MONTREAL -- This just in from the NHL's Toronto headquarters: Milan Lucic has escaped his league hearing with no suspension. Here's the NHL.com story detailing the thoughts of NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, who spoke to Lucic today via conference call.
In essence, Shanahan said he could not determine an elevated level of intent on Lucic's part and that the Bruins' player was properly penalized for charging.
"The minor penalty called on the ice was the correct call," Shanahan said. "And, while it's unfortunate that Miller was hurt I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline."
There is no immediate comment from the Sabres. In situations like this, GM Darcy Regier usually speaks to the media between periods of that night's game. But you know how the Sabres feel. Remember what Lindy Ruff said this morning?
"If [Lucic] isn't suspended, it just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did," Ruff said. "Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty. That's essentially what that means. You can concuss the other team's goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it's fair game on goaltenders."
So the message is clear in the wake of Lucic's escape: If your goalie is hit, take care of it yourselves. The Sabres should have done that Saturday. They'll meet the Bruins again Nov. 23. That should be interesting.
1) "There shouldn't be game plans to run goaltenders over. I'm all for that. To say you put traffic in front of him is one thing. To run him over, I disagree with that. So again, it just kind of reinforces that it certainly wasn't meant to happen that way."
2). On why Miller played another period after the hit: "With the new protocol and the concussion stuff, I know the last three NHLPA meetings that I've been part of, they've clarified about concussions and head injuries, the main thing that they talked about is there's no such thing as getting your bell rung or seeing stars anymore. That's considered a concussion. And if you're in that position, you have to do whatever you can to take yourself out of play. And obviously, Ryan plays a big part in the NHLPA and what he does, and I respect him what he does there. That's pretty much it."
(It should be noted the Bruins' team doctors ruled Miller out after the SECOND period).
3). The Bruins remain skeptical Miller got a concussion on the hit. Said Lucic: "I've looked at it and his shoulder hit my chest, so there was no hit to his head. His helmet came flying off, but his head didn’t hit the ice."
EN ROUTE TO MONTREAL -- Greetings from JFK Airport as I await the flight to Montreal, where the Sabres have scheduled a noon meeting in the Bell Centre. Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall in that one after the stunning events of last night in Boston?
Well, it's long been an issue among their fan base, but the Sabres now have a full-blown issue as a weak team across the hockey world in the wake of last night's Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller dustup.
Read John Vogl's full recap from the Garden, which includes Miller's rant against Lucic -- and the Boston tough guy's pithy response that just about says it all: "We wouldn't accept anything like that. We would have [taken] care of business. But we're a different team than they are."
Obviously so. The Sabres are getting killed. Billy Jaffe on MSG Live out of New York called them "soft" last night. The Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove crew of P.J. Stock and Mike Milbury was baffled by the lack of response and the headline from this New England Sports Network column says a a lot too: "Ryan Miller calls Milan Lucic gutless for hit on goalie but Sabres lack of response was truly gutless."
Judge for yourself.
Here's a snippet from NESN of Lucic with reporters. Look at the smirk at the beginning of the interview and the little smile and raised eyebrow at the end when asked if he was surprised there was no response.
I guess Paul Gaustad doesn't fight anymore. Even Lindy Ruff pointed out he was on the ice. Would you have thought differently about Tyler Myers' disastrous night if he had at least done something with Lucic? Probably.
So what should the Sabres have done? Well, this isn't old-time hockey. I realize that. But you still don't run the goalie like Lucic did. Yes, Miller was out to play the puck and was fair game (**I take back what I wrote in an airport at 7 a.m. he was fair game to a point when he had the puck..but Lucic still has to try to avoid contact. That was totally unnecessary). . But when was the last time you saw that? Lucic knew who was on the ice and knew he had few worries.
You want to see what USED to happen when you ran the goalie? Check out these dustups.
The Bruins didn't allow this stuff in the 70s (see Willi Plett and Gerry Cheevers) and the Sabres certainly got a pound of flesh in the 80s in Detroit after Tom Barrasso got run earlier in the game. Look how the Bruins and Red Wings answered. Compare that to last night. Nuff said.
Summer isn't over yet for the Boston Bruins on their individual tours with the Stanley Cup. Each member of the winning team gets it for a day and today is Michael Ryder's day in his hometown of St. John, Newfoundland. Ryder, who will play for the Dallas Stars this year, is planning a helicopter ride but the day didn't start very well as the Cup got dinged thanks to a tricky table leg.
