Morning Skate 222: First stop in Calgary

Morning Skate 222: First stop in Calgary

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comCALGARY You know its a long road trip through Canada when the Canadian customs guy at Pearson Airport gives you the hairy eyeball when you tell him youll be in Canada for nine days covering hockey.So it will be an endurance test for the Bruins mixed in with some cool moments for Vancouver homeboy Milan Lucic, and there will be a couple of very good tests mixed in there. The Calgary Flames are the hottest team in the NHL, and the Vancouver Canucks are the class of the Western Conference with a whopping plus-60 goal differential on the season.The Flames have taken points in nine of their last 10 games, smoked the non-factor Canadiens in the Heritage Classic televised all over North America, and seem to have found their Western Canada mojo. They've put up a 15-4-5 record since Dec. 28 when Jay Feaster took over as GM of the Flames, and it appears the front office transformation was exactly what Calgary needed.Hard to believe there were ever whispers that Jarome Iginla might want out of Calgary given how the Flames are moving and grooving, but things can change pretty quickly in the NHL. Now he's just outside the NHL's top 10 with 25 goals and 57 points this season, and he's been revived by a Flames team around him that's come to life when it mattered most.On to the links:A good recap at Yahoo! Sports of the WhalersBruins alumni game that took place at a freezing cold New England venue over the weekend.USA Todays Kevin Allen takes us through the questions that still remain with the trade deadline slightly less than a week away in the NHL.A side-by-side comparison Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin of the way into their first NHL seasons. Get used to this as well be hearing a lot about it over the next few days leading up to the Oilers game.A Toronto radio interview with new Maple Leafs prospect Joe Colborne for those Bs fans out there that already miss him.Its a new dawn for the Buffalo Sabres, and much of the Sabres media contingent is pretty giddy at the possibility of money being spent and players being retained. Its pretty much the opposite of letting Daniel Briere and Chris Drury walk away after some great regular seasons.An overview by the Globe and Mail at whos left and whos available on the trade market with a flurry of deals already completed.Pat Hickey was not all that impressed with the Heritage Classic between the Flames and Habs, and its not all that surprising given how one-sided and Justin Bourne paints a pretty vivid picture of what its like to join a new pro hockey team in the middle of the season. After all, hed done it three different times before his writing career got going.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

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.