|Charlie Jacobs makes it clear: Bruins’ goal is ‘to play and compete for the Stanley Cup’||04.16.15 at 7:35 am ET|
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.”
|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|
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.
|Brad Marchand promises missing playoffs ‘definitely something that’s going to drive us next year’||04.13.15 at 11:33 pm ET|
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.”
|5 things we learned as Bruins miss playoffs for first time under Claude Julien||04.11.15 at 10:17 pm ET|
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.
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.
|5 things we learned as Bruins inch themselves closer to an early offseason||04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET|
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.
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.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Wednesday vs. Capitals ‘was not the most intense Bruins environment I’ve seen in a long time’||at 1:52 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look at the Bruins’ loss to the Capitals Wednesday night and ahead to the playoffs and the Bruins’ chances. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire worked the game Wednesday night, a 3-0 Bruins loss in Washington, and said the Bruins didn’t look like some of the Bruins’ teams he knows from the past.
“I thought they were kind of passive last night, I really did,” said McGuire. “I also know that there were some guys under the weather. They are not going to use that as an excuse, but I know there were guys not feeling very well last night — Brad Marchand was one of them. I mean, the fact that he dressed and played as well as he did was pretty nice indication of his character and how much he cares. Again, you don’t want to get everything wrapped up in one game. If they turn around and win tonight then everybody is going to be happy again. It was not the most intense Bruins environment I’ve seen in a long time.”
Claude Julien mixed up his lines, to the disliking of some, but McGuire brought up Julien was likely thinking ahead to Thursday night’s game in Florida too, and not just Wednesday’s game in Washington.
“I was really surprised at some of the maneuvers, but I also know that Washington is one of the most balanced teams in the league,” said McGuire. “They have really a four-line attack. You could see it, they had that kid line last night that was really working for them that didn’t score, but it generated chances for them. They are still missing Jay Beagle, they are still missing Eric Fehr, they will get those guys back at some point. Washington is a balanced team.
“I think what Claude was trying to do is get more of a balanced attack so he could compete with a four line game knowing the schedule that he has. That is a quick back-to-back with Washington and Florida. It is one of the most difficult ones you have in the league just because of travel, humidity and the time that you arrive. This will be a very difficult game for the Bruins. I think he was trying to look at the whole schedule rather than one game.”
With the Eastern Conference so tightly bunched, and only two games left, anything can happen. Currently the Bruins are tied with the Senators for eighth place, and a point behind seventh place, and two points behind sixth place. So one of those four teams will miss out on the postseason. McGuire thinks the Bruins will be able to make the playoffs, as they take on Florida Thursday night and Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“Tuukka [Rask] is going to be large early on tonight, I think that is really important,” he said. “If he can be and stabilize the game early then the Bruins I think will have a chance to get going. You’re going to be looking at a showdown obviously on Sunday against Tampa. I think Tampa will probably rest some people. The game won’t have as much meaning for them. I still believe Boston is a playoff team. I do. I believed it from the start of the year and I still believe it.”