Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Five

Bruins try to put last year’s collapse behind them and finish series in Game 6

If there’s any team that knows how the Vancouver Canucks feel – even if they don’t face the same around the clock criticism in their neck of the woods – it’s the Boston Bruins. After all, they are only about a year removed from dropping a second round series against the Philadelphia Flyers despite building a 3-0 series lead. The Bruins became only the third team in NHL history to author such a collapse after coughing up an all-too-fitting 3-0 lead in the Game 7 itself.

Tonight’s Game 6 in Montreal provides the Bruins an interesting opportunity to get a heavy monkey off their backs. Will they be able to put the Habs away or will they lose their fifth consecutive elimination game?

Let’s face it, the Bruins are going against a franchise that was awfully tough to shake in 2010. The Canadiens fought back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Washington Capitals and dug themselves out of a 3-2 hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. They finally gave way to a Philadelphia Flyers team that was tougher and more talented, but the Habs still made quite the impression by going 5-1 in elimination games last year.

Now, obviously, the Canadiens currently roll with Carey Price instead of Jaroslav Halak in net*. Still, much of that pesky moxie remains.

So the question is: will the Bruins be able to finish them off or will they face another heart-in-your-throat Game 7 challenge? Joe Haggerty gathered the Bruins’ thoughts on the matter.

“It’s human nature to relax, you know, but successful teams – teams that have won – have always been able to play their best games in those situations, and that’s what we’re looking for from our team,” said Gregory Campbell, talking about the natural snooze button that some hockey teams can hit when they’re up in a playoff series. “We have to be at our best. It won’t be easy, but we’re taking the same approach from the last three games.”


“We went through a lot in the Philly series last year, but Montreal went through a lot coming back in the Washington and Pittsburgh series,” Lucic said. “They’re not going to quit. There’s still a lot of fight left in that team. They’re a desperate hockey club fighting for their lives, and they’re going to do whatever they can to win.

“We’re prepared for their best game tonight. It’ll be a fun hockey game to be a part of. They’re gonna come out flying with the crowd and the city buzzing. If anything, we want to do whatever we can to have a good start.

“It won’t be easy. The fourth one is always the toughest. There’s a saying, ‘Will over Skill’, and whoever is more willing to win is going to.”

All hackneyed sayings aside, these two teams have delivered the kind of series hockey fans were hoping for once it was clear they’d square off. Some might say that it would only be fitting for it to go the distance, but the Bruins would be happy to finish off their divisional and historical foes tonight. We’ll see if they can get the job done in Game 6.

* – And, to be fair, the Bruins have a different starter this year in Tim Thomas instead of Tuukka Rask.

Oilers say McDavid ‘ahead of schedule’ in broken clavicle recovery

Connor McDavid
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There hasn’t been much good news for the Oilers lately — Connor McDavid‘s hurt, Nail Yakupov‘s hurt, they’ve lost seven of their last nine — so what GM Peter Chiarelli had to say on Thursday qualified as very welcome news.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” Chiarelli said of Connor McDavid and his broken clavicle, per Sportsnet. “He’s been in the pool, been lifting weights… There are no soft tissue injuries, which is important.

“When you get a break like that, oftentimes there is accompanying soft tissue injuries. That slows down the recovery.”

McDavid, who suffered the injury on Nov. 3 against Philly, was originally supposed to be sidelined until early March. But per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, there’s cautious optimism the star rookie could be back in the Edmonton lineup by “mid-to-late January.”

But even with that cautious optimism, there’s still a long way to go.

McDavid has yet to resume skating and is still at his parents’ home in Newmarket, Ontario. That said, he’s expected to join Edmonton soon — when the Oilers take on the Leafs in Toronto on Monday — and, according to Chiarelli, will want to get back onto the ice way sooner than expected.

“I can tell you that when it comes time,” he said, “[McDavid] is going to want to come back a lot earlier than what we forecast internally.”

There’s another Radulov NHL comeback rumor making the rounds

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It’s been roughly six months since the last one so yeah, time for an Alex Radulov update.

