Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Hurricanes

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Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Hurricanes by a 2-1 score after the first 20 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) The Bruins were firing out of the gate in this one. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand set the tone with an energetic first shift that had a couple of scoring chances, and they kept the pressure on. When that line plays with energy and reckless abandon on the fore-check it really sets the tone for everybody else on the Black and Gold bench. That line accounted for three of the 11 shots in the first period, and members of that line were involved in both goals.

2) A special teams extravaganza for the Bruins in the first period as they scored both shorthanded and on the power play. The shorthanded goal came as the Bruins set up despite being outnumbered by the Carolina attackers, and Zdeno Chara found a cross-ice pass to Brad Marchand for a sniper shot from the right face-off circle that Cam Ward had zero chance to stop. The power play strike was what the Boston coaching staff envisioned at its perfect: Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin moving the puck and Zdeno Chara hitting the net with a wrist shot as Milan Lucic was screening in front of the net. The Bs power play is having their best night of the season thus far.

3) Anton Khudobin looks solid while making 10 saves in the first period and had a couple of very good stops among those shots attempted at the Boston net. The best was probably as he quickly moved from left to right to snuff out a Jiri Tlusty-to-Jamie McBain play on the backdoor He also took a delay of game penalty when he played a puck outside of the trapezoid a play that wouldnt be a penalty in the KHL and was perhaps the No. 1 goaltender of Kazakhstan having an out of body experience.

4) Milan Lucic drops the gloves with Tim Gleason after hed been trying to get the Canes defenseman to fight him for the last couple of years. The two big men traded a bunch of powerful punches with Gleason actually getting the better of Lucic in the bout. The Bs power forward now has two fights in five games after waiting 20 games to get into his first hockey brawl last season. The Bruins were up 2-0 at the time of the fight and did seem to lose a little momentum after they squared off.

5) Zdeno Chara leads the Bruins with three shots on net, has two points and was the focal guys on both goals for the Black and Gold. Its been a very solid start to the season for the Boston captain in the first five games.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and the Hurricanes tied at a 3-3 score after the first 40 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) Back-to-back turnovers by Shawn Thornton and Chris Kelly in the defensive zone lead to a pair of Carolina goals in the final few minutes of the second period to tie things up. Not sure its a good idea to leave the fourth line out on the ice against the Jeff SkinnerJordan Staal combo that opened it up to get things working for the Hurricanes at the end of the second. The Kelly turnover went right to Alex Semin at the blue line and he fed Eric Staal for the game-tying score. It looked like he might have been gassed at the end of a shift because he wasnt moving his feet at all. Just a complete letdown by the Bruins, and some poor shifts for the fourth and third line. Dougie Hamilton was also nowhere to be found in the defensive zone on the Kelly turnover as Dennis Seidenberg was the only backup the Bs forward had.

2) What a goal for Nathan Horton that put the Bruins up 3-1 and shows the Bs right winger is healthy and completely back to his game. He dangled through three Canes defenders including leaving Tim Gleason in the dust by the blue line before roofing a shot over Cam Ward. Hortons second goal of the season and really as good a highlight reel goal as youll see from the power forward.

3) Bruins penalty kill great again tonight. Theyve got their first shorthanded goal of the season and theyre a perfect 22-for-22 in killing penalties, and they had plenty of work in the first couple of periods in a penalty-filled game.

4) Best game of the season for Rich Peverley, who leads the Bruins with four shots on net and nearly scored on both a shorthanded breakaway and a shot from the slot. Ward stopped both chances with big saves, and then was also able to shut down Chris Bourque on a rebound attempt at the doorstep.

5) Two assists, four shots on net and a plus-3 for Alex Semin, who has always been a Bruins killer over the years. He decided to show up tonight.

RALEIGH, NC Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins taking a 5-3 win over the Hurricanes score after 60 minutes of action at PNC Arena.

1) The third line was a little bit better tonight, but still no offense and they let in the game-tying goal at the end of the second during a rare Bs collapse with a two-goal lead. Chris Kelly made the rare turnover that led to the goal, and also didnt fare very well in the face-off circle. Chris Bourque doubled his season shot output total, but also took a penalty that wiped out a Bruins PP in the third period.

2) Johnny Boychuk left the ice for a portion of the third period and it may have been a result of a couple of blocked shots in the second period. One of the shots to the footankle area looked particularly painful, but he did return for the majority of the period.

3) Milan Lucic playing the wrecking ball role rather than the offensive role against the Hurricanes. Led the Bruins with five registered hits and knocked Eric Staal out of commission for a few minutes in the third period after a violent collision in the Boston end.

4) Carolina has all of the look of a player team this year. Jordan StaalJeff Skinner and Eric StaalAlex Semin give the Hurricanes two legitimately dangerous forward lines and its a very underrated D corps with a proven goaltender. Thats a pretty good combo.

5) Nathan Horton is 100 percent back. He nearly potted the game-winner with a wrist shot from the slot off a Carolina giveaway, but Cam Ward somehow stopped the short-side wrister. Horton also hit the post in the wild scramble at the end of the third period that led to the David Krejci game-winning score.

6) Dougie, Dougie, Dougie. Assists in three straight games for the 19-year-old, who is making a major impact for the Bruins.

'No hard or fast decisions' made yet on Moore, Stafford or Liles

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'No hard or fast decisions' made yet on Moore, Stafford or Liles

BOSTON – While the Bruins will certainly face some tough decisions with their own free agents as they continue to rebuild a roster based predominantly on speed, youth and skill sprinkled with some size and toughness, B’s general manager Don Sweeney didn’t close any doors while holding exit meetings with players on Wednesday.

