|02.11.10 at 9:56 am ET|
The trade rumors are flying thick across the NHL. Will Peter Chiarelli trade Tim Thomas? Does the general manager make a move for a move’s sake to shake things up? Whatever happens during the Olympic break, there will be no shortage of ink spilled what may, or may not, happen by the March 3 deadline.
The Bruins are in Tampa for Thursday’s game against the Lightning and it is worth taking a look at last year’s deadline deal that brought a Lightning player to Boston to spark the Bruins during the stretch run.
That player, of course, is veteran forward Mark Recchi.
Chiarelli brought Recchi and a 2010 second round pick to Boston last year for prospect forward Martins Karsums and defenseman Matt Lashoff.
Recchi was a cannonball for the Bruins through 18 regular season games last year. He had 10 goals and six assists down the stretch and provided a good model for the young players on the roster as he played smart with the puck and had the experience and timing to camp out in from of the goal and create chances on just about every shift. When asked about the nature of Recchi’s game heading into the playoffs former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward laughed and said, ‘what can you say? He’s the ‘Recch-ing Ball.’’
Recchi added another three goals and three assists in the Bruins 11 playoff games even though it was reported that he was dealing with kidney stones towards the end of the playoff series against Carolina.
This season Recchi is not setting the world on fire with 11 goals and 18 assists through 58 games but is productive enough to justify putting him on the third line with Patrice Bergeron and (usually) Daniel Paille. At $1.7 million cap hit Recchi is not a drain on the Bruins salary cap and his stability during a season that has seen Milan Lucic and Marc Savard miss significant time with injuries has been a boon to the Boston roster.
Given Recchi’s production, was it worth giving up the two prospects and a draft pick for a year-and-a-quarter of the veteran’s presence?
Indisputably, the answer is yes.
The consensus at the time of the trade was that Lashoff, once the top blue liner in the Bruins system, had been jumped on the depth chart by Matt Hunwick and would soon be eclipsed by Johnny Boychuk. The thinking proved prescient as both Hunwick and Boychuk are reasonably productive members of Boston’s defensive corps and Lashoff is languishing in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals.
Even on that level Lashoff has not performed well with five goals and eight assists for 13 points and an astonishing plus/minus of -20 through 46 games. Throw in 63 penalty minutes and it does not look like Lashoff will be breaking down the door in Tampa in the foreseeable future.
Karsums has been disappointing as well. Through 36 games with Norfolk he tallied four goals and 12 assists and a plus/minus of 1. On Jan. 14 he was assigned from Norfolk to HC MVD Balashikha of the Kontinental Hockey League. So, now that Karsums is plying his wares in Russia, a return to the NHL anytime soon does not look likely. Good news for the forward? He was named to Team Latvia for the upcoming Olympic games.
The bonus is the second round draft pick this summer. With the Lightning’s pick the Bruins have picks to burn through the next two years. If you consider Lashoff and Karsums extra pieces from the Bruins organization that were essentially a wash then the ability to bring in Recchi and a draft pick looks like a steal in both the short term and the long term.
UPDATE — The commenter is right. The 2010 second round draft pick indeed does go to the Bruins and not the other way around. The story has been changed accordingly.
|02.10.10 at 12:11 am ET|
The snow and the wins keep piling up in Washington, as the Capitals remain atop the WEEI NHL Power Rankings:
1. (1) 41-12-6 More magic from Alex Ovechkin Sunday helped the Capitals extend their winning streak to 14 games. Next up, Montreal on Wednesday.
4. (6 ) 36-20-3 The Kings had a franchise-best nine-game winning streak snapped with a loss in Anaheim Monday. “It was a nice run, a very nice run,” coach Terry Murray said. Things are looking real good in LA.
6. (4) 36-20-2 After winning the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, the Devils should be a whole lot more fun to watch.
9 . (9) 35-22-2 After Sunday’s high-tempo contest, we can only hope that the Penguins and Capitals square off in the playoffs again
10. (11) 34-22-4 The Senators had their impressive 11-game winning streak halted by Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the Maple Leafs Saturday, but they have served notice they are in the fight for the Northeast Division title.
|02.09.10 at 10:08 pm ET|
Summary ‘ Daniel Paille scored two first period goals for the Bruins at Buffalo on Tuesday at HSBC Arena, but the Sabres came back with two second-period goals to tie the game before Boston won the game 3-2 on a David Krejci score in a sudden-death shootout. Ryan Miller took the loss with 32 saves, while Tuukka Rask was the winner for Boston with 43 saves. It was Rask’s fourth straight start for the Bruins, and he has been able to get a point for Boston in all four with a 2-0-2 record.
Paille netted the first of the game at 4:51 when he scored on a wraparound against Miller to give the Bruins the early lead. Paille would strike again at 11:58 in the period when he crossed the crease in front of Miller to tip a slap shot from Zdeno Chara at the point for the two-goal advantage.
The lead would not last, as the Sabres came out strong in the second period and turn a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. The first goal in the comeback came courtesy of Buffalo center Derek Roy with a wrist shot that beat Rask at 4:35 in the second on a 5-on-3 power play. Dynamic Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers would tie it at 18:35 with a wrist shot from the blue line that surprised Rask just enough to beat him on the glove side.
Daniel Paillle ‘ Acquired on Oct. 20 in the first ever trade between the Bruins and Sabres, the speedy forward came back to haunt his former team with two first period goals to give him nine on the year for the Bruins.
Tuukka Rask — The Bruins goaltender had a career-high 43 saves and made three stops in the shootout to give the Bruins consecutive wins and points in their last four games.
David Krejci — Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout as he crossed in front of Miller and buried the puck to give Boston the two-point victory.
The Sabres comeback came in the second period courtesy of the power play. Milan Lucic went for hooking penalty at 2:54 and was joined by Steve Begin for a hook at 3:46 to set up 1:08 of 5-on-3 for Buffalo. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff took a timeout with his team down two goals to talk about the situation and was rewarded when Roy found time and space in front of Rask and put a wrist shot passed the young goaltender for Buffalo’s first goal of the game. The Sabres would play well from there on out to complete the comeback and gain a point.
Miller came up big in overtime to stop the Bruins and send the game to the shootout. Early in the extra frame the Bruins had a great chance when Marco Sturm and Matt Hunwick had a 2-on-1 in front of Miller. Sturm crossed to Hunwick who let go of a one-timer that Miller crossed the crease to make a kick save off his pads and send the puck into the corner. Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout that was tied at one after the first three rounds off of goals by Marco Sturm and Jason Pominville.
|02.09.10 at 8:49 pm ET|
It was a wild first five minutes of the second period in Buffalo. The Sabres came out with more aggression than they showed in the first which was immediately evident when their captain, Craig Rivet, decided it was time to throw down with Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton at 2:54. The fight started at the same time that a penalty whistle was blown to send Bruins forward Milan Lucic to the box for a hooking call. The Sabres were then given a golden chance to get back into the game when Steve Begin took a holding penalty 54-seconds later to give Buffalo 1:08 of 5-on-3 hockey at 3:46.
The Sabres would not need all of it to get on the board. At 4:35 Buffalo center Derek Roy found himself in the middle slot facing down Tuukka Rask with time and space. Roy let go a wily wrist shot that beat Rask glove side to cut the Bruins lead to 2-1.
Boston got its first chance on the power play when Paul Gaustad tried to throw down with Zdeno Chara at 9:52. The towering Bruins captain cannot fight though because he tore most of the ligaments in his pinky the first time the Bruins played in Buffalo on Nov. 20. The finger looks pretty ugly as it is bent at a 90-degree angle and Chara has to wear a split on it during practice and games. Per NHL rules, a player cannot fight with any outside material on his hands, hence Chara cannot fight for fear of a suspension or injuring the finger more seriously than it already is. Gaustad went to the box for a two-minute unsportsmanlike yet the Bruins could not break down Ryan Miller’s door.
With the Sabres putting steady pressure on the Bruins through the period, Boston’s best chance came near the 18:30 mark when the puck got loose in the crease in front of Ryan Miller. Boston forward Mark Recchi dove for it but it was cleared and skipped through the neutral zone off the center wall to defenseman Tyler Myers. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid missed on the loose puck and Myers picked it up and let go of a sneaky wrist shot that surprised Rask on his glove side the Buffalo tied the game at two at 18:35.
Shots through second period (total):
Bruins — 11 (22).
Sabres — 14 (31).
|02.09.10 at 7:55 pm ET|
The Bruins look a lot crisper than the Sabres in the first period at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Boston is taking advantage of a plethora of Sabres turnovers to put pressure on star goaltender Ryan Miller and take a 2-0 lead into the second period. It is the fourth straight game where Boston has held a 2-0 lead and the Bruins are 1-0-2 in those games.
Daniel Paille is comfortable playing in Buffalo. The Sabres drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft (20th overall) and he made his NHL debut with them in the 2005-06 season and played 195 career games with 35 goals before being traded to the Bruins on Oct. 20 for a third and a conditional fourth round picks. Paille beat Miller by picking the puck up in the trapezoid and wrapping it around at 4:51 for the early Bruins advantage.
Then he did it again.
Paille started the sequence by digging the puck out of the corner and cycling it back around the net to Derek Morris who crossed it across the blue line to captain Zdeno Chara. The big defenseman wound up and fired a shot towards Miller. Paille, who cycled along with the puck, crossed in front of Miller at the same time as the puck and got a piece of it for his second goal of the period that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Tuukka Rask has blanked the Sabres through the first. Buffalo has generated shots but not a lot of chances.
