|Bruins report card: Forwards||06.10.14 at 4:15 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:
Patrice Bergeron: A
Regular season: 80 GP, 30 G, 32 A, 62 PTS, plus-38
Postseason: 12 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, plus-1
Bergeron had the type of season that led Twitter to be insufferable over his candidacy for a video game cover, so that’s a good thing, I guess. This was Bergeron’s second career 30-goal season, and the fact that he scored 30 goals given that he never, ever cheats offensively, was pretty insane. He likely would have had more points than his 62 points had his linemates been more consistent early on.
Bergeron had nine points (three goals, six assists) over the first eight games of the playoffs, but he failed to register a point in the last four games against the Canadiens.
Jarome Iginla: A-
Regular season: 78 GP, 30 G, 31 A, 61 PTS, plus-34
Postseason: 12 GP, 5 G, 2 A, 7 PTS, even rating
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He hit 30 goals in the regular season, and while that thrilled Bruins fans, that’s what they should have expected from him. It took him a bit to start scoring regularly, but once he hit his stride, the Bruins’ first line had perhaps its most consistent regular season since David Krejci became the team’s No. 1 center. The Bruins will want to bring him back, but there’s no telling whether Iginla is willing to go year-to-year given that it’s the only way the Bruins can capitalize cap-wise on his status as a player over 35 years old.
Carl Soderberg: A-
Regular season: 73 GP, 16 G, 32 A, 48 P, plus-4
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-4
It’s probably too early take positives from the season and apply them going forward, but Soderberg showed he can be one of the league’s better third-liners since he was moved to center. Considering Bergeron and David Krejci aren’t going anywhere, that’s where Soderberg will remain. He has one year left on his deal with a $1.083 million cap hit. If the 28-year-old takes another step forward in his second full NHL season, he’ll be due a sizable raise.
Reilly Smith: A-
Regular season: 82 GP, 20 G, 31 A, 51 PTS, plus-28
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS, plus-5
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Don’t confuse his midseason slump with a complete collapse; Smith was one of the Bruins’ best players in the postseason. With even a little consistency down the stretch in the regular season, this would be an A+.
The Bruins coveted Smith when it came time to talk trade with the Stars, and they planned on him being a steady third-liner for them this season, but he claimed the second-line right wing job and raced out to a team-leading 18 goals in his first 52 games. Of course, scoring just two goals over the final 30 games wasn’t exactly top-six material. How much of that can be attributed to his midseason illness that caused him to lose weight is unknown, but with more consistency Smith can expect to push for 30 goals going forward.
Milan Lucic: B-
Regular season: 80 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 PTS, plus-30
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS, plus-3
Lucic hit a goal-scoring rut in the middle of the season and he hit some of his opponents in the you-know-whats late in the season. That scoring slump saw Lucic score one goal over an 18-game stretch from Dec. 5 to Jan. 14, and without such a stretch Lucic could have pushed for 30 goals.
Daniel Paille: B-/C+
Regular season: 72 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, plus-9
Postseason: 7 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, minus-1
He had three concussions this season, but he still played in 72 regular-season games. Paille’s the type of player who could figure to stick around if the Bruins decide to revamp their fourth line, as he has the speed that’s allowed the B’s to move him up in the lineup at points in addition to his penalty-killing duties.
Gregory Campbell: C
Regular season: 82 GP, 8 G, 13 S, 21 PTS, plus-1
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, even rating
The Bruins’ bottom-six – particularly their fourth line — is supposed to be better than that of other teams, and it was a bad year for the Merlot Line. Campbell was a minus-3 in the Montreal series, with his line on the ice for the disastrous shift against Montreal’s fourth line in Game 7 that resulted in Dale Weise‘s first-period goal. The positive is that Campbell played all 82 games and 12 postseason games coming off a broken leg that ended last season in the Eastern Conference finals for him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Jarome Iginla likely will ‘want to stay in Boston’||05.22.14 at 2:15 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the upcoming offseason for the Bruins and the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins will enter this offseason with 11 free agents (five unrestricted, six restricted). One of Boston’s biggest decisions over the coming months will be what to do with Jarome Iginla, who is set to hit the open market. Iginla tied for the team lead in goals with 30 and fit in perfectly with Boston’s first line of Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
However, concerns have been raised over both Iginla’s age (he will turn 37 on July 1) and the price that it would take to bring the future Hall of Famer back.
“The last time I talked to Jarome was right before Game 7 and I thought he was doing great. He just loves being in Boston,” McGuire said. “He really enjoyed his teammates, really enjoyed playing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, so that’s No. 1. No. 2, I think that you can get him signed to a deal, and I think the Bruins probably want to get him signed to a deal. He did a really good job. There will be a marketplace for him, but I have to think he’ll want to stay in Boston.”
Another difficult decision this summer will revolve around the whether or not to bring back Shawn Thornton, who has been a mainstay on the Merlot line for seven season in Boston.
“A team like Calgary would definitely have interest [in Thornton]. You have to have a previous relationship with a player like Shawn to know his actual value to the organization, especially behind closed doors. So I think that’s something that plays to Shawn’s favor,” McGuire said. “But I would caution Shawn on this. He’s had a tremendous career. He’s made a lot out of nothing because he’s worked so hard to get there. … He’s a Bostonian.
“Even though he’s from Ontario and he’s played for a lot of other teams, he’s a Boston guy. He’s a Boston Bruin. That’s how he should be remembered. I just hope he wouldn’t do it as a short-term deal, because I don’t think he has more than another year left to play. I would hate to see him leave and not be remembered as Boston Bruin, because that’s what he is.”
|Peter Chiarelli unsure Bruins will retain Shawn Thornton||05.16.14 at 6:45 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton‘s future with the Bruins is murky at best, as he was not told that he wouldn’t be re-signed Friday, but Peter Chiarelli did not tell him the team plans to retain him.
Thornton, a free agent, wants to play another two years. His preference is to play in Boston, so the sense is that if the Bruins will have him back, he’ll return. If they don’t want him, he won’t. Chiarelli told Thornton that he needs to look at some things before he decides whether the team will make him an offer.
“Thorty I thought had a kind of up and down year,” Chiarelli said. “He got, obviously, the incident with Pittsburgh and you know, there’s trends in hockey and the fisticuffs trend — again, this doesn’t characterize Thorty as just a fighter because he contributed on that [fourth] line.
“That line has had a lot of success in the past, but there is definitely, we’re trending away from that style. I had a discussion with Thorty this morning and I said, ‘Look, give me a couple weeks to digest what’s happened and then we’ll go from there.’ That same comment applies to [Jarome Iginla]. I haven’t talked to the other [unrestricted free agents] yet but to Iggy and Thorny so far.”
Iginla is a free agent as well. He played this season on a one-year deal in which the Bruins were able to pay him bonuses that will go against next year’s cap in order to save money on this year’s cap. The team can keep doing that on Iginla, but only on one-year deals.
Iginla, who tied for the team lead with 30 goals in the regular season and led the team with five postseason goals, said he does not wish to negotiate publicly, so he was generally tight-lipped about what he wants. He did say that at age 36, he still feels he can play a while longer.
“I still want to play for a while before I quit. I’ll push myself to be better and there are no issues,” he said. “I loved playing here with the guys and there’s a great chance for next year for the Stanley Cup. They keep getting better with the young guys that they have, Dougie [Hamilton] and [Matt Bartkowski]. The core is still young. There’s lots of reasons. Very fortunate if I can be back here.”
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|Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Jarome Iginla fail to get going in Bruins’ Game 1 loss to Red Wings||04.19.14 at 12:02 am ET|
Going into this series, it seemed like a pretty safe assumption that Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk would match up frequently. Maybe you’d give the Bruins a slight edge there given that Datsyuk is coming back from an injury, but for the most part, you’d expect that to be a back-and-forth dogfight. Sure enough, that’s more or less how Game 1 played out — their lines went against each other pretty much every time out, and the matchup was essentially a wash until Datsyuk’s goal with 3:01 left in the game.
In theory, that matchup should have freed up the Bruins’ top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla to pick on Detroit’s lesser lines and banged-up defensive corps. That didn’t happen, though.
In fact, that line played one of its worst games of the season in Game 1. It went up against the trio of Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar for the majority of its shifts (thanks to shiftchart.com for the excellent data), and found itself chasing the puck most of the night. Lucic, Krejci and Iginla were able to get what should have been a favorable matchup against Detroit’s second pairing of Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser — an OK, but far-from-great duo — for about half their shifts, but they never really got a chance to take advantage because of how much time they spent in their own zone.
