|As expected, Milan Lucic gives well-thought-out answer to Deflategate question||05.18.15 at 6:57 pm ET|
As far as Boston athletes go, there might not be a more devout sports fan than Milan Lucic. As such, it wasn’t totally ridiculous that he fielded questions about Deflategate Monday night at Rob Ninkovich‘s celebrity ping pong tournament.
Lucic responded by noting the Patriots’ second-half success in the game in which they were caught and saying that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time regardless of what comes of the ongoing process.
“It’s funny,” Lucic said. “I mean, a lot of fans outside, they obviously don’t like the teams that win a lot. In New England, we’ve been spoiled here with a lot of championships, especially since 2001-02.
“As far as Deflategate goes, personally I don’t even know what a fully pumped-up football is supposed to feel like, so I can’t comment on much, but at the end of the day, if you look at it as a whole, they scored most of their points in [the AFC Championship] in the second half, so say what you want. In my mind [we’re still talking about] still one of, if not the best quarterback of all time, one of the best franchises in football history.
Added Lucic: “Like I said, a lot of fans on the outside world, they don’t like the teams that win a lot. It’s just the nature of the sport and we’re OK with that as athletes. We all love to win and we love to win for our fans and our city. We’re proud doing it.”
Check back soon for Lucic’s thoughts on hockey-related matters.
|With Canadiens’ elimination, Tim Thomas remains an exception to Vezina rule||05.13.15 at 5:01 pm ET|
The last time a goaltender seemed such a shoo-in for the Vezina Trophy was in 2011, when Tim Thomas turned in a record-setting regular-season performance. Similarly, Carey Price was so dominant this regular season that he is not only the favorite to win the Vezina, but the Hart Trophy as the NHL‘s most valuable player.
First, Price will have some down time in the month and a half between now and the NHL Awards. His season and the Canadiens’ season is done after being eliminated by the Lightning Tuesday night in Tampa.
Prior to the 2011 postseason, we took a look at whether having that season’s Vezina-winner meant raising the Cup. The answer then was no, and the fact that Thomas and the Bruins went on to win it all that year proved to be more the exception than the rule.
Since the league adopted the current criteria for the Vezina in the 1981-82 season (it used to go the starting goalie for the team with the fewest goals against), only four Vezina-winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in the same season: Billy Smith (1982 Islanders), Grant Fuhr (1988 Oilers), Martin Brodeur (2003 Devils) and Thomas (2011 Bruins).
As the following graphic shows, it’s actually relatively common for Vezina winners to end up with a longer offseasons than expected, as their teams are typically bounced in one of the first two rounds. Here are how the teams of Vezina-winners have fared in the postseason since 2000:
Notable there is that only three Vezina-winning goalies have even reached the conference finals since the 1999-2000 season, as Dominik Hasek and the Sabres won the Eastern Conference finals in 1999 before falling to the Stars in the Cup finals.
Price was not the reason the Canadiens were eliminated, but his .920 save percentage over 12 postseason games was a far cry from his league-best .933 clip in the regular season. What ultimately doomed Montreal was Michel Therrien’s anti-possession system, a lack of offensive depth and, though it hasn’t deterred past champions, a woefully unproductive power play.
With that, the league’s best goaltender can now hit the links, as they often can this time of year. Vezina-winners’ lack of postseason success confirms the single biggest fact about the Stanley Cup playoffs: It’s not about who has the best players, but whose players are at their best for the most critical two months.
|Zane McIntyre reportedly set to turn pro||05.12.15 at 8:32 pm ET|
Bruins goaltending prospect Zane McIntyre will turn pro, according to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. McIntyre, a sixth-round pick of the Bruins, can either sign with Boston or become a free agent if he isn’t signed within 30 days of leaving college. Friedman noted the player’s hope is to end up with the Bruins.
Hearing UND G Zane McIntyre plans to go pro…has ability to become a free agent, but word is he wants to sign w/BOS, which drafted him.
‘ Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 12, 2015
The report has since been confirmed by the Grand Forks Herald, who received word from McIntyre’s advisor. Should McIntyre sign with the B’s, he will immediately bolster the team’s AHL goaltending depth and give Boston a second top goaltending prospect along with 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban.
