|Is three games too soon to panic over Bruins’ first line woes? Yes||10.11.11 at 5:35 pm ET|
While information is awaited on the status of David Krejci (who did not get on the plane to Carolina but could possibly join the team Wednesday), it’s hard to tell what the Bruins’ first line will look like Wednesday against the Hurricanes. At this point, the Bruins feel that injury is the only thing that will cause them to break up the trip if Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton at this point.
Krejci, Lucic and Horton went onto the ice early Tuesday, beginning their day 20 minutes before their teammates as a way to “get the frustration out and get back to playing how we know we can play,” according to Lucic. They stayed out in their first-line white sweaters for Tuesday’s skate until Krejci left with an undisclosed injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Through three games, the line has only one goal, a Krejci tally, and all three members of the line have a team-worst minus-2 rating. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but the left wing feels that shaking things up three games into the season would be premature.
“Obviously, it keeps dragging on, changes have to be made,” Lucic said, “but right now, I think we just have [bring the right mindset] to the game and things will take care of themselves.”
The worst of the three has been Nathan Horton, who aside from penalties in each of the first two games and a 2-on-1 with Lucic in Monday’s loss to the Avalanche has been invisible thus far. He has just one shot on goal and has yet to register a hit.
“Personally, I feel like we haven’t found him enough and passed him the puck in areas where he’s most dangerous,” Lucic said of Horton. “As a linemate, that’s what I and our centerman need to do for him and give him more opportunities where he can be more dangerous.”
What doesn’t help from a pressure standpoint is the fact that this is the same line that, aside from struggles from an injured Lucic, had big success in the playoffs. Horton was arguably the team’s most clutch player, with three game-winning goals, two of which came in Game 7s. Krejci led all players in postseason goals and points.
“Sometimes when you’re just thinking about producing and scoring, that’s when it becomes the hardest. Maybe we just need to focus on something else and the rest will take care of itself.”
With the top trio struggling, the team’s second line of Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley has been the team’s best line. Marchand is tied with Tyler Seguin for the team lead with three points, while Peverley’s two goals lead the defending champs. The success of the second line and the struggles of the first line have led to some speculation that switching up the lines could be an option, but Marchand has no interest in hearing any of that.
“I think people are overreacting right now,” Marchand said frankly on Tuesday. “It’s three games into the season. It was a short but long summer, very busy and very busy times right now. I think people have to settle down and realize that it’s only three games into the year. It’s not that big of a deal. Guys are still getting back into things. They’re three of the top guys into league. They’re going to bounce back. We’re not worrying about it, so they’ll be fine.”
|With Rich Peverley extended, who’s next?||10.11.11 at 4:48 pm ET|
Call this a generalization, but one could argue that in the Peter Chiarelli regime, if the Bruins like a player and want to keep them, they won’t let the player go to unrestricted free agency. It’s happened with Andrew Ference, Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and now Rich Peverley. In some cases, the Bruins don’t even let the player enter their deal’s last season before extending them, and with Peverley, they extended the extended the speedy winger just three games into the last season of his two-year deal.
That’s why the signing of Peverley brings up the obvious question of who’s next, because the B’s have a very long list of players set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s. Third-line center and alternate captain Chris Kelly will see his deal expire at the end of the season, as will all three members of the fourth line in Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. On the blue line, Johnny Boychuk‘s deal will be up, as will that of newcomer Joe Corvo.
And those are just the unrestricted guys. The biggest money the B’s will have to dole out next summer (if not earlier) will go to first-line center David Krejci and goaltender Tuukka Rask, both of whom will be restricted free agents.
Chiarelli was asked Tuesday whether he was in talks with any of the other players and declined comment, but he figures to be a very busy man. It’s hard to imagine the Bruins would put a letter on Kelly’s sweater without the intention of keeping him around, and the team’s fourth line played an integral part in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run last season, with its shining moment coming with a shift in Game 7 that gave the Bruins momentum after a sluggish start.
