Tag Archives: NHL

Bruins lose 8th straight — What now?

Much like the hapless alcoholic who continues to defy the hopes and dreams of friends and family by constantly letting them down despite enormous promise and potential, the Bruins, as presently constituted, appear to be lost — for good.

Marco Sturm embodies the Bruins current state.

Boy, I really thought they were gonna get it done last night after they took an early 1-0 lead and were pummeling the Washington net, drawing penalties and looking inspired. Rather than re-hash the brutal details of last night’s game — where Matt Hunwick looked lost and cost the Bruins at least one goal, and the Bruins once again couldn’t score more than one goal despite 20+ scoring chances, i’ll speak in broader terms about the plight of our (once) beloved Black and Gold.

As I have been saying for some time now, if Boston’s front office still wants to take a run at the playoffs this year, they NEED to make a trade. TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting that Boston is shopping Michael Ryder around, but that’s not likely to bring the Bruins anything valuable in return. Most Bruins fans are of the opinion that Boston needs to pick up Ilya Kovalchuk this season and that anything less would be unacceptable. The Bruins obviously need to make SOME kind of move, but I’m not sure that Boston’s front office is willing to pull the trigger for fear of making the wrong move, when the worst thing they could do would be to stand pat.

I’m not convinced of that at all. First off, it’s been widely rumored that Atlanta wants Tuukka Rask. That right there should be enough to stop any potential deal — it’s not worth giving up the future for a 4 month rental like Kovalchuk. Players I would like Boston to look at are;  Martin St. Louis ( RW 17-43=60), Aaron Ward (D 0-9=9 BUT he’s a beast), Ray Whitney (LW 16-25=41) Mike Modano (C 13-11=24),  or Alex Tanguay (LW 8-21=29)…there’s plenty more I could list. Point being, I would be SHOCKED if Boston grabbed Kovalchuk given what it’s likely to cost.

Next up, a home match-up with the hated Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night. I’d love to see a couple new names dressed in Black and Gold, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon.

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S.O.S.

A couple quick thoughts while I’m in the car — Just finished watching the game on my last day in Arizona. Even through the  14″ screen on my laptop, the Bruins showed a total lack of heart and seemed genuinely disinterested in fighting for their playoff lives.

I’m really worried about the future of this team. Yes, I know they’ve had a ton of injuries but that’s no excuse for not showing effort. The Olympic break cannot come soon enough.

Now having lost 4 game in a row, the Bruins must understand the need for a big trade in the next few weeks. Getting Kovalchuk would require sending Rask to ATL and God help Peter Chiarelli if he makes that move. I’d like to revive the Tomas Kaberle sweepstakes to get some help for the awful Dennis Wideman.

The practical fan now knows that this team, if they make the playoffs, will struggle to make it out of the 1st round.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Can the Bruins grab Kovalchuk?

Ilya Kovalchuk could be on the move

The Bruins could really struggle to play .500 hockey for the rest of the year unless they can make a serious trade, and obviously I’m talking about Ilya Kovalchuk.

The loss of Marc Savard to a torn MCL could force Boston to use one of their valuable draft picks they received in the Kessel trade far earlier than they imagined. In fact, as bad as Toronto is playing, the Bruins may not want to part with those picks at all.The dilemma they face is that by doing nothing right now, I see no way that they can make a serious run in the playoffs, but they will most likely have one of the top 5 draft picks next year. Or, they could put together a package of players and picks to snap up Kovalchuk while Boston still has time to right the ship this season.

As it stands right now, the Bruins have two 1st’s and three 2nd’s in the 2010 draft with the lowest of those picks being 46th overall(thanks to Kirk Luedeke for the info).  In a perfect world, I would package two second round picks, and some combination of Michael Ryder (10-7=17), Blake Wheeler (11-15=26) and the God-awful (IMHO) Dennis Wideman (3-11=14) for Kovalchuck (25-22=47). Ryder is due $4M per season, Wideman 3.8M and Wheeler 2.8M. By moving two of those players, Boston will have between $6.6M-$7.8M to put towards a contract for the talented Russian.

