Morning Skate 127: The NHL needs The Great One

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Morning Skate 127: The NHL needs The Great One

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The commemoration of Wayne Gretzkys 50th birthday should have been a celebration of everything that marked the career of The Great One and his brilliance in the 1980s, when the NHL was making a surge forward in terms of popularity and scope.

But instead it was more of a Where is Wayne? game filled with disagreements over his departure from the Phoenix Coyotes and his current estrangement from the NHL, which needs him so badly. Not sure if it will take another coaching gig I think Gretzky might have fallen into that category of great player that might not have been perfect for the coaching job but Gretzky should be involved as a general manager, owner or simply an ambassador to the game.Mario Lemieux has performed that role to a tee in Pittsburgh, and now Gretzky needs to simply find a home where he can put his own imprint as the personality behind the organization a setting that Phoenix was never ideal for.Gretzky was simply too great for that team, but its time he found something suitable for stature and returned to the game he loved and the game that loved him right back. A great account by SI.coms Stu Hackel of whats happened between the NHL and Wayne Gretzky since he left his post with the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL All-Star game is here to stay, but hopefully the Olympics is as well as its a much better advertisement for how good the game of hockey can be. Anybody want Sergei Samsonovs four tickets to NHL All-Star weekend? Celebrities for Charity is raffling them off for a good cause. Brad Marchand is scared to score, writes the Days of Y'Orr. Perhaps some of his teammates should fine a way to turn that kind of fear into production. A brief pictorial history of the Anaheim Ducks as All-Stars, some of them were even Mighty: who could forget Guy Hebert? Well, okay so maybe I did. The All-Star break came at the wrong time for the New Jersey Devils and Brian Rolston, who were on their longest hot streak of the season after sucking the life out of hockey for the first three months. Apparently the Hockey News twitter account has decided that the victimization of Matt Cooke is a cause they need to take up. Some people just don't get it.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.