“We didn’t make any of that – we went through exit interviews yesterday and really just tried to go through the whole season with guys and where they were at. Then we’ll sit down as a group and make some decisions,” said Sweeney, who also indicated the Bruins were leaning toward the 7-3-1 protection plan for the expansion draft. “We haven’t made any hard or fast decisions on any one individual as of right now. We have an idea for expansion and going forward, but haven’t made any concrete [decisions], didn’t deliver any of that news yesterday.”

Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles and Dominic Moore are all veteran players set to be unrestricted free agents on July 1, and all three had varying degrees of success while finding their way in the lineup at the end of the season when it mattered most in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Stafford had four goals and eight points after arriving on NHL trade deadline day in a deal with the Winnipeg Jets, and kicked in a couple more goals in the six game series vs. Ottawa while bringing size, scoring and experience to the group up-front after arriving.

Liles didn’t play very much until the very end of the regular season when injuries began hitting Boston hard on the back and end, and had five assists and a plus-1 rating in 36 games before notching two assists in six playoff games.

Moore was the most effective of the three finishing with 11 goals and 25 points in 82 games largely on the fourth line, and was a big factor for the Bruins with his face-off ability, his penalty killing prowess and his skill to provide some secondary scoring.

All three voiced a desire to return to Boston, but also seemed to understand that the Bruins are moving ahead with youth as a major part of their reloading process.

It would obviously appear the restricted free agents David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner (arbitration eligible), Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban and Joe Morrow will be of much greater concern for the Bruins, and undoubtedly looking for raises headed into next season.

Cassidy ‘proud, honored and privileged’ after getting Bruins' permanent gig

Cassidy ‘proud, honored and privileged’ after getting Bruins' permanent gig

BOSTON – Bruce Cassidy made just a passing mention of the 14 years in between NHL head coaching gigs, but there’s no doubt the newest head coach of the Bruins thought many times about a day just like Thursday morning. 

His general manager complimented the work he did to lead the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record after taking over after Claude Julien’s dismissal and guiding the Bruins back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

“I think it was an important step and I think that our players, our core players in particular, some of them had tremendous seasons. Their demand to make sure our younger players sort of catch up and play the right way – we pushed the group,” said GM Don Sweeney. “I think Bruce, in particular, our staff and Bruce, they really pushed the group to get to a higher pace. I think our aggressive nature churned.

“I think something that I felt would be injected into our group right from Day One at practice because I know what his core principles are, and I think the group responded. The record speaks for itself.”

Cassidy embraced all of the defensive strengths of Julien’s existing system and tweaked things for chances to be more aggressive and creative in the offensive zone with a Black and Gold roster that clearly had more to give. 

Clearly, it came up short for Sweeney, Cassidy and the Bruins when their undermanned, injured roster fell to the Ottawa Senators in six games in the first round of the playoffs, but Thursday morning was a good day for the 51-year-old Cassidy after grinding his way back to the big leagues.

“I’ve made no secret that I grew up adoring this team and I’m very proud, honored, and privileged to be a part of it, and to be named the head coach [of the Bruins],” said Cassidy, who coached the Washington Capitals from 2002-04 and spent eight seasons coaching in Providence before joining Julien’s staff as an assistant coach this season. “To be quite honest, the core group, the veteran leadership, they gave me an opportunity to go in and earn their respect, and they bought into what we were selling for the most part…not for the most part, 100 percent.

“The veteran guys, they afforded me that opportunity and I can’t thank them enough. We’ve got some Stanley Cup champions in that room and it showed with the high character players and I was very thankful for that. From there, we’re trying to build something together now. That’s the process going forward.”

The numbers certainly didn’t lie. The offense went up in the post-Julien era and the defense actually performed better under Cassidy: The Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.8), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in face-off percentage (53.6) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

Anecdotally, the Bruins also performed much more consistently on their home ice at TD Garden and pulled out of the kind of late season four-game losing tailspin that doomed the B’s in the previous two seasons under Julien. It was a challenge for Cassidy taking over midway through the season without the benefit of the training camp, but it was one that embraced and ultimately excelled at in earning the full-time gig.

“It’s hard to measure the degree of difficulty [taking over midseason]. You’re given an opportunity and it’s up to you to take advantage of it and be prepared. I’ve been a head coach before so, once you’re into that part of it, it becomes second nature. I was around since training camp, so I knew the players and some of their strengths and weaknesses, how we played, where I thought we could be better, where the players were looking for improvements after talking to them quickly in those first couple of days. So, we implemented a couple of things, and off we went,” said Cassidy. “You hope that you make the right call in those areas we talked about; right away, about being a team that would play – and the term “play fast” is getting thrown around a lot out there -- but, we were going to upgrade our transition game; how we were going to move the puck quicker and attack.

“I guess that was our description of playing fast. I think it worked. It got our D involved, so you start scoring and obviously, that helped. People get excited about that – scoring goals and getting on offense. I don’t think we lost a lot on the defensive side of things. As we went along, we tried to maintain that balance. That was the message right away. Players bought in and we had success, and that obviously helps. Winning solves a lot of problems and puts a lot of smiles on people’s faces.”

The biggest smile on a face on Thursday morning was on Cassidy, who has come full circle with life experience and a second chance to be the kind of NHL head coach he always knew he could be while working, growing and succeeding in the AHL. Now the Bruins have a president, GM and head coach all working in tandem with the same philosophies and world view when it comes to how their team should play and Cassidy gets another chance to prove how ready he is for the challenge of making good on his second NHL chance.