Bruins tired of talking about the past

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Bruins tired of talking about the past

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The ad showed the frantic final seconds of an on-ice battle. It was the Philadelphia Flyers, a puck-clear away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Then the ad cut to the newly eliminated Boston Bruins. They skated back to their bench. They flew home.

"WATCH," the TV instructed, "AS THE BRUINS LOOK FOR REVENGE AGAINST THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS IN THEIR FIRST MEETING SINCE BOSTON'S STUNNING DEFEAT IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS." Or something like that.

Pregame stories trumpeted the same scene, each promising a bloodthirsty Bruins team "haunted by their epic seven-game setback" and ready for a "rematch."

The ad ran before the Bruins' game in Philadelphia on Dec. 1. But that wasn't all. Not a single mention of that game, in any medium, failed to tie it to last season's collapse.

Understandable.

Of course the Bruins wanted to punish the team who beat them. They confirmed it every single time they were asked. They were pissed off. They were both unwilling and unable to forget.

And that Wednesday night, 10 days ago, they skated into the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and took what they could get: A 3-0 win. Two points. Some satisfaction.

Yet meeting the Flyers on home turf tonight will be an even more of a headhunt, right? Go get that chum bucket! Roll out the sad-Bear commercials! Dip those game previews in venom!

For us. But for them? Are the Bruins sick of the media's 2010 Revenge storyboard and ready to move on?

"Yes,'' Mark Recchi said Friday. "That was last year. It's over, it's done with. It's a new season."

The tired winger's eyes were clear when he spoke. He had just practiced on the TD Garden ice for an hour on what would normally be an off-day. It was prep for Saturday night's fight, the third game in five days. Where there can be signs of physical exhaustion in a locker room the mental strain can only be imagined.

But Recchi took the time to make sure he was perfectly understood.

"We have to learn from it, obviously. But it's over,'' he repeated. "They've got a good team now to worry about. It's always been a good rivalry for us. They've got a good team, we've got a good team, and we've got to be ready."

Teammate Blake Wheeler reacted the same way when prompted about the media's playoffs fixation. He shook his head as he shucked elbow pads and turned to his locker.

"That was last year. Guys will never forget about it but that carries no weight this year. Obviously we're always going to remember that but it's something that's gotta be kept in the past and our focus is just on the present and keep continuing to play well at home."

Can you blame them. Rehashing past failures is miserable for anyone on any plane of life. To be poked and prodded into reliving it for reporters gripping voice recorders ("React! Emote! Say something provocative!") seems like it should be in some textbook about psychological trauma. How frustrating it must be to get dragged backwards when you're trying to forge ahead.

It's not that the guys won't be hungrier than usual for a win tonight. The hunger is just channeled differently. What it can do is fuel the Bruins toward the goal of being the better team in 2010. Because Lord Stanley doesn't care if you settled last season's scores.

But what about the fans? Are they as focused on the current season? Was that win in Philly as satisfying for the boys at the bar wearing Black and Gold as it was for the Bruins? How about the three generations of Hub hockey fans gathered around that antagonizing TV?

I wonder if they want blood.

I wonder if they're fantasizing about October of 2009 when Carolina came back into Boston. The Hurricanes, of course, were the revenge foil prior to Philadelphia after ousting the Bruins from 2009's Eastern Conference semis. And talk about revenge. Boston was murderous, unleashing a beating on both the scoreboard (a 7-2 win) and the ice (92 total penalty minutes).

The fans were deranged with happiness. They celebrated in the club seats and unleashed bedlam in the balcony. A victory that complete against the wretched 'Canes who stole their Cup was better than anyone had hoped for in a regular season rematch.

Wheeler imagines the passion will be there again tonight.

"It's a huge game for the fans,'' Wheeler said. "It's still fresh in their memories... what happened last year, so they want to see us come out and play a really solid game."

After the game day morning skate, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell agreed. "Itll be hostile, Im sure, to say the least. There are probably a lot of disappointed fans that were not only at Game Seven, but that were watching at home."

There's one little hang-up to this fan fantasy of a Boston massacre, though. Boston already beat the Flyers this year, remember? So who's looking for retribution tonight?

