|Bruins not sure who their All-Star is||01.09.15 at 3:58 pm ET|
Asked Friday which teammate should represent the Bruins in the All-Star Game later this month, one Bruin confidently responded, “Our best player is Tuukka.”
Then, after showering and thinking about it, the player came back.
“I change my answer,” he said. “Bergy.”
The player was correct – not for choosing Patrice Bergeron, but for being indecisive. With All-Star teams being named Saturday, there is no obvious answer as to which Bruin (or, less likely, Bruins) should be there in this tumultuous season.
The annual exhibition returns this month from a two-year absence and, aside from those making money off it and a shockingly high number of Latvian voters (big ups, Zemgus Girgensons), it’s hard to imagine that many folks have missed it. All-Star appearances, aside from the extra dough they earn the player, aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, as fan voting for six of the 42 players and the fact that each team needs a representative water down the distinction.
With the Bruins receiving few standout season-long performances (they don’t have anyone in the top in points) it will be interesting to see who goes to Columbus. The player folks should most want to see would be Zdeno Chara so he can defend his title in the Hardest Shot contest, but he has not performed to his level of seasons past and has missed 19 games this season due to a torn PCL.
The most popular guess from Bruins players was that Patrice Bergeron was the best candidate, with players also voicing their support for Tuukka Rask, Carl Soderberg, Chara and Dougie Hamilton. Multiple players expressed hope that Chara could go so he could put on his until-recently annual slapshot clinic.
Bergeron was a pretty obvious candidate in the 2011-12 season, but was passed over in favor of linemate Tyler Seguin. Chara, who captained one of the teams, and Tim Thomas were also there for the Bruins in 2012, the last All-Star Game played before it fell victim to the lockout in 2013 and Olympics last season.
This season, Bergeron’s play has dipped a bit from last season, though he leads the Bruins with 31 points and is on pace for a respectable 20-goal campaign. Given what happened in 2012, one could argue he is owed an All-Star appearance. Bergeron has still never been an All-Star in his 11-season NHL career.
If the NHL seeks a big name who has raised his performance this season, Hamilton is a good candidate. He has regularly played against opponents’ top lines, with only Dennis Seidenberg getting fewer offensive zone starts on average than him. Hamilton frequently led Boston defensemen in time on ice while Chara was out and is third on the B’s in average time on ice with 22:01. Chara leads the way, averaging 22:40.
Furthermore, Hamilton is fifth on the Bruins in points with 23, which leads Boston defensemen and is 19th among NHL blueliners.
Hamilton doesn’t buy it, however. He feels Dougie’s Big All-Star Game will have to wait.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a smirk when asked whether he felt he was having an All-Star season. “I think there’s too many good D in the league. I think I had a good start and everything, but I don’t think I’m an All-Star.”
When Seguin was an All-Star in 2012, he felt he needed to apologize to Bergeron. Hamilton said that if he were chosen this year, he’d feel there were other Bruins more deserving as well.
“I think with our team, we’re known to be a team,” Hamilton said. “There’s not one guy who puts himself ahead of other guys. I would probably feel the same way [as Seguin did]. Guys like Bergie — Krej was hurt and Zee was hurt — but even Carl, Loui and Marchy, the list goes on. For me, I’m just trying to contribute to the team and win some games.”
Well, someone has to go to the stupid thing.
|Dougie Hamilton on Claude Julien: ‘He gives us a game plan and we don’t follow it’||12.21.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
None of the Bruins are happy about losing, and it’s obvious.
On Saturday morning, Claude Julien joined that club, holding his most honest press conference of the season as he dug into the Bruins’ struggles.
After the press conference – in which he pointed to Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles and lamented the inconsistency of many of his forwards – Dougie Hamilton admitted that “everyone’s frustrated,” and that he can see why his coach would be.
“I think one of the biggest things is that he gives us a game plan and we don’t follow it,” Hamilton told WEEI.com. “There’s a lot of times where he’ll say, like, ‘There’s nothing more to say.’ He’s telling us exactly what we need to do to win and we’re not following it. I don’t know. Hopefully we can win and not have to worry about all this stuff.”
None of this is good for the Bruins, obviously. The B’s have had several injuries this season — most notably to Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, both of whom are currently back in the lineup — but frustration from a winning coach coupled with a group not following directions might be an even bigger problem with the season just eight games away from the midway point.
Entering Sunday’s game, the 16-14-3 Bruins sit 10th in the Eastern Conference.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Cam Neely knows money will still be tight with salary cap increase||12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
When the Board of Governors projected a $73 million salary cap for next season, it looked to be good and bad news for the Bruins: good because it’s higher than the current $69 million mark and bad because it isn’t even higher.
Those seemed to be Cam Neely‘s thoughts Wednesday, as the Bruins president answered a question about the anticipated bump by smiling and quipping, “it’s better than 69 [million].”
The projected cap, which is contingent on the Canadian dollar staying the same, will make it easier for the Bruins to keep their team together, but not much. The idea of adding key players in free agency will be out of the question, but then again it generally has been for a few years now, with the exception of the incentive-laden deal given two summers ago to Jarome Iginla.
Not counting Marc Savard, the Bruins have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players for next season. Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg lead the list of players due for raises from their current cap hits, though Torey Krug and Reilly Smith can also expect pay bumps after playing this season for $1.4 million apiece.
“When you’re a team that spends up to the cap and you are spending to the cap and you are into LTI, there’s a lot of discussions and conversations and pencils and erasers that have to be in play,” Neely said. “Fortunately, Charlie and Mr. Jacobs give us the opportunity to spend to the cap. Until they say we’re not, we’re going to continue to try and put the best team on the ice. Having said that, it’s easy to spend money; you’ve just got to spend it properly.”
Agent J.P. Barry told WEEI.com last month he had yet to begin serious negations with the B’s regarding new deals for Hamilton and Soderberg, both of whom he represents. The holdup was due to the league not knowing where the cap would be next year, so perhaps the ball could get rolling soon with the clarity recently presented.
All that said, the $73 million figure is not set in stone.
“Based on what we’re hearing, it’s all based upon the Canadian dollar,” Neely said. “They have a pretty good idea of the revenues that are coming in. It’s just a matter of Canadian revenues and what happens with the Canadian dollar. It gives us a pretty good idea of where we’re going to end up, but if we’re going to err, we should err on the lower side.”
|NHL salary cap expected to increase to $73 million range||12.08.14 at 7:58 pm ET|
Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Monday at the Board of Governors meeting that the NHL‘s salary cap is expected to be around $73 million next season, assuming the Canadian dollar stays the same.
Such a cap ceiling would provide a $4 million bump from what it currently is and, while still not great for the Bruins, would be helpful as they try to keep their roster together.
The B’s currently have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players (excluding Marc Savard) for next season. Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith will all be due raises from what they currently make. Soderberg, who currently commands a $1.008 million cap hit, will likely hit free agency as the top available center should he not re-up with the Bruins before then.
Agent J.P. Barry, who represents both Hamilton and Soderberg, told WEEI.com last month that he and the B’s were waiting for clarity regarding the salary cap before beginning serious negotiations.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|5 things we learned as Dougie Hamilton saves day in overtime||11.28.14 at 9:42 pm ET|
The Bruins will head to the West Coast two points richer.
It took overtime (and killing off a four-minute double-minor late in regulation and into the extra period), but Dougie Hamilton’s game-winner three minutes, 39 seconds into overtime gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Jets Friday to wrap up a three-game home stand.
Brad Marchand was called for a four-minute high stick on Grant Clitsome with 3:30 left in regulation and the game tied, 1-1. The Bruins killed off the penalty in regulation, and the final 30 seconds to open overtime in a 4-on-3. Former Bruins farmhand Michael Hutchinson was spectacular in net for the Jets, saving 36 of the first 37 shots he faced, including a point-blank short-handed chance by Gregory Campbell with 30 seconds left in regulation.
The Bruins will also leave Boston healthier than they were to begin their three-game homestand, as Chris Kelly returned from injury Friday.
Here are four other things we learned Friday night:
SODERBERG LINE A GOOD FIT FOR LUCIC
Claude Julien said earlier this week that once David Krejci is healthy, Chris Kelly will go back to playing with Carl Soderberg and Lucic will go back to playing with Krejci. For now, however, Lucic has shown he’s a good fit with Boston’s Swedish forwards.
The trio of Soderberg between Lucic and Eriksson scored for the second straight game Friday when Lucic dropped a pass off for Soderberg at the blue line, went to the net and tipped Soderberg’s pass between the legs of Michael Hutchinson to tie the game at a goal apiece.
The goal was Lucic’s second in as many games, as he scored Boston’s first goal of Monday’s overtime loss to the Penguins. He now has five goals on the season.
Soderberg and Eriksson assisted Hamilton’s game-winner.
PASTRNAK PUTS PUCKS ON NET
After giving him just 7:53 of ice time in his NHL debut Monday, Claude Julien played David Pastrnak on Patrice Bergeron‘s line and the team’s No. 2 power play unit Friday. The result was both a glimpse of the first-rounder’s skill set and a lot of shots on goal.
With seven shots on goal Friday, Pastrnak landed as many pucks on net as any Bruin has in a game this season. (By my count, seven was the highest individual shot on goal total for a Bruins player entering the night, accomplished by Zdeno Chara on Oct. 18 against the Sabres and Patrice Bergeron on Nov. 6 against the Oilers.)
Pastrnak nearly had his best chance of the night at the end of a long shifts in the third period, but he couldn’t get a handle on the puck after taking a feed from Brad Marchand.
The Bruins began the night with Brad Marchand on the left wing of Bergeron’s line and Reilly Smith skating on a bottom-six line with Chris Kelly and Seth Griffith. Julien moved Smith up to replace Marchand in the third, with Marchand moving to Kelly’s line. Marchand took a high-sticking double-minor at 16:30 of the third period.
