Haggerty: Peverley, Ryder step in and step up

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Haggerty: Peverley, Ryder step in and step up

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Its obvious the Bruins have turned the ultimate negative into a positive. They've taken Nathan Hortons severe concussion, the aftermath from the suspension received by Aaron Rome for the hit on Horton and the Stanley Cup Finals drama that has intensified it all, mixed it up into a giant hockey crockpot, and made it work for them big time over the last two games.

The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 since Rome's predatory cheap shot on Horton in the first period of Game 3. Both of the key forwards used to fill Hortons spot, Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, stepped up and scored goals in their first full game without Horton. And left wingerMilan Lucic has similarly shifted into another punishing gear with his linemate down and out.

It was appropriate Peverley and Ryder both scored with the shifty Peverley potting two while filling in for the fallen Horton in Game 4. It was poetic when the concussed winger was present afterwards to present the 1980s-style Bruins Starter jacket, which the players give to the game's star, to Peverley.

An understandably emotional Horton walked into the Bs dressing room after the gameand said a few words before engaging in the jacket ceremony.

According to one player in the room, Horton said: "You guys played great. I'm happy to see you. Im kind of at a loss for words. Pevs, here you go."

With that he handed over the jacket and completed the circle of a job well done for Peverley, who paced Bostons offense in a4-0 win that evened up the series at 2-2.

Peverley was just as emotional, and beaming with as much pride as anybody else in the room.Peverley was tapped to start the game on the first line with Lucic and David Krejci, and he justified Claude Julien's faith by scoring the game's first goal in the first period.A second goal chased Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo in the third period.Peverley pointed out that both Ryder and Tyler Seguin also took an odd shift with Krejci and Lucic, but it was Peverley who took the chance and ran with it.

I think there were a few guys that were jumping in on that line, said Peverley. I just got an opportunity and Krejci made a good play to set up the first one. Lucic made a good play on the second one.Pretty simple in Peverley's eyes, but also probably short-changing his involvement in both scores.

It was most important that Peverley show some finishing touch after failing to bury some golden chances over the last few weeks. One in particular during Game 2 in Vancouver, which would have given Boston a 3-1 lead and some needed insurance, veered high and wide of the net.Peverleymissed a couple ofopen nets and stung a fewcrossbars while scoring only two goals in 21 playoff games leading into Game 4, but that all changed rapidly Wednesday night. The first goal was a clean breakaway after he used his speed to getbehind Raffi Torres in the offensive zone, and the second was a nice play to slam the puck home after Lucic threw it directly at the net with traffic all around the crease area.In both cases Roberto Luongo didn't know what hit him until it was too late. By the time Canucks coach Alain Vigneault tapped Luongo on the shoulder to remove him from the game in the third period. By then Peverley had done his damage.

Im sure it wasnt easy for Peverley, said Krejci about his new linemate. When he had the chance, he did very well. So hopefully we can keep it going. Peverley has got great speed. He played his game today, fast, and he didnt try to do extra or put any pressure on his shoulders. He just went there to play the game, and Lucic and I just helped him out.

Good for him. Hopefully we can keep it going.

Amazingly enough, Ryder also responded to the call with Horton out despite getting only intermittent chances to skate with Krejci and Lucic when Peverley was killing penalties.Ryder created some offense while skating with Seguin and Chris Kelly, and gave Boston scoring depth where there had been none in the first couple of games.
On his goal, Rydercollected a cross-ice Seguin pass and turned it into a deadlysnapshot from the outside of the right face-off circle.When Ryder is putting everything into one fluid shooting movement from one of the faceoff circles, there are few more purely beautiful hockey sights around -- and Ryder had it going on in Game 4. Thequick shooting motion allowed the shot to catch a bit of Sami Salos stick and the wobbly puck went right on underneath Luongos glove hand, which appears to be increasingly generous as the series wears on.
Ryder and Peverley are two players who can expose defenses and goaltenders just like Horton could, and now the challenge is on them to provide it consistently for rest of what is now a best-of-three series.

Guys have to step up and thats what weve been doing, said Ryder. We got back to playing our game. Were really good when we play physical and are tough on the forecheck. We went down 0-2 in the series and we knew we had to win these games at home and we did that.

Ryder, Peverley, Lucic and the rest of the Bs know that it will take a full squadronof skaters pitching in just as they did in Game 4 if they're to get the two additional wins required to drink from Lord Stanleys Cup.

It may be that Romes act of recklessness toward Horton will be the turning point that allows the Bruins to win it all, but it will take Peverley and Ryder rolling up their sleeves for the remainder of the series if the B's are to have a chance.

On Wednesday night, they proved they were more thancapable of doing the work.

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

Time for a tough transition

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Time for a tough transition

This is the fifth and final installment of a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction. 

Casual Bruins fans probably thought they were getting a Shawn Thornton-type player when Boston traded a third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Zac Rinaldo last summer.

Instead it was a deal that was a win in the ledger of Flyers GM Ron Hextall from the very second it was approved by the NHL’s central registry. Hardcore hockey fans knew the Bruins-Rinaldo marriage had little chance of ever working out.

Rinaldo is a physical player who likes to wildly throw the body around. He has above-average skating ability and is fearless, as evidenced by the much bigger, stronger players he tangles with on a regular basis. But there's no comparison between a cheap-shot artist like Rinaldo and a genuine enforcer like Thornton, who struck a tone of intimidation with opponents whenever he was in the Bruins lineup. Thornton gave the B's an air of toughness and courage, and was one of the unquestioned leaders in the dressing room, able to command both respect and accountability.

