Bruins motivated by failed 'vengeance' against Penguins

Thornton1.jpgI was frankly appalled when the Boston Bruins failed to show any
emotion in their much-hyped rematch against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This was the game they were supposed to get revenge for the Matt Cooke
injustice; no one was looking for some sort of violent backlash with
dirty shots and sticks to knees, but some sort of “we’ll get you back”
approach to the game would have been nice.

The NHL was making sure there weren’t any Todd Bertuzzi-esque acts of
vengeance, but they needn’t worry. The Bruins played as though they
forgot to set their alarm clocks that morning, and just drifted through
the most disappointing game I’ve seen from a team in years.

According
to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com
, the Bruins used that wasted chance as
motivation for the rest of the season.

“People wanted
to see blood or a win, and we didn’t give them either one. If we’d just
gotten a win afterward people would have been happier than hell,” said
[Shawn] Thornton.

But that, strange as it seems, may have been the
turning point.

“It seems like guys really responded to some of
the negative criticism and have started to play a little bit better,”
said Thornton. “I don’t think we’ve had any passengers since then.”

The
Bruins won eight of their remaining 12 games after that loss to the
Penguins, and were able to secure a playoff spot thanks to actually
winning and not backing in to the postseason. They now have confidence
and momentum, something that hardly seemed possible just a month ago.

The
Bruins were close to becoming a sad, sad story at the end of the
season. It was great to see them actually rise to the occasion when it
really mattered. Now if they are able to make it past the first round,
and possible face Pittsburgh again? I’m certain we’ll see a bit more
life.

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    Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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    John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

    Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

    Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

    A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

    McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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    Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

    Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

    Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

    McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

    It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

    Update:

    Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

    Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

    The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

    Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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    Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

    Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

    London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

    “When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

    “He does everything for us.”

    Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

     

    After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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    Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

    Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

    Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

    “This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

    “He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”