Claude Julien's Bruins are playing at a non-champion’s pace but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unlike the 2011 defending champion Blackhawks – playoff-missing-scary at this time last year – there’s no fear in Boston about not making the playoffs. But there’s still concern about the fallout from the Tim Thomas’ White House boycott and the manner in which it has affected the Bs on-ice play.
From time to time, statements must be made about team quality and on Tuesday such a statement game will be played in Beantown. It’s the supercharged Rangers visiting Boston and if ever there was a clash-of-the-season, this is it. New York is playing as if hellbent for the Stanley Cup Finals and another win will merely underline that point.
By contrast, the match will be an occasion for Thomas & Co. to once and for all demonstrate that the Champs still have the goods.
MAPLE LEAFS MIKE KOMISAREK ON THE 2013 WINTER CLASSIC
Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek knows about playing outdoor hockey in Michigan.
TFR correspondent Rob Del Mundo interviewed the Michigan Wolverines graduate on his thoughts about the 2013 Winter Classic announcement.
* FEELING ABOUT ATTENDING A GAME AT THE BIG HOUSE:
We would always catch a couple of football games every season. It’s a great venue and a terrific atmosphere for a game. I was a part of the “Cold War in 2001,” between Michigan and Michigan State which was outdoors at East Lansing. There were about 75,000 fans watching and we played against John-Michael Liles and Ryan Miller. It brings a player back to childhood memories of playing pond hockey, but on a much larger scale.
* MICHIGAN AS A GREAT HOCKEY MARKET:
Detroit is the self-proclaimed Hockeytown. It’s great for The Game to have an Original Six battle with the Leafs and Wings at the Big House. With 110,000 fans coming – it’s going to be interesting to see what the ratio is, who’s got the more fans.
* ATMOSPHERE AT THE WINTER CLASSIC:
Ever since the league started doing this, the players have been keeping a close eye to see what teams are going to be a part of it the following season. It’s a wonderful all-around event. It’d be nice to see if the league could pull off a few outdoor games each season.
* WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR YOU TO PLAY IN THE CLASSIC:
The last outdoor game I was a part of was “The Cold War.” It reminds you of childhood memories playing on the pond. The sounds your skates make when you make a turn, they’re all a little bit different. I remember in that Cold War game that they still had the field goal posts up and we were shooting pucks from the blue line, trying to hit the field goal posts. These are memories that players have for the rest of their lives and it’s a highlight that they never forget.
Whatever the Coyotes fate in Arizona, mum’s the word among NHL executives. That’s also the case in Glendale where the Yotes continue to amaze by staying within playoff contention. One team leader, whose ears are close to the league corridors, simply tells us, “I have not heard a thing about what’s going on with the Coyotes.” Which could mean that everyone close to the Phoenix scene is pledged to silence and that includes potential city-suitors such as Quebec City and Seattle. Regarding Washington State’s metropolis, word is that, yes, the city is studying new arena plans but years will be required before it could be ready for NHL use. Meanwhile, if Quebec does happen to wind up with the Yotes, Le Colisee would be a reasonable venue until the proposed NHL-friendly rink is complete. …
There’s plenty of talk about trades but several general managers –including Champ Boston’s Peter Chiarelli predicts that the days up until February 27 deadline will be more calm than the deal-frenzied media would like. Chiarelli says he has a “short list” of available players on which he’s focused. (No names at the Café Discreet!) … Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Blues left wing David Perron were named the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week for the period ending February 12. Smith recorded four wins in four starts, posting a league-best 0.74 goals-against average and .975 save percentage. Malkin led all skaters with eight points (three goals, five assists) and Perron led the NHL with six goals in four games. …
There are many reasons why NHL clubs find it next to impossible to win two Stanley Cups in a row. So, for the anti-Boston claque, we offer this from reader Gus Victor of Connecticut: “One must rewind the ‘Way-Back Machine’ some 39 years. Following the B’s first title in 29 years – in 1970 – the team broke 39 individual and team league records the following season. In the end though, it was Montreal’s rookie goalie Ken Dryden and left wing Frank Mahovlich who stripped Bobby Orr for a clinching breakaway goal in the finale.” Ergo: the Bruins don’t have a chance!