Paille, Ference in Chicago for NHLPA meetings

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Paille, Ference in Chicago for NHLPA meetings

The CBA season officially opened on Monday as the NHLPA Executive Board met with representatives from all 30 NHL teams in Chicago as they prepare to enter into negotiations with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on a new labor deal.

The meetings will be taking place through Wednesday at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, and there were approximately 50 NHLPA members in attendance. Bruins player rep Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference were in attendance representing the Bs. Ference was a former player rep that was involved heavily in player union activity when former NHLPA Exec Director and Massachusetts native Paul Kelly was ousted from power two years ago.

Among other things on the first day of meetings, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr offered that the NHL season could begin on time even if theres no collective bargaining agreement in place if both sides were amenable to it.

Theres nothing magic about Sept. 15. The law is that if you dont have a new agreement, and as long as both sides are willing to keep negotiating, you can continue to play under the terms of the old one until you reach an agreement, said Fehr to reporters. All I know is that in baseball, there were any number of occasions in which we played while the parties were continuing to negotiate.

Thats a nice good faith gesture by Fehr, but its hard to believe the owners will go for that on Sept. 15 if theres a chasm between the players union and the NHL with training camp reporting dates bearing down on them.

The expectation is that Fehr and his NHLPA staff could sit down with Bettman and Co. prior to the July 1 opening of NHL free agency, and begin negotiations that are expected to last at least through the balance of the summer.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

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Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

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.