'Chirping' Part II: 'Hawks answer Thornton

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'Chirping' Part II: 'Hawks answer Thornton

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON A couple of days after Shawn Thornton fired a few verbal salvos at the Chicago Blackhawks players who chirped at him from the visiting bench as he skated off the ice with a giant slice over his right eye, the Blackhawks returned fire on Thursday.Thornton tumbled head first into the boards at TD Garden during Tuesday nights 3-0 win for Boston, and needed roughly 40 stitches to close a gash in his forehead after he made contact with Fernando Pisanis skate blade.Thornton was done for the rest of the night after the collision in the second period, but lunged at the Chicago bench as he skated off the ice toward the dressing room with his face ripped open and bloodied. Thornton said one of the Chicago players who has not been publicly identified, but wasnt Patrick Kane said something to the effect of get off the ice, you coward as he skated off the ice under his own power. That exchange led an enraged Thornton to start fighting through the hold of referee Don VanMassenhoven to get at the Chicago bench. Eventually the Bs enforcer went back to the dressing room for treatment as blood streamed down his face. Following the win, Thornton said he'd figure out a way to even the score when he found out the identity of the mystery Chicagochirper, and offered to send out "Christmas Cards" to any reporters that could track down the info for him.Two days later Blackhawks goon John Scott all 6-foot-8, 258 pounds of him fired back at Thornton for chasing after some of Chicagos smaller players during the game, and graphically said that hed beat the expletive out of Bostons tough guy."He said that? That's fine. He can say what he wants, said Hawks enforcer Scott to the Chicago Tribune. "He's going after some of our littlest guys on our team to start a fight. He's trying to challenge Fernando Pisani to a fight. What's that say about him?"He's Mr. Tough Guy and he's trying to challenge Pisani. If I'm in the lineup, he's more than welcome to come chirp at me. I'll kick the bleep out of him."Scott has dressed in a grand total of 40 games for the Blackhawks this season, and figured in on an assist along with 72 PIMs during that period but wasnt on the ice as a healthy scratch Tuesday night. The smack-talking defenseman said somewhat confusedly that Thornton was a stand up guy, but also got what was coming to him when he suffered an injury that could have given him permanent sight damage had it been a few inches south of his forehead."I dont know if I would chirp at an injured player, Thornton is a stand-up guy, said Scott. "I don't know who said anything, but he was kind of being cheap that game. So whatever. He gets what comes to him."Thorntons response to all this: "No comment."When reached by CSNNE.com via text to respond to Scotts comments, Thornton replied with a simple text of Who? before going with no comment after it was explained to him that Scott was a defenseman playing in the NHL for the Blackhawks.

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

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In another body blow to the playoff chances for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will be out tonight with what the B’s are calling a “lower body injury”  for their must-win game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Rask came to the Bruins practice facility on Friday and got treatment on his lower body, but determined “he wouldn’t able to go” in Boston’s biggest game so far this season. Instead, backup Anton Khudobin will get the nod against the Isles. His last start was 10 days ago against the Calgary Flames, but he's a goalie who's also riding a four-game winning streak headed into a mega-important game for the Black and Gold, who have lost four in a row to damage their playoff hopes.

“He came in [on Friday] with some discomfort in the lower body, so he had some work done and didn’t feel like he’d be ready to go today,” said Cassidy of Rask after the Saturday morning skate in Brooklyn. “We had talked about getting Anton [Khudobin] in any way, and that was part of it. Those plans are always subject to change.

“So there’s no real surprise in that area, but we’re monitoring it really closely. We expect that he’ll be able to practice on Monday.”

There was no sign of injury for Rask in the 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thurday night, in which he gave up five goals and looked shaky in the second and third period. Cassidy confirmed that Rask's equipment issue with his skate in the Lightning game had nothing to do with the injury. Rask was soft-voiced and trailed off in a couple of his answers while taking his share of responsibility following the Tampa loss and certainly seemed uncharacteristically downcast after that particular defeat.  

Rask’s surprise absence has a lot of parallels and a bit of the same feeling to the Bruins goaltender also being unable to play in last year’s regular season do-or-die finale where the Bruins dropped a brutal, pathetic 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators to knock them out of the playoff race.

One always wants to give a player the benefit of the doubt when an injury is involved, but one can’t escape the feeling that Boston’s No. 1 goalie should be able to play on Saturday in a must-win game, with so much on the line, if he’s expected to be healthy enough to practice a couple of days from now.

The Islanders and Bruins each have 82 points but the Bruins sit out of the playoff picture, in the ninth spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference, heading into tonight's showdown. 

Rookie Zane McIntyre has been called up on emergency recall to serve as Khudobin's backup vs. the Islanders. 


 

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.