BUFFALO Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres locked in a scoreless 0-0 tie after the first 20 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.
1) Claude Julien playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Buffalo Sabres while making it appear that Brad Marchand wouldnt play on Sunday night, and then plugging him into the lineup at the last minute. Marchand end up skating on the left wing along with Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton while Jamie Tardif was a scratch after it appeared hed be on the third line with Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque. Instead Rich Peverley ended back with his normal linemates.
2) Good bout between Gregory Campbell and Patrick Kaleta in the middle of the first period with Campbell going after the Buffalo scrapper when he lined up Dennis Seidenberg for a hit. Campbell threw a couple of shots, and then absorbed more than a few once Kaleta got swinging. Campbell lost the bout and ended up getting slapped with a two-minute minor and 10-minute misconduct for instigating along with the five-minute fighting major.
3) Good goaltending from both Ryan Miller and Anton Khudobin. Miller made a great stop on Zdeno Chara early in the game and then stood tall for a series of shots when the Patrice Bergeron line pinned the fourth line in the defensive end. Miller stopped a couple of blasts and tips from Bergeron, but lucked out when Nathan Horton fanned on a sweet backhanded pass to the slot from Bergeron. Five shots attempted for the Bergeron line with both of Hortons attempts having been blocked by the Sabres. Sixteen shots total for Boston in the first period, which is among their highest one-period totals of the season.
4) Kaleta has three hits in the first period despite missing five minutes with the fight and is doing his agitating best while Cody McCormick has three shots on net for Buffalo. Their pests are doing their job tonight while Steve Ott hasnt really got his act going yet with six minutes of ice time in the first period.
5) Two shots on net for Daniel Paille in the first period as he looks like hes jumping right back in after missing more than a week. Shawn Thornton and John Scott found themselves wrapped up in a scrum near the Boston net, but I wouldnt expect anything out of those two combatants unless something goes crazy tonight in the next two periods.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while finding it unbelievable that some people are questioning the heart of Isaiah Thomas at this point.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur with a column on Phil Kessel playing all of his cards right with the Penguins. It’s something he never did in an untenable Toronto situation where he and Dion Phaneuf were expected to be franchise players instead of the “third banana” type roles they were meant for on good teams with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
That was very clear when he was with the Bruins early in his career, was not a good match with the hearty crew that ended up winning a Cup in 2011 and basically didn’t want to play for Claude Julien anymore after just three seasons. It was more clear when he pulled the same reluctant public figure card as Toronto’s high-paid star forward in the NHL’s biggest media market, and never did more than put up his numbers. Now in Pittsburgh he’s clearly well behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the pecking order, plays in a place where he can fade into the background a little bit without too many problems and a lot of his eccentricities are viewed as charming, or Phil being Phil, rather than Kessel being viewed as a bit of an odd duck or a malcontent.
But to this Bruins writer he’ll always be the guy that clashed with Julien over the stick that he preferred to use, clashed with Zdeno Chara on the ice for his work habits and was ultimately a player that wasn’t very popular at all in the Bruins dressing room despite the obvious talent and the courageous battle with cancer he waged during his first year in Boston. He’s obviously matured and is more well-rounded in some ways than his Boston days, but in many ways he’s the exact same Phil that doesn’t want to change for anybody or anything.
*Here’s the New York Islanders season in review after disappointing with a failure to get into the playoffs, and a big situation coming up with John Tavares.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen done for the playoffs after being diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome.” What a big blow to the Predators.
*The Ottawa Senators are still looking to push the Penguins to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s obviously going to be a difficult task for them.
*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean had their Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, and tackled some hot topics like the Nashville crowd throwing a dead duck on the ice.
*Ryan Getzlaf addresses the fine from the NHL for using a vulgar slur on the ice, apparently aimed at nobody in particular according to the player.
*Here’s a set of statistics that effectively sums up the pathetic regular season put forth by the Colorado Avalanche.
*For something completely different: In an interesting rumor, the Mr. Robot show creator is apparently in talks on an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie.