Haggerty: B's lacking effort as season ends

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Haggerty: B's lacking effort as season ends

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Its a good thing Shawn Thornton assembled the Bs energy line back together, and decided to carry his indomitable grit, heart and spirit to the rink rather than complain about the 40-stitch cut over his right eye.

For some, the close brush with possibly losing an eye or suffering a brutal scar would at least keep them out until the playoffs starts. But not Thornton. He and his line used Wednesday's game against the Islanders as a celebration that their hard-working trio was back together, and one of the best fourth lines in the NHL this season.

That was good for the Bs, as there werent many people in Black and Gold uniforms geared up for a nights work with so many things locked in for the playoffs with only two games to go. The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton was on cruise control after a strong scoring chance on their very first shift of the game, and managed only a single shot on net, from Krejci, before the Czech Republic center was replaced on Bostons top line by the gritty, gutty Chris Kelly. "Lucic and Hortonended up with no shots on net. So I think we expect a little bit more and, you know, so we madea change there," said Claude Julien. "Maybe putting a guy that was going to be a more straightforward guy might have helped and David Krejci playing with some other wingers just to kind of spark things up. So Im not blaming one or the other; I think that whole line was flat tonight. So we had to split them up."

Despite a group of the players that came to the TD Garden seemingly afraid of getting their noses dirty or risking injury only two games away from the postseason, the Bruins still had just enough for a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.

Coach Claude Julien was under no illusions about what hed watched for 60 minutes against one of the worst teams in the NHL a club that has long since been eliminated from playoff competition and really had little to play for aside from next season's employment.

Our best players certainly didnt make a difference, and who made a difference was our fourth line," said Julien. The Gregory Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us. But its one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think theres a challenge there.

You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there are a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the postseason. So those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.

It was a good rebound victory for the Bruins coming off the Rangers meltdown, and kept Boston in position to potentially hop over the Philadelphia Flyers for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. But there was sloppiness, softness and laziness all over the ice when things need to be tightened up for the Stanley Cup run.

I mean, there were some lapses," said Thornton. "But we just have to play our game and not worry who were playing against. When were playing our style of game, were a really, really good team.

When we get away from that, weve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan, well be a pretty good team.

But Bostons top two lines arrived on Causeway Street with a stack full of envelopes and stamps ready to mail in their performance. It was instead left up to an energized fourth line to produce goals by Thornton (in the final second of the first period) and Campbell (through Rick DiPietros pads in the second period) that gave Boston its 101st point of the season.

Ridiculously talented Isles rookie Michael Grabner powered the New York attack with a pair of goals that made it a tight one-goal game, but fellow fourth-line inspiration Daniel Paille helped preserve the win with a gutsy blocked shot in the closing minutes of the game.

With playoff roster spots under competition, it was only appropriate the Bs fourth line came out firing with an overpowering shift midway through the first period. Some interior passing freed up both Paille and Thornton for big shots off the pass in the Isles end of the ice, but DiPietro stumbled, blocked, absorbed and stuffed his way to 14 saves in the first 20 minutes.

But the Bs energy line wasnt deterred, despite DiPietros ability to make a solid body save on Paille in the final five minutes of the period.

Finally, shots by Campbell and Paille softened things, and Thornton charged the net with a refusal for anything less than a goal. It finally came with one-tenth of a second left in the first period.After Tomas Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg both made good efforts to keep the puck in offensively, Paille knocked around Dylan Reese in front of the net and Thornton crashed the front to pop the loose puck past DiPietro.

That goal came from a player hell-bent on doing whats best for his team, and it also served as notice that Thornton, Campbell and Paille were once again much more than a trio of fourth-line plumbers some feel are unworthy of ice time and significant shifts in the playoffs. The 10 goals for Thornton this season was something even the good-humored enforcer couldn't play down after the game.

Expect to see more of the same over the next days from Boston's heart and soul playersas the B's await the beginning of the playoffs April 14.

We just try to keep it simple and provide energy for the team. Our job is not very complicated, said Thornton. We have to work hard, we have to be first on every puck and create chances and be strong defensively.

I felt like there was a little chemistry with us tonight and we were fortunate enough to be able to put goals in."Hopefully their teammates will decide to snap out of it and join them.

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

Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

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Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at how good the Justice League and Wonder Woman trailers were this weekend.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has veteran center Dominic Moore mulling a couple of offers as he looks for an NHL contract for next season.

*Jordan Eberle joined Canadian sports radio, and agreed that something needed to change with the Oilers after continually missing the playoffs.

*I will miss Jim Prior’s trademark “The Teams are ready, so let’s play hockey!” open to every game as a PA announcer, and I’ll miss his warm personality around the rink. It’s a sad day for the BU hockey program.

*The Arizona Coyotes continue to put together a very interesting D-men picture by signing Luke Schenn to a two-year contract. For my money, Schenn has long been one of the most overrated players in the NHL.

*The Hockey News’ Mike Brophy has some thoughts and observations about the NHL offseason as it continues to wind on.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Stubbs on Andrei Markov and his candid thoughts on everything from the Montreal traffic to the PK Subban/Shea Weber trade.

*Here’s a spot to track the travels and stories of the Pittsburgh Penguins amid their summer with the Stanley Cup.

*For something completely different: as mentioned above, here is the trailer for the Justice League that shows a much lighter, better touch with what should be a fun movie to watch. Hopefully this means it won’t be another pretty-looking, Zack Snyder funeral dirge.

 

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

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Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while everybody is working for the weekend...or during the weekend.

*The vice-presidential candidate for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, made quite an impression while hanging out a Capitals game with MC Hammer. They call this guy boring, but that doesn’t sound very boring to me.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bob Stauffer has the news that the Edmonton Oilers are parting ways with fancy stats lad Tyler Dellow. Boy, it seems like some teams are reversing course pretty quickly on some of these smarter-than-thou advanced statistics types, aren’t they? I certainly wish Dellow well and hope he finds another gig. But Instead of baselessly wondering whether the Oilers are going to continue down the fancy stats road (which they most certainly will), perhaps this is more a referendum on nonsensical stats-driven decisions like handing out that long term contract to a perpetually underachieving Benoit Pouliot.

*The New York Rangers have locked up Chris Kreider to a four-year contract at a reasonable number, and now he has the time with the Blueshirts to see how good he can be.

*Brian Leetch opens up to the Players Tribune about his NHL experiences playing with the New York Rangers, and all of his favorite experiences from a Hall of Fame career.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says that Carey Price’s injury from last season is no longer a concern, according to Habs coach Michel Therrien.

*The Chicago Blackhawks will appear a whopping 21 times on national television across the NBC Networks next season.

*Incoming BU goaltender Jake Oettinger is among the names to look out for at the 2017 draft, according to the NHL Central Scouting bureau.

*Travis Yost says that the Carolina Hurricanes are on the rise thanks to winning the shot differential battle. I think it’s because they have an outstanding cast of young defensemen, who are helping them control the puck and win that shot differential battle. But they still need to score more if they’re going to really be a team on the rise, so we’ll see what happens there.

*For something completely different: for those that think I’m a Democrat because I am anti-Trump, here’s a story on the DNC machinery attempting to torpedo Bernie Sanders during the presidential campaigning over the last year.