David Backes

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Red-hot Bruins make Montreal more miserable

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If you were scripting the way things actually transpired between the Bruins and Canadiens on Sunday … well, you were probably rooting for Boston.

The Habs actually played quite well against a Bruins team that’s given just about everyone fits, an impressive feat considering the game was also in the not-so-friendly confines of Boston. A funky Joel Armia goal gave Montreal a 1-0 lead about two minutes into the game, and the Canadiens managed to hold that lead for a long time.

… And then, well, things went about the way you’d expect between a Bruins team that is now on a seven-game winning streak, whose 3-1 victory pushed the Canadiens’ collapse to eight consecutive losses.

It almost seemed cruel when David Pastrnak smashed a puck past Carey Price at the 6:16 mark of the third period, right down to Pastrnak’s celebration:

Oof. Everything about this is a big oof, unless you’re that cruel, hypothetical Bruins fan penning the script (the genre’s definitely horror).

David Backes and Jake DeBrusk helped Boston pour it on to win Sunday’s contest, giving the B’s three goals in less than eight minutes to swipe a possible Montreal confidence-booster away, not even handing the Canadiens a charity point.

[MORE: A look at Montreal’s struggles when the slump was at five games]

To reiterate: it’s not as if the Canadiens stunk up the joint. This wasn’t Claude Julien’s answer to Mike Babcock watching the Penguins throttle Toronto 6-1.

Really, then, it comes down to taste: what hurts more, the blowout loss or falling just that close against a mighty team?

The eight-game losing streak has to heat up Claude Julien’s seat, no doubt about it.

But the more probing, painful question is: should the changes reach higher than the bench, and go right up the chain of command, all the way to GM Marc Bergevin?

We’re watching as Carey Price crumbles, carrying an unsettling .897 save percentage into Sunday’s game, and being without a win since Nov. 15. While some Bergevin moves look better with time (the Max Domi deal is a winner, and combining P.K. Subban‘s $9M AAV with Price’s $10.5M cap hit would be scary right now), the overall plan still seems lacking. And let’s not kid ourselves: Bergevin’s had plenty of time to sort things out.

Again, at least on Sunday, it’s tough to knock Montreal’s effort. They remain a strong possession team under Julien, and they haven’t enjoyed the greatest puck luck.

Eventually, people start to lose patience that the bounces will start to go the right way. An eight-game losing streak tends to intensify such feelings, particularly when you’re watching your historical rivals stomping around at your expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders place Andrew Ladd on waivers

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(UPDATE: Ladd has cleared waivers and will report to AHL Bridgeport.)

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the team put forward Andrew Ladd on waivers on Thursday, and from the sound of things, it’s unclear if we’ll see Ladd in the NHL again.

That said, Ladd’s $5.5 million AAV doesn’t expire until after 2022-23(!) so it’s possible that this saga may not be over.

For now, the Islanders are putting Ladd on waivers with the plan of assigning him to the AHL. Ladd had been on a conditioning stint while on LTIR as he tries to recover from a torn ACL suffered in March, and Lamoriello said that the Islanders hadn’t seen enough from that conditioning stint to have him resume playing. Setting such a standard would always make sense, really, but especially so with the Islanders humming along with an impressive 13-3-1 record so far in 2019-20.

Ladd’s longer-term future is fuzzy, and Lamoriello didn’t want to speculate about his chances (or lack thereof?) to play in the NHL again.

Newsday’s Andrew Gross clarifies that Ladd won’t need to be taken off LTIR to make this happen, which is relevant considering the whole $5.5M thing.

Ladd’s signing ranks as one of the many cursed 2016 free agent contracts, joined by Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo (the player he essentially replaced for the Islanders), David Backes, Loui Eriksson and more.

