the opening face-off, and Campbell lined up beside Ott at the wing position for a heated conversation.

That led to both players dropping the gloves and throwing themselves into an immediate fight a round of fisticuffs that the hockey code dictated Ott indulge after he had committed a brutal charging hit at Campbell two years ago when the Bs center was playing for the Florida Panthers."When you're up playingagainst the Steve Otts and Sean Averys of the world, then you tend to play the same way," said Campbell.

Ott got the best of Campbell and bloodied his nose badly, but several Bruins players privately chafed at Ott after the game as the Dallas troublemaker acted as if he didnt want to fight Campbell and then immediately punched Campbell in the nose when there was a sliver of an opening.

That led to Shawn Thornton stepping in to change the momentum after the first fight, and the Bs enforcer did just that while hammering Krystofer Barch with a flurry of powerful rights and lefts that stunned the Dallas forward.

Two fights in two seconds. The aggressive, physical Stars tried to trump Thorntons triumph by engaging in a third and final fight four seconds into the game, and this is where the momentum finally and decisively flipped toward Bostons direction. Brian Sutherby was manhandled by 6-foot-5 Adam McQuaid, who continually gets underestimated by opponents because of the puffy curls of hair underneath his helmet and his easy-going Prince Edward Island smile.

But beneath McQuaid's exterior is one bad, tough dude who knows how to throw them. He hit Sutherby with overhand rights, uppercuts and dropped the Dallas skater to the ice in the most decisive fight of the three. "We knew they were a physical team and we wanted to show werent going to back down," said McQuaid. "We got things started there and it went from there."

Less than five minutes into the first, Andrew Ference pounded Adam Burish for shooting a puck at Tuukka Rask after he was off-sides and the Bruins had already seemingly won before the game was even close to halfway complete.

All that fighting might have been for naught, however, if the Bruins couldnt put together some offense, and they did just with their two best scorers stepping up when the Big Bad Bruins needed them most. Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron both banged home early goals, and never trailed in a game that showed how tight the Bruins are as a team and showed just how good the Bs can be against one of the best that the Western Conference has to offer.

That is a huge thing for our team, said Blake Wheeler. I think in the past certainly teams have tried to come in and push us around in this building and that is when we are at our best. Teams try to play that game with us and that is when we play our best hockey.

It is a credit to those guys who stood up for our team and kind of stood up for our home ice. And the rest of the guys kind of picked up the momentum and got us that big lead.

Bostons win over Dallas two years ago was a signal to the rest of the NHL that the Big Bad Bruins werent about to be pushed around, and every game against them was going to be a painful one to be approached with caution.

That message remained the exact same two years later against the Stars for a Bruins team looking to make a statement within the final 30 games of the regular season and doing as much talking with their fists and shoulders as their sticks.

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

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.