Morning Skate 520: 'Evil' Boucher gets agitated

Morning Skate 520: 'Evil' Boucher gets agitated

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
TAMPA Lightning head coach Guy Boucher has certainly made an impression on the national hockey media during his time coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs.His explosive reaction to the Marc-Andre Bergeron elbowing call in last nights first period of Game Three is already Internet legend, and has thousands in Boston casting him as the next villainous heavy in a great hockey action picture.Theres plenty of fun to be had with the notion he looks like a James Bond villain or a henchmen from a Die Hard film given the giant scar on his cheek, the focused intensity in his voice and the exotic French-Canadian accent he speaks with. Boucher has certainly enjoyed the mileage hes received from his bench presence in the past while working his way through junior hockey and the minor leagues, but the Lightning coach appeared subdued for the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals series Friday morning after a difficult Game Three setback.There was one flicker from Boucher, though, as he flogged his team for being unwilling to pay the price against the Bruins.Boucher was asked if he was a bit agitated following the Bergeron call on David Krejci that both sides have called a good hockey hit, and he couldnt help but react to that line of questioning.A bit agitated? It's just in the heat of the moment, said Boucher. I felt the previous game that there were a lot of penalties we didn't deserve. I was probably carrying that over to that game and probably wanted to make sure that we felt strongly about that one like we did the previous game where I stayed a bit calmer.Sometimes you stay calm and it helps. Sometimes you don't stay calm and it also helps. Sometimes it doesn't help at all. So I think it's important that I act according to what I feel. It was a short burst. And it stayed a short burst. And when you look at the replay, I think I was right on. I felt it was a clean check. But I thought the referees did a very good job yesterday. It was three power plays on each side. I thought they kept the game under total control.The Lightning need a lot more than a short burst on Saturday afternoon if theyre hoping to get off the mat against the Bruins.On to the links:Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman likes the evolution of Lightning troublemaker Steve Downie, but there is still evidence of his wayward ways.Kirk Luedeke with a look at Tim Thomas and how his story is a clue at drafting goaltenders in the modern era of hockey.The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the Thrashers end of the relocation story to Winnipeg, and you cant help but feel bad for the diehard hockey fans in Atlanta that actually exist.Yahoo! Sports Nick Cotsonika has more on the Atlanta-to-Winnipeg move that seems just about a fait accompli for the NHL.Joe Yerdon has five morning after thoughts on Pro Hockey Talk including some theories and ruminations on the Bruins and Lightning.A look behind the curtain at the Alexander Radulov deal with the KHL, and the hurdles keeping him from coming back to the Nashville Predators.A Winnipeg web site has the top five names that wont fly for the new hockey team if they cant call themselves the Jets.A.J. Perez takes a look at the Derek Boogaard passing, and the drugs and alcohol mixture that led to his accidental death. Such a tragedy for a guy that was uniformly well-liked.SI.coms Stu Hackel takes a look at both playoff series, and correctly determines that the soft Tampa interior defense is beginning to become a problem.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.