Haggerty: Sixty minutes from the Stanley Cup Finals

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Haggerty: Sixty minutes from the Stanley Cup Finals

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA Just 60 minutes of solid hockey stands between the Boston Bruins and the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Bruins havent been there since a 1990 matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. But now its so close to a reality that the Bruins can touch it, and it seems even more attainable when Tim Thomas is pulling his Superman act between the pipes.

Mark Recchi is the only member of the Bruins who was actually in the NHL that year. Though he wasn't with the B's then, he knows what it's like to make it to the Cup finals and win. The 43-year-old certainly knows that these Black and Golden opportunities dont come around very often. And he knows that, for many of his teammates, it will never come again.

Recchi won his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 on a team loaded with talent, and he relives the moments of that first Cup experience each time he moves ahead with these Bruins as their elder statesmen and on-ice leader.

Im still great friends with a lot of those guys on the 1991 Penguins," said Recchi. "Thats the nicest thing. You have a bond thats never broken when you win a championship together. Its something you hold for the rest of your life. The great thing about 2006 when he won again as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes is that I was able to watch and enjoy it a little more because Id already won a Cup in 1991.

You really take it all in more. You watch how guys react to things and you enjoy it. You see how guys are handling things, and maybe not handling things. Its fun to be around it. This is the time of year that guys love to be involved in.

Its the time of year where its up to the Bruins to come out hitting, scoring and flying just like they did against the Flyers in the final game of the last round. The Bruins piled it on early with strength, skill, speed and anything else they could think to throw at the flagging Flyers.

Thats the same game plan they should have Wednesday night against faltering goaltender Dwayne Roloson and a sagging Lightning defense corps.

Its amazing that the Bs have encountered fluctuating goaltender situations in each of the last two rounds against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, because Boston has enjoyed an overwhelming advantage in that category.

Even so, and even with a series lead, they don't want to sit back and wait.

Theres nothing to worry about it. Theres no pressure. You just go out there, play your game and lay it on the line, said Recchi. You put everything you have into Wednesday night and if it doesnt happen then theres a Game 7. Were going to go out, enjoy it, have fun out there and focus on what we do well as a hockey club.

The guys are excited. This is a great opportunity to end things right now, and were ready to give it a go.

The Bruins have been in these spots before, of course.

They need only look at their last game against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum as a cold shot reminder what happens when things get a little too quick and easy.

The Bs continue to gather a little too much giddiness in certain situations, and constantly battle the balancing act of complacency and lost confidence once things suddenly take a turn. Its a toxic cocktail once it takes effect on the ice as it did in the second period of Game 4.

The Bruins hope to avoid that at all costs, as well as avoid a gray-hair-inducing Game 7. Claude Julien doesn't even want the possibility of a Game 7 to enter into the teams consciousness.

You want to have a mindset of winning Game 6. We talked about it. Don't think ahead and don't think of the past, said Julien. We need to think of the present. Tomorrow is an opportunity to come out and play the best game we can. It's as simple as that.

The Bruins are resilient, and they have fought back from both epic losses and overwhelming odds this season.

The 0-2 series comeback against the Montreal Canadiens was storybook stuff, and there were multiple regular-season losses that registered in the gut punch variety. Perhaps none were a bigger kick to the stomach than Chapter 1 and 2 of the Max Pacioretty saga with the Bruins a pair of regular-season losses to the Canadiens that left plenty of hard feelings and soul searching in their wake once the scrapping Montreal forward got involved. Zdeno Chara went through his own personal trials in the final month of the season and through the first round of the playoffs, but both the player and the team are ready for anything now.

The Bruins are different this season, and theyve proven it time and time again. They did it again in Game 5 against the Lighting at the Garden, and much of it comes from an even-keeled philosophy thats the opposite of last seasons celebrating when the team went up 3-0 in the series against the Flyers.

There are no longer many questions about elite Bs players like Chara and Thomas after beating down the Game 7 ghosts against Montreal and then vanquishing the Flyers but they cant start building their own Bruins legends until they have a Cup of their own to share with the high standard City of Champions in Boston.

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

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.