Check out the video from the St. John Telegram. Bet there's a nervous Cupkeeper nearby.
Boston is going to get a chance at another championship. Hey Beantown, how about sharing with the rest of us? For the ninth time since 2001, a Boston team is in the finals of the four major sports after the Bruins' 1-0 win in Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night.
While the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all had good runs of late, it's been a long time for the Bruins. They haven't made the Stanley Cup Final since losing to Edmonton in 1990 and haven't won the Cup since 1972. As a city, Boston is 6-2 in its recent title forays.
Writes Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy: "These are Boston’s Glory Days, Black-and-Golden Days, Lobster Salad Days." And he throws out another wild note: If the Bruins win the Cup, the Boston team with the longest title drought would be the Patriots -- going all the way back to 2005!
Nathan Horton (above right) got the goal with 7:33 left made the difference and he is the first player in history with two Game Seven winning goals in the same playoff year. The Bruins got him from Florida last June for defenseman Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in last year's draft a third-round pick this year. Lots of folks in these parts were advocating the Sabres go for Horton. Pretty good return for the Bruins, don't you think?
Down in Tampa, St. Pete Times columnist Gary Shelton -- one of my favorites from trips to the Final Four and World Series -- had this take on the end of a great ride for the Bolts: "No one is ever sorry to see a bad season end, after all. A bad team is like a bad tooth, and the quicker you can get rid of it, the better. When a team is successful, however, you cannot help but notice the opportunity that was missed."
In Vancouver, meanwhile, enthusiasm is higher than ever for the Canucks. In the form of a 56 feet long and 20 feet wide banner (left) affixed to the control tower at the Vancouver airport. Game One of the final is Wednesday night.
And who could be a surprise entry at some point in this series? Canucks center Manny Malhotra, a faceoff ace who suffered a career-threatening eye injury more than two months ago, is practicing fully. That would be quite an addition. Shades of Erik Cole returning to the Hurricanes late in the '06 final against Edmonton.
And how about some kudos for my cohorts? In our season preview video at Buffalonews.com, John Vogl picked the Bruins to beat the Canucks in the SCF while Bucky Gleason had the Canucks over Washington (I had the Capitals over the Canucks. Oh well). If you scroll to the 2:25 mark below, you can review the discussion of our picks.
---Mike Harrington (www.twitter.com/bnharrington)
(Horton photo from AP, Vancouver tower photo from Canucks.com)
There's a new "History Will Be Made" ad debuting tomorrow on NHL.com and the NHL Network as we get set to head into the playoffs. And it's a time-tested classic in these parts. Check it out here, courtesy of the league's entertainment department.
BOSTON -- Greetings from Level 9 atop the TD Garden for tonight's game against the Zdeno Charas, er, the Boston Bruins. Seems like that's all we've been talking about today and all anybody in the building is talking about. So I get upstairs to my seat here and what am I next to? A black stanchion blocking my view of the net to the left on your television screen. Plenty of room for me to move down a couple and get the view. No stanchions for me.
Be sure to scroll through all of today's posts for the latest on Zdeno Chara. We've had a very busy day on the Edge before a puck is ever dropped. But we are finally going to get to hockey as the Sabres try to pull two points ahead of idle Carolina in the battle for eighth place in the East. The Rangers are also idle. The Sabres will pull even in games with the Hurricanes while Buffalo will have two games in hand over New York when tonight's play is over.
Speaking of Chara, doesn't he have to be on his best behavior tonight? No outbursts like we saw after Game Five of last year's playoff series in HSBC Arena. I'm thinking the Sabres may want to try to agitate him even more than normal. We'll see.
The Bruins have gotten great goaltending all year from Tim Thomas and they're a classic play-from-in-front team. They have outscored their opponents, 60-40, in the first period this season. They are 25-4-4 when scoring first, 22-2-1 when leading after one period and 25-0-1 when leading after two. Wow.
Keep these numbers in mind if we go to overtime tonight. Buffalo is 12-8 when tied after regulation and Boston is just 2-8. The Sabres are 5-1 in shootouts, the Bruins are 1-5. Hmmm.
With all the Chara chatter and pregame prep, you still have to eat at some point. And when you're in Boston, one of the great choices is The Fours on Canal Street right by the Garden. I've been going since 1989 and made it there again this afternoon. Classic stuff. Tremendous Boston-themed memorabilia collection. Voted No. 1 sports bar in America a few years ago in a Sports Illustrated story and a great Boston-themed menu. I'm a veteran of The Bobby Orr, a terrific steak tips sandwich. But today, I got a little daring and took the dive into lobster mac and cheese. Major yum alert.
