By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will begin the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Vancouver Canucks and the winner of the San JoseDetroit series won't start the Western Conference finals until Sunday night due to a System of a Down concert and a Sears Stars on Ice show later this week at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. By starting BostonTampa Bay on Saturday instead of Thursday, the NHL avoids the two conference finals being staggered by three days and two games. (If they'd started Thursday, the Bruins and Lightning would have played Game 2 on Saturday . . . meaning they'd have already played twice before the Western teams had played once.)
The "Toy Story 3" ice show will be at the St. Pete Times Forum from May 19-22, but Games 3 and 4 will still be played there during that time.
Saturday, May 14
Tuesday, May 17
Thursday, May 19
Saturday, May 21
Monday, May 23
Wednesday, May 25
Friday, May 27
-- if necessary.All games will be televised on VERSUS except Game 4, which will be televised on NBC.Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL.
The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season.
It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents.
“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”
Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari.
“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”
That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo.
*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other.
*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week.
*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda.
*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out.
*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL.
*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.