|Bruins recall Joonas Kemppainen from Providence||02.12.16 at 8:08 pm ET|
The Bruins recalled center Joonas Kemppainen from Providence on Friday, a move likely associated with the potential availability of Patrice Bergeron for Saturday’s game against the Wild.
Bergeron missed time early in the third period of Thursday’s win over the Jets after fighting Blake Wheeler in the second period. He returned to the game, however, scoring his second goal of the night. The veteran center did not practice on Friday, however, with coach Claude Julien telling reporters that Bergeron is questionable for Saturday.
The B’s sent Kemppainen to Providence last week, where he has played three games with no points. Kemppainen posted one goal and two assists in 35 games prior to his demotion.
|5 things we learned: Patrice Bergeron fights, Brad Marchand keeps scoring as Bruins beat Jets||02.11.16 at 10:46 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted a win Thursday. They did not want an injury to perhaps their best player. Fortunately for them, they got the former and, despite a scare, avoided the latter.
After a second-period fight with former teammate Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron missed time in the opening minutes of the third period, but returned to score his second goal of the night as the Bruins opened their six-game road trip with a 6-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg.
Bergeron would stay in the game as the team cruised to the win, which was capped by a Jimmy Hayes empty-netter. The B’s also got goals from Eriksson, David Pastrnak and the red-hot Brad Marchand.
The night got off to something of an underwhelming start after Tuesday’s 9-2 loss to the Kings, as the B’s took first-period leads on goals from Bergeron and Eriksson but relinquished the lead after each one. A breakaway goal late in the period from Marchand gave Boston the lead for good.
The road trip will get more difficult from here, as the B’s will face a tricky back-to-back of Minnesota on Saturday and Detroit on Sunday. The Bruins and Red Wings are currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with 64 points apiece.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
CONNOLLY CHIPS IN FOR 3
Brett Connolly has had a woeful showing for the Bruins offensively this season, but he led the way with three helpers on Thursday. Though he has just seven goals on the season and has squandered some really good opportunities, the Bruins like his forechecking on the Bergeron line and he’s stayed there as a result.
Thursday he provided a reminder that he is capable of points, as Connolly registered the first three-point game of his career. He now has 19 points in 51 games on the season. The restricted free agent-to-be could use a strong second half to make sure he stays in Boston. Read the rest of this entry »
|Road trip could determine whether Bruins buy or sell||02.10.16 at 2:55 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins will spend the next 11 days on the road as the clock continues to tick toward the Feb. 29 trade deadline. How the Bruins fare on this trip could very well influence the path Don Sweeney and Cam Neely ultimately choose for this team.
Right now, the Bruins are tied for the second-most points in the Atlantic Division, making them a No. 2 seed at best and a wild card at worst. Non-playoff teams such as Montreal, Ottawa and New Jersey are picking up steam as they try to find their way into the top eight.
We already know this team isn’t going to win the Stanley Cup. Last season, they chose not to sell on Carl Sodeberg because the general manager was trying to save his job. That concern isn’t there this season. Sweeney is prepared to move Eriksson if he feels he has to.
The Bruins shouldn’t be buyers (not of any sort of glossy rental, anyway), but if things go badly enough — a disastrous road trip, an injury or two, etc. — the tough decision of what to do with this team might become a little easier. The players don’t want to see that happen.
“You always want to prove that you’re a playoff team and that you’re capable of winning hockey games,” Torey Krug said. “If you don’t do that, then the GM has to do what he has to do. It’s his job to make sure that the team’s getting better. For us, we’re trying to prove that we can win hockey games and we can take a step and go for a run.”
The Bruins are 16-5-3 on the road this season, so there isn’t too much reason to believe that they will fall apart here. If they did, they wouldn’t be faced with the issues they faced last season (Peter Chiarelli trying to keep his job) that prevented them from moving Soderberg. In addition to Eriksson, the Bruins have Kevan Miller, Max Talbot and Jonas Gustavsson as unrestricted free-agents to be. Krug, Brett Connolly, Tyler Randell, Landon Ferraro, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and Colin Miller will all be restricted.
If the Bruins were to sell, they’d be wise to do so with the intention of getting young, cheap players. They should prefer players to picks after stockpiling first-and-second-rounders in 2015 and 2016 drafts. The idea of the team moving Eriksson for a young top-four defenseman is a pipe dream given that teams now place a gigantic emphasis on having good, young controllable players.
The market has yet to be truly set for this trade deadline, but consider this: Twenty three of the 30 teams in the league are either in a playoff spot (16 teams have to be, duh) or within four points of one. The Bruins are among a large list of teams that’s vying for the postseason. If they are to ever change their minds, they might find themselves in quite the seller’s market.
Should they hope for that? As has been written plenty in this space, the Bruins shouldn’t be afraid of an honest rebuild if it comes to that. The issue there is that they want to make the playoffs, yet if they trade Eriksson, they’re going to be taking enough of a step back anyway given that they already have major depth issues on the right side.
As for the possibility of adding, last season’s Connolly trade hasn’t turned into goals (not for Connolly at least, though it has for Brad Marchand), but a hockey trade like that — flipping some of the picks they have for a young player should one be available — is a decent template. If a trade for a young player that could help more next season than this season is there, it would be an avenue worth pursuing.
Nobody likes lost seasons, but if you come away with something to show for it — more developed players, added pieces — it can be worth it.
|Bruins tweak lines ahead of 6-game road trip||02.10.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A day after getting crushed by the Kings at home, the Bruins tweaked their lines in anticipation of a six-game road trip.
The biggest change to the lines is a left-wing flip of Loui Eriksson and Matt Beleskey that reunites Eriksson with Ryan Spooner. The two performed very well together when David Krejci was out with an upper-body injury last month, but they’ve both seen their production slow down of late.
On defense, it appears that Kevan Miller will remain in the lineup and Colin Miller will remain out for now. Adam McQuaid will make the trip with the team.
Here’s how the team’s lineup looked in practice:
|Zdeno Chara: Bruins ‘got absolutely embarrassed’ by Kings||02.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET|
The Bruins allowed 57 shots on goal — the most they’ve given up in a game since 1965 — in an ugly 9-2 loss to the Kings Tuesday. After the game, the team hardly sounded like a group pushing for the second spot in the Atlantic Division and more like a fledgling team chasing the prowess it had in years past.
“We got absolutely embarrassed,” Zdeno Chara said. “They played a really good game, but we had nowhere near the game that we needed to play. It was embarrassing.”
The B’s allowed seven straight goals after taking a 1-0 lead in the first period. The loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams this season.
“There are things that obviously are going to stay inside this locker room, but we just need to be better,” Chara said. “We need to perform better. We’ve had a few stretches where we’ve played well, we won some tight games and some big games and we were facing some challenges or teams on top of the league and we didn’t follow up with the performances that we had previous games. That’s again tonight’s case. It was embarrassing.”
Said David Krejci: “The way we lost, especially the second and third period, it’s just unacceptable. You should go out there even if you’re losing 6-1 after the second period and show some pride, you know? Try to show fans that we respect them coming here. We don’t want to get booed in our own building. We didn’t respond. It was embarrassing.”
|5 things we learned as Kings crush Bruins in Milan Lucic’s return||02.09.16 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Kings ran over the Bruins, 9-2, in Lucic’s first game back in Boston since being traded to Los Angeles in the offseason. Lucic scored the Kings’ seventh goal, giving him 13 goals on the season.
The Bruins yanked Rask after the Kings’ fifth goal in favor of Jonas Gustavsson, marking the first time this season they have pulled Rask from a game.
The loss provided further perspective on how good the Bruins actually are despite playing in a bad division and conference. Though the Bruins entered the game 10-4-0 against Eastern Conference playoff teams and 5-1-0 against Atlantic Division playoff teams, Tuesday’s loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
PLAYING THE WRONG MILLER
For all intents and purposes, Colin Miller is better than Kevan Miller. Would it be out of the question to play Kevan Miller against the a bigger team like the Kings? No, but it proved to be the wrong move Tuesday night.
Miller was responsible for the Kings’ first three goals, including a pair of goals scored in a span of 1:39. First, a Jeff Carter pass during a Kings power play went off Miller’s stick and past Tuukka Rask to get Los Angeles on the board.
On Miller’s next shift, he left Marian Gaborik open seemingly in an effort to cover Dwight King, who was already covered by Jimmy Hayes and Ryan Spooner in front of the net. That allowed Vincent Lacavalier to feed Gaborik for the go-ahead goal.
Los Angeles’ third goal came as a result of a Miller turnover from behind the net in the second period. The bizarro hat trick from Miller was enough to give the Kings a lead they would not relinquish.
MARCHAND MAKES IT 10 IN 10
One positive note from Tuesday: With his first-period goal, Brad Marchand made it 10 goals in 10 games and brought his season total to 25. He’s now three shy of his career-high 28 set back in 2011-12. He’s also on pace to finish the season with 40 goals.
POWER PLAY ON ITS WAY BACK?
Marchand’s goal was a power-play tally, something that’s become something of a rarity for the B’s of late. The Bruins entered Tuesday’s game 2-for-29 on the man advantage in their previous 10 games.
RANDELL BACK IN
Tyler Randell had last played exactly one month ago, but his time off since Jan. 9’s game against the Senators didn’t leave him confused about his role. The rookie fourth-liner jumped back into Boston’s lineup Tuesday and fought Kyle Clifford on his first shift, earning the takedown in the process.
He also scored in the third period to give him five goals on the season in 21 games played. Randell leads the league in goals per 60 with a 2.09 mark.
Randell was in the lineup in place of Zac Rinaldo. The lineup looked as such:
|Milan Lucic says he knew future with Bruins depended on last season||02.09.16 at 12:42 pm ET|
This is Milan Lucic‘s first season with the Kings and he hopes it isn’t his last.
In addition to adjusting to a new team, Lucic also has to play with the added distraction of being in the final year of his contract. Different players handle contract years differently — some post tremendous money in hopes of a huge pay day; some let the uncertainty consume them and ultimately detract from their play — and Lucic is just trying to put it out of his mind.
Interestingly enough, however, Lucic indicated Tuesday that last season saw more of those pressures get to him than this season. Though last season was the second year of a three-year, $18 million deal, Lucic knew that his future with the team depended on that season. He turned out to be correct, as the Bruins dealt him in the offseason rather than taking him into the last year of his contract.
“I think I focused on it a little bit too much, especially in the first half of the the season, just the goals and the assists and the individual stuff,” Lucic said. “Sometimes when things come up like a contract, it’s hard to ignore those king of things. That’s why I think when I stopped focusing on that and just worried about the things that mattered like winning hockey games, everything else kind of just fell into place. I tried to take that same mentality into this year.”
Lucic, 27, scored 24 or more goals three times with the Bruins. His numbers took a dip last season when he posted 18 goals, and he’s currently on pace for 19 goals. Even if he fails to hit the 20-goal mark for a second straight season, he will be an attractive option for either the Kings to re-sign (far from a certainty given cap constraints) or for another team to court on the open market.
The Kings currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 65 points through 51 games. They have less than $3 million in cap space this season despite the fact that they are only paying a little more than half of Lucic’s $6 million cap hit (the Bruins retained about $2.49 million cap-wise in the trade). Los Angeles does not have a ton of money coming off the books, while next season will see star center Anze Kopitar’s cap hit rise from $6.8 million to $10 million.
Despite all the uncertainty, Lucic says that he’s doing a better job of handling the unknown than he did a season ago.
“I’m just focusing on the things that I can control, and that’s helping the team win,” Lucic said. “I haven’t really been focusing too much on goals and assists and what I need to do to sign a big deal or anything like that. I’ve just been focused on winning hockey games and things like that. I think that’s kind of helped my play so far throughout the season.”
Added Lucic: “Looking at the team, we do have a real great team here with a real great chance here to be a contender. I’m just focusing more on that than the individual stuff.”