Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Sabres

991467.jpg

Haggerty: 15 thoughts on Bruins-Sabres

Here are 15 thoughts after the third period with the Bruins falling to the Sabres by a 7-4 score after 60 minutes of play at TD Garden.

FIRST PERIOD1) Shawn Thornton had a lengthy chat with big John Scott during pregame warm-ups and it was pretty clear the two were planning out a bout once things got started. Thornton tried to get a hold of Scott so he could grapple with the 6-foot-8, 260-pound brute, but Scott landed a series of overhand right punches that sent the Bs enforcer tumbling to the ice. He skated off to the dressing room as soon as his penalty was over and never returned to the bench in the first period. He won't return to the game tonight. Not good.2) Scott meanwhile skated a grand total of 27 seconds of ice time and managed to throw an elbow at Rich Peverley on a check against the boards that sent him right back off to the penalty box. It remains to be seen if anybody else for the Bruins will answer the bell if Scott keeps lowering the boom when he gets out on the ice for his one-per-period shift.3) Good job by Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara against the Jason PominvilleThomas Vanek line thats been so good for Buffalo this season. Pominville got behind Chara once to squeeze off a shot from the right wing with Boychuk closing in on him, but that was the only quasi-quality chance either player enjoyed in the first period.4) Three shots on net in 7:34 of ice time for Tyler Seguin to lead all skaters in the first 20 minutes. Seguin said before the game that its time for his game to get going now that the team is past the five-game mark on the season, and it looks like hes turning up the offensive aggressiveness dial just a little bit.5) Patrice Bergeron has won six of seven face-offs and is working Steve Ott in the face-off circle. Thats a stark contrast to last years game against Dallas when Ott owned David Krejci on the face-off dot. Good work in the first period, but no score as the Bruins couldnt close on a number of good chances for Daniel Paille, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara.

SECOND PERIOD
1) So much for the Bruins doing a good job of holding down Thomas Vanek. He explodes for two goals and an assist in the second period and wreaks havoc on the Boston defense with his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame in front of the net. It shouldnt be a surprise as his career numbers against the Bruins are very good. He finished off two plays with natural goal-scoring moves and then made a really nifty pass as he was being taken down by Andrew Ference, and found a wide open Tyler Ennis for the game-tying score.2) Brad Marchand is still fanning on shots that hed normally bury as he works on his hands, but he had himself a hell of a period. In both instances the plays were started by Patrice Bergeron hunting the puck, but Nose Face Killah scored on a backhanded dangle through Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold and then scored another goal from the slot as Tyler Seguin battled with the 6-foot-7 Myers in front of the net. The goal might eventually go to Seguin, but it not Marchand leads the Bruins with five goals scored on the season.3) The third line kick-started the offense for the Bruins as a dogged shift with Chris Kelly fore-checking in the corner turned into Daniel Paille taking a few whacks at the puck in front of the net to create a little chaos. From there Rich Peverley picked up the loose puck and squeezed it through Ryan Miller for his first goal of the season. The third line breakthrough has been a long time coming for Peverley and Kelly after an ineffective first six games.4) A game-high six shots on net for Rich Peverley in the game and hes won six out of eight face-offs in addition to the first goal. Peverley has been getting chances for the last couple of games, so it seemed this was only a matter of time for No. 49.5) A minus-2, one shot on net and no hits for Zdeno Chara through two periods. Its one thing if the Bruins dont want to trade Chara for John Scott in a battle of the goliaths, but the big defenseman needs to at least stop the Buffalo top line from scoring on them. Big Zee needs to be more of a factor.

THIRD PERIOD
1) Dougie Hamilton took a nasty Drew Stafford elbow to the chops in the middle of the third period, left the ice momentarily but returned to play rest of period. Tough kid and a dirty play from Stafford.2) Tyler Ennis is a dirty little bugger. Was whacking David Krejci with his stick as both players skated off the ice for a line change and almost got whistled for too many men on the ice when he got so preoccupied with carving up the Bs center like he was Dr. Hook.3) Thomas Vanek played a huge part in five of Buffalos six goals including the game-winner. He is playing the best hockey of his career along with Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville, and there was nobody even close for the Bruins despite Marchands two goals. It was his eighth career hat trick and his second five-point game of the season. Fifty four career points in 46 games against the Bs.4) Bruins power play hurt them tonight when they couldnt do anything with the 5-on-3 four minute power play midway through the third period. A Dennis Seidenberg tripping call wiped out half of the power play and the Bruins couldnt get anything past Ryan Miller with the rest of the man advantage.5) Ryan Miller deserves props for his performance in the third period. He stoned Patrice Bergeron from point blank range when the Bruins were still trailing by only a goal and made 14 saves in the final 20 minutes as they tried to play catch-up.

