WINNIPEG As debuts go it was both inauspicious but solid all at the same time. Thats exactly what the Bruins expected from 38-year-old Jay Pandolfo when they signed him last week to a one-year contract as forward depth in this atypical 48-game regular season, and thats exactly what they got.
Pandolfo skated on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton and finished with 10 shifts for 6:48 of ice time in Bostons 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. The veteran winger even doled out three registered hits in true Black and Gold fashion, and registered time on the penalty kill in the third period with the game on the line.
It was exactly what Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli pictured when signing him: a battle-tested veteran player that can jump right in if injuries or circumstances create the need for an extra forward. Milan Lucic had to go back to Boston for personal reasons on Saturday, and the Burlington native was ready to make his Bruins debut on Sunday.
It wasnt bad after not playing for a while. Im sure itll get better as I keep playing, said Pandolfo. Ive been doing the penalty kill stuff in practice, so I figured if one of the regular guys was in the box then Id get some time.
Claude Julien said that Pandolfo has been in every meeting and gone through every drill with the Bs penalty kill unit since the beginning of the season, so there was no hesitation putting him into the special teams mix with the game on the line. Once Rich Peverley was whistled for the third period penalty, it was go time for Pandolfo.
Hes been in every penalty kill meeting weve had all year," Julien said. "Whenever weve been at home hes been there listening, so he knew what to do. Hes a great penalty killer and weve got some guys that do a really good job.
I didnt want to give him too much in his first game if I didnt have to. But the plan was if one of our regular killers was in the box that hed get the call, and thats the way it worked out.
Pandolfo said the nerves werent too high prior to the game against Winnipeg, but he expects it will be a different story when hes playing in front of friends and family at TD Garden. That can bring the butterflies even for a 38-year-old who has seen and done just about everything in his long NHL career.
The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season.
Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate.
Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode.
Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break.
"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."
Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.
*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.
*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.
*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.
*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.
*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.
*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.
*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.