|04.10.15 at 3:04 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli met with reporters for over 17 minutes Friday, marking the team’s only media availability for the day.
The Bruins are all but eliminated from playoff contention. They need to both win Saturday and see either the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins get no more than one point in their final two games. As such, there was ample reflection on this season’s issues, but Chiarelli stressed that he did not want have what he called the “postmortem” conversation until following the season.
Chiarelli’s job seemingly has been on the line since Charlie Jacobs said the entire organization was under review in January and that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable. Asked whether Chiarelli thought he would stay with the Bruins, he expressed uncertainty.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” Chiarelli said. “I’m operating [as if] I am [staying] until they tell me that I’m not.”
Claude Julien could also be on the hot seat despite receiving a contract extension in November. Chiarelli spoke to the job he’s done and noted that the group has collectively cultivated its current circumstances.
“I think he’s done fine,” Chiarelli said. “I look at a couple things. I think he’s mixed and matched with the lines, I think he’s integrated some youth into the forward lines. I think he’s done well mixing and matching on the defensive pairs. None of us lately have been used to these type of circumstances, myself included. I think he’s done fine. I don’t want to get into postmortem discussion. We’ll have the chance [for that]. It’s been disappointing and obviously it’s not acceptable and there’s a level of high standard in our city and our market and we haven’t reached it right now.”
|04.10.15 at 2:49 pm ET|
Bruins prospect Zane McIntyre won the second annual Mike Richter Award, given to the top goalie in college hockey. McIntyre led the country with 29 wins for North Dakota this season and finished tied for 11th with a .929 save percentage.
McIntyre and North Dakota’s season came to an end Thursday night with a 5-3 loss to Boston University in the national semifinals at TD Garden. McIntyre had an off night by his standards, as it was just the fourth time all season he’s allowed more than three goals in a game. Two of BU’s goals came from above the faceoff circles without much traffic and another came on a bad-angle shot, although there was a lot of traffic in front for that one.
McIntyre, a junior whom the Bruins drafted in the sixth round in 2010, now has to decide whether he wants to return to North Dakota for his senior season or turn pro. And if he turns pro, he needs to decide if he wants to sign with the Bruins or become a free agent. McIntyre could become a free agent if the Bruins don’t sign him within 30 days of him leaving school.
McIntyre said Friday that he has not made any decisions yet and that he will take some time to talk with his coaches, family and the Bruins before doing so.
“There definitely hasn’t been any decision yet,” McIntyre said. “Everything’s really new and really fresh with what happened last night. I don’t think it would be fair to myself, my family, my current teammates to really just make a decision that quickly.
“I think it’s definitely going to take some time to see what happens and really get some perspectives from everybody in my life, whether it’s coaches, fellow teammates and especially my family. I think I’ll know when the time’s right to make a decision one way or another.”
McIntyre is also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award along with BU’s Jack Eichel and Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey. That award, given to the best player in college hockey, will be presented Friday night.
|04.09.15 at 11:08 pm ET|
After the Bruins lost in regulation to the Panthers on Thursday, Julien batted down a question about his Bruins handling big moments better in the past than they have this season. In doing so, he pointed out that past teams had better players.
“I don’t think we have the same team we’ve had in the past,” Julien said. “You guys can talk about that; have a look at the roster. It’s not the same. We can’t live in the past. That’s what we’re trying to do here: work with the guys that we have. We’ve got a lot of young players and we’ve got a lot of players that haven’t played for expectations right now.
“It’s still not too late. You’ve got to win the next game and hope that you get some help and move forward here. We can hang our heads here all we want, but the bottom line is that we’ve got to regroup and think about winning ourselves a hockey game the next game, because if not, then I’m disappointed in all of us for not thinking that way.”
Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk were the biggest absences from last year’s team. Both players left due to salary cap constraints, as Chiarelli let Iginla walk in free agency and traded Boychuk to the Islanders.
Julien didn’t say anything that wasn’t already known, as Chiarelli knew he wouldn’t be able to ice as potent a roster as the B’s had a season ago. The Bruins are paying nearly $5 million in dead money against the cap this season because of last season’s bonuses ($4.2 million of which were for Iginla).
Still, Chiarelli stressed in December that despite the B’s having parted with some of last season’s players, the roster was still good enough to play better.
“They’ve underperformed,” Chiarelli told WEEI.com in December. “The roster’s not markedly different from last year. There’s a couple of notable players [gone], but there are a lot of teams that have less cumulative money spent than us that are doing better than us.
“Listen, things go in cycles, right? I understand that you can’t hit it out of the ballpark all the time, and myself included.”
The Bruins need to win Saturday and get help from other teams in order to make the playoffs. Either the Penguins must get one or zero points over their final two games or the Senators need to lose their season finale to the Flyers in regulation.
|04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins had 20 minutes to stay in control of their season’s destiny. They didn’t do it.
Within the same hour, the Bruins allowed a late second-period power-play goal to the Panthers to tie the game, and the Senators defeated the Rangers. The third period was going to be critical for the B’s in what was a 1-1 game, but rather than making a statement, they allowed the Panthers to score twice against Patrice Bergeron‘s line, putting the Senators a win away from reaching the playoffs in the process.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins within one with a well-placed wrist shot over Roberto Luongo‘s shoulder to end a 15-game scoreless streak with five minutes to play, but the Panthers answered promptly with a Jimmy Hayes goal to make it a 4-2 Panthers win.
The Bruins (95 points) are not yet eliminated, but they must win Saturday in Tampa and receive help from other teams. If Boston beats Tampa Saturday and Ottawa loses to the Flyers in regulation, Boston would make the playoffs over Ottawa. If Boston wins Saturday and Pittsburgh loses both of its remaining games, the B’s also would get in. Detroit going to overtime against the Canadiens Friday meant the B’s can no longer catch the Red Wings.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
STRONG START, NO GOALS AND A PREDICTABLE LETUP
A terrible start to Wednesday’s game against the Capitals cost the B’s two much-needed points. They realized their errors and dominated in the early going against Florida.
Boston had 10 of the first 12 shots on goal, while a power play that Marchand drew resulted in two full minutes without the Panthers clearing. One thing was missing, however: goals.
|04.09.15 at 6:40 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins say they understand the threat that exists of them missing the playoffs. Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, their 81st game of the season, needs to be their biggest push.
That means the B’s can’t have the start they did Wednesday, when two poor play with the puck and coverage lapses put them in an early deficit from which they never recovered.
“I think [we need to] come out a lot more focused,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “Playing the way we’re supposed to, which is getting pucks deep and managing the puck a lot better than we did.”
The Bruins enter Thursday’s game tied with the Senators with 95 points through 80 games on the season. A playoff berth could be secured either by Boston winning both its final games or by the B’s finishing with more points in the next two games than the Senators.
“To this point, I think if we win the next two games I don’t think anyone will even be talking about this anymore,” Brad Marchand said. “That’s [easier] said [than] done. We’ve got a lot of really good leadership in there that we can follow going into games like tonight.”
Both the B’s and Senators are in action Thursday, as the Senators will face a Rangers team that has already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and is resting Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Mats Zuccarello.
Perhaps the Rangers would prefer the Senators to the Bruins as a first-round opponent. Letting their players rest while improving Ottawa’s playoff chances could kill two birds with one stone.
“I’m not following what other teams do around the league,” Chara said. “Usually that’s the case for many teams, but we have to focus on what we have to do.”
|04.09.15 at 5:42 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Zdeno Chara has been hit in the left foot area in each of the last two games by pucks, resulting in a pair of occurrences in which the Boston captain was in noticeable pain.
After the team arrived at BB&T Center for what should be considered a must-win against the Panthers, Chara deflected a question about how he was feeling.
“Good, you?” Chara responded.
“You know the deal,” he added. “Can’t talk about it, so that’s the way it is.”
Chara was slow to leave the ice after a David Booth shot hit him in what looked to be the outside of the foot Saturday, while a Joel Ward shot Wednesday slowed him after hitting the Boston captain on the inside of the foot. Chara took two very short shifts after Wednesday’s scare and went on to take regular shifts.
He has not looked to be particularly comfortable following the injuries, however. Chara had a bit of a limp after Saturday’s game and missed Monday’s practice. His strides also seemed hindered as he walked in on Thursday.
|04.09.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look at the Bruins’ loss to the Capitals Wednesday night and ahead to the playoffs and the Bruins’ chances. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire worked the game Wednesday night, a 3-0 Bruins loss in Washington, and said the Bruins didn’t look like some of the Bruins’ teams he knows from the past.
“I thought they were kind of passive last night, I really did,” said McGuire. “I also know that there were some guys under the weather. They are not going to use that as an excuse, but I know there were guys not feeling very well last night — Brad Marchand was one of them. I mean, the fact that he dressed and played as well as he did was pretty nice indication of his character and how much he cares. Again, you don’t want to get everything wrapped up in one game. If they turn around and win tonight then everybody is going to be happy again. It was not the most intense Bruins environment I’ve seen in a long time.”
Claude Julien mixed up his lines, to the disliking of some, but McGuire brought up Julien was likely thinking ahead to Thursday night’s game in Florida too, and not just Wednesday’s game in Washington.
“I was really surprised at some of the maneuvers, but I also know that Washington is one of the most balanced teams in the league,” said McGuire. “They have really a four-line attack. You could see it, they had that kid line last night that was really working for them that didn’t score, but it generated chances for them. They are still missing Jay Beagle, they are still missing Eric Fehr, they will get those guys back at some point. Washington is a balanced team.
“I think what Claude was trying to do is get more of a balanced attack so he could compete with a four line game knowing the schedule that he has. That is a quick back-to-back with Washington and Florida. It is one of the most difficult ones you have in the league just because of travel, humidity and the time that you arrive. This will be a very difficult game for the Bruins. I think he was trying to look at the whole schedule rather than one game.”
With the Eastern Conference so tightly bunched, and only two games left, anything can happen. Currently the Bruins are tied with the Senators for eighth place, and a point behind seventh place, and two points behind sixth place. So one of those four teams will miss out on the postseason. McGuire thinks the Bruins will be able to make the playoffs, as they take on Florida Thursday night and Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“Tuukka [Rask] is going to be large early on tonight, I think that is really important,” he said. “If he can be and stabilize the game early then the Bruins I think will have a chance to get going. You’re going to be looking at a showdown obviously on Sunday against Tampa. I think Tampa will probably rest some people. The game won’t have as much meaning for them. I still believe Boston is a playoff team. I do. I believed it from the start of the year and I still believe it.”
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