By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON With snow burying the East Coast and ice storms paralyzing places like Texas, it should be an interesting week all around for the NHL.The league already had to postpone a game between the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues scheduled in St. Louis on Tuesday night, and its a much more difficult proposition to reschedule NHL games than it is to, say, replay a Major League Baseball game knocked out by rain.There isnt a lot of fat to trim from an NHL teams schedule, so it can take a healthy amount of juggling to set things right once again. Keep that in mind with the Dallas Stars attempting to get out of a crazy ice storm in Texas thats threatening to keep them grounded in the Lone Star State when they have to travel all the way to Boston for a Thursday night game.As more than one Bruins player said last night after dispatching the Hurricanes, its a good time to be going on a little homestand for a while.On to the links: E.J. Hradek breaks down the Calder Trophy race in the NHL, and needs to be clued in that Brad Marchand is both A) eligible and B) worthy of some consideration. Warning: you need to have ESPN Insider status to read the story. A good interview by CBC'sElliotte Friedman with Eric Staal during All-Star weekend in Carolina. The New York Posts Larry Brooks questions the heart of the Bruins, and said the players on the team dont care about each other. As opposed to the Rangers, who are just filled with heart and desire. Sarcasm. Donald Fehr sat sown with the Toronto Globe and Mail among several other media outlets over All-Star weekend, and introduced himself to the hockey media at large. Justin Bourne lays out three reasons why All-Star weekend lacked personality, though I think there was plenty of personality in the Friday night fantasy draft. It just didnt extend out more to Saturday and Sunday. Mike Santorelli is quietly putting together a solid season for the Florida Panthers in hockey anonymity. Funny little anecdote between Yahoo! Sports hockey blogger Sean Leahy and the St. Louis Blues mascot threatening to have a dance-off with each other. Good column from WEEI.coms D.J. Bean wondering aloud whether a goaltender like Tim Thomas should be considered the Hart Trophy. (Answer: He should.)Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.
Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.
Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:
Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:
Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:
The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:
A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?
It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.
“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”
As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps.
BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well.
It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.
“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.
“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”
At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.