Morning Skate 59: Eastern Confernce schedule fun

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Morning Skate 59: Eastern Confernce schedule fun

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Its become the biggest guessing game in Boston.When is the Eastern Conference Final between the Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning going to get started?The NHL mandates that the Eastern Conference Finals cant get started until the Western Conference has been decided, and its going to be a bit of a squeeze looking at the schedule for the two buildings. The Bruins are moving forward with the idea that Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will commence on either Thursday or Saturday, but wont know for certain until the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks tangle at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.Meanwhile in Tampa, Disney on Ice has the St. Pete Times Forum from May 19-22 and is going to make scheduling a playoff games for those dates in Tampa next to impossible, which means the Lightning will have to get their two games in prior to Thursday, May 19 a crunch that could mean back-to-back games in either Boston or Tampa Bay before its all said and done. Toy Story 3 taking the ice in Tampa means that Buzz Lightyear and Woody will be elbowing the NHL right out of the building, and throwing a serious Pixar twist into the playoff scheduling.Obviously the extra rest time means Adam McQuaid should be fully healed from his sprained neck by the time games get going, and any additional time is a good thing for Patrice Bergerons healing process. But the Bruins would rather get started sooner rather than later, and are moving ahead with the information they have in hand with the West still remaining to be won.We had a real good meeting about that this morning with the coaches. We explained to them that we dont know if it is Thursday, or if it is going to be Saturday. I think right now as we speak Thursday would probably be the earliest because of what happened on the weekend, said Julien. But we have to be prepared for both scenarios. I have kind of prepared for Thursday and the Saturday scenario, and we are hoping to maybe get it clarified by tomorrow night after the DetroitSan Jose game. If we get that then at least Wednesday you will be heading in the right direction, and we will make that decision hopefully Tuesday night when we find out more information.No quotes from Julien about To Infinity and Beyond! as a rallying cry for the Black and Gold in this series.On to the links: CBC has some documented cases of NHL teams ignoring the concussion protocol for their players a phenomenon that seems to be happening in the playoffs with some dinged players avoiding the Quiet Room.Dandy Don Cherry on Coachs Corner giving more love to Nathan Horton and the way hes playing at a dominant level for the Bruins while looking more like the junior hockey phenom than the player that faded a bit in Florida with the moribund Panthers.Preds forward Mike Fisher gives his thoughts on the Green Men bringing a Carrie Underwood cardboard cutout to the penalty box with them in Nashville, and his reaction is priceless.Five thoughts from Joe Yerdon on Sunday nights action including Jeremy Roenick with some serious disdain for former teammate Patrick Marleau a level that even went so far as calling him gutless multiple times in the Versus postgame show. Yerdon also explains why he thinks Roenick wasnt wrong-headed in his blunt and frank assessment of Marleau'scareer as anunderachiever in the playoffs.Buzzing the Net, Yahoo! Sports' junior hockey blog explores the curious case of Ethan Werek as a cautionary tale in hockey.The second round of the playoffs means the ice surface in balmy Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena is going further than its ever gone before, and things could get bumpy in Music City as it's warming up for the summer.Mike Brophy has his top five picks for Conn Smythe, and his last for the last two weeks doesnt include Tim Thomas or Patrice Bergeron. Im going to give Brophy a mulligan and assume he hasnt actually, you know, watched a Bruins playoff game yet in this postseason. Otherwise he aint got no alibi. On the other side of the coin, TSN's Dave Hodge writes in his mailbag that Tim Thomas is the most dependable goaltender left in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Sunday, Sept. 25: Has Connolly found home with Caps?

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Sunday, Sept. 25: Has Connolly found home with Caps?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering what a crap shot this Presidential debate is going to be on Monday night.

*Brett Connolly has hooked on with the Washington Capitals, and the Caps hope they’ve found a “gem” in the former Bruins winger.

*John Tortorella is putting his Blue Jackets through an absolute boot camp thus far in Columbus. Bold strategy…I wonder how this will play out.

*The Pittsburgh Penguins appreciate the gifts of defenseman Kris Letang, even if Team Canada didn’t for the World Cup.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ken Wiebe has the details on Jacob Trouba asking to get moved from the Winnipeg Jets.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Saturday night’s World Cup of Hockey showdown between Russia and Canada as another chapter in the Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby rivalry.

*It’s sad to see respected veteran player Clarke MacArthur have to be helped off the ice after a vicious hit in a training camp scrimmage. What a dumb move by a guy that’s never going to crack the Senators roster.

*For something completely different: a good father/son piece on learning to appreciate things that your kids are interested in, and how rewarding it can be in the end.

 

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Bruins management has been in a holding pattern waiting for something to “shake free” in the top-four defensemen department and that might have finally happened this weekend.

With the news on Saturday that Jacob Trouba won’t be reporting to training camp with the Winnipeg Jets and has asked for a trade, a player is becoming available that the Black and Gold have had their eyes on for months and months.

CSN was the first to report that the Bruins were putting together a plan for an offer sheet for the 22-year-old American-born defenseman back in June, but that never materialized. GM Don Sweeney eventually backed off that aggressive plan to nab a player they have tapped as a top-four, right-shot defenseman, but clearly there is still interest from a Boston team that literally did nothing to upgrade their back end over the summer.

Cam Neely admitted to CSN a couple of weeks ago that the Bruins were still positioned to make a move for a D-man if something opened up on the market.

“Basically from April to now everybody is talking about our back end, and not being able to land a top-four defenseman. We still have an opportunity as far as cap space goes if something shakes free, and I know Don [Sweeney] has been working hard trying to do something,” said Neely. “But I feel like as a group we can do better than we did last year.

“I think Tuukka [Rask] can play better than he did last year. If that happens we should be a better club. It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be competitive. But I feel like the changes we’ve made through the organization, and not just in player personnel, that there’s opportunity for our group to improve.”

Well, here’s a memo for the B’s brass on Causeway Street: things just opened up as high and wide as a vintage Rich Peverley shot off the high glass. The ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft is going to be made available and will undoubtedly be the best defenseman to move in trade between now and the start of the regular season.

He’d also go a long way toward providing the B’s with the kind of bridge D-man that could improve markedly in the present, and allow the back end to be much closer to good until young defenesmen Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Brandon Carlo are ready for prime time.

This Saturday night statement from agent Kurt Overhardt explains the situation succinctly, but basically Trouba doesn’t want wind his career away stuck behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side of Winnipeg’s defense.

“Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter,” said Overhardt in the statement. “There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

“To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

Our client has nothing but respect for the people and City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets, its fans, management and ownership - our desire to get him moved has everything to do with opportunity. We will continue to work with the Jets in good faith to achieve this end.”

Clearly, Trouba will draw big interest around the league: he’s a 6-foot-1, 200-pound, right-shot defenseman who posted 10 goals and 29 points in his rookie season as a teenager and has averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league. 

This is yet another chance for Sweeney and Co. to close a deal on a defenseman and finally start to address some of the damage done while shipping away Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in successive years. It will undoubtedly cost a pretty penny in terms of assets, but there has to be a reason why Sweeney has been stockpiling centers headed into training camp.

A package of Ryan Spooner, Joe Morrow and a first-round pick would be considerable, but it also might not be enough to get a deal done for a high-demand talent in Trouba. Undoubtedly the Jets would also for a blue chip D-man prospect such as Carlo, or perhaps they’d be more interested in  veteran right-shot option Adam McQuaid, who could immediately replace Trouba in the Winnipeg lineup.

The worst-case scenario is Kevin Cheveldayoff taking a page from the Kevin Shattenkirk trade talks, and both starting and ending any conversations with David Pastrnak as the main trade chip. The Bruins have made it clear they’re done “sprinkling their talent around the rest of the league” as one B’s front office exec made clear to CSN.   

The bottom line: it’s not going to be easy, but this is exactly the kind of situation where Sweeney needs to become a closer rather than a lamenter who starts an explanation with “price are high” or “it takes two to tango.”

It takes a good manager to close a deal his team desperately needs. This Trouba situation is shaping up to provide the B’s with that opportunity.