|05.26.10 at 7:24 pm ET|
As long as they stand pat with the second overall choice in the 2010 NHL Draft, the Bruins are going to get a tremendous difference-maker in the form of Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, the former an easy replacement for Phil Kessel and the latter a center often likened to Steve Yzerman. Both are impressing at the NHL Scouting Combine and both will be immediate contributors to top lines.
Which one they end up with at this point remains up in the air. Compare this draft to the 2007 NBA Draft, which featured Greg Oden and Kevin Durant: If you’re picking in the first two selections, you sit back and take whichever can’t-miss prospect (being kind to Oden) doesn’t go No. 1. Outside of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranking Seguin as the top player in the draft, nobody seems willing to risk their credibility by saying one will have more of an impact than the other.
“I think it’s very close,” Mike Vellucci, coach of Seguin and the Plymouth Whalers (OHL), told WEEI.com. “The things that set them apart is that Taylor Hall has played in the league for three years, and he’s been on a really good team for two of the three years. Seguin’s only been in the league two years, so it’s close. Hall is about a year older, but talent-wise it’s really close.
“One’s a center, one’s a winger, so who do I believe in? I believe in Tyler Seguin because I’ve been up-close and personal with him. I know what a great character kid he is. Saying that, Taylor Hall, I’ve coached against him about 40 games in the last three years and he’s a pretty good talent.”
So with less than a month to go until the June 25 draft in Los Angeles, the Edmonton Oilers, who are in such rough shape that their best bet is to try to distinguish between the two immense talents and pick the better player, have yet to make up their minds, or say so at least. Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini and the Oilers have done their homework on Hall and Seguin, both of whom led the OHL with 106 points, but the man controlling the Bruins’ fate didn’t tip his hand on which direction the team is leaning.
“Over the last year and a half I’ve sat down and had dinner with both of them individually, gotten to know them as people,” Tambellini said in an interview with NHL.com. “They’re both great people. Any team is going to be so fortunate to get either of those two players.”
|05.19.10 at 8:31 pm ET|
The roller coaster that the Bruins went through in 2009-10 was mirrored by one of their key players. It seemed as Dennis Wideman went, so went the Bruins and for a good stretch of the season Wideman was not going.
The defenseman played three less games than he did a year ago (79 to 76) but scored 20 less points, down to 30 from a career high of 50. When he is going good, Wideman can be an assist machine with his dangerous shot from the point, second only to probably Zdeno Chara in terms of effectiveness (Johnny Boychuk has Wideman beat in terms of pure power). He has never scored more than 13 goals in a season, not bad for most defenders especially considering the scheme that coach Claude Julien employs. Julien has been activating defensemen from the blue line in the last two years more often but the way the plays work is that it is usually from the off point that will crash the net while Wideman takes the shot. That makes for some nice helpers along the way but not always finding the back of the net.
After a decent start to the year, Wideman started having trouble after the Winter Classic. He registered a -12 and only four points between Jan. 1 and the Olympic break, with two of those points coming in the final game against Florida. It was no coincidence that the Bruins were absolutely wretched during that period. Wideman was a ghost on the ice except when he appeared just so he could turn the puck over at the blue line. Julien relies on his defense to get pucks at the net and play solid on the point and on the walls and Wideman was doing none of that.
“I think the last part of the season I played really hard, I played quite a bit better,” Wideman said. “The middle of the year got a little frustrating and I let it get to me a little bit too much. Going through a couple things and injuries and stuff like that and it just kind of compounded and lost some confidence and it took me a while to get it back.”
Wideman said that the injuries were not serious. A little bit of a shoulder tweak here, a wrist there. They bothered him but he said he did not miss any games because of them. Really, it was all about confidence, or lack thereof.
“Just some nagging stuff that I didn’t really talk about. Just some nagging stuff,” Wideman said. “I wasn’t really that just lost confidence and got completely frustrated with everything that was going on and had a problem rebounding. Then there was all the other stuff that was going on with throughout the year and just got frustrated and lost confidence.”
It was hard for the media to ignore Wideman in January because his play was just absolutely terrible. It came down to the point where Julien, who had mildly dissed to the media after practice one day, refused to answer any more questions on the defender or any other “specific questions on players.” That moratorium lasted all of one day as Julien ended up answering a question from this reporter about Trent Whitfield the next day, but the incident was the highlight of the low times for Wideman and the Bruins. For Wideman specifically, he knew things were going bad when the denizens of TD Garden started giving him the Bronx cheer.
“Probably the first game that I started to get booed there [was the worst],” Wideman said. “Around December at the end or something like that.”
