|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.
|Not tired yet: B’s chase Roberto Luongo, force Game 7||06.13.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins weren’t ready to see their season end or willing to watch the Canucks raise the Stanley Cup on their ice Monday and it showed, as they chased Roberto Luongo at the Garden again in a 5-2 win at TD Garden to force a Game 7 of the finals. The Cup winner will be determined at Rogers Arena in Vancouver Wednesday night.
Brad Marchand opened the scoring at 5:31 with his third goal in the last four games. With nine goals this postseason, he has set the postseason record for a Bruins rookie.
Milan Lucic followed with a goal of his own at 6:06, and an Andrew Ference power-play goal at 8:35 ended Luongo’s night early in favor of Cory Schneider. Luongo has now gotten the hook in two games this series, both of which were at the Garden.
Michael Ryder and David Krejci chipped in goals as well, with Krejci’s coming on the power play in the third period. The Canucks got contributions on the scoreboard from Henrik Sedin (his first point of the finals) and Maxim Lapierre. Tim Thomas has now allowed eight goals over six games this series.
Wednesday night will be the Bruins’ third Game 7 in four rounds this postseason,as they eliminated both the Canadiens and Lightning in seven games. The Canucks beat the Blackhawks in seven games, their only seven-game series this postseason.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Luongo was bad once again, and it seemed that all it took was Marchand’s goal, an absolute rifle glove-side, so open up the floodgates. The Bruins certainly have a way of getting to the highly-scrutinized Canucks netminder in Boston, as he has now allowed 15 goals in less than two games’ worth of play at TD Garden this series. The problem when it comes to the play of Luongo vs. the Bruins, of course, is that he has not had such issues in Vancouver. He’s allowed just two goals over three games and has posted two shutouts.
– The Bruins talked a lot about getting more traffic in front of the net after being shut out in Game 5, and they certainly did that Monday night. Their third and fourth goals came as the direct result of having bodies in front. Mark Recchi set a perfect screen on Ference’s power-play goal that chased Luongo from the game. A minute later Ryder got in front of Schneider and tipped Tomas Kaberle‘s shot into the top corner. Needless to say, continuing to get traffic to the net will be a key for the Bruins in Game 7.
– A couple of nice statistical nights for the defensemen. Kaberle had a pair of assists on the night, giving him 11 points this postseason — the most among Boston defensemen. Ference led all B’s in ice time.
On a more peculiar note (and this may not necessarily be bad), Dennis Sieidenberg didn’t see the ice from until 1:22 of the third period until 11:32 and was not on the bench for a time. We’ll see whether this was equipment or injury-related.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– While the Bruins dominated the first period with relative ease, but Vancouver did come to life from there. The Canucks seemed to regain focus with Schneider in net and spent far more time in the Bruins’ zone. Three power plays will do that, but it should be taken as a sign that just because Luongo collapses, doesn’t mean the hole team does. The Canucks outshot the B’s, 11-8, in the second period and opened the third period by finally getting on the board.
Jannik Hansen thought he had made it 4-2 shortly after, though his shot rang off the post and bounced back as though it had gone in and out. Were it not for the Canucks handing the B’s a 1:13 two-man advantage (on which Krejci scored) with 13:49 to play, the Canucks could have really put a serious fight to make it a close one.
– The idea of a brother Sedin scoring on the power play was something people were prepared to get used to entering the series, but the Bruins had done an excellent job of keeping both the Sedins and the Canucks’ power play silent. Henrik got plenty fancy in beating Thomas for his third-period goal. The tally was his third goal of the postseason and his 22nd point, putting him in a tie with Krejci for the postseason lead in the latter category until Krejci scored to jump back ahead.
