With so few coaches are are vastly different from the coaches in precarious positions available, the solution teams are turning to is player movement. With some teams being unexceptionably bad, and lots of players, many who have been on the the same team a long time struggling who gets moved will be interesting.

Rutherford said some players likely would be reassigned to Checkers and some recalled. Said Faulk is one of players being discussed.
@ice_chip
Chip Alexander

The Canes are one of those teams that is struggling mightily, and no one on the team more so than captain and (former?) face of the franchise Eric Staal. He, and their high priced free agent acquisition Tomas Kaberle are unlikely to be waived so they can be assigned to the AHL, but the rumors around Kaberle are already flying.

Report: Hurricanes "desperate" to trade Kaberle. http://t.co/v2XBEz4f
@perkshub
Chuck Perks

Trading Staal would hardly be a popular move in Raleigh, but now when he owns the worst plus minus in the NHL is possibly the best time they could choose to do it. He’ll eventually break out of this funk, but it is anyone’s guess if it will happen soon enough to make the season salvageable.

Add Jeff Carter to the list of possibly disgruntled players. He wasn’t happy to be traded away from the city he’d spent in his whole career in. The injury to himself, the suspension of fellow summer pickup Wisniewski to start the season can’t have improved his mood any. Columbus is a nice little town, but from my visit there, I can fully understand why someone who loved the vibrancy of a larger city (even Philly) could find it pedestrian.

For those asking about reports of Jeff Carter requesting trade out of CBJ, here's my understanding: There has been no formal request BUT...
@TSNBobMcKenzie
Bob McKenzie
...Carter was devastated/miserable at being traded out of PHI and I don't imagine CBJ's poor start and his injury have improved mindset.
@TSNBobMcKenzie
Bob McKenzie
Have not been able to get confirmation or denial regarding RDS reports of Jeff Carter trade request. GM Scott Howson not available to speak.
@Aportzline
Aaron Portzline
Dealing with him on an admittedly limited basis, Carter has seemed rather well-adjusted and pleased in Columbus. No doubt wants to win, tho.
@Aportzline
Aaron Portzline

Given how well he’s played this season, and the number of teams who are looking for defensemen now I do wonder if the LA Kings might consider packaging Slava Voynov or one of their other defensemen not named Doughty with the the well regarded Dustin Penner and move them for a forward who might be able to score a goal or three. Of Penner Kings GM Lombardi has this to say:

The one thing, to his credit, he’s not in elite shape but he certainly made the effort to get in average shape, and he is continuing here.

 One thing we can all count on nearly as often as another Sidney Crosby update that isn’t is Kyle Turris rumors spinning until either December first or maybe, just maybe the Phoenix Coyotes sign or trade him. As well as they Coyotes are doing, maybe they don’t feel they either need him or whatever they got in trade. But sending him to a likely lottery team could get a legit franchise forward or a one of the numerous cornerstone defensemen.

Joe Haggerty, Boston’s Twitter Czar says:

@ Krejci would likely be odd guy out with Bergeron & Seguin as future 2 two centers. Bruins aren't sure he's a $5M a year player
@HackswithHaggs
Joe Haggerty

which while not exactly earth shattering, is likely an indication they’d listen to interesting offers towards the deadline, or sooner if the price was right. He’s not exactly the only person in the Boston area to speculate on the movement of the Sternbeck native.

With Rene Bourque having an extended cold spell, it’s nice to be able to log into twitter and not see his name in every twelfth tweet. I’m sure that will last until he scores his next two goals in one week.

Last but not least (of what’s interesting anyway) is the speculation that the Avalanche might be willing to move Paul Statsny for defense.

The Bruins escaped their visit from the Columbus Blue Jackets with two points and that’s about all that can be said for the home team in front of the crease. Tuukka Rask made the most of his appearance and gave the Bruins a chance to…not lose badly. Curtis Sanford as the other end of the ice was impressive. Good rebound control, good positioning, and some good luck. I think it’s safe to say that two more starts by Sanford of that quality will make the call to go to Mason a very tough thing.

The Blue Jackets are a better team on the ice than they are in the standings. They had excellent defense front of their crease tonight and broke up far more passes than they allowed to be made. At center ice they held their own with the Bruins for stretches, something teams a good distance above them haven’t done much of even when the Bruins have lost. The offensive zone was not pretty for the visitors, they never managed to get any sustained pressure. Despite their managing to score, the power play was something that must have fans covering their eyes.

