Not surprisingly, the Habs are surprised by Mark Recchi’s comments about Max Pacioretty

People who recently suffered concussions clearly cannot go to movies.

That is the medical opinion of potential Hall of Fame winger Mark Recchi, who fanned the flames of Boston conspiracy theories that the Montreal Canadiens “embellished” the injuries suffered by Max Pacioretty after that Zdeno Chara hit.

While Joe Haggerty writes that Recchi knows exactly what he was doing by saying that, the Canadiens largely couldn’t follow the aging veteran’s logic. While head coach Jacques Martin and nearly-Chara-sized defenseman Hal Gill were coy in their responses to Recchi’s rabble rousing remarks, Paul Mara responded for ESPN Boston while Michael Cammalleri discussed Recchi’s statements in the Boston Globe.

First, here are Cammalleri’s comments. The back end of his commentary responds to the idea that Recchi was saying these (largely ridiculous) things to stir the pot.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Cammalleri said. “I don’t think those comments are appropriate by Mark. Surprised, to be honest with you. Mark’s a guy who’s been around a long time. I’m not sure he has a medical degree yet. I think it is what it is when it comes to the brain. These are very unclear injuries and very serious ones. I think it’s a little bit disrespectful with those comments, that’s for sure. A little bit surprised coming from a guy with the reputation that he has.”

(snip)

“It might be,” said Cammalleri. “That’s why it’s surprising to me, because Mark’s a veteran. He does have a reputation. He’s been around so long. It might be. I don’t know. I think Mark would admit he’s not an M.D. He’s not diagnosing these things. Maybe it is a bit of gamesmanship.”

Moving on, here were Mara’s thoughts.

“We heard those comments yesterday,” Montreal blueliner Paul Mara said Thursday morning in advance of the game between the Bruins and Canadiens at TD Garden. “A player with a broken vertebra and has been knocked out on the ice for 3 or 4 minutes, how do you question the integrity of a hockey team and that we’re embellishing it? [It] is really questionable coming from a guy who’s 42 years old and has been around the league for so long. He’s entitled to his opinion and we’re entitled to ours, but in Montreal we really know the truth.”

It’s no surprise that the Canadiens are surprised by Recchi’s comments since most people in hockey were probably at least a bit stunned by it.

The Habs and Bruins shouldn’t need much bulletin board material considering the fact that the Northeast Division should be the only dangling carrot necessary, but these comments and the bitterness lingering over that hit should fuel whatever fires that aren’t started by standings points. It could be a great match, one that might even factor into which team has home ice advantage if the the two teams meet in the playoffs.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.