To be fair, Ladd had some utility if you looked beyond disappointing numbers for the money at times with the Islanders, but again, it’s hard to get too thrilled about such positives when the price tag was so steep. Still, he had some aptitude, particularly defensively, during his first two seasons for the Islanders, as illustrated by this Hockey Viz heat map:

Looking at Ladd’s contract structure at Cap Friendly, there’s the remote chance that the Islanders might be able to move that $5.5M cap hit (LTIR-bound or not) as the deal goes along. Ladd’s actual salary slips to $4M from 2020-21 through 2022-23, and it’s split up by a $3M signing bonus and $1M base salary each year. Maybe a team hoping to hit the cap floor might be willing to eat that cap hit to inflate their numbers for assets after the signing bonus is already paid, even if that would most realistically be able to happen heading into 2022-23? Perhaps the Islanders could bribe the Seattle expansion franchise to eat that deal, much like Vegas ended up doing with David Clarkson‘s contract?

Ultimately, those details are mostly the concerns of whoever is handling the Islanders’ cap situation in the future, and perhaps other teams hoping to squeeze every ounce of value out of an offseason.

Unfortunately, whether Ladd ever plays for the Islanders (or any other NHL team) again, it’s clear that the Islanders didn’t get much value from signing the former Winnipeg Jets captain.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Senators’ Sabourin to be released from hospital Sunday

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The Ottawa Senators are expecting Scott Sabourin to be released from a Boston hospital on Sunday, one day after he had a scary collision with Bruins forward David Backes and had to leave the TD Garden ice on a stretcher.

Sabourin gave the crowd a thumbs up as he was wheeled off the ice, and the other update the team announced on Sunday was that the 27-year-old suffered a fractured nose.

“Obviously you’re at a loss for words and it was pretty emotional on the ice at the time,” said Senators defenseman Dylan DeMelo afterward, via the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s just scary. Sabby has meant so much to our group. He plays hard, he plays the right way and he gives us energy on that fourth line. To see him go down like that, in the condition he was in, was very scary and very sad and we hope that he’s doing well right now. We hope he gets a speedy recovery … Anytime a guy is laying motionless in a puddle of blood, it’s pretty scary.”

Sabourin did provide an update from the hospital via his Instagram account:

Backes, meanwhile, was shaken up physically and emotionally following the collision and had to leave the game to due to an upper-body injury. According to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, the veteran is doubtful “for the next couple of games.”

MORE: Sabourin stretchered off, Backes shaken up by scary hit

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Senators’ Sabourin stretchered off, Bruins’ Backes shaken up after scary hit

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Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin was taken off the ice on a stretcher after appearing to lose consciousness after a frightening collision with David Backes of the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Backes looked shaken up emotionally (and possibly physically, as well) as both teams immediately looked concerned for Sabourin’s well-being. Fans in Boston were also clearly shaken up by the moment, as well.

Recent updates provide relatively optimistic news. Sabourin, 27, gave a “thumbs up” gesture while leaving the ice, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston passed along a note that Sabourin was responsive and showed movement in his extremities.

Later on, the Senators announced that Sabourin has been hospitalized, but was conscious and speaking with doctors. The Bruins, meanwhile, updated Backes as out for the game with an upper-body injury.

Senators forward Logan Brown is also done for Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.

UPDATE:

“He was conscious leaving. I don’t know the exact injury,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “They’re going to keep him overnight, but he was conscious and speaking. We’ll know (Sunday).”

Sabourin posted this message to his Instagram account after the game:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: 2019-20 bold predictions; Which teams will drop in standings?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Sportsnet’s Andrew Berkshire gives us a list of three teams that could fall down the standings this year. (Sportsnet)

• On the flip side, Berkshire also provided us with a list of teams that could climb up the standings in 2019-20. (Sportsnet)

• The Atlantic Division got even tougher over the course of the off-season. (Canadian Press)

• The Score makes nine bold predictions for the 2019-20 hockey season. (The Score)

• The NHL should allow teams to put sponsored logos on their jerseys. (The Hockey Writers)

• Who will finish with the most goals, points and wins? The Hockey News makes their predictions. (The Hockey News)

• The Jets have no update when it comes to Dustin Byfuglien‘s status right now. (NHL.com)

David Backes hit up a skating book camp this summer and he quickly realized he couldn’t keep up with a group of 12-year-old girls. (NBC Sports Boston)

• The salary cap will affect the way the New York Rangers shape their roster. (Blue Line Station)

• Which three players could lead the Blues in goals this season? (Bleedin Blue)

• It’s time for Pierre-Luc Dubois to step up offensively for the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Columbus Dispatch)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.