Somewhere after the March 18 game against the Penguins, things started to pick up for Wideman. He still had a turnover problem but the hits were coming back (though he not known for his especially physical play) and observers could tell that he was more mentally in it when he started throwing his body around to block shots at the point. He picked up a couple points against Calgary in late March and ended up playing big minutes along with the other surviving defensemen when Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart went down and Andrew Ference was still not healthy enough for games. Wideman’s confidence grew. He doesn’t know how, it just did.
“I don’t know, just played a couple good games and forget about the stuff that happened before and just build on it and build on it and a couple months stretch things just started to turn around,” Wideman said.
In the playoffs, Wideman was one of the Bruins top players. He blocked shots, he took shots, he moved the puck through the neutral zone. His signature play (which would have been more of a defining moment if the Bruins had one the game) was in Game 7 against the Flyers when he took a broken breakout, reset the rush himself and took the puck into the offensive zone, all the way down to the corner and centered it to Milan Lucic who was crashing the net for the goal and a 3-0 lead in the first period.
It was the last goal the Bruins scored all season.
Wideman ended the playoffs as almost a point per game player with 12 (a goal and 11 assists) in 13 games. He was a +3 though that number was higher before the Flyers comeback.
There are whispers that Wideman could be traded. That could be good for the Bruins, especially after the season he just had. But, when the good Wideman is around, the Bruins are definitely better. He knows he cannot control it but understands if that is the direction that Peter Chiarelli wants to go.
“I can’t control that. If he wanted to trade me then that is part of the game,” Wideman said. “It is never fun being traded, you want to stay with the team you are with, I love it here and I like Boston. I don’t want to but I can’t do anything about it if that is what the organization decides to do.”
|05.18.10 at 2:57 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli issued a press release Tuesday afternoon announcing that forward Marco Sturm underwent successful surgery to repair his right knee. The surgery entailed ACL reconstruction, MCL repair and partial lateral meniscectomy and was performed by Dr. Peter Asnis at Massachusetts General Hospital. Sturm injured the knee in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals when he pushed off to make a check on Flyers defenseman Matt Carle and torqued his knee on the ice at TD Garden. Sturm is expected to rehab for six months.
Here is the press release from the Bruins media relations staff:
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Marco Sturm underwent successful surgery on his right knee. The surgery ‘ which entailed a right knee ACL reconstruction, MCL repair, and partial lateral meniscectomy ‘ was performed by Dr. Peter Asnis at Mass General Hospital.
Sturm sustained a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his right knee during the first period of the Bruins-Flyers game on Saturday, May 1 (Game 1).
His expected recovery time is an estimated six months post-surgery.
Sturm is a veteran of 855 NHL regular-season games and has registered 234 goals and 232 assists for 466 points in his career. The 31-year-old tallied 22 goals and 15 assists during the 2009-10 season, marking the seventh time in his career he surpassed the 20-goal plateau. He played in seven playoff games this season and has scored eight goals and tallied 11 assists in 52 postseason games for San Jose and Boston.
|05.18.10 at 2:42 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk is the type of guy who will be laughing, joking and making sarcastic remarks when things are going well. When things are not, he tends speak quietly about what went wrong.
Boychuk was definitely quiet Tuesday morning during breakdown day at TD Garden. He becomes a Category 6 unrestricted free agent this offseason even though he does not technically have the service time in the NHL to make him unrestricted. Category 6 is a rare designation for guys who normally spend most of their time in the minors and then become free agents after their initial contracts expire. To be a restricted free agent, which would make general manager Peter Chiarelli’s job in keeping him in Boston much simpler, Boychuk would have needed to complete 80 career games this year and be under the age 26, marks he missed by 12 games (including playoffs) and sixth months. Boychuk spent most of five seasons in the minors before coming to Boston and his progress towards becoming a productive NHL defenseman was hindered while he was in the Colorado system as it tried to make him into a dual defenseman/power forward. For a simple guy like Boychuk who likes to hit things and take big shots, forward is probably too complicated a position.
“Just try to keep it simple. Get the puck away try to turn pucks over, simple. I got more comfortable and then tried to do a couple different things. Nothing drastic, I just wanted to keep it simple,” Boychuk said. “I just wanted to get pucks to the net and keep it simple. Simple is my way, I guess.”
In terms of staying in Boston, Boychuk has little doubt that he will be back.
“Everybody knows that I want to be in Boston. So, I want to be here, it is not a big secret,” Boychuk said. “100 percent. I love it here in Boston. I want to be back.”
Boychuk said that he has not even thought about what would happen if another NHL team threw a lot of money at him come July 1. He hopes that it will not even make it that far.
