|Bruins report card: Forwards||06.10.14 at 4:15 pm ET|
As the Stanley Cup finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades:
Patrice Bergeron: A
Regular season: 80 GP, 30 G, 32 A, 62 PTS, plus-38
Postseason: 12 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, plus-1
Bergeron had the type of season that led Twitter to be insufferable over his candidacy for a video game cover, so that’s a good thing, I guess. This was Bergeron’s second career 30-goal season, and the fact that he scored 30 goals given that he never, ever cheats offensively, was pretty insane. He likely would have had more points than his 62 points had his linemates been more consistent early on.
Bergeron had nine points (three goals, six assists) over the first eight games of the playoffs, but he failed to register a point in the last four games against the Canadiens.
Jarome Iginla: A-
Regular season: 78 GP, 30 G, 31 A, 61 PTS, plus-34
Postseason: 12 GP, 5 G, 2 A, 7 PTS, even rating
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He hit 30 goals in the regular season, and while that thrilled Bruins fans, that’s what they should have expected from him. It took him a bit to start scoring regularly, but once he hit his stride, the Bruins’ first line had perhaps its most consistent regular season since David Krejci became the team’s No. 1 center. The Bruins will want to bring him back, but there’s no telling whether Iginla is willing to go year-to-year given that it’s the only way the Bruins can capitalize cap-wise on his status as a player over 35 years old.
Carl Soderberg: A-
Regular season: 73 GP, 16 G, 32 A, 48 P, plus-4
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-4
It’s probably too early take positives from the season and apply them going forward, but Soderberg showed he can be one of the league’s better third-liners since he was moved to center. Considering Bergeron and David Krejci aren’t going anywhere, that’s where Soderberg will remain. He has one year left on his deal with a $1.083 million cap hit. If the 28-year-old takes another step forward in his second full NHL season, he’ll be due a sizable raise.
Reilly Smith: A-
Regular season: 82 GP, 20 G, 31 A, 51 PTS, plus-28
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS, plus-5
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Don’t confuse his midseason slump with a complete collapse; Smith was one of the Bruins’ best players in the postseason. With even a little consistency down the stretch in the regular season, this would be an A+.
The Bruins coveted Smith when it came time to talk trade with the Stars, and they planned on him being a steady third-liner for them this season, but he claimed the second-line right wing job and raced out to a team-leading 18 goals in his first 52 games. Of course, scoring just two goals over the final 30 games wasn’t exactly top-six material. How much of that can be attributed to his midseason illness that caused him to lose weight is unknown, but with more consistency Smith can expect to push for 30 goals going forward.
Milan Lucic: B-
Regular season: 80 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 PTS, plus-30
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS, plus-3
Lucic hit a goal-scoring rut in the middle of the season and he hit some of his opponents in the you-know-whats late in the season. That scoring slump saw Lucic score one goal over an 18-game stretch from Dec. 5 to Jan. 14, and without such a stretch Lucic could have pushed for 30 goals.
Daniel Paille: B-/C+
Regular season: 72 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, plus-9
Postseason: 7 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, minus-1
He had three concussions this season, but he still played in 72 regular-season games. Paille’s the type of player who could figure to stick around if the Bruins decide to revamp their fourth line, as he has the speed that’s allowed the B’s to move him up in the lineup at points in addition to his penalty-killing duties.
Gregory Campbell: C
Regular season: 82 GP, 8 G, 13 S, 21 PTS, plus-1
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, even rating
The Bruins’ bottom-six – particularly their fourth line — is supposed to be better than that of other teams, and it was a bad year for the Merlot Line. Campbell was a minus-3 in the Montreal series, with his line on the ice for the disastrous shift against Montreal’s fourth line in Game 7 that resulted in Dale Weise‘s first-period goal. The positive is that Campbell played all 82 games and 12 postseason games coming off a broken leg that ended last season in the Eastern Conference finals for him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Brad Marchand knows he’s underperformed, hopes Bruins don’t trade him||05.17.14 at 3:30 pm ET|
When teams win, every player is appreciated in some way, shape or form. Even Tomas Kaberle ended up positively impacting Boston’s Stanley Cup run with a big assist on Michael Ryder‘s first goal of Game 4 against the Canadiens, and when the Cup was raised, all was forgiven.
When teams lose, it’s a different animal, and underperforming players might have reason to worry about their future.
Of the Bruins’ biggest names under contract, Brad Marchand might be most likely to hear his name pop up in trade chatter. He’s relatively young (26) and on a pretty good contract (three more years with a $4.5 million cap hit in each), but after an up-and-down regular season and a goose-egg in the goal column for the entire postseason, his future with the Bruins is no sure thing. If there is a bigger move for Peter Chiarelli to make, Marchand would be a logical candidate to be moved.
This isn’t the first time Marchand’s had to wonder about whether his time with the B’s was coming to an end. When Tyler Seguin was traded last summer, Marchand wondered if he might be on the move too. On Friday, he reiterated that point and said he hopes to stay in Boston.
“A guy as talented as Segs gets traded at such an early age and it’s an eye-opener for everyone,” Marchand said. “I don’t know. Hopefully I’m not going anywhere, but that’s up to management and the coaching staff. I guess we’ll see.”
Though Marchand is viewed universally as a pest, he’s one of Boston’s best players when at the top of his game. A plus two-way player, Marchand is fast, has underrated hands and kills penalties.
Yet when factoring in Marchand’s quiet end to the last postseason, the pesky forward has now gone 20 playoff games without a goal. That’s not good enough for a player who should be expected to score 25 to 30 goals a season (he scored 25 this season after recovering from a dreadful start that saw him score just three goals in the first 25 games of the season).
“It’s very tough,” Marchand said of his postseason shortcomings. “You really want to perform and help the team. Playoff time is when you need to be big and you need to produce. I wasn’t able to accomplish that this year. I’ll have to focus even harder for next year.”
Marchand was the victim of a horrendous call in Game 7 of the second round of the Canadiens, as he was called for goaltender interference when Andrei Markov cross-checked him in the head, sending him into Carey Price.
As frustrating as that “reputation call” may have been, Marchand — admittedly, to his credit — has earned the reputation to get those bad calls. Reputation calls aren’t given to players who take a lot of penalties; they’re given to players who get away with a lot of stuff that refs don’t always see, such as his punch to the head of Tomas Plekanec before a faceoff that went uncalled.
“It’s frustrating, but I dug that hole for myself and I’ve got to live with it,” Marchand said after Game 7.
If the Bruins were to move Marchand, it would be interesting to see what kind of return he would yield. After being eliminated by the speedier Canadiens and assuming they’ll have to face them at some point most years in the playoffs with the new playoff format, Boston should be in no hurry to remove more speed from its top two lines.
Still, depending on what the B’s could get back and whether it could save them some money against the cap (re-signing Jarome Iginla to anything but a one-year, bonus-laden deal seems to be their only bet at retaining Iginla unless they shed salary), anything might be worth exploring for Chiarelli.
|Claude Julien calls out Habs for late-game antics, says he expects Bruins to win Game 7||05.12.14 at 11:08 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Claude Julien had a field day with officials in the final minute of the Bruins’ 4-0 Game 6 loss to the Canadiens Monday night, and that frustration carried over into his postgame press conference.
Julien was angry that the Canadiens were taking liberties and not getting called for dangerous plays. Julien was angry that what he believed to be a David Desharnais slew-foot on Brad Marchand went uncalled in the third period, with emotions boiling over after Andrei Markov put his stick between Zdeno Chara‘s legs and whacked the Boston captain in the groin.
Scrums ensued from there, and Julien said such things will happen when dirty plays go unpunished.
“Although we’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys, when Markov trips Chara and then he puts his stick between his legs and nothing’s going to be called, eventually somebody’s going to react,” Julien said. “Whether it’s right or wrong, Zdeno reacted and then everything else started.
“There was a slew-foot before — Desharnais on Marchand. It’s a slew foot. Those are things that we keep talking about that are dangerous in our game. It’s a rivalry and there are some things going on on both sides.”
The Bruins are considered to be the aggressors in pretty much any series they play given their physicality and a tendency to cross the line. Julien said that the Bruins have pulled their share of stunts as well this series, but that Game 6 should show that it isn’t one-sided.
“I’m not portraying ourselves as innocent here,” Julien said. “I’m just saying it takes two teams to [tango].”
Julien was asked one more question after that, with a reporter asking what he expects from the seventh game.
“I expect us to win,” Julien said.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Brad Marchand on Game 6: ‘This series has nothing to do with what happened three years ago’||at 3:05 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The marching orders have been delivered. The Bruins are not to talk or think about what happened in Game 6 in 2011, when they had a chance to close out the Canadiens but allowed a pair of 5-on-3 power play goals in a 2-1 loss that extended the series to the fateful Game 7, won by Nathan Horton in overtime.
“This series has nothing to with something that happened three years ago but Montreal always a great power play,” Brad Marchand said. “They’re always very dangerous and have been all series long and we definitely have to make sure we do a good job of staying out of the box.”
Head coach Claude Julien had the same reaction, beginning with forgetting about what happened in 2011.
“I don’t [remember],” Julien quipped. “No short-term memory.”
Of the 13 goals the Bruins have allowed in the series, seven have come on the power play, including the overtime game-winner in Game 1 and both goals in the Game 5 win over the Canadiens. Montreal is 7-for-19 on the power play this series. While the seven number is significant, the 19 might be more alarming since the Bruins know they need to avoid penalties at all costs to avoid a Game 7 Wednesday night in Boston.
|Brad Marchand says ‘there’s no need to hit the panic button’ before Game 4||05.08.14 at 1:15 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Brad Marchand and the Bruins have been through the Stanley Cup playoff wars over the last four years and a little 2-1 hole in the second round against the Canadiens isn’t going to faze them one bit. Even if the pivotal Game 4 is again on the very hostile ice of the Bell Centre.
“There’s no need to panic here,” Marchand said. “It’s 2-1. It’s not like it’s 3-0 [down] here right now. There’s no need to hit the panic button. We have a lot of really good leadership in here. We’ve been in a lot of situations before, and I think we just want to make sure we put our best game on the ice.
“We’re definitely not in the position we prefer to be in but we’re here and we want to definitely try to make the most of our opportunities. These guys are a huge challenge. They’re playing very well right now and we definitely have a big job to be prepared tonight.”
Marchand was playing it cool when asked about being separated from his typical line mates of Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith for the morning skate. Head coach Claude Julien said he was just having some fun with reporters who were watching the morning skate seven hours before Game 4.
“Every time he’s switched it up before, that’s normally how we start so we’d have to expect the same thing,” Marchand said. “We really just want to focus on our individual jobs and how we have to play. If that’s the lineup, we’re going to play the exact same way we do every night and just make sure we work hard. It doesn’t happen a lot but I’m sure there’s a reason whenever he does and he’s the coach. He makes those decision and we just live by them.”
More than who plays on which lines, Marchand knows full well it won’t matter if the Bruins aren’t winning the puck battles and taking care of their assignments in their own zone, something they failed to do at critical times in Game 3 Tuesday night.
“You look at their goals last game, they were all missed assignments by us. We left guys alone and they capitalized on them,” Marchand said. “So we definitely have to be more aware and definitely be better on our details.”
The Bruins, when they have been successful in recent years in the playoffs have imposed their will in critical games like Thursday’s Game 4. Marchand said Thursday morning they definitely need more of that than they showed in Game 3.
“I think we definitely could do a little bit more. They’re a very skilled team and you want to be physical on guys like that but they’re playing physical, too. We’re trying to take the opportunities when they’re there but we don’t want to take penalties and be reckless so we definitely have to do it within the rules.
“We definitely want to play our game a little bit more, be a little more physical on them, try to battle a little more in the corners. We turned a few too many pucks over at the blue lines so we definitely want to try and clean that up.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins ‘just don’t seem to be ready’||05.07.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“That was not one of their better games. I don’t understand it,” the former Bruins coach said. “They spot teams a 3-0 lead and think they’re going to come back in the third period. It’s a dumb way to play.”
The Bruins were hurt by a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to early Canadiens goals, and Cherry said their failure to be prepared to play hard and focused from the opening faceoff is an issue that continues to haunt them.
“It’s funny, you can sit here and dissect it. You have to be behind the bench to realize that Montreal is going to come out flying,” Cherry said. “They have their favorite singer. You have to be ready for something like that. It’s easy to say. I’ve been there many times before.
“There’s so many mistakes made, even down to the one where [Tuukka] Rask doesn’t bang his stick on the breakaway. You’re taught in junior, in bantams, when you see a penalty near the end, you bang your stick to warn the guys. Here’s a guy that’s not ready. They just don’t seem to be ready. They think that they can come back all the time in the third period. They seem to be relying on that third period all the time. They don’t play desperate right now. I’m telling you, they better start, because they’re sky high, Montreal is sky high.”
Added Cherry: “You’ve got to play like [Brad] Marchand. Believe it or not, he was plus-2 last night. He is a guy that they’ve got to look to. He plays like that all the time, and that’s the way they’ve got to play. They were fast asleep the first two periods.”
The Bruins’ problems start in goal, where Rask has continued his career-long struggles against the Canadiens, while Carey Price has come up with some big saves at the other end.
“Rask is not playing the way Rask can play. … Price is outplaying him, that’s for sure,” Cherry said. “Rask is not playing like he did in the season for some reason. Montreal’s got — I don’t know if they’ve got his number or what. But he’s not the Rask that I know.
“But here’s the thing that bothers me, is the Bruins were out-hit last night. Imagine the Bruins being out-hit by those little midgets with Montreal. They’re just not ready. And if they’re not ready, it’s going to be a short series.”
|Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick on M&M: ‘Every player dives and embellishes a little,’ including Bruins’ Shawn Thornton||05.01.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick of TSN 690 joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series and accusations that the Habs sell out in an effort to get penalty calls. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Canadiens often are criticized — at least in Boston — for embellishing physical contact in an effort to draw penalties.
“When the Bruins talk into microphones and cameras and are talking about stuff like, ‘We don’t do stuff like that. We don’t dive. We don’t embellish. We don’t do this, we don’t do that.’ Everybody does it. Everybody does it. Shawn Thornton, stand-up guy, he does it. Every player dives and embellishes a little,” Melnick said.
“The fact of the matter is, if you polled players around the league, who’s the most disliked guy on the ice, Brad Marchand probably wins that poll by a mile since Sean Avery was kicked out of the league. And do they respect Brad Marchand? Absolutely. It’s kind of like Boston toward [P.K.] Subban. The bigger the moment, the more P.K. Subban wants that spotlight. Those guys are winning hockey players. On the ice, in the heat of battle, they do things that drive you absolutely up the wall, and you want to strangle them. But there’s a respect factor. As long as they don’t cross the line and do stuff that ends up in a serious injury. These are winning hockey players.”
Subban has become the poster child for Bruins fans’ distaste for the Canadiens’ style. Melnick said Subban “takes a lot of abuse ‘¦ behind the play” and it’s not always visible to fans.
“I’m not trying to defend him. He’s still learning. He’s still a kid,” Melnick said of the 24-year defenseman. “He’s doing things that he won’t do a year from now, or two years from now. But it’s a growing process. And he feels that he gets so much abuse that once in a while he’s got to put some mustard on it.”