Haggerty: Ference not hypocritical over Paille's hit

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Haggerty: Ference not hypocritical over Paille's hit

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Daniel Paille is going to pay the price for his hit on Raymond Sawada, in the form of a four-game suspension handed down by the National Hockey League.Both Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli gamely said there is a case to be made that Pailles hit was more shoulder-to-shoulder than a blindside head shot, but give Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and many of his teammates a lot of credit.Ference knows Paille feels badly about the hit, isnt a dirty player on the edge (as Matt Cooke clearly was last season), and will accept any penalty that's handed down but Ference also knows what its like to be on the receiving side when it comes to Rule 48 and dangerous blind sidelateral pressure hits.The Bruins defenseman is as clean a player as youll find in the NHL, and has always played the game the right way. It clearly burned Ference when the NHLs brightest star, Sidney Crosby, didnt come out strongly and decry the filthy hit that teammate Cooke landed on Savard last spring.Instead, only classy veteran Bill Guerin condemned Cookes villainous actions. Crosby fell silent on the kind of subject that needs his clout and backing.After Thursday's game, Ference wouldn't do the same when it came to Paille's hit on Sawada.
Its a bad hit, right?" said Ference. "You hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad, and same thing, I talked to Danny Paille and he feels bad. You cant be a hypocrite about it, though. Ive thought about this a lot and had plenty of time to put things in perspective over the last year. Sidney Crosby has been very vocal about the head shots and blindside hits since he suffered one in the Winter Classic, but what did Crosby say after Cooke hit Savvy last year? Nothing.I thought a lot about that. You want to be a good teammate, but you shouldnt be a hypocrite about it.Good for Ference for speaking his mind, and talking about whats right rather than taking the easy way out by saying nothing at all on a very meaningful subject to the Bs players. Even NESN's Jack Edwards admitted after the game that the Paille hit was in violation of Rule 48 and that it was in no way clean in today's NHL.
On to the links: James Reimer fever is breaking out in Toronto, and the Star is all over it when theres not much else to cheer for in Leafs land. Count Evgeni Malkin among the many NHL players who seemed to feel bad for Phil Kessel after the All-Star fantasy draft. You really hope they dont change the format over Phil the Thrills hurt feelings. Bucky Gleason gives one last kick to the outgoing Buffalo Sabres ownership before a new, well-heeled regime takes over in the name of Terry Pegala. The New Jersey Devils escape last place in the Eastern Conference. I wonder if they answer the phones in Newark as Welcome to the Devils, no longer sitting in the East basement. Henrik Lundqvist going through a pretty bad lull for the slumping New York Rangers at a very inopportune time in the season, according to northjersey.com A decision is looming on Peter Forsberg, according to the Denver Posts Adrian Dater, but I must admit that Im not somebody waiting with baited breath for the announcement. Dwayne Roloson is helping turn things around for the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, and Pierre Lebrun correctly points out that Steve Yzerman is looking like a GM genius in his first season at the helm.

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

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while forgetting that Nancy Kerrigan is on Dancing with the Stars.  

*Here’s the rundown on Brian Gionta celebrating his 1000th NHL game played with the Sabres on Monday night.

*Congrats to good guy Chad Johnson, who was appropriately given the “Good Guy Award” by the Calgary Flames media this week.

*Brock Boeser showed his abilities in a fantastic NHL debut after leaving the college ranks for the Canucks.

*I hope the fancy stats crowd is listening to this: The NHL playoff forecast is raining on the Corsi and fancy stats parade.

*Hope that Eddie Lack is okay after he had to be taken off the ice in a stretcher following a collision at the end of Carolina’s game.

*ESPN’s hockey crew breaks down some expansion mock drafts and have either Adam McQuaid, Jimmy Hayes or Malcolm Subban headed to the Vegas Golden Knights.

*The Benn brothers are gearing up for their first match-up against each other with the Canadiens and Stars set to meet.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jen Neale nails a Philly columnist for a hot take on USA Hockey and says the column illustrates just how much a change is needed there.

*The Winnipeg Jets have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, so now the Colorado Avalanche don’t have to feel so bad about themselves.

*For something completely different: One thing I’ve never wondered is what Tony Robbins thinks about politics.


 

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask went through morning skate Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and proclaimed himself “healthy” to start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after sitting out Saturday with a lower body injury.

So, Rask will play his 60th game of the season tonight and the Bruins will hope that a dominating performance will douse some of the brush fire that’s cropped up around the Black and Gold’s goaltending situation. 

After Boston’s No. 1 goaltender coughed up five goals in a rough loss to Tampa and then sat out the must-win against the Islanders on Saturday night, questions about Rask’s big-game reliability are absolutely there after he also sat out last season’s pivotal finale against the Ottawa Senators.

Still, Rask said he hasn’t paid attention to the media scrutiny and is instead looking forward to locking up against fellow Finn Pekka Rinne of the Preds.

“I haven’t listened to the [media scrutiny], but I’m sure they’ve been very nice to me,” said Rask. “I don’t listen. I don’t read it. Doesn’t affect me. You know where you stand, and how good you play and when you don’t play good. That’s all you need. You don’t need to listen to the outside voices because it’s just going to distract you. People have opinions and they can say whatever they want.

“This is what we play for, right? It’s fun. It’s going to come down to the wire again and it’s going to be another battle tonight. I don’t even know how many games I’ve played. I feel good. I think I’ve said all throughout the year there’s going to be ups and downs, and you just try to stay even-keeled. It’s something that you learn not getting too high or too low, and just win as many games as you can.”

The bottom line with Rask is that there are major question marks about his standing as a No. 1 goaltender that he needs to address in these final seven games, media scrutiny or no media scrutiny. A No. 1 goalie worth $7 million per season can hold up with a 60-plus game workload and not fade down the stretch while in need of mental and physical breaks. 

The slender Rask has shown signs of slippage in his performance when the workload is heavy, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted as much on Tuesday while not guaranteeing that his No. 1 will be able to play in six of the final seven games down the stretch.

“We’re trying to write our own story this year. I know how the last few years have ended, and we’d like a different ending,” said Cassidy. “I think this group should be afforded that right to write their own stories, and we’ll see how it plays out. Obviously last week did not play out well for us and we heard about it, and that’s part of the business.

“Saturday, hopefully we turned a corner, but we won’t know that until we get going forward here. I’m asking [Tuukka] to play well tonight, and I’m asking the players in front of him to play well tonight. The workload for Tuukka has to be monitored, and whether the whole world agrees with it or not, that’s the situation. I think the data backs up that he’s better with ‘X’ amount of rest and that’s just the way it is. It’s an inexact science and we’re trying to do a better job with that. The second half we’ve really tried to monitor it and last week was a bit of an exception. At crunch time things change a little bit, and that’s what we’re trying to balance.”

In an ideal world, a hockey team scratching and clawing for the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have to so closely monitor whether a goaltender is about to break down because he’s pushing 60 games in a season, especially when he’d enjoyed a five-day bye just a month earlier.

There are also questions about Rask’s reliability after sitting out last weekend, whether it was by his choice, the team’s choice or a mutually agreed upon decision after his lower body discomfort cropped up. A No. 1 goalie is no longer worthy of that lofty mantle when a team can’t rely on big-game performances from him, or even if he'll be available, once the pressure is on in the final weeks of the season.

So, there are plenty of questions to answer for Rask down the stretch here and they may go a long way toward determining his long-range future with an organization that invested heavily in him a few years ago. Those answers begin on Tuesday night against the Predators and it certainly feels like it will be game-to-game with him for final seven contests of the regular season.