Radulov, who’s spent the last four seasons playing for KHL outfit CSKA Moscow, has reportedly rejected the club’s contract extension offer and is ready to become a free agent, per Russian sports writer Slava Malamud.

Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko also reported the Radulov news, tweeting the ex-Preds forward claimed “there’s nothing” regarding a new deal with CSKA, adding “I’m a free agent after this season.”

Radulov, 29, is having another terrific offensive campaign in Russia, with 37 points in 32 games. This comes one year after he tore up the KHL in ’14-15, with 24 goals and 71 points in just 46 contests — one of the best offensive campaigns in league history.

Rumors of Radulov returning to North America happen with the same frequency as Ilya Kovalchuk comeback rumblings, and always with the same outcome. But it’s hard to ignore them completely.


Well, back in late May, Radulov’s agent told Championat Colorado had been in contact about an NHL return once Radulov’s deal with CSKA expired. Colorado, of course, is coached by Patrick Roy — the same guy that had great success coaching Radulov in the QMJHL.

The two were, at one time, a dynamic force for the Quebec Remparts. During the 2005-06 campaign, Radulov scored a ridiculous 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 games, the nine more in four Memorial Cup contests, helping Roy capture his first and only championship as a head coach.

Radulov, of course, hasn’t played in the NHL since an ill-fated reunion with Nashville in 2012, which included him getting suspended for a playoff game after breaking curfew.

Malamud does note that, should Radulov try to return to the NHL, he’d do so as a unrestricted free agent — meaning he’s no longer Nashville property.

Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

If you don’t spend tomorrow eye-gouging someone to save 50 bucks on an iRobot, why not spend it watching hockey?

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow’s a pretty big day. Not only is there an Original Six matchup between the Bruins and Rangers — essentially kicking off the NHL on NBC national broadcast campaign — but there’s also an additional evening game, and a good one at that:

Anaheim hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Final.

But before the Ducks and ‘Hawks do battle, the B’s and Rangers will get it on.

This marks the second time in the last three years Boston and New York meet in the Thanksgiving Showdown. Back in ’13-14, the Bruins beat the Blueshirts 3-2, and this Farrelly Brothers commercial went to air:

Tomorrow’s game promises to be a quality affair. The Bruins come in riding a four-game winning streak, which included Wednesday’s 3-2 OT win over Detroit. In that game, Jonas Gustavsson exacted a measure of revenge against his old Red Wings mates, stopping 32 of 34 shots for the win.

The Rangers, meanwhile, come into Friday’s action looking for some redemption.

Alain Vigneault’s club was waxed in Wednesday’s big test against top-seeded Montreal, dropping a 5-1 decision, at home, in front of the MSG faithful. The Rangers allowed five regulation goals for the first time this season, and saw All-Star netminder Henrik Lundqvist get yanked as a result.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.

DeBoer: Sharks ‘need more’ after benching Hertl, Wingels

Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels
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Peter DeBoer didn’t mice words Thursday in discussing Tommy Wingels‘ and Tomas Hertl‘s effort from last night’s loss to Chicago.

“I don’t measure those guys on goals and assists but the intangibles of the game,” DeBoer said, per the Contra Costa Times. “Are you hard to play against? Are you playing in the other team’s end? Are you creating chances to score whether or not they go in?

“That’s a by product. Those are the measurables I use with those guys and we need more.”

Neither Wingels nor Hertl played a single shift in the third period of Wednesday’s game. The pair are both mired in lengthy scoring slumps — 14 games without a goal for Wingels, 19 for Hertl — but DeBoer carefully chose his words in explaining that offense, or a lack of it, wasn’t why the two got parked.

Instead, it was about approach.

DeBoer has been calculating in trying to establish an identity among his bottom-six forward group (Hertl and Wingels are third-liners). Prior to last night’s game, he brought in former Devil Dainius Zubrus — the pair spent time together in New Jersey — and that came after the Sharks tookfull advantage of having their new AHL affiliate in San Jose.

The club has constantly called up and sent down depth forwards to try and give DeBoer different looks.

But it appears the group still remains a work in progress.