Shots through first period:
Boston — 11
Buffalo — 17
|02.09.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
Tuesday night, the Bruins are on the road in Buffalo to take on the Sabres at HSBC Arena for the second time in the last seven games. Last time the Boston visited Buffalo, it suffered a 2-1 regulation defeat which served as the sixth of ten straight losses the Bruins endured during the month of January into February.
Well, the streak is over, courtesy of a 3-0 blanking of the Canadiens on Sunday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Bears are looking to put a couple more points up before the Olympic break with games against Tampa and Florida on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
The Bruins currently sit at ninth in the Eastern Conference with 59 points, but are only two points from the seventh and eighth seeds and three from the sixth spot. The Sabres lead the Northeast Division with 71 points (one ahead of Ottawa), and would be the third seed if the playoffs started today.
Good things for the Bruins that they do not. The Eastern Conference is a logjam of mediocre teams playing inconsistently. Little streaks by teams have big effects on the standings. Take Ottawa and Buffalo for instance ‘ the Sens have been as hot as anybody can be recently, and have jumped from below the playoff demarcation line to pushing Buffalo for the division lead. Ottawa’s stretch has coincided with a fall for the Sabres, who lost four in a row last week and sound very much like a team struggling to put pucks in the net.
“We’ve got to believe we’re a good team here,” Sabres goaltender Patrick Lalime told the Buffalo News last week. “We had been playing great. A lot of teams go through stretches like that. It’s how you respond, how you get back out of it. We had a good meeting [Saturday]. We have to believe in here.”
Sound familiar, Bruins faithful?
When it comes down to it though, the Bruins are not in that bad of shape. According to the Simple Ratings System (SRS) used by hockey-reference.com, the Bruins are the seventh-strongest team in the Eastern Conference. The rating system works on a score aggregate that takes in baseline performance and then factors in the performance of all a teams competitors to arrive at a number that represents how much better or worse a team is in terms of predicated outcome against an average. (An average team in the SRS system is 0.) Right now, the Bruins are at -.18, which puts them ahead of the Canadiens (-.19), Rangers (-.22), Thrashers (-.26), Panthers (-.30) and Lightning (-.38), all of whom are clustered around the Bruins in the standings.
On the flip side, there is a definite disparity to the upper and lower halves of the Eastern Conference. Buffalo doubles the Bruins SRS score at .18, New Jersey is second at .30 and the Capitals blow everybody in the NHL away with 1.11.
Yet, if you looked at those rankings a couple of weeks ago, Ottawa would have been lower than its current -.07 and the Bruins would have ranked significantly higher (among other fluctuations). The Sabres’ four-game losing streak where they have had trouble getting goals has definitely lowered their SRS rank. Overall though, the system is a good indicator of the strength of a team and where it stands in contrast to the rest of the league. It is worth mentioning the Bruins current number in the ranking does indicate that they are a below average team, and in the system, they are ranked 19th overall in the NHL. That is what a ten-game losing streak does.
It will be important for the Bruins to jump on Buffalo early tonight and find a way to hold Tim Connolly and company off the board. Sabres netminder Ryan Miller may be the best goaltender in the league but, like fellow Olympian Tim Thomas, has had a few struggles of late. Hence the four-game slide.
Tuesday night’s game is the fourth in the six-game series between the division opponents. The Bruins lead the series 2-1-0 after two wins against the Sabres in November.
Boston knows all too well recently that losing streaks are a slippery slope. When things are going bad, they tend to go all bad at once. The Bruins, for a change, have the chance to continue the Sabres slide and grab themselves two points in the process.
|02.08.10 at 6:33 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed various issues after an optional practice in Buffalo Monday afternoon. The first issue was the status of center David Krejci for Tuesday’s contest against the Sabres. Krejci left Sunday’s 3-0 victory in Montreal in the first period and did not return.
‘I think it’s looking good,’ said Julien of Krejci’s availability Tuesday.’It’s getting better. We’ll see tomorrow when he skates. It’s the leg obviously.’
Julien was then asked about the play of Andrew Ference in his return after a 14-game absence with a groin injury.
‘He handled himself really, really, well,’ Julien said. ‘I felt he really stabilized our [defense] back there. He was an experienced guy coming in, he definitely stabilized and gave our back end some confidence.’
In addition, Julien was favorably impressed with Blake Wheeler dropping the gloves and tangling with Montreal defenseman Ryan O’Byrne.
‘He took on a guy who does it every once in awhile, he didn’t hesitate,’ Julien said. ‘The thing I like about it was that it showed players were willing to get out of their comfort zone and was going to show everybody they were willing to do something like that to turn things around. It was the intention for me that was impressive.’