Author: James O'Brien

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils

Baffled Bruins recall Khokhlachev


After stinking up the joint against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins are searching for answers. Even their official Twitter feed admits as much.

As much as the answers must come from within, perhaps a fresh face from the AHL might help? The team recalled forward Alexander Khokhlachev this morning, according to various sources including TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

The 21-year-old seemed to land in quite a few trade rumors over the years, including seemingly being involved in the Jarome Iginla swap that didn’t happen.

He’s certainly been making a case for a look with the big club, at least if his numbers with the AHL’s Providence Bruins are any indication. The 40th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft has five goals and 11 points in 12 AHL games so far this season. He was productive in 2013-14 as well, scoring 57 points in 65 regular season games and 14 points in 12 AHL playoff games.

As far as who he might replace in the Bruins lineup considering the quick turnaround against Montreal tonight after that throttling via Toronto on Wednesday,’s Joe Haggerty is disturbed by the array of choices:

It’s easy to see why the Bruins are frustrated with last night’s poor performance, yet they brought a five-game winning streak into Wednesday’s meltdown. They can prove that loss to the Maple Leafs was a mere hiccup by beating the hated Habs, and perhaps Khokhlachev could even contribute to that cause.

Here’s one guess regarding how he might fit in:

Roy preaches patience, bumps MacKinnon to Avs’ third line

Colorado Avalanche

There are a lot of words that come to mind when you think about Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. “Patient” probably isn’t high on that list.

Still, the beleaguered head coach took that approach on Thursday morning, telling the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater that “it’s a process.”

Sometimes that process involves tweaking line combinations, and in this latest instance, the most interesting change drops Nathan MacKinnon out of Colorado’s top two trios. Dater reports that John Mitchell will take MacKinnon’s spot between Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla while Alex Tanguay will play right wing with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. MacKinnon, meanwhile, will center a line with Jamie McGinn and Daniel Briere (replacing Dennis Everberg in the lineup).

Increasing depth?

On face value, moving the rising 19-year-old off the top two lines seems like a clear case of lost patience, but there are some reasons to defend the decision.

For one thing, MacKinnon’s offense dried up recently; the sophomore only has an assist in four games after a mini-burst in which he collected six points in three games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Beyond that, when you look at Colorado’s top three combinations under this amalgamation, it could conceivably be a varied attack. Much of that would depend upon Mitchell playing at the level of a second-line center, though, of course.

Sending a message

Lines change a lot in the modern NHL, so maybe this sends a message more than anything else.

While Roy’s patience seems like a breath of fresh air, his ultimate pleading remains the same: work harder.

“We’ve got to realize that it doesn’t have to be a perfect goal to count,” Roy said. “It can go off your butt, or your leg or your arm. Maybe if we can get a couple of ugly ones, it will loosen everything up.”

“But you have to work hard at going to the net to make those kinds of goals happen.”

We’ll see if the Avalanche can start turning things around tonight, as they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Report: Kaberle on verge of audition with Rangers’ AHL affiliate

Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens
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It sounds like Tomas Kaberle will get to see if his patience will finally pay off.

After falling short of making the New Jersey Devils and practicing with the New York Rangers for more than a week without a full contract, the veteran defenseman may be in line to get the equivalent to an AHL “audition” for the Rangers this weekend.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that he could play for the Hartford Wolf Pack as early as Friday, at least if he signs a PTO:

Seeing Dreger note “three games during the weekend” might seem odd to NHL fans accustomed to scheduling in which back-to-back games are about as hectic as things get, yet Hartford does indeed play games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That would give the 36-year-old some solid opportunities to shake off what must be a considerable amount of rust.

Even if the Rangers are merely giving Kaberle a look for veteran insurance, this is a cheap way to try to get the most out of him, even if he’s really just a short-term injury stopgap.

PHT Morning Skate: The former Bruins enforcer who taunted an entire bench


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

This “30 for 30 Short” on former Boston Bruins enforcer John Wensink and his taunt of the Minnesota North Stars’ bench is the best use of your 11-or-so minutes since “Too Many Cooks.” (Grantland)

A look back at the man behind the coach of the year trophy, Jack Adams. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

You just have to see Jaromir Jagr in marzipan statue form. (The Hockey News)

How Peter Forsberg changed the viewpoint on Swedish players. (Sportsnet)

This is apparently the 40th anniversary of Guy Lapointe’s lone hat trick. (Dave Stubbs’ Twitter feed)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Milan Lucic passed 500 games played about a week ago. Here’s a look at the impact he’s made on the Bruins so far. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Ryan Miller as Luigi and Eddie Lack as Mario? You’d think it might have been the other way around (via Lack’s Instagram):


Yeo to Wild: Leave your comfort zones

Mike Yeo

The Minnesota Wild have lost their last two games by a combined score of 7-1, including Thursday’s frustrating defeat to Ottawa (falling 3-0 despite more than doubling the Senators’ shots).

Ryan Suter and Mike Yeo almost seem to provide dovetailing views on how the Wild can turn things around beginning with tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Suter told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that “If you’re a checker, be a checker and be good at it” and so on. Yeo provided a rather different take, almost asking for players to stretch beyond their normal roles considering injuries to Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon.

“No one likes to block shots, but if things aren’t going well, you might have to get in front of one and do things that you maybe aren’t used to doing,” Yeo said. “Zach’s a tough player to replace. Spurge is tough on the back end. He was coming into his own this year, so it’s tough. Lot of pressure on other guys. They just need to bear down and we all need to pick up a little extra.”

While those messages seem to split off a bit if you take them at face value, the general tone is that everyone needs to play a little better.

It’s understandable that Yeo wants to see improvement – there’s always room for that, after all – but Minnesota should be happy with its overall work. The Wild currently rank as the best puck possession team in the NHL, and if they can keep that up over the long haul, they should be able to “make their own bounces” and other coach-speak.