Bruins take off for team bonding retreat

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Bruins take off for team bonding retreat

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BRIDGEPORT, CT. The Bruins are spending Sunday and Monday at a team-bonding retreat away from the ice and the hustle and bustle of Boston just prior to the start of another NHL season.

The entire team loaded onto a bus outside the Webster Bank Arena Saturday night following their final preseason game against the Islanders, and they were headed to parts unknown for two days of role playing, trust exercises and team activities designed to bring the entire square closer together.

The Bs organization was making arrangements for several of the younger players to take part in the weekend along with the established cast of veteran characters just as theyve done the last couple of years. The big wrinkle this season is that the location of the team-bonding camp hasnt been identified, and none of the players know exactly where theyre going.

Im not even curious, basically, said Tim Thomas with a laugh while alluding to the importance of the team-building process. Whatever. Well see when we get there.

Last fall the team went to Vermont for the two-day team-bonding activities and brought Marc Savard with them even though the center was still suffering from post-concussion syndrome and nowhere near ready to get on the ice.

The thinking is that inclusion in the bigger Black and Gold group makes some of the Providence-bound training camp players more comfortable with their teammates if theyre needed during the regular season.

Claude Julien spoke about last seasons team-building event shoehorned in with the trip to Belfast and Prague, and how it helped with getting over the catastrophic loss to the Flyers in the playoffs.

To us it works well and thats why we keep doing it every year, said Julien. We like getting the guys together to do things that are going to get them to bond, and we do have some new faces in our lineup this year no matter how we look at it. Those new faces have to bond with the team and get comfortable. But it never hurts to spend some time together.

We have a pretty good idea of what the players thrive on and enjoy, but at the same time we take a lot of consideration into what the group needs. Thats what we did last year with the theme and the approach when we talked about going from contenders to champions. We contended every year but didnt get the job done, and there were certain things that had to change. We focused on that and made it a part of our team-building.

Tim Thomas has watched plenty of hockey over the years and played with all manner of teammates as one of the last remaining Bruins with a resume that includes games for the Bs during the Joe Thornton Era in Boston. He has come to understand what works or doesnt work for any particular team, and he said that last years team-building in Vermont actually helped the Bruins rethink their approach by the leadership group.

It is what you make of it. It was helpful to us last year and to a certain extent its been helpful for us every year. It forces us to a work as a group, said Thomas. Different people have to take control at different points in the process. You kind of learn where the leadership lies.

I think last year we learned it was leader by committee, which was a good thing as compared to some previous years when we had certain guys that tried to be dominant. Every year you have a little bit different group. Its set up in a manner where you learn a lot. It was valuable to me last year.

The stressed points and message behind this years team-bonding activities will certainly center on the pressures of repeating and avoiding the complacency that can decimate a hockey team.

What else the players take from their two days off the grid will likely not be on the table for public consumption. But maybe just maybe it will help the Bruins form a tighter group as it did before last years Cup journey.

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

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.