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

While the Bruins technically operated, and operated well, short one coach once assistant coach Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien behind the Boston bench, that’s not expected to continue for the upcoming season.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed this week that the B’s will be retaining the current assistant coach group of Joe Sacco, Jay Pandolfo and Bob Essensa to work under Cassidy as full-time head coach, and that they’ll be looking to add one more person to his staff.

“I think our staff did a very good job jumping in and picking up, because we didn’t add to it at the time [of Cassidy’s promotion] when we subtracted from the group. It will stay as is,” said Sweeney. “We will also be looking to add to it to complement that group. Bruce and I have already spoken briefly about it, but we haven’t identified yet and we’ve already received some people that would have some interest. We’ll pursue that accordingly.”

Sacco handled the defensemen and the penalty kill in the final few months of the season, and Pandolfo worked with the forwards in his very first season as an NHL assistant coach following a stint in player development. Essensa, of course, worked with the goaltenders and as the “eye in the sky” from the press box once Pandolfo moved to the bench following the coaching change. So the natural assumption would be that the Bruins would hire another former defenseman to work with the D-men given the backgrounds of Sacco and Pandolfo as forwards.

“We haven’t gotten too far out in front of it. But, Joe Sacco moved from the front of the bench to the D, and did a terrific job [while playing a] big part of the penalty kill all year. Jay [Pandolfo] came down from the press box, worked with the forwards, which he had worked with all year. But now he’s in the heat of the battle. They were terrific. We were a true staff,” said Cassidy. “Goalie Bob [Essensa] became a little bit more of an eye in the sky for us up there. We had Kim [Brandvold], who was our skating coach, helped a lot with the practices, with the pace we were trying to establish. I can’t thank them enough.

“Going forward, we’re going to meet and decide what’s the best fit for us [as an assistant hire]. Obviously those two have a forward background, I have a defense background, so maybe that’s an area we have to look at, what’s the best complement. But we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if I said today that we’re pinpointing an exact thing. We’ve got to look at it and say, ‘OK, who’s the best fit. What makes us the most successful?’ We’ll go from there with the candidates we get.”

The situation automatically leads one to wonder if P-Bruins head coach Kevin Dean would be a possible candidate as a longtime Cassidy assistant at the AHL level, or if Dean wants to continue on his track as a head coach. If not Dean then perhaps Providence Bruins assistant coach and former Bruins D-man Jay Leach might also be a strong candidate after his first season working with the young P-Bruins at the AHL level.

While it’s clear the Bruins still have some discussions before potentially making a move on hiring an NHL assistant for Cassidy’s staff, they have made a determination about their scouting staff. The B’s never replaced the head of amateur scouting position when Keith Gretzky was hired as an assistant general manager with the Edmonton Oilers, and it will instead be Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley that will run Boston’s draft board in June.

“Scotty Bradley has stepped back into that role, which he’s very comfortable doing. He holds the title of Assistant General Manager and he’ll oversee the draft. We’re very comfortable with the people he’s worked with in recent years that have been a big, big part of our recent drafts. Our meetings went well,” said Sweeney. “They were just at the U-18s and had other subsequent meetings, so there will be some banter in the upcoming [scouting] meetings, in terms of where we end up finalizing our list. Scotty will oversee that.”

It’s not exactly foreign territory for Bradley, who previously held the head scouting position with the Black and Gold and played an instrumental role in drafting players like Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. But there’s also some question as to how big a role Gretzky played in drafting the massive wave of talented prospects now pushing their way through Boston’s system, and how much his presence will be missed at NHL Draft weekend moving forward.  

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while tipping my hat to the Celtics after an emotional, impressive showing against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

*It’s a tight race for the No. 1 overall ranking headed into this summer’s NHL Draft and it also doesn’t necessarily seem like a surefire superstar player right off the bat either.

*The New York Rangers seem to have a little more respect for the “underdog” Ottawa Senators headed into Game 2 of their series.

*Speaking of the Senators, it looks like they may once again have the best player in the series with the dominant Erik Karlsson at the top of his game while presiding over the best-of-seven playoff match.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are rolling the dice that they can sign Scott Darling to be their No. 1 goalie before he gets to unrestricted free agency.

*PHT writer James O’Brien helps break down the method that the Vegas Golden Knights are going to use to build their team, but the bottom line is they don’t want to be boring.

*Milan Lucic is enjoying the ride with the Edmonton Oilers as they’ve taken a 2-0 lead in their series against the Ducks.

*For something completely different: Interesting news about M. Night Shyamalan, who is making a sequel that will tie together two of his hit movies.