|03.01.11 at 2:44 am ET|
It was a generally quiet couple of days leading up the NHL trade deadline throughout the league, but with the way the Bruins have been going, they may not have been a team that needed much more via trade.
The B’s had their biggest day in that department 10 days prior to the deadline. Seemingly in an effort to both upgrade the roster quickly and avoid taking chances at the last second, general manager Peter Chiarelli made a couple of big deals on Feb. 18, reeling in Tomas Kaberle from Toronto and a package of Rich Peverley and (less notably) Boris Valabik from Atlanta. With the team having already acquired center Chris Kelly from the Senators earlier in that week, Chiarelli hinted at the post-Kaberle trade press conference that he was done making big deals.
With less than $1 million in cap space, you probably should have seen that coming.
Even so, the trade deadline passed, and the B’s moves leading up to it consisted of the following:
– Signing Shane Hnidy
– Trading Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman to the Ducks for David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput, a deal that involved only AHL players.
– Trading Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen‘s rights to the Wild for Swedish goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Not exactly moves that scream “difference-maker,” huh? Well, they don’t have to when they also scream “the team’s already made its moves.”
With Kaberle, Peverley, and Kelly already in the fold, the Bruins were able to use the days leading up to the deadline as a bonding experience while on a Canadian road-trip. While other teams were adding pieces, the Bruins’ new pieces were already contributing. Boston has won five straight, including all four since Kaberle came on board.
While much of the discussion following the trade deadline is on how a team with improvements in tow will fare in the offseason, the moves or lack of moves also mean big things for the stretch run of the regular season. It seems that’s another area in which the B’s might be aided. Already with a six-point lead over the Canadiens in the division despite having played one game less than the Habs this season, the fact that the Canadiens were also quiet over the last couple of days is also encouraging for the B’s. The Habs made their biggest deal when they brought in James Wisniewski from the Islanders earlier in the season, and their lack of activity at the deadline is something the B’s will take.
|02.28.11 at 6:03 pm ET|
The Bruins acquired goaltender Anton Khudobin from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Jeff Penner and the restricted free agent (RFA) rights to forward Mikko Lehtonen.
Originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round (206th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Khudobin has appeared in six career NHL games, all with Minnesota. He has a 4-1-0 record, a 1.39 GAA and a .955 save percentage with one shutout.
Penner, a 23-year-old native of Steinbach, Minnesota, has 5-14=19 totals with 30 PIM in 57 games this season with Providence. At the time of the trade, he led the P-Bruins in plus/minus with a plus-10 rating. He has appeared in two career NHL games, both during the 2009-10 season with Boston, and had no points or PIM. Penner was undrafted and played one season of collegiate hockey with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. In 207 career AHL games, all with Providence, he had 22-60=82 totals with 108 PIM.
Lehtonen has spent this season with Skelleftea HC of the Swedish Elite League. In 52 games, the 23-year-old has 29-27=56 totals and 32 PIM. Minnesota will now own his NHL restricted free agent rights. He has appeared in two career NHL games, both with Boston, and he has no points or PIM. The 6’3’, 196-lb native of Espoo, Finland was originally drafted by the Bruins in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
|02.27.11 at 11:15 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday night that they have traded forward Brian McGrattan and defenseman Sean Zimmerman, both of whom had been playing in the AHL for Providence, to the Ducks in exchange for forwards David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput.
McGrattan, whom the Bruins signed after the season’s second game, never played a game for Boston, and he registered five points and 97 penalty minutes in 39 games this season for Providence.
Both Laliberte, 24, and Chaput, 22, will report to Providence. They have 18 and 10 points, respectively in the AHL this season. Chaput has not played in the NHL, while Laliberte totaled three points in 11 games with the Flyers.
|02.27.11 at 10:48 pm ET|
The Bruins gave up a season-low 17 shots en route to a 3-2 win in Edmonton on Sunday night. The B’s improved to 5-0-0 on their current road trip, which wraps up Tuesday in Ottawa, giving them their first five-game winning streak of the season.
Ales Hemsky put the Oilers on the board first when he fired a rebound inside the left post just 1:05 into the game. The Bruins picked up the pace as the first period went on, though, and ended up taking a 2-1 lead into the break.
Michael Ryder registered Boston’s first goal with 4:30 left in the first when he collected a rebound in the slot and waited out goalie Devan Dubnyk (37 saves) before lifting a shot under the crossbar.
Rich Peverley netted his first goal as a Bruin to make it 3-1 with 52 seconds left in the second. He took a pass from Ryder in the lower left circle and cut across the front of the net before beating Dubnyk.
The Oilers made things interesting 3:14 into the third when Gilbert Brule beat Tuukka Rask (15 saves) glove-side with a slapper from the left half-wall. But the Bruins were able to hang on down the stretch and get the win.
Rask improved to 8-11-1 on the season, and he is now 5-0-0 in his last five road games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-Horton continued his recent stretch of solid play with his third goal in the last four games. He also dropped the gloves with Theo Peckham in the first period and took the Oiler down with a hard right. Horton once again was a presence in the offensive zone all night, as he tied for the team lead with five shots on goal.
-After being held scoreless in its first two games together, the new third line of Ryder, Peverley and Chris Kelly broke out with two goals Sunday night. Ryder netted the Bruins’ first goal and then set up Peverley for what proved to be the game-winner. The trio combined for a plus-4 rating on the night.
-The Bruins got off to a bit of a slow start against the worst team in the NHL, but they really turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes of the first. They ended up outshooting the Oilers, 15-5, in the opening frame and netted the two late goals to head into the locker room with the lead. The momentum carried over into the second, during which the B’s outshot Edmonton, 17-7.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-The Bruins opened the game with a bad first couple shifts and paid for it when Hemsky scored a little more than a minute in. It seemed like they were just standing around waiting for something to happen. As mentioned above, that certainly changed as the period went on.
-Despite completely dominating in terms of shots and puck possession, the Bruins struggled to slam the door shut and let Edmonton hang around. The Oilers managed to pull within one early in the third on Brule’s goal and had a few chances to tie it up down the stretch. Dubnyk was the biggest reason the score was as close as it was, as he played great for the Oilers, but the B’s still should’ve won by a more convincing margin.
-The fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton combined for a minus-3 rating and just four shots on goal. Campbell and Seguin also combined for five of the Bruins’ 15 turnovers in the game.
|02.27.11 at 1:01 am ET|
Milan Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and added two assists to lead the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Western Conference-leading Canucks on Saturday night.
With the game tied, 1-1, Lucic scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season with 4:38 left in the game. David Krejci created the chance by weaving through a slew of Vancouver defenders before circling behind the net and finding Dennis Seidenberg at the point. Roberto Luongo (22 saves) stopped Seidenberg’s shot, but Lucic was there to bang home the rebound.
Vancouver’s Manny Malhotra opened the scoring 16:58 into the first when he buried a rebound past Tim Thomas (27 saves). Nathan Horton tied it up midway through the second when he took a pass from Lucic and beat Luongo from the low slot. Patrice Bergeron sealed the win with a late empty-netter.
The loss was the Canucks’ first of the season in a game in which they scored first, and just their sixth at home. The Bruins are now 4-0-0 on their current road trip.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-It was certainly a nice homecoming for Lucic. Friday night, he was inducted into the “Ring of Honour” for the Vancouver Giants, his junior team. Saturday night, he registered a game-winning goal and two assists against his hometown NHL team. Lucic now has four goals in four games on this road trip.
-The Canucks came into the game with the NHL‘s best power play, converting 25.1 percent of such opportunities. But the Bruins held Vancouver’s man advantage scoreless in three attempts Saturday. They did a great job of making it difficult for the Canucks to get set up, and actually held them to zero shots on their first power play of the night.
-After going three games without a point, Horton now has four in his last four games. More importantly, he had five shots on goal and was buzzing around the offensive zone all night. The Bruins need Horton to be a scorer down the stretch, and it looks like he’s starting to become just that.
–Tomas Kaberle registered his first point as a Bruin with the second assist on Horton’s goal. He played well in his first two games with the B’s and the power play has been moving the puck well with him as the quarterback, but he had been held off the score sheet until Saturday night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
–Andrew Ference left the game in the first period with a lower body injury and did not return. Saturday’s signing of Shane Hnidy looked smart no matter what, but it could look even smarter if the injury to Ference turns out to be anything serious. Ference is currently tied with Adam McQuaid for the team lead in plus/minus at plus-24.
-You can probably count on one hand how many times Brad Marchand has been mentioned under this section. But Saturday night, he took two penalties and posted a minus-1 rating. It marked the fourth time this season Marchand has made two visits to the sin bin in one game. Luckily for him, the Bruins’ penalty kill was able to bail him out.
-The third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder is now scoreless in two games together. It’s certainly nothing to panic about, and obviously it’s going to take some time for them to develop chemistry since none of them has ever played together before, but the Bruins will need them to be productive.
|02.26.11 at 6:51 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Saturday that they have signed defenseman Shane Hnidy to a one-year contract. Hnidy, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered with the Coyotes in training camp, had been practicing with the team on a tryout basis since Wednesday.
Hnidy played parts of two seasons in Boston previously, skating in 108 regular season and 14 playoff games over the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns. The B’s traded a sixth-round pick and Brandon Bochenski to the Ducks for Hnidy during the 2007-08 season.
The Bruins also announced that they have signed forward Kirk MacDonald to an NHL contract. MacDonald has 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 60 games for Providence this season.
|02.23.11 at 12:52 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Looking at the Bruins’ recent flurry of moves, Milbury said he’ll miss defenseman Mark Stuart ‘ “a great depth defenseman and a terrific guy and a character guy” ‘ who was sent to the Thrashers. However, he isn’t lamenting the loss of Blake Wheeler, also sent to Atlanta. “I’m not going to miss Blake Wheeler,” Milbury said. “I thought he was a near-miss ‘ a near-miss when he went to hit a guy, a near-miss when he went to shoot a puck. It looked like he was a ball of energy, but when the moment of truth came, he came up short for me. That was a hole that needed to be patched.”
Added Milbury: “I think Peter Chiarelli did a great job in acquiring character players. I think the third and fourth lines for the Bruins, however they construct them right now, will be as good as anybody else’s third and fourth lines in the National Hockey League. The defense is solid. The [Tomas] Kaberle addition brings them the puck-moving guy that they wanted. I still wish they had somebody else that could deliver it to the net with some authority, but I’m certainly not going to complain about that.”
Milbury said the Bruins’ success will come down to this: “Are the top six forwards on the Bruins good enough to get it done?”
One of the players giving the B’s reason for hope is winger Brad Marchand. “His assets are significant,” Milbury said. “He’s got great speed. He’s got courage ‘ he’s totally unafraid to go where he needs to go. He’s got a terrific shot. I’m not really prepared to say how well he sees the whole ice, he sees it well enough. He’s put himself in position for people to say ‘ obviously, time will tell, but it looks like he could be a top-six forward.”
Looking elsewhere around the league, the Devils are red hot ‘ eight straight wins and a 16-1-2 record in their last 19 games ‘ and Milbury said he’s pulling for them to resurrect their season and make the playoffs, with a caveat. “I don’t know that they’re going to make it, but I sure hope they do,” he said. “I hope they make it and get knocked out in the first round, because they’re still boring as hell.”