|02.28.16 at 9:13 pm ET|
The Bruins got a rare goal from defenseman Kevan Miller — a point-shot wrister off a clean faceoff win by Joonas Kemppainen — and took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay just over six minutes into Sunday night’s Atlantic Division, second-place showdown at TD Garden.
However, the Bruins decidedly lost the special-teams battle on the night and it cost Boston both the lead and the game as the Lightning scored the next four goals en route to a 4-1 victory.
Tampa Bay now has extended a two-point lead over Boston in the Atlantic standings while also pulling two points behind division-leading Florida, who lost in Minnesota on Sunday. With the Boston loss, idle Detroit now also has a game-in-hand on the B’s as the Red Wings trail the Bruins by just one point for third place.
Here are four more things we learned Sunday:
|02.28.16 at 6:59 pm ET|
The Bruins placed two of their frequent fourth-line forwards on waivers over the weekend, as Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo had their contracts and rights exposed for other NHL teams to claim. Talbot cleared those waivers, while Rinaldo will remain available to a claim by another team through Monday at noon.
Boston General Manager Don Sweeney explained the decisions to the assembled media before Sunday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“There’s certain times a year when you have an opportunity before deadlines to create flexibility,” Sweeney said. “Both those [moves] represent that. I’ve had talks with both players. Zac [Rinaldo] is playing tonight. There are plenty of players that have gone on waivers and nothing has happened. In both counts that might be the case. But we have certain deadlines we have to adhere to. In order to create flexibility with some of the discussions we’ve had that was something we had to do. As difficult as those conversations are to have, you have to have them and do what’s best for the hockey club.”
Players that have cleared waivers can be loaned to the American Hockey League, saving NHL teams their equivalent salary cap hit up to a max of $950,000. Talbot’s cap hit this season is $743,279 and Rinaldo’s is $850,000.
Talbot, 32, has played 36 games this year with two goals and four assists on the campaign. Talbot was not in Sunday’s lineup and has been a healthy scratch for six of Boston’s last seven games.
Rinaldo, 25, was acquired by the Bruins last summer from Philadelphia in exchange for a third-round draft pick. Through 51 games played, Rinaldo has one goal, two assists, and 81 penalty minutes.
“I still believe that Zac is a player that we needed, the type of player that we needed,” said Sweeney. “Did I know that Tyler Randell would be able to come in and fill a gap? Did I think Landon Ferraro necessarily would come in and fill another gap? No, those are things you don’t necessarily have a feel for before the season started.”
Sweeney continued: “I felt that our team lacked energy at times last year and I think Zac has done a good job in that regard. Has he produced to the level maybe he’s capable when you watch him in practice every day? No, he’d probably be the first to tell you that. But I think his game has certainly come a long way where he’s put himself in questionable situations … even penalties he takes now most of them are borderline calls in a lot of occasions. I think he infuses a lot of energy. He’s been used on the penalty kill a little bit, again something he can probably grow at because of the way he skates, the courage that he has. I think it’s infectious for our club. He’s fit in well. We’ll see whether somebody else thinks that, we might lose that asset and we’ll go from there. But it allowed us this time, deadline, for flexibility’s sake.”
|02.28.16 at 5:25 pm ET|
Holding his pre-trade deadline media availability, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that Loui Eriksson will “absolutely” play Sunday night against the Lightning as he continues to assess whether he will trade the unrestricted free agent to be.
As of Sunday afternoon, Sweeney and agent J.P. Barry had not resumed contract talks, with the issues of both term and money remaining holding up a potential extension for the 30-year-old. The Bruins’ most recent offer is believed to be for four years, with Eriksson preferring a longer deal.
With no deal in place, Sweeney admitted that he has had trade discussions about the player, who is currently tied for second on the Bruins with 23 goals this season.
“Loui’s a good player. He’s having a great season. He’s been very important for our success up to date and we treat it as such,” Sweeney said. “If another team — and I’ve had several discussions with teams — felt that it was equal on that side of it and the deal was the right fit, then that’s something we’d explore, but my preference has been all along to try to sign him and go from there.”