Now that I'm hungry again, I'll find some of the league's best press box popcorn and hunker down. Keep it here.
---Mike Harrington (www.twitter.com/bnharrington)
Sabres starters: Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier-Montador-Sekera. Goal: Miller Bruins starters: Paille-Campbell-Thornton-Seidenberg-McQuaid. Goal: Thomas
Overtime recap: SABRES WIN 4-3 as Boyes pots Gerbe's rebound with 1:44 left. It came 25 seconds after Rich Peverley had MIller beat but cranked a shot off the post. Sabres are 8-7 in OT deciders and 2-1 in them on this road trip.
8:59 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:42 left: The Bruins take the lead as Gregory Campbell pounds a loose puck through Miller's legs. Chara let got a big shot from the point that didn't appear to get through but it pinballed right in front of the goalie and Campbell put it home. Looked like it hit Campbell, hit another player and bounced right back to Colin's son. Bruins lead, 3-2.
16:35 left: Recchi for high sticking.
16:18 left: Marchand for tripping Sekera, who went down awfully easily. Timeout Lindy. Two-man for 1:44. The Sabres have to tie the game here.
14:55 left: And they do. Good pressure. And Connolly pokes one home on Buffalo's third shot. Game tied, 3-3. Connolly had not scored in 14 games. That's his ninth of the season. Game tied, 3-3.
13:30 left: They announced it as a Boyes goal. I'd like to see another replay on that. We'll see if that holds. The Buffalo PP is thus 2 for 7 tonight.
13:00 left: They change it back to a Connolly goal.
11:07 left: Terrible Montador giveaway but Miller stops Bergeron from the slot. Shots are 5-5 in the period.
6:00 left: Still tied at 3-3, which is a nightmare for your deadline-nearing scribe.
4:05 left: Good stop by Miller on Recchi after Boyes failed to get the puck out. Shots are 41-28 for Buffalo (8-7 for Sabres in this period.
2:35 left: Grier fails on a tap-in of a great Vanek pass after a Vanek steal at the line. Bigger point: I don't want Thomas Vanek passing the puck down low to Mike Grier EVER. Gotta shoot.
End-3rd: Remember my OT stats at the top of this blog. Go get em. Here we go at 3-3. Shots are 41-29. Sabres move a point ahead of Carolinq with their eighth of the road trip. Now going for No. 9.
Of note: The Bruins' PR staff is one of the best in the league. Pregame notes are stellar and they produce between-periods and post-game information sheets the like of which every team should copy (hint, hint, Sabres). Here's a nugget they just passed out -- The Bruins are 37-4-4 in games in which they've lead at any point. That's points in 41 of 45 games. Pretty staggering. But there's this addendum: Two of the four losses were to Buffalo, on Dec. 15 in HSBC Arena and here on Jan. 20.
7:58 p.m: The puck is dropped.
19:37 left: Miller stops Recchi on a play set up by a terrible blind back pass by Mancari. He'll get a one-way ticket never to return with plays like that.
17:40 left: Sekera stopped and Connolly just fails to get the rebound.
14:17 left: Thomas with more robbery, including a diving stop on a Connolly rebound. The play ends, the scrum ensues and Chara is right in the middle with Grier. In the end, McQauid and Grier go for roughing. The Sabres have a 19-18 edge in shots in this game; it was once 10-3 for Boston.
13:06 left: Chara goes for boarding and that was a terrible call. He pushed Montador down and Montador slid 10 feet and hit the boards with a thud.
12:47 left: Thomas robs Vanek but another penalty, Seidenberg for cross checking. That was legit. So it's a 4-on-3 for the Sabres for 30 seconds, then it will be 5 on 3.
10:43 left: The two-man edge was for 1:10 and the Sabres didn't score as Stafford fanned on one shot, passed too hard to Vanek on another. Thomas made good stops on Pominville and Boyes. And now the Sabres get a too many men on the ice penalty. Not good.
8:34 left: Grier and Pominville block Chara shots but just as the penalty ends, the big guy gets in tight to feed Ryder. His first shot is stopped but Recchi bangs in the rebound. Special teams, special teams. Bruins lead, 2-0.
