Haggerty: Recchi's aim (at Habs) is true

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Haggerty: Recchi's aim (at Habs) is true

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

Mark Recchi isnt out of his mind, and he certainly isnt a stupid man.

The 43-year-old future Hall of Famer holds purpose to his words at all times and has a knack of saying exactly what his team needs to hear when it needs to hear it. Its a time-honed skill somebody attains after spending decades in NHL dressing rooms, and has developed a clear understanding of the natural rhythms of a season.

So when the 20-year NHL veteran spoke to CSNNE.com contributor Mike Felger on his 98.5 the Sports Hub radio show Wednesday, he had to know what he was doing.

Recchi agreed with Felgers assertion that perhaps the Canadiens embellished Max Paciorettys health situation a little bit while desperately trying to lobby for a Zdeno Chara suspension.

Hes okay and hes getting better, Recchi said. I mean, we know Pacioretty was at a movie, I mean he wasTweeting at a movie five days later. You know, obviously, if you have abad concussion like this, youre not going to be at a movie. So wereglad in that sense that hes getting better, but it was a hockey playand the injury happened.

The Bs veteran was then presentedwith Felger's long-stated theory that the Habs have embellished injuries for calls inthe past, and the question as to whether there was some overstatement of Paciorettys severe concussion by Montreals hockey club.

Well,I mean, he does have a fractured vertebra, but the concussion wasreally a non-factor. Maybe a day he felt it and then he was fine acouple days later, said Recchi. I believe, yeah, they were trying toget Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit. I guess interms of that side, you have to look at it and I guess they were tryingto do what they could to get him suspended.

Sure, Felger can be convincing, making outlandish declarations sound like common sense, but even hes not skilled enough at radio interviews to trap a wily veteran like Recchi into saying something he doesnt want to particularly on the eve of the biggest game of the season for both clubs.

Theres no question the Habs had motive to trump up Paciorettys injuries, given the sliver of points that separate the Bruins and Canadiens in the standings, but as to whether or not they actually did it, well, thats a strong accusation.

Its even stronger still when its acknowledged Pacioretty fractured a vertebra in his neck, and was knocked out cold on the ice after Chara ran him into the Bell Centre stanchion.

But Recchi believes there might have been some gamesmanship going on by the Montreal franchise to get Bostons irreplaceable stalwart defenseman out of the lineup.

Later, Milan Lucic appeared on the same radio station and had similar sentiments when asked about Paciorettys miraculous recovery from a Grade 3 concussion and talked about the personal experiences hes had with Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard and the severe concussions that kept them literally in the dark for months at a time.

I remember it like it was yesterday when Patrice couldnt even get up to open the blinds in his house for two months, said Lucic. If you ask Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby who suffered a concussion right after the first of the year, Im pretty sure hed tell you that he hasnt been able to go to the movies over the last two months.

Both Lucic and Recchi have stressed throughout the last few weeks that the entire Bruins organization was glad to hear Pacioretty was going to fully recover, and it seemed this embellishment had more to do with the organization than the individual player.

So what could be possibly have been gained by Recchi and Lucic taking the bait with talk of Paciorettys concussion?

How about a leadership move by a couple of big personalities within the Bs dressing room capable of taking some of the considerable media heat off Chara and instead putting it on themselves with their comments? Chara was staked out by the teeming number of Montreal reporters at an off-day practice on Wednesday, and its pretty clear at this point hes had to deal with more than his share of questions, angry comments and vitriol after the Pacioretty hit.

That media fever pitch would become even worse if the Bruins and Habs engage in a first-round playoff series as seems likely to happen at this point.

If Recchi and Lucic can take some of that withering scrutiny away from Chara with emotions running on both sides and the Bs needing every last bit of menacing intimidation that their 6-foot-9 defenseman can bring to the table then perhaps their goal was accomplished. Chara has been good in the six games since the Pacioretty incident with 2 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-5, but theres only so much one player can handle before cracks start to show.

Recchis comments could also serve as a way to provoke the Canadiens players into a more emotionally charged response Thursday night a plan that backfired on the Habs the last time they were on the Garden ice racking up 187 penalty minutes amid bloody defeat.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned both GMs Montreal's Pierre Gautier and Boston's Peter Chiarelli about a repeat of that gong show this time around, but the Bruins know that physicality and intimidation are keys to their success.

We cant lose that edge, said Lucic. Its unfortunate that a guy got hurt on a hockey play that weve seen 1,000 times before. We cant lose that edge, and we still need to play physical.

The Big Bad Bruins have circled the wagons to protect one of their own, regained the swagger they lost somewhere along the way after Pacioretty was wheeled off the Bell Centre ice, and know a clean two-point victory can virtually lock up at least the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thankfully itll be less about explosive words Thursday night, and all about the two teams colliding one last time on the ice after weeks of hype, harsh accusations and dopey 911 calls.

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

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

There’s been smoke for weeks signaling trade talks between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, and things are reportedly heating up with the Bruins potentially reaching a tipping point with their subpar play on the ice. According to Bleacher Report columnist Adrian Dater, things may be progressing between the two teams because the Bruins are beginning to entertain the idea of trading away 20-year-old top pairing rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Bruins Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. was expected to be out in Colorado scouting the Avalanche/Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, and perhaps getting a long look at players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie among others.

The expectation is that 24-year-old Landeskog is in the middle of these trade discussions, and that he would be one of the players targeted by a Bruins team that could use more size on the wing, and more players that can put the puck in the net. Certainly Landeskog has done that in his brief NHL career after being a No. 2 overall pick, and has four 20-goal seasons on his resume prior to a disappointing, injury-plagued current season in Colorado.

The word around the league was that talks fizzled between the Bruins and Avs previously when Joe Sakic asked about the availability of the Colorado Springs native Carlo, and those discussions hit the same crunching roadblock that Winnipeg did in discussions with Boston about Jacob Trouba.

Perhaps that has changed in the last 24 hours after Cam Neely and Don Sweeney watched their Bruins completely no-show against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders, on Monday afternoon. Now one would expect that Bruins management is getting desperate feeling that a third “Did Not Qualify” for the Stanley Cup playoffs could be in their future if they don’t make a bold, swift move to shake up their dazed hockey club.

But let’s not pull any punches here. The entire Bruins management group should be fired on the spot if they trade a 20-year-old, top pairing shutdown defenseman on an entry level contract like Carlo unless they are getting a bona fide superstar in return. Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak should all be young, untouchable assets for a Bruins organization that is years away from legitimately holding a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Landeskog is not a bona fide superstar. He’s a good player that’s topped out at 26 goals and 65 points in the NHL, but he’s also the Captain on a horrendous, underachieving Avalanche team over the last three years.

If the price were right for Landeskog it would make all the sense in the world for the Bruins to deal him, but it’s a giant honking red flag that Colorado is looking to unload a player like him that’s signed for a reasonable $5.5 million price tag over the next four seasons. Teams don’t trade young players like that with term unless there’s more to the story, and that’s something the Bruins would do well to consider before giving up a player that could be a top-4 shutdown defenseman in Boston for the next 10 years.

Teams like the Bruins that are in reloading mode also shouldn’t be trading 20-year-old players for 24-year-old players that have already cashed in on their second contract. That’s exactly how the Bruins can get right back into salary cap trouble, and do it with a team that’s producing far less than the Peter Chiarelli groups that were at least still making the playoffs.  

Certainly the Bruins have other young D-men like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon coming down the pipeline, but none of those defensemen are in the mold of a true shutdown D like the 6-foot-5 Carlo. With Zdeno Chara in the final few years of his career with the Black and Gold, the B’s are going to need Carlo to slide into that defensive stopper role given his size, strength, wing span and willingness to do the dirty work the D-zone.

That goes beyond the simple fact that rebuilding the back end with ALL of those young stud D-men is the best way to actually build the Bruins back up into a legitimate Eastern Conference power. 

It would be a giant mistake for the Bruins to ship away a player like Carlo with the hope Landeskog can put Boston over the hump for the playoffs this season, and perhaps ease some of the intense pressure currently weighing on Sweeney and Neely. That kind of desperate move smacks of doing it for all of the wrong reasons, and that’s one way to ensure that the Bruins will never escape the web of mediocrity that they’re currently caught in. 

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season.