|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins would have made playoffs with Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk||04.13.15 at 1:05 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire joined Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins failure to make the playoffs and the decisions that face the team in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins sat in playoff position heading into the last three games of the season but failed to win any of them and were passed by the Senators. This marks the first year the B’s have missed the postseason since 2008 season.
“I took the Bruins to make the playoffs, I thought the Bruins would have a great run,” McGuire said. “I’m totally wrong on that, they did not. But I think one of the ways you can track it, the two players that they lost.”
Before the season, Bruins management allowed free agent forward Jarome Iginla to leave and traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for draft picks.
“I think the biggest thing is, I’m looking at it this season and I’m seeing 29 goals from Jarome Iginla that are in Colorado, and I’m seeing over 22 minutes a game from Johnny Boychuk and nine goals with the New York Islanders and over 35 points with the New York Islanders,” McGuire said. “Just those two players alone, you lose those two players for nothing basically, and that basically tilts your season, especially when you compound it with all the injuries the Bruins had.”
Added McGuire: “Let’s just say for the sake of argument that [Iginla] only scores 15. I guarantee you those 15 goals get you in the playoffs. … Boychuk, let’s just say that he only plays 16 minutes a game rather than 22. He’s still going to give you 35 points.”
|Bruins lament failure of season||04.11.15 at 11:34 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — The Bruins never gained traction this season and now it’s over. Though injuries and the team’s coaches/management will be blamed for the team’s demise, the team’s motor was seemingly busted all season.
“When you don’t make the playoffs, you’ve failed,” Claude Julien said after the Bruins finished ninth in the Eastern Conference.
For all the team’s inconsistency this season, the Bruins were in control of a playoff spot entering the final week of the season. Boston sat third in the Atlantic Division entering their season-ending three-game road trip, but regulation losses in Washington and Florida left the Bruins needing teams like the Senators and Penguins to lose in order for Boston to get in.
That didn’t happen and the Bruins got what was coming.
“I really don’t have an answer,” Chris Kelly said. “You’d think at the most critical time, we’d be playing our best hockey, and that wasn’t the case. It was in our hands and we let it get away. This is ultimately what happens.”
Kelly and other leaders called out the team at multiple points in an effort to return to the success of seasons past, but their efforts rarely took.
“I mean, you talk about it all the time. You talk about, ‘We need to have everybody going. We need to do this, we need to do that,’ and at the end of the day I just think a lot of it is mental,” Tuukka Rask said. “We never really got to that comfort zone. It seemed like we were nervous a lot of times out there and just couldn’t overcome that as a team. It’s frustrating, but I really don’t know why that happened.”
Now, the Bruins will not play postseason hockey for the first time since 2006-07.
“We could have been better. We could have been more consistent throughout the year,” Zdeno Chara said. “It’s been a tough year for us all around. I think everybody could have been better.”
TAMPA, Fla. — By all accounts, the Bruins treated Friday like a regular off-day: no big team-dinner, no major group outing, just a day to clear their heads.
When they awoke Saturday, some of the shock of their situation had subsided. Whether overcompensating or genuinely confident, Claude Julien sported his bravest face in the team’s morning skate as he and his players held on to the slightest bit of hope that they could still find a way into the playoffs. With the Penguins losing in regulation Friday, the Bruins are at least feeling a little better than they did following Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Panthers. No matter what happens with Ottawa or Pittsburgh Saturday, however, the Bruins must beat the Lightning Saturday in addition to getting help.
“It’s pretty obvious that you have an opportunity here tonight,” Julien said. “I don’t think you need to go back on the last game. I think our first period was the energy that we needed; we just couldn’t sustain it for three periods, so you end up with a loss. Do you keep going back to that or do you keep going to the excitement and the excitement that you have tonight. I think that’s what we’ve got to do here as a team.”
The Bruins did not do line rushes in Saturday’s morning skate. All that is known is that Tuukka Rask will start and the only six defensemen on the roster will play. How the forward lines look and who will be scratched up front is unknown.
On the other side, the Bruins may catch a bit of a break if Jonathan Drouin doesn’t play. The star rookie left wing was not at Saturday’s morning skate and is under the weather. His status for the game is unknown, but Tampa did recall Jonathan Marchessault on an emergency basis. Defensemen Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison, as well as forward Jason Killorn, are all out with injuries.
If the Penguins lose to the Sabres in regulation and the Bruins get any kind of win, Boston will get in over Pittsburgh. If the Penguins lose in overtime or a shootout, the Bruins could get in with a regulation or overtime win. The other scenario in which Boston could sneak into the playoffs would be with a regulation or overtime win and a Senators regulation loss to the Flyers.
Either scenario would result in the Bruins getting a wild card spot. Should they reach the playoffs, they will play either the Rangers or the Canadiens in the first round.
They know that is unlikely. In the meantime, they will try to earn a bit of luck with their best effort of the season.
“There is something to play for tonight. We have to take that mentality into the night that there’s still a lot on the line and we need to win a hockey game in order to hopefully end up in the playoff picture,” Milan Lucic said. “Obviously, some things have to happen. It’s not the situation that we want to be in. Again, some things can happen. It always seems like we always have to do things the hard way. Here’s one of those situations again.”
|Peter Chiarelli unsure of his future, feels Claude Julien has ‘done fine’||04.10.15 at 3:04 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli met with reporters for over 17 minutes Friday, marking the team’s only media availability for the day.
The Bruins are all but eliminated from playoff contention. They need to both win Saturday and see either the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins get no more than one point in their final two games. As such, there was ample reflection on this season’s issues, but Chiarelli stressed that he did not want have what he called the “postmortem” conversation until following the season.
Chiarelli’s job seemingly has been on the line since Charlie Jacobs said the entire organization was under review in January and that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable. Asked whether Chiarelli thought he would stay with the Bruins, he expressed uncertainty.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” Chiarelli said. “I’m operating [as if] I am [staying] until they tell me that I’m not.”
Claude Julien could also be on the hot seat despite receiving a contract extension in November. Chiarelli spoke to the job he’s done and noted that the group has collectively cultivated its current circumstances.
“I think he’s done fine,” Chiarelli said. “I look at a couple things. I think he’s mixed and matched with the lines, I think he’s integrated some youth into the forward lines. I think he’s done well mixing and matching on the defensive pairs. None of us lately have been used to these type of circumstances, myself included. I think he’s done fine. I don’t want to get into postmortem discussion. We’ll have the chance [for that]. It’s been disappointing and obviously it’s not acceptable and there’s a level of high standard in our city and our market and we haven’t reached it right now.”
|Claude Julien: ‘Have a look at the roster’||04.09.15 at 11:08 pm ET|
After the Bruins lost in regulation to the Panthers on Thursday, Julien batted down a question about his Bruins handling big moments better in the past than they have this season. In doing so, he pointed out that past teams had better players.
“I don’t think we have the same team we’ve had in the past,” Julien said. “You guys can talk about that; have a look at the roster. It’s not the same. We can’t live in the past. That’s what we’re trying to do here: work with the guys that we have. We’ve got a lot of young players and we’ve got a lot of players that haven’t played for expectations right now.
“It’s still not too late. You’ve got to win the next game and hope that you get some help and move forward here. We can hang our heads here all we want, but the bottom line is that we’ve got to regroup and think about winning ourselves a hockey game the next game, because if not, then I’m disappointed in all of us for not thinking that way.”
Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk were the biggest absences from last year’s team. Both players left due to salary cap constraints, as Chiarelli let Iginla walk in free agency and traded Boychuk to the Islanders.
Julien didn’t say anything that wasn’t already known, as Chiarelli knew he wouldn’t be able to ice as potent a roster as the B’s had a season ago. The Bruins are paying nearly $5 million in dead money against the cap this season because of last season’s bonuses ($4.2 million of which were for Iginla).
Still, Chiarelli stressed in December that despite the B’s having parted with some of last season’s players, the roster was still good enough to play better.
“They’ve underperformed,” Chiarelli told WEEI.com in December. “The roster’s not markedly different from last year. There’s a couple of notable players [gone], but there are a lot of teams that have less cumulative money spent than us that are doing better than us.
“Listen, things go in cycles, right? I understand that you can’t hit it out of the ballpark all the time, and myself included.”
The Bruins need to win Saturday and get help from other teams in order to make the playoffs. Either the Penguins must get one or zero points over their final two games or the Senators need to lose their season finale to the Flyers in regulation.
|Bruins prepare for critical meeting with Panthers||at 6:40 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins say they understand the threat that exists of them missing the playoffs. Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, their 81st game of the season, needs to be their biggest push.
That means the B’s can’t have the start they did Wednesday, when two poor play with the puck and coverage lapses put them in an early deficit from which they never recovered.
“I think [we need to] come out a lot more focused,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “Playing the way we’re supposed to, which is getting pucks deep and managing the puck a lot better than we did.”
The Bruins enter Thursday’s game tied with the Senators with 95 points through 80 games on the season. A playoff berth could be secured either by Boston winning both its final games or by the B’s finishing with more points in the next two games than the Senators.
“To this point, I think if we win the next two games I don’t think anyone will even be talking about this anymore,” Brad Marchand said. “That’s [easier] said [than] done. We’ve got a lot of really good leadership in there that we can follow going into games like tonight.”
Both the B’s and Senators are in action Thursday, as the Senators will face a Rangers team that has already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and is resting Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Mats Zuccarello.
Perhaps the Rangers would prefer the Senators to the Bruins as a first-round opponent. Letting their players rest while improving Ottawa’s playoff chances could kill two birds with one stone.
“I’m not following what other teams do around the league,” Chara said. “Usually that’s the case for many teams, but we have to focus on what we have to do.”
|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.”