Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

The imact of Patrice Bergeron’s injury on the Boston Bruins

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While their power play would probably be better with him, the Boston Bruins haven’t really missed a beat with Marc Savard on the shelf. It’s quite possible that another concussion to another high-level center will have a much bigger effect on this Bruins team.

If you ask me, Patrice Bergeron’s mild concussion could be a major problem. Bergeron doesn’t generate much attention since he isn’t the high scoring forward he was before his first set of concussions, but there are many who believe that he deserved a Selke Trophy nomination this season.

Even in a well-balanced attack like Boston’s, Bergeron was standing out during the first two rounds of the playoffs. He’s tied for second place in the 2011 playoffs for points scored with 12 (two goals and 10 assists) and boasts an astounding 64.2 faceoff winning percentage. His +7 rating shows that good things happen when his line is on the ice.

Bergeron’s slick passing skills and great two-way play fueled a great line with Brad Machand (five goals and six assists for 11 points) and Mark Recchi (two goals and five assists for seven points). As dominant as the Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic line was in Round 2, Bergeron powered the team’s most consistent line.

Now someone else will need to try to maintain that strong second line play. Bergeron is expected to miss at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, but let’s face it; concussion symptoms can linger for random amounts of time. It’s possible that the Bruins will need a longer term fix. Here are three candidates who are most likely to step in for Bergeron.

1. Chris Kelly – Kelly’s been a fantastic addition to the Bruins lineup, as he’s enjoying great chemistry on the third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder. Kelly is the most likely fit because, like Bergeron, he’s a responsible player in his own zone. Here’s what Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Kelly.

“Kelly is a good two-way player. He makes strong plays and we’ve seen him on that other line and his style of play is not unlike Bergy’s,” said Chiarelli. “Watching him (Friday) night it looks like it would be a good fit.”

2. Rich Peverley – Speaking of Peverley, he’s closer to Bergeron’s level from an offensive standpoint. He is a nice playmaker, but might be a defensive liability against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s better offensive players.

3. Tyler Seguin – As Joe pointed out, Seguin will get his chance to play in the postseason with Bergeron’s injury. Seguin is a raw offensive talent who isn’t quite there yet, but who knows, the playoffs might be a good launching pad for the second pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The fact that he’s been a healthy scratch in the playoffs shows that he must earn Julien’s trust to get big minutes, though.

One bonus with the unlikely choice of lining Seguin up with Recchi and Marchand is that the team could keep the Peverley-Kelly-Ryder line together.

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The Bruins will do their best to replace Bergeron for however long he’s out, but it’s unlikely that they’ll find a player at his level. That being said, they do have some options. All three of the choices above are considered “natural” centers, so Julien can mix-and-match to see what the best option might be. This team already excels with an offense-by-committee approach, so it might not be crazy to think that everyone can step it up a bit in Bergeron’s absence.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.