Archive for May, 2012

Looking back and ahead: Rich Peverley

Friday, May 4th, 2012

With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Rich Peverley

Age: 29

2011-12 stats: 57 games played, 11 goals, 31 assists, 42 points, plus-20

Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 ($3.25 million cap hit)

Looking back: The 2011-12 season was Peverley’s first full go of it in Boston after being acquired in February of 2011, but the season ended up being plagued by injuries.

First there was an undisclosed injury that caused the Bruins to give him practices and occasional games off, but the real damage was done when Peverley sprained his MCL on a hit from then-Habs defenseman Hal Gill on Feb. 15. That injury kept him out for the next 18 games, accounting for the majority of the 25 games he missed during the regular season.

Still, despite missing as much time as he did, Peverley surpassed the 41 points he had in 82 games in the 2010-11 season. His 31 assists were just two shy of his career-best from 2009-10 (also an 82-game campaign), while his 11 goals made for his lowest total since 2008-09 (two goals in 27 games). Generally moving around between the top three lines, Peverley gained experience playing with a lot of different guys, but such can be expected from a player with his versatility. He took over Nathan Horton‘s spot on David Krejci‘s line after Horton suffered his latest concussion.

The postseason was where Peverley really shined. In a round in which both teams were very quiet offensively, Peverley led the Bruins with three goals in their seven-game first-round series against the Capitals. He was Boston’s best player when the B’s faced elimination in Game 6, as he notched a goal and an assist while winning 13 of 24 faceoffs with Patrice Bergeron unable to take draws. He didn’t fare as well in Game 7, losing 15 of 26 draws.

Looking ahead: The Bruins were able to lock up Peverley, one of many Bruins who entered the season on the final year of their deals, in October with a three-year contract that carries an annual cap hit of $3.25 million. For the sake of comparison, that’s one more year and $250,000 less than Michael Ryder got from the Stars. Such a contract means that the expectations on Peverley will high in the coming seasons.

So what will justify Peverley’s contract? He’s only had one season with 50 or more points in his career (55 in 2009-10), and one would think the 29-year-old has a few more campaigns like that ahead of him.

Of course, and as was seen with Ryder in Dallas this past season, the points can be highly impacted with where he is in the lineup. Assuming Horton is healthy and both Krejci and Milan Lucic are back next season, it would appear that Peverley will be pencilled in on the third line to begin next season. Chris Kelly‘s status as an unrestricted free agent also will play a factor there, as Peverley could potentially take over as the third-line center should Kelly bolt in July.

Ultimately, health and opportunity will help determine whether Peverley makes the Bruins look smart for paying him. The B’s love versatility, and as a guy capable of playing on any of the top three lines (at wing or center), the power play and the penalty kill, Peverley provides obvious value to Claude Julien and the Bruins.

Cam Neely discusses Bruins’ future at final press conference of 2011-12 season

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Cam Neely, Jeremy Jacobs and Charlie Jacobs held a season-ending press conference Thursday to discuss the 2011-12 season and look ahead to the future.

The calling of the press conference Wednesday was somewhat surprising, but given that Neely hadn’t spoken at last Friday’s breakup day, it seemed appropriate for the team president to meet with the media one last time this season. The trio of Neely and the Jacobs covered a variety of topics Thursday, so here’s a recap of it all.

- One common theme throughout the players at breakup day was that they had trouble getting up for the playoffs after last June’s run to the Cup finals. While Neely recognized the fatigue factor, he still feels the team is too good to lose in the first round.

“It should be unacceptable,” Neely said. “With the players we have, the talent that we have, the coaching staff we have, you can’t be accept a first-round exit. I believe that we’re a franchise that’s beyond, ‘Let’s make the playoffs,’ that’s beyond, ‘Let’s have a good showing in the first round. I think we’re beyond that. Expectations are much higher now.”

Neely said that though players spoke of their difficulty getting mentally engaged in the postseason, the team as a whole appeared to share his frustration with the first-round exit.

“What I saw was guys that looked to be disappointed,” Neely said. “When you look at all the seven games of the whole and you say, ‘Geez, we probably should be moving on,’ I think they would all agree with that. I think if they really assessed our game and their individual play, they to a person probably feel like they could have played better or could have done a little bit more to get that extra goal or that extra win that we needed. ”

- Neely agreed with Peter Chiarelli‘s sentiment that no major shakeup is needed this offseason, but that some turnover should occur. He is hopeful that free agent Chris Kelly can return.