Kovalchuck currently makes $6.3M this season and will most likely ask for upwards of $10M for the rest of his career. I’m no salary cap guru, so I’m not one to say what options are viable and which ones are not, but it does not appear that $10-12M is out of reach for Boston, especially if they want to be considered serious Cup contenders.

It’s nice to speculate about the ins and outs of potential trades, but the fact remains that the Bruins will need to find a way to remain competitive, with or without Kovalchuk, until the walking wounded come back to health. Incredibly, as of January 8th, the Bruins had lost only 77 man games to injury (4th FEWEST in the league), but boy, have they been costly. Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Andrew Ference, etc… Too many key players at key positions are getting hurt, one of top of the other.

That’s not to say that the Bruins are done by any means.

During their last game against the Rangers, I saw a Bruins team that was very hungry for the puck, showed great tenacity and gave a full 60 minute effort. Unfortunately, the talent is simply not there and they were bested by a mediocre New York squad. The biggest problem facing the Bruins right now is the inconsistency of personnel on the squad; too many times has Boston been forced to dip into its farm system down in Providence in order to field a full roster. Currently, Trent Whitfield is centering the 4th line and Adam Mcquaid is part of the No. 2 defensive pairing, not to mention Miroslav Satan playing the 1st line even though he was sitting on his couch eating Borscht at this time last week.   There’s no way to expect any team to be able to have consistent performances under these conditions. The effort looks as though it will be there, but the lack of familiarity with the NHL level of play will invariably lead to mistakes, turnovers, and goals against.

The next month or so will be a struggle, but Bergeron comes back in two weeks and Savard won’t need surgery. Until then, the Bruins effort will need to be high and the goaltending will need to be top-notch. We’ll see how it all shakes out. That’s it for now!

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End of Semester Musings – Tuukka Time (again)

I can only blame my sporadic updates on the end-of-semester crunch, which I am happy to report, is over. In order to re-kindle my creative juices, I felt like going on a bit of a rant about a few players who are stepping up this season:

Patrice Bergeron has finally become the player that we all knew he could be; strong on his skates, smart with the puck, always makes the right play, and when he feels like it, can flat out run people over. The Bruins have won three of the past five games, and Patrice Bergeron has had a least a point in all three (1-5=6; he did not record a point in the two losses to MTL and NYI). At face value his overall stats don’t grab you, but Patrice is bringing an attitude and determination that I haven’t seen from him since his pre-concussion days. Look for him to continue to be the offensive leader on this team (along with Savard).

From offense to defense —

It’s safe to say that it’s officially Tuukka Time here in Boston. His .932 save percentage and 1.97 Goals Against Average rank him 2nd and 3rd in the league respectively. With all the great moves the Bruins made this offseason, (yes, I loved the Kessel move) the only contract I am questioning is the one gifted to Tim Thomas. Sure, Thomas is a man that deserves a break and has probably earned the money simply because he’s been through so much to reach this point, but from a business standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense….I’m rambling; back to Rask: I’ve been to ten or so games so far this year and Rask has probably played in half of them and I can tell you that Rask is truly a sight to behold. The one thing that sticks out to me every game is how calm he is when the storm around the net is at is most fierce. His side to side movement is incredibly fluid and he almost never loses sight of the puck and it’s for that reason that he is able to direct nearly every rebound away from the front of the net.
Rask was slated for no more than 25 games this season, however a “lower body injury” to Thomas (purportedly a broken hand suffered after the OT loss to Pitt…wall punch???) has caused the young netminder to play in 14 games to this point. With more than 50 games remaining, I would expect Rask to play in at least 20, giving him closer to 35 starts (in the pre-season I predicted Rask would see as many as 30 starts). First Toronto gave us Rask for Raycroft and now, with their draft picks in our back pocket, Kessel and the Leafs are in last place, making it more likely that the Bruins will have a top 5 pick in the next draft. From now on, whenever Peter Chiarelli sees “Burke, Brian” on his caller-ID, he’ll pick it up on the first ring.

