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

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

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Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Danton Heinen has to know he’s got a fair shot to win an NHL job out of B’s training camp if he plays with confidence and assertiveness. 

So far, that little Black and Gold carrot has served him well in the preseason. The 21-year-old winger has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason appearances for the Bruins. He will be pushed back into the lineup again vs. the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The difference this time around is Claude Julien will be behind the bench once again for the Bruins after his time with the World Cup of Hockey and the B’s lineup will start to take on more of a real NHL feel with David Pastrnak and David Backes entering the mix.

Julien has liked what he’s seen thus far out of the University of Denver product, and clearly he’ll keep getting looks as long as the production and good work ethic are there.

“I think he’s been a real good player. He’s a smart player that seems to be heady and sees the play well. He seems to be in the right place and understands the game,” said Julien. “The hockey sense is something that you either have or you don’t, and I think he has great hockey sense. It certainly makes a great hockey player. I’ve liked him so far and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.”

One other thing is certain: wing positions are open on the roster with Frankie Vatrano out for three months and Jimmy Vesey sharpening his skates at Madison Square Garden as a New York Ranger.

“We have to keep an open mind.  Frank Vatrano is hurt, and we kind of felt that he was going to have a really good start to this year. His confidence seemed to be at its highest, and the World Championships were good for him,” said Julien. “We have to look at what we have for a replacement. We went after Jimmy Vesey and we didn’t get him. So there are some spots that are open, and there’s no doubt about it.

“I’m going to be looking at compete level and I’ll be watching for the next three games to see who can fit in those spots. There are open spots, so it’s not cut-and-dried like a lot of years when it has been.”

Clearly, the high-end offensive skill is there after posting 36 goals and 93 points in his first two years at the University of Denver prior to going pro, and Heinen has a dollop of pro experience after getting into three AHL games with Providence at the end of last season. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder showed off the playmaking ability setting up his teammates for chances in Friday night’s win over the Red Wings, and then finally scoring at crunch time in the third period when the coaching staff moved Zach Senyshyn to his opposite wing.

Both of his goals in this preseason have been tying scores in the third that factored prominently in the game’s outcome. That’s been impressive for a young prospect in his very first NHL camp.

But Heinen claims there is still more to come in his game, and that’s encouraging. He’s just starting to get comfortable as a player that uses his vision, hockey IQ and passing to generate loads of scoring chances when he’s on the ice.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve felt better as things have gone on, and I felt better [on Friday against Detroit] than I did in the first game,” said Heinen, who finished just behind a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin for the NCAA scoring title as a freshman a couple of years ago. “I just need to keep getting better. I think I have a lot more to give. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, and we’ll see what happens.

“I think I’ve rushed a few plays where I feel like I could hang onto [the puck] and make a smarter play. So it’s little things like that. As I play a little more then I get more comfortable hanging onto it, so I hope to do a little more than that.”

It will also be interesting to see how Heinen responds to again being in the B’s lineup on Saturday for back-to-back, physical preseason games when the NCAA schedule can be a bit more spaced with weekend games. 

There are other candidates like Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn that have enjoyed solid training camps to date for the Bruins, but it feels like Heinen is starting to push ahead for one of those winger roster spots Julien has in mind as he watches these final four exhibition games leading into the regular season. 
 

Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

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Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while gearing up for Big Papi weekend.

 
*A “behind-the-scenes” look as Jimmy Vesey was sold on the New York Rangers, but there’s not too much detail about the pitches from the other teams. Feels pretty apparent at this point that Vesey wanted to live, and work, in New York City.

*Damien Cox says that the World Cup of Hockey better get it right the next time, or else…or else what, Damien? You’re going to block them on Twitter?

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban making their preseason debuts on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak will play their first preseason games for the Bruins as well.  

*It’s a complicated, strange story with Vladimir Sobotka, the KHL and the contract he seemingly can’t get out of to again play for the St. Louis Blues.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is ready to get back to work with the Arizona Coyotes after his World Cup experience.

*San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier is out for the next month with mono, which is definitely worse timing than Zach Senyshyn getting hit with the mononucleosis bomb over the summer.

*A quick look at the Philadelphia Flyers in advance of their preseason meeting with the Black and Gold tonight, which won’t be televised.

*For something completely different: there will be some pretty funky stuff happening on The Walking Dead this season.