Morning Skate 510: Don't Fall into the Trap


Morning Skate 510: Don't Fall into the Trap

By JoeHaggerty

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 Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

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.