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Why you shouldn’t get hung up on Torey Krug scoring just 4 goals last season 06.30.16 at 4:07 pm ET
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Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Some of those who want to criticize the Bruins’ four-year, $21 million deal for Torey Krug have already started pointing to the fact that he is an offensive defenseman who scored just four goals last season.

Krug did in fact score just four goals, but it is not something anyone should be worried about going forward. First off, Krug still had a career high in points last year with 44.

But more relevant to the goal discussion, Krug also had a career high in shot attempts (469) and shots on goal (244). He had the fourth-most shots on goal among all NHL defensemen, behind only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Dustin Byfuglien.

Krug shot 1.6 percent last season. He previously shot 7.7 percent in 2013-14 and 5.9 percent in 2014-15. Of the top 30 defensemen in shots on goal last season, Krug was the only one who shot worse than 3 percent, never mind 2 percent. Most of those other 29 guys shot in the 5-8 percent range, the same place Krug was before last season.

Basically what we’re getting at is that Krug is going to score much more if he continues to shoot as much as he’s been shooting. Chances are he will never have a shooting percentage as low as 1.6 percent again. If he even shot 5 percent last season, he would’ve scored 12 goals. If he shot the 6.7 percent he averaged the previous two seasons, he would’ve scored 16.

Anyone who has watched Krug play knows he has a pretty good shot. He didn’t suddenly forget how to shoot last season. Sure, there are things he can do to make sure he does a better job finishing, but for the most part that 1.6 percent is just the product of rotten luck.

So, complain about Krug’s contract if you want. Criticize his defense, say he’s undersized, say he’s not a legitimate top-four defenseman. We can have legitimate debates about all that. Just don’t get worked up over him scoring four goals last season, because he’s going to score more than that — probably a lot more — going forward.

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NHL gone wild: Canadiens trade P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, Oilers trade Taylor Hall to Devils, Steven Stamkos staying in Tampa 06.29.16 at 4:14 pm ET
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The NHL has lost its mind. In a pair of blockbuster, shocking deals, the Canadiens have traded defenseman P.K. Subban to the Predators for defenseman Shea Weber, and the Oilers have traded left wing Taylor Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.

In slightly less surprising but still huge news, center Steven Stamkos is reportedly staying with the Lightning, putting a quick end to rumors about the Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins and others. According to Bob McKenzie, his new deal is for eight years with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

On the surface, both massive trades look pretty lopsided. Subban, age 27, is in his prime and is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, while Weber, age 30, has been in decline for a few years now and is really no longer one of the best blueliners in the league.

Meanwhile, Hall is one of the best left wingers in the league and is only 24. Larsson is also young (23), but has yet to prove he’s truly a top-pairing defenseman. Peter Chiarelli, former Bruins general manager and current Oilers GM, has now traded both of the top two picks from the 2010 Taylor/Tyler draft for underwhelming returns.

Bruins blame pie: Patrice Bergeron says it’s ‘definitely not on’ Claude Julien 04.09.16 at 7:13 pm ET
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Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired has already begun. (USA Today Sports)

Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired already has begun. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The “Should Claude Julien be fired” talk had already begun even before Saturday, but with the Bruins missing the playoffs for a second straight year and getting absolutely embarrassed on home ice in their season finale, it’s only going to pick up.

Most Bruins players weren’t willing to make any sort of comment on the possibility of Julien being fired after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators given that, at the time, the B’s still had an outside shot of making the playoffs (the Flyers’ win over the Penguins later Saturday officially sealed their fate). But the team’s best and most important player came to the defense of Julien.

“I’ve said a million times that Claude has been the best coach I’ve had,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s definitely not on him. It should be on us. His system is there, the game plan is there. It’s about us executing, and we didn’t do that. So it should fall back on the players.”

In the case of Saturday and other games down the stretch that saw the Bruins lose to non-playoff teams, Bergeron is right that the players deserve a good chunk of the blame. There’s no excuse for making the kinds of defensive mistakes that led to Ottawa’s goals on Saturday. There’s no excuse for a top-five offense struggling to score against three non-playoff teams over the last two weeks of the season. Regardless of who the coach is or whether his message is getting through, those are things for which the players need to take responsibility.

But there is plenty of blame to go around, and yes, Julien deserves some of it. A coach should be able to do more to ensure that his team isn’t making as many mistakes as the Bruins made Saturday, whether it was getting beat wide, leaving guys uncovered in front or making bad breakout passes that were easily intercepted. Those things are coachable, and the fact that they happened this late in the season doesn’t reflect well on the coach.

The group that deserves the most blame, however, is the front office. Don Sweeney and company are the ones who built a team that had one legitimate top-four defenseman — and that one, Zdeno Chara, is 39 years old. It’s fitting that defense was the Bruins’ biggest issue on their disastrous last day, because it was their biggest issue all season, and it will remain their biggest issue going forward unless they bring in multiple defensemen who are significant upgrades over what they have now.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins sign BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to entry-level contract 04.01.16 at 5:06 pm ET
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Matt Grzelcyk served as a captain at BU for the last two years. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matt Grzelcyk served as a captain at BU for the last two years. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins have signed Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a two-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. The Charlestown native was a third-round pick of the B’s in 2012 and could have become a free agent in August had he not signed with Boston.

