|Bruins report card: Defensemen/goaltenders||06.10.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
As the Stanley Cup finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades.
Zdeno Chara: A-
Regular season: 77 GP, 17 G, 23 A, 40 PTS, plus-25
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, plus-4
The good: He was the best defenseman in the league in the regular season and was the most deserving Norris candidate, though the guess here is he’ll lose to Duncan Keith. The bad: He wasn’t himself in the last couple of games against the Canadiens, which cemented the fact that when Chara isn’t right, neither are the Bruins.
Torey Krug: A-/B+
Regular season: 79 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 PTS, plus-18
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS, minus-2
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Krug gets this high a mark because he’s a bottom-pairing defenseman who gives the Bruins major production in offensive situation and on the power play. He’s also getting better in his own end. It will be interesting to see what kind of money Krug commands as a restricted free agent, as this was just his first full season in the NHL.
Dougie Hamilton: B+
Regular season: 64 GP, 7 G, 18 A, 25 PTS, plus-22
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, plus-1
When he was healthy, Hamilton made big strides in his second season. Paired with Chara on the Bruins’ shutdown pairing in the postseason, he had a ball against the Red Wings in the first round, but his Game 3 mental gaffe with P.K. Subban coming out of the penalty box was the low point of what was otherwise a very promising campaign from the 20-year-old.
Johnny Boychuk: B+
Regular season: 75 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 PTS, plus-31
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, plus-3
Know who loves playing for the Bruins? Johnny Boychuk. Know who’s in the prime of his career (30) and a really good right-shot defenseman who could command a ton of money if he hits free agency after next season? Johnny Boychuk. This could get interesting. The Bruins could either concede that they won’t be able to afford him by trading Boychuk this offseason or they can try to get a deal done with him before the season starts, the latter of which is Peter Chiarelli‘s usual plan of attack.
Kevan Miller: B+
Regular season: 47 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-20
Postseason: 11 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS, plus-2
He’s a young defenseman who isn’t immune to making mistakes, but he’s steady enough to play the Adam McQuaid role of third-pairing defenseman with a healthy dose of nasty. While Miller proved himself to be an NHL regular, his first taste of the playoffs wasn’t so swell, as his postseason will be remembered for his giveaway in Game 6 against the Canadiens that resulted in what would end up standing as the game-winning goal. The fact that he signed a two-year extension with an $800,000 cap hit might make him a better commodity than McQuaid going forward.
Dennis Seidenberg: B
Regular season: 34 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 P, plus-11
Seidenberg was fine before he went down with a torn ACL/MCL, and you have to commend his effort to return to the lineup, which he would have done had the Bruins reached the Eastern Conference finals. He signed a four-year extension before the first game of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night’||05.09.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ Game 4 overtime win against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Matt Fraser, who played in his first playoff game on Thursday, became an unlikely hero when he scored 1:19 into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4.
“You could almost sense it coming from that line, to be perfectly honest,” McGuire said. “I made that point a lot during the broadcast. I thought both [Carl] Soderberg wanted it off the crossbar, [Loui] Eriksson was really pushing the pace and obviously Fraser fit in really well with them. Peter Chiarelli and the scouting staff of the Bruins and Bruce Cassidy out in Providence deserve a lot of credit.
“This is a kid who was an undrafted player coming out of the Western Hockey League, and he’s part of a big trade last summer with Rich Peverley going the other way and Tyler Seguin going the other way. He fits in so well. It was just a ping-pong play off the back board.
“I thought the Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night.”
The Bruins have had just two penalties during the past two games of the series.
“I just think they’re worried about taking penalties,” McGuire said. “The Bruins win that double-overtime game in Game 1, they become more of a beast, more physical, but they went down 0-1 in the series. They knew they couldn’t go down 0-2, they had to scramble to win Game 2, they lose Game 3 and now they’re saying, ‘Uh-oh, we cannot allow these guys to get man advantages,’ so they changed a little bit of their dynamic. I also think heading into tomorrow’s game, now that it’s 2-2 and heading back to Boston, I truly believe we’ll see a more physical Bruins team, more like the Bruins team the fans in Boston are used to seeing.”
