Boston Bruins

Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

ST. LOUIS, MO Here are 15 thoughts from the game with the Bruins taking down the St. Louis Blues by a 4-2 score after 60 minutes of action at the Scottrade Center.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Good first period for the Bruins against a team that came to play tonight in St. Louis. Have to like the way the KrejciLucicKelly combo is playing. They produced a pair of goals and have had five or six legitimate scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of play. It looks like Krejci might be playing on right wing for a time moving forward, and that would be perfectly okay as long as all three players produce.

2) BJ Crombeen is a winning type of player. Goes toe-to-toe with Adam McQuaid during a first period fight and then scoops up a garbage man goal in front of the net on a loose puck minutes later. He doesnt score a lot of goals, but hes an undeniable presence for the Blues.

3) Wondering what the referees saw when David Backes stuck out his right leg and leg-checked Brad Marchand near center ice in a hit that was as dangerous as it was obvious. Its becoming more and more clear that the Bruins are viewed through a certain lens when it comes to the NHL officials, and theyre buying into Bostons perceived reputation. Its costs them calls on their call and adds penalties on the other side.

4) Three shots on net, a pair of points and a plus-2 for Chris Kelly in the first 20 minutes. He came to play tonight in a game the Bruins desperately need and thats an example of one player doing their job to help raise the collective result.

5) Tim Thomas appearing to have a difficult time tracking the puck in front of the net. He totally lost sight of the puck that ended up on BJ Crombeens stick for the Blues second goal. Give Ryan Reaves credit for the screen in front, but Thomas needs to find that puck.

SECOND PERIOD

1) Tim Thomas keeping the Bruins in the game right now with the Blues out-shooting the Bs by a 14-4 margin in the second period. His best stop was a flashy glove save on Kris Russell through traffic in the closing ends of the second period that could have been a killer. Thomas with 22 saves in all against St. Louis tonight.

2) Jordan Caron appears to have hit the pine for the Bruins as the CaronCarter CamperBenoit Pouliot line has been getting dominated throughout the game. They actually look like theyre penalty-killing each time theyre on the ice because theyre chasing so much.

3) Speaking of underachieving lines, the Bs fourth line has been on the ice for two goals allowed. Give Shawn Thornton credit, however, for going out there tonight because he looks less than 100 percent. But hes gutting it out.

4) The Bruins are 12-0-0 this season when Chris Kelly scores a goal this season and hes provided the difference-maker thus far. Underscores the importance of Kelly kicking in the incidental offense and that link to the teams success overall.

5) St. Louis crashing the net in a big way throughout the game. Its been so frequent that Tim Thomas actually decked Chris Porter with his blocker on one overly aggressive situation crashing the net. Amazing there are no goalie interference calls tonight when the refs whistled four goalie interference calls at the beginning of this road trip. Absolutely no consistency there whatsoever. Give referee Ian Walsh credit, however, for playing through a fat lip that left him bleeding on the ice earlier. He had to leave briefly to get stitched up, but he was back out there at the end of the second period.

THIRD PERIOD

1) Brad Marchand had gone six games without a goal and hadnt been much of a factor at all. Looks like he might have been woken up by a dirty David Backes leg check in the neutral zone in the first period that went uncalled. Marchand potted a pair of goals including a great tone-setting pick-pocket of Kevin Shattenkirk before firing it past Brian Elliott. Then he potted another one on a breakaway in the third period as an insurance goal. His best goal in weeks.

2) Another rough day in the face-off circle (1-for-7) for David Krejci despite the solid game all-around.

3) Impressive work by the St. Louis Blues against the Bruins. Bs had to work hard for everything they got and got stormed by the Blues after getting an early 2-0 lead on them. This is a team that could surprise in the playoffs against some very good competition.

4) Bruins still not as physically dominant as they are when theyre really rolling, but the win over the Blues in their building is a good start. First third period win for the Bruins in their last four games after it was their calling card for the entire season.

5) Joe Corvo was actually pretty decent against the Blues tonight. He made good decisions in most instances with the puck and not too many soul-crushing mistakes with the puck, and it was his point shot that led to Lucic goal in first period. The Bruins need more of the good Corvo.

Haggerty: Not many fans of face-off changes among Bruins

Haggerty: Not many fans of face-off changes among Bruins

BOSTON – It may just be that all of these slashing penalties and face-off violations will become a training camp fad of sorts and the preseason period of adjustment will give way to business as usual once the regular season opens.

The NHL can’t possibly hope to sell fans on games like the Bruins' 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at TD Garden that included 16 penalties and 12 power plays that completely marred the normal game flow. Some of it was about the seven slashing penalties handed out by the officiating crew and the ensuing special teams flow that never allowed either team to truly find their 5-on-5 footing.

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Even more prominent, however, is the frustration that many players from both teams are feeling for the strict enforcement of the face-off rules and the impact it’s having on the flow of the game. Brad Marchand called it “an absolute joke” a couple of days ago after watching the first night of preseason hockey. He doubled down on his criticism after watching it play out in a game.

He said it was so bad that players from both teams were laughing at the sheer absurdity of the standstill face-off posture and just how much it’s taking away from the enjoyment, whether it’s fans, the media or even the officials, of a free-flowing NHL game.