"We played a good road game in Philly," coach Claude Julien said of the Bruins 3-0 win. "It was a battle and I expect an even bigger battle Saturday, to be honest with you. Now you got a team coming back wanting to redeem themselves and get that win back that we stole from them in their home building and I would expect it to be a tough challenge."

Hate for Philly is a familiar feeling in this city. These two teams met in the playoffs not once but four times in the 1970s. This isn't the Broad Street BulliesBig Bad Bruins clash of that era but those memories are built into the brains of many B's fans who will come roaring into the TD Garden tonight.

Last year's playoffs loss is just another layer that will eventually be buried under others, a benchmark for the momentum shifts that happen in every rivalry. Boston won the Winter Classic on an overtime goal, then the Flyers won the playoffs matchup; this year Boston triumphed on December 1 and now Philadelphia has a chance to pay them back.

And you know what? The loser will have the motivation for "revenge" when they meet again in March.

The lesson: You can't compare. The only game that matters is the one in front of you. Hartnell can jaw all he wants about the past as he did Saturday morning, "We did a great job of fighting back and ruining a night when they were supposed to win Game 7 and dominate," but if his team loses again tonight those words will fall flat.

That's why the Bruins need to be, and are ready to, move on.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

It was assumed that Patrice Bergeron will be finalist for the Selke Trophy again this season, and it became official on Thursday when it was announced that Bergeron, Ryan Kesler and Anze Kopitar were the three finalists for the award given to the best defensive forward.

It would be the third straight Selke Trophy and fourth overall for Bergeron if he can take the hardware home again during the NHL Awards in June, and the ever-humble No. 37 said he was just honored to once again be nominated.

“Being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy is a tremendous honor and one I am very grateful for,” said Bergeron in a press release. “While it is an individual award, my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well. Ryan and Anze are two elite players who both had great seasons and it is a privilege to be a finalist alongside them. Thanks to all of those who voted and I look forward to the NHL Awards Show on June 22.”

The Bruins center has won the Selke Trophy three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and has now been a Selke finalist in each of the last five seasons. His three wins are tied for the second-most in NHL history, one behind Hall of Fame Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who is the all-time leader with four Selke Trophies. Bergeron was the Bruins’ lone representative at the All-Star Game this winter for the second straight season, and was a no-brainer as a finalist given all of his defensive qualifications.

Bergeron finished the 2015-16 regular season leading the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,978) and for the second straight season led the league in faceoffs won (1,130) while finishing a solid seventh overall with a 57.1% faceoff win rate among players taking a minimum of 500 draws.

Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

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Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.

*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.  

*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.

*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.

*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.

*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.

*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.

Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

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Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

The Bruins will know a great deal more in a couple of days about their prospects for NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo this June.

The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery in Toronto on Saturday night for those teams outside the playoffs that hold first-round picks or those shrewd enough to have secured a first-rounder and still have reached the playoffs. 

The Bruins will have two first-round picks regardless of what happens: they hold their own lottery-eligible selection along with the first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks sent to Boston last summer in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks are still alive in the postseason, so the B’s second selection will be a late first-rounder.

The Bruins were the last NHL team eliminated from playoff contention, so they hold the slimmest odds of securing the first overall pick with a 1 percent chance in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.

It’s too bad because the kind of game-breaking talent available at the top of the draft is exactly what the Black and Gold franchise needs after trading away top-10 first-round picks in Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton the past three years.

The Bruins will have roughly the same odds for the second (1.1 percent chance) and third overall picks (1.3 percent chance) should they miss out on No. 1, but the chances are still slim at they will pick anywhere but the same exact 14th overall pick where they selected Jake DeBrusk last season. Should they get a selection in the top three, the Bruins would be looking at big-time center Matthews, and a pair of Finnish wingers in Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, along with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk and cousin to Jimmy Hayes).

The highest rated D-man on the board is Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chycrun, who is a player the Bruins would need to trade up for, a la their attempt at Noah Hanifin last year. The Bruins will have assets to potentially make that happen, but we all know how that worked out last season for Don Sweeney when a big part of “the plan” was moving up to nab one of last year’s blue chip D-men in the draft.   

Hopeful Bruins fans can try their luck with the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator online, but fair warning that you won’t see the Spoked ‘B’ come up very much while hashing out the order of the top three overall picks for late June at the First Niagara Center.