Bolts coach Boucher: Salo, Carle have made “huge impact” on team


The Tampa Bay Lightning have won four straight and are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

Most will point to the play of the “Big Three” — Steve Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, recently named the NHL’s third star of the week — as the reason for said success.

But according to head coach Guy Boucher, it’s a pair of free agent defensemen: Matt Carle and Sami Salo.

“A huge impact,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in describing the additions of Salo and Carle. “What they do is solidify pairings, not what they do individually.

The two were acquired by GM Steve Yzerman in July, and cost a pretty penny.

Carle, 28, inked a six-year, $33 million deal while Salo, 38, signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal — one that comes with additional risk of being a guaranteed cap hit, because of his over-35 designation.

Salo currently leads the NHL in plus-minus (+10) and all Tampa blueliners with five points through six games.

Carle leads the team in time on ice (23:01) and has 1G-2A-3PTS through six games.

Yet individual statistics don’t tell the whole story. By bringing the two aboard, other defensemen have been put in positions to succeed — most notably Victor Hedman.

Salo is Hedman’s new defense partner, providing the young Swede with a veteran presence on the back end. As a result, Hedman is now second to Salo in d-man scoring.

“When you look at Heddy,” Boucher said, “he needed an older guy to give him a chance to go on offense without having to worry what’s going to happen back [on defense.]”

Tampa can now confidently go eight deep on defense — Keith Aulie, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Brendan Mikkelson and Brian Lee have all played this season — and primed to replicate its success of two years ago, when the Bolts were one win away from the Stanley Cup final.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.