Grzelcyk recently wrapped up his senior season at BU, where he served as team captain each of the last two seasons. He had 10 goals and 13 assists in 27 games (he missed 12 games earlier in the season due to injury), putting him fourth nationally among defensemen in points per game. He was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star for the second year in a row.

Grzelcyk will report to the Providence Bruins for the remainder of this season before his two-year deal kicks in next season.

Grzelcyk is listed at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds. The strengths of his game are transition and offense, as he’s a very good skater who often times led rushes for the Terriers and got involved deep in the offensive zone. He also played an integral role on an effective power play that finished the season at 21.1 percent. Grzelcyk worked to dramatically improve his shot over the last two years, resulting in a jump from six goals over his first two years at BU to 20 over the last two.

Grzelcyk’s connection to the Bruins runs deep, as his father, John, has worked on the Garden’s “Bull Gang” for more than 40 years.

Torey Krug’s goalless streak continues after questionable offsides call overturns goal 03.05.16 at 11:35 pm ET
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While Alex Ovechkin’s hit from behind on Kevan Miller may grab the most headlines from Saturday’s game, the controversial play that actually had the biggest impact on the game was Torey Krug’s overturned goal early in the second period.

David Pastrnak carried into the offensive zone and fired a shot that led to a juicy rebound. Krug picked up the loose puck, cut to the middle and beat Philipp Grubauer for what appeared to be his first goal in 40 games.

However, the goal wound up being waved off after a video review determined that Loui Eriksson was offsides on Pastrnak’s zone entry.

The question, of course, is whether the video evidence was actually definitive. Eriksson clearly made an effort to drag one skate behind him to try to stay onsides, but the skate eventually lifted off the ice. On the replays shown on TV, it was hard to tell whether the skate lifted before or after the puck entered the zone.

The goal would’ve given the Bruins a 2-0 lead, and possibly a second straight win over a top team. Instead the Capitals tied the game at one later in the second period and eventually won in overtime.

Krug, for his part, downplayed the no-goal ruling after the game.

“If it’s offside, it’s not a goal,” Krug said. “I mean, it’s frustrating. I haven’t scored in a while, but that’s a good test for your character and trying to respond and still having faith. It’s, like I said, right time, right place, it’ll happen.”

The Bruins, to their credit, didn’t seem to get too deflated by the call. They controlled play for the majority of the second period and outshot the Capitals 20-7 in the frame. Unfortunately they couldn’t find the back of the net again, while the Capitals eventually did.

“We did OK,” Krug said. “I think this year we’ve done a really good job of responding to calls that haven’t gone our way. Unfortunately they got the next goal, so it’s not clearly indicative of how we responded, but we did an alright job.”

Claude Julien didn’t say much about this specific call, but acknowledged that he doesn’t always agree with video reviews — understandable considering Saturday’s wasn’t the first to go against the Bruins this season.

“You guys keep asking coaches. We’re not all, I guess, 100 percent on board with some of that stuff, but you’ve got to live with it” Julien said. “You live with it, because we always compare it to other calls that we’ve had, whether it’s with other games and stuff like that. I guess we don’t always see consistency.”

Dennis Seidenberg played the voice of reason, offering up an idea that could clear up situations like Saturday’s.

“You have to see something in the future, I guess, on the level of the ice where you can actually see the skate coming up – like a camera on the blue line,” Seidenberg said. “But it’s tough to see. I didn’t see it and it’s really tough for me to judge because I don’t know.”

Read More: Torey Krug,
Canadiens goalie Mike Condon thinks he got some Patriots mojo: ‘Anything that Tom Brady touches turns to gold’ 01.01.16 at 6:25 pm ET
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Mike Condon stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the Canadiens' Winter Classic win over the Bruins.  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mike Condon stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the Canadiens’ Winter Classic win over the Bruins. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask had Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski featured on his helmet. Claude Julien wore a Bill Belichick-esque hoodie behind the bench. But it was Canadiens goalie Mike Condon who came away from Friday’s Winter Classic feeling like he had snagged some of the Patriots’ winning mojo.

Condon, a Holliston native who grew up rooting for the Pats, also had a Patriots-themed mask, as his featured sketches of Brady and Belichick along with four Lombardi Trophies and the team’s famous “Do Your Job” motto.

The cherry on top was getting the helmet autographed by Brady and Belichick before the Pats took off for Miami for Sunday’s regular-season finale.

“I’m pretty sure anything that Tom Brady touches turns to gold,” Condon said. “So I was pretty happy. Hopefully got some mojo on my helmet there. I’m a huge fan of his, huge fan of this organization, and I’m just happy to pay respect to them on the ice.”

Condon didn’t really need to be gold on Friday, as his Canadiens held the Bruins to just three shots on goal in the first period and built up a 3-0 lead by the end of the second. But he was very good when he was tested. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien pays homage to Bill Belichick with Bruins hoodie for Winter Classic 01.01.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are good friends, as evidenced by their skate around the Gillette Stadium rink on Thursday morning.

So it should come as no surprise that Julien decided to pay homage to Belichick by wearing a Bruins hoodie for Friday’s Winter Classic against the Canadiens. Here’s video of Julien showing off his hoodie to Belichick, courtesy of the Bruins’ Twitter account.

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