Archive for August, 2011

Stanley Cup takes a tumble on Michael Ryder’s watch

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Report: Yury Alexandrov leaves Bruins organization

Friday, August 26th, 2011

According to a report from Sports.ru, Russian defenseman Yury Alexandrov‘s days as Bruins property are done. The 23-year-old is expected to take a deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

Drafted 37th overall in the 2006 draft by the B’s, Alexandrov played last season in Providence, putting up 6-13-19 totals with the baby B’s. Though he was less than impressive in last summer’s rookie development camp, he was among a large group of young defensive prospects in Boston’s system.

Will Joe Corvo be able to replace Tomas Kaberle?

Friday, August 26th, 2011

With captains’ practices just two short weeks from commencing, WEEI.com will be looking at the questions facing the defending Stanley Cup champions in the 2011-12 season.

Today’s question is whether Joe Corvo will be able to replace Tomas Kaberle on the Bruins’ blue line. Corvo isn’t nearly as talented, but he’s definitely capable of doing what Kaberle did in a so-so stint in Boston. When you look at the fact that Corvo is in the last year of a deal with a $2.25 million cap hit, while Kaberle got a three-year, $12.75 million deal in Carolina, the exchange looks good for the Bruins.

Though it became trendy to give Kaberle a big pat on the back during the Cup finals for his improved play, the fact of the matter is that things had gotten to the point where Kaberle was getting less ice time than he’d ever gotten in his career (he actually played less than 10 minutes in Game 7 of the finals). Not to compare two different players in two different situations, but as a point of reference, Corvo averaged a little under 25 minutes per game last season (Kaberle had 21:15 with the B’s), but Corvo is sure to get less than that, assuming he becomes one of the six regular defensemen in Boston.

For the sake of comparison, Kaberle is a little bigger than Corvo, while Corvo is a better skater. (While Kaberle’s passing skills were as-advertised, one thing that stood out here with the Czech blueliner was how poor a skater he was). Corvo’s 40 points last season tied a career-high, while Kaberle had 47 points in a season that was close to on par with his recent output, but far from the 67 he had in the 2005-06 season.

One player with plenty of perspective on the matter is Dennis Seidenberg. He’s played with both defensemen, as he was teammates with Corvo in Carolina in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Seidenberg, who occasionally played on a pairing with Corvo (Corvo was usually paired with Tim Gleason, while Seidenberg skated with Joni Pitkanen), gave his new and former teammate a glowing review this week.

“[He’s] a very, very good skater,” Seidenberg said of Corvo. “Good hands, good passer. Very fast. I like playing with him like I did in Carolina. I’m looking forward to it and I think he’ll fit in really well.”

But can he replace Kaberle? Seidenberg seems to think so.

“He’s an offensive guy and I’m sure he likes to shoot the puck, and that’s what we need – guys getting the puck to the net and creating rebounds,” Seidenberg said. “I think he’s been doing that in the past and I’m sure he’s going to do it again.”

The Bruins certainly did their offensive defenseman to shoot the puck, but that was not part of Kaberle’s repertoire. It is that area in which the Bruins are in luck. Corvo had 191 shots on goal last season, which would have placed him behind only Zdeno Chara (264) amongst Bruins defensemen. Kaberle had 130 over the course of last season, including 31 shots on goal in 24 regular-season games with the B’s.

There’s also the fact that Corvo will need to stave off Steven Kampfer, who hasn’t gone anywhere. On paper, it would seem that Kampfer could start next season in the role Adam McQuaid filled early last year as the seventh defenseman, but one shouldn’t count out Kampfer now that he’s healthy. Based on experience, though, it would seem a spot would be Corvo’s to lose.

In the end, Corvo can meet, exceed, or fall below expectations when it comes to replacing Kaberle. Ultimately, that could come down to whether people are talking about the pre-Boston Kaberle or the one who underwhelmed in black and gold. If it’s the latter, Corvo is certainly capable of doing what Kaberle did for $2 million less this year.

Report: Brad Marchand negotiations could last into training camp

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The agent for Bruins restricted free agent Brad Marchand recently told CSNNE‘s Joe Haggerty that the two sides are not close to a deal to keep the folk hero in Boston.

“Discussions with the Bruins remain open and ongoing regarding Brad, but nothing is imminent,” agent Wade Arnott told Haggerty.

When asked whether a deal would be done before training camp opens on Sept. 16, Arnott replied, “[I’m] hopeful, but it’s no sure thing.”

Last season, Marchand had 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points. He added 19 more points in the playoffs, including two goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Which Tuukka Rask will the Bruins see this season?

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

With captains’ practices just two short weeks from commencing, WEEI.com will be looking at the questions facing the defending Stanley Cup champions in the 2011-12 season.

Tuukka Rask could see more starts in the coming season. (AP)

Up next is the question of what goaltender Tuukka Rask’s season will hold. The case of Rask is an interesting one, as he was the best statistical goalie in the league in 2009-10 before watching Tim Thomas wrest the starting job away last year. There are other factors at work as well, including the offseason knee surgery he’s coming off of and the fact that he’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Speaking prior to Milan Lucic’s Rock and Jock softball game Wednesday in Lowell, Rask discussed the arthroscopic procedure he had on his left knee. The surgery required between four and five weeks recovery time, but Rask is now feeling healthy after suffering the injury midway through last season.