“Just for whatever reason, David Krejci looks a little fatigued to me,” McGuire said. “I think today maybe he gets a day off and he goes into the game tomorrow energized and he plays a little bit better, but he wasn’t managing the puck well during that game, especially during the power play. They need to be better, and I think they will be better. I think the biggest part of it was Krejci with the Olympics, with all the games he played last year, the fact that he’s not an overly large guy. I think there’s a fatigue factor with him.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins say they ‘have another gear’ to their game||03.19.14 at 1:41 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ 10-game win streak, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a tear recently, winning 10 straight games and outscoring opponents 41-15 in that span. Despite all their success, the team still is looking to improve.
“They’ve been able to do a lot of things really during this streak,” Brickley said. “But it’s amazing when you talk to the coaching staff and even to the players to a man, they say, ‘We’re not peaking, we haven’t hit our stride. Yes, we’re winning games because we’re playing team hockey, and we’re getting some good results, but we definitely have another gear.’ ”
Marchand has been quiet during the streak, only recording two goals and three assists. Brickley admits that while the 25-year-old winger has struggled at times, he has had a successful season.
“He’s having a terrific season really, on the whole, when you take a look at it,” Brickley said. “Certainly there were times, maybe, at different points in the season where it wasn’t going his way and he was kind of fighting it or searching for that balance.”
The B’s third line compares favorably to many of the third lines across the NHL. One guy in that line that has improved, according to Brickley, is Soderberg.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘really becoming a well-oiled machine’||03.14.14 at 1:24 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss how the Bruins are playing after the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
After defeating the Coyotes, 2-1, Thursday night, the Bruins are on a seven-game winning streak.
“They’re strong,” McGuire said. “They really are tight as a group. They haven’t messed with the integrity of their roster. Their defensive-zone posture’s getting better and better all the time. I think Andrej Meszaros is going to fill in well with Zdeno Chara. He’s going to help the power play as well.
“They’ve done a lot of things well there in Boston for a long period of time now, and when you watch them play you get the sense that this is a group that’s really becoming a well-oiled machine.”
During that span of time, Carl Soderberg has played at center while Chris Kelly has made the move to wing.
“The way Chris Kelly has been able to move over to wing rather than being center so Carl Soderberg, who is much more comfortable playing center, can play center — I think you’ve seen Soderberg really start to rise, and Kelly’s been a great trooper handling the assignment moving from center to wing,” McGuire said.
“People always want to talk about the young star, they don’t want to talk about the old guy that’s moved over to accommodate this, and obviously the extra ice helps Soderberg a lot, and not having to play on the boards helps him a lot, but Chris Kelly deserves a lot of credit for this. He really does. I think he’s done valiant work.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Bruins, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
On Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug sitting out: “I think there’s a lot that goes into it. I don’t think it’s about one person or two persons. … I think it’s about the way the team needs to play. One of the things you try to do too is keep your roster competitive at this time of year and have guys fighting for ice so that everybody stays fresh but everybody stays focused. I like the way the Bruins are handling things. Is it easy to watch Dougie Hamilton sit out back-to-back games? No, because I think Dougie’s starting to make significant progress in his career. Is it easy to see Krug sit out? No, it’s not. But, again, this is part of having a competitive, deep roster, and that’s one of the things I admire so much about the Bruins.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Andrej Meszaros ‘gives you options’||03.12.14 at 2:57 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Andrej Meszaros, the B’s defense and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
While Brickley still has doubts about the Bruins depth at wing, he sees the Meszaros trade as one that will help the Bruins figure out their best defensive combination.
“I’m not sure I’m convinced that if there are injuries to the four lines, as currently constituted, that they have enough in the wings waiting to step in,” Brickley said. “The organization, obviously, believes they probably do, but the emphasis was to definitely go get a defenseman, and now bringing in Meszaros, that gives you options.”
Added Brickley: “And it gives you — ’cause he can play left or right — and it gives you competition for ice time and actually be in uniform. You see Dougie Hamilton, the first casualty. They’re trying to figure out guys. Who’s going to play with [Zdeno] Chara in the playoffs? They want that shutdown pair and they’re not sure where it’s at right now and that was the whole reason to go get a guy like Meszaros.”
