|Bruins not satisfied with win streak as long as they’re out of top-eight||11.16.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ 3-7-0 start to the season brought many words to mind: surprising, unacceptable, even the overused “hangover.”
Based on history, what should have come to mind would be more along the lines of “screwed.”
The Bruins found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when they had just six points through 10 games. If Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets were to be played two weeks ago, it would have been a matchup of cellar-dwellars. Instead, the B’s have rattled off six straight wins that’s seen balanced scoring from all four lines.
“We’re very confident in the group we have,” Shawn Thornton said Wednesday. “We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, yes, but we knew we were right there. I think the guys did a good job of just sticking with it and working through it to get to where we need to be.”
The win-streak has brought the Bruins all the way up to ninth in the conference, just one point behind the Senators for eighth with three games in hand. Year after year, good teams get off to bad starts and are never able to recover due to the difficulty of climbing the standings with three-point games. After all, over two teams in the last two years who weren’t in the top eight on Nov. 1 ended up making the playoffs.
There are two ways of looking at what the Bruins have done here. One thing to take from it is that it’s proof that moving up in this league isn’t easy. The Bruins have been hotter than any team in the league, and the fact that it hasn’t catapulted them into the top eight shows that there’s still work to be done.
“Ninth still doesn’t put us in a playoff position. Our goal is to keep climbing, and you see how tough it is. We’ve won six games in a row and we’re still not in a playoff position,” Gregory Campbell said. “It’s a feather in our cap to have done what we’ve done, but for us to have so many losses early on, we can ill afford to get comfortable and rest on our streak so far.”
After the Bruins play the Blue Jackets and Islanders on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, they will have one of their biggest two-game stretches of the young season. Monday will see them square off with the Habs in Montreal and Wednesday will take them to Buffalo. The B’s currently trail the Sabres by four points in the Northeast division. If the B’s can grab four easy points against the struggling Blue Jackets and Islanders, they could be sitting pretty to move up even further and not only vie for a top-eight spot, but for the division lead.
“We’re just trying to maintain our intensity, our solid play structurally, and continue climbing,” Campbell said. “We have two huge division games coming up next week, so in order to set ourselves up to make another jump [in the standings], we have to win these next two games.”
For the streaking Bruins, there doesn’t seem to be a hint of satisfaction. They’ve made it hard on their opponents over the last six contests, but anybody in their dressing room will tell you the goal isn’t to win six in a row. The goal to correct the bizarro standings of two weeks ago, and get their names right around the top.
“For us, we’ve been down below too long,” Claude Julien said. “It’s been a month and a half. The season’s been going, and we’re still in ninth of today, not in a playoff spot. We feel we’re a much better team than that. I think that there’s an opportunity here in this next week and a half to really, I guess, move up in the standings as long as we can continue to win games and play as well as we have.
“It’s one of those things where we don’t want to be relying on other teams to do our job. It’s up to us to continue to play well and win hockey games. I think if we can keep playing the way we have lately, this next week and a half is going to really be telling for our hockey club.”
Added Campbell: “No matter who you are or what team you are, how good you are, this league is full of good teams,” Campbell said. “Things change quickly, as you’ve seen. We have to stay focused on the task here and set ourselves up. We’re in a good spot now, but teams ahead of us keep winning. It’s up to us to do the same.”
|How hockey’s horrific offseason impacted Gregory Campbell||09.09.11 at 7:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — This time of year, hockey players are used to mostly talking shop. The usual stuff: what shape they’re in, what they learned in the previous season, etc.
This year’s different, though. As hockey starts up again, the game can move on from, but not forget, what has been a devestating summer. Gregory Campbell had to remember fallen friends, smiling only when he could talk shop.
“When he got on the ice, he was like a robot. That guy blocked more shots than anybody I think I’ve seen in my life,” Campbell said of Karlis Skrastins, one of the former NHL players who died in Wednesday’s KHL plane crash. “He had wrist guards, and literally armor underneath his hockey equipment. He was such a warrior on the ice. It was almost contridictory, because he was so gentle off the ice and such a good person.”
Yet as far as anecdotes can take someone mourning multiple losses, Campbell often found himself repeating one word that was used far too often over the summer: tragic.
The sad streth for the sport began during the conference finals, when Rangers tough guy Derek Boogaard died of an accidental drug overdose. Jets forward Rick Rypien committed suicide in August, and newly retired enforcer Wade Belak hanged himself two weeks ago. It was already a gloomy time for the game, but the most horrific blow came Wednesday when a plane carrying the entire KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl killed 43 people, including nine former NHL players.
Given the astoundingly large number of players who perished over the offseason, it’s hard to find a player throughout the league who wasn’t personally impacted by the tragic events the summer held. On Thursday, Zdeno Chara grieved over the loss of close friend Pavol Demitra. On Friday, it was Campbell’s turn.
