By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Perhaps its the French-speaking media that converges on the TD Garden, or perhaps its the fact that Montreal and Boston is the best rivalry in the NHL.But theres a certain energy and jump in Boston when Les Habitants come to the Hub, and its even doubly so when the Canadiens have taken all three meetings between the two squads thus far this season.The last loss was an overtime defeat at the hands of Montreal in which the Habs overcame a 2-0 deficit with three minutes to go in the game before finally winning it in overtime. The game ended with Zdeno Chara and Hal Gill getting into it after Max Pacioretty shoved Chara after scoring the OT goal for Montreal, and its clear there are hard feelings spilling over tonight.It doesnt matter who were playing, I think were a better team when were emotionally engaged and physical, said Shawn Thornton. This is more about having a little bit of a bur and a little bit of an edge, and having everybody be physical. Not just some guys. When were like that were really good, and weve been good lately. Its a big rivalry. Its one of the biggest ones in sports, and I like that. I like that people are hatin on both sides of it. At least I hope so. I hope there are guys over in Montreal room that cant stand me. Thats the way it should be.With the hate brewing in Boston, here are the links: A well-done piece by the Vancouver Sun that compares Ray Emerys comeback in the NHL to the unsuccessful attempts by Bo Jackson to return to the NFL after the same hip surgery. An interesting look from Stu Hackel at the future of the NHL with the TV rights up for negotiation after this season. I have my fingers crossed that NBC and Comcast are big players in this, but have no inside info to share. Adam Proteau was again looking out for the victim Matt Cooke last night on his Twitter account, and this time compared him to a pit bull terrier bred for violence. Please. Reports out of Canada say that Proteau is rocking and curled up in the fetal position after hearing his "victim" was suspended four games for his evil hit from behind against the Columbus Blue Jackets. An interesting piece written by a Canucks blogger who loved Matt Cooke before he joined the dark side with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jeremy Roenick calls Matt Cooke chicken-bleep for his flying hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin and says that Cooke deserves a 20-game suspension. Apparently the Montreal media contingent ran rampant with a story about Hal Gill swearing at P.K. Subban for leaving his jersey on the floor of the dressing room. Arpon Basu clears the whole thing up. A good, comprehensive look by Pro Hockey Talk at Matt Cooke and why he should have the supplemental discipline book thrown at him by Colin Campbell after his latest round of dastardly acts on the ice. Are they waiting for him to kill somebody?
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. 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.