Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing


Marchand: Cup Finals much bigger than finger pointing

By Joe Haggerty

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 Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON -- Malcolm Subban still believes he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that sort of sheer, brazen self-confidence is admirable -- especially after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden Tuesday -- pretty much all the evidence points to the contrary. Given a shot because of injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, nearly two years after getting pulled from his only other NHL appearance when he gave up three goals on six shots in St. Louis, Subban was taken out Tuesday night after allowing three goals on eight second-period shots.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone afterwards, a testament to his maturity and mental toughness.

“It sucks," said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one . . . but what can you do now, right?

"Obviously I want to be a No. 1 goaltender in the league. I was a [first-round draft choice] for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it . . . I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts, combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft have proven their worth and advanced to the elite level: Matt Murray. Frederik Anderson. Connor Hellebuyck. Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly Tuesday in his first chance to do so.

Hampered by a Bruins team not playing well in front of him, the first goal he allowed was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third was a softie low and to the glove side, a power-play strike authored by Ryan Suter. Instead of hanging in and giving his team a chance to win, Subban helped put the Bruins in a hole they couldn't escape.

While Claude Julien felt the poor performance "could be a combination" of goaltending and overall defensive lapses, he didn't let Subban off the hook.

“There are some goals -- I’m not going to lie -- there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had," said the coach.

But he also wasn't going to place the blame solely at Subban's feet.

"[I’m] not here to talk about a goaltender -- who’s in one of his first few games -- because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him . . .  and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough. Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide-open shots from the slot -- like the Chris Stewart score in the second period 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal -- are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player (Subban) who should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first-round pick in 2012. Anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after his two Bruins appearances. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first-round bust rather than a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer if Rask can’t make a rapid recovery from his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and, to be fair, the three goals allowed to Minnesota weren't all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that he should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie who'd been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, one who's never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.