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|Bruins not talking contract with Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg yet||11.20.14 at 3:58 pm ET|
Dougie’s Big Contract is on hold, for now.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap going forward, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry have yet to begin formal discussions on a new contract for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Same goes for Carl Soderberg and Daniel Paille, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents this summer and are also represented by Barry.
Barry and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli have been talking regularly, the agent told WEEI.com Thursday, but the longtime agent said he has no problem being patient as the Bruins wait and see what kind of contracts they can offer Hamilton and their other players with expiring deals.
The agent, who also represents Loui Eriksson and has a good relationship with Chiarelli, sees no reason for concern at this point, saying “I’ll know when Peter’s ready.”
Hamilton is in the midst of the final year of his entry level contract. He leads the Bruins with a 22:34 average time on ice and is tied for third on the team with 11 points (tops among B’s defensemen). Playing mostly against other team’s top players both as Zdeno Chara‘s partner and his replacement, Hamilton carries an even rating through 20 games. He is also one of two Bruins defensemen to play every game this season, with the other being Dennis Seidenberg.
The Bruins currently have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players (not counting Marc Savard) for the 2015-16 season. The cap ceiling is $69 million this season; the Bruins traded Johnny Boychuk prior to the season in order to get under it.
There was an expectation that the cap would increase by $5 million or more next season, but the New York Post reported reported earlier this month that the projected decline in the Canadian dollar might prevent the NHL Players’ Association from exercising a five-percent escalator for next season. The escalator will be voted on in June.
Asked about the future of the cap and how it impacts how the Bruins will do their business, Bruins president Cam Neely didn’t get into specifics but admitted the Bruins are doing every calculation they can.
“We’re constantly thinking about future years,” Neely said. “As much as we put a lot of time and effort and thought into the current year, we look at where our team is going to be next year and the following year, especially when you have guys that have contracts coming up or you have guys with term. You always have to look at the math.”
Historically, Chiarelli has prioritized getting new deals done for his players either before they enter their contract year or during it, with David Krejci, Marc Savard and Rich Peverley among the players he has re-upped in-season over the years.
|Why Tuukka Rask is pleased with Dougie Hamilton after yelling at him||10.28.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton is receiving praise left and right for what some might call a breakout* performance against the Maple Leafs, but it was his response to the low moment of his three-point game that might be the biggest takeaway.
Hamilton was the last line of defense as the Bruins, stuck in their zone, surrendered the Leafs’ lone goal of the game in the third period. The man Hamilton was covering, Richard Panik, scored with the Bruins scrambling during a delayed penalty to break up Tuukka Rask‘s shutout. Rask could be seen barking at Hamilton after the goal.
On Hamilton’s next shift, James van Riemsdyk went to the net and Hamilton manhandled him on a play that resulted in matching roughing minors. Intentionally or not, it was a good sign that Hamilton, a 6-foot-5 third-year player with no fighting majors to his name, does not want to be taken lightly around his net. Furthermore, it was a response Rask was happy to see.
“That’s what you have to do; you have do hold your ground and not let those guys get in there,” Rask said. “That’s exactly what he did. As long as it’s an even call, that’s alright.”
Shifts are usually around 45-50 seconds, sometimes more and sometimes less. Hamilton ended up being stuck on the ice for 1:37 on the shift that cost Rask what would have been his shutout of the season. During a delayed penalty call on Daniel Paille for tripping Panik, Rask had to face three shots from three different angles. A point shot squirted into the corner and was retrieved by Nazem Kadri, whose cross-ice pass to Cody Franson yielded another shot stopped by Rask. Tyler Bozak whacked the rebound across the net to Panik, who jammed it past both Rask and Hamilton, the latter of whom had been covering Panik but retreated into the net amidst the chaos.
“It was definitely my fault,” Hamilton, who had a goal and two assists in the game, said of the goal. “I was gassed and trying to playing to goalie, obviously with the shutout on the line. I apologized to him.”
Rask said Tuesday that though he reacted vocally, he didn’t mean to chew Hamilton out any more than he intended to express frustration with the overall work in front of him on the shift.
Hamilton said that on his next shift, he felt he had to “refocus and make sure I was being strong.” That ended up being subpar news for van Riemsdyk, who became the focal point of Hamilton’s aggression.
Rask wants and expects the defensemen in front of him to box players out and make them pay a price if they want to get close to the net. When that doesn’t happen, he isn’t afraid to tell them. That isn’t such a bad thing.
With Zdeno Chara out for at least a few more weeks, other players need to provide the physical presence and intimidation factor around the net. Rask will be happy to see more of that from Hamilton as he continues to round into a top defender.
“He obviously wants to be one of the best defensemen in the league, and that’s something he has to get better at, is the defensive side of his game,” Rask said. “He’s really picked up on that and gotten better, so I like it.”
*Hamilton broke out last season.
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