Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins

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Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It would seem that the odds finally caught up to the Bruins.

For nine games the Bruins defense chewed up and spit out Phil Kessel every chance they got, and completely shutdown the winger in the goal-scoring department.

And everybody knows that Kessel without the goal-scoring ability isnt much of a hockey player at all. But the young right wing instead heeded the advice of the Toronto coaching staff, and changed the tape on his stick from white to black just prior to Tuesday nights game.

The change in tape led to Kessel potting a pair of goals including the game-tying strike in the third period on the way to a 4-3 victory for Toronto in a home tilt at the Garden that went completely awry.

The first goal opened up Torontos scoring in the first period, and the second goal was a sweet individual move that saw Phil the Thrill blow right by Dennis Seidenberg on the way to scoring a goal past Tim Thomas. With the two goals, Kessel had his first goals against his former team and also blew up a 14-game goal-scoring drought in the process.

The youngster was the first to admit that his lack of success at the Garden was undeniable, but didnt seem to publicly bask in the boos raining down on him after he made his former team pay the price with two goals.

I havent done anything in this building yet, until tonight, said Kessel. They are a very good team over there and we were fortunate to come out of here with a win.

Toronto coach Ron Wilson saw a pair of players in Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski that were giving that extra little bit of hustle, and doing battle with Zdeno Chara despite the fact the big defenseman level Grabovski at least twice throughout the game.

That was without a doubt Phils best game, not just because he scored, said Wilson. He was in on the forecheck, he was in banging around with Zdeno Chara and he did a good job in our end, too. He won some battles on the boards and he changed the color of the tape on his stick. I dont know if anybody noticed, he went from white to black.

Kessel certainly noticed the change in his sticks, and perhaps thats something more players will take into account when theyre putting together a summer plan.

Patrice Bergeron potted his 20th goal of the season in the third period, and in doing so put together the third 20-goal season of his career. It was also the first time that Bergeron has potted 20 goals in a season since prior to the horrific concussion suffered at the hands of Randy Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007-08.

The goal was a beauty with Bergeron simply defeating Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf during a battle in front of the net for a rebound, and then Bergeron popped in a second-effort attempt to give Boston short-lived lead. From there it was collapse, and thats what the Bruins need to work on despite Bergerons abilities to compete and succeed.

You hope so. And were a team that normally is capable of closing when you take the lead in the third. The goals that we gave up after that were just bad goals, and its not just one mistake, said Claude Julien. Its two and three. There was different ways of preventing those.

We all have to take blame in the way that our team is playing right now and Im going to put myself in that as well. Right now we need to be a little bit more emotionally involved in these games.

Peter Chiarelli indicated that because Chris Kelly was a Canadian native playing for a Canadian team in Ottawa, visa problems would likely make it impossible for the Senators center to participate in practice on Wednesday.

Daniel Paille returned from a four-game suspension and potted the teams first goal of the night to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.

I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as possible, whether it was a check or just keep moving my feet and getting to the puck first, said Paille. You know I did that but I needed to continue to do it throughout the whole game and we kept getting power plays and penalty kills so it was tough to get out there five on five.

Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday night against the Leafs with Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart and Steve Kampfer playing effectively for Bostons blueline corps.

I think his battle is still good and stuff like that, said Julien. But I think, again, when it comes to puck decision hes had his fair share of challenges there.

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

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats