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Cam Neely admits he wants a voice but adds, ‘I don’t want to be a general manager’ 04.16.15 at 7:52 am ET
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There was some speculation in the immediate aftermath of Peter Chiarelli’s firing Wednesday that Cam Neely might assume the role and add the general manager’s title onto his existing role of team president.

While team CEO Charlie Jacobs admitted that hockey operations will, for now, report directly to Neely, the team president said he wants no part of the gig long term.

“I’€™m not a micromanager and I don’€™t want to be a general manager,” Neely announced. “I want to have a vision, I want to understand what the vision of a general manager is going to be for the hockey club, obviously, as we move forward. I felt that I was able to have conversations and express my opinions. I felt that I was able to do that the last four or five years’€”six years. But as far as’€”I’€™m not a micromanager and I don’€™t intend to be.”

Neely did offer a critique of where he thinks the team might have gone astray over the last four seasons since winning the Cup in 2011, especially as it relates to drafting new talent.

“We have to look at the organization as a whole obviously and today’€™s day and age with the game and the cap and a team that is fortunate enough to spend to the cap,” Neely said. “As you have success and those players get better and you have to pay them more, you need those entry-level players to come in and be able to have an impact. It’€™s expensive to always get ready made players.

“It’€™s a nice luxury to be able to have but when you don’€™t have the cap space to be able to do that, you’€™ve got to find entry-level players. I think there was a period of time there where’€”I don’€™t think I’€™m saying anything that hasn’€™t been chronicled’€”we missed on three or four years on some drafts that I think right now we’€™re kind of paying the price for. That’€™s not the sole reason but that’€™s an area where I think we can improve.”

Neely was asked if he had input or final authorization on moves that might have led the Bruins away from a tougher on-ice image that he has preferred ever since his playing days.

“Like I said I’€™m not going to micromanage a GM. I want him to do his job,” Neely said. “I certainly want to have conversations about why and what the thought process is to make particular deals and trades and how that is going to look for the franchise, not just when it happens but also moving forward. The other thing to your second question, I think where we’€™ve had success is our four lines play hard. That’€™s doesn’€™t mean you can’€™t have skill and play hard. It’€™s something where ‘€˜is it easy to find?’€™ No, but I think I’€™d like to see us get back to playing hard and where the team plays for each other. I think we lost that a little bit.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Cam Neely,
Charlie Jacobs makes it clear: Bruins’ goal is ‘to play and compete for the Stanley Cup’ at 7:35 am ET
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Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs took the occasion Wednesday, at the press conference to confirm the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli, that simply making the playoffs wasn’t necessarily enough to save the GM’s job.

In January, Jacobs told reporters, after meeting with the team, that he would consider the season a failure if they didn’t reach the playoffs and that the team was badly underachieving.

This led to the presumption that if the Bruins made the playoffs and got hot at the right time, Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien would be safe. Jacobs hinted Wednesday that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“I feel they were accurate, and that in January, my frustration of where the team was — I think we were in ninth or 10th place in the conference at the moment, on that day in January –€” and I said that for us not to make the playoffs would have been a failure. So here we are, out. And I want to clarify, by the way, my comment about the playoffs: The expectation is for us not only to get into the playoffs, but to play and compete for the Stanley Cup, not just to get in. I feel that may be lost a little bit in the messaging.”

It was appropriate that on tax day Jacobs said the team was doing an internal audit of on-ice performance and off-ice planning and preparation in the front office, and that this audit had been going on all season.

“But I didn’€™t necessarily think, at the end of the season, OK, let’€™s sort of wash our hands of X, Y or Z associate. That wasn’€™t it. It was, again, going back and sort of doing an audit of what had transpired throughout the year, where we were in terms of an organization and in terms of our depth, whether it be from our scouting department, our minor league system, where we are with our senior club, of course, and then sort of determining where, perhaps, we need to improve. So again, this was not an easy decision.”

As it turned out, Jacobs and team president Cam Neely not only fired Chiarelli but also relieved three scouts of their jobs, including amateur scouts Mike Chiarelli (brother of Peter) and Denis Leblanc, and European Head Scout Jukka Holtari.

“I have a great deal of respect for Peter and what he accomplished here, especially bringing back [the Stanley Cup] I can’€™t thank him enough for 2011 and the ride that that was,” Jacobs said. “But we felt it was time to move on, and this was the move.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli,
Tuukka Rask gives Bruins an ‘F’ for season: ‘If you don’t make the playoffs, you’ve failed’ 04.14.15 at 10:52 am ET
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Good was not good enough.

In a nutshell, that sums up Tuukka Rask and the Bruins’ first non-playoff season since 2007. The Bruins goalie acknowledged as much in assessing what went wrong throughout a season in which the Bruins could never find a consistent groove.

Rask finished with a 34-21-13 mark in a career-high 70 games, including 64 starts, also the most ever by the 28-year-old in his eight-year career. Rask had a 2.30 goals against average and a .922 save percentage, good numbers to be sure but when you compare them to the previous three seasons (2.03 GAA, .929 save percentage), they represented a drop off, just like the team.

“Good. Not great, good,” Rask said. “Improve? Always like to improve. But I looked at my numbers and the scoring chances, and it was not obviously quite as good as last year, but it was still over 82 percent. So, that’€™s good.”

But Rask left no doubt about how he felt about the season from a team perspective when asked to give a grade for the season.

“Well, what’€™s failed, F? Because you know, if you don’€™t make the playoffs, you’€™ve failed,” Rask said. “You know, it doesn’€™t matter what happened, if you make the playoffs you’€™ve failed. I mean, if we were to make the playoffs, who knows what could have happened. So the line there is very thin, and we really felt like we had a group of guys to make a good run in the playoffs. But we failed because we didn’€™t make the playoffs and we’€™ll never find out.

“Never would have thought that I’€™d be in this situation, never been in this situation in my career before. Hopefully never have to be here again. It’€™s tough.”

After reaching the Cup finals in 2013 and the second round in ’14, Rask has a little extra time this spring to think about what went wrong.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Tuukka Rask,
Brad Marchand promises missing playoffs ‘definitely something that’s going to drive us next year’ 04.13.15 at 11:33 pm ET
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One of the pitfalls of success can be the false sense of comfort it provides.

Brad Marchand said Monday on wrap-up day at TD Garden that these Bruins who missed the playoffs with 96 points took winning for granted too often this season and it eventually caught up with them at the end.

This is a Bruins team that had made the playoffs in each of the first seven seasons under Claude Julien. But the run of success ended in season No. 8 as the Bruins watched their hold on the second wild card spot slip out of their hands in the final week.

“We all have to come in knowing that we have to learn from this year,” Marchand said. “We have to know that every game we have to be prepared for and we can’t have any guys taking nights off. I think too many nights we had guys not at the top of their game and most nights we could only rely on a couple of guys. We have to make sure that we all are prepared every night. That’s what we seemed to be so good at in the past. Four lines, 60 [minutes] and the goalie rolling and when we play like that and play within the system, we’re a good team.”

Having won the Stanley Cup in 2011, reaching the finals two years later and finishing with the best record last season, does Marchand think the Bruins took winning and success for granted too much this season?

“For sure. We definitely did,” Marchand said. “When you’re at the top, you feel like it’s going to be there all the time,” Marchand said. “It’s always going to happen. This is a big wakeup call for our team. I think now we realize how hard we have to continue to work to be at the top and get back there. It is definitely a wakeup call for us. We definitely took it a bit for granted and expected it to be there. We’re going to have to make sure we’re working hard to get back to the top.”

Marchand made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons before missing out this year.

“It’€™s obviously very disappointing. Something to really’€”it’€™s tough to describe,” Marchand said. “You have such high hopes coming into the year and obviously with this team we’€™re expected to not just make the playoffs but win the whole thing. To not be there is different. I’€™ve never missed the playoffs before in my life so it’€™s not a good feeling at all. It’€™s definitely something that’€™s going to drive us next year.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand,
5 things we learned as Bruins miss playoffs for first time under Claude Julien 04.11.15 at 10:17 pm ET
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The Bruins have missed the playoffs for the first time under Claude Julien.  (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Bruins have missed the playoffs for the first time under Claude Julien. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. — The Bruins have missed the playoffs for the first time since Claude Julien took over as the team’€™s head coach in the 2007-08 season, as the Bruins fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Lightning in the season finale.

Boston’€™s fate was secured prior to the conclusion of its shootout loss to the Lightning Saturday, as the Penguins secured the wild card spot Boston sought by beating the the Sabres earlier in the night.

In addition to needing a victory over the Lightning, the Bruins needed the Penguins to lose in any manner (regulation, overtime or shootout) in order to make the playoffs. Boston was in control of its playoff destiny earlier this week, but regulation losses to the Capitals and Panthers allowed the Senators to leapfrog them. Ottawa secured its postseason spot on Saturday with a win over the Flyers.

The eight Eastern Conference playoff teams, in addition to the Presidents’€™ Trophy-winning Rangers, are the Canadiens, Lightning, Senators, Capitals, Islanders, Red Wings and Penguins. The final order of the teams in each division was not yet decided at the time of Pittsburgh’€™s victory.

Nikita Nesterov broke a 1-1 5:12 into the third period to give the Lightning a lead. The Bruins were officially eliminated minutes later, though Brad Marchand scored late in the game to force overtime. Victor Hedman scored the shootout winner for Tampa.

With the Kings and Bruins both missing the playoffs, the last Stanley Cup champion from each conference will be absent from this postseason. The Bruins’€™ season proved to be colossal failure, their 96 points are the most an Eastern Conference team has had without making the playoffs since the Eastern and Western Conferences came into existence in the 1993-94 season.

Here are four more things we learned on the final day of the Bruins’€™ season:

BRUINS CARRY PLAY EARLY, DON’€™T SCORE

The Bruins had a lot of good first-periods late in the regular season. They were rarely as good as they needed to be, however.

For the second straight game, Boston outplayed its opposition in the first period only to hit the first intermission scoreless.

The Bruins were all over the puck early on, making aggressive plays in the offensive zone to stay in Tampa’€™s end. The Lightning, meanwhile, didn’€™t get their first shot on goal until 9:14 of the first.

After a furious first few shifts, the momentum for the Bruins was halted by their power play. Brad Marchand was held by Nesterov to put the B’€™s on the man advantage at 2:40, but the B’€™s managed no shots on goal and barely got set up during the power play.

The Bruins ended up outshooting Tampa, 10-6, in the first period while holding a 19-12 advantage in shot attempts.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tuukka Rask,
Steven Stamkos, Lightning would ‘love’ to keep Bruins out of playoffs at 11:00 am ET
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Steven Stamkos and the Lightning would "love" to keep the Bruins out of the playoffs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Steven Stamkos and the Lightning would “love” to keep the Bruins out of the playoffs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. — The Eastern Conference is changing. Since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, then-competitive teams have fallen off and risen again.

One of them is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, after earning their second consecutive playoff berth following a two-year drought, the Lightning can make it so the last Eastern Conference team to win the Cup will not participate in the postseason.

“I think any team in the league would love to knock a team like this out because of how dangerous they can be come playoff time,” Steven Stamkos said after the Lightning’s morning skate. “I think you look at LA and you look at Boston. Those are the teams that, no matter where they finish, if they can get into the playoffs, anything can happen because of the personnel they have, the experience they have. With LA being out, I think everyone in the West can sleep a little easier and obviously if Boston doesn’€™t make it, teams are a little happier here.”

Thanks to Friday night’s Penguins loss, the Bruins will still technically be alive when they hit the ice Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

When told of Stamkos’ words, Brad Marchand wasn’t surprised.

“We know that there’€™s no team that wants to do us a favor,” Marchand said. “We know that they’€™re going to bring their best game tonight. They played well at home their last game against us.

“We’€™re a good playoff team. We’€™re kind of built for that. Any team would be happy to knock us out. We know that they’€™re going to get their best game. That means that means that we’€™re going to have to play even harder and make sure we lay our bodies on the line and sacrifice for the team.”

Neither wild card spot in the Eastern Conference is clinched entering Saturday’s games. The Senators can clinch a playoff berth with a win Saturday afternoon in their regular season finale in Ottawa. The Penguins can tie up a spot with a win over the Sabres Saturday night. If the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins fail to get a point, the Bruins can claim a spot with a win over the Lightning.

Yet the Lightning have more than one reason to try to win Saturday. In addition to knocking off the Bruins and making sure that they would never have to run into Tuukka Rask this spring, a win could potentially earn them the top seed in the Atlantic Division.

Through 81 games apiece, Tampa Bay has 106 points to Montreal’s 108. If Montreal loses to Toronto in regulation and Tampa beats Boston, the Lightning would take the top seed in the Atlantic by virtue of the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
5 things we learned as Bruins inch themselves closer to an early offseason 04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET
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SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins had 20 minutes to stay in control of their season’s destiny. They didn’t do it.

Within the same hour, the Bruins allowed a late second-period power-play goal to the Panthers to tie the game, and the Senators defeated the Rangers. The third period was going to be critical for the B’s in what was a 1-1 game, but rather than making a statement, they allowed the Panthers to score twice against Patrice Bergeron‘s line, putting the Senators a win away from reaching the playoffs in the process.

Brad Marchand got the Bruins within one with a well-placed wrist shot over Roberto Luongo‘s shoulder to end a 15-game scoreless streak with five minutes to play, but the Panthers answered promptly with a Jimmy Hayes goal to make it a 4-2 Panthers win.

Claude Julien was aggressive in pulling Tuukka Rask with 3:35 remaining in regulation, but the team was called for a too-many-men minor with 2:37 left.

The Bruins (95 points) are not yet eliminated, but they must win Saturday in Tampa and receive help from other teams. If Boston beats Tampa Saturday and Ottawa loses to the Flyers in regulation, Boston would make the playoffs over Ottawa. If Boston wins Saturday and Pittsburgh loses both of its remaining games, the B’s also would get in. Detroit going to overtime against the Canadiens Friday meant the B’s can no longer catch the Red Wings.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

STRONG START, NO GOALS AND A PREDICTABLE LETUP

A terrible start to Wednesday’s game against the Capitals cost the B’s two much-needed points. They realized their errors and dominated in the early going against Florida.

Boston had 10 of the first 12 shots on goal, while a power play that Marchand drew resulted in two full minutes without the Panthers clearing. One thing was missing, however: goals.

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