Thornton's final year in Boston wasn’t without its challenges, given the lengthy suspension he received for knocking out Brooks Orpik at center ice and the needless water-bottle-spraying incident with P.K. Subban in that season's playoffs. But one thing is certain: Thornton would never have watched Adam McQuaid get train-wrecked from behind on a dirty hit by Washington’s Zach Sill, and then simply skate to the bench. That, however, was the reaction of Rinaldo when Sill hit McQuaid this season.

Rinaldo explained his non-actions by saying he was tired at the end of his shift and wary of getting in trouble with the league. He left it to Patrice Bergeron to grab hold of Sill, even though that sort of retaliation is exactly what the Bruins were expecting from Rinaldo when they brought him to Boston in the first place.

It was similar to the hesitation 6-foot-6 Jimmy Hayes showed at times as the opposition pushed around his linemates, or took runs at other Bruins players while he was on the ice. Hopefully Hayes learned that he needs to knock that indecision out of his game if he’s going to be effective here.

But it all speaks to a bigger issue: The change in the makeup of the Bruins, and the need to get back to a tougher, more intimidating style of play.

During their seven-year playoff run, the Bruins earned a reputation as one of the hardest teams to play against in the NHL. Players like Thornton, McQuaid, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk had size and strength, and were hard-hitting and tough when it was called for.

Very few teams messed with the Bruins. If they did, there was a good chance it would explode into a back-alley brawl . . . like the night when virtually all the Bruins went to war with Sean Avery, Steve Ott and the rest of the Dallas Stars:

It didn’t matter how those teammates felt about each other off the ice. It was no secret that Ference and Mark Recchi had their differences early in their time in Boston, stemming from things that were happening within the NHLPA. But that didn’t stop Ference from jumping to Recchi’s defense when he got smashed in the open ice by David Backes:

That should be the standard for any Bruins team when opponents start to take cheap shots, simply because it makes the B's much more difficult to handle. There were too many nights last season when the Bruins simply didn’t want to battle out on the ice. Not coincidentally, there were also too many nights when they buckled under the bright spotlights of big games.

"We’ve shown some positive stretches and things that we’ve done well . . . " said Chara. "But when times were [there] to fold up or respond, we always kind of find ourselves taking steps backwards. That was one of the things that was disappointing, and frustrating."

Those things might happen a little less if they returned to the previous standard of intensity, engagement and urgency.

That might be easier said than done, but it all starts with the players the Bruins are bringing into the fold.

Matt Beleskey is a prime example of a callback to those previous B’s teams: The kind of hard-hitting, high-energy gamer who would have fit in perfectly with the Stanley Cup-era squads. While the Bruins seemingly missed on Hayes and Rinaldo, they hit -- in the best way -- with the free-agent signing of the hard-nosed, no-nonsense Beleskey. He changed momentum in games with massive hits thrown on the ice, led the club in registered hits last season, and showed up in many of last season’s big-game disappointments when so many others did not.

The Bruins simply need more players like Beleskey, and who preferably can also play the game at a similarly high, or even higher, level. 

Torey Krug is often the smallest guy on the ice, but never stops fighting against XXL-sized opponents while refusing to give in on any level. He even dropped the gloves with the massive Chris Stewart, the very definition of courage (with perhaps a little insanity thrown in for good measure).

Noel Acciari is another young player who energized the fourth line toward the end of the regular season with his fearless style of play. He's unafraid to throw violent but clean hits against even the biggest of opponents while bringing energy and thump to the lineup. He didn’t quite get the hang of the offensive game at the NHL level during his brief audition, but the hope is that will change with a little more experience.

Players like Beleskey and Acciari speak to the Bruins’ acknowledgement that regaining their traditional identity is important, and it’s something they did intermittently last season.

“I still think we have room to improve in that area," said president Cam Neely. "I believe the group [last year] was a closer group; they enjoyed playing for each other and working hard for each other. I thought . . . aside from a couple stretches, we were a team that showed more passion probably than the year prior. But it’s still an area we need to improve upon.”

Most importantly for Neely, general manager Don Sweeney, coach Claude Julien and the Jacobs' ownership group is the need to understand how important their fan base feels about that style of play. The loyal Bruins followes can forgive quite a bit if they feel their team is hustling, working hard and fighting for each other at every turn.

That’s the bare minimum the Bruins should be striving for next season. A lot of good things could start happening if they get back to those basics. 

GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed

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GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed

In an all-CSN edition in the 15th episode of the Great American Hockey Show Podcast as co-hosts Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy welcomed SportsNet Central anchor Mike Giardi to discuss the current B’s situation and conducted a wide-ranging interview with Sports Tonight host and Felger and Mazz co-host Michael Felger about his time covering the Bruins as a beat reporter, where he developed his love for hockey and his pathway toward becoming the most influential figure in the Boston sports media scene.

Perhaps most interesting from Giardi’s segment was his take that “nobody should be untouchable” on the Bruins roster, that includes franchise player and future captain Patrice Bergeron, if the return is good enough. Felger discussed who he’d move between Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask to change up the Bruins roster this summer and how gravely concerned he is about the health and well-being of the franchise coming off two seasons out of the playoffs.

“I’m fearful, of course. I think the passion of the Bruins fan base is still there. We could do four hours on the radio tomorrow talking about the Bruins, and totally bang it out with callers,” said Felger. “So the Bruins are so lucky that the fans are that passionate. But if it’s too long of a drought, we all lived through 2005 and 2006 coming out of the lockout. It was dark, and we have the capacity to go back there.”

For the full Great American Hockey Show podcast check it out below: