Haggerty: Peverley, Ryder step in and step up

191545.jpg

Haggerty: Peverley, Ryder step in and step up

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Its obvious the Bruins have turned the ultimate negative into a positive. They've taken Nathan Hortons severe concussion, the aftermath from the suspension received by Aaron Rome for the hit on Horton and the Stanley Cup Finals drama that has intensified it all, mixed it up into a giant hockey crockpot, and made it work for them big time over the last two games.

The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 since Rome's predatory cheap shot on Horton in the first period of Game 3. Both of the key forwards used to fill Hortons spot, Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, stepped up and scored goals in their first full game without Horton. And left wingerMilan Lucic has similarly shifted into another punishing gear with his linemate down and out.

It was appropriate Peverley and Ryder both scored with the shifty Peverley potting two while filling in for the fallen Horton in Game 4. It was poetic when the concussed winger was present afterwards to present the 1980s-style Bruins Starter jacket, which the players give to the game's star, to Peverley.

An understandably emotional Horton walked into the Bs dressing room after the gameand said a few words before engaging in the jacket ceremony.

According to one player in the room, Horton said: "You guys played great. I'm happy to see you. Im kind of at a loss for words. Pevs, here you go."

With that he handed over the jacket and completed the circle of a job well done for Peverley, who paced Bostons offense in a4-0 win that evened up the series at 2-2.

Peverley was just as emotional, and beaming with as much pride as anybody else in the room.Peverley was tapped to start the game on the first line with Lucic and David Krejci, and he justified Claude Julien's faith by scoring the game's first goal in the first period.A second goal chased Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo in the third period.Peverley pointed out that both Ryder and Tyler Seguin also took an odd shift with Krejci and Lucic, but it was Peverley who took the chance and ran with it.

I think there were a few guys that were jumping in on that line, said Peverley. I just got an opportunity and Krejci made a good play to set up the first one. Lucic made a good play on the second one.Pretty simple in Peverley's eyes, but also probably short-changing his involvement in both scores.

It was most important that Peverley show some finishing touch after failing to bury some golden chances over the last few weeks. One in particular during Game 2 in Vancouver, which would have given Boston a 3-1 lead and some needed insurance, veered high and wide of the net.Peverleymissed a couple ofopen nets and stung a fewcrossbars while scoring only two goals in 21 playoff games leading into Game 4, but that all changed rapidly Wednesday night. The first goal was a clean breakaway after he used his speed to getbehind Raffi Torres in the offensive zone, and the second was a nice play to slam the puck home after Lucic threw it directly at the net with traffic all around the crease area.In both cases Roberto Luongo didn't know what hit him until it was too late. By the time Canucks coach Alain Vigneault tapped Luongo on the shoulder to remove him from the game in the third period. By then Peverley had done his damage.

Im sure it wasnt easy for Peverley, said Krejci about his new linemate. When he had the chance, he did very well. So hopefully we can keep it going. Peverley has got great speed. He played his game today, fast, and he didnt try to do extra or put any pressure on his shoulders. He just went there to play the game, and Lucic and I just helped him out.

Good for him. Hopefully we can keep it going.

Amazingly enough, Ryder also responded to the call with Horton out despite getting only intermittent chances to skate with Krejci and Lucic when Peverley was killing penalties.Ryder created some offense while skating with Seguin and Chris Kelly, and gave Boston scoring depth where there had been none in the first couple of games.
On his goal, Rydercollected a cross-ice Seguin pass and turned it into a deadlysnapshot from the outside of the right face-off circle.When Ryder is putting everything into one fluid shooting movement from one of the faceoff circles, there are few more purely beautiful hockey sights around -- and Ryder had it going on in Game 4. Thequick shooting motion allowed the shot to catch a bit of Sami Salos stick and the wobbly puck went right on underneath Luongos glove hand, which appears to be increasingly generous as the series wears on.
Ryder and Peverley are two players who can expose defenses and goaltenders just like Horton could, and now the challenge is on them to provide it consistently for rest of what is now a best-of-three series.

Guys have to step up and thats what weve been doing, said Ryder. We got back to playing our game. Were really good when we play physical and are tough on the forecheck. We went down 0-2 in the series and we knew we had to win these games at home and we did that.

Ryder, Peverley, Lucic and the rest of the Bs know that it will take a full squadronof skaters pitching in just as they did in Game 4 if they're to get the two additional wins required to drink from Lord Stanleys Cup.

It may be that Romes act of recklessness toward Horton will be the turning point that allows the Bruins to win it all, but it will take Peverley and Ryder rolling up their sleeves for the remainder of the series if the B's are to have a chance.

On Wednesday night, they proved they were more thancapable of doing the work.

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

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while enjoying Hockey Day in America. 

*Brian Boyle is the subject of trade rumors with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he wants to stay a member of the Bolts. 

*Watch out for the Florida Panthers, who swept the road trip through California and are now back in playoff position for the first time in a long time. 

*It’s great to see play-by-play man Dave Strader back in the broadcast booth doing what he does best after his cancer diagnosis. 

*Hats off to the Bruins ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, for the sweet-looking Boba Fett sweaters worn during this weekend’s Star Wars night. 

*It’s pretty amazing when you’re an NHL player and a former first round pick, and you’re the one most known for being somebody else’s brother. That’s life for Dallas Stars D-man Jamie Oleksiak. 

*Interesting piece about sportswriting, politics and a couple of worlds that were destined to collide at some point. 

*For something completely different: For the 40h anniversary of Star Wars, the toys are being used to recreate classic movie scenes. 

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons.