Author: Joe Yerdon

Tuukka Rask

What happened to Boston’s vaunted defense?


BOSTON — Coming into tonight’s Game 4, one of the biggest stories was Boston’s tight defense and stellar goaltending. Watching Chicago take them down 6-5 in overtime made for quite the turn of events.

So, what happened? As you might expect, mistakes played a big role.

“We just made it too tough on ourselves,” goaltender Tuukka Rask said. “They got a lot of shots through and a lot of second opportunities. You allow six goals as a goalie you can’t be satisfied with the fact it wasn’t our best defensive effort.”

Did Chicago do anything new and different aside from putting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together? Rask didn’t think so.

“They just got shots through. I didn’t make saves or we didn’t block shots and they got those rebounds. It makes a difference.”

Captain Zdeno Chara kept his assessment brief.

“I thought they did a better job than we did [of crashing the net],” he said. “Net-front presence was something I thought we could do better. We didn’t manage the puck as well as we could’ve.”

Chara finished the night a minus-3 and was on the ice for five goals against.

Fellow B’s defenseman Johnny Boychuk says the team’s task heading into Game 5 and for the remainder series is simple.

“We have to clean up our own end and not make turnovers and play our own kind of game,” he said.

Is there anything positive to take from a frustrating loss like this?

“We did battle back and it was a two-goal deficit and we found a way to come back. We probably shouldn’t have been in that position anyways.”

Coach Claude Julien wasn’t going to evaluate his team publicly, but looking ahead he knows his team can improve.

“I think we can be a lot better,” he said. “We have an opportunity to be better next game.

“Hopefully, if anything, that makes us even hungrier for the next game.”

Quenneville says Hossa is ‘likely’ to play Game 4

Marian Hossa

BOSTON — In some much-needed good news for the Blackhawks, forward Marian Hossa is “likely” to play Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden, according to Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville.

“I’m not going to get exactly what the injury is or where it occurred, but I’m going to say he’s likely to play tomorrow night,” Quenneville said today.

You’ll recall that Hossa was a late scratch for last night’s Game 3, leading to youngster Ben Smith getting the sudden call to action after warm-ups.

Predictably, the Blackhawks have given no clues as to what exactly is wrong with the Slovakian winger, merely saying he’s “day-to-day.”

‘Hawks players weren’t sharing anything today either. When asked if he knew what was wrong with Hossa, center Dave Bolland said he didn’t know…anything.

“I don’t know him,” Bolland said, laughing. “Who’s he?”

It’s rumored, by the way, that Hossa’s injury is neck-related. But if one of his teammates is able to have a laugh, perhaps he’s indeed ready to go for Game 4.

The Blackhawks could sure use him, given they trail the B’s, 2-1, in the series and haven’t scored a goal since the first period of Game 2 at the United Center.

Hossa is tied with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane for the team lead in postseason points, with 15.

The 34-year-old winger also has three power-play goals, something the ‘Hawks haven’t managed to score in their last six games.

Hawks’ Smith goes from lunch with mom to playing for Hossa

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three
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BOSTON — Chicago’s Ben Smith didn’t expect to be playing in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. The young forward wasn’t even in warm-ups before tonight’s game.

In fact, the Boston College grad and Connecticut native spent the day about as relaxed as a player in hockey’s biggest series could.

“Being in Boston it was nice. I was actually with my mom this afternoon for a bit [for lunch],” Smith said. “It’s nice being close to home, but it’s a business trip here and we’re trying to win some games.”

After warm-ups concluded, however, Smith got the call to start tonight’s game in place of Marian Hossa.

What made the insertion of Smith into the lineup even stranger was the fact Jamal Mayers took warmups and still wound up a scratch. Smith was happy to get a shot.

“I was just told after warm-ups I was in and it was kind of a scramble to get ready and get warm. That’s kinda been the whole thing this whole seven, eight weeks. They tell us to stay ready and you never know when your opportunity is going to come. It happened tonight.”

Even though Chicago was shut out in Game 3 2-0, for Smith it’s the highlight of his season.

“It was kind of a wild night. I’m just obviously grateful to be a part of it to get an opportunity. Just wish we could’ve gotten a win.”

Jagr warns that we ‘might die just watching’ playoff hockey

Jaromir Jagr

Say what you want about Jaromir Jagr, but he’s loving being back in the Stanley Cup Final.

After last night’s 2-1 overtime win by the Bruins to even-up the series at a game apiece, Jagr talked about how close the game was and how thrilling the extra period turned out to be. Joe Haggerty of was there while he discussed the health hazards fans face in playoff OT.

“I bet it’s great and exciting for the fans who are watching hockey games,” Jagr said. “If you have a bad heart, you might not watch the game because you might get a heart attack. For young people, it’s pretty exciting to watch. Old people, don’t watch it! You might die just watching.”

So wait, what does an old guy like Jagr do when factoring in the game itself? He’s old according to how hockey lifespans go. That said, Jagr nearly sent many fans shuffling off this mortal coil after hitting a post in overtime last night.

Kronwall compares rookie DeKeyser to Lidstrom

Danny DeKeyser

Detroit rookie Danny DeKeyser apparently left a big impression on the Red Wings’ veteran players.

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall was asked about DeKeyser’s play by George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press and he had some very lofty praise for the Western Michigan product.

“He never puts himself in trouble,” Kronwall said of DeKeyser. “It kind of felt like he played a little bit like Nick Lidstrom that way. He’s just very smart and just read the situations.”

Even playing a little bit like Lidstrom is the kind of compliment one would be able to retire on.

Of course, DeKeyser has played just 13 total games in the NHL, two in the playoffs before breaking his thumb, so Kronwall is just a tad bit excited about his play. The DeKeyser love is reminiscent of Jonathan Ericsson’s big breakout during the 2009 playoffs when he was pegged as the next big thing. He didn’t really settle into a strong defensive role until this season, especially the playoffs.

In other words, it’s OK to be excited but don’t forget there’ll be bumps in the road along the way.