“I feel like the whole hockey community is really a family, and the longer you play the game, the more players you meet, the more players you play with,” he said. “That’s one unique thing about sports, is you do get to interact with so many different people along your career. … For the hockey family, so to speak, to lose as many members as we did in one summer is really just tragic. I don’t think that there’s ever been a summer like this.”
The summer, which featured Campbell’s day with the Stanley Cup, already had a dark cloud of it prior to Wednesday, as he was close friends with Belak (“I still kept in contact with him,” Campbell said) from the two seasons that they were teammates in Florida. Then Wednesday’s plane crash occured, taking the lives of former Panthers teammates Ruslan Salei and Skrastins.
“Karlis was just the nicest man that I’ve ever met in my life,” Campbell said. “He was really, really soft-spoken. Quiet, but just a gentle, kind person.”
“Rusty was a jokester. He was always the first guy at the card table, one of the louder guys on the team,” he said of Salei. “Guys would tease him as a grumpy old man, but that was in a total joking manner. At heart he was a really good guy, and that was his way of expressing his affection to other people.”
A player with strong family values (he had father Colin on the ice in Vancouver when the B’s won the Stanley Cup), Campbell expressed his sympathies to the families of all the players who died too young. As hard a summer as it’s been for the game, he does feel there is a lesson to be learned amidst the sorrow.
“On the hockey front, we really have to appreciate it and have respect for what we do and how lucky we are,” Campbell said. “More importantly, on the life side of things, you have to appreciate life and appreciate what’s important in life. In sports, there’s often lots of ups and downs, but that doesn’t compare to the times you spend with your family and the people close to you. That’s what you have to appreciate and savor.”
|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.
|Bruins year in review: Top rookie||06.22.11 at 3:09 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the year and save of the year. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.
BRUINS’ TOP ROOKIE
Brad Marchand: 21 G, 20 A, 41 points (regular season); 11 G, 8 A, 19 points (postseason)
“I was impressed with with Marchy from the moment I saw him play. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with him, but having seen him early in training camp’¦ then just build his way up and keep getting better and better, to be honest with you, he was so important to our team. When we were successful, usually Marchy had a big game or played well.
“Playing with Marchy, I enjoyed it a lot’¦ He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s worked for it. He had the opportunity. He made the team and he started with us and worked for his ice time. Rightfully so, he’s an important part of this team. To even do what he did in the playoffs, that’s even more important, and says more about him as a player that he can step up in those big games.”
At the beginning of training camp, Tyler Seguin was a household name in Boston. He was perhaps the only Bruins rookie a Bostonian could pick out of the very lineup Seguin assured he had yet to crack. By the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, people were talking about a few Boston rookies. Seguin’s goals got him the hype and Adam McQuaid‘s mullet got him the cult following and customized t-shirts from Andrew Ference, but no Bruins rookie came close to bringing it the way Brad Marchand did.
When the B’s opened the regular season in Prague, Marchand was a fourth-liner who got around 10 minutes of ice time. When the season ended, he had assisted the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and scored two of his own. When all was said and done, Marchand hoisted the Cup having scored 11 goals in the postseason, one behind David Krejci for the postseason lead. He worked his way from being a famed member of the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to forming perhaps the team’s most consistent line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, and aside from missing time after being rocked on a beautiful P.K. Subban hip check in December, the 5-foot-9 Marchand looked invincible in the process.
The story of Marchand’s preseason confidence has been well-documented. He told both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien that he would score 20 goals (the very number Milan Lucic was optimistically aiming for prior to the season) in his first full season. Chiarelli told him to think about what he was saying. While thinking may never be Marchand’s game, he certainly backed up his words by popping 21 in the regular season.
The downside with Marchand is that with the good, you must take the bad, but depending on how you look at it, the bad isn’t all that bad. He crosses the line often, whether it be with his on-ice actions or words. He was suspended for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head, but at the end of the day he’s a far cry from a dirty player. He’s one of the Bruins who have been guilty of embellishment, but with Marchand, it’s nowhere near the point of some of the players the B’s saw in Montreal and Vancouver. If anyone wants to deem Marchand’s feistiness a problem, it’s a problem every team in the league would love to have. He’s a special type of player, and the B’s are fortunate to have someone who’s just as good in all three areas of the ice and at killing penalties as he is at getting under opponents’ skin and scoring goals.
Now, after a rookie year in which he became a hero in Boston, Marchand will get paid. A restricted free agent, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better time to be due a raise, as it should be a big one. He had a salary cap hit of $821,667 last season and could now get upwards of $3 million.
Just a note before we get to the honorable mention section: While McQuaid was a far more mature player in his rookie campaign and provided far more stability than Seguin did (it’s an apples and oranges comparison anyway given the difference in age and position), the argument could be made that the B’s could have won the Stanley Cup without him. In this scribe’s opinion, the Bruins would not have won the Cup were it not for Tyler Seguin. The youngster may have singlehandedly changed the Eastern Conference finals with his performance in the second period of Game 2. As a result, if we had to make this thing a list, Seguin would be the runner up to Marchand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid
|Plain and simple: Bruins win the Stanley Cup||06.15.11 at 10:45 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Stanley Cup never entered TD Garden when the Canucks had a chance to win it on Monday. Now, it’s safe to say it will be in plain sight in Boston for quite some time.
The Bruins knocked off the Canucks, 4-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night to win the Cup for the first time since 1972 and take the trophy for the sixth time in franchise history.
It was only fitting that the longest tenured Bruin, Patrice Bergeron, sure-fire Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and top rookie Brad Marchand stole the show in Vancouver in providing Boston with the most coveted trophy in all of sports.
Both Bergeron and Marchand had a pair of goals on the night, factoring for all of the Bruins’ tallies. Marchand’s second was an empty-netter with just over two minutes remaining.
Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins at 14:37 of first period, taking a pass from Marchand in the slot and sending the puck past a pair of Canucks skaters and just past Roberto Luongo‘s right leg.
The goal marked one bookend of a telling issue for the Bruins, as they did not record another shot on Luongo until 7:40 into the second period. Marchand had another superb opportunity in that span, though he saw his backhanded bid in front of Luongo go off the crossbar.
Despite the lack of work provided for Luongo, Marchand made his presence felt by beating the Vancouver netminder on a wraparound at 12:13. The rookie finished the postseason with 11 goals, and the B’s won all nine games in which he scored.
If it’s possible for a dagger to come in the second period, Bergeron provided it with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway late in the period. The play was reviewed to determine whether Bergeron punched the puck into the net, though the goal stood, and so too did the Bruins’ lead.
Thomas’ performance capped a remarkable series for the anticipated Vezina winner, as he allowed just eight goals over the entire series and set the record for most games in a Stanley Cup finals series. His shutout was his fourth of the postseason and second of the finals.
Though first period yielded the Bruins’ first goal, though it was not the most encouraging 20 minutes. The B’s managed only five shots on goal, with the fourth line of Gregory Campbell between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. The line’s tireless work and aggression stood out for the Bruins, with each member getting a shot on Luongo. By the end of the period, the line had contributed 60 percent of the team’s shots on goal.
An injury scare occurred for the Bruins early on as well, as a hit from Chris Higgins at the blue line in the first period left captain Zdeno Chara down on the ice for a few moments. Chara got up and returned to the bench without any further issues.
The Canucks came out of the gate much stronger than the Bruins, and had quality opportunities throughout the night despite the Bruins’ attempts to push the play to the side. Vancouver’s best opportunity came a little over nine minutes into the second, when Chara was attempting to send the puck up the boards in his own zone, only to see the puck deflect off of Henrik Sedin and in front of the net to Alexandre Burrows. The controversial Vancouver winger had an empty net to work with, but Chara made up for his own miscue by getting in position to save the puck for Thomas.
A few odds and ends from the game:
- Dennis Seidenberg is now the second German to win the Stanley Cup, joining Uwe Krupp (1996).
- Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice for the first three Bruins’ goals. Henrik was one of the players in front when Bergeron’s shot went past him on its way to Luongo on the first goal.
- The Canucks’ power play finished the Stanley Cup finals just 2-for-31.
- Tyler Seguin has gone from No. 2 overall pick to Stanley Cup champion in less than a year.
- Of the four major sports, the Patriots now have the longest Boston championship drought, as they las won the Super Bowl in February of 2005.
|Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel||06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
CSNNE Bruins analyst Tony Amonte spoke with the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Amonte said the key to the Bruins winning Game 6 Monday night is to ‘ride [Zdeno] Chara and [Dennis] Seidenberg.’
‘I think that’s what they’ve done at home is been able to ride those two defensemen, their top D pair,’ Amonte said. ‘They don’t get scored on much, and they help you out, create a lot of offense for the Bruins.’
Amonte said that a key to the offense is getting Tyler Seguin more minutes, especially on the power play.
‘Seguin’s a guy that could break the game open,’ he said.
‘You have to play the odds. You have to put a guy out there you know is going to score a little bit more than another guy.’
While Gregory Campbell is good on faceoffs and penalty kills, Amonte said he lacks the puck control necessary to play in front of the net on power plays.
‘If you can’t get control of the puck and you can’t get it set up, you’re never going to see a net-front guy,’ Amonte said, adding: “That second unit just never had the ability to get the puck, settle it down, and establish a net-front presence.’
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