“I think just some tweaking,” he said of the roster. “Peter and I spoke a few days after the season ended. We’€™re going to have more discussions as the summer progresses here, but I like the makeup of our team, I like the character of our team. I think Peter’€™s done a really good job of signing players before they become free agents as best he can. I think we have guys that are still going to improve. We have a young team in that regards as far as the core goes and will improve. But we know we have some areas we will look to improve and we’€™ll have more discussions in the offseason on how we can go about doing that.”

- Neely said that he remains satisfied with the team’s goaltending situation of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. The latter is a restricted free agent, and Neely said that when Rask signs his new deal — which figures to see a pay raise — there will be enough room for both players financially and when it comes to playing time.

“Well financially it shouldn’t be an issue,” Neely said. “Playing-time-wise, it’s always been they’re battling it out and the coach will end up playing who he thinks is going to give the team the best shot to win.”

- Both Claude Julien and Chiarelli still have term on their contracts, and Neely said he was pleased with the job both did this season.

“I thought they both did a great job this year,” Neely said. “Claude’€™s a very good coach, Peter’€™s a good general manager. There’€™s challenges at times with the way the cap is now, to try and make certain moves you’€™d like to make. The trade deadline is a great example of that. The offseason, July 1 is another good example of it’€™s a little bit more difficult dealing with the cap than it’€™s been pre-cap.

“I think Claude’€™s done a good job, I’€™ve seen Claude make some adjustments since he’€™s been here and I think it’€™s been good that he communicates really well with the players. There’€™s no gray area which as a player, I think is fantastic. You shouldn’€™t have a gray area and he’€™s done a really good job since he’€™s been here.”

Neely also said that there were no plans at this time to make any moves regarding the coaching staff. That obviously applies more to the assistants, as Julien’s job is obviously safe.

- After two straight postseasons of power play struggles, Neely allowed that something needs to change, but not necessarily coaching or personnel.

“We got away with [having a bad power play] last year as everybody knows,” he said. “This year, it kind of bit us in the butt. We really need to have a philosophical difference of how we look at the power play. I don’€™t just look at the percentage of the power play, I look at when we get power plays, what the score of the game is, what time of the game is ‘€“ that’€™s important. Maybe more so important than what the actual percentage of the power play is.

“I think we have the personnel that we can improve on the power play. There’€™s some things we’€™ll certainly discuss in the offseason about what we can do differently with the power play. I think it’€™s an area that absolutely needs improvement and we will improve on it.”

- There is one more year remaining on the Bruins’ deal with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Charlie Jacobs said the team is determining what to use for a practice facility beyond then, with the team still considering Ristuccia. Jacobs did say that the Bruins want their practice facility to be a potential selling point for free agents, so that would suggest the team would ideally like to upgrade.

Looking back and ahead: David Krejci

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

David Krejci

2011-12 stats: 79 games played, 23 goals (career-high), 39, 61 points, minus-5

Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 ($5.25 million cap hit)

Looking back: Krejci has centered the Bruins’ top line for the majority of the last two season, spending most of his time skating with Milan Lucic and either Nathan Horton or Rich Peverley. Claude Julien played Tyler Seguin with Krejci and Lucic late in the regular season and for a portion of the playoffs. That made for a more offensively potent line, but defensively it was a risky line to have on the ice against other teams’ top-six forwards.

Production-wise, Krejci ran hot and cold, which wasn’t exactly a new development. He had an 11-game point-streak from Dec. 17-Jan 14 (five goals, 11 assists), but he also had long lulls in which he didn’t produce. Krejci managed just one point and a minus-6 rating in 11 games from Feb. 2-Feb. 24. He finished the regular season with a minus-5 rating. Only Shawn Thornton (minus-7) fared worse from a plus-minus standpoint.

Like Lucic, Krejci was one of the biggest goats of the postseason. He went without a point in the first four games, and though the managed three points (two goals, one assist) the rest of the way, he once again showed an inability to truly have an impact in the first round (in 14 quarterfinal games over the last two season, Krejci has just four points).

Looking ahead: The Bruins made sure to lock Krejci up during the regular season, giving him a three-year, $15.75 million deal. That makes him the Bruins’ highest-paid forward, so the team should be looking for more consistent regular-season production and better play early on in the playoffs.

Krejci has still yet to repeat his production from his career-best season in 2008-09 (22 goals, 51 assists for 73 points and a plus-37 rating). For $5.25 million a year, he should get back to producing at that level.

On breakup day, Krejci subtly hinted at frustration about being moved around in the lineup at points during the regular season. For a player making the kind of money he’s getting, that’s the wrong attitude. The right attitude would be to respond to demotions by performing his way out of it.