While the Bruins like what they see from Meszaros so far, the real test starts Wednesday night against Montreal, according to Brickley.
“I think the competition has started,” Brickley said. “It started the other night in Florida with Meszaros going to the lineup. They really like what he brought on that power play, being a left shot, being able to work the overload on the one side with other left shots on the half wall, whether it’s [Carl] Soderberg or [Loui] Eriksson, whoever it might be. They like that look.”
Added Brickley: “Now keep in mind that’s the Florida Panthers. That’s a pretty easy matchup for your first game as a player. Tonight you’ll probably get some different results and I’ll be curious to see how the defensemen in the lineup tonight handle a team like Montreal and the intensity and the speed.”
|Dougie Hamilton a healthy scratch vs. Canadiens as Andrej Meszaros stays in Bruins lineup; Daniel Paille skates||at 12:20 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Dougie Hamilton will be a health scratch for the second straight game Wednesday night, as Claude Julien will use the same six defensemen vs. the Canadiens that he used Sunday against the Panthers.
“Dougie’s going to be out again,” Julien said. “I’m going with the same D core as I had the other night.”
With Hamilton and Corey Potter both sitting, it is likely that Julien will keep Zdeno Chara with newcomer Andrej Meszaros. The Bruins’ deadline day acquisition had a goal and a team-high six shots on goal in his Bruins debut Sunday.
Wednesday will mark Hamilton’s fourth healthy scratch of the season, as he sat out two games in October. He has also missed 13 games due to injury. Julien had said on Tuesday that Meszaros’ presence didn’t mean Hamilton would be a regular healthy scratch.
‘Dougie’s not going to sit long,’ Julien said. ‘Dougie has played good hockey and he’s been good for us, so Dougie is not going to be the guy that is going to be singled out here. Dougie is going to be back in our lineup, and it’s just a matter of me making those tough decisions.
In other lineup news, Jordan Caron will play on the fourth line in place of Daniel Paille, who is out with a concussion. Paille took part in Wednesday’s morning skate, though he is not expected to play until Saturday at the earliest.
“We felt it was a real minor concussion, but protocol is what it is,” Julien said. “You have to respect that, and right now he’s gone through the stages and is doing very well. Today he skated without contact and hopefully we move on to the next level by tomorrow.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Claude Julien: Dougie Hamilton is ‘not going to sit long’ for Bruins||03.11.14 at 6:06 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Healthy scratches aren’t expected to be a regular thing for Dougie Hamilton, so it was rather surprising in the team’s first practice since Hamilton was benched for Andrej Meszaros that Hamilton was skating on the team’s fourth pairing with Corey Potter.
“No, no, don’t read into that guys, I didn’t even make pairs today,” Julien said at the mention of Hamilton skating with Potter. “They just kind of paired themselves, believe it or not. We were just doing a practice here at moving pucks and so on and so forth. There was nothing; don’t read anything into what you saw today as far as who’s with who. Like I said, I didn’t even make pairs today.”
Though he did not say whether Hamilton will be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Canadiens, Julien stressed that Meszaros wasn’t acquired to take Hamilton’s job.
“Dougie’s not going to sit long,” Julien said. “Dougie has played good hockey and he’s been good for us, so Dougie is not going to be the guy that is going to be singled out here. Dougie is going to be back in our lineup, and it’s just a matter of me making those tough decisions.
“We hadn’t lost a game and we put Mez in; we played fairly well. Now we won again, [but it] doesn’t mean my lineup’s not going to change. So I’ve got to make some tough decisions here as we move forward, but the good part is we’ve got a lot of games in a short span of time, so there’s lots of room for everybody to get in there.”
As for Meszaros, Julien said that the team is trying out the left-shooting Meszaros on the right side — as it did Sunday when he played with Chara — to make sure he is comfortable playing both sides.
“He’s played left all year. He’s played right most of his career, but right now we know he can play left,” Julien said. “The toughest part is for a guy to play on his off-side, so we’ve got him playing right in practice right now just to make sure, because he hasn’t played the right side this year. He’s played for about 10 years on the right side, but this year he hadn’t played there, so we’re just giving him an opportunity here to get comfortable there as well because we’re going to need him to play both sides.”