|What will Tyler Seguin do in his second year?||08.24.11 at 4:29 am ET|
With captains’ practices just two short weeks from commencing, WEEI.com will be looking at the questions facing the defending Stanley Cup champions in the 2011-12 season.
This time last year, there were plenty of questions on the mind of any Bruins fan. Much like the 2003 Red Sox, the 2009-10 Bruins left a bad taste in fans’ mouths from the heartbreaking fashion in which they were eliminated the season before. As a result, the B’s went out and added a couple of big names (Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin) with the hope that the team that came so close to the conference finals the year before was just a player or two from something special.
So, with all of the anticipation for the 2010-11 campaign came plenty of questions. Would Tim Thomas bounce back from a subpar season, and would hip surgery make a difference? (That one was answered pretty quickly.) Then there was the question of whether Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler would turn in performances better than their underwhelming 2009-10 campaigns. While Wheeler wasn’t around to completely answer the question, Ryder gave as strong a “kind of” as one could by being a healthy scratch at points of a regular season that matched his 18 goals of a season prior, while also being one of the team’s playoff heroes. People wondered how Horton might go about adjusting to a hockey market, whether Claude Julien was the right coach for the team and whether Tuukka Rask could once again be the best goalie (statistically speaking) in the league.
Many of those questions were answered emphatically. Now with a Cup ring thanks largely to his decision to go with a defensive super pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, Julien not only is the right coach for the team but should be considered one of the best coaches in the league. Thomas was the best goaltender this side of any body of water, Ryder and Wheeler have moved on, and Horton played his best when it mattered most. Now that last year’s questions have been answered and captains’ practices are a short two weeks away, it’s worth taking a look at what questions surround the Bruins as they begin their title defense.
First up is a question that will likely be discussed plenty leading into the season: What will Seguin do in his second year?
There are several truths regarding Seguin. He’s the Bruins’ most talented player. He’s essentially their only hope when it comes to those pesky shootouts. He’ll always be compared to Phil Kessel. And, until he is one of the 10 best scorers in the league, people will question the reason why, and such questions will likely be accompanied by some sort of finger-pointing at the coach.
|Andrew Ference has inkling he and Joe Corvo have at least one thing in common||07.20.11 at 3:10 pm ET|
When players begin showing up for captains practices and eventually training camp as the summer winds down and the preseason begins, Andrew Ference, like the other returning players from the Stanley Cup champions, will have a couple of new faces to meet.
Ference will have a new fellow blueliner in defenseman Joe Corvo, for whom the B’s traded a fourth-round pick to the Hurricanes the day Tomas Kaberle signed with Carolina. Ference may not know Corvo personally, but he knows they’ll have a good ice-breaker for when they meet.
“I know he’s got a lot of tattoos, so we’ll be able to swap,” Ference said with a laugh.
Ference, the team’s resident tattoo aficionado, flew his tattoo artist in from Calgary so he and his teammates could commemorate their Stanley Cup championship with ink on breakup day. While many players discussed what types of tattoos they were considering that day, the final tally of players to go through with it was a measly seven, including Ference, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Ference noted that other teammates simply got them on other days, such as Chris Kelly, whom Ference said was set to get his this week.
While a simple google search will show that Seguin and Marchand (the latter of whom rarely wore a shirt in the week that followed the Cup win) got “Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins 6-15-11″ on the side of their ribs, Ference went with a very plain black-and-white spoked B on his right arm.
“Some guys got the writing, and I went with the B,” Ference said. “I don’t know. I left room for more years though.”
Ference will also meet Benoit Pouliot, with whom he’s already had at least one dealing. It was Ference who sparred with Pouliot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after the then-Canadiens forward attempted to hit Johnny Boychuk high on a dangerous play in the corner. Ference isn’t concerned about having any difficulty befriending who was once the enemy, citing the team’s ability to do it in the past.
“We got along fine with Michael Ryder,” Ference pointed out, as Ryder spent his entire career in the Montreal organization before becoming a popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room.
While there are similarities between the two situations of Ryder and Pouliot in that both came to the Bruins after playing for the Habs (Ryder signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the B’s back in the summer of 2008), one would generally be far more skeptical of Pouliot today than they were of Ryder in 2008. Ryder was an established scorer in the NHL, while Pouliot, to borrow a bit of logic from Jack Edwards, has been nothing short of a fantastic bust since being drafted fourth overall by the Wild in 2005. For Pouliot to do anything like Ryder on the stat sheet would make the $1.1 million they dropped on the 24-year a sound investment.
|What will the Bruins do with the ninth pick?||06.24.11 at 3:14 am ET|
As the world continues to have a laugh over pictures of Brad Marchand and the Bruins’ bar tab (did you hear they had a $100,000 bottle of champagne?) to the point where the dead horse couldn’t possibly take another blow, the Stanley Cup champions are getting ready to add a potential franchise player.
The B’s will pick ninth overall in Friday’s NHL draft, finally closing the book on the Phil Kessel trade as they add one of the top players in a draft widely considered to be a notch below that of last year’s. Given that Toronto’s selection is slotted ninth, it’s safe to say the B’s will add one Central Scoutings’ highest-rated players.
Here are the top 15 skaters in this year’s draft accoriding to Central Scouting.
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
4. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)
5. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
6. Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
7. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL)
8. Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
9. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
10. Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
11. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London (OHL)
12. Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
13. Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (Hockey East)
14. Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
15. Zack Phillips, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
And the top five European skaters:
1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
2. Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
3. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden)
4. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland)
5. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, Slavia (Czech Republic)
Of course, Central Scouting isn’t everything, as we saw last year. The top-ranked player (Tyler Seguin) went second overall, and it looks like the Hurricanes weren’t crazy when they drafted the 34th-ranked North American skater (Jeff Skinner) seventh overall.
Whoever the Bruins take with the ninth pick (assuming, as Peter Chiarelli indicated Thursday, they stay put), don’t expect him to be in Boston next season. Chiarelli told reporters in Minnesota that based on the players he expected to be on the board at No. 9, the player the B’s select will not be NHL ready. That means bad news for Seguin, who jokingly expressed hope on breakup day that someone else could be ‘the kid’ next season and that everyone would be on the draft pick’s case instead of his.
Chiarelli said his intention is to draft the best available player, and given that this draft is top-heavy when it comes to defense, that player may be a blueliner. Picking defense would give the B’s a blue-chipper in an area in which it organizationally does not have a sure-fire star in the making, and it would also be somewhat of a deviation for Chiarelli. The highest the Bruins’ GM has selected a defenseman was 35th overall, when the B’s traded up in the second round to grab Tommy Cross 35th overall.
If the B’s spend the ninth pick on a defenseman, you can bet your bippy the Tomas Kaberle rumors will swirl, and there will obviously be two easy arguments. If the team has a young puck-mover (we’ll get to the players below) with star potential a year or two away, perhaps they could try to go with Steven Kampfer next season (and beyond) and let Kaberle walk. On the other hand, the Bruins happen to have just won the Stanley Cup, and the Vezina winner isn’t getting any younger. There isn’t much of a window closing for the Bruins given that they are good and young both offensively and behind Tim Thomas (remember Tuukka Rask?), but they certainly want to win now.
With all that being said, here are some of the guys who have been common Bruins’ selections in mock drafts and/or might make sense for the B’s at No. 9:
Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 166 pounds
2010-11 stats: 63 games, 26 G, 53 A, 79 P, 36 PIM
An offensive-minded defenseman, Murphy’s 26 goals were the most among OHL blueliners this past season. Considered a plus-skater and strong passer, he could eventually offer more than the Bruins are currently getting out of Kaberle on the power play. The Bruins certainly showed in the Kaberle deal that a defenseman who can help the offense is a priority, so landing one for the long term would be a wise move if Murphy is still on the board. Given that he’s ranked 9th by Central Scouting among North American skaters, it could be close. Murphy is also a right-handed shot. The Bruins’ blue line was lefty-dominant last season, with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (and, at points, Kampfer) the only righty defensemen in the lineup.
Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 174 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 12 G, 33 A, 45 P, 52 PIM
Beaulieu is another strong-skating defenseman, though his speed won’t get confused with that of Murphy. He still brings an impressive offensive skill set to the blue line, and he certainly offers more size than Murphy. He would most certainly be the puck-moving defenseman of the future if the B’s were to select him.
Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 175 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 33 G, 73 A, 106 P, 82 PIM
Another center? With the Bruins, you never know. You have to figure that Seguin will eventually become a full-time center once he’s done being eased in, but there are enough question marks in the future to make selecting a center not seem so crazy. Excluding Marc Savard given all the uncertainty, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin are the only pivots signed past next season (David Krejci will be a restricted free agent, while Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell will be unrestricted).
Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-foor-2, 192 pounds
2010-11 stats: 72 games, 5 G, 38 A, 43 P, 121 PIM
The bulkiest of the blueliners featured in this sample, many things you read about about Siemens will suggest he’s behind some of the other defensemen in this draft as far as both development and potential go. Still, he’s strong, and though he doesn’t bring the same bells and whistles that guys like Murphy and Beaulieu do, he could still be a welcome presence on Claude Julien‘s blue line eventually.
|Bruins have one last chance to get traffic in Vancouver||06.15.11 at 3:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins had no problem addressing the elephant in the province Wednesday.
The Bruins don’t play well in British Columbia (specifically Vancouver) — at least they haven’t thus far in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve been sound defensively for the most part, and Tim Thomas has turned in the same type of dominance he’s turned in (three goals against in three losses) anywhere else. Yet the team hasn’t been able to create traffic and set up shop in front of Roberto Luongo, limiting their close-range chances and handing the Vancouver goaltender a pair of easy shutouts.
“It seems like we haven’t brought our physical game here to Vancouver,” native Milan Lucic said. “If we can just focus on that and moving our feet, kind of just playing more of a relaxed game ‘¦ It feels like we’ve been tense the last three times that we’ve played here, so if we can do that I like our chances.”
It was interesting that Lucic admitted to playing tense, as it’s seemed clear that the Bruins’ offense has seemed to be just that on the Rogers Arena ice. If there’s any time for them to break out of it, it’s now.
“I don’t think that we’ve had our best games out here,” Chris Kelly said Wednesday, “so hopefully tonight we can correct that and come out and play our best game.”
It’s been a breeze for the Bruins when it comes to getting in close when playing at home. So why, in Vancouver, have the Canucks been able to box them out as well as they have? And why, in turn, have the Bruins seemingly bought into the mirage that is a stronger Vancouver defense at home?
“I think [it’s been] a bit of both,” Kelly said of whether it’s been the Canucks’ defense or the Bruins’ offense that is to blame for Boston’s lack of traffic in British Columbia. “Give them credit. They’ve done a good job boxing us out, preventing us from getting to the front of the net, but I think we need to battle a little harder and find ways to get there.”
If the Bruins can’t find ways to battle harder, their season will end in so-close-yet-so-far fashion. Coach Claude Julien has sent a message to the B’s since they closed out Game 6. The message?
“Crash ‘n bang,” Tyler Seguin said. “We made our adjustments, and obviously we want to get up in their face a little bit more. I think last time in their building they took it to us more than [we did to them], and we definitely want to respond with just as much if not more physicality.”
Yes, the Bruins have been a different, weaker animal in Vancouver than they have been in Boston. But when it comes to Wednesday night, they have to be aware that with the Stanley Cup just 60 minutes (or more) of hockey away from being theirs, they have to look at it as one game to shine, rather than the fourth game of a rough Vancouver experience.
“That’s kind of why we think it’s a different mindset tonight,” Seguin said, “because it’s just one game.
|Just like in Montreal series, Bruins aren’t panicking down 0-2||06.06.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
If Bruins fans are looking for a reason to remain optimistic, they don’t have to look any further than the first round, when the Bruins overcame an 0-2 series deficit to knock off the Canadiens. Sure, it was against a six-seed rather than the Presidents’ Trophy winner, but the Bruins say they can still draw from the experience.
“Obviously you want to look back at lessons that you’ve learned throughout the season, throughout the playoffs, and look back on experiences that you’ve had,” Chris Kelly said. “I think it’s good that we have experienced this situation before. We’re used to it. It’s nothing new. Obviously it’s not a situation we want to be in, but we are. We know we have to come out and play well.”
That said, Kelly warned against relying on that first-round comeback too much. He said the team recognizes how tough the road ahead is.
“We can’t rely on, ‘Well, we’ve been here before and we managed to pull it off,’ ” he said. “This is a new team, new challenge, and we need to come out with our best effort.”
Claude Julien‘s message to his team now is the same as it’s been all season — stay even-keeled. Julien and the Bruins were praised during the first round for remaining calm and poised after dropping the first two games, and Julien said that needs to happen again.
“You ask your team not to get too high when things are going extremely well and not too low when there’s challenges,” Julien said. “That’s something we’ve been doing throughout the playoffs. It’s helped us through some tough times.”
Julien said that from everything he’s seen, his team is doing just that.
“If you had a chance to go in the dressing room, you noticed that those guys are in pretty good spirits,” Julien said. “We’ve been through it. You always have to find the bright side of things. The bright side of things is we’re down to two teams and we’re one of the two. We’re fortunate and happy to be here. For us to look at it any differently and then come today hanging our heads is ridiculous.
“There’s a lot of time to get back in this series,” he added. “We believe in it. The only thing left is to go out there and show it. That’s what we’re getting ready for, is a big tilt tonight that we think is an important game for us and will hopefully turn this series around.”
There may not have been any biting in Game 2, but there was still plenty going on after the whistle. While Claude Julien and the Bruins players downplayed the significance of the league’s decision to not suspend Alexandre Burrows, Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre chose to mock the whole incident by sticking his fingers in Patrice Bergeron‘s face after a whistle and appearing to offer him a bite.
When asked about the incident on Monday, Julien initially said he wasn’t going to say much about it, but then he went on to say quite a bit.
“If it’s acceptable for them [to do that], then so be it,” Julien said. “It certainly wouldn’t be acceptable on our end of it. I think you know me enough to know that. … The NHL rules on something. If they decide to make a mockery of it, that’s totally up to them. If that’s their way of handling things, so be it.”
When asked to respond to Julien’s comments, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault denied having any knowledge of the incident.
“If that happened in between whistles, I didn’t see it,” Vigneault said. “I focus on the play that’s going on between whistles, so I can’t really comment on that.”
Lapierre also took the easy way out by giving a “no comment” when asked about the incident.
In the Bruins’ room, Chris Kelly said everyone has pretty much come to expect that kind of behavior from Lapierre.
“That’s nothing new with him,” Kelly said. “We know what type of player he is. It is what it is.”
Taunting opponents might be unacceptable to Julien, but getting caught up in it or worrying about getting revenge would be just as bad, according to Julien.
“We can’t waste our time on that kind of stuff,” Julien said. “We really have to focus on what we have to do. The last time I looked, we’re down two games to none. All our energy has to go towards that.”
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
- Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara