|04.10.16 at 7:09 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they will hold their annual year-end availability Monday at TD Garden, but it came with an interesting twist. Then again, it wouldn’t be the 2015-16 Bruins without something being off.
Breakup day typically consists of player availability followed by a press conference with the coach and general manager. Sunday’s announcement made mention of only players, however. Reached for clarification as to whether or not Claude Julien, Don Sweeney and/or Cam Neely would be available, Bruins media relations noted that the only confirmed availability was for players. Bruins vice president of communications Matt Chmura added that the current schedule does not mean definitively mean that Boston’s leadership won’t be available Monday, but that nothing with the media was currently planned regarding the trio.
It’s worth noting that both Julien and then-GM Peter Chiarelli were both available at last season’s breakup day. At the time, Chiarelli said that things were “business as usual until we hear otherwise.” Chiarelli was fired two days later.
|04.09.16 at 9:40 pm ET|
I’m a dinosaur and don’t see any funny internet things unless Pete Blackburn makes them, but get a load of this:
— Dustin (@TheClapperton) April 9, 2016
|04.09.16 at 7:13 pm ET|
The “Should Claude Julien be fired” talk had already begun even before Saturday, but with the Bruins missing the playoffs for a second straight year and getting absolutely embarrassed on home ice in their season finale, it’s only going to pick up.
Most Bruins players weren’t willing to make any sort of comment on the possibility of Julien being fired after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators given that, at the time, the B’s still had an outside shot of making the playoffs (the Flyers’ win over the Penguins later Saturday officially sealed their fate). But the team’s best and most important player came to the defense of Julien.
“I’ve said a million times that Claude has been the best coach I’ve had,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s definitely not on him. It should be on us. His system is there, the game plan is there. It’s about us executing, and we didn’t do that. So it should fall back on the players.”
In the case of Saturday and other games down the stretch that saw the Bruins lose to non-playoff teams, Bergeron is right that the players deserve a good chunk of the blame. There’s no excuse for making the kinds of defensive mistakes that led to Ottawa’s goals on Saturday. There’s no excuse for a top-five offense struggling to score against three non-playoff teams over the last two weeks of the season. Regardless of who the coach is or whether his message is getting through, those are things for which the players need to take responsibility.
But there is plenty of blame to go around, and yes, Julien deserves some of it. A coach should be able to do more to ensure that his team isn’t making as many mistakes as the Bruins made Saturday, whether it was getting beat wide, leaving guys uncovered in front or making bad breakout passes that were easily intercepted. Those things are coachable, and the fact that they happened this late in the season doesn’t reflect well on the coach.
The group that deserves the most blame, however, is the front office. Don Sweeney and company are the ones who built a team that had one legitimate top-four defenseman — and that one, Zdeno Chara, is 39 years old. It’s fitting that defense was the Bruins’ biggest issue on their disastrous last day, because it was their biggest issue all season, and it will remain their biggest issue going forward unless they bring in multiple defensemen who are significant upgrades over what they have now.
|04.09.16 at 6:26 pm ET|
What seemed likely early Saturday afternoon became official just a few short hours later: The NHL playoffs will not include the Boston Bruins.
With a 3-1 win over the Penguins on Saturday, the Flyers secured the second wild card spot and punched their ticket to a first-round matchup with the Capitals. Finishing as a wild card team was the Bruins’ only hope after their 6-1 loss to the Senators on Saturday ruled out getting in as an Atlantic Division team.
Painfully, the Bruins actually would have finished with the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic had they beaten the Senators. Playing at the same time as the Bruins, the Red Wings lost to the Rangers but still ended up getting in thanks to Boston’s loss.
|04.09.16 at 4:10 pm ET|
Following a disastrous 6-1 loss to the Senators in their regular-season finale, Bruins coach Claude Julien would not elaborate on the status of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who was unavailable to the Bruins due to illness.
Julien said the Bruins “scrambled” to get Jeremy Smith to Boston after recalling him from Providence on an emergency basis. Rask was on the ice for warmups but moved very little and didn’t face shots until after line rushes.
Rask did not ultimately dress for the game, as Smith made it to the bench for the 12:30 p.m.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced Saturday. Julien said the Bruins should have been able to overcome not having their starter in goal.
“It shouldn’t have been an issue,” Julien said. “He is a great goaltender, but our team could have easily played much better and allowed Gus to be the winning goalie today. I think some of the goals they scored today were tips and a lot of goals, we didn’t give him much help. If anything, he gave us a lot of help there in that first period. [Goaltending] was certainly not the reason for [the loss]. Excuses are out the window.”
|04.09.16 at 3:16 pm ET|
The Bruins got the help they needed Saturday, as the Rangers beat the Red Wings. All the B’s needed was a point out of Saturday’s regular-season finale to get into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division.
You probably know where this is going.
After starting the day without the services of an ill Tuukka Rask, the Bruins fell apart throughout what ended up being a 6-1 loss to the Senators at TD Garden. Boston gave up a 1-0 lead and allowed four straight as out-of-contention Senators feasted on Jonas Gustavsson and Boston’s defense.
Later in the afternoon, the Flyers defeated the Penguins to secure the second wild card spot and officially eliminate the Bruins from reaching the postseason. The B’s have now missed the playoffs in two straight seasons.
Furthermore, Boston’s 93 points on the season made for their lowest point total in an 82-game campaign since the 2009-10 season.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
JULIEN GOES FOR BROKE
Depending on whether management is willing to blame the poor job it did this season on the coach, Saturday might have been Claude Julien’s final game behind the bench for the Bruins.
Julien had to apply some whacky tactics in an effort to bring the Bruins back in the third period, as he pulled the goalie relatively early in the third period during two power plays. Both led to empty net shorthanded goals against, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau scoring at 11:33 of the this and Zack Smith scoring at 14:29.
|04.09.16 at 12:05 pm ET|
The most important day of the Bruins’ season started horribly, as Jonas Gustavsson led the B’s onto the ice before their final game of the regular season. Tuukka Rask is sick and will not play.
Tuukka Rask took the ice for warmups but barely moved after taking the ice. He eventually took some shots after line rushes, but the shots were mostly lazy ones flung from high in the zone. The Bruins recalled Jeremy Smith on an emergency basis Saturday to serve as Gustavsson’s backup, as Rask was not on the bench when the teams came out for puck drop. The Bruins said just prior to the start of the game that Rask would be unavailable
The Bruins’ lineup in warmups looked as such: