|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘Zdeno [Chara] is not the same player that he was’||03.26.15 at 2:00 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their run to make the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Part of the struggles for the Bruins this season has been the play of defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. McGuire feels Chara isn’t the same player as he’s been in the past, as he is now 38 years old.
“Zdeno [Chara] is not the same player that he was,” McGuire said. “He’s having a harder time maintaining lots of ice time. He’s making mistakes we’re not used to seeing him make in terms of turnovers below the goal line from the hash mark down to the goal line. He’s losing guys in coverage. Getting beat wide which we haven’t seen a lot of him over the years because of that long stick.
“I don’t think he has the quickness in confined areas that he used to have and again, that doesn’t mean he can’t get it back, but it hasn’t been there for him and I am huge a Dennis Seidenberg fan and Dennis has not been the same player and I think a lot of that is because of injury more than anything else, I really believe that.”
David Krejci is likely to return to the lineup Thursday night, and the Bruins now need to find a place for him to play. McGuire says it will be an “experiment” to see where exactly he will fit in and on which line.
“I think it’s going to be an experiment,” McGuire said. “I think you’re going to take your time. I don’t think you want take away Ryan Spooner’s ice time. You don’t want to take [Patrice] Bergeron‘s ice time. You need [Carl] Soderberg to deliver for you and Gregory Campbell plays a different role. It is going to be very interesting to see how they do it. I probably would start him playing on the wing with Bergeron just because he won’t have to do a lot of the defensive heavy lifting that a center man has to do because he has Patrice there to help him out and it’s an easier position to play up high. We’ll see. Let’s be honest, Reilly Smith would be the first person to tell you he has not had a sterling season.”
As for the current status of the team, the Bruins are currently out of the playoffs in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a point behind the Senators for the final spot. With nine games left in the regular-season, the team will need to get things going in a hurry in order to make the postseason.
“It’s not going well for them at all,” said McGuire. “There will be a lot of people watching the scoreboard tonight between Anaheim and Boston. This is not the position I’ll say just me in particular, I never thought the Bruins would be in this position. Even though I knew they would have a hard time replacing Jarome’s [Iginla] 30 goals, and he’s at 25 this year playing on a Colorado team that won’t make the playoffs and doesn’t have nearly the fire power that Boston does. But, he’s going to get 30 again, so replacing his 30 I thought would be tough and the Johnny Boychuk stuff would be tough, but I thought they would find a way doing it by committee, but they haven’t been able to do it. It’s been very disappointing.”
Bruins right wing Brett Connolly was initially expected to miss six weeks after a Dennis Seidenberg wrist shot left him with a broken finger in his second practice as a member of the Bruins earlier this month. On Thursday, Connolly skated with his teammates for the first time since the injury, following one order.
“Stay away from Seids,” Connolly recalled his teammates warning him.
Now that the initial despair from Connolly’s bad luck has turned into something he can joke about, his attention has been turned to an eventual return — or debut, rather — that could come sooner than initially thought.
After getting back on the ice last Monday and working extensively with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, Connolly’s progress from his surgically-repaired finger is apparent. Though he hasn’t taken contact, he’s handling the puck and shooting. Connolly is not yet taking slap shots, but slappers aren’t a priority for the right wing. Once he feels he can properly grip the stick (he says his comfort level there is at 60 percent), be able to fire wristers and snap shots to the best of his abilities and participate in battle drills, he wants to play.
Ideally, Connolly said he would be back able to play again in the final week of the regular season.
“I hope so,” he said of a regular-season return. “I’m not too sure yet. My timetable, I know I’m getting closer, so I’m expecting to be back a few games before this regular season [ends], but we’ll see.”
Claude Julien wasn’t overly forthright regarding Connolly’s timetable and whether he’s ahead of schedule. He did say the Bruins have been encouraged with what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old and that they’re eager to see him play.
The acquisition of Connolly at the trade deadline was an intriguing one for the Bruins. Though trading for the former sixth overall pick (and restricted free agent to-be) was more of a hockey deal for future seasons than a typical deadline acquisition, he was expected to slot into the lineup as a potential top-six right for the B’s down the stretch.
That obviously hasn’t happened, and Connolly has instead experienced a slow acclimation process to the team and the city. The Bruins are not yet bringing him on road trips, but Connolly said he’s established good relationships with his teammates, even if he’s spent more time with Whitesides than with any actual players.
“I’ve been here for almost a month, so the guys have been great,” Connolly said. “I’ve gotten comfortable with not only guys, but the city and knowing your way around, knowing your way to the practice facility and things like that. Just little things that make you a little bit more comfortable. It’s obviously not been the three weeks I would have envisioned, but I’ve gotten to know the city a little bit, get to know my teammates a little bit better.
“I’m excited to play that first game. Obviously we’re in a playoff hunt, so I’m looking to get back out there as soon as I can.”
|Dennis Seidenberg on trade deadline rumors: ‘You can never feel safe no matter what’||03.03.15 at 6:15 pm ET|
The Bruins might be wise to explore trading Dennis Seidenberg this offseason. By all indications, they didn’t try it at the trade deadline.
Nick Kypreos speculated on Sportsnet last month that the Bruins were trying to dump Seidenberg in order to shed cap space before the trade deadline, but that was likely untrue. The Bruins never approached Seidenberg about waiving his no-trade clause and the team was not going to sell this season.
Still, it got Seidenberg’s attention.
“When your name pops up, you always think, but I hadn’t heard anything from here, which is the most important thing,” Seidenberg said Tuesday. “[The media’s] job is to write stuff and get conversation going, and people jump on that.”
Seidenberg is in the first year of a four-year, $16 million deal. He has a no-trade clause that he has said in the past he’d waive if the Bruins asked him to. His goal, however, is for it to not come to that.
“You can never feel safe no matter what — if you have a no-trade clause or not,” the 33-year-old said. “That’s why you always want to play your guts out and try to do your best to make it as hard as possible for them to trade you.”
Even if a team in better playoff standing had traded for the veteran defenseman, Seidenberg said that he considers the Bruins to be in as good a shape for a deep run as anyone else.
“This is where I want to be,” Seidenberg said. “This is the team I want to be on. I never doubted that I was going to leave. We’re a very tight group, and we’re going to pick it up and we’re going to play solid hockey. We all want to and hopefully it will happen.”
|David Krejci injury could change way Bruins deal with free agents to-be||02.24.15 at 10:29 am ET|
Peter Chiarelli likes to sign his pending unrestricted free agents before they go into their walk years. It’s a tactic that saved the Bruins a lot of money when he re-upped both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron before they helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2010-11.
Yet with the news of David Krejci‘s partially torn MCL that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks, the Bruins are learning for the second straight year that waiting a bit to sign a player has its benefits too.
The Bruins gave Dennis Seidenberg, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after last season, a four-year, $16 million at the start of the 2013-14 season. At the time, the fourth year looked like it could potentially be a problem down the road, but given the reasonable $4 million cap hit for the trusty No. 2 defenseman, no one batted an eye.
Seidenberg tore his ACL in December of that season. He most likely would have still gotten even more money than he signed for had he hit free agency (here’s your daily reminder that Brooks Orpik, who is older than Seidenberg, got five years and $27.5 million, and he’s Brooks Orpik), but the fact that Seidenberg signed before the season showed his preference to stay with Boston. Had the Bruins waited to sign him, perhaps they would have gotten him on a better deal, or perhaps the Bruins would have chosen to try to sign Johnny Boychuk and let Seidenberg walk.
Now, Seidenberg’s deal is viewed as one of the worst contracts the Bruins have. His play has dropped significantly and he looks like he would be more at home on a third pairing. The Bruins could probably move him if they wanted to, but his contract – the very one that looked good at the time of its signing — could hurt his trade value.
It’s hard to imagine the Bruins experiencing the same thing with Krejci, but it’s fair to say his price tag would have been lower after the most injury-plagued season of his career. Krejci, who signed a pretty team-friendly six-year, $43.5 million contract before the start of the season, had already missed 20 games due to lower-body injuries this season prior to getting hurt again in Friday’s loss to the Blues.
No matter what happened with Krejci this season, he would have been the best free-agent center if he made it to free agency this summer. His only competition already signed in Jason Spezza, so even with the injuries, Krejci would have easily gotten six years and $43.5 million this summer. In fact, he probably still would have gotten a lot more than that.
Next season, Milan Lucic will be the Bruins’ biggest-name free-agent-to-be. The Bruins need to think long and hard before determining whether he’d be worth whatever money he would command, but it is a no-brainer to opt against signing him before the season. Lucic has not lived up to his $6 million cap hit this season and the team shouldn’t carelessly throw him into the group of players they perceive to be their core.
If they go into the season with Lucic playing for a contract, they can use the opening months of the season to further evaluate the player while potentially getting the elevated performance that often comes when players are looking for a pay day. At the very least, they would avoid signing a player just before they get hurt.
|Report: Bruins shopping Dennis Seidenberg, Loui Eriksson||02.18.15 at 8:25 am ET|
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported Tuesday night that the Bruins are considering trading defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and right wing Loui Eriksson prior to the March 2 trade deadline, but a source with knowledge of the situation told WEEI.com Wednesday that the B’s haven’t talked to either player about potentially waiving their no-trade clauses.
“Nothing but rumors,” the source said of Kypreos’ report.
Kypreos said the motivation behind trading both players is to free up cap space for a potential addition this season or to have more space in the offseason when they have to re-sign a number of players.
“They still want to add a depth forward, a guy that can give them a bit of a presence, so what does that mean? They’ve got to still move some salary out and the name I’m hearing now is Dennis Seidenberg,” Kypreos said. “He’s been a great guy for them the last few years, really solidified himself there with Chara the last few years as a pair, but he still has $12 million to go on a contract, and he’s not that well. Something’s got to give, maybe they’ve got to move him out before they can move someone else.”
Kypreos went on to say that Eriksson’s name is “out there” in trade discussions as well.
Seidenberg, 33, is in the first year of a four-year, $16 million deal, while the 29-year-old Eriksson is signed through next season at a $4.25 million cap hit.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins ‘unbelievably difficult team to play against’||01.15.15 at 2:05 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins’ recent hot streak and to talk about rookie forward David Pastrnak. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins have won four games in a row and are starting to get into a nice rhythm. Even with their struggles early on, McGuire remained optimistic, so their turnaround isn’t much of a surprise to him.
“I really like the way the coaching staff has developed the roles for the players, so you’re seeing now [Carl] Soderberg evolve into the role I think they had envisioned for him,” McGuire said. “I think Gregory Campbell is getting into the role they envisioned for him. Daniel Paille same thing. Milan [Lucic] has really picked up the pace of his game physically. Getting [Zdeno] Chara back, he seems to be getting a little more comfortable with the timing issues that he might have had earlier. That helps you a lot. That puts players deeper on the depth chart in terms of minutes played, so I do.
“It is pretty much the way I envisioned this team. I still think it’s an unbelievably difficult team to play against. They are rounding into form.”
One of the players who has stepped up of late has been Pastrnak, as he has put up four goals in two games. He also thrived at the World Junior tournament earlier last month, scoring a goal and two assists in five games. McGuire says playing in that tournament can help a player prove he can play at the next level. He also doesn’t believe for a second the Bruins would send him down to Providence, thus keeping a year on his entry-level contract for playing less than 10 games in the NHL.
“I’ve been telling you about this player for a little while now, and when you can dominate a World Junior like he did and he is playing on a team from the Czech Republic that wasn’t very good and he was still dominant, that tells you he’s ready to play in the National Hockey League,” said McGuire. “I know that is a foreign concept for a lot of people to understand — I’ve been around that tournament for 20 years and I’ve watched the very best players come out of that and I’ve seen some kids that actually grew over the course of that tournament and that propelled them to being NHL players. That is one tournament, if you can dominant it best-on-best in your own peer group, you’re ready to play at the next level.
“I would be absolutely flabbergasted and shocked if he were set back [to Providence].”
|Frustrated Claude Julien points to Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles, Bruins’ offensive inconsistency||12.21.14 at 12:28 pm ET|
After Sunday’s morning skate, the Bruins coach held his most telling press conference of the year as he discussed some of the issues that have the Bruins on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture ienooking in.
Julien, who later clarified that he does not intend to throw players under the bus, was most critical of Dennis Seidenberg, whom he said has not been as effective as in years past as he returns from a torn ACL suffered last season. He also lamented the inconsistency of Patrice Bergeron‘s line and noted Milan Lucic‘s struggles when he was without David Krejci.
Here are some highlights of the press conference:
On Seidenberg (the question was about why Matt Bartkowski and Seidenberg have struggled when paired together):
When we look at Seids, he’s come off a major injury. I don’t think anybody here thinks Seids is playing at his full potential right now. No matter where he’s been, he’s had his share of struggles. I don’t think it has anything to do with right or left. You can look at Seids; with whomever he’s played, they’ve had their fair share of struggles. He’s got to find his game. Once he finds his game, he’ll be a lot better.
When you look at the game and you see what’s going on and you look at it again, sometimes you realize that maybe you’re pointing the finger at the wrong person. We have to look at it objectively; that’s our job.
And that job is not for me to come out and publicly throw my players under the bus, but I see certain things and that’s what I’m trying to tell you guys. I’m not here to explain my every move, but we see certain things that we have to make decisions on.
Again, I’m not one of those guys that’s going to start carving my players because if I have something to say to them, it will be behind closed doors.
On the team’s lack of scoring:
Do you guys watch the games? K. So I’m going to say Bergeron’s line last game did not have a good game. They didn’t have many scoring chances. They weren’t that good. They were good the game before. There’s some games they play well and they score some games, and the problem with our team has been inconsistency in our games.
If you guys watch the games, you’ll see those kind of things that certain lines, even though you say, ‘Well Bergeron and Smith and Marchand are great players,’ that doesn’t mean their line is really firing on all cylinders every game. Once we get all our lines more consistent in that area, we won’t be just saying that the goal-scoring’s coming from the Soderberg line. So we need a little bit more, and at the same time, Krejci’s just gotten back. We hope that sooner than later, we’re going to get a little more depth in our scoring.
On Bergeron’s line:
I said one game they’re good, the next they’re not as good. Does that mean you break them up because they’re not good one game and the next game they’re good? Again, who do you put where? It’s easy to skew. We’ve seen Lucic play well with Krejci. Lucic struggles a little bit more with others. Again, when I say second-guessing, [I mean] you guys can wrack your brain all you want; that’s what I do from midnight to six in the morning. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what to do the next day.
On why he generally hasn’t tried anybody but Seth Griffith as David Krejci‘s right wing this season:
Yeah, because Krech has hardly ever played. When we don’t win, we get second-guessed. I understand that. But right now, the Soderberg line is the only one that’s scoring for us. So do you guys want me to break that up and we get no more scoring? So you pick your poison. As much as we’d like to do that and we want to do that, and we did the last game a few times, it’s hard to really see when it’s only in spurts. But at the same time, I’m trying to win a hockey game here, so that’s the bottom line.