Could the knee be the reason as to why Rask went from having a league-best 1.97 goals against average and .931 save percentage in 2009-10 to posting a mediocre 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage last season? He isn’t ready to say so, as he denied feeling significant discomfort in the knee.

“It actually happened in January, I tweaked it, but it didn’t stop me from playing or practicing,” Rask said. “It was just something that we saw that was better to fix, because it would have bugged [me] in the future at some point, so it was just a minor fix-up, but the recovery was a few weeks.”

Now, whether it’s through health or increased playing time, Rask has to be hoping to post better numbers this season. There is certainly something to be said for a goaltender getting in a rhythm, and Thomas’ dominance made it nearly impossible for the Bruins to give Rask the amount of time a netminder of his caliber deserves.

If it is more time between the pipes that will lead to more 2009-10-like numbers, Rask could be in luck. Yes, Thomas is unquestionably the best goaltender in the league right now, but he is also the oldest player to win the Vezina since the adaptation of its current criteria. Rask played in only 29 games last year, good for approximately 35 percent of the regular season schedule. Assuming neither player gets injured, the Bruins could go with a closer split to give each guy a chance to take control of the job a la Thomas last season. Additionally, if the two split time a little more evenly than last season, neither goaltender would run as big a risk of getting cold.

Then there’s the matter of the guys playing in front of him. The Bruins often struggled to give him whatever the hockey equivalent of run support is (he had an 11-14-2 record), and players often lamented the way they played in front of Rask following losses. If both Rask and his teammates can pick it up in games he starts this season, he could be a richer man come next summer. The guess here is that he gets upwards of 35 starts and posts a GAA somewhere in the 2.20 range.

One thing that is safe to say about Rask is that he won’t be a poor sport if he ends up spending more time on the bench. He was among the most chipper Bruins during their Cup run, wearing Nathan Horton’s helmet for fun and commonly being in the middle of Bruins’ on-ice celebrations after series wins. He said Wednesday that it’s the up-and-down nature of the last two seasons that have taught him to be a team guy no matter what.

“I mean, anything can happen, right?” Rask said of what he’s learned. “And you’ve just got to go day-by-day and no matter what, be a great teammate, because even if you’re playing or you’re not playing, you’ve still got to support the guys and be a part of the group, so that was the really big thing I learned the past two years.”

Tim Thomas goes from amazing goalie to just a maze

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas probably expected plenty of attention after winning the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe trophy and Vezina trophy in the same season, but who saw this coming? Check out this picture of the “Corn Maize” at Sherman Farm in New Hampshire. The image surfaced Wednesday night, with a stick-tap to tremendous Yahoo! Sports blogger Greg Wyshynski, who worked “corny” and “amazing” into his headline.

Nathan Horton on health, Aaron Rome’s lack of respect and being a champion

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

LOWELL — While Milan Lucic’s Rock and Jock softball game at LeLacheur Park in Lowell drew a big crowd for both the cause and the players participating, there was no player who drew a bigger media scrum than fellow first-liner Nathan Horton. Making his first public appearance around these parts since breakup day back in June, Horton shared that he is completely ready to go after recovering from a concussion and a separated shoulder. Here are some highlights of what he had to say.

On how he’s feeling:

“I feel pretty good. I don’t have any headaches. I feel back to normal, and I’m excited to finally start playing again.”

On whether he’ll be ready for training camp in September:

“Yeah, I’ll definitely be ready. I’d be ready right now if we started.”

On whether he’s heard from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome:

“Just through a text message I heard [from him], but I mean, if it was me, I wouldn’t be throwing a text message someone’s way, you know? I’d have a little more respect to actually make a phone call.”

On hits like the one he took in Game 3 of the Cup finals:

“There’s guys that hit out there and they hit lots, they hit hard, they hurt people and I think that they do it within the game. You just know, and I think you just have that respect factor to know when to hit people. The people that don’t understand that or don’t get it, I think that’s what you need to fix and what you need to change. There’s a difference between hitting hard and hitting dirty. That’s definitely something that shouldn’t be in the game.”

On winning the Cup:

“Even though I didn’t play in the the end, it was a lot of fun to be there and to see my teammates and just celebrate with them. It was such an amazing feeling. Like everyone says, you dream of it as a kid, and it’s just pretty special and something that a lot of people don’t get to do in their life.”

On his reaction to learning that the Stanley Cup did not arrive in Buffalo when he went to pick it up:

“Well I went to the airport to pick it up, and it just didn’t come on the plane. I had to go back for the parade, and I was late for the parade, and it was really hot that day, so I felt extra bad. I was speeding on my way home to get back, because I was late. But like I said, once I got back, everyone was awesome and it didn’t matter that I didn’t have the Cup, but luckily it did come so everyone got to see it and take pictures with it.”

On where he is in his offseason:

“I’m working out, and kind of back into my routine and just getting ready.”

On being defending champions:

“I think that’s what we want, that’s why we’re here, and it’s definitely going to be tough that we’re on top right now and it’s tough to stay there. I think very one knows that, and everyone’s prepared to play well like we did.”