“It’s really taking a lot away from the game. You can’t have a winger taking all the face-offs. I mean if you look at the percentages of how many times guys got kicked out tonight, and what it’s taking away from the teams, it’s not worth what’s coming with it,” said Marchand. “Literally both teams were laughing out there about how bad the rule is. It’s becoming a big joke, so there’s got to be something tweaked with it.

“These games are painful. I thought it was a bad rule before I played, but it’s even worse after going through it and actually seeing what it’s like. It’s basically an automatic [face-off] win for the other team. The only thing you’re worried about is not moving before the puck is shot.”

The choppiness resulted in some pretty bad nights in the face-off circle for the Bruins. Ryan Spooner lost 9 of 10 draws and Riley Nash 12 of 19 face-offs while Claude Giroux somehow won 20 of 25 draws despite the difficulty all around him. While Patrice Bergeron was a solidly respectable 9 of 18 in the face-off circle for the evening, the four-time Selke Trophy made no bones wondering aloud what exactly is the point of all this.

Bergeron is rarely critical of anything despite his standing as a prominent, respected player in the league, but he seemed to take major umbrage with rules that are totally messing with his considerable face-off skills. The Bruins top face-off man likened it to Pee Wee hockey when he was 12 where everybody would just stand perfectly still in the face-off circle until the puck was dropped. That little tweak wrings every last bit of competitiveness and 1-on-1 battle out of the ultimate hockey showdown and has left Bergeron with a bad taste in his mouth.

“I think that the face-off is definitely an adjustment. I think that the face-off is a skill and you work your whole career to develop that and you work on your hand-eye and timing and everything and try to take that away. You have to adapt I guess. It’s something that I’ll definitely do, but I don’t think I’m a huge fan,” said Bergeron. “I wonder what they’re really trying to get out of it. I understand that it’s feet above those lines and sticks and whatnot. That being said it also kind of sucks. Hockey is a fast game and they’re really slowing it down.

“Faceoff is a skill and you work on timing, you work on hand-eye, and you know when the linesman is going to drop the puck. And I was thinking more about him kicking me out than dropping the puck. That’s what makes you second guess. It just makes you hesitate and everyone is just standing there. There’s no battle right now. It’s like face-offs when I was 12 years old. Everyone is just standing still and no one is really moving.”

In an interesting wrinkle to the face-off debate, Bruins forward David Backes is a member of the NHL Competition Committee that came up with the stricter enforcement. 

“[Marchand] probably won’t like it, but I was on the competition committee that changed [the face-off enforcement]. I get to hear his gripes and it makes me chuckle a little bit. I think the intent was that all face-offs tended to be ‘scrum draws.’ It wasn’t win the draw. It was ‘don’t lose the draw’ and get the wingers in there, and everything looks like rugby where it’s bash each other together to figure it all out,” said Backes. “The intent was to have a cleanly won face-off whether it’s the second center in there that’s petrified to get a penalty, or it’s the first line center that’s got to be honest.

“The draws are won more cleanly [now] and you can watch it in the games. The puck is dropped and it’s not two guys colliding and banging heads like they’re football players. It’s certainly a skill that needs to be developed. [Bergeron] didn’t like it and he was 50 percent [in his first preseason game], but I bet you the next time he plays it will be 85 percent and it will be a great rule. Because he’s that good on draws and he’s smart enough, he’ll adjust. You’ve just got to be honest. We’ll all maybe have a hug, and life will go on.”

So, what’s the ultimate answer from an NHL that wasn’t tremendously forthcoming with these preseason tweaks and now has a stand-up, influential player like Bergeron kicking it around just like everybody else? It might be time for the league to revisit their face-off crackdown and perhaps get a little more advice from accomplished players like Bergeron for the next time around. But Bergeron, Marchand and others aren’t exactly holding their breath for any more changes. Instead, they simply hope that some of the referees apply a common-sense approach once the regular season begins. 
 

Belichick on CTE following Hernandez news: 'I'm not a doctor'

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Belichick on CTE following Hernandez news: 'I'm not a doctor'

FOXBORO -- In wake of Aaron Hernandez’ estate filing a federal lawsuit against the NFL and the Patriots over the late tight end’s head trauma, Bill Belichick was expectedly mum when asked Friday about CTE. 

Hernandez, who died in prison of an apparent suicide in April shortly after being acquitted of a 2012 double-murder, had “the most severe case” of chronic traumatic encephalopathy that researchers had ever seen in a 27-year-old, according to his lawyer. 

Belichick, who drafted Hernandez in 2010 and coached the player until his 2013 release, reiterated his September 2016 quote about not being a doctor on Friday. 

“That’s really, the whole medicals questions are ones that come outside my area,” he said Friday when asked what the team tells players about CTE. “Our medical department, our medical staff cover a lot of things on the medical end. It’s not just one specific thing. We cover a lot.” 

Asked if he feels the NFL does a good enough job of warning players about CTE, Belichick repeated his answer. 

“Again, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a trainer. I’m a coach,” he said. “The medical part, they handle the medical part of it. I don’t do that.”

Hernandez was listed as having one concussion during his NFL career.