|Bruins’ right wing shuffle bittersweet for Milan Lucic||09.04.13 at 9:39 pm ET|
Lucic, one of the bigger NHL fans among NHL players, has long respected Iginla, and he has every reason to. As one of the premier power forwards in recent history with 530 NHL goals, Iginla is not only a logical linemate for Lucic, but the type of player a young star like Lucic can look up to.
That isn’t to say there wasn’t some surprise on Lucic’s end when he heard that the B’s had signed the 36-year-old.
“At first I kind of laughed,” Lucic said Wednesday. “It’s great. He’s a great player. He hasn’t scored 500 plus goals by accident, and I think a lot of people kind of doubted him and the way he played at the end of the year, but I think he’s a guy with a lot of pride and a guy that competes hard. ‘¦ It seems like he’s real excited to be a part of the Boston Bruins, and that’s what you want to see from a future Hall of Famer.”
Of course, the only reason the Bruins got Iginla was to replace Lucic’s good friend in Nathan Horton, who decided after the season that he was not interested in returning to the Bruins. Horton took a seven-year deal in Columbus, leaving Lucic without his linemate of the last three seasons.
“It’s tough. For me personally, it’s more than just losing a teammate,” Lucic said of Horton departing. “It’s someone that you spent a lot of time with in his time here, but at the end of the day that’s where you’ve got to realize that it is a business. It’s unfortunate to see him go — he was a big part of our team the last three years — but you’ve got to move on, turn the page and wish him all the best.”
While Lucic wouldn’t definitely say whether he saw Horton’s decision coming, he defended the decision.
“I talked to him a little bit about it, and being a UFA he’s free to make the decision that he wants,” Lucic said. “He got a pretty good deal out of it, so there’s no grudges, there’s nothing like that.”
Lucic and Horton found success skating on a line with David Krejci that paired one of the league’s better playmakers and two-way forwards with a pair of power forwards. The line could score and wear teams down, all while being more responsible than your average top line.
With Horton gone, the B’s can go for the same dynamic by inserting Iginla into Horton’s old spot. If they do, Loui Eriksson can play the right wing on Patrice Bergeron’s line and give the B’s perhaps the best top-six they’ve had in years.
“Just looking at [it], Horty was a right-handed shot and so is Iggy,” he said. “If you were going to make a pretty good guess, you’d say he fit in pretty well with us. Horty was a great shooter, and [Iginla] is one of the best goal-scorers of the last 15 years. You hope that it fits and you hope the chemistry is there from day one. If he is with us, we’re going to have to work at it a little bit to make sure it’s where we want it to be.”
|Jarome Iginla signing a smart move for Bruins amidst turnover||07.05.13 at 9:52 pm ET|
This has to feel weird for some Bruins fans, but it isn’t.
The Jarome Iginla-to-not-the-Bruins-to-the-Penguins-then-to-the-Bruins is like LeBron James requesting a trade to the Cavaliers. It’s like Macklemore deciding now to sign with a major label. It’s like Jason going back out with Jessica after dumping her for Alex M.
Yet at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a major shock. The Bruins obviously like Iginla (duh, they traded for him) and Iginla clearly wants to win a Cup (he chose what appeared to be the best team at the trade deadline). Factor in that the Penguins had less than $700,000 in cap space late in the day Friday and the Bruins had quite a bit of it, and the two sides are actually a logical fit.
Iginla makes all the sense in the world on Boston’s top line to replace the departed Nathan Horton. Remember, when it seemed like the Bruins had him at the deadline, we were all assuming that he would take the right wing spot on David Krejci‘s line and bump Horton down to the third line. When Horton told the B’s he wasn’t coming back and the Bruins saw the right wing market vanish over the course of the day, replacing Horton with another power forward for much less money (his deal is incentive-heavy and will only count for $1.8 million against the cap) it was a no-brainer.
Now, after a crazy two days that saw the Bruins lose six players from last year’s roster (it will likely become seven once Jaromir Jagr finds his next destination) and add two or three, the question is whether the Bruins are in shape to be better or worse than they were last season.
The Bruins went from this offense:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Jagr
Peverley – Kelly – Seguin
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
to a projected 2013-14 offense of:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand ‘ Bergeron ‘ Eriksson
[Any combination of Kelly, Soderberg, Caron, Knight, Fraser or somebody else]
Paille – Campbell ‘ Thornton
Two things stand out about the differences between the lineups. Most notably, they have some things to figure out as far as the third line goes, unless they add another player. Secondly, this is now a lineup that, without guys like Horton, Seguin and Peverley, demands to be the scorer-by-committee club the Bruins were two years ago.
You’d have to imagine Eriksson, Lucic or Marchand will lead the team in goals, but the B’s ‘ perhaps outside of Eriksson ‘ don’t have that super dangerous threat. Basically, they don’t have the player Tyler Seguin was supposed to be.
That’s OK as long as not too many guys have down years. The B’s didn’t have a 30-goal scorer two years ago, yet they still finished tied for second in the league with 3.17 goals per game. They had six 20-goal scorers that season, and all six of Boston’s projected top-six forwards can pop in 20 if they stay healthy. It’s the third line that still looks to be a work in progress.
