Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

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Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With the threat of a two-minute minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct awaiting any player that throws an extended face wash, bites a finger or mockingly dangles his fingers in front of another players face, its expected that the finger play is going to cease in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

No more Maxim Lapierre finger-dangling, Alex Burrows finger-biting or retaliatory finger jabs from Mark Recchi or Milan Lucic. The message was sent loud and clear from Bostons side in a scolding by Claude Julien amidst the victorious Game 3 festivities, and it was backed up by the NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, in a discussion with the media during the Tuesday off day.

A habitual line-crosser like Brad Marchand knows that the series will still hold plenty of fury, intensity and physicality, but it appears as if the finger stuff has been played out three games into the Stanley Cup grudge match.

The finger stuff doesnt prove anything," Marchand said. "It doesnt do anything. Its good for a laugh or two, but for the most part its not effective. You dont want to be sitting in the box because of it. You can only see that so many times before its old news. Were done with the finger stuff.

While the killer face-washes are certainly going to be curbed on Wednesday night, it appears that just about everything else will continue to be in play between two teams with a huge game for control of the series.

"We're all fighting for something we've wanted for so long, Marchand said. Both teams won't let the other one take it from them.

If the Canucks take Game 4 and push a 3-1 lead in the series with Nathan Horton out of the lineup, thats a virtually impossible mountain to climb for the Black and Gold.

Meanwhile the Bruins can really push the momentum hard if they can even up the series and continue hammering away at the Canucks physically while slowing them down from their frenetic early game pace. There's an interesting pattern for the Canucks as theyre sitting at 5-5 in Games 3-5 during the middle of their four playoff series' in this seasons Stanley Cup run.

Were in the Finals right now, and the refs dont want any light calls to cost us games," said Marchand. "So the refs are not going to be calling it too safe out there. Theyll let us play and let us battle, and obviously if things get too out of control then theyll take care of it. Its the Finals. Thats how it's got to be. It has to be a battle every night with guys throwing their body on the line and making sacrifices.

Jordan Caron skated with the Bruins during morning skate for the first time during the playoffs, and will be a part of the pregame warm-up as one of Bostons 23 skaters following the season-ending concussion for Nathan Horton.

Tyler Seguin did such a good job when he stepped in and he was ready to play, Caron said. I think I just need to be ready like he was."

Marc Savard is expected to be in attendance again at TD Garden for the Boston Bruins after making it to one game during the Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Claude Julien wouldnt say whether Nathan Horton would be in attendance for Game 4 just 48 hours after his severe concussion at the hands of Aaron Rome, but the power forwards presence is doubtful given the symptoms and issues in the immediate aftermath of a serious head injury.

"I cant say one way or the other because I dont have an answer, said Julien. As you know being around a bunch of people is not the best thing for people dealing with concussions."

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

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

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Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.