Parise looking to give the Devils a home heartbeat


Parise looking to give the Devils a home heartbeat

NEWARK, NJ Two days between Game 4 and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals along with a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to lovely Newark could definitely put a crimp in New Jerseys momentum. But the Devils showed life in making it a 3-1 series after their victory over the Kings in Game 4, and Devils captain Zach Parise is looking forward to building on that momentum.

We were pretty anxious to get it going right after the last game. So were excited to play right now, said Parise. Especially since were at home in front of our crowd who has been great to us through the entire playoffs were excited to get it going for them.

The first goal is important, but I think as has been the case in most games in this series the least amount of mistakes is going to decide who wins or loses. Thats the way things have gone.

Parise hasnt registered a point and is a minus-2 in four games against the Kings thus far, and tried out some new sticks during an optional Saturday morning skate as he blasted a few hundred pucks at the net.

With that kind of work ethic Devils coach Pete DeBoer isnt concerned about his captain breaking through and helping bring the series back to Los Angeles for a very important Game 6.

Zachs game is so much more than the stat line, said DeBoer. Hes the heart beat of our team. Hes the identity of our team. He forechecks. He backchecks. He kills penalties. He plays in all situations. Hes our barometer and hes what makes us go whether hes scoring or not. I dont measure his game on goals and assists. Hes creating opportunities and eventually theyre going to go in."

Its tough right now for everybody to score and Im not concerned about his game. I know its going to come.

All that being said the DeBoer-proclaimed heartbeat of the team knows that its time for him to stand and deliver like that the guy thats scored 30 plus goals for the Devils in each of the last five healthy seasons for the New Jersey club.

The opportunities are there. Theyre just not going in, but were executing. Thats the difference. Trust me; wed all love to be racking up the points right now. But were doing other things well and thats how we judge our game.

But its always better if you can score and wind up on the scoresheet. You just try to leave it alone and not switch things up. Dont over analyze. All three of us have scored a lot of goals in this league and well continue to score a lot of goals in this league. But I think the more you think and critique it keeps going down and downworse and worse. You just leave it alone.

The Kings have to hope that Parise continues going down and down in the series, but hes generated 15 shots on net in the four games and will eventually break through if given enough time and space to attack. Thats what the heartbeat of a Cup-winning team would do with untold free agent riches waiting on the horizon.

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Don Sweeney and the Bruins aren’t expected to be big players Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline, understandable since they've won six of seven under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

But they might be feeling a little more pressure to do something as many Atlantic Division teams -- and Eastern Conference ones, for that matter -- are making moves.

The biggest headline-grabber occurred out of division as the Washington Capitals shipped a first-round pick, two forwards and a conditional second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a young goaltender. Shattenkirk will turn the already explosive Capitals into a strong Stanley Cup contender, maybe even the favorite. And the pressure's on for them to deliver, since it’s expected the 28-year-old All-Star will head to the New York Rangers in free agency this summer. 

Shattenkirk had been linked to the Bruins in the past but they weren’t about to pay that exorbitant a price for a rental, not while they're still more rebuilder than contender even as they push for the playoffs. Moreover, the Bruins weren’t going to do a sign-and-trade for a player who's going to command a seven-year, $49 million deal on the open market and would ostensibly be blocking the top-4 development of both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as stud, right shot D-men. 

Instead, expect the Bruins to invest heavily over the next year in a potential top pairing left-side defenseman who could eventually step in for Zdeno Chara. 

The highest impact moves that concerned the Bruins during Monday’s flurry of activity, however, were the divisional teams they’re competing with direction for playoff spots:

-- The Maple Leafs made a sneaky big move in shipping out a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for gritty, battle-tested, third-line center Brian Boyle, who will bring size, sandpaper and character to a young Toronto team pushing for the playoffs. 

-- Ottawa sent a prospect to Vancouver for bad boy Alex Burrows, whose claim to fame is biting Patrice Bergeron during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators and Bruins wplay each other three times in Boston’s final 20 games in the kind of matchup that could dictate the playoff fate for both clubs, and Burrows' cheap-shot antics will undoubtedly make the Sens a tougher team to play down the stretch. 

-- The Canadiens shored up their defense group by adding Dallas D-man Jordie Benn in exchange for young defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. They did so before pulling off an important, come-from-behind win over the Devils on Monday night. 

The Bruins woke up Tuesday morning still holding their third-place spot in the Atlantic Division and still very much in control of their own destiny. But there’s no denying Boston’s competitors have all improved themselves. The gauntlet has been passed to Sweeney and the Bruins to do something smart for the long haul, but to also improve right now if the right deal presents itself. 

That could mean dealing off veteran players like Matt Beleskey or John-Michael Liles if there’s an interested party. It could mean picking up a cheap rental like Radim Vrbata or Dmitry Kulikov if the price is right. Or it could mean standing pat and not messing with a team playing its best hockey of the season. 

One thing is clear: Monday's moves have increased the Bruins' degree of difficulty for ending their two-year playoff drought. 

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Patrice Bergeron said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich that he sent Claude Julien a text congratulating him on getting a new job with the Canadiens. Asked then by Fred Toucher whether he secretly celebrated that Julien might ruin Montreal’s season, Bergeron opted not to respond. 

Jokes aside, Bergeron said that while he figured that Julien would get a head-coaching job after his dismissal from the Bruins, he was surprised to see it happen in Montreal.

“It was definitely a surprise, especially that quickly,” Bergeron said. “I knew he was going to turn around and find another job somewhere in the NHL. I didn’t know if it was going to be, I don’t know if it was a week or less than a week.” 

Julien coached Bergeron for parts of 10 seasons in Boston. He is 3-2-0 thus far in his second stint with the Habs. 

“I was surprised, but at the same time, I wish him all the best,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, it’s tough to do when it’s in Montreal.”