On the whole, the Bruins are finally playing better, more consistent hockey.  The incredible struggles they underwent during October are behind them and they’re back in the top third of the Eastern Conference where they belong.

HOT: Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder (he’s going to score five goals in the next eight games…just wait)

NOT: Tim Thomas, Dennis Wideman (always and forever), Blake Wheeler (three goals since Nov. 1)

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Breaking news — Savard signs extenstion

Sources are confirming that Marc Savard has signed a 7-year extension that would keep the center-man in Boston through the ’16/’17 season.

The deal is worth a reported $29 million with an annual cap hit of $4.2 mil/year.

The Bruins struggled out of the gate this season while Savard was on the shelf with a broken foot. Since he has returned, the Bruins have vaulted from 11th in the Eastern Conference to as high as third. Clearly, the Bruins need Savard and Boston’s poor early-season play was great leverage when the two sides sat down to discuss this extension.

Top notch move by the Bruins here. I’m glad to see them spending the type of money (on the right players) that should keep the Bruins in championship contention for the foreseeable future.  

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Bruins finding their stride

Boston Bruins fans would be well advised to start an Aspirin regimen, as risk of cardiac arrest is high.

On Saturday night vs. Ottawa, the Bruins let another lead slip away in the final minute and were forced all the way to a shootout, where they prevailed on Michael Ryder’s snipe in the fourth round. However, turnabout is fair play – in their first meeting with Ottawa Boston scored two 6 on 5 goals in the last 2:30 of regulation; a game the Bruins would eventually win in a shootout. Thump, Thump.

Tim Thomas, making his first start since embarrassing himself against Pittsburgh on Nov. 14th — Pittsburgh tied the game with less than a second remaining in regulation; the Thomas lost control of the puck behind the net in OT leading directly to the winning score – did a serviceable job for 59 minutes, but once again allowed a game-tying goal, this time with 19 seconds remaining. THUMP, THUMP.

I’ll give Timmy the benefit and chalk it up to rust (but in reality it looked more like a lack of focus).

Faced with as much adversity as any team in the league, the Bruins have shown a great deal of resilience.  At current, they have won 5 of their last six games, with their only loss coming in yesterday’s shootout loss to New Jersey. It’s clear that the return of Marc Savard has buoyed the powerplay which connected on Boston’s three regulation goals against Ottawa. With Savard manning the half-wall, the other member of the PP seem more relaxed; able to play to their strengths (although I would like to see someone other than Recchi crash the net on a regular basis).

Their play is deserving of the No. 1 spot in the Northeast division, but that’s only because the Northeast division is weak. Boston must have a more consistent effort if they expect to have any chance to duplicate and/or exceed last year’s success.

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More Breaking News — Lucic placed on injured reserve

Milan Lucic has been placed on long term injured reserve and will miss the next 10 games. The Boston Bruins have recalled Guillaume Lefebvre, Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka from their AHL affiliate in Providence.

Lucic suffered a broken finger last week in Boston’s 3-0 win in Dallas.

Now, this is purely speculation on my part (and it’s my blog so I can do whatever I want), but it s0unds like Lucic’s injury may require surgery. This is not good news for a Boston team that is struggling to find it’s identity.

milan-lucicLucic was held out of Saturday night’s game against Phoenix, a 4-1 loss for Boston.

Vladimir Sobotka nearly made the team out of training camp and will have no trouble fitting into to the Boston system where he played 25 games last season.

At this time, there is no reason to believe that the Kobasew trade with Minnesota had anything to do with Lucic’s injury, since the players acquired in the Minnesota trade will (most likely) not be playing with the Bruins any time soon.

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