Notes: Debunking Horton hit conspiracy theories


Notes: Debunking Horton hit conspiracy theories

By JoeHaggerty

BOSTON Theres an assumption out there thats taking root as fact when it comes to the escalation of nastiness in the Stanley Cup Final, and its totally misdirected.

Many pundits and fans have tried to take the Alexandre Burrows biting episode in Game 1 and the dangling Maxim Lapierre fingers in Game 2 into episodes that led directly to the Aaron Rome cheap shot on Nathan Horton in Game 3.

Of course there were Bruins front office folks and players that wanted a suspension for Burrows after he nibbled on Patrice Bergerons right index finger, and the Bs have wanted to completely pummel Lapierre since he was a flopping, irritating turtle with the Canadiens. Vancouver's dirt-bag duo was in the wrong for targeting the picture of hockey dignity in Bergeron after the whistle in each of the first two games, but Bergeron and the Bruins are more than capable of fighting back in that battle.

They did just that in Game 3, with Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi enjoying their get-even moments against the Vancouver rascals before a tongue-lashing from Claude Julien put them in their place.

But there's no correlation between the post-whistle shenanigans practiced by the Bruins and Canucks in the first three games of the series, and the predatory, reckless hit by Rome thats ended Hortons season. Its a major leap to say the Horton hit was caused by anything else other than a random act of violence in the playoffs that has left another Bs player dazed, confused and unsure of where he is.

Julien won't take that leap. He's watched years and years of playoff hockey where borderline hits, broken bones and even biting all have their place within the game.

I don't think one links to the other," said Julien. "What you see with the extra pushes and shoves after whistles are things you see in the playoff finals with the intensity. The referees have done a pretty good job of controlling that. I don't see an issue there. The physicality of the game has to stay there.

"I think what they ruled on is hits. Both teams, which I respect for doing that, said it was a late hit and Horton ended up with a severe concussion. Whether they agree with the suspension or not, I think we're both on the same page as far as we're trying to take those kinds of things out of the game. I've been one of those guys that has been very supportive of that throughout the whole year, even when it was our player Daniel Paille that got suspended. As I said, we're trying to get this out of the game. You can't be hypocritical about those kinds of things and that's what I'm trying to do here.

Unfortunately the Bruins have once again lost in the extracurricular battle with Vancouver, as the trade ends up being one of their most clutch goal scorers for a depth defenseman who was never a big factor for the Canucks.

Despite that, there wont be any violent retribution from the Bruins after the NHL dropped in and handed out the suspension that nobody thought it would.

The referees have been instructed to hand out two-minute minors and 10-minute misconducts for the next player that starts engaging in finger play. Coupled with a stricter line of discipline, the series should get back on track, stopping the conspiracy theorists from trying to piece everything together as they would a ham-handed X-Files episode.

One day after Shawn Thorntons big five-minute splash into the Stanley Cup Final, Julien was still raving about the impact that the Bs enforcer had on the lineup. Clearly Thornton brought some attitude and bad man swagger that had been missing, but he also created good situations for Boston with his opportunistic offense and energetic shifts. Thornton drew a hooking penalty on Jeff Tambellini that led to Bostons second goal in the exact kind of unsung contribution he provided all season.

"I thought it was important to get Shawn into our lineup, said Julien. I really commend him for the job he did yesterday. He certainly changed things a lot as far as our identity, what he brought to the table. People can look at him for his aggressiveness, but he also created that penalty that led to a goal on our power-play. He did his job and he did it well.

The ice surface at TD Garden is notoriously choppy, and its been even worse than usual as the Bs are playing at the latest point in franchise history. Boston has never played into June's steamy temperatures before, and as a result, both teams will be dealing with a bouncing, wild puck Wednesday night.

It gets hot in the arena, said Michael Ryder. I think Game 4 is supposed to be really hot, too. So both teams have to play with it. You just got to make sure you make smart decisions with the puck and keep things simple. Like I said, both teams have to play with it, so you're going to get weird bounces sometimes, pucks hopping over sticks. You have to make sure you stay strong and make smart plays.

Claude Julien said that the decision to leave the Bruins 1980s Starter-style jacket in Hortons locker after Game 3 came from his players, and he agreed wholeheartedly with their choice.

He's the one that had the jacket before and he wasn't there to give it out. We just let him keep it there, you know, said Ryder. It wasn't right for someone else to give it out when he had it the last time. We all talked about it, so it was everybody.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation


Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.