Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins


Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

By JoeHaggerty

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. There was no confirmation that Journey was playing in the background as he spoke, but there was a distinct Dont Stop Believing tone to Mark Recchis message when he addressed the Bruins prior to Game 3.

The 43-year-old Recchi, along with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, came together to form the Black and Gold's leadership triumvirate two years ago, and forged it with another strong season this year.

So on a team full of leaders, and in a time of need prior to Game 3, it was Bergeron who raised his game on the ice and it was Recchi who spoke to the team about his experience in 2006 while a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes

It was about the guys believing in each other said Recchi. "I joined the Hurricanes with 20 games left and saw how much the guys believed in what they were doing. They stayed with it and everyone believed in it. Its all about believing and believing in what weve done all year. Believing in each other and trusting what weve done all year. Trusting each other, and thats what it comes down to.

"If the Bruins didn't trust each other then we wouldnt have won Game 3, and now we have to believe in each other even more in Game 4 on Thursday. Trust each other that each guy is going to go out and do their job, and do good things for the hockey club like we have all year. If we do that, then weve put ourselves in good position to win a hockey game. If not then well be making it very hard for ourselves. Theres no better step than Thursday trying to get home ice back, and then we get back home and see where we go from there.

That 'Canes team was actually down 2-0 after a pair of home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, and roared back to defeat the Habs before winning right on through the Stanley Cup Finals. The easiest change in Carolinas fortune was the insertion of rookie goaltender Cam Ward into the series before a Game 3 win that turned things around.

But Recchi did his best Steve Perry impersonation while drawing parallels between that Carolina squad and this Boston team as the B's attempt the same unlikely, come-from-behind feat against the high-flying Habs.

Being through something like that shows you that you can do it, and that it can be done, said Recchi, his blue eyes flashing with excitement while hearkening back to the Stanley Cup memories. It was a lot of work, but you have to stay focused. Weve done it on the road all year, and its showed. We have to play another one, and were going to have to be even better in Game 4.

There are technical sides to winning hockey, to be sure.

The Bruins have to pursue all the textbook diligence in Claude Juliens hockey system, and that means dumping pucks deep, forechecking with reckless abandon and containing the speedy Montreal snipers. Most importantly, the Bs cant shoot themselves in the foot as they did with bad defensive zone play in the first two games.

A pair of soft five-hole goals allowed by Tim Thomas in Game 3 didnt help, either, but they survived those gaffes.

Theyre fast and theyre a very good hockey team said Recchi of the Canadiens, who should be hungry for a win in Game 4. So we have to be smart and understand that first five goals they scored in the series were off turnovers. They were basically all in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, and we have to be smart and wary of that. Were fast, too, but the system they run thrives on turnovers and theyre very good at it.

While Recchi has been solid with three assists and a plus-1 in three games and instrumental in calming the teams psyche off the ice, its been linemates Bergeron and Brad Marchand who have taken it to another level in each of the three games thus far.

Marchand has been all over the Montreal cage with golden scoring chances he hasnt quite yet buried.

The line has scorched the defense corps of Jaroslav Spacek and Brent Sopel regularly in the three games, and Bergeron has been Bostons best player from the beginning to current end of the series.

His Game 2 goal nearly pulled the Bruins back into that game, and his Game 3 effort all over the ice in a must-win match at the Bell Centre was downright inspired hockey.

Better than that, Bergeron has thrown his weight around in the playoffs with a bit more ferocity. The 25-year-old has also been noticeably more vocal in his own dressing room and in the face of opponents, and all of that reveals just how engaged Bergeron has been during the postseason.

Hes probably been our best forward. Hes such a good player for us. I think he was the No. 1 Star in Game 3 and I thought he was the best player out there, said coach Claude Julien. He just competes hard. Hes so focused and determined, and everything about his game is professional whether its conditioning, whether its rest or whether its focus or showing up for every game ready to play.

There are times when we talk about Patrice and say he hasnt scored in a little while, but no matter what he is doing something to help the hockey club. Thats what you want from your players. Hes more vocal than he ever has been. Earlier in his career he was a young player feeling his way through, but hes pretty confident now about his leadership role and qualities. Hes one of those guys that doesnt speak every game, but when he does speak he has their attention.

The one thing that does need to change: Bergeron is averaging almost three minutes of ice time less per game during the postseason than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, who have floundered with a combined minus-4 for much of the series. Bergeron is averaging a crisp 36 seconds per shift and getting on and off the ice with machine-like precision while also fully admitting that some of his shifts are a bit shorter due to his penalty-kill duties. Lucic (51 seconds), Krejci (53 seconds) and Horton (48 seconds) are all staying out on the ice for longer stretches of time with each shift, and tiring themselves out while going up and down the ice multiple times per twirl.

Perhaps its time for the Bs top line to get in line with the rest of the squad, and cut things down a bit to make sure theyre not caught on the ice at the tail end of Herculean shifts.

That hasnt been the case for the line of Bergeron, Recchi and Marchand, which has been so good for the Bruins this postseason.

Recchi and Bergeron should know the numbers headed into Game 4, and some of them can be pretty daunting.

According to the web site, the lower-seeded teams up 2-1 in a series -- as Montreal is currently -- have advanced 60.5 percent of the time in the history NHL playoffs. But that numbers skyrockets to 87.8 percent of the time if the team goes up 3-1 in the series with a Game 4 victory.

If the series gets to 2-2 its pretty much 5050 which teams come out on top, and that means the Bruins have to like their odds if they can eke out another victory at a riotous Bell Centre lusting for a win.

Itll be tough without question, but the Bruins being led by Recchis head and Bergerons heart are in a pretty solid place to start.

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

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all. 

Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment


Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while anxiously awaiting a Cleveland/Chicago Cubs World Series showdown with all of the Red Sox subplots that could be involved.

*A peewee hockey coach in Quebec has been given a season-long suspension for punishing his players with hundreds of push-ups.

*The NHL game has changed radically over the last 11 years as Henrik Lundqvist has been a fixture for the New York Rangers.

*A lot has changed since Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in 1990 and this article is worth it for the Jagr mullet picture alone.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says that a healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for the Canucks.

*Carey Price is back in net for the Montreal Canadiens, and that makes the Habs a new team as they prepare for the Bruins on Saturday.

*This is what it looks like when you’ve completely given up on just about everything else except for being a hockey fan. So very gross.

*For something completely different: The Doctor Strange cast is being forced into answering some tough questions at the premiere of what is essentially a comic book movie.