Notes: Bruins hope to be rust-free for next round


Notes: Bruins hope to be rust-free for next round

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Now that the playoff schedule has been set, the bigger question is whether rust or rest will be the bigger factor.

The Bruins will have had eight days off between the end of the second-round sweep against the Flyers and the Saturday night Eastern Conference finals opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Its similar to the scenario three years ago when the Bruins had nine days off in between a first-round sweep of the Montreal Canadiens and their eventual second-round demise at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

In those playoffs, the 'Canes had only a couple of days off after finishing out a seven-game series while the Bruins waited for more than a week. This time, though, the Lightning have been off a day longer than Boston, since the NHL wouldn't start the Eastern Conference finals until the Western Conference schedule could be set with a Game Seven looming between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks in a classic playoff series.

I dont think its the best situation, but were in the same boat, said Bs defenseman Dennis Seidenberg sounding off a familiar refrain. The other guys have had even more time off than we have, so were both starting from the same spot.

The extra time off is also allowing banged-up players more time to rest, heal and recover. Adam McQuaid, for instance, will be back after suffering a sprained neck in Game 2 against the Flyers and looks 100 percent in practice. The hope is that the extra rest time can also allowe Patrice Bergeron to return from a mild concussion at some point in the series, though nobody in the B's organization is going to pressure the center into anything given his difficult history with three concussions in the last 3 12 years.

With all the intensity and everything that has been going on, guys to need their rest, said coach Claude Julien. What has to happen though through all of that is they cant lose their focus. You have to be able to balance that and you have to, as a coach, put a lot of trust and responsibility on the players not to lose that.

"At the same time its important for us to make sure that the practices are good practices, that the guys are kept sharp and that the intensity is kept up. You have to get that message across, but you also have to make sure youre pushing those guys hard. You have to make sure that edge that theyve had since the start of the playoffs. So thats what were trying to do and again.

Tim Thomas and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis were college teammates at the University of Vermont and have remained good friends over the years. Thomas said he was really happy for St. Louis when his Lightning won the Cup in 2003-04, and the speedy, creative forward had 24 points in 23 playoff games.

I was so happy being able to watch him win the Cup, but now its been good the last couple of years as Ive gotten invited to the dance, so to speak, said Thomas. I may get in contact with him before the series starts, but thats going to remain private between us.

Defenseman Steve Kampfer has been cleared for light contact and practiced fully with his Bruins teammates on Tuesday morning at TD Garden for the first time since injuring his knee with the Providence Bruins after getting sent down in April.

I guess hes been cleared to practice with us. He practiced with the other group yesterday and I guess he passed the test he needed to pass, said Julien. He felt good enough that the medical group thought he was worthy of jumping in with us and then practicing. So thats where he is right now, and hopefully things keep going in the right direction for him.

McQuaid has rejoined the Bruins for practice in each of the last two sessions, and it appears the steady 6-foot-5 defenseman is going to be fully recovered when the series against Tampa Bay begins Saturday night. McQuaid said that the face-first plunge into the boards that injured his neck was a shock to the system when it happened, and that he was relieved when he started moving his limbs without a problem.

The biggest scare McQuaid experienced: His hometown newspaper on Prince Edward Island splashed a scary photo of the defenseman sprawled out on the Wells Fargo Center ice. McQuaid got into immediate contact with his parents to let them know he was okay, but the phone still rang off the hook at the McQuaid home all night with concerned friends and family.

The Bruins players and coaches were relieved to know that the Eastern Conference Finals were set to start on Saturday night, and they could begin ramping up again for games after seven days off between the Flyers and Lightning.

It gives you some clarity on what you want to do here with the team for the rest of the week, said Julien. I think sitting there waiting to see what was going to happen wasnt easy for anybody. I think everyone was anxious to find out what was going on, so its nice to have it confirmed.

Chris Kelly ditched his good-luck face cage on Tuesdays practice, and went with a half-shield visor in anticipation of the conference finals against the Lighting. Kelly wore the face cage for nearly all of the last two playoff series against the Canadiens and the Flyers, and had some excellent postseason performances while donning the gear protecting a nasty bruise around his right eye.

Zdeno Chara was walking around TD Garden in a brown hooded Bruins sweatshirt on Tuesday morning while his teammates practiced, and Julien confirmed following the practice that it was a day off for the Bruins' captain.

Just a day off for Chara, assured Julien. 'Z' is a bigger body, he is a guy that gets a lot of ice time and, for us, its an opportunity here to give him some rest.

The one thing we know about 'Z': he is certainly never going to be out of shape. He is one of those guys. So give him a rest off the ice and hopefully he will be ready for this big round coming up.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 


Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.