Both the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens faced an alluring proposition on Tuesday: they had the chance to improve their odds of winning the Northeast Division title by beating up on non-playoff teams. Each squad failed.
The Bruins lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 while the Canadiens fell short of a comeback against the New Jersey Devils, ultimately falling 3-2.
Despite the score differences, one can quibble over which loss was worse. The Flyers have been playing better lately, as this marks their fourth win in five games. On the other hand, the Devils are closer to full strength with Ilya Kovalchuk back in the lineup.
Either way, those defeats represent missed opportunities. Check out the two teams’ remaining schedules:
Thursday: home vs. Tampa Bay
Saturday: at Washington
Sunday: home vs. Ottawa
Thursday: at Winnipeg
Saturday: at Toronto
The Bruins have that extra game in hand while the Habs have one extra regulation/overtime win (24 to Boston’s 23).
Depending upon how things shake out, Montreal’s season-ending Saturday game against the Maple Leafs might just be a playoff preview.
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.
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 CSNNE.com’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.