Bruins wake up, take out hapless Rangers 2-1

Rangers1.jpgThe Boston Bruins failed to wake up for the game against the
Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, when everyone in the hockey world was
certain they would try and decapitate every player on the other side of
the ice. Three days later, there’s no question they wanted the win more
than the New York Rangers.

A loss today and the Bruins could have
found themselves in a dire situation in the standings, barely holding on
to a one-point lead over the Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers. Failing to
actually show a care factor would prove disastrous, especially as they
face a fanbase that is threatening to boycott a team they feel is not
putting forth a suitable effort from game to game.

It was an
overall sharp effort by the Bruins, who did what needed to be done to
win a low-scoring affair. They didn’t make many mistakes, played hard on
the forecheck and Tuukka Rask was just as good as he’s been all season
long.

With an all-important two points, the Bruins can hold
off the questions — for now. There’s still a long way to go and winning
just one game is far from ensuring a playoff spot. Yet the Bruins find
themselves in much better position than the the New York Rangers are in,
who once again looked disinterested in even competing until about 54
minutes into the game.

The New York Rangers are done. They’ve
given up, and I’ll be incredibly surprised if they find a way into the
playoffs from here. They now sit five points back from the Bruins, with
the Atlanta Thrashers are planted between them and the 8th spot. If they
couldn’t muster a concerted effort in this game, I’m doubtful they’ll
be able to figure it out moving forward.

That isn’t to say the
Rangers were completely dominated, they were just slightly more inept
than the Boston Bruins in this game. The Bruins also showed more fight
and attitude than the Rangers — which gave New York some lengthy time
on the power play — and if not for a number of great saves by Henrik
Lundqvist then the Bruins would have easily had a 2-0 lead headed into
the first intermission.

There isn’t much else to say about this
Rangers team that I haven’t already said this weekend, other than this
is not a team that deserves a playoff berth. We can leave the debate
about the coaching for another day, but this is a team that is lacking in
talent and not even a pretty good game by captain Chris Drury could save
them.

Sean Avery was a non-factor and Marian Gaborik — despite
four shots on goal — was a non-factor. I won’t even get into the
boneheaded play by Vinny Prospal; I’m tired of writing about illegal
hits.

No time to rest for Boston; they will take on the Atlanta
Thrashers on Tuesday in another showdown to hold on to the 8th spot in
the East.

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    Despite cancer diagnosis, Devils’ Brian Boyle doesn’t want to miss games

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    New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle shared frightening news on Tuesday, yet he’s showing resounding courage and optimism in also plotting his “plan of attack.”

    Boye, 32, announced that he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Tuesday.

    Chronic myeloid luekemia (or CML) is a type of bone marrow cancer. Here’s an explanation of the disease via the American Cancer Society:

    Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia, is a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. In CML, a genetic change takes place in an early (immature) version of myeloid cells – the cells that make red blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells (except lymphocytes). This change forms an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which turns the cell into a CML cell. The leukemia cells grow and divide, building up in the bone marrow and spilling over into the blood. In time, the cells can also settle in other parts of the body, including the spleen. CML is a fairly slow growing leukemia, but it can also change into a fast-growing acute leukemia that is hard to treat.

    Despite that scary news, Boyle is very positive about his chances; in fact, he hopes to live a “normal life,” right down to playing in the Devils’ season-opener on Oct. 7.

    Back in 2014, Boyle discussed his father’s battle with cancer to ESPN. It’s quite an inspiring read.

    We’ve seen multiple instances of hockey players showing resilience while fighting cancer during the active career. Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu stand as some of the most memorable examples, while Phil Kessel also comes to mind.

    Jason Blake bounced back from CML, specifically:

    The number one thing isn’t playing hockey, of course. It’s most important that Boyle emphasizes his overall health, even if that means taking some time off.

    The Devils seem to be very supportive of Boyle as his fight begins. Here’s hoping he wins this one.

    Contenders should keep an eye on Jaroslav Halak

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    Here’s a gut reaction regarding the 2017-18 season: there aren’t a ton of teams with unclear goalie situations, at least as far as who their top guy is.

    Clear number ones

    The Frederik AndersenJohn Gibson battle ended last summer. Promising backups like Cam Talbot, Scott Darling, and Antti Raanta got their shots or will be getting their chances to be No. 1 guys this year. Marc-Andre Fleury generously accepted becoming the face of the Vegas Golden Knights.

    It doesn’t exactly make for a sellers’ market for the few teams who might want to part ways with goalies.

    Petr Mrazek‘s mess with the Detroit Red Wings is the most pressing example, and considering the fact that he’s only 25, acquiring him could be a boon for another team, at least in a scenario (injuries and/or poor play) would call for such an acquisition.

    What if the Red Wings would ask for too much? What if a team would, instead, like to monitor a diamond in the rough for the summer of 2018?

    Halak could still be very viable

    Jaroslav Halak should be on plenty of radars, especially if he gets his wish for a fresh start with the New York Islanders in 2017-18, as NHL.com’s Brian Compton reports.

    “Obviously, last season was kind of a strange season, not only for me but for a lot of guys,” Halak said. “Now it’s a fresh start for everybody. But ultimately, it’s going to come down to our start too. Last season, we all know we had a bad start. We just need to make sure that we pick up points at the beginning of the season because that hurt us at the end.”

    The Islanders have incentive to give Halak a chance, whether it would be to pump up his trade value or if Thomas Greiss struggles/gets hurt.

    It would also be foolish to worry too much about Halak’s time in the AHL, especially considering how well he played for the Islanders late last season. Check out his split stats in March and April; Halak gave the Isles at least some hope to make an unlikely playoff push.

    At 32, Halak doesn’t boast the same dreamy potential of Mrazek, yet he’s only a year older than Greiss.

    The price could be right

    With a nice .917 career save percentage and some playoff heroics in his past, Halak is the sort of goalie a team could call upon if their top guy falters or gets hurt. If a move were to happen around the trade deadline, his $4.5 million cap hit would be less of a problem.

    On the other hand, if a team needed Halak earlier, the Islanders could conceivably retain some of his salary, especially if it allowed them to add a piece that might improve their team in other areas (and maybe help keep John Tavares happy?).

    The goalie market could be interesting in the summer of 2018 if Mrazek and even Craig Anderson join the UFA ranks. Halak stands as a sneaky-interesting prospect then, but possibly sooner, for a team that might want to spend less (in assets via a trade or in actual money in free agency).

    Predators tab Roman Josi as new captain, call him ‘our Roger Federer’

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    The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.

    Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:

    As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.

    If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.

    Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.

    At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.

    That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.

    Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.

    Awful injury news for Blues’ Bouwmeester, Sanford

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    Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.

    As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.

    The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.

    Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.

    Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

    As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.

    It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.

    This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.

    You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these: