MONTREAL -- A season is not won or lost at the NHL’s trade deadline.
It’s a general manager’s job to improve his team, especially if that team is a Stanley Cup contender. The Boston Bruins have become a perennial Cup contender, so when GM Peter Chiarelli added depth to the team’s blue line by adding two veteran defensemen at the deadline on March 5 -- Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter -- it was a simple move that would keep the team’s core intact and wouldn’t disrupt its chemistry.
Boston’s division rival, the Montreal Canadiens, made a significant acquisition by adding veteran forward Thomas Vanek, who is considered a Bruins killer based on his repeated success against the black and gold.
Even before he was asked a question during his trade deadline day press conference, Chiarelli acknowledged the fact that the Canadiens improved their team. He said it would be a challenge to play them and that he looked forward to it.
The Bruins entered Wednesday’s game at Montreal with an 0-4-1 record in their last five games against the Canadiens, but Boston ended its skid with a 4-1 win at Bell Centre. The Bruins received contributions from every line, each defensive pairing and goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves in the victory.
It was the type of game Bruins coach Claude Julien was hoping he’d see.
Entering this game, the Bruins were riding a five-game winning streak and Julien wanted his players to downplay the fact they were playing their storied rivals. He also wanted to downplay the fact they were playing in hostile territory. As much of a challenge as that would be for the Bruins, they successfully accomplished their goal.
More importantly, the Bruins gained some confidence, knowing if they play their style of hockey, they can beat anyone in the league. Currently, Boston is atop the Atlantic Division with 91 points and only one point behind the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins. The conference standings are tight, so there is a possibility the Bruins will face Montreal in the playoffs.
“It is a nice way to answer, especially after what happened last game against them when they embarrassed us in our building,” Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “I thought we responded really well and we stayed poised in that first period, even though it wasn’t our best start. We battled through it and we got it going.”
Even though the Bruins attempted to downplay the situation, there was definitely a sense of relief after the win.
“It was real important,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who scored his 20th goal of the season. “We talked about our mindset going into this game, and it was just about focusing on what we’ve done well to this point, especially on this road trip.
“We just wanted to play to our strengths. Obviously you don’t forget when you lose a game the way you did last time against whether it’s the Habs or anyone else, you don’t forget how you played the last game against them and that gave us some motivation as well heading into this game. It’s nice to finally get a result against these guys.”
It didn't start out that way. The Bruins couldn’t create any sustained pressure in the first period and had trouble getting the puck deep into the Montreal zone. Turnovers were a problem too. Fortunately for the Bruins, Rask finished the first period with 13 saves.
“Early in the game, they got some early power plays, so we had to kill those and Tuukka stood tall in that situation, but I thought everyone overall played well,” Julien said. “You need your goaltender to be good and that’s what he’s paid to do and that’s what he did tonight. The rest of the team did the same thing.”
Rask finished with 35 saves to improve his career record to 3-10-2 against Montreal. Even though statistically he hasn’t been on the receiving end of many wins, Rask joked after the game that he’ll take full credit for Wednesday’s victory.
“I don’t care,” he said of his numbers. “I felt good against them [in the past] but I still have the losing record, so I’ve got to win some more games.”
At the start of the second period, the Bruins played their style of game. They created a fierce forecheck and took advantage of Montreal’s miscues. It was an important game for Boston, and with a six-game winning streak in hand, the Bruins are satisfied with the way they’re playing with only 17 games remaining in the regular season.
“Despite the start, I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Rask said. “We took most of their opportunities away and capitalized on ours in the second period. It’s a good road win, especially with the little cushion [in the standings] and we’re happy where our game is headed right now.”
Teams or winning streaks are not built at the trade deadline. The simple fact is the Bruins are a solid team, and Wednesday’s win against the Canadiens is just another example of how good the defending Eastern Conference champions can be.
Said Bruins forward Carl Soderberg: “We didn’t play well at all at home against them and we wanted to get a win here, so if we’re going to play against them in the playoffs we know we can beat them.”
The Bruins made that statement loud and clear.
The Bruins entered Wednesday's game with an 0-4-1 record in their last five games against the Montreal Canadiens, but Boston ended its skid with a 4-1 win at Bell Centre. With the victory, the Bruins extended their current winning streak to six games.
The Bruins received goals from Carl Soderberg, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara, while goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 35 saves. With the win, Rask improved his career record to 3-10-2 against Montreal.
On Wednesday, the teams were scoreless in the first period, but there were quality chances at both ends of the ice.
Lucic had a golden opportunity during Boston's first power play of the night. He received a pass in the slot and had time to get off a snap shot, but Peter Budaj made a blocker save with 1:15 remaining on the man-advantage. Lucic was smiling and shaking his head after the next whistle.
With the game scoreless early in the first period, the Bruins had control in the offensive zone, but the puck squirted out to center ice. The Canadiens' Max Pacioretty collected it and broke in on Rask, who turned away the scoring opportunity with a right-pad save.
Rask was key again during Montreal's second power play of the game. The Canadiens' Alexei Emelin threaded a pass through the neutral zone to Alex Galchenyuk, who snuck in behind defenseman Andrej Meszaros and broke in on Rask. But Rask denied the quality scoring chance with a glove save.
Montreal finished the opening period with 14 shots, while Boston had only six.
The Bruins drew first blood in the second when Soderberg notched his 12th goal of the season at 1:33 of the period. He collected a loose puck in front, and with linemate Chris Kelly setting a screen, Soderberg beat Budaj to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins added to their lead when Bergeron scored his 19th of the season at 9:25 as Boston gained a 2-0 advantage. Bergeron and linemate Brad Marchand created a nifty passing sequence in the Montreal zone before Bergeron finished with a quick shot from the slot.
The Bruins weren't done.
Montreal had control of the puck in the offensive zone when Lucic stapled Emelin into the side wall, which created a turnover, and in transition the Bruins' Jarome Iginla gained the blue line and held the puck along the wall, waiting for Lucic to jump into the play. Iginla fed Lucic the puck and he blasted a one-timer past Budaj to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead at 18:32. It was Lucic's 20th goal of the season.
The Bruins still weren't done.
Boston scored only 23 seconds into the third period when Chara netted his 15th of the season. Marchand made a centering pass to Chara in the slot, but Budaj made the original save before Chara collected the rebound and gave Boston a 4-0 lead.
The Canadiens, however, would not be shut out.
Montreal created a scramble in front of Rask and he lost sight of the puck as he was sprawled out in the crease. The Canadiens' David Desharnais found a hole and put it in for Montreal's first goal of the game at 2:46 of the final period.
DROP 'EM: After the Bruins gained a 2-0 lead in the second period, Montreal needed to do something, so the Canadiens' Brandon Prust asked Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller to drop the gloves. Miller obliged and the two went toe-to-toe. Prust landed a few shots, but Miller held his own. It was Miller's third fighting major of the season.
UP NEXT: It's a quick turnaround for the Bruins. This is the 12th of 17 sets of back-to-back games this season as they return to Boston and host the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night (7 p.m.) at TD Garden. The Bruins are 9-2-1 in the first game and 9-2-0 in the second of those series.
SNAPPING IT: The Bruins are 0-4-1 in their last five games against the Canadiens. This is the third of four games between these teams this season. The Bruins are 17-10-3 on the road this season and 16-8-1 against Atlantic Division teams. Montreal beat Boston 2-1 on Dec. 5 at Bell Centre. Then the Canadiens won 4-1 on Jan. 30 at TD Garden.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins are in the midst of a five-game winning streak. Boston is 8-2-1 in its last 11 games and 13-2-3 in the last 18. After a 4-3 shootout win over Tampa on Saturday, and 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday, the Bruins close out this three-game road trip against the Canadiens.
“We’ve got to go out there and play our game and let’s continue to do the things we’ve done lately,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That’s where our focus has to be. Not on the team we’re playing, not on where we are, but what we have to do and that’s what we intend to do tonight. We played a great game in Tampa, a great game in Florida and now it’s about bringing this game here and doing the same things that have given us success. If we focus on those things our chances are good.”
Montreal is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games and has an 18-10-5 record on home ice. The Canadiens are 9-6-4 against divisional opponents.
“If we go out and play our game tonight, it’s going to be an interesting one,” Julien said.
MASKED MEN: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did not participate in the team’s optional morning skate Wednesday, but he’s expected to start against the Canadiens. He has a 2-10-2 career record against Montreal, with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Rask is leading the league with six shutouts, and is 7-3-2 in his last 12 starts. Since Montreal’s No. 1 goalie Carey Price remains sidelined with a lower-body injury, fellow netminder Peter Budaj will start against the Bruins. Budaj is 4-1-0 in his career against the Bruins, including one shutout, a 2.34 GAA and a .919 SP. He stopped a season-high 34 shots en route to a 4-1 win over the Bruins on Jan. 30. Overall, he’s 8-7-2 with a 2.42 GAA and a .909 SP in 20 games this season.
LINEUPS: The Bruins will be without forward Daniel Paille (concussion) and defenseman Dougie Hamilton (healthy scratch). Forward Jordan Caron will play on the Bruins’ energy line, along with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell. Montreal added forward Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline and this will be his first game against the Bruins as a member of the Canadiens. He has 61 points in 53 career games against the Bruins. Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges is out with a broken left hand.
“I’m going with the same D-core as I had the other night,” Julien said.
The pairings will likely be: Zdeno Chara-Andrej Meszaros, Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug-Kevan Miller.
Meszaros, who arrived in Boston via a deadline-day trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, made his Bruins debut in a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday in Sunrise, Fla. He scored a goal, registered six shots on net and logged 20:36 of ice time.
Since the Bruins play a completely different defensive style than he’s used to, Meszaros has been watching video before and after games, and has been spending time learning the system from the coaching staff.
A left-handed shot, Meszaros played the majority of his career on the right side, but this season the Flyers had him on the left side. Julien would like Meszaros to return to the right side, which is a comfortable spot for the veteran defenseman.
“To me it doesn’t matter,” Meszaros said. “I like it because your stick is always in the middle in the offensive zone so you can shoot it right away. Obviously, it’s a little tougher to pull [the puck] off the wall and in the defensive zone it’s a little bit harder to pass it, but when you play for so long you get used to it and I don’t mind it at all.”
Hamilton has played well this season, his first full season in the NHL, but he had a few critical miscues in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to the acquisitions of Meszaros and Corey Potter, the Bruins had only six healthy defensemen. Now that there’s depth again, it creates a healthy competition on the team’s blue line. Overall, Hamilton has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points, including a plus-14 rating in 47 games this season.
Paille, who suffered the injury early in the first period of Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers, could return to game action on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden.
“We felt it was a real minor concussion, but the protocol is what it is and you have to respect that and right now he’s just going through the stages and doing very well,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Today he skated with no contact and hopefully we’ll move on to the next level by tomorrow.”
Paille showed no ill effects during Wednesday’s skate. Overall, he has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points, including a plus-9 rating in 57 games this season. He missed seven games in December due to a concussion.
Pressure already on Caps' Kuznetsov
It will be interesting to see how Washington head coach Adam Oates employs Evgeny Kuznetsov during the stretch run. The former first-round pick of the Caps (26th overall in 2010) made his NHL debut Monday after much anticipation and many delays. Oates admitted he was trying to shield the talented winger from expectations in what is a completely foreign game to the youngster. Kuznetsov played 10:22 in his NHL debut (and 14:52 on Tuesday night against the Penguins), lining up mostly on the team’s fourth line, although he did end up playing a shift or two with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. The issue will be how quickly to try to accelerate the learning process for the 21-year-old. The Caps are life and death to make the playoffs and one of the team’s critical areas of deficiency is its depth scoring. After Ovechkin’s 44 goals there isn’t a 20-goal scorer on the roster. The Caps are one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference but have two teams to jump over, have played more games and have a poor tiebreaker with just 22 regulation or overtime wins. In short, whether it’s fair or not, how quickly Kuznetsov adapts to the North American game might say a lot about whether the Caps’ streak of six postseason appearances gets to seven.
Jets are passive and winless
There’s the old chestnut about the best deal you make being the one you don’t make. Right now that doesn’t really apply to the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets, of course, made their big move earlier in the season when they fired head coach Claude Noel and then caught fire under new head coach Paul Maurice. But in spite of crawling back to within a point or two of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Jets were strangely passive at the deadline, neither moving potential free agents Devin Setoguchi or Chris Thorburn nor adding pieces that might actually push them into the postseason for what would be just the second time in franchise history. Their competition did not sit idly by. The Phoenix Coyotes added Martin Erat, while Dallas GM Jim Nill straddled the fence by trading defenseman Stephane Robidas to Anaheim while keeping free agents Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler (and adding Tim Thomas). Both teams have played well of late and are ahead of the Jets in the standings. Now we’d be praising GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to the skies if the Jets had reeled off a few wins in a row after the deadline to prove not just to the public but to themselves that their strategy was sound. But they have now gone winless in four and have failed to collect a W in the three games since last week’s trade deadline. The bottom line? As of Wednesday morning, the Jets were six points out of the final wild-card spot with two teams to dislodge and they are not in a good situation vis-a-vis the tiebreaker. In short, the chances of the Jets arresting the franchise history of fading to black come playoff time are slim to slimmer.
Fair for Devils to get pick back?
In theory, I don’t have any problem with the NHL relenting on its original penalty for salary-cap shenanigans in the New Jersey Devils' original contract attempt with the erstwhile Ilya Kovalchuk and reinstating their 2014 draft pick by locking them into the 30th pick in Philadelphia. When Daniel Alfredsson explained last summer how he and the Ottawa Senators had basically cooked up his last salary to beat the cap system and the league failed to act, well it just seemed fair that the Devils at the very least should get their draft pick back. But know this, loads of teams aren’t big fans of this decision. So the Devils are locked into 30th; it still robs the teams that draft behind them in the second round of a pick or, rather, positioning. Let’s say the Oilers draft first overall (don’t they always?). The Devils in theory are getting their pick at the top of the second round. Fair? Not for Edmonton or for Florida, etc. And the fact that this draft pick was given back at least in part as a show of good faith for the new ownership group in New Jersey does not sit well with other teams, either. Nor should it given the kind of precedent this has the potential to set.
Struggling a relative term for Bruins
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli admits he wasn’t thrilled with the way his team came out of the Olympic break. First, the Bruins were beaten by lowly Buffalo 5-4 in overtime. Then the Caps got the better of the Bruins by a 4-2 count. Even though the Bruins entered the break on a 3-0-1 stretch, Chiarelli acknowledged you never know how a sudden stoppage in play will affect your team.
“Sometimes you come out of it in a funk,” Chiarelli told ESPN.com this week.
Good thing for the Bruins "funk" is a relative term. Since a disappointing return, the Bruins have rebounded to play some of their best hockey of the season. In fact, they have played so well that at one point this week they overtook Pittsburgh for top spot in the conference in a battle that now seems destined to go down to the wire. Not that the Bruins are necessarily focused on the standings, but rather on making sure their style of play is on display on a consistent basis, as it has been during their current five-game winning streak.
“I liked how we responded,” from the slow post-Olympic start, Chiarelli said.
The Bruins tightened up their defensive game and have been rolling offensively, getting timely contributions from up and down the lineup -- the calling card of the Bruins team that won a Cup in 2011 and then went to the Cup finals last spring.
“For us, it’s about having the four lines and three defensive pairs going and that’s hard to do. You have to have everyone in sync,” Chiarelli said.
This is a Bruins team that underwent significant change up front during the offseason with Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr all headed to different teams. But in recent days, the Bruins’ third line of Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson has caught fire and been a catalyst to their charge to the top of the conference standings. Kelly is a veteran presence down the middle and Soderberg’s skating has improved, which is important for a player with his size. Eriksson, the key to the deal that sent Seguin to Dallas at the draft last June, is making the kinds of plays that the Bruins expected he would when they made the deal.
“That third line has really been key,” Chiarelli said.
As for watching the standings, the Bruins finished behind the Penguins last season, but when the two met in the conference finals, it didn’t matter to the B's when they swept the favored Penguins.
“It’d be nice to be there,” Chiarelli said of the top seed. “But we don’t focus on it.”
Statues all around
It is the season of the statue, apparently. The Philadelphia Flyers will unveil a 1,300-pound bronze statue of Hall of Fame coach Fred Shero at Wells Fargo Center on the morning of March 15. It’s fitting the unveiling of the statue honoring the man who coached the Flyers to their only Stanley Cup championships, in 1974 and 1975, will happen before the Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose general manager, Ray Shero, is Fred Shero’s son. That’s a nice touch. A few weeks later, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have a similar unveiling near their home building in Tampa. A nine-foot sculpture depicting former captain Dave Andreychuk holding the Stanley Cup aloft as he did after the Lightning edged Calgary in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals will be unveiled during a pregame ceremony on April 5. Andreychuk is sometimes a forgotten figure in the Bolts’ seminal run to their lone championship. The focus has often been on Brad Richards, captain Vincent Lecavalier and the recently traded Martin St. Louis, but Andreychuk’s leadership and his willingness to adapt his style at that stage of his career to a more defensive role were crucial to the team’s overall success. Now fans will be reminded of that every time they head to a Lightning game.
MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins haven’t had much success against the Montreal Canadiens within the past calendar year, but they are hoping their recent string of success carries over into Wednesday night’s game at Bell Centre.
The Bruins are in the midst of a five-game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 22-9 during the stretch. After Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers, the Bruins were given Monday off to enjoy the warm weather before traveling to Montreal on Tuesday morning.
In preparation for Wednesday’s game, the Bruins held practice Tuesday afternoon at Bell Centre, and afterward coach Claude Julien remained mystified as to why the Bruins have lost five in a row to the Canadiens.
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that, but I can tell you one thing, I don’t think we’ve played well against them,” Julien said. “Have they given us trouble or have we given ourselves trouble? That’s the thing we’ve got to figure out here because, in my mind, it’s not to take any credit away from them but I’m going to talk more about this year.
“The game in Boston we just weren’t playing well at all, so hopefully tomorrow we’ll paint a different picture, and if we play the way we’ve played lately, I think it’s going to be a great game. We’ve just got to focus on that.”
The Bruins are atop the Atlantic Division with 89 points and Montreal is third with 77 points. The Canadiens have won both games against Boston this season, but Montreal coach Michel Therrien said his team is not taking Wednesday’s contest for granted.
“First of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” Therrien said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’s a huge challenge for us.”
The last thing the Canadiens see when they exit their locker room is a giant picture of them celebrating a goal against the Bruins. It’s not like Montreal needs any added motivation against the Bruins, as the Canadiens always are at their best when Boston comes to town. While the Bruins are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, Montreal is 6-3-1.
“They’re playing well, and even though they lost their last game, their lineup is strong and solid and they always give us a good run,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said. “It’s important for us to know that the job’s not done yet and to carry on what we did in Tampa and Florida.”
In the first matchup of the season between the teams, the Bruins dominated the majority of the game. However, Boston’s second period on Dec. 5 at Bell Centre was one of its worst 20 minutes of play this season and the Canadiens finished with a 2-1 win. Julien was disgusted after the game because of the team’s implosion.
Montreal dominated the second game of the season series with a 4-1 win over the Bruins on Jan. 30 at TD Garden. The Canadiens embarrassed the Bruins, who simply had no answers.
Now, in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season, the Bruins hope to reverse their misfortunes against the Canadiens.
“They play us hard,” Campbell said. “A lot of the matchups in the league aren’t dependent on where teams sit in the standings. It’s more of how you might match up against a team, and in this case, it’s a major rivalry, so both teams are always up for the games.”
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has struggled against the Canadiens. He’s 2-10-2 against Montreal and was pulled after allowing three goals on 18 shots during Montreal’s win at TD Garden in January.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since the Olympics, practiced with the team Tuesday, and while Therrien said his No. 1 goalie is improving, he will not play against the Bruins.
From a defensive standpoint, Julien made some changes to the team’s blue line on Sunday in Florida. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch, but Julien said that will not be a permanent thing. When asked if Hamilton would be back in the lineup against the Canadiens, Julien said he hasn’t made a decision.
Hamilton has played well this season, but had a few miscues in the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. With the trade deadline additions of Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter, the Bruins have more depth defensively, which gives Julien more options.
“Dougie’s not going to sit long. Dougie has played good hockey and he’s been good for us, so Dougie is not going to be the guy that is going to be singled out here,” Julien said. “Dougie is going to be back in our lineup, and it’s just a matter of me making those tough decisions. But the good part is we’ve got a lot of games in a short span of time, so there’s lots of room for everybody to get in there.”
After Tuesday’s practice, many of the Bruins players were asked about their lack of success against Montreal. All the answers were the same. They’re not concerned with the past five games against their storied rival; it’s only about Wednesday night.
After that game, the teams play only once more during the regular season, on March 24 at TD Garden. The Bruins could use a confidence boost from these last two games because the teams might meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It's going to be a great battle. It's always fun against them, there's always a lot of history and lots of build-up also,” Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s always exciting to be here. It's a great building to play in, it's a tough building to play in. That's what you want. [Wednesday’s] game is going to be a tough battle, but that being said, that's why we play, and it's always fun.”
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The NHL's general managers and other league personnel were gathered at a Florida golf club for a dinner to honor former Blues GM Larry Pleau on Monday night when they were alerted that something had gone horribly wrong in Dallas.
Dallas forward Rich Peverley had collapsed on the Stars' bench and immediately in Florida there was a desperate need to get more information. As the NHL's disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan always has the capability to watch video whenever games are on, even at a dinner.
He grabbed his iPad.
"My guys are back in New York doing the game in the video room," Shanahan told ESPN.com Tuesday. "They sent it to me immediately."
He shared the Peverley video with Stars GM Jim Nill, who was checking voice mails in an attempt to get any update of the situation.
Commissioner Gary Bettman, Nill, Shanahan, Colin Campbell, Bill Daly and Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen were all part of a group that went into a hallway to form the proper response, all the while trying to gather as much information as possible on Peverley's health.
Both the Stars and Blue Jackets let it be known that they strongly preferred to stop play for the night. Ultimately, Shanahan said, it was Bettman who made the call to postpone the game -- the right decision.
"He knew what to do," Shanahan said. "Gary's a very clear thinker in crisis mode. First and foremost, it was about the health and safety of Peverley."
For Shanahan, it was a reminder of the scary moment he experienced as a player when Detroit Red Wings teammate Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench during a game against Nashville in 2005. It was a moment that helped the NHL gain experience and make improvements in medical standards that might have saved Peverley's life.
In that 2005 game, Shanahan was at the end of the bench and saw commotion. He saw someone standing over Fischer and first thought a fan had gotten onto the bench. When the reality hit that it was a medical emergency, he joined his teammates in trying to get play stopped. They threw sticks on the ice, jumped over the boards. Anything to get the attention of the referees.
"The referees didn't know what we were doing," Shanahan said.
Mathieu Schneider, now an executive with the NHLPA and in Florida to represent the players in the rules debate being had by the GMs, was closer to Fischer than Shanahan. Much closer.
He said Fischer collapsed right onto him.
"That was one of the scariest moments of my career," Schneider said. "You had no idea what was happening. But then he started convulsing. It was real scary for everyone. [Red Wings head physician] Tony Colucci was right behind our bench and on top of him before anyone knew. It was a great effort to save him."
The same can be said for Peverley and the doctors in Dallas. While there was universal concern among those at the GM meetings in Florida for Peverley and the gravity of the situation, there was also gratitude that the Stars staff was as prepared as it was to respond to that situation.
"We've had a number of scary incidents over the years, probably 10-15 years. I think that has helped us compile medical emergency standards that we have in place in every building," said deputy commissioner Bill Daly. "Obviously in this instance, the fact that the doctors have to be proximate to the playing surface with immediate access to the players bench or the playing surface is important. Thank God it worked out the way it did."
The next step is moving forward.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the league had narrowed down the date on which the game between Dallas and Columbus would be made up. In following the Fischer blueprint, the plan is to play a full 60-minute game with the Blue Jackets starting with a 1-0 lead, carried over from Monday night's game.
Both the Stars and Blue Jackets were back in action Tuesday night, really the best way to honor a hockey player once the situation is stabilized. Keep on playing.
Shanahan understands the emotions the players are feeling right now and sometimes it's just best to get back on the ice.
"Look, it's tough that there's such a quick turnaround," Shanahan said. "I think they’ll have to use all of their skills as professional athletes to block things out, which they do with other things. ... My guess is that they probably all went to the hospital. Maybe had a chance to speak to him last night, certainly that helped them today."
Paille, who was injured early in the first period of Sunday's 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers, could return to game action Saturday.
The Bruins are in Montreal to play the Canadiens on Wednesday and then return home to play the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
"Yeah, he's feeling much better," Julien said after the team's skate Tuesday at Bell Centre. "Like I said the other day, it's very minimal, but they deemed it a concussion so he's going through the protocol right now," adding that there's "a very good possibility" Paille will play on Saturday.
Paille also suffered a concussion in December and missed seven games. He has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in 56 games this season, and has a plus-9 rating.
MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins on Monday were enjoying a day off in Florida and were in the midst of a team dinner when the players learned former teammate Rich Peverley collapsed during a game due to a cardiac episode.
Peverley, who was traded from Boston to the Dallas Stars as part of the Tyler Seguin deal last July, collapsed on the bench during Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Stars’ medical staff quickly worked on Peverley before he was transported to the hospital. The game was postponed.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. “Obviously, I was really worried. The first thing I thought was trying to talk to some of my teammates to see if they had any updates. I reached out to Tyler after his game and was able to get a few answers from him, so it was good to hear he was feeling OK, he was stable. With that being said, thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and I’ll send lots of positive energy, also.”
Bruins forward Chris Kelly, who arrived in Boston along with Peverley at the trade deadline in 2011, said he is concerned for his former teammate and friend.
“It’s scary. Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with him and his family,” Kelly said. “It’s a scary thing. We were all out for dinner [Monday] night when we found out and the whole room was pretty shaken. It’s good to hear he’s doing better. I hope he gets home soon.”
Kelly said he understood why the Stars game was called.
“We all love hockey. We all love playing the game, but when something like that happens, at the end of the day it’s a game,” Kelly said. “There’s more important things than hockey, especially someone’s health is far, far more important than a game. I thought, obviously, that was the right call.”
In preparation for Wednesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins held practice Tuesday afternoon at Bell Centre, and afterward the players were trying to get updates on Peverley. Bruins forward Shawn Thornton texted Peverley and actually received a response.
“I shot a bunch of texts to everybody. Actually Segs called me right back and gave us the 411,” Thornton said. “You never want to see that obviously, but he's one of our good friends on this team. He's one of the great guys. We were pretty worried. The room went pretty quiet, but he texted me back today though and I think he seems to be doing OK. That's a positive.”
Boston acquired Peverley from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart on Feb. 18, 2011. Peverley quickly became a favorite in the locker room and helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup that season.
Last summer, general manager Peter Chiarelli traded Peverley and Seguin to the Stars in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
On Tuesday, Julien said the Peverley trade was a business decision, but that he's still popular with the Bruins.
“Just because you make trades, we know that you separate the personal with the business side of it. The personal side of it had absolutely nothing to do with that trade because he was well-respected, like I said, by his teammates and by the coaching staff,” Julien said. “We liked Rich. He’s a good person. He was a good player. He cared about the game. He cared about his performance, to the point where sometimes he was too hard on himself. He’s a player, he’s an individual, more importantly that we got to know. Our thoughts and our prayers were with him as much as his teammates that he has now had for him. But like I said, just for us it’s glad to hear there’s a good ending at the end of this all. You always fear the worst.”
Vanek has enjoyed tremendous success against the Bruins, posting 61 points in 53 career games. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli called Vanek’s move to Montreal a challenge for Boston, but one that the team was looking forward to.
Montreal will host the Bruins on Wednesday night at Bell Centre.
Vanek participated in his first full practice with the Canadiens on Tuesday. Afterward, he downplayed his success against Boston.
“I don't know. The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can't really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it's a big game, it's a great team and you want to play in big games.
Vanek, who spent the majority of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, was asked about experiencing this rivalry between the Bruins and Canadiens.
“The rivalries, I think, are for the fans and they're good to have in this league, but for us in here -- and I'm sure it's the same as everywhere -- it's just about winning two points,” Vanek said. “I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be great and I can't wait to experience it tomorrow.”
Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since the Olympics, practiced with the team Tuesday. While Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said his No. 1 goalie is improving, Price will not play against the Bruins.
Currently, the Bruins are atop the Atlantic Division with 89 points and Montreal is third with 77 points. The Canadiens have had success against Boston this season, winning both games, but Therrien said his team is not taking Wednesday’s opponent for granted.
“First of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” he said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’s a huge challenge for us.”
Editor's note: These rankings are based on player production in terms of Hockey Prospectus' GVT valuation metric. If you are unfamiliar with GVT and how it works, you can find more here.
Every week, Hockey Prospectus will provide updated Player Power Rankings for the top 10 skaters and top five goalies in the NHL based on HP's proprietary value metric GVT, a statistic that combines player contributions in all aspects of the game, including defense, goaltending and the shootout. The data presented here includes a value for offensive GVT, defensive GVT, shootout GVT and overall GVT (stats through Saturday).
Top 10 skaters
Although it's hard to find fault with Crosby's game, here's one: His even-strength points have dropped significantly from the pace of the past three seasons, when he averaged 1.12 even-strength points per game. He's at 0.84 even-strength points per game this season.
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* Sharks: Outscored Penguins 4-1 in third period.
* Sharks: At least one point in six of last seven games.
* Brent Burns (SJ): Two goals; three goals in last two games following 19-game drought.
* Olli Maatta (PIT): First career two-goal game; has four goals in last five games.
Avalanche 3, Red Wings 2 (F/OT)
* Avalanche: Won four straight; 14-5-0 in last 19 games.
* Andre Benoit (COL): First career OT goal.
* Nathan MacKinnon (COL): Assist on winning goal; 13-game point streak (breaks Wayne Gretzky's record for longest by 18-year-old).
* Red Wings: Ninth home loss this season in OT or shootout (11-11-9 at home).
Coyotes 5, Canadiens 2
* Coyotes: Snap a 14-game winless streak (0-9-5) against the Habs; hadn't beaten Montreal since Dec. 9, 1998.
* Radim Vrbata (PHX): Two goals; third multi-goal game of season.
* Coyotes: Most goals since 6-0 win over Flames on Jan. 7; had scored two or fewer in seven straight.
* P.K. Subban (MTL): Two assists; Two goals, four assists during four-game point streak.
Sabres 3, Lightning 1
* Sabres: Won four of five games since Olympic break.
* Tyler Myers (BUF): Goal, assist; three goals, three assists in last four games.
* Steven Stamkos (TB): No points, 5 shots in 21:03 of ice time; returned after missing 45 games with broken leg.
* Ryan Callahan (TB): No points, 4 shots in 16:33 of ice time in Lightning debut.
Bruins 3, Capitals 0
* Bruins: Won three in a row; improve to 30-5-1 when scoring first.
* Tuukka Rask (BOS): Sixth shutout of season (leads NHL).
* Gregory Campbell (BOS): Goal (7); Four goals in past four games after none in previous 12.
* Capitals: Three-game winless (two losses, tie) streak after winning previous four in a row.
BOSTON -- After Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acquired two defensemen before Wednesday's trade deadline, it's no coincidence the Bruins produced one of their best defensive games of the season, a 3-0 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Boston acquired veteran defensemen Andrej Meszaros via trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and claimed Corey Potter off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers, and now the Bruins have the blue-line depth they needed. Though both were healthy scratches Thursday night, their presence creates a healthy in-house competition again.
"Having those guys come in, we have eight D now," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Now, it becomes a competition within our dressing room and the six best will be in the lineup. Right now that's what we've got and it's a healthy thing to have on a hockey club and that's what we've created right now."
"We have eight D now and you've got to play your best to stay in the lineup, too, so I don't know if that kind of helped us, but we'll see what happens going forward," Dougie Hamilton said.
Meszaros spent his first day in Boston watching from the Level 9 box as a healthy scratch. Earlier in the day, Julien said he wanted to ease Meszaros into the lineup until he learns the team's system, which is completely different than what he has been used to in his career.
Because the Bruins produced a solid defensive effort against the Capitals, goalie Tuukka Rask wasn't challenged too often and finished with 16 saves to record his league-leading sixth shutout of the season. He was pleased with the lack of mental breakdowns by the team.
"Today was one of the best in a long time," Rask said. "We kept them to 16 shots and not too many scoring chances. We had layers all over the ice and defended the middle really well. We back checked hard and had all the elements we want to have out there. It was great to see that."
It was a typical defensive game for the Bruins. Not only were the defensemen solid, Boston's forwards were getting back and creating pressure to stifle Washington's attack.
At the start of the season, Matt Bartkowski served as a healthy scratch for 12 of the first 16 games. When McQuaid suffered a lower-body injury in earlier November, Bartkowski was inserted into the lineup and has since missed only three games.
Now that Boston's depth is back to eight healthy defensemen, Bartkowski says he's focused solely on doing his job.
"It's nothing I can worry about, or should worry about, or anything," Bartkowski said. "We need more depth, so we got more depth. We got two solid defensemen out of it, which is good and it only makes our team better."
Julien mentioned after the game that he was impressed with Bartkowski's play.
"I thought he was really good," Julien said. "He was physical. He was strong. He was moving the puck well and he skated well, so that kind of play will certainly keep him in the lineup."
Rask finished with just 16 saves, while teammates Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand (empty net) provided the goals to help the Bruins to their third straight win. Campbell now has four goals in his last four games.
It's also hard to believe this Capitals team defeated the Bruins 4-2 Saturday at the Garden. The Capitals, who have the second-ranked power-play unit in the league, scored two power-play goals that game, so the Bruins knew they needed to stay disciplined and out of the penalty box in order to have success Thursday, which they were able to do.
After a scoreless first period, the Bruins gained a 1-0 lead at 3:05 of the second period. Campbell led the Boston forecheck and did the grunt work before he was rewarded with his seventh goal of the season when he redirected Patrice Bergeron's one-timer past Washington goalie Braden Holtby.
The Bruins continued their pressure and gained a 2-0 lead at 8:20 of the second. Again, Boston's forecheck proved too much for the Washington defense when Eriksson, who missed the last game due to a heel infection, scored a nifty goal from pointblank range. It was his seventh goal of the season.
With 2:02 remaining in regulation, Capitals coach Adam Oates decided to pull Holtby for the extra attacker, but Marchand scored the empty-netter with 1:34 remaining to close out Washington. It was Marchand's 21st goal of the season.
NAILS: Early in the first period, it appeared Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered an injury when he hit the boards behind Boston's net. He skated off the ice, favoring his left side and went directly to the room, followed by a team doctor. Fortunately for the Bruins, he returned a few minutes later and finished the game. Five times this season the Bruins have been forced to play with five defensemen in a game due to injuries. Prior to acquiring Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline, the Bruins have been playing with only six defensemen on the roster.
UP NEXT: The Bruins head out on the road for three games, beginning Saturday at Tampa against the Lightning. Boston will face the Florida Panthers on Sunday, then the Bruins travel to Montreal for a much-anticipated battle against the Canadiens on Wednesday at Bell Centre.