Former Jets captain Andrew Ladd, a fair comparable for Eriksson, fetched Winnipeg a first-round pick, a prospect and a conditional third-round pick from Chicago in recent days. Asked whether he had been offered a first-rounder by any teams for Eriksson, Sweeney declined comment.
The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. Though it is believed the Bruins will be motivated to trade Eriksson if enough common ground is not found on a new contract by the deadline, Sweeney said that the team is still considering keeping the versatile wing for the rest of the season even if the team doesn’t sign him.
“Absolutely,” Sweeney said of potentially keeping Eriksson without a contract. “Loui’s a valuable player.”
|02.28.16 at 3:20 pm ET|
With less than 24 hours until Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, the Bruins and Loui Eriksson’s agent have still yet to kick negotiations for a new contract into high gear. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry had not held any talks on Sunday as of 3:20 p.m. and did not have any planned.
The source indicated, however, that should one side want to contact the other, the lines could remain open.
Eriksson is in the final year of a six-year contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit. The 30-year-old is seeking a deal of at least five years worth between the high $5 million and high $6 million range annually. The Bruins have not offered the player more than four years and are also short of Eriksson’s desired AAV. If he doesn’t sign (or at least come close enough that the B’s would be confident they could sign him by July 1), it’s possible (if not likely) that he’ll be traded.
The 30-year-old winger took part in Sunday’s morning skate and at the moment is expected to play Sunday against the Lightning. Asked about his future with the Bruins, Eriksson politely declined comment.
“I don’t really want to talk about that right now,” Eriksson said when asked whether he was optimistic he could sign a new contract by Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. All I can do is just play and just help the team.”
The Bruins, who enter Sunday’s game with the Lightning sitting third in the Atlantic Division with the opportunity to take over second place with a win, would take a big step back if they traded Eriksson and didn’t add to their current roster.
David Krejci, who has centered Eriksson for much of the season, admitted that he pays attention to things like the salary cap to see if his teammates can stick around.
“You kind of create some bond with the guys and you don’t like to lose any of those guys,” Krejci said. “You kind of look at how the cap is and what’s going on around the league, [like when] the trade deadline’s tomorrow. It will be interesting, but at the same time, we have to do what we have to do and you can only control what you can control. What’s going to happen with Loui, who knows, but I really like that guy on and off the ice. We’ll see what happens.”
|02.28.16 at 1:32 pm ET|
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Bruins placed forward Zac Rinaldo on waivers Sunday. Max Talbot, who was waived Saturday, has cleared.
Rinaldo is in his first season with the Bruins, as it was just this summer that the B’s traded a 2017 third-round pick to the Flyers for his services. In 51 games this season, Rinaldo has one goal and two assists for Boston. The 25-year-old is second on the B’s in penalty minutes with 81, which is one behind Brad Marchand.
If Rinaldo clears waivers on Monday, he can be sent to Providence in order to open up another spot on Boston’s NHL roster. The Bruins currently have 14 forwards on their NHL roster, though Tyler Randell is currently in Providence on a conditioning loan. That leaves the B’s with 13 forwards available for Sunday’s game against the Lightning, a group that includes both Talbot and Rinaldo.
|02.28.16 at 6:13 am ET|
Discuss Loui Eriksson, the trade deadline and everything else in the Sunday Skate live chat. Click here to listen to the show live from 7-9 a.m.
|02.27.16 at 4:50 pm ET|
The Bruins assigned forward Tyler Randell to Providence on a conditioning loan Saturday and placed forward Max Talbot on waivers.
This marks the third time this season Talbot has been placed on waivers. He has cleared both times in a season that has seen him play in both Boston (36 games) and Providence (10 games). Randell has played 25 games for the B’s this season, scoring five goals in the process.
The moves allow the Bruins some flexibility with their NHL roster should they add players prior to Monday’s trade deadline. Should Talbot be claimed or clear and go to the AHL, the Bruins will have 21 players on their NHL roster, which is two shy of the maximum of 23.