8:07 left: Big answer. Ennis gets in tight, holds it, holds it, hold it and flips it up and in off McQuaid from the goal line just to the right of the net. Ennis' 15th. Bruins lead, 2-1. Sabres their first goal on their 27th shot of the night.
5:49 left: Another Boston penalty. Boychuk for holding. The Sabres have a 19-6 bulge in shots on goal in this period. Doesn't seem like the ice is tilted that much but Buffalo has been good. Except on the power play. Here's another chance.
5:00 left: What a play by Sekera to save a breakaway by Brad Marchand, who was off to the races after Butler missed the puck at the Boston line. But Sekera quickly caught up to Marchand so no chance for short-handed goal No. 13 against Buffalo. As for this power play ....
3:40 left: No shots on goal on the PP.
2:52 left: Another Boston penalty, Kaberle for tripping. Sabres should decline.
1:08 left: I take it back. Vanek half fans on an Ennis pass but gets enough of it to chip it over Thomas. Great play at the point a few second earlier by Myers to keep the puck in after his point shot got blocked. Game tied, 2-2.
48.9 left: Big bout at center ice between McQuaid and Gaustad. Lots of shots but decision to McQuaid on that one.
8.2 left: Another scrum that's really nothing until Gerbe sent a Bruin flying. Eventually, Lucic and McCormick slug it out and the place is going wild. That was a pretty ill-advised shove by Gerbe. Butler ended up with the extra penalty for roughing.
End-2nd: We're tied at 2-2. Wild period. Sabres had a 22-7 edge in shots and it's 33-22 through two.
7:07 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
19:20 left: Big cheer as Chara takes the ice for the first time. And the crowd is chanting "Cha-ra, Cha-ra"
18:04 left: Miller with some robbery on Nathan Horton, who took a pass and walked right around Connolly. A few seconds earlier, Chara drilled Pominville in the corner. He only knows one way to play.
17:06 left: McCormick and Campbell talk, look at each other and drop 'em in the corner. Big decision to McCormick drew a few gasps from the crowd.
15:17 left: Have to like the Bruins' skating and physical play so far. Sabres haven't done much in either department other than McCormick's scrap. Shots are 4-1 for Boston.
13:29 left: A definite smoke smell wafting up into the press box where I'm sitting. Hey you people in the balcony, what's going on down there? Security! By the way, Thornton goes for interference for Boston.
13:24 left: There goes the Buffalo power play. Myers for tripping.
12:43 left: Leopold just fails to get away, then the Bruins lose the puck again and Leopold and Pominville are in on Thomas on a 2-on-0. But Thomas stops the Leopold shot.
11:06 left: With the Sabres getting completely outplayed a goal was bound to happen. Great 3-on-2 by Boston. Krejci to Lucic to Horton for a goal-mouth tap in. Bruins lead, 1-0. Shots are 9-3.
8:15 left: Great save by Thomas on McCormick from right in front. Sabres have just four shots but two A-1 scoring chances as Lindy Ruff likes to call them.
5:05 left: Thomas stones Pominville from 5 feet after a Connolly feed. Sabres much better since the Boston goal, strangely enough. Shots are now 12-9 for the Bruins.
2:17 left: Miller with a good stop on Adam McQuaid from in front a few seconds after what was at least Connolly's third grievous giveaway of the period. Couple inquiries on the lines and I just realized I forgot 'em (sorry). The Sabres ran out Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier, Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari, Vanek-Connolly-Pominville and Stafford-Boyes-Ennis. Defense pairs are Montador-Sekera, Butler-Myers, Morrisonn-Leopold.
End-1st: With Miller making a save on Recchi in the final 30 seconds, the Boston lead stays at 1-0 through one. Shots were 15-11. Miller and Thomas were far and away the best players on the ice.
"The news of the NHL decision yesterday was a hard blow for both the players and fans of the Montreal Canadiens. It was one which shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard."
"The Montreal Canadiens organization does not agree with the decision taken yesterday by the National Hockey League. We can assure you that we have made our position clear to Commissioner Gary Bettman."
"Our organization believes that the players’ safety in hockey has become a major concern, and that this situation has reached a point of urgency. At risk are some of the greatest professional athletes in the world, our fan base and the health of our sport at all levels.
"We understand and appreciate hockey being a physical sport, but we do not accept any violent behavior that will put the players’ health and safety at risk. On this specific issue, I am asking for the support of the 29 other NHL owners, to address urgently this safety issue. And I am willing to play a leadership role in coordinating this group effort."
Molson said Habs GM Pierre Gauthier plans to make this a primary issue at next week's GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. Stay tuned.
BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara did not take part in the Bruins' optional skate today in TD Garden but he emerged in the Bruins locker room this morning and took a few questions from the media about the Max Pacioretty incident and its aftermath.
Obviously, Chara said he was satisfied the NHL did not suspend him for the play. He also said he understood Pacioretty's angry reaction in an interview from his hospital bed last night with TSN.
"I totally understand. He's in the hospital so he's got the right to be emotional so I respect that," Chara said. "I obviously feel bad he got hurt. As a hockey player we all feel bad when something like that happens. ... I'm wishing him to a fast recovery and hopefully he'll be back on the ice soon. That's all we love to do. We love to be hockey. When we go out there, we take risks and sometimes we do get hurt. But it's just very unfortunate."
Chara denied Pacioretty's assertion that he intentionally drove the Montreal player into the stanchion by the Bell Centre benches.
"It was just a hockey play that developed," Chara said. "I know deep down I didn't do it intentionally. I said it before it's not my style. It's not what I try to do. I never try to hurt anybody. I play physical. I play hard. That's not what I intended to do."
"There's always going to be two sides to that," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We're supportive of our player. We know he didn't do it on purpose. It wasn't intentional. But at the same time, I understand their frustration at the other end becaue we've been on the other side of the coin (think Matt Cooke-Marc Savard), and it's normal to be frustrated."
The Chara interview only lasted about two minutes before Chara was whisked away by a Bruins PR official. Here's the audio from the session:
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of [the hit] to suspend him," Pacioretty told McKenzie. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's OK, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt."
For his part, Chara said the play was an accident and he had no intent of riding Pacioretty into the stanchion by the benches. Pacioretty -- who has a severe concussion and fractured cervical vertebra -- isn't buying that.
I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that," Pacioretty said. " ... I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."
In a related matter, the Ottawa Sun is reporting mega NHL sponsor Air Canada is threatening to pull out its sponsorships of the league unless something is done about head shots. More fodder for the league's GMs to talk about when they meet next week in Boca Raton, Fla.
BOSTON -- Greetings from Beantown as the Sabres' see-the-USA tour continues today with practice beginning in the 11:30-11:45 a.m. range at Boston University's Agganis Arena. The TD Garden is unavailable due to tonight's Celtics-Clippers game (and I'm planning on getting a look at Blake Griffin in that one).
The Sabres' goal today is simply to get healthy and find out whether Thomas Vanek (flu) and the injured duo of Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier can play tomorrow against the Bruins. The B's, meanwhile, will be dealing with a major issue today as they should find out if there will be any NHL justice meted out to the guy Sabres fans love to hate, Zdeno Chara.
Big Z took Montreal's Max Pacioretty into the stanchion between the benches last night during Boston's 4-1 loss the Bell Centre and Pacioretty had to be stretchered off the ice. Chara got a five-minute penalty for interference and a game misconduct. Seems OK based on the injury. But is it suspendable? While the play might be a little late, he's just riding Pacioretty off the puck. If it's anywhere on the ice, there's no injury at all.
But should Chara have known where they were? And what about the premeditation between the two after Pacioretty pushed Chara following an overtime goal last month and the Boston defenseman flew into a rage? And how about the Montreal-NHL factors? You stretcher a Canadien off the ice, lots of people think you get more attention than if, say, a Nashville Predator is hurt. In addition, NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell is off this case because his son Gregory plays for the Bruins and Mike Murphy will make the call.
The NHL is holding a noon conference call hearing and the league can't win: If Chara is suspended, people think it's because of the favoritism to old bastion Montreal. If Chara isn't suspended, it's because Campbell & Co. let the Bruins off the hook with Gregory on the roster. A lose-lose.
Here's my take -- the penalties were sufficient. Yes, the hit caused injury (Pacioretty is said to have feeling back in his extremities) but it wasn't a head shot and it was more of a fluke. The only way you suspend Chara, and it would only be for a game or two at most, is if you think he targeted Pacioretty in retribution. Not in this case. There was a puck play involved.
Check out the videos for yourself below, both the Jan. 8 incident and last night, and vote in our poll.
---Things are really bad in San Jose, where the Sharks were shut out again Sunday by the Ducks and have dropped to 11th place in the West. They've lost four straight games and have been shut out twice in the last three (by Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller). Worse yet, they have just five goals in their last five games.
