By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Lightning wrapped in a scoreless tie during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a Stanley Cup Finals date on the line at TD Garden.1)Adam McQuaid wins the award for the Most Nervous Looking Game in Conference Final Game Seven. He had issues keeping his skates early in the period and nearly coughed up a puck with Lightning players close to the Boston net. Luckily Tim Thomas was able to support his defenseman. McQuaid also whiffed on a puck later in the period and looked a little shaky in his 4:52 of ice time.2)Nathan Horton is hurt. It appeared that he collided with Blair Jones as he attempted to hold onto a puck at the blue line in the offensive zone, and then stumbled again as he tried to get on his skates and get toward the bench. He moved very gingerly, didnt return to the ice and left the bench for the dressing room with about seven minutes to go in the period. Michael Ryder moved up in his place during most of the missed shifts.3)Claude Julien mixing things up early and substituting Rich Peverley for Mark Recchi on the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line when it was pretty clear Recchi didnt have his legs. Recchi and Peverley have alternated shifts with that line since then, but its looking more and more like there isnt much left in the 43-year-olds tank after a long and glorious run.4)No penalties in the first 20 minutes of the game despite a physical tone and plenty of intense action on both ends. It looks like the refs have put the whistles away and theyre letting the boys play and that is to the Bruins distinct advantage.5)Fifteen shots on net in the first period for the Bruins. Two things about that: Dwayne Roloson has looked sharp making those 15 saves, and thats more shots than the combined output of the second and third period of Game 6. Rolosons closed pad stop on a Milan Lucic breakaway midway through the first period off a sweet Peverley feathered pass has been the play of the game thus far. Andrew Ference leading the way with three shots on net.Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
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.
The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.
The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.
Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.
Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.
Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.