For what the situation was ‘ the cap coming down and dealing with a couple of bad contracts in Seguin and Rich Peverley ‘ Peter Chiarelli has done well with it so far. So it’s a matter of what kind of deal he gets Tuukka Rask to sign and whether he’s able to add another guy to the bottom six.
Say this, though: the 2013-14 Bruins are going to be different than last year’s team. There’s nothing that says that better than seeing Jarome Iginla.
|Bruins sign Jarome Iginla||at 7:50 pm ET|
The Bruins have signed free agent right wing Jarome Iginla to a one-year, $6 million deal that is heavily incentive-based.
The deal carries a $1.8 million base salary, with $4.2 million in potential bonuses. ESPN reports that $3.7 million is in a games played bonus, with the other $500,000 depending on goal-scoring and team playoff performance.
The 36-year-old spurned the Bruins at the trade deadline when he used his no-trade clause to reject a deal that would have sent him to Boston, asking instead to be traded to the Penguins. Iginla went without a point in four games against the B’s in Boston’s sweep of the Eastern Conference finals.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Source: Nathan Horton dealing with chronic shoulder injury||06.13.13 at 7:15 pm ET|
CHICAGO — According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Nathan Horton has been dealing with chronic left shoulder subluxation, which caused him to leave Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals during the first overtime. The injury was originally suffered when Horton fought Penguins forward Jarome Iginla on April 20, with Horton missing the final five games of the regular season before returning for the playoffs.
Horton has received shots prior to each game to deal with the pain, and though his shoulder has popped out of its socket at points during the playoffs, Wednesday’s occurrence, when he bumped into Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the Chicago net on a Bruins power play, was the most painful thus far. His shoulder was popped back in after he left the ice, but he was in too much pain to return to the game.
The injury will not require surgery until the offseason, when he is likely to receive a procedure to tighten the socket so the shoulder stops popping out. It is unknown whether Horton will play in Game 2 on Saturday, with the team labeling him “day-to-day,” though he would not have been able to play had the Bruins had a game on Thursday.
Horton is second among all skaters with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) this postseason and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. His agent offered no comment on the situation.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
Mike Petraglia contributed to this report.
|Phil Bourque on D&C: Bruins-Penguins will go back to Pittsburgh||06.07.13 at 10:24 am ET|
Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque, a Chelmsford native, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and while much of the talk was about why the Penguins have played so poorly in the series, he made no jokes about what he expects to happen next in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for Game 5,” Bourque said, echoing the thoughts of coach Dan Bylsma. “I believe you’re going to see the best out of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I think it’ll be another low-scoring, tight game, one-goal game, and it’s all about the breaks right now. It’s about who’s going to get the bounces, who’s going to get the breaks, who’s best players are going to step up and help the rest.”
“I fully believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for five ‘ and then it’s game on. Then anything can happen. The seeds are planted.”
Bourque referenced two other series that could give the Penguins some encouragement: the Bruins-Flyers conference semifinals in 2010, during which Boston took a 3-0 lead before completely collapsing, as well as the AHL Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Like in the NHL version, the P-Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But then, without Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, who were called up to Boston, Providence lost the next four games.
“In our eyes, the seeds are planted [if Pittsburgh wins Game 4]. You have a lot of players still here from 2010 for what happened with the Flyers, and we’re going to beat the drum of what happened with the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins,” Bourque said. “When games are very tight, we’ve hit some posts. And I know the Bruins have hit some posts, too, but one or two of those go in in a tight playoff series, tight playoff game, that can change a lot.”
The Penguins will need to fix what has plagued them the first three games ‘ namely, their defensive lapses and not trying to rush or force things in their offensive zone ‘ and their big-name players will need to play the way they are capable of.
“I’m not sure what it is, but we have not played even close to Penguin hockey yet this series,” Bourque said. “The Penguins stars have not shown up in this series yet. I think they’ve gotten pretty good goaltending for the most part, given them a chance. But defensively, that’s my biggest concern, our defensive lapses.”
Bourque credited the Bruins for playing “perfect road hockey” in the first two games in Pittsburgh and doing what they had to to squeak out a Game 3 win. Pittsburgh’s deficit is a combination of the Pens’ poor play and Bruins’ strong play, and Pittsburgh has yet to truly test goalie Tuukka Rask.
Bourque, who played eight seasons for the Penguins in the 1980s and early 90s, acknowledged that heads may roll in Pittsburgh, particularly if the Pens get swept, but he isn’t so sure coach Bylsma’s job is in danger either way.
Still, he expects the Penguins to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Jarome Iginla, who has nearly been invisible all series, could play a role in that.
“I’m at a loss of words,” Bourque said of the midseason acquisition. “I can’t believe that he hasn’t been a major factor in this series. Maybe we’ll see it [Friday] night. But he’s been uncharacteristically quiet. He had a couple of big hits in Game 3 when you thought he was going to really be the Jarome Iginla that everybody feared when they played against him. He’s been really, really quiet.
“On the Boston side I’m thinking, ‘Well, maybe this guy’s going to wake up tonight.’ ”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Pittsburgh ‘has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line’||05.29.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview the Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference finals.
Boston’s fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton came up big for the Bruins against the Rangers, playing key roles in Games 3 and 5. McGuire said Pittsburgh’s depth will negate that advantage.
“There was no answer from the