Haggerty: Don't expect a slugfest between B's, Sabres

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Haggerty: Don't expect a slugfest between B's, Sabres

The Bruins actually know exactly whats going through the furiousminds of the Buffalo Sabres.

A majority of the players now on the Bs roster have lived through the same kind of emotionalcycle of shock, embarrassment, anger and retribution that Buffalo has been riding since Milan Lucic blasted Ryan Miller in a collision at the Garden two weeks ago. It's a Merry Go Round from Hell for any team that prides itself on teamwork and trust.

Lucic collided with the skinny goaltender in a game twoweeks agowith enough force to knock Miller to the ice, and ultimately the Sabres goalie exited the contest with a concussion thats kept him sidelined since then. But thats not the worst part.

The worstaspect ofthe entire incident was a damning indictment of the Sabres: Not oneof Millers Sabres teammates stepped up in defense of their franchise goaltenderafter gettingdumpedby the hulking left winger. There was plenty of harsh criticism centered around Buffalo center Paul Gaustad, who was out on the ice during the incident and never attempted to drop the gloves with Lucic in defense of his fallen goalie.Gaustad has 27 fights on his NHL resume, and dozens more at the minor league level before making it with Buffalo -- so it's a role he should have been happy to fill.

Lucic admitted he was surprised the Sabres players didnt come gunning for him in the remaining two periods of play during the first meeting between the two teams. The B's power forward poured more salt on the wound bystating "it would have been different" if that kind of thinghappened to the Bruins. Guys like Cody McCormick or Patrick Kaleta could be forced into pushing Lucic for payback, but true justice would be ifGaustad atoned for his lack of courage the first time around.

Ive always respected the Buffalo Sabres, said Lucic, who admitted he expects to be invited to fight Wednesday as an answer to his actions. I didnt call anyone a coward or anything like that. I never said anything along those lines. All I said is we would respond differently. Thats the only thing I said. I never pointed fingers at absolutely anyone.

The passion is what makes it fun. I know its a Wednesday night in November. It is a big game. A lot of people are talking about it. Theres a lot at stake with getting that first place in the division. I think even the fans here in Buffalo are going to be excited for it. I know were excited for it. Weve been looking forward to this game as much as they have. Its what makes this game fun.

But the whole Sabresteam took the blame, and their players, management and coaching staff admitted in the days following the incident that they failed one of the basic tenets of hockey: standing up for teammates when other players take bigliberties with them.

For the Bruins it was eerily reminiscent of the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard when the Bs players did nothing to make the Pittsburgh cheap shot artist pay for his blindsiding ways. Shawn Thornton and Matt Cooke eventually did drop the gloves during the Revenge Game a month later that season, and that essentially evened things out in the mind of the players.The Bruins were crushed for their lack of response to Cooke's elbow as Savard lay motionless on the ice, and that's the biggest reason Lucic knows his teammates would never let it happen again. They've lived through embarrassment and shame that's become Buffalo's world this month.Gregory Campbell saw a parallel between the Cooke and Millerincidents from a reaction perspective, and the feelings of retribution being sought after by the wronged team.

This team has been in situations like that before. We go into games focused on winning and our nature is to play physical anyway, said Campbell. Its not really our area to worry about. It was an internal issue with their Sabresteam and they can handle it howeverthey want.

The Bruins players expect the same kind of scenario to play out Wednesday night in Buffalo, and perhaps there is even a run or two taken at Tim Thomas between the pipes. That would be interesting given that Thomas has shown a real ability to defend himself at his goaltender position, and the Bruins will be watching their goalie protectively.

Things shouldnt get too out of control on Wednesday night with the league watching closely and the Sabres not really known as a brawling hockey club, and it would be playing right into the hands of the Big Bad Bruins after all. But Sabres President Ted Black did go on 550 AM radio in Buffalo on Wednesday morning and answered "Realistically, yes" when asked point blank if expected at least one fight in the BruinsSabres game that also has Northeast Division bragging rights on the line.

Its not like you can go out there and be stupid. We were obviously in the same situation with the Cooke thing when he hit Savvy. If they want to get goofy then thats fine, said Andrew Ference. Our team is well-equipped for different kinds of games. It was a controversial hit and theyre obviously upset about it. Im sure they want some retribution and Lucic is fully prepared to answer to anybody that wants to get involved. If not then we just play.

There will be plenty of passion and perhaps even a good old-fashioned scrap Wednesday between the Sabres and Bruins.Maybe Buffalo will get their revenge, or maybe the B's will put the Sabres in their place because that simply isn't the Sabres preferred style of play. But those looking for a Slap Shot style gong show will be sorely disappointed when a hockey game -- not an alley fight -- ultimatley breaks out in Buff.

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

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.