“Well, they can’t talk to me before July 1. I hope it doesn’t go that long,” Boychuk said. “No talks but I am pretty sure that I am going to be back, I hope I am going to be back at least. So, we will see.”
The defenseman is going to take a short vacation and ship his truck back to Montana for the purpose of driving to his home in Edmonton where he will spend the summer. He said that he does not look forward to the 10-hour drive across the nothingness that lays between Minneapolis and the Rocky Mountains. Anybody who has driven through those plains would probably agree. In terms of the pack up, Boychuk still is a little stunned about the Bruins sudden exit at the hands of the Flyers and knows that, if he is back next year, the memory will light a fire under the team.
“I don’t even think I should be here packing up my stuff. It was weird packing my stuff last night to go back up [to Edmonton]. So much stuff to do now. Drive home, fly home. However I am getting home. Haven’t really had any time to watch hockey. Just packing up everything and try to get everything settled before we leave,” Boychuk said. “It is going to light a fire, that is for sure. Hopefully we take this next year and use it to our advantage.”
|05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET|
Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”
Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”
Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”
|05.18.10 at 12:21 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas spoke about his upcoming role on the team after having been usurped for the No. 1 spot in the crease by rookie Tuukka Rask in the second half of the 2009-10 season. Thomas signed a four-year $20 million contract extension last summer and has a no-trade clause in his contract though the speculation is that general manager Peter Chiarelli will have no choice but to try and move Thomas’s contract. Thomas said on Tuesday morning that there are questions that he needs to answer but it is still “too early” to start coming to any conclusions.
“Too early. Those kind of thoughts are something that need to be thought over carefully and over a longer period of time and I haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet,” Thomas said. “Even if you are not playing at the end of the year you are still practicing with the team, you are still trying to get yourself in a position where you could help the team if you are called upon. So, I was busy doing that stuff and not thinking about, or at least coming to conclusions on the things you guys are asking me about. Of course they have crossed my mind because I am human and they have to, you know.”
Thomas said that he just has not had any time between the Game 7 loss last Friday and Tuesday morning to figure out how he wants to deal with the offseason.
“It is so early after the end of the season that I haven’t took the time yet. We have had these end of the year meetings, get our equipment, we have had some other activities. Over the next month I will let things kind of settle in my mind and come up with some of that stuff later, but not yet,” Thomas said.
Thomas also said that the 2009-10 season was a unique experience in his professional career. Coming from being the top goaltender on the best team in the Eastern Conference and watching his team, and his job, dissipate would be unique for any player.
“It was certainly different than any other experience I have had as a pro,” Thomas said. “It was challenging, you go through these types of situations and years and you just have to try and find the lessons out of them and find a way to make yourself a better pro goaltender and a better person.”
|05.17.10 at 8:59 pm ET|
Hockey Hall of Famer and Bruins vice president Cam Neely called in to The Big Show on Monday afternoon to discuss the aftermath of the Bruins’ heartbreaking Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and talk about the future of the club with the NHL draft, free agency and other big personnel decisions coming up this offseason.
‘We’re going to look top to bottom,’ Neely said. ‘Obviously, when you don’t win the last game of the hockey season, you have to improve your club, so we’re looking at all ways at doing what we need to do to improve the club.’
A transcript of that interview follows. You can listen to the entire interview on The Big Show audio on demand page.
Has the Game 7 loss hit you guys yet?
Oh, it hit hard. It hit hard on Friday night. It’s been a very tough few days, as you can imagine. Obviously, losing in the finals is a big deal, but this is really big, too.
Should the David Krejci injury and the return of Simon Gagne be seen as the turning point of the series, or when you’re up 3-0, should you win the series even when you’re up against those injuries?
Yeah, I think when you’re up 3-0 you have to find a way to close it out. Losing Krejci certainly hurt us. That was a big loss because what it did was we had to give Savard more minutes, and you know him stepping into the playoffs in the second round not in the condition the other players were, being out so long that he was. It was a big loss losing Krejci. Gagne, he came back and got some big goals for them at timely times in all of the games that he played in. But when you’re up 3-0, you have to find a way to close it out.
From the front office perspective, where do you start looking [players, coaches, etc.] for what went wrong with that series?
Well I think we have to look at the season as a whole, to be honest with you. The year as a whole didn’t go as we expected it to. Certain players didn’t perform to the expectations. Then, we found a way to make the playoffs and got out of the first round. Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of people thought we would beat Buffalo, and we came out, played really well and were able to solve [Ryan] Miller and then get up on Philly 3-0.
So I think over the course of this next week, we’re going to sit down as a group and really just evaluate the whole season. I don’t think we should just look at it in this one little snapshot because the year as a whole didn’t go quite the way we had planned or expected. Read the rest of this entry »
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