HEARD IN BOSTON -- Water. Water. Water. I'm ch-ch-ch-oking.
Wish I could conjure every noun possible but "choke" does the trick quite nicely. There is no other way to describe what the Bruins did against the Flyers. Bad enough they blow a 3-0 lead in the series. But a 3-0 lead in Game Seven? At home? That's a gag job of biblical proportions. Flyers 4, Bruins 3. Flyers win series, 4-3.
"In Boston, it makes them the Red Sox of the new century."
"It is a new low, the worst moment in franchise history since Bobby Orr left as a free agent in 1976."
"I hate to keep bringing the Red Sox into this (actually, I don’t), but the Sox had 3-0 leads in Game 7 of the World Series in 1975 and again in 1986. You know what happened."
The funniest part of all this, of course, was that the Bruins took the collar thanks to a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Think Don Cherry, Montreal, circa 1979. Incredible that bit of history repeated itself and Kevin Paul Dupont's column describes what happened. He calls the 2010 version of TMMOTI "haunting, almost sadistic."
Watched the game this morning on the DVR and you can clearly see Marc Savard raise his stick to the bench to come off and then stay in the play as the Flyers broke up ice. Vladimir Sobotka had already come on, however, and made a futile scurry back to the bench.
Here's a great read from today's Boston Globe, albeit a sobering one for Sabres fans. Columnist Tony Massarotti points out that the Bruins -- still one game away from a stunning run to the Eastern Conference finals after Friday night's OT loss in Philly -- are going to be Stanley Cup contenders for years to come thanks to the shrewd trades and drafting of GMs Peter Chiarelli and Mike O'Connell.
And thanks to the brainlock of self-appointed Toronto genius Brian Burke, don't forget that a Boston team on the verge of hockey's final four has the No. 2 pick in this year's draft and is about to add either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall, junior standouts destined for NHL stardom.
The Bruins barely made the playoffs this season as they suffered from injuries and inconsistency in goal. The window of opportunity to get them might have been this year. The Sabres took advantage in the regular season to claim a division title but they didn't finish the job in the postseason when they had the chance. Here's hoping that misstep was a one-time speed bump and not a result the Blue and Gold will be burning over for several years.
Lindy Ruff said in Thursday's wrapup press conference that a Buffalo win in the first round would have resulted in a lot of fingers in Boston pointing at the no-shows of Marco Sturm and Milan Lucic, much the same way everyone in these parts is giving it to Tim Connolly and Derek Roy.
Sturm didn't have a goal against the Sabres and he won't have any more chances in these playoffs. He limped off the ice on the first shift yesterday and the Bruins announced today that he's done for the playoffs with a serious knee injury. Torn ACL AND MCL? Yikes. Might see him by Halloween.
BOSTON -- Greetings once again from Level 9 of the TD Garden. When you get to this point in the season, there's not much to say. Thomas Vanek is in and Marc Savard is out. The Sabres are in win-or-go-home mode. The fans in Buffalo want to see Game Seven on Wednesday night. The folks here want to get that date with either Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin in the second round.
Before we get to the serious blogging, gotta give it up to the food in Boston. The Garden press room has fine fare (as does the much-improved offerings in HSBC Arena), but you have to sample the local fare too. Today's stop was Hennessy's Irish Pub for some outstanding clam chowder, lobster rolls, fish and chips and crabcake salad. Just up the street from last week's chowder choice, the Green Dragon tavern. They both rate. Great food town.
Buffalo starters: Connolly-Gaustad-Grier/Montador-Lydman Boston starters: Sturm-Bergeron-Recchi/Chara-Boychuk
7:10 p.m: The puck is dropped. Game on. This place is a cauldron of noise. How loud? Here's what it sounds like from the press box just before the teams take the ice to "Welcome to the Jungle"
Stats of note: The Sabres have just one third-period goal in this series (Ennis' empty-netter in Game Five). That doesn't bode well. ... the Bruins have led for 26:21 tonight -- they led for a combined 19:40 over the first five games. ... Vanek played 5:12 on six shifts in that period. That's 10:14 on 14 shifts, including 2:53 of PP time. Vanek and Krejci are the only players in the game with three shots on goal. ... Hits are 29-18 for Boston (but it was 9-9 in the second period). Boston has 21-16 edge in shots on goal.
8:57 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Is it the final 20 minutes of the season?
18:49 left: Rask stops Ennis just off the edge of the crease after the kid stole the puck. Just 20 seconds in, Vanek had a great chance streaking down the right (off) wing but fanned on a Mair pass.
18:19 left: Miller stops Ryder in front. He can't let anything go by him.
16:54 left: Buffalo blows a 4-on-2 and Mair goes for high sticking Lucic -- a four-minute double minor. Accidental but a clear calls. Refs missed one in the second against Tallinder however.
15:14 left: Three saves thus far by Miller. Shot lanes open and he's seeing everything.
13:09 left: Miller stops Satan on the one-timer a few seconds after Satan just misses. There's 15 seconds left in the Mair penalty.
12:54 left: Miller freezed the puck and the penalty is over. Sabres survive still down by just one. Huge. Montreal up, 3-0, in the third over Washington. The Habs are going to get Game Seven in the Verizon Center. Wow. Never would have called that.
12:42 left: That might be it as the Bruins go up by two on a Krejci tap-in after Lucic simply works over Roy after getting the puck from Myers. 3-1, Boston.
12:20 left: Hold everything. Gerbe gets that one RIGHT BACK on a horrible giveaway from Ryder, who handed the puck right to Gerbe in the slot. 3-2, Boston. His first playoff goal.
9:59 left: Recchi shoots it into Miller on the backhand with the whole net open as Miller is down and out. Huge break.
6:28 left: Rask stops Pominville on a wicked wrist shot.
5:11 left: That might it be this time as Satan taps one into an empty net a few seconds after Miller robbed him. It all started after Montador blew a tire behind the net like he did in overtime in that February loss in Carolina. Ugly. 4-2, Boston.
4:11 left: The place is wild during the timeout. They can smell it here.
3:54 left: Final four minutes of the season.
2:41 left: Final three minutes.
2:29 left: Miller to the bench. It's desperation time.
1:46 left: Timeout, Buffalo.
1:13 left: Hold everything II -- Vanek puts one home with a one-timer to Rask's right on a Pominville feed. 4-3, Boston. Think he would have made a difference? MVP in this series was Johnny Appleseed, er, Boychuk for cutting down Vanek in Game Two.
50.5: Faceoff outside Boston zone.
GAME OVER/SEASON OVER: Bruins hold on for 4-3 win. Final shots were 32-30 for Boston. (Sabres didn't get a key icing call that would have meant a faceoff in the last 10 seconds>
Stats of note: Boston had a 20-9 edge in hits in the opening 20 minutes (four by Sobotka). Much more intensity than Game Five. No one for either team with more than two shots. Vanek played eight shifts totaling 5:02. ... The Bruins are 5 for 19 on the power play, Buffalo is 0 for 17. Buffalo's 73.7 percent penalty-killing rate is far short of its regular-season mark of 86.6. ... Recchi (2-2-4) and Matt Hunwick (0-4-4) are now tied with Bergeron (2-2-4) and Ennis (1-3-4) for the series scoring lead.
8:06 p.m.: The puck is dropped. The teams are playing 4-on-4 for the next 1:55.
19:44 left: Connolly with a stupid crosschecking penalty in the Bruins zone on Wideman. Why's Connolly even on the ice any more?
18:59 left: Another PP goal. Speical teams are the series. Recchi beats Miller from the goalie's left on a perfect Krejci pass, with Lydman too late to cover. 2-0, Boston. Bruins are 6 for 20 on the PP in the series.
16:52 left: Sabres in huge trouble. One more goal -- the kind Buffalo couldn't get twice when it had a 2-0 lead in this series -- would basically put this one away. Connolly, among others, giving the puck away and getting beat badly. All the good of Connolly's season has been shot by this series.
15:49 left: Lucic gets a roughing penalty against Kennedy as the puck is held against the boards. How do you only give one penalty there? That's a break for the Sabres. Oh yeah, it really isn't with this power play.
14:27 left: The PP is again a joke. Pominville loses the puck at the line to Sturm and grabs him to prevent a breakaway but doesn't get nailed for the infraction. Wow. Sabres simply win no puck battles with the man-advantage.
13:35 left: Another PP done. What's that? 0 for 18?
13:26 left: Sabres back in the game. Wideman with a terrible giveaway to Mair, who feeds Kennedy, who feeds Kaleta for a perfect tip-in. Boston, 2-1. First playoff goal for the Angola native. It came 13 seconds after the penalty expired (No Lindy, you can't count that as a PP tally).
