Ference back in B's lineup, McQuaid out

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Ference back in B's lineup, McQuaid out

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The guessing game is over as to which defensemen will hit the bench with Andrew Ference once again 100 percent healthy and ready to return against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. Ference was the first one onto the ice on Thursday morning for morning skate at TD Garden, and McQuaid was not a part of the normal pairings indicating hed be sitting for the Black and Gold.Adam McQuaid has been playing through some bumps and bruises over the last few games, and will get a rest with Ference having missed the last three games with an upper body injury.Ference seems to be good and cleared to go, said coach Claude Julien. McQuaid has been playing banged up over the last couple of weeks, and the medical staff wants him to take a little bit of a break. He could certainly play through it if he had to, but weve got a healthy back end. We might as well get them as healthy as possible, so thats a decision that we have made.McQuaid has three assists in his last four games, and has quietly become a pretty vital cog in Bostons team structure given his toughness, ability to fight and growing calm in the offensive zone. When McQuaid heals from his various ailments, Julien knows itll be a tough choice determining which six defensemen will go on a nightly basis.If they keep playing the way they are its going to be difficult, said Julien. Theres no doubt about that. Its not an easy decision to make, and if theyre all playing well Ive seen situations where you alternate to get everybody in the lineup.I guess well cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now I think our back end has been pretty good for us, and they all deserve to play. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice for the Bruins, and will get the start against the Sabres after he was pulled after the first period New Years Day in Buffalo and it turned out to be a turning point in Rasks hockey season. Ryan Miller is between the pipes again for the Buffalo Sabres and will play his 22nd game in a row a trend that isnt likely to change until the Sabres are either in or eliminated from playoff contention. Steve Kampfer said that hes having trouble breathing out of more than one nostril with his broken nose, and that the young defenseman might undergo some kind of procedure during the NHL All-Star break at the end of the month if he continues to experience difficulty breathing.Hes been able to play, but theres blood up there that have clogged his sinuses, said Julien. Its made it hard for him to breathe, but hes certainly playing through it. We know what Kampfer brings to the table, and we dont have many of those offensive-minded, mobile defenseman like he is.When you make a decision, you make it based on that as well.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats