Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories

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Haggerty: Hopefully Lucic suspension ends NHL conspiracy theories

Peter Chiarelli has heard the conspiracy theories that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHL. Whenever a borderline hit or questionable hockey play involves the Stanley Cup champs, the media and fan bases swirl up a concoction of Colin Campbell-fueled conspiracy theories that leave the Bruins free to burn and pillage the 29 other NHL organizations without any fear of retribution.

Never mind that Campbell is no longer the hockey executive in charge of handing out supplemental discipline to offending players. To those convinced theres something amiss when it comes to the league and the Bruins, logic and reason dont seem to actually apply.
They simply want to paint the Bruins as a team thats unfairly benefited from kid gloves when they are the offenders as a big, physical hockey club. Chiarelli said its all poppycock and hopefully Milan Lucic getting slapped with a one-game suspension for boarding Zac Rinaldo quiets some of that chatter.

That whole line of conspiracy thinking and Ive seen it on the record and stuff I mean, weve had our share of bumps along the way, with the Marc Savard stuff and the Patrice Bergeron stuff, said Chiarelli. I dont buy any of that stuff. Usually I look at stuff independently, and I think any arbiter will, or should. We may go forward at times now with getting a suspension, and I may complain on a case-by-case, but those are the rules that we play by, and Im okay with it.

The Bruins are a team that plays on the edge as evidenced by the recent 2500 fines handed out to Brad Marchand for slew-footing Matti Niskanen and to Adam McQuaid for kneeing Nick Foligno and they have players like Lucic getting banged with suspensions just like everybody else. Following a one-game playoff suspension for cross-checking Maxim Lapierre in the face, crushing Freddy Meier late in a game against the Thrashers last season that incited a team-wide brawl or slamming into Ryan Miller this season, Lucic was on thin ice in the leagues eyes.

So the hit from behind on Rinaldo was the perfect situation to make an example of Lucic, but hes also a player thats careful to keep his rage and aggression in control when it comes to his physical play. There arent many besides Ryan Dice Man Miller that view Lucic as anything but an honest player that plays an intense brand of hockey, and thats why the Bruins dont earn more suspensions.

For the most part the Bruins are bigger and stronger than nearly everybody else in the league, and can dominate without resorting to dirty tactics or edgy plays that could bring on injuries. That doesnt do much to further any conspiracy theories that have become more prevalent since the Bruins essentially bullied the Vancouver Canucks in seven games on their way to a Stanley Cup title.

The Bruins arent going to ask Lucic to play any differently now that the league is scrutinizing him more closely, and nor should they.

We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and people were clamoring that we got away with stuff. Maybe we did, maybe we didnt, said Chiarelli. But thats the way we built the team and Im going to continue to build it that way. If I could find another Milan Lucic, Id be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that."

We wont stray from how we built it, and well continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.

Theres little reason for the Bruins to shy away from the way they play the game of hockey. The Big Bad Bruins style has won them 19 games in their last 22 tries and again has them as the rightful top dog in the Eastern Conference for the first time all season. The Bs even weathered a game without Lucic after he served his suspension while missing out on a rivalry games against the hated Habs. It was a shame for Lucic given how much he enjoys playing and beating Montreal, but perhaps it will finally put to bed the notion that the Bruins get preferential treatment from the NHLs hockey ops department.

Nah, it actually probably wont. That would mean 29 other teams would need to look in the mirror and admit when they were beaten by a Bruins team that plays honest, punishing hockey that few other clubs can hang with.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.