12:11 left: Ennis wide on the backhand on a breakaway. Great feed from Pominville. Bruins didn't learn Sabres' lesson about not getting the third goal.
9:43 left: Bruins getting killed in their end all of a sudden. Sabres all over them. They need this TV timeout desperately. Great shift by Gaustad and Grier especially had them hemmed in.
4:37 left: Rask with a super save on Vanek, who undressed Wideman by pulling the puck through the D-man's legs to get in alone. Nothing wrong with the ankle there. (OK, so Vanek doesn't have a whole lot of acceleration at times but he can turn it on in bursts).
3:06 left: Vanek stopped again as he takes the puck from behind the net and cuts in front.
2:19 left: Too many men on the ice on Boston as Sobotka jumps off the bench just as Roy is skating by with the puck.
End-2nd: Another utterly ridiculous PP with Connolly doing nothing other than losing the puck. Boston leads, 2-1. Shots are 19-19 (8-5 Boston in that period)
17:28 left: Vanek skating on fourth line with Kennedy and Kaleta, gets to a loose puck and has a quality scoring chance stopped by Rask. Kennedy draws a cross-checking penalty on Begin.
17:11 left: Sturm off post on breakaway after turning Pominville in knots.
16:40 left: Miller made a sensational save in first 35 seconds on Satan and Rask stopped Ennis a few seconds later. Those two chances have set a breakneck pace early.
16:12 left: Miller stops Paille on a 2-on-1. Which team is on the PP here?
15:25 left: That's 0 for 17. Bruins had two shots and hit a post. Buffalo had one shot.
14:48 left: Rask holds on with a huge scrum in front and Montador dashing in from the right point looking for a loose puck. Good work by Kennedy-Mair-McCormick. We'll get the lines up at the first TV timeout.
14:20 left: Vanek skated a short shift with Roy and Pominville.
13:20 left: Shots are 4-3 for the Sabres and the Bruins did not give up the first goal. Almost got it themselves. The lines started like this for the Sabres: Connolly-Gaustad-Grier, Ennis-Roy-Pominville, Gerbe-Mair-McCormick, Vanek-Kennedy-Kaleta. We'll see how much Vanek gets thrown into different combinations.
12:18 left: Satan throws a punch at Myers along the boards. Satan? Really?
9:55 left: The Bruins Ice Girls are doing their T-shirt toss. Vogl is enraptured by their presence. I have crummy headphones so that little sound clip above might not give you the true picture. Trust me. I'm sitting between Bucky and Vogl and can barely hear either of them talking over the din.
9:20 left: Boychuk knocks down Vanek, who was a little gimpy going off. Some ferocious hitting by the Bruins so far, especially on the Buffalo defense. The B's can't catch Ennis though. He's driving them crazy but the kid has to SHOOT more.
8:21 left: Nice stop by Rask on a Lydman floater with Gerbe screening. Shots are 7-6, Boston.
7:26 left: Montador goes for interference. The yellow towels are whipping around through the crowd.
6:21 left: Amazing what a power play can do as Krejci with the perfect tip-in of a Recchi pass puts Boston in front, 1-0. And the Bruins finally have a first goal in the series. Let's see how they play with a lead -- and how the Sabres play from behind.
5:07 left: The "Toooooook" chants come out on a Rask save against Sekera, just as the "Mil-ler, Mil-ler" howls were deafening.
4:37 left: Another big stop by Rask on McCormick from the slot after a terrific Mair feed. There's Buffalo's trouble in a nutshell: When are Roy/Connolly/Pominville going to create those kind of chances?
3:38 left: Montreal leading Washington, 2-0? Caps don't have enough goaltending to go very far. They fattened up by going 19-3-4 in their terrible division. It shows.
27.5 left: Rask stops a Myers shot, Buffalo's 14th of the period. Came a few seconds after Pominville overpassed on a 2-on-1, trying to thread one to Vanek when he should have shot himself.
5.6 left: Killer. Tallinder bats a puck off the end boards out of midair and it goes over the glass. Delay of game. Hate that rule. But that was an easy call.
End-1st: A scrum at the buzzer and Chara takes a stupid roughing penalty going after Gaustad with the facewash -- after the referee waved him away and he didn't listen. Guess Game Five's conclusion did carry over, eh? Boston leads, 1-0, and shots are 14-11 for Buffalo.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.