Haggerty: NHL finally gets it

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Haggerty: NHL finally gets it

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Bruins can finally feel like proper justice was served after one of the horrendous hits leading to a severe concussion has been properly handled by the league.

It didnt really happen with Patrice Bergeron three years ago, and it certainly didnt happen when Marc Savard left a good chunk of his pro hockey career on the ice in Pittsburgh after taking a blindside Matt Cooke elbow to the head.

This time Aaron Rome was suspended for four games the duration of the Stanley Cup Finals, plus any remaining games in next years regular season if there are fewer than four games played in the remainder of the Finals for his too-tardy hit targeted at Nathan Hortons head in the end of the first period. The blow has caused a severe concussion for Horton, and ended the right wingers season prematurely in the most important time of year.

Bruins coach Claude Julien informed the media Horton has been released from the hospital, and getting the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder healthy next season after a long road to recovery is now one of the biggest orders of business for the Bruins.

You want to win it for a guy like Horton," Milan Lucic said. "Hes done so much for us this year and getting us to this point. You can use it in motivation for yourself. Hes had a lot of impact on me as a friend and as a linemate.

In terms of proper punishment, Julien perhaps said it best when all parties agreed the hit was late after Game 3 and that one second, which seemed like an eternity, was enough time for Rome to pull up before he left his feet to bury Horton with a shoulder to the head.

The Bruins have been at the forefront of criticizing even their own teammates at times about head hits this year due to the sensitivity of past injuries to Savard and Bergeron Andrew Ference heard guff around the league for calling out Daniel Paille for a head shot against the Dallas Stars earlier this season and Julien once again stuck with his consistent message that it should always be about protecting the players in the league.

I don't think I've ever changed my approach on that," Julien said. "I said all along, whether it was the first incident in this series, I like to leave things the rulings to the NHL . . . and you move on. I don't want that job, to be honest with you. It's a tough job. I'm one of those guys or one of those coaches that respects whatever they do.

For people that thought I was disappointed with the Alexandre Burrows biting thing, I wasn't. I moved on. In regards to this one here, they made a decision. I think it's important for our whole league to protect our players from those kinds of hits. I support them. Whether you agree or not, you support them. I support them with the Burrows decision and I'm supporting them with this one, as well.

All Bruins players clearly agreed with the favorable ruling from the league, while also putting Horton in their thoughts as they attempt to regain focus on the task at hand.

Earlier in the year avoiding allowing the hit to be a distraction would have been a lot tougher, but this time of year the greater goal, fortunately, is that we want to win that trophy. Thats the big picture. Thats what were focused on, said Shawn Thornton.

While Thornton and the rest of his teammates are fixed on winning the Bruins' first Stanley Cup since 1972, there is also a strong feeling from the Bruins side of things that the NHL is slowly crawling in the right direction. In the last 10 years there had been three Finals suspensions for one game apiece to -- Detroits Jiri Fischer (cross-check) in 2002, Calgarys Ville Nieminen in 2004 and Anaheims Chris Pronger (hit to the head) in 2007 -- so a four-game suspension shows the league is lowering its tolerance for headshots in the NHLs showpiece event.

Teammate or no teammate, you never want to see a guy laying out on the ice looking like hes out of it, Shawn Thornton said. Its not good for anybody.

"Theyre making the right strides, but at the end of the day GMs arent out there to tell players to stop cutting across and leaving their feet to hit a guy, added Thornton. Thats us. Maybe those meetings should be going on at the players meetings rather than the GM meetings. But I think the league is doing a good job going in the right direction where players are being held accountable for their actions.

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

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

BOSTON – The Bruins needed to follow up last weekend’s win over the Islanders if they truly wanted it to be a turning point, and they followed up in victorious fashion on Tuesday night.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals early and then hung on for dear life behind a strong return effort from Tuukka Rask in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 34th win of the season and looked both rested and recharged after taking last weekend off from on-ice action.

The win gives the Bruins two in a row, and improves their record under Bruce Cassidy at the Garden to a dominant 8-3 in 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game when he knocked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast from long distance, and scored his 18th goal of the season. Boston’s other frontline center, David Krejci, scored 10 minutes later after taking a slick entry pass from David Pastrnak and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole.

Rask made 15 saves in the first two periods including an excellent stop on Viktor Arvidsson following a David Backes turnover on the half-wall in the second period, but the Preds finally busted through in the final period. Craig Smith tipped home a Roman Josi point shot that squeezed through Rask’s leg pads, and both Rask and the Bruins scrambled and scrapped their way through while clinging to a one-goal advantage late in the game.

A 3-on-1 odd-man rush late in the game led to Riley Nash feeding Rhode Island native Noel Acciari for his first career NHL goal in his 43rd game with the Black and Gold. 

Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

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Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

UPDATE: The Boston Herald reports McIntyre is with the team as a replacement for Anton Khudobin, who is said to be suffering from a minor injury, and not Tuukka Rask, and that Rask will start as scheduled against Nashville.

BOSTON -- Even though he's been proclaiming himself healthy and able for the last two days, Tuukka Rask may not be as ready to go as everybody thought.

The Bruins announced a couple of hours prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators that rookie goalie Zane McIntyre had been recalled on an emergency basis. He spent the weekend with the team in the same capacity, filling in for Rask while Rask battled a lower body injury.

So the logical assumption is that something has recurred that will prevent Rask -- who on Tuesday night told interim coach Bruce Cassidy he was ready -- from playing tonight.

Rask is 8-8 with a 2.91 goals against average and an .892 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break, and gave up five goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed Saturday's big game vs. the Islanders with a lower body issue that just “popped up.”

We’ll find out for sure during pregame warm-ups, but the only way an emergency recall can be made is if a player is injured or suffering from an illness. Anton Khudobin looked fit as a fiddle while practicing with the Bruins on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, so stay tuned for the latest.