Thomas 'not calling sour grapes' on overtime goal

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Thomas 'not calling sour grapes' on overtime goal

BOSTON -- It was there for the taking. And everybody knew that one little mistake could be the difference-maker.
That mistake came in the form of a failed dump-and-change in overtime of Game 7 on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.The Bruins made the mistake. The Capitals made them pay.
Joel Ward put home a Mike Knuble rebound, three minutes into the sudden-death overtime, giving Washington a 2-1 win in the game and a 4-3 win in the first-round series that was played as closely as a series has ever been played.
Game 7 marked the fourth overtime game of the series, but the 2-1 result marked the seventh game of the series that resulted in a one-goal decision. And it was the first time in NHL history that all seven games have ended in a one-goal difference.
"It was there for us to win," said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk after the loss. "So tight, even one little mistake and they're going to score, and they did that. But that's what they were trying to do. They were just sitting back, waiting for a mistake and to capitalize, and they did."
Knuble blocked Benoit Pouliot's attempted dump-and-change from the neutral zone, and skated hard up the left wing on an odd-man rush with Ward streaking down the ice with him, to his right.
"It hit me right in the shins," said Knuble. "I knew they were all going for a line change. Ward wasn't going to get the pass. I was going right to the crease with that one. I'm glad he added the finish there at the end."
Knuble drove the puck hard to the net, with Thomas making the initial save. But Ward swooped in and put home the rebound with traffic in front, ending the Bruins' season.
"I knew he was going to take the puck to the net," said Ward. "I wasn't really looking for a pass across, and I was just trying to follow it up, just in case there was a puck that squirted loose or a rebound. I just kind of saw it and then gave it one of the hardest whacks I've ever given a puck."
Ward's "whack" ended up in the back of the net. From Tim Thomas' perspective, Knuble's body was preventing him from seeing the rebound at all.
"You see Knuble coming down with the puck and coming to the net hard," said the Bruins goaltender. "He had himself in a position, he's a big strong guy, where it looked like to me where he could cut across the net, or he could go both ways. So I had to play him straight up, and when he got closer to me, it got stuck on his backhand, so I was just trying to play him honest and wait for him to take the shot. I didn't want to go down until after he released the puck because I didn't want him to be able to go up and over my pad. And then he threw it at the net, backhand, and his momentum continued into me.
"I'm not calling sour grapes, but it's reality, and it pushed me out of the way, just enough to open up the net for Ward to put it in," added Thomas. "I didn't even see Ward put it in. I knew the rebound was going that way, but my head was probably in about his stomach."
Sour grapes or not, Ward's overtime goal put the finishing touches on a series that was played as closely as a series has ever been played.
"No doubt, it made it an interesting series," said Bruins coach Claude Julien on all of the one-goal games. "I don't know why people would even think that it would have been one-sided, when you look at their team. I mentioned it numerous times, I don't believe they're a seventh-place team. There's too much talent on that team, to be that. They righted the ship at the right time, and they're playing some great hockey right now.
"And that's what it seems to be all about in the playoffs nowadays," added Julien. "When you look at the teams that have been knocked out, it's whoever's playing their best hockey at the right time."

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

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."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

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.