Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Capitals

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Capitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Capitals by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes at the Verizon Center.

1)David Krejci had a couple of close scoring calls including a Milan Lucic dish that left him all alone in front for a backhanded bid, but had his period end early when he blocked a shot that appeared to cause him some discomfort. Krejci took a couple more shifts, but then eventually disappeared from the bench with Chris Kelly taking his shifts between Lucic and Rich Peverley.

2)Speaking of Rich Peverley, nice job using the wood in bowling parlance in front of the net for Bostons only goal. Peverley got a hold of the puck after a big Milan Lucic fore-check popped it loose, and flipped it toward the front of the net where Lucic was actually headed. Instead the puck bounced off the stick of a seated Karl Azner swinging it toward the net. The puck bounced right off the stick and past Tomas Vokoun for games only score.

3) Sleepy first half of the first period, but a few big hits towards the end with Zdeno Chara lowering the boom on Cody Eakin during one of the last shifts closing out the period.

4)A tip of the cap to Dennis Wideman, who crossed the 500 games played barrier with the Washington Capitals this week and was recognized by the home crowd. Hes one of the top five scoring defensemen in the NHL this season and has really found a home in DC.

5) Jay Beagle and Cody Eakin are undefeated in six face-offs through the first period and it looks like Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly and David Krejci needed to step up their draw game.

WASHINGTON, D.C. Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Capitals tied at a 3-3 score after the first 40 minutes of action at the Verizon Center.

1)Big garbage man rebound goal to tie things up for Brad Marchand jamming in front of the net during a power play at the end of the period. Hes the smallest guy on the ice, but hes never afraid to go to those danger areas, and appears to be enjoying his place back on the power play with Nathan Hortons injury. I wonder if we should start calling Marchand the Little Mound of Rebound? Would Obama approve of that one?

2)In a night of varying compete levels, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley and Dennis Seidenberg all have four shots on net. Theyve all brought their A game tonight with Peverley and Seidenberg factoring into goals.

3) Some sloppy turnovers by Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk tonight in their own zone, and extending into the neutral zone. Boychuks giveaway at the blue line led to Mathieu Perreaults second goal of the second period on a play Tuukka Rask didnt have a chance at.

4) Highlight play by Tyler Seguin, who snapped a stick and took the hand-off of a new stick from Bruins assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer before jumping into the play to roof a backhander off a Capitals turnover by John Carlson. Just a simple play showing off Seguins game-changing explosiveness.

5)Looks like the Capitals are doing just fine without Alex Ovechkin, arent they?

WASHINGTON, D.C. Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins falling to the Capitals by a 4-3 score after 60 minutes of action at the Verizon Center.

1)Only the second time Tuukka Rask has given up four goals this season. Give the Capitals credit for coming storming back in the final 20 minutes.

2)The Bruins, on the other hand, looked sluggish and tired out of the gate in the final 20 minutes and perhaps had their minds on All-Star break vacations a period too early tonight.

3)Way too difficult to prove the Tim Thomas flap had any effect on the Bruins tonight, so Im not even going there.

4)Mathieu Perreault had 15 career goals headed into tonights game and leaves with a hat trick against the Bruins. Second straight game the Bs have allowed a hat trick to an opponent, but at least all three of Perreaults goals were demonstrably different.

5)Way too many defensemen turnovers and mistakes. That seems to be the surest sign that the Bs arent really invested into a game like they can be.

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.