|03.02.17 at 9:43 pm ET|
What the Bruins have done since general manager Don Sweeney replaced Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy has been great.
It’s propelled the Bruins back into legitimate playoff positioning thanks to wins in seven of eight Cassidy-led games, but collapses in back-to-back stretch runs won’t sell this fanbase on anything just yet. Everybody knows that the B’s mission is far from accomplished, and a Thursday night showdown with a Rangers club that’s straight-up smacked you around in two prior head-to-heads this season was just another test to truly see where this team is now versus then.
But the end result remained the same as it did in the Julien-led matchups against the Rangers this season, as the Bruins fell to the Rangers by a 2-1 final at TD Garden.
|03.02.17 at 12:35 pm ET|
When some of his newest teammates took to the ice for an optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena early this morning, new Bruins trade deadline addition Drew Stafford was likely catching his connecting flight somewhere between Winnipeg and Boston.
Expected to arrive in town and check into his hotel, er, home for the next few months, sometime before puck drop at TD Garden between the Bruins and Rangers, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed the obvious and said that Stafford will not be available for tonight’s game.
“He won’t play tonight,” Cassidy said.
As for where the B’s boss envisions the 31-year-old slotting into his club’s lineup, Cassidy knows that the Bruins have options.
|03.02.17 at 11:59 am ET|
It’s taken almost a month to come to the light, but some honest thoughts about the old regime under former head coach Claude Julien have started to trickle out from some of the B’s youngsters.
It started with Ryan Spooner’s honest assessment on Tuesday. Spooner noted that while Julien pushed him at times, he felt that the B’s all-time winningest coach, who was fired on Feb. 7, didn’t like him as a player. Now, two days later, Spooner’s linemate, Frank Vatrano, has dished on his own relationship with the club’s coach of 10 years.
“For me, it’s hard to say what goes on in that kind of situation,” Vatrano said to CBS Boston in regard to Spooner’s comments. “For me, I didn’t have the best relationship with Claude, but that comes with time. Obviously now, [Bruce Cassidy] is our coach. I have a real good relationship with him, having had him last year for a year.
“Obviously Claude had his guys and he trusted his guys that he’s had for a while, which is something that you can understand, especially … he’s got a good relationship with them. At the end of the day, I didn’t have the best relationship with him, but I think he liked me as a player and I liked playing for him while he was here.”
In 60 games under Julien since the start of last season, the 22-year-old Vatrano scored 14 goals and six assists. And since the coaching switch, Vatrano has recorded four goals and three assists in eight games under Cassidy. As Vatrano mentioned, too, there’s an obvious connection with Cassidy, who was his first professional coach when he joined the P-Bruins.
“[Cassidy] coached me in Providence and he was great to me and put me in a spot to do what I do best, and put me in a spot to succeed,” Vatrano, a native of East Longmeadow, Mass., said. “Now that he’s here in Boston, I think it’s been better for me. … He knows where to use me and the way I’m going to be successful in this league.”
Vatrano has 10 goals and six assists in 29 games for the Bruins this season.
|03.01.17 at 7:31 pm ET|
Don Sweeney’s Bruins bought at the deadline, but they bought low.
Part of the reasoning behind that was because the market simply didn’t call for the Bruins to do anything but. Part of it came back down to where the B’s are right now as a franchise as a team in transition.
“[We’ve] laid out a plan and been pretty committed to it,” Sweeney said of his deadline moves and non-moves. “Even last year, we felt the team had done a good job up until that point. We wanted to add to it, and we’re in a similar situation and hopefully, we have a different result.
“I think our team has played well and I want to see them continue to play well and not necessarily reacting. We’ve approached the game with what we’re bringing to the table as opposed to what other teams are. We’re preparing for what other teams have, but not going to react.”
For Sweeney, that meant not mortgaging future potential cornerstones for quick fixes.
Especially when those pieces are as close to the NHL as he believes them to be.
|03.01.17 at 6:21 pm ET|
It’s Winnipeg to Boston and not a moment too soon for Drew Stafford.
Acquired by the Bruins for a conditional sixth-round draft choice in 2018, the 31-year-old Stafford is expected to touch down in Boston tomorrow morning, but will not be present for the morning skate ahead of the team’s head-to-head with the Rangers. That would lead you to believe that he would be unavailable for the Bruins in the game, of course, but that is a ‘coach’s decision’, according to GM Don Sweeney.
But no matter when he gets in, the Bruins are eager to see what the veteran shooter can bring to the club’s right side.
“We’re fortunate that we are able to add Drew to our lineup,” said Sweeney. “Excited that the player has the ability to play up and down the lineup, has scoring attributes, has some size and strength, and can hopefully be a good complement to our group.”
|03.01.17 at 3:43 pm ET|
The trade deadline seemingly came and went without a move for the Bruins. But then, nearly 15 minutes after the deadline had passed, ESPN reported that the Bruins successfully made a deal for a forward.
That forward, as it turns out, is Jets winger Drew Stafford.
Acquired by the Bruins in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick, the 31-year-old Stafford, a pending free agent, comes to Boston with four goals and 13 points in 40 games for the Jets this season.
A bottom-sixer with the ability to move up and down the lineup, Stafford’s acquisition helps address a right side that’s become a revolving door of sorts once you get beyond the top six group of David Pastrnak and David Backes. For a team that’s received extremely limited production from Jimmy Hayes and Riley Nash, the two most common bottom-six right side options, the 6-foot-2 Stafford can bring another option to that mix and doesn’t rush an AHL player to the NHL or put a different skater out of their natural position.
For the Bruins, it’s a low-risk gamble with the hope that Stafford could potentially channel his old scoring touch.
It was just a year ago that Stafford tallied 21 goals for the Jets, and he comes to Boston as a four-time 20-goal scorer.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will meet with the media at 4:30 p.m. at Warrior Ice Arena.
|03.01.17 at 4:25 am ET|
The trade deadline can change a team’s expectations, but it can’t change how they go about their day-to-day business. That would actually be a bad thing to happen to the Bruins, too, who have wins in seven of eight games under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“I’m going to go to practice in the morning, have a good breakfast, do a little video, and see what happens,” Cassidy said of his deadline day plans, which begin with an 11:30 a.m. practice. “That’s out of my control. I think that’s a question better served for management.”
But the Bruins remain in a rather tricky position ahead of Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. They are six points out of first place in the Atlantic Division (and have played one less game the division-leading Canadiens), and just four points from being on the outside looking in.
The Bruins have just as many reasons to buy as they do to sell.
That’s not to say anybody in that room knows just what second-year general manager Don Sweeney will do on Wednesday.