McIntyre, whom the Bruins drafted as Zane Gothberg before he changed his surname to his mother’s maiden name last summer, has become the nation’s best college goaltender since he was drafted as a 17-year-old. McIntyre was a Hobey Baker finalist and won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goaltender this past season. He had a .929 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against average as a junior.
It would be unlikely that the 22-year-old McIntyre would take an NHL job next year with the B’s. Though the Bruins lost this season’s backup in Niklas Svedberg over the weekend when he signed with Salavat Yulaev of the KHL, the Bruins could still sign a free agent or use one of this season’s Providence goaltenders (Subban or Jeremy Smith) to back up Tuukka Rask next season.
|Report: Niklas Svedberg signs with KHL team||05.10.15 at 7:24 pm ET|
According to reports out of Russia, Bruins backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg has signed with Salavat Yulaev of the KHL.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) May 10, 2015
Svedberg was with the Bruins for three seasons after coming over from Sweden. He won the AHL’s top goaltender honors by receiving the Baz Bastian Memorial Award in 2012-13, his first season with the B’s. Svedberg spent another season in Providence before becoming Tuukka Rask‘s backup this season.
The Bruins showed minimal faith in him, however, and he struggled to make routine saves at times when he did get into games. The result was a season in which he played just 18 games NHL games, the lowest for a Bruins backup goalie in in an 82-game season in years.
“The number of games weren’t what I expected,” Svedberg said at the team’s breakup day. ‘I was hoping to play more, and I think I was playing good this year. So certainly I was hoping for more games. The kind of position we were in, there was a lot of pressure here on the team, so Tuukka played a lot of games and he also played very well. It’s the way it is. It was kind of frustrating. You want to play more, but that’s the way it is.”
The Bruins have options to back up Rask going forward. Malcolm Subban remains in Providence, but the team could also bring back 26-year-old Jeremy Smith, who played 39 games for Providence this season, or sign another veteran goaltender. Zane McIntyre, a Hobey Baker finalist, could factor into the Bruins’ plans down the road.
|Don Sweeney has been Bruins’ acting GM this offseason||05.09.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
The Bruins don’t have a general manager yet, but the signs continue to point toward Don Sweeney eventually getting the gig.
In fact, indications are that Sweeney is doing the heavy lifting in the Bruins’ front office as they begin the offseason. Sweeney has been the team’s acting GM recently, a source familiar with the situation told WEEI.com Saturday.
That’s not an official title, nor is it a certainty that it will become one, but it does indicate who is making the calls for the B’s as they look to improve their team from this season’s disappointing finish.
The Bruins have been without an official GM since firing Peter Chiarelli on April 15. Sweeney has picked up Chiarelli’s responsibilities for now, though everything funnels through team president Cam Neely.
This comes following a Boston Herald report that Sweeney had a lengthy meeting with Claude Julien on Friday. The Herald’s Stephen Harris deduced from that development that Sweeney could plan on keeping Julien around as head coach if and when Sweeney gets the GM job.
It is unknown where the Bruins are in the interview process as they seek Chiarelli’s replacement. ESPN’s Joe McDonald reported on May 3 that the team was entering its second round of interviews and that Sweeney remained in the mix. Jeff Gorton, a potential candidate, has not yet been allowed to interview with the Bruins, as Rangers GM Glen Sather won’t let teams talk to his assistant GM until New York is eliminated from the playoffs. The Capitals hold a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the second round, but Sather hinted to the New York Post earlier in the week that he still might not let teams talk to Gorton this offseason at all.
Sweeney has been in the Bruins’ hockey operations department since 2006 and was named one of Chiarelli’s assistant general managers prior to their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season. Prior to his time in Boston’s front office, Sweeney enjoyed a lengthy NHL career in which he played 1,052 regular-season games and 103 playoff games for the Bruins before playing his final season with the Stars.
The fact that he’s acting as the team’s GM for now shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe wrote the day that Chiarelli was fired that Sweeney would get the job. Furthermore, Sweeney is one of two Bruins assistant GMs and is longer-tenured in that role than Scott Bradley, who was named one of Chiarelli’s assistants last offseason.
|Report: Rangers not yet giving Bruins permission to speak to Jeff Gorton||05.04.15 at 3:11 pm ET|
Rangers general manager Glen Sather told the New York Post’s Larry Brooks Monday that he has not given the Bruins permission to speak to former B’s interim GM and current Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton. Sather noted that he won’t give permission while the Rangers are in the playoffs and still might not after that.
“I haven’t given permission to anybody to speak to anyone and I won’t as long as we’re playing,” Sather told Brooks Monday. “And there’s a question whether I would, anyway, after it’s over.”
Gorton worked with the Bruins from 1992-2007, taking over as GM in March of 2006 until Peter Chiarelli was allowed to officially become GM on July 15 of that year. The Bruins had hired Chiarelli in May of 2006, but his non-compete clause in his Senators contract prevented an immediate move.
The Bruins did extremely well under Gorton during the brief transition. Technically, Gorton signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, traded Andrew Raycroft for Tuukka Rask, and drafted Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand.
The Bruins fired Gorton the next offseason. They are now interested in bringing him back, with the Boston Herald reporting last month that the team had reached out to Gorton. ESPN’s Joe McDonald reported Sunday night that the B’s have come up with a short list of four finalists to replace Chiarelli, and it’s safe to say that Gorton is in that group.
It is not uncommon for potential interviews or hirings to be held up until a team’s season is over. The Canucks, for example, did not hire then-assistant GM Jim Benning away from the Bruins until a week after Boston was eliminated last season.
While Gorton is a serious candidate for the Bruins’ GM job, Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney remains a favorite to replace Chiarelli.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have incentive to keep Gorton. Sather is 71 years old, with Brooks writing that the current GM could either step down or take a higher position with the Rangers at some point, which would open up the general manager job for Gorton in New York.
|Providence Bruins headed for Game 5 of first-round series with Hartford||04.28.15 at 9:24 pm ET|
PROVIDENCE — The Providence Bruins’ first-round series with the Hartford Wolf Pack will come down to a decisive Game 5, as the Baby B’s suffered a 2-1 Game 4 loss at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday to leave the series knotted at two games apiece.
Seth Griffith scored his second goal in as many games as he fired a shot from the point past Yann Danis during a third-period man advantage, but it wasn’t enough on a night in which Providence squandered five of its six power plays.
Mat Bodie scored Hartford’s first goal, scoring off the rush in the second period following the expiration of Providence’s fourth power play of the game. Bodie’s shot, which came at 3:06 of the second, was just the fourth shot that Malcolm Subban faced on the night. Providence’s early power plays allowed them to outshoot Hartford, 8-2, in the first period. While that prevented Hartford from scoring early, it also left Providence’s goaltender cold.
“It’s pretty tough,” Subban said of not facing shots early. “You’re not really in the game and you’re trying to get in the game and they get a three-on-two. It’s kind of tough. Obviously the first goal, maybe if I’m in the game I make the save. It’s not that I can’t make it when I’m not in the game, it’s just it’s a really tough save to try to get into the game on.”
After a good chance for the Bruins during a late second-period power play, Joe Morrow took a cross-checking penalty to leave the sides playing four-on-four late in the period and give Hartford an abbreviated power play to open the third period. Less than a minute after that power play ended, Tyler Brown tipped a point shot past Subban to give Hartford a two-goal lead.
Minutes later, Providence forward Zach Phillips was assessed a double-minor for butt-ending, forcing the B’s to spend the next four minutes shorthanded. Providence survived the double-minor and eventually cashed on its next power play with Griffith’s goal with 7:06 remaining in regulation.
Providence was unable to find the equalizer in the final minutes, pulling Subban with about 90 seconds to play but failing to tie it.
“We’re going to put this behind us,” Providence coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “It wasn’t awful; it’s just we had the chance to finish the job and we didn’t. It’s that simple.”
David Pastrnak did not play in the game. He left Sunday’s Game 3 with a lower-body injury suffered on a hit from defenseman Dylan McIlrath. Pastrtnak’s status for Friday’s game is still unclear, Cassidy said.
Claude Julien was among those on hand, watching alongside assistant coach Doug Jarvis. Julien is still Boston’s head coach, but that could change once the Bruins hire their next general manager. Assistant GMs Don Sweeney and John Ferguson were also in attendance.
The Baby B’s finished the game with a 29-17 edge in shots on goal. Game 5 will be played Friday in Hartford.
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