With Johnny Boychuk out with flu-like symptoms, something I more than suspect he was not the only player on the roster with, McQuaid slid into his spot along side along side the teams recently exonerated captain.  In sixteen pretty solid minutes of play he got the only goal, played sound defense and generally looked good against Nash and the Blue Jackets top forwards. It was interesting to note that McQuaid and Chara played within the offensive zone tonight where as many nights Boychuck and Chara line up just outside the blueline. I’m not 100% sure if this is an adjustment to the opposition or owes to the speed advantage McQuaid has over Boychuk.

Despite a game that can only be generously called sloppy, the Bruins will head to Long Island Saturday knowing they won all five games of their home stand, and have a chance to maintain one of the NHL’s two seven game win streaks. The other belongs to the New York Rangers who the Bruins will host on January 21st.  My stars of the game: 3: Sandford 2: Rask 1: Mcquaid.

It was announced today, that Zdeno Chara would not be charged for his hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Outraged fans, egged on by irresponsible ratings whores like Tony Marinaro, paralyzed the cities police force fielding hundreds of calls in the wake of an unfortunate play that was not deemed worthy of suspension. The hit did propel sweeping structural changes around the NHL, and Pacioretty has not only made a full recovery, and stated he didn’t feel charges were justifiable, but gone from cog to cornerstone of the team.

The Connecticut native is one of a number of Americans propping the team up. His eight goals through the first eighteen games leads the boys of the Belle Centre. His assist total brings him to second in points on the team. The +4 that goes with these, is five higher than it was last season, and he’s doing it all in two full minutes more per game. At this Pacioretty stands a good chance of doubling last years numbers in the same number of games.

As good as it is for Zdeno Chara and his family, friends, team and fans that there will be no charges, and to see Pacioretty not just recover but thrive, this is possibly the best day sports have seen in the halls of law in decades. The precedent that would have been set if this had resulted in charges is so inimical to sports both organized and casual that it can not be overstated. If contact sports suddenly become subject to regular criminal charges for in game behavior, law enforcement becomes another tool for winning and everyone loses.  Boxing and mixed martial arts would become impossible to maintain. Football and rugby would be gone in a flash.

Referee manipulation is something that already happens in sports. Certain star quarterbacks in the NFL can get calls their way just for gesturing at the officials. Diving in hockey is so much a part of the culture on certain teams that eradicating it would take years. Imagine how much worse things would be if Eli Manning could whistle up the state police between downs to have whichever defensive lineman hit him dragged off for hitting him “too hard” or if Alex Burrows or other gifted actors demanded the police remove a visiting player for a devastating hit.


How deep would teams rosters need to be just to play a week? How deep would they need to be too make it a season? How much money would companies like Reebok and Under Armour lose terminating endorsement deals on a regular basis? Given the inefficiency of the legal process, how long would players have to wait in jail before their trials? Even the ones released might lose their ability to travel between states or back and forth across international borders.

Say what you will about the hit. You can hate it. You can believe it was indeed a criminal act. It doesn’t matter. If you enjoy contact sports; football, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, rugby or any of the rest this is your victory as much as it is Zdeno Chara’s. Today men and women can breathe a sigh of relief as a threat to the income of thousands of people across two countries tied together by the NHL and all the programs that feed into and from it have a threat to their way of life put aside.

Unless you’ve been under a rock the last two weeks you know the Bruins have won six games in a row and are undefeated in November. They ended the win streak of the Senators. Humiliated the Maple Leafs, and ran over teams right and left. Their next game is against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. Counting the Blue Jackets as an easy two points in sixty minutes might not be the best idea, but it is highly likely two points will be the outcome.

The most interesting question you can ask about this team right now is: Can they finish the month undefeated? With only one set of back to back games rest won’t really be a major issue. Four of the seven games are away, with stops in Toronto, Montreal , Buffalo and Long Island, so travel won’t be a huge factor either. While Montreal always seems to have their best games against the Bruins, the Hab’s aren’t exactly scoring prolifically and their blueline is still quite damaged.

The Red Wings will be in for the black Friday matinee, a game which is probably the one I’m most concerned about after the Habs. The Bruins seem to lose more matinees than they should, and it’s the game after two division games in a row. While this edition of the Red Wings is still likely a playoff team, it isn’t in the same weight class as some of the Detroit teams of the past.

If they get past the Red Wings and are still undefeated on the month, they would line up against the Jets the next night. Against the Jets the Bruins would have to watch for the twin traps of a back to back, and playing down to the level of a bottom feeder. On the plus side the Jets will come in off a Friday game at the Hurricanes.

After that, it’s a month closing trip to Toronto. With Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off before visiting the Maple Leafs, the biggest barrier to an undefeated month at that point would be a sixty minute effort.

So what’s your call?
[poll id=”9″]

Through 18 games the once sensational Eric Staal is still trying to get the engine to turn over. He’s a league worst -17, and his 4-4-8 line has people scratching their heads all over the hockey world.

Goalies:

  • Jacob Markstrom is back in the AHL playing for an offensively disabled team, while Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen  but don’t be surprised to see him back in Sunrise if the Panthers get an offer they can’t refuse for one of the two senior goalies.
  • Jhonas Enroth has the reigns in Buffalo after an unfortunate collision between the nominal number one goalie and an opposing forward. With a stellar .942 sv% and impressive 1.76 gaa, you have to wonder how many games he’ll get this season. If he’s in the #1 role long enough and still playing near this level it becomes a tough call to turn the job back over to a starter who hasn’t performed as well.
  • Thomas Greiss is 3-3-o in starts for the Sharks this season. Like Markstrom, he’s behind not one but two older goalies on the depth chart, and like Enroth he’s outplaying his teammates. his .919 sv% and 2.15 GAA are notable improvements over Niemi’s .903 and 2.74.
  • Ben Scrivens is the latest goalie of the future in Toronto. He’s been better than Gustavasson, with a .904 and 2.92 through five starts and six appearances.

Defensemen

  • Marc-Andre Gragnani leads all rookie defensemen in points, and sits at a +5 on the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Up on his second recall to the LA Kings this season is Slava Voynov, he’s playing over twenty minutes a game, has three points in his first five games, averaging just over 3 minutes a game in PPTOI means he’s likely to see a good number of points.
  • Jared Cohen is on pace for 208 hits and could hit triple digit blocked shots for the Senators, if he can find a few goals along the way the towering 2009 first round pick will make a name for himself.
  • The New Jersey Devil’s Adam Larsson is very quietly having himself a nice freshmen season. While the team has struggled he’s played a solid game with over 23 minutes of ice time each night, he’s second in hits for rookie blueliners, and sixth in scoring.

Forwards

  • Craig Smith is tied for the rookie scoring lead, on a point per minute basis he’s doing quite a bit more than Nugent-Hopkins getting a minute and a half less ice time per game.  Smith is also tied for the Predators scoring lead.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has slowed a bit off the season opening scoring bonanza but has still produced enough to stay at the front of the pack. His plus/minus is two higher than Smiths, and he’s second on the Oilers to that other Ryan forward in scoring.
  • Luke Adam is right behind Nugent-Hopkins and Smith with just one less point. He’s the rookie leader in assists and playing two minutes less per game than Nugent-Hopkins.

Names to watch:

Roman Horak is getting some important minutes on the Calgary Flames, not a lot of them yet, but with both short handed and powerplay time on the clock it’s obvious he’s got the trust of the bench boss. Gabriel Landeskog leads rookie forwards in time on ice, and with 45 hits and 12 blocked shots its obvious he’s not loafing in the neutral zone. Sean Couturier and Matt Read are making solid contributions to a stacked Flyers team. Nate Prosser is eating a lot of minutes for the Wild. Jonathan Blum of the Nashville Predators is on pace for 212 blocked shots, and has shown a scoring touch at lower levels.  Adam Henrique is quickly making himself a household name among Devils fans.

It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins style of play and their rapid turnaround from a deplorably bottom feeder to Stanley Cup Champions have ruffled some feathers. Along the way they’ve made enemies in Montreal, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and nearly every other city they’ve played on a regular basis. The other thing they’ve done is earn a ton of admiration and respect. That could lead to a big, big problem; poaching.

Specially, with all the disappointing to purely disastrous starts, it could be open season on the Boston Bruins bench and off ice staff. The Anaheim Ducks are on shaky ground, the Carolina Hurricanes are floundering, and both the St Louis Blues and Montreal Canadiens have already made some remedial moves. When does the first owner or president take to the stage with a new broom and say “no more”.

Off the ice one person who has a huge number of selling points to a team who needs to rebuild is former defenseman and current head of player development and assistant general manager Don Sweeney. While he’s spent most of his professional career with the Bruins, as his playing time was winding down he did pursue other options. Not only has he been a part of the Bruins front office since his retirement ushering young talent into the NHL, but before that he had an impressive player resume. Like nearyly anyone would be he was largely overshadowed by playing along side Ray Bourque. Make no mistake about it though, he was a legitimate impact player.  In his five front office years he’s helped rocket Adam Mcquaid, Steve Kampfer, Tukka Rask, Johnny Boychuk and others to the NHL with the Bruins, and helped others achieve their NHL dream outside the system.

Doug Houda is one of Claude Julien’s assistant coaches. He’s been here in Boston for five seasons,  he has coaching experience with a Stanley Cup Champion. Further his AHL coaching tenure is a winning one. He also had a long and physical career as a player similar to Dan Bylsma and Gordie Dwyer. As someone who has worked side by side with a Jack Adams Award winner and Stanley Cup Champion he’s got considerable cache.

The same could be said, and even more so for the other assistant coach. Geoff Ward has head coaching experience that Houda lacks. He led the Hamilton Bulldogs to AHL supremacy. He’s coached in two different OHL organizations, and led a team in Germany. With championship chops and head coaching experience of his own, he may be the ripest cherry of all the assistant coaches in the NHL.

These are just three of the men who could be ripped out of the organization at any moment. Next coaching and managerial change could rip out the nurturer of the pipeline. It could equally take out the special teams coordinator, or the man who is Chiarelli’s right hand managing contracts and overseeing operations. Integral pieces of the Boston Bruins ascension to the sports zenith are in the cross hairs of multiple organizations.

With six minutes and fifty seconds left in the first period there was body contact resulting in a two minute minor penalty between left winger Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins and Vezina winning All Star goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. It was well outside the crease, and clearly none of the player on the ice from the Sabres thought it was anything exceptional as they had 47 minutes to respond, and did not do so. Ryan Miller would stay in net after the contact. In the second period he would play all twenty minutes, and surrender two more even strength goals. At the start of the third period Jhonas Enroth would take over crease duties. This is not the first time Enroth has replaced Miller in net this season.

Initially when Miller was pulled it was reported as a possible neck injury. After the game, a focused and angry looking Miller stated he had only stuck around to call Milan Lucic a particular four letter word. The next morning, it was reported that Miller had a concussion and was out, but not put on the injured reserve. This is a bit curious for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that Miller has a concussion history. We’ve all seen players who have had concussions in the past suffer a new one. The reaction from the player is immediate. It’s obvious to everyone what their chief worry is. Miller on the other hand played twenty-seven more minutes, or about an hour and fifteen minutes real time.

This alone isn’t enough to proclaim something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but let’s take a look at these other oddments, including the goalie rotation that has taken place in the Buffalo crease this season:

  • The Buffalo Sabres are one of the highest spending teams in the NHL. Miller’s contract is for over six million dollars.
  • The Sabres had less than $52,000 in cap space available for the year, not counting LTIR money.
  • With Miller not on the LTIR, the team is seriously inhibiting their flexibility later in the year, when you note the injury riddled history of several skaters this becomes increasingly curious.
  • Both Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff have made bellicose statements that bring up the question of similar behavior by their team with very little if any concern expressed for their own player.
  • Terry Pegula who never seems to be at a loss for words has made no public statements.
  • One major difference between placing someone on the LTIR and shorter term designations is the ability to activate them in short period of time.
  • While Enroth has been announced as the goaltender for Tuesday’s game, it’s likely given the rotation, that even had their been no contact between Miller and Lucic that would have been his start anyway.

Obviously we don’t know what the inner workings of the Buffalo Brain Trust are, but one huge risk factor for leaving Miller day to day is the chances he will push himself too hard to come back. Marc Savard is like Ryan Miller prone to popping off and the mouth, and of similar age. No one can say definitively that Miller will push himself back to soon from the injury the team claims, but without setting up a firm timeline where game play is out of the question it’s impossible not to speculate on the seriousness of the issue, how seriously the medical and managerial staff take the injury that is claimed, and how much value any or all of them put on the long-term health and safety of Ryan Miller.

 

We all know the NHL’s on ice officials frequently make questionable calls and some that are just plain wrong. This is to a certain extent excusable. The guys in stripes and skates have maybe a second and usually much less to decide if something warrants time in the box or a removal from the game, and only their own vision to rely on. While no one likes it, it’s hard to come up with a better solution that doesn’t turn the game into a football like parody of free flowing action.

The gentlemen in suits and ties on the other hand have no such excuse. Off ice officials get it wrong at least as often, and with far less excuse. The people responsible for the long term direction of the of the NHL, who’s choices and attitudes trickle down into minor, college and high school hockey have set one standard and followed it for years. As a player you are either on the gold list of promoted and protected players, or its open season on your career and wallet.

One of the most notable examples of this is:

That’s clearly a third man in. The NHL rulebook has a segment on that:

46.16 Third Man In – A game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress except when a match penalty is being imposed in the original altercation. This penalty is in addition to any other penalties incurred in the same incident.

This rule also applies to subsequent players who elect to intervene in the same or other altercations during the same stoppage of play.

I’m sure it will surprise everyone to note Crosby’s record remains free of suspensions.

At some point in history the league office decided that off ice, non criminal behavior that euphemised a theoretical intimate relationship between two consenting adults was offensive enough to warrant an indefinite suspension. Here’s that now famous clip:

If we’re going to assume that what was merely implied in that video was somehow worse than striking someone in a manner clearly prohibited by the leagues rules and good sportsmanship than I suppose you can make the case that James Wizniewski’s suspension for the following act of pantomime is objectionable.

While I suppose if one is low minded they can infer the obscene content in this, one could also view it as reminder to Avery that he might need to brush his teeth, or perhaps it was an offer of a post game popsicle.

But of on or off ice implied and euphemistic obscenity is suspend-able, where is the review of Ryan Miller’s blatant vulgarity? He clearly and in front of the international media states he stuck around after a game in which he put up a poor performance, was pulled, and was arguably outplayed by his back up (again) specifically to call another player an expletive. Hours had passed between the incident he’s referencing and his speaking to the media. Unlike Wisniewski’s gesture, this was not done in the heat of the moment. It was done with malice aforethought and clearly warrants at least the same level of discipline.

But fear not Sabre’s fans, the NHL will protect it’s stars even when their teammates won’t. If will show that it’s marketing budget is far more important than it’s moral bottom line. The NHL will one more time overlook one of it’s premier players crossing a line it created and do so without even batting an eyelash, or making even the slightest comment. It knows what it is doing, and clearly some players are more equal than others.

Once more into the bottle. The last of the Boston Bruins divisional rivals take to the ice against the knights of north station.  Among them are the Marchand sized Gerbe and Ennis, the Chara-lite Myers and former linemate Patrice Bergeron the always enigmatic Brad Boyes.

Disclaimer: Even if your participation in this game is limited to drinking water something stupid is likely to happen.  No one actually cares what that stupid is since it will be your own damn fault, but if it should happen to get 500 or more votes on one of our favorite sites definitely send us a link, if it involves some hotties send pics too.

 

Take One Drink:

Any time the words “goalie rotation” are uttered.

Whenever the Bruins and Sabres last playoff meeting is mentioned.

If Lindy Ruff’s tenure is mentioned.

An injury graphic is shown.

Each time someone draws a size comparison among the largest or smallest players is made.

Take Two Drinks:

The changes in Buffalo are shown or mentioned.

A player, even one who isn’t Vanek or Pomminville, leaves the ice with an injury.

Boyes having been a Bruin or Paille having been a Sabre is brought up.

Goalie controversy is used to describe the crease competition in either city.

Any summer pickups by either team are mentioned: Ehrhoff, Regehr, Corvo.

Take Three Drinks:

Whenever you feel like it.

If a comparison is made between Rask and Thomas and Miller and Enroth.

Rookie Luke Adam is compared to Nugent-Hopkins.

The word expectations is tacked onto any mention of performance.

If a player who left the ice with an injury returns.

Take Four Drinks:

If at any point there have been more penalties than shots on goal in the period.

The record for either coach is mentioned.

The record for any of the goalies against the other team is mentioned.

The standings are shown.

There is a fight involving more than 3 million dollars in salary.

Skip a drink:

If Jack Edwards fails to apply the word “rocket” to any shot by Boychuk.

No coach is interviewed during a stoppage or intermission.

Someone breaks a stick.