Morning Skate 418: Pressure could shift to Habs


Morning Skate 418: Pressure could shift to Habs

By Joe Haggerty
MONTREAL All it could take is one win for things to really, truly turn around for the Bruins.It seems extremely far-fetched given the fact Boston is down 2-0 in the series and entering the Belly of Le Beast at the Bell Centre in Montreal for Games 3 and 4. It seems even more of a Black and Gold pipe dream with the way Boston's offense is struggling to do anything with consistency and all the while really missing the speed and danger factorof a natural born sniper that they hope Tyler Seguin can one day become.But just like the third goal is the most important score in a hockey games momentum and ultimatewinnability, so is Game Three of a seven game series the most important single game to win in the Stanley Cupplayoffs.
If the Habs let up off the Bruins and allow Boston to steal one at the Bell Centre whether its because Tim Thomas stepped up his postseason game or because Milan Lucic and David Krejci finally awakened out of their series-long funk then the momentum begins to shift in the entireseries.Don't think the the members of Les Habitants aren't aware of this.I dont know if its so much pressure, but theres no doubt about the importance of the game tonight, said Habs forward Mike Cammalleri, who has been very good with two points in the two games played thus far. Its almost all for naught if you dont keep going. You might look back and it seems like you put in some work and accomplished some things by winning a couple of games, but things can change really quickly.It is what it is. It can go two ways. You try and build confidence and momentum off it and play even better hockey while making it harder on the other team. Thats our goal. But theres another way it can go too.Cammalleri stopped his words right in their tracks when he mentioned another way it can go as the Habs know full well they havent received Bostons best playoff punch by a long shot. That roundhouse right could be coming at the Bell Centre, or it could be ultimate collapse for everything that's been built over the last four years.With a win the pressure eases off under-fire Claude Julien and instead crests over the entire Montreal Canadiens roster with a lot of hockey to still be played between the two teams. The Bruins have been frustrated by Montreals shot-blocking ability and world class speed along with their opportunistic skill at pouncing on each of Bostons mistakes, but that can change if the Bruins find their mojo and then escape to Lake Placid for a couple of days recovering and recharging.The Bruins know each of the five goals scored in the series have been self-inflicted gunshot wounds through sloppy turnovers, horrendous rebounds and scrambling coverage in front of the net. Its not about anger or strong emotion; its about focus for Patrice Bergeron and the rest of the Bruins. Its something Bergeron has been throughout the series as Bostons best forwardat both ends of the ice, and their de facto Captain with Zdeno Chara battling his own issues.The Bs are 0-26 when dropping the first two games of a playoff series, but theyve proven before that they can make history in spectacular fashion.We obviously need to have starts, but we also have to make sure were loose on the ice while getting results. We cant be squeezing the sticks out on the ice when we need goals, said Bergeron. Its the playoffs. We need results. Things can be fixed. Those goals were because of us. Thats one thing that weve realized.Were all aware we didnt play our best games. Its a long series. Were focused. We believe and were confident. But at the same time we know we can be better, and weve got to be better.Shawn Thornton joked that hes so focused when hes on the ice that hes like Billy Chapel out there when the Bell Centre crowd is razzing his team a reference to the Kevin Costner flick For the Love of the Game and his Clear the Mechanism concentration phrase once the game starts.The Bruins start Clearing the Mechanism tonight at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens, and will know much about their playoff lives once the 60 minutes of intense hockey has concluded.On to the links:Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray believes the Ducks have to start diving in order to match whats happening with the Nashville Predators. I guess it doesnt just happen when Boston plays Montreal. Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau sounds like he wants a stick of dynamite to blow up Madison Square Garden. At least thats his story to, and Im inclined to agree with him.Elliotte Friedman has his 30 thoughts on and has some interesting things to say about Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel. Friedman is dead on about the Chara stuff concerning Ryan Callahan, and the broken leg he suffered just weeks after the Max Pacioretty incident. Chara felt extremely guilty that his slap shot injured Callahan, and was very concerned about the New York Rangers forward given the respect level he holds for him. Sounds like theres an emotional component to the health issues plaguing Chara at this point in the postseason after hes been harangued by the Montreal fans and media.Globe and Mail writer James Mirtle wonders whether NHL fans are watching the Coyotes final days in Phoenix as Winnipeg gets ready for a team with lawyers, pucks and money.Steven Brundt also has a few thoughts on the Winnipeg area getting back their NHL team, and says its going to take a lot less than perfection for a relocation to take place at this point. I still think it will be Atlanta moving up to Winnipeg, but perhaps thats just me.Mike Milbury talked up the Washington Capitals on NBC, and says that Alex Ovechkins team looks like theyre finally hitting their potential at Stanley Cup playoff time.Sean Avery is caught leaning on his stick, and loves every minute of it.Bruce Boudreau believes that the New York Rangers are targeting Caps defenseman Mike Green with vicious hits. Not sure this is any different than any other playoff season for the Caps.NHL.coms Dave Lozo wonders if Dan Girardi is the most underrated player in the NHL today.Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while refraining from shoving any world leaders today.

*Larry Robinson and the San Jose Sharks are parting after working together for five seasons, per FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz.

*Speaking of Kurz, he also has a Sharks mailbag on which players are most likely to be traded out of San Jose during the offseason. Somebody has got to go, and you’d think it would be somebody without much tread left on the tires.

*Moving on to other topics, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said that losing a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals to the Nashville Predators was the “toughest” loss of his career. I don’t see how this is possible. You see, Kesler is no slouch at falling short. In fact, he’s a tremendous loser, having dropped a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and also having lost a Gold Medal Game for Team USA at the hands of Sidney Crosby and Canada in 2010 in overtime that was also played in Vancouver. It took a simple Google search to find an actual postgame video of Kesler crying into his hockey glove on the bench in the aftermath of Game 7 vs. the Bruins. So, pardon me if I’m not buying Kesler talking about a conference finals loss as the worst of his career when he was one home win away from being a Stanley Cup champion in Game 7, and proceeded to lose like he’s done many, many times in the most important games of his career. Dude, you’ve been through tougher losses. Trust me on that one.  

*The idea of trading Alex Ovechkin might be gaining some traction with the Capitals fan base, but it doesn’t seem to be based on reality at this point.

*The pride of Melrose, Mass, Conor Sheary, delivered in Game 7 for the Penguins as they return to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.

*Bobby Ryan said his strategy for success in the playoffs, at least in part, was staying off the phone. Maybe he ought to try that a bit more during the regular season.

*Congrats to the folks at NBC for another successful Red Nose Day that featured a reunion of the “Love Actually” cast among other things.