A lot was made of Detroit’s speed going into the series, and this was really the one place that it showed. Nyquist and Tatar motored their way through the neutral zone and into the Bruins’ end time and again, with the back pressure from Krejci and company a little too late too often. From there, the cycle was on, as Boston’s top trio had to resort to chasing the puck rather than possessing it. When they did get it, they struggled to get through the neutral zone and sustain any sort of offensive pressure.
The result was Lucic, Krejci and Iginla all finishing with Corsi percentages under 40 (according to the fantastic extraskater.com), marking just the sixth time this season their possession numbers as a line have dipped that low. In near perfect symmetry, Nyquist, Sheahan and Tatar all finished with Corsi percentages over 60. If the more basic shot on goal stat is your thing, Sheahan’s line had eight, while Krejci’s line had four. It is worth mentioning, however, that Krejci’s line had arguably the Bruins’ best chance all night when Lucic tipped an Iginla shot that wound up trickling just wide about 30 seconds before Datsyuk scored. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jimmy Howard admits Red Wings were ‘pretty lucky’ to beat Bruins||04.18.14 at 11:20 pm ET|
It was the key moment of Game 1.
Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.
But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.
“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”
The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.
“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.
“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”
|Claude Julien on Marathon bombings a year later: Way city came together is what I’m trying to remember most||04.15.14 at 3:46 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara spoke for an entire organization when he responded to the question Tuesday of what the one year anniversary of the most painful day in Boston history meant to him.
“I’m not born and raised but I feel a part of the city,” the Bruins captain from Slovakia said with pride. “I’m always going to call myself a Bostonian. It’s just one of those things that it feels like a home. You try to respect the city and what it represents.”
The Bruins held practice Tuesday morning at TD Garden, getting ready for their playoff opener on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings. But after practice, coach Claude Julien, Chara and Jarome Iginla all recalled what they were feeling one year ago to the day when Boston was terrorized and attacked by the bombings at the Boston Marathon and the weeklong manhunt that nearly shut down the city.
“Anybody who doesn’t know this is the anniversary isn’t paying attention,” Julien said. “But it’s got some good and it’s got some bad obviously. It’s sad what happened but for us, I look at how the city just came together and how everybody helped each other and did everything they could to help one another so that’s what kind of sticks in my mind.
“But at the same time it was a tough few days from the lockdowns and everything else, those are the things that are coming to mind and some games that were postponed, rightfully so. So some of it isn’t great memories but some of it ‘ certainly the way the city came together is what I’m trying to remember it the most for.
Julien and Chara were getting ready to play Iginla and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, April 19 at TD Garden when a manhunt for the two bombers centered in Watertown shut down the entire city. The game between the Bruins and Penguins was eventually called off on that Friday night and rescheduled for the next day.
The Bruins had two games rescheduled due to the bombings and the manhunt. On April 15, the Bruins postponed their game against the Ottawa Senators to the last day of the season.
On Tuesday, the Bruins reflected on that day in 2013, and how sports and the Bruins helped the city heal.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Dennis Seidenberg should not supplant Kevan Miller||04.09.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg, the injuries to Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller, where Andrej Meszaros fits on the depth chart, the play of Matt Bartkowski and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With momentum picking up on Seidenberg playing in the postseason at some point, fans have started to wonder where the defenseman would be on the depth chart. Brickley said he didn’t think that the 32-year-old should be slotted back on the top pairing at the expense of Miller, who’s played well in his absence.
“I just find it so difficult to put a guy that’s not a hundred percent, or depending on what percent he is, in front of say, Kevan Miller, who’s been getting the job done, who’s in top form, who’s game-ready and ready to go and proven that they have trust in this guy,” Brickley said.
Miller and Iginla both missed Tuesday’s matchup with Minnesota, despite making the trip. Brickley is confident both will be ready to go for the playoffs.
“If this was playoff hockey right now, I’m convinced both would be able to play,” Brickley said. “It’s all about maintenance, it’s all about rest, it’s all about precautionary, those are the terms you’re going to hear right now. Because the Bruins put themselves in this position, they have the options to really focus on the middle of April and not so much on the results and having guys play right now.”
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