By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON, Mass. The sprint has started in the NHL.The Bruins have 17 games to go in the regular season, and continue to shoot up the standings as teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have suddenly hit the skids.Boston now sits only two points behind the Flyers for the top seed in the entire Eastern Conference after a season where theyve been picked apart and dissected despite having themselves a very good year. Its the complete opposite of Bostons team from two years ago, which came out like gangbusters in the first three months of the season and then hit a slight skid in the second half that they couldnt shake. And very different from last years Bs squad, which couldnt muster up enough offense while injuries dragged them down every time they seemed like they might be nearing some consistency.In many ways the Bs are set up nicely for this years playoff run, and right now it comes down to collecting points and staying healthy. Boston has done a nice job of that so far, and simply needs to maintain for another month.On to the links:With exclusive negotiating rights coming up with the Versus Network, it appears that other networks will be entering the equation for NHL rights with things up in the air for the NFL and NBA. The belief here is that the VersusNBCComcastNHL partnership is simplytoo good to notcontinue. Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury break down what both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals have going for them headed down the stretch for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk. Like Washingtons moves, but it all comes down to Alex Ovechkin at the end of the day. As for Milbury, Tampa Bay is going in the right direction but theyre also soft as can be. Predators TV announcer Terry Crisp talks memories of Calgarys Saddledome after winning the Stanley Cup there more than 20 years ago. Everybody is focused on Dustin Penners ability to merge with Anze Kopitar and the Kings top line, but its really all about the third line when it comes to LA having some success. Nobody likes the Buffalo slug. Nobody. Adrian Dater says that the Craig Anderson deal is Colorados best hope for a No. 1 pick, and Daters longstanding man crush on Anderson is well-documented. So another reason to write about him is a good thing. The Flyers have lost a couple of tough games, and Mike Richards is getting surly with the media. Looks like the playoffs are coming in Philly. Could Winnipeg finally be getting their NHL team back as things continue to crumble in Phoenix? I think everybody is hoping for the affirmative, but how many times have we heard this before. If I were Winnipeg Id be getting sick and tired of being used as a negotiating patsy. Hockeybuzz Habs writer Eric Engels documents a Twitter discussion that we had over the weekend heading into Tuesday nights showdown between Boston and Montreal. We both seem to agree that the Bruins will beat the Canadiens, and now its only a matter of whether Montreal gets crushed or not. Louise K. Cornettas always-entertaining Bruins blog with Johnny Boychuk where he talks about being scratched, Darth Quaider as a nerdy nickname and going home to Edmonton. CSNNE.coms Unfiltered which includes a few precious moments between Kevin Walsh and Iat TD Garden following a Bruins game.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.
“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.
“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”
The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.
“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”
With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.
*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.
*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.
*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.
*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.
*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.
*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.
*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.