Morning Skate: Thursday, May 31

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Morning Skate: Thursday, May 31

Interesting Grantland.com piece about whether size really matters for players in the NHL. Id say no in the universal sense, given that there are more 5-foot-8, 180-pound players in the world of hockey than any other sport. But what do I know?

Good piece by New England Hockey Journal scribe Adam Kaufman on Chris Bourque fulfilling a lifelong dream with his trade to the Boston Bruins.

FOH (Friend of Haggs) Nick Cotsonika with a good piece on Anze Kopitars overtime goal serving as the beauty mark on an otherwise brutal Stanley Cup Final game.

A list of potential head coaches for the Edmonton Oilers, provided by the Oilers Nation blog.

Kevin Allen from the USA Today writes that the Devils missed golden opportunities to take Game 1 from the Kings, and they may came to regret it.

Stan Bowman knows replacing assistant coach Mike Haviland will be crucial for the Chicago Blackhawks, and that begs the question why they got rid of a quality coach in the first place.

Steve Yzerman gives some thoughts on Nicklas Lidstroms retirement announced today by the Hall of Fame defenseman.

The Pro Hockey Talk boys says that the Calgary Flames will be hiring Bob Hartley as their head coach, which should make those reporting his impending job with the Montreal Canadiens very disappointed.

Great piece by FOH Alan Siegel on the Toucher and Rich show creating a unique niche in the Boston sports talk radio scene. Im very happy to be a tiny little part of their show, and not surprised by their success in the least.

For something.completely different: Arsenio Hall is in my house and hes looking for a return to Late Night. Whoop. Whoop. Whoop

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.

 

Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

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Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting for the next wave of announcements that the Bruins have signed college players out of the NCAA tournament.
 
-- Former Wild goaltender Josh Harding is finding his way after his MS diagnosis forced him out of the NHL prematurely.

-- Young D-man Seth Jones is becoming the “hoss” defenseman that the Blue Jackets will need come playoff time.

-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has Wild coach Bruce Boudreau calling a loss to the Canucks “embarrassing” as the hard times continue for Minnesota.  

-- Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney is ready to step up for the Leafs after they lost Frederik Andersen to injury.
 
-- Old friend David Warsofsky has been recalled from the AHL and will be with the Penguins as crunch time hits ahead of the playoffs.

-- USA Hockey is now reportedly reaching out to rec league and former Division III women’s hockey players to find a replacement roster for the world championships as the USA women continues their boycott.
 
-- For something completely different: We have an honest-to-goodness think piece about pulling the “Irish Exit.” Well, okay then.