Yes, the Bruins have around $2.6 million in cap space and can have about $6.6 million in space if they put Savard on long term injured reserve, but going forward the Bruins have a lot of budgeting and planning to do as far as who comes back. With all of the aforementioned deals expiring (including Krejci and Rask) and Benoit Pouliot also being restricted, the Bruins could have about $17.5 million* ($21.5 million if they go the LTIR route with Savard) to work with. While that’s a big number, it probably isn’t going to be enough for them to be comfortable chasing other team’s high-priced free agents. That’s because next season sees some huge names expiring for the Bruins. Milan Lucic (restricted), Brad Marchand (restricted), Tyler Seguin (restricted) and Nathan Horton (unrestricted) will be up, with Tim Thomas‘ $5 million cap hit coming off the books.
Long story short, the Bruins are going have to spend a lot of money in the next couple of years to make sure the core group that won them the Stanley Cup will stick around in Boston. Whether that means the B’s will announce more extensions in the coming days, weeks or months remains to be seen, but expect Chiarelli and the front office to be busy managing it all.
*Salary cap calculations done with numbers from CapGeek.com, future salary caps subject to change.
|Rich Peverley’s contributions on second line make extension a no-brainer||10.11.11 at 2:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Rich Peverley‘s presence on the second line has paid off through three games, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli rewarded him Tuesday with a three-year deal worth a reported $9.75 million.
Through three games, Peverley leads the Bruins with two goals, while Brad Marchand‘s three points (a goal and two assists) ties him with Tyler Seguin for the team lead. With the top line struggling out of the gate, the second line of Peverley, Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron has done enough early on to make the Bruins secure Peverley’s services for three years after his current deal expires.
“He’s a great player. I really like playing with him,” Marchand said Tuesday of Peverley. “He’s very fast, very quick and great with the puck. I think our line is starting to jell a little more every day. Hopefully we can continue to build and create more opportunities each game.
Peverley had tough shoes to fill when he jumped on the second line in place of the retired Mark Recchi. The former Predator and Thrasher first began seeing time with Marchand and Bergeron in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season and was reunited with the the other two during the preseason.
What Peverley brings, aside from his obvious weapon of speed, is an ability to get pucks on net, which at times was an area of weakness for the Bruins last season. He totaled 201 shots last season between Atlanta and Boston, which would have ranked second amongst Bruins forwards and third overall on the team (Zdeno Chara led the team with 264, with Bergeron having 211) had he played the whole season with the team.
“He’s a versatile player. He can play any of the three forward positions,” Chiarelli said of Peverley. “He brings them speed. I’m not taking anything away from Rex, but he’s a little faster than Rex. He shoots the pucks and he digs out pucks, and when he needs to, he’ll go to those dirtier areas. That’s what I really noticed about him last year in the drive to the Cup. He would sacrifice his body and go to those areas and not always win the puck, but he was willing to go there.”
Chiarelli said Tuesday that he had envisioned Peverley as a possible top-six forward when the team acquired him from the Thrashers, and that he hasn’t been surprised by his contributions with Marchand and Bergeron thus far.
“Sometimes there’s a fine line between the top six and the top seven or eight,” Chiarelli said. “We always felt that he was in that mix before we got him. We liked the way that he fit into our group. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be in our top six so to speak for the rest of the year, but I like to think of our [top] three lines as three equal lines. I like his speed, I like his grit for his skill package. He’s got a terrific shot. I like the way his speed backs off the D. It made us a faster team.”
Regardless of whether he sticks on that second line for the season, he’s certainly helping it now.
“They’re aggressive with and without the puck,” Chiarelli said. “He’s a good fit on that line.”
|Why a chip on Rich Peverley’s shoulder made him money with the Bruins||10.11.11 at 1:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Next season, Rich Peverley will carry a heavier price-tag than he’s had in his career. Coming off a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of less than $1.5 million, Peverley’s salary will more than double, as he will cost the Bruins $9.75 million over the next three years.
That doesn’t mean he’s always been a big name. Peverley has gone from an undrafted college player to an ECHL player to a guy who was waived by the Predators. Now with his third team and 29 years of age, Peverley seems poised to put up career-best numbers as a top-six forward on the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“He’s one of those guys that really blossomed later in his career so that helped when we got him but he’s a player that, I think he continues to have offensive upside to his game and some players mature a little bit later,” B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I think we got another one in that in Dennis Seidenberg. I think he matured a little bit later in his career so you just have to recognize that and then make decisions based on that.”
After graduating from St. Lawrence University, in 2005, Peverley played in the ECHL as a member of te south South Carolina Stingrays. H, where he scored 30 goals in 69 games. He played one game in Portland that season, his first AHL action, before spending the next two seasons between the ECHL and AHL. He signed his first NHL contract with the Predators, where he played sparingly in parts of three seasons before being waived in 2009 and claimed by the Thrashers. He came to Boston last year in the deal that send Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta.
Peverley revealed Tuesday that his thought process throughout his years working his way up wasn’t to get the NHL at all costs, but to just get to the next level. He’s reached the highest level now, and after establishing himself as a major contributor to the league’s best team last season (he played on the first line in place of the concussed Nathan Horton in the Stanley Cup finals), he hopes there’s even more he can accomplish.
“I’ve always said this: I think that you start in the minors and you don’t really have your eyes set on the NHL,” Peverley said. “I think I’ve always taken it one step at a time. I wanted to be in the American [Hockey] League, be a good player there. Once I got to the American League, the NHL was that much closer. You want to get to [NHL] and you want to be a better player in the [NHL]. It’s just one step at a time.”
While that line of thinking is hard to believe for an undrafted player coming out of St. Lawrence, Peverley can thank it for his success. Even so, for a player who was told by the league that he wasn’t good enough and then later put on waivers by the Predators, he can also thank a pretty big chip on his shoulder that he developed.
“Absolutely,” Peverley said when asked whether he’s had a chip on his shoulder. “There’s teams that get rid of you, and there’s teams that have no interest. You want to prove people wrong. You see that every year. Guys are on waivers, guys get traded. They want to prove people wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good motivational tool.”
|Bruins might have to shake up lines as David Krejci leaves practice with undisclosed injury||10.11.11 at 1:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins took the ice with their normal lines Tuesday, a sign that they aren’t interested in shaking things up after a 1-2-0 start, but after first-line center David Krejci left Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena with an undisclosed injury, they might have to.
Members of the media did not see the injury, as it came during Peter Chiarelli‘s press conference following the signing of forward Rich Peverley. The Bruins did not offer much on the status of Krejci, who was said to have left the ice in apparent pain.
“I don’t know,” coach Claude Julien said of the injury. “I can’t really tell you the severity of it right now. He’s being looked at. I can probably give you more this afternoon when we find out more.”
Asked whether it was an upper-body or lower-body or injury, Julien said it was a “body” injury. He did not know whether Krejci would travel with the team to Carolina on Tuesday.
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t really had a chat yet,” he said. “If he doesn’t he’ll be behind and get checked out. I don’t know how severe it is right now.”
|Bruins preparing for two-game road trip||10.11.11 at 11:24 am ET|
WILMINGTON — After being shut out by the Avalanche Monday at TD Garden, the Bruins returned to practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena in anticipation of their first road trip of the season.
Though the top trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has struggled, the color-coded lines looked the same for the Bruins, with both Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron wearing grey (third-line) jerseys with Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly. The B’s will play in Carolina Wednesday before facing the Blackhawks Saturday in a meeting of the last two Stanley Cup champions.
|Peverley gets Rich with three-year extension||10.11.11 at 10:44 am ET|
The Bruins took care of their biggest player set to become a unrestricted free agent Tuesday morning, inking second-line winger Rich Peverley to a three-year contract extension.
Peverley leads the Bruins with two goals this season, both of which were scored in Saturday’s win over the Lightning. His signing leaves Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, Joe Corvo and Johnny Boychuk as the remaining players set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
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