– For the first time in his NHL career, Patrice Bergeron was called for four penalties in one game, three of them in the second period. First he was whistled for goaltender interference when he steamrolled Schneider while trying to tip home a centering pass. Then he went off for hauling down Ryan Kesler behind the play. And in the final minute of the period, his elbow came up a little too high while throwing a hit on Christian Ehrhoff. In the third, he and Alexandre Burrows earned matching minors for extracurriculars after the Bruins’ fifth goal. The eight penalty minutes were a new career-high for Bergeron, beating his previous high of seven on April 18, 2009, against the Canadiens. That was also a playoff game — Game 2 of what became a four-game sweep.
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
Everyone knew the loss of Nathan Horton was going to be a big blow for the Bruins. But after Rich Peverley scored two goals while playing on the top line in Game 4, some of the questions about how the Bruins were going to replace Horton subsided. Then they rose right back to the surface after the top line — along with the rest of the offense — was shut down in Game 5.
Although Peverley is the one who has scored on the first line that includes mainstays David Krejci and Milan Lucic, he hasn’t been a permanent fixture there. Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin have also seen time there in the two-plus games since Horton went down. Krejci admitted Monday that it has been tough playing with new right wings after having Horton on his flank pretty much all season.
“As a line, me and Looch have basically played every time with a different guy, so it’s hard to get the chemistry going,” Krejci said. “Obviously you like to have your linemates and stick with them so you can get chemistry going, but it’s kind of hard to do. With the power plays and PKs, it’s tough to get us there together.”
Krejci said he was hoping that being at home Monday night and having the last change would help stabilize the lines a little bit, but Claude Julien said that isn’t necessarily something he’s trying to do.
“It’s been by design,” Julien said when asked about the revolving door. “We talked about that when Horton went down. I had to use different players, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Although Lucic agreed with Krejci about the adjustment not being easy, he said they’re not going to use it as an excuse for anything.
“It’s tough because we’re obviously used to Nathan being there on our right side, and the same game you have Peverley, Ryder and Seguin on the right side,” Lucic said. “But you don’t want to make excuses. Everybody has to do their part when we’re out there. We still have to play the same way we always do. Not much is going to change tonight, so we’re going to have to find a way.”
|Bruins-Canucks Game 6 preview: 6 keys, stats and players||at 4:03 am ET|
The Bruins are playing in either their last game or second to last game Monday. Either way, it will be the finale at the Garden as the B’s look to fend off elimination and force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, which would be played back in British Columbia. Here’s the preview of Monday’s contest.
SIX THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Make it about quality, not quantity: Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has faced 30 or more shots in each of his shutouts in the finals, and both of those blankings have been cakewalks. The Bruins need to establish a physical presence, create traffic and get in front to beat the Vezina finalist.
– Don’t let the Cup make an appearance: Everyone knows the Stanley Cup will be in the house Monday night, but the Bruins’ worst nightmare has to be watching Alexandre Burrows, Luongo and the rest of the perceived bad guys skate around with it on their ice.
– Remember their Game 6 experience: It’s as cliche as it gets to say that the last win is the hardest in a series, but the Bruins should know. Both the Canadiens and Lightning didn’t let the Bruins storm into their home and eliminate them, so the B’s will need the same desperation that beat them in those games.
– Remind everyone of Games 3 and 4: The Bruins were able to make things very difficult for the Vancouver defense and Luongo in the two games here, but Vancouver tightened back up defensively back at Rogers Arena, while the B’s stiffened up offensively.
– Give Tyler Seguin time on the power play: It’s the one place he won’t be afraid of getting hit and can focus just on using his talent. The B’s went 0-for-4 on the man advantage Friday in Vancouver, with Seguin getting only 12 seconds on the power play.
– Use Zdeno Chara in front on the power play: It may not have yielded results the last time around, but it’s worth using from time to time. If the Bruins can’t even get set up as it is, can it get much worse?
– The Bruins have won nine of their last 10 home games dating back to Game 5 of the quarterfinals.
– Dennis Seidenberg‘s only goal this postseason came in Game 6 of the quarterfinals, and it was Boston’s only goal in the 2-1 Canadiens win.
– Though David Krejci leads the NHL with 22 postseason points, he’s only registered points in a loss twice. His hat trick in Game 6 of the conference finals made for three of the four points in games the Bruins have dropped this postseason.
– Despite missing two games due to a concussion, Patrice Bergeron leads all Bruins with 62 shots on goal this postseason.
– Henrik Sedin has gone five straight games without a point for the first time since the 2007 postseason. He had two such stretches in 12 games in those playoffs. The last time he went six games without a point was from Nov. 29-Dec. 20, 2003.
– Daniel Sedin has gone three straight games without a point three times this season, including once in the playoffs. He has not going four games without a point since Feb. 4-11 of the 2009-10 season.
SIX PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Milan Lucic: After not showing up in Game 5, Lucic has to have the best game of his life Monday. If something is ailing him, then it’s commendable that he’s played through it, but the B’s need their best players to be the best players on the ice. Not having Nathan Horton is bad enough, and the B’s not be able to survive with another zero-shot performance like Friday’s.
Brad Marchand: The rookie needs to be the royal pain he’s been all season, and he also needs to come out flying the way he did when he dominated Game 4. It had seemed he was on a roll with goals in two straight games, but apparently Rogers Arena is where any positive Bruins trend goes to die. Marchand has three shots on goal over his last three games, though two have gone in.
Tim Thomas: It’s hard to ask any more of Thomas, who it seems will be getting the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’s allowed six goals in the finals and could conceivably lose the series having allowed just seven goals in seven games.
Alexandre Burrows: The refs shouldn’t look at any plays involving this guy based on his diving. It seems the refs looked the other way with Burrows got cross-checked by the net.
Raffi Torres: The third-liner has three shots on goal this series, but one of them went in to seal Game 1 for the Canucks. He has two assists in the last three games.
Roberto Luongo: The mechanic himself did not have success the last time he was at the Garden, and he might need to show up big after letting up 12 goals in Games 3 and 4. If Luongo were to clinch the Cup for the Canucks with a shutout Monday, that would be quite remarkable given that it would be his third this postseason.
|Bruins-Canucks Game 4 preview: 4 keys, stats and players to watch||06.08.11 at 2:20 am ET|
The Bruins, coming off an 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, have a chance to tie the series up Wednesday in Boston. Thus far in the playoffs, the Bruins have followed up their first win of a series with another one the next day. Here is a preview of Game 4:
FOUR THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Figure out life after Nathan Horton, and fast: At the very least, David Krejci and Milan Lucic will be playing with someone they haven’t played with much this season, so they’ll need to click fast. Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley seem to be the best options.
– Beat them physically, but watch out: The refs are going to be on extra lookout for extra curricular stuff. The Canucks might want to entice the Bruins, but the B’s have to keep in mind that the other guys aren’t interested in fighting as much as they are in drawing penalties. As for the finger stuff, there probably aren’t many players who want to be the one that ends up costing his team a goal because he stuck his fingers in another players’ mouth.
– Keep the pedal to the metal on the power play: The Bruins have now scored power play goals in back-to-back games for just he second time this postseason. The other time occurred in Games 3 and 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers.
– Treat it as a must-win: The Bruins can either tie the series or end up going to Vancouver down three games to one. It would be hard to imagine the B’s overcoming such a deficit, so the level of desperation has to be high on Wednesday night.
– The Canucks outshot the Bruins, 41-38, in Game 3. The B’s are now 10-4 in games in which they’ve been outshot. They had a 6-0 mark in such games through the first two rounds, and have gone 4-4 when being outshot the last two rounds.
– Tim Thomas allowed five goals in the team’s Game 6 loss to the Lightning. Since then, he’s allowed five goals over four games.
– Former Boston College and Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts has had a negative rating in four of the five games he’s played this postseason. The 16:28 he played in Game 3 made for a postseason high. Part of that is a result of the team having five defensemen for all but five minutes of the game.
– Chris Kelly‘s goal in Game 3 was his first since removing the full cage from his helmet. Kelly had four goals while wearing the cage, but had gone 11 straight games without a goal, nine of which were cageless. Now, the curse of the cageless Kelly can be laid to rest.
FOUR PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tyler Seguin: The rookie hasn’t registered a point since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, and he hasn’t played particularly well since Game 3 of that series. Now his scoring ability is more of a need for the Bruins than a luxury with Horton out.
– Roberto Luongo: Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn’t want to pull Luongo, and Luongo didn’t want his coach to pull him on a night in which the floodgates opened wide. Now it’s a matter of how he bounces back. There’s no history to guide this one, as he had never allowed eight goals before, and the only time in which he allowed seven was Game 6 against the Blackhawks last year in the second round, a contest in which Vancouver was eliminated.
– Henrik and Daniel Sedin: It has to have dawned on the Sedin twins that they haven’t been their dominant selves this series. Aside from a two-point performance in Game 2 from Daniel, the Sedin twins have been kept off the scoring sheet. Daniel has an even rating this series, while Henrik has only a minus-1 rating and a big hit from Thomas in Game 3 to show for himself.
|Only one game? Bruins’ first-liners feel slighted||06.03.11 at 7:22 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins are three days into the Stanley Cup finals, and they’re already sick of the way it’s being perceived.
After losing Game 1 in a contest that was scoreless for all but 18.5 seconds, a couple of members of the Bruins’ first line made it clear Friday at the University of British Columbia that the press might not be giving them a fair enough shake.
“You know, it’s clear that you guys aren’t giving us much of a chance,” Milan Lucic said. “We’ve just got to do whatever we can to prove people wrong.”
The B’s top line has played against the Canucks’ second line of Ryan Kesler between Mason Raymond and Christopher Higgins. How the Bruins will deal with Kesler, a 41-goal-scorer in the regular season, has been a popular topic in the series. The series may be young, but Krejci is already sick of hearing about Kesler.
“He’s the best player in the world, right? That’s what it looks like,” Krejci said when asked about playing against Kesler. “That’s why everybody’s asking me about him. It’s not about him. Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s a really good player, but my game is to focus on my game and what I have to do, and not about other guys.”
Kesler poked a puck past Johnny Boychuk at the blue line Wednesday and hit Jannik Hansen with a pass, who then set up an easy Raffi Torres goal with Tim Thomas respecting Hansen’s shot. Krejci noted that for all the attention the second line receives, Kesler was playing with third-liners (the team was in the midst of a line change) on the game-winning goal, and that it was a closer game than he feels people are remembering.
“It was a zero-zero game all the way,” Krejci said. “You guys are making such a big deal that we lost. I mean, it could have gone either way. His line, I know he got an apple, but he was with the two other guys from another line.”
Krejci and Nathan Horton each had five shots on goal in Game 1, which tied for tops on the Bruins. Many of those shots came on the power play, but the play of the line in general was a strong point for the B’s on a night in which nobody could beat Roberto Luongo.
“It’s still good,” Krejci said. “We’d like to have over 10 shots every game, but I feel like we can maybe bring a little more to our game, especially create some chances. I don’t think we had that many great scoring chances the last game.”
Due to concerts at Rogers Arena, the home of the Canucks, the teams have had to deal with a two-day gap between Games 1 and 2. Lucic noted that he’s blocked out any chatter in that time and is focused on giving the media something positive to talk about after Saturday’s Game 2.
“Obviously we can’t control what you guys say,” Lucic said. “That’s why we try not to watch or read too much of what you guys say. For us, it’s definitely a big opportunity going into Game 2. We know we have to play better. We need to play better. We need to play the way we did prior coming into this series to give ourselves a chance to win.
“They finished first in the league, in the standings, for a reason,” he said of the Canucks. “They beat the three teams before us to get here for a reason. They’re a really good team. They beat us in Game 1 because they played better than us.”
Whether or not the media has actually been hard on the B’s, it looks like the two days off have the Bruins itching to get back on the ice in Game 2 and show that they can hang with the Canucks. For 49 minutes and just over 17 seconds, they did on Wednesday.