Morning Skate 510: Don't Fall into the Trap

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Morning Skate 510: Don't Fall into the Trap

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON While its true that goaltender Dwayne Roloson wasnt a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning when the Bruins built a 3-1 record against the Bolts this season, there is still information to be gleaned from the four times these two teams played each other this season.Much has been made of the 1-3-1 trap defensive system that innovative Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher employs with the Tampa team, and the way it clogs up the neutral zone while softening up the opposition for a counter-attack strategy. The trendy defensive system along with the long scar on his face makes him a perfect Bond villain with the intense French-Canadian accent all he needs is a monocle or a purring white kitten in his lap to cap it all off.All Dr. Evil references aside, however, the Tampa quick strike counter-attack is one of the big concerns for the Boston offense and defense.But its also about getting pressure on the Tampa Bay defense when theyll collecting pucks in the corner and inflicting a little punishment on them that should start to take a toll as the series rolls on.I dont think you want to certainly put your whole game plan around that, said Julien. The bottom line is youve got to find a way to get through that. What theyre very good at is when they force you to move the pucks in deep, they got a defenseman there that just grabs it and shoots it right back out. So its about us getting through that, and making sure that we give ourselves an opportunity to still have the puck in the offensive zone.But we dont want to put all our attention to that. Our game plan is not going to change a lot. Theres going to be some small adjustments here and there, but our game plan should be good enough. We should be confident enough with it that we know it can continue to bring us success. Youre going to see our team play a lot the same way it has. As far as their neutral zone, its very similar to Montreal and we were able to get through that one.There will certainly be some challenges along the way as Boucher and Co. have shown willingness to game plan and adapt within games depending on the Lightning and that will be something Julien will have to combat just as fiercely as the players attempting to bust through the vaunted Boucher trap.On to the links:Bizarre interview with Uptown Hockey agency representative Todd Reynolds, who sent out some obtuse tweets on Monday criticizing Sean Avery for his stance supporting Same Sex Marriages in New York.Underachieving Sharks center Patrick Marleau had little to fire back at Jeremy Roenick with after his former San Jose Sharks teammate deemed him "gutless" on a Versus postgame broadcast on Sunday night.National Post columnist Sean Fitz-Gerald caught up with Don Reynolds from Uptown Sports Management, Todds father and the President of the company, and he somehow equated same-sex marriage to a man marrying a horse. Okay then. Red Wings areconfident they can push to a Game Seven against the San Jose Sharks, and so am I.Flyers are still in shock over the thorough beating the Bruins slapped down on them in four straight games.Detroit is crediting goaltender Jim Howard with getting them to a Game Six in the series, and that shouldnt come as any surprise to Hockey East fans out there.A nice piece in the Toronto Sun on a Three Wise Men behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and the puck renaissance thats led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in one season of rebuilding.Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports has a great piece on Vancouvers Captain America, Ryan Kesler, and his romp through the Western Conference playoffs.Elliotte Friedman of CBC with his indispensable 30 thoughts for the week and one excellent assistant coach that deserves a shot at the big time head coaching ring in the NHL.Justin Bourne takes all of the NHL floppers to task in his typically entertaining and enlightening piece in The Hockey News.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.