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Bruins know GM Don Sweeney could make trade despite recent success

03.01.17 at 4:25 am ET
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The Bruins may or may not make a move by Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins may or may not make a move by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

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.

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Bruins d-man Colin Miller ejected for massive hit on Coyotes’ Alex Burmistrov

02.28.17 at 11:47 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Colin Miller brought the TD Garden to their feet with his fifth goal of the season scored just 3:06 into the first period of a 4-1 win over the Coyotes. He brought them to their feet a period later, and maybe even louder than when he scored a goal, when he delivered a massive attacking blue line hit on Coyotes forward Alexander Burmistrov.

But it cost him.

Hit with a five-minute charging major and tossed from the game, the 24-year-old Miller’s night came to an end after just 10 shifts and 6:27 of time on ice. Already in the locker room in a suit and tie, Miller reflected on the hit following the club’s victory.

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Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins continue to impose will at home in latest win

02.28.17 at 9:37 pm ET
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The Bruins chased Arizona goaltender Mike Smith after two periods in a 4-1 win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins chased Arizona goaltender Mike Smith after two periods in a 4-1 win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Over the last two seasons, TD Garden has been an undeniable source of frustration for the Bruins. It’s shown in the standings in back-to-back seasons, and it was one of the first things that interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to address when he replaced Claude Julien.

Not just because he wanted to, of course, but because the majority of the B’s games down the stretch were to be played in town.

That’s a fancy way of telling you that the Bruins were not going to do much of anything in terms of competing for a postseason berth if they continued to chug along at their 12-13-0 under Julien mark at home.

Back in Boston after a bye week and a four-game road trip, that remained a focus for the Cassidy-led Bruins on Tuesday night, and the Bruins have rattled off four consecutive wins on home ice for the first time since Nov. 2014, the latest behind a 4-1 pounding of the Coyotes.

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Source: Bruins among those interested in Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak

02.28.17 at 8:22 pm ET
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The Bruins are rumored to have an interest in Jaroslav Halak. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are rumored to have an interest in Jaroslav Halak. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in nine years, the Bruins have remained on the sidelines throughout the annual trade deadline madness. There’s still time for the Black and Gold to make a move between now and tomorrow’s 3 p.m. deadline, and the B’s are looking.

Late on Monday night, an NHL source informed WEEI.com that the Bruins are among the list of NHL teams with a significant interest in veteran Islanders netminder Jaroslav Halak.

The 31-year-old Halak had struggled for the Isles this season, with just six wins and a .904 save percentage in 21 games, and was waived by the team on Dec. 30. Assigned to the franchise’s AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers after he went unclaimed on waivers, Halak has been lights out in the AHL, with 14 wins and a .933 save percentage in 18 games for the club.

It would make sense for the Bruins to have an interest in Halak, even after back-to-back wins for backup Anton Khudobin, who is still 3-5-1 with an .896 save percentage in 10 games for the Big B’s this season. It’s been a year-long struggle, too, as between Khudobin, Zane McIntyre, and Malcolm Subban, B’s backup netminders have a 3-10-2 record on the season.

And though Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did not acknowledge any one move or target by name, he did admit that it’s an area that’s been talked about in the trade market, which closes tomorrow afternoon.

“Anton has played well the last couple of starts,” Sweeney admitted on Tuesday night. “I think it’s an area — it was certainly an area of concern for us. I’ve had some discussions, yes.”

According to the source, the Islanders would have to retain salary on a deal to successfully move Halak, who has a $4.5 million cap hit through next season, which could make things tricky when it comes to hammering out a deal. Per the NHL CBA, the Islanders could retain up to 50 percent of Halak’s salary owed to facilitate a trade.

Halak has 206 wins and a .916 save percentage in 388 career NHL games.

Bruins forward Ryan Spooner: ‘[Julien] didn’t like me as a player’

02.28.17 at 6:49 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner's game has shined under Bruce Cassidy. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center Ryan Spooner’s game has shined under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins, although still very much locked in a fight and a half to the finish line, are breathing a bit easier these days. It feels as if the chains on some of the club’s younger players, namely Ryan Spooner, have been loosened and that they’re more free to play a game that suits their strengths than they were under decade-long bench boss Claude Julien.

With wins in six of seven games under Cassidy, and just a few wins back of first place in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are rolling, and Spooner is no exception, with two goals and six points over that span.

There’s a comfort in Spooner’s game that simply wasn’t there under Julien, too, and he admitted such on Tuesday.

“I felt like the last coach, he just didn’t really trust me,” Spooner said following the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena before tonight’s head-to-head with the Coyotes. “It might’ve been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play.”

That philosophy has worked for the Spooner line with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes on the wings, and will have to work if the club is to enter the trade deadline on a high note and able to keep pace with the rest of the recharged Atlantic.

Tuukka Rask gets the start in net tonight against the ‘Yotes. The 29-year-old Rask stopped 33-of-36 shots in a 6-3 win over the Stars on Sunday, and comes into action with 29 wins and a .912 save percentage in 49 games this season. Rask has been lights out against Arizona in his career, with eight wins and a .940 save percentage in nine career games, including a 31-of-32 win in his last start against the Coyotes, which came earlier this season.

Arizona counters with Mike Smith. Smith has 16 wins and a .915 save percentage in 40 games this season, and was shelled for six goals on 29 shots against in his last outing, a 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks on Feb. 23. Smith has just three wins and an .893 save percentage in 15 career games against the Bruins, and has one win and an .870 in eight games at the TD Garden.

Both forward Matt Beleskey and defenseman John-Michael Liles will sit as the healthy scratches. Liles’ return to the press box means that 24-year-old Colin Miller is back in action.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Report: Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk traded to Capitals

02.27.17 at 10:19 pm ET
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The Capitals have acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

The Capitals have acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Finally, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has traded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. But not to the Bruins or the Rangers, the two teams rumored to be most interested in Shattenkirk.

According to multiple reports, it’s the NHL-best Capitals (and last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners) that have pulled the trigger and officially gone all-in with the move for the talented puck-mover.

Per Pierre LeBrun, the Caps have sent a 2017 first-round draft pick, a conditional second-round pick in 2019, and prospect Zach Sanford to the Blues to complete the deal. It is also believed that the Blues retained some of Shattenkirk’s $4.5 million salary to complete the deal.

And according to another report out of TSN, Shattenkirk is already on his way to the Capitals tonight and will be available for the club’s head-to-head against the Rangers tomorrow night in New York City.

The Bruins had an interest in Shattenkirk at last year’s draft, but were not willing to meet the insane ask from the Blues’ Armstrong, which was rumored to include David Pastrnak and both of the team’s first-round picks that year. They had interest in Shattenkirk this season, too, but were not willing to part with any of their organization’s top prospects in a rental deal.

The 28-year-old Shattenkirk has 11 goals and 31 assists in 61 games this season, and has five 40-point seasons in his NHL career.

Shattenkirk is an unrestricted free agent this summer and is expected to net a seven-year deal worth at least $42 million.

Atlantic Division teams around Bruins all make trades ahead of deadline

02.27.17 at 5:37 pm ET
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Alex Burrows has been traded to the Senators. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)

Alex Burrows has been traded to the Senators. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is on record saying that he expects the Bruins to stand pat by this Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. But after a series of moves by teams either ahead of or chasing the Bruins, you have to wonder if that has changed.

The afternoon of moves began with the Maple Leafs acquiring big-bodied center Brian Boyle from the Lightning in exchange for prospect Byron Froese and a 2017 second-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-6 Boyle has tallied 13 goals and nine assists in 54 games for the Bolts this season, and comes to the Maple Leafs with 100 games of NHL postseason experience since 2011. With Boyle in the fold, the Leafs may bolster the best center depth in the division, with Auston Matthews, Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, and now Boyle.

The Leafs are currently just one point behind the B’s, but have one played one less game than the Black and Gold, and the teams have one remaining head-to-head left on the schedule, with a Mar. 20 matchup at the Air Canada Centre.

It was not the only move made by division rivals on a busy Monday.

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