Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Rangers

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Rangers

NEW YORK CITY Here are five thoughts after the third period with the Bruins and Rangers headed to overtime at a 3-3 score after the first 60 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game on NBC Sports Network.

FIRST PERIOD1) How about that Marian GaborikRick NashBrad Richards line that John Tortorella has put together after struggling out of the gate? Gaborik finished with both goals in the first period after a slow start to his season, but it was a team effort getting both those scores. The second goal actually came after Tortorella double-shifted the trio to get them on the ice without Zdeno Chara defending, and that allowed Gaborik to walk in close to the net with Dougie Hamilton far out of position and way away from the net. The first goal was just a nice play set up by a redirected Richards pass in the neutral zone that turned into a NashGaborik 2-on-1 odd man rush. Eight shots on net in the first period for that trio.2) Dougie Hamilton is learning quickly tonight that players like Nash and Gaborik are a lot better than top players on Winnipeg like Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen. Hamilton is being paired with Andrew Ference tonight to perhaps keep him away from those dangerous Rangers forwards as you could see the damage they could do when Hamilton was out of position and wandering far away from the net prior to New Yorks second goal. Those are the biggest areas of weakness for the 19-year-old in his rookie season.3) Good job by Adam McQuaid standing up for himself and trying to stir up the emotional pot a little bit when Brian Boyle fired a puck at his leg after the whistle had blown the play off-sides. McQuaid immediately went after Boyle and landed a few heavy rights on the 6-foot-7 Hingham native, and was slapped with a two-minute penalty for instigating the fight. Pretty ridiculous given Boyles antics, but the Bruins will gladly accept that for a player sticking up for himself.4) The Bruins are 0-for-2 on the power play tonight and 0-for-11 on the season, and there is nobody really asserting themselves on that unit. Tyler Seguin was named the quarterback of the power play during camp and has the ability to do damage from the half-wall, but hes playing way too passively right now and it shows. Too many shots passed up on the PP in the first 20 minutes tonight.5) Funny how the Rangers look like the Bruins did on Saturday night, and the Bruins look like the Rangers did in the home opener at the Garden, isnt it?

SECOND PERIOD
1) Bruins fight back in the second period with energy and determination they didnt seem to have in the first period. They outshot the Rangers by a 12-7 margin and finally broke through for a pair of goals to get back in the game. Of course the Rangers scored 46 seconds later for the go-ahead goal, but the Bruins got off the mat in the second period to make it a hockey game.2) The Bs comeback started with the second power play unit finally breaking through after 11 fruitless tries. It was Dougie Hamilton that helped create the scoring play by firing a puck from the high point that Brad Marchand redirected into the open net for Bostons first goal. Watching Hamilton make plays while working the blueline like a tightrope artist on the PP gives you an idea of just good hes going to be for a long, long time. The assist was Hamiltons first NHL point and it was an important.3) Milan Lucic now has two goals in three games, and battled for a couple of rebounds in front before finally backhanding a shot through Henrik Lundqvist. No hits tonight for Lucic, but hes been active offensively with three shots on net.4) The Bruins have gone to a five-man defensemen rotation since Aaron Johnson was on ice for Taylor Pyatts go-ahead goal. Seems like he might not be in the Claude Julien circle of trust at this point.5) The Bs fourth line also couldnt get the puck out of the zone when Shawn Thornton had a chance to clear it right before the goal. Those are the kinds of plays that the fourth line needs to make if theyre going to be used in those situations.

THIRD PERIOD
1) Four hits for Adam McQuaid, who continues to lay the lumber physically. Though he did get called for a boarding in the third period when a Rangers skater took a flying leap into the boards.2) The LucicHortonKrejci line deserved more offensive results after the way they played, and both Horton and Lucic get goals tonight. The Horton one was a big game-tying strike nearly a year to the day after he suffered a concussion that knocked him out for the season.3) Dougie Hamilton has more skill than any defenseman the Bruins have had on their time in a long, long time. He made one play where he corralled a bouncing puck at the blue line and dangled through traffic before firing from the high slot. You never see a D-man do that for the Bruins in this day and age.4) Havent seen much offensive impact from Chris Bourque through the first three games. He needs to find a way to get into the mix offensively and be the guy that he was for the P-Bruins.5) Tuukka Rask made a pair of game-saving stops in the final minute of the third period when he stopped a Rick Nash full blast wrister through traffic and then recovered enough to jump on a Marian Gaborik follow attempt. Those were No. 1 franchise goaltender kind of stops. Big time. Twenty eight saves for Rask in this one. Hes been good again tonight.

Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

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Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while putting the pieces together now that the hockey season is O-V-A-H here in Boston. 
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur takes a look at the end of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put on a good show with their young, talented crew. 
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here is this morning’s interview with Toucher and Rich where I talked about the Bruins taking a step forward despite their season being over. 
 
-- He might look and sound like a Bond Villain, but Guy Boucher was far from it in stopping to shake hands with Senators fans at the airport after their playoff win over the B’s. 
 
-- Interesting that John Stevens is named head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, since the change isn’t expected to be a big departure from what was already going on there. 
 
-- The San Jose Sharks are all done for this season, and one wonders if GM Doug Wilson is going to have to choose between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau moving forward. 

 -- Speaking of the Senators, PHT writer James O’Brien has Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson making Ottawa’s playoff victory all the more emotional

 -- For something completely different: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is coming to a theatre near you soon, and here’s a review. I’m looking forward to this one.

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

BOSTON -- After the Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, nearly every player was in agreement in identifying the turning point of the season:

The coaching change.

The B's went 18-8-1 in the regular season after Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien and rallied to make the playoffs after a late-season, four-game tailspin had them in danger of missing out for the third straight year. And despite being ravaged by injuries, they showed fight and spirit in pushing Ottawa to six games, including a road victory in a double-overtime, Game 5 thriller, before eventually succumbing in overtime, 3-2, on Sunday.

Certainly there were moments of sloppiness -- ill-timed penalties, moments when the Bruins simply couldn't bust through Ottawa's 1-3-1 trap -- but Boston's gutty playoff showing, coupled with the regular-season surge, makes it seem clear Cassidy deserves to be awarded the full-time head coaching gig. 

Several Bruins players voiced their endorsement of Cassidy on Sunday, lauding him for bringing energy, offensive thrust, and open-mindedness to using younger players. 

"The results speak for themselves," said David Backes, who played some of his best hockey in Games 5 and 6 once he was paired with center Sean Kuraly. "We were climbing uphill when [Cassidy] took over and we made our way [to the playoffs] . . . [He] certainly did a heck of a job."

And how does Cassidy -- who had gone more than 13 years since his last NHL head coaching job before replacing Julien on an interim basis, and spending the previous eight seasons at the AHL level in Providence -- feel? 

"Absolutely. 100 percent," said Cassidy, when asked if he wanted the Boston job on a permanent basis.

And if he got it, perhaps those improvements would continue.

"Maybe a full year with him, he changes a few things," said Backes.

"That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach, and what players will be here will [also] be determined by management," said Cassidy. "So it's a tough question to answer [on what improvements need to be made]. I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play . . . and we were always a good forechecking team. This series took on a personality that we were going to have to score on the forecheck. 

"I thought that's why you see guys like [Noel] Acciari and Kuraly get into the lineup and really contribute. It's the strength of their game, and maybe less so from other guys that are more line rush guys. Don't forget, we had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of National Hockey League playoffs. So there's a learning curve for them and that's part of the growth process that we hope that, if we're sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year. That's what every team goes through and the [David] Pastrnaks of the world, [Charlie] McAvoy . . . pick your players that are new to it, and [they] have to learn from [it]."

The decision to start Anton Khudobin in Brooklyn late in the regular season after the Bruins had lost four in a row was a turning point-type move, where Cassidy certainly pushed some buttons with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask. And his insertion of Kuraly for Ryan Spooner in Game 5 worked on every level, and probably prolonged the series. So give him credit for both of those things along with the pumped-up offense he helped orchestrate in the final few months of the regular season. 

The Bruins won't be making any public statements or pronouncements on Monday, but one has to assume Cassidy holds the inside track on the job after guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in three years. Certainly there may be courtesy interviews for other candidates like Providence College coach Nate Leaman, but it's difficult to see anything else Cassidy would have to accomplish to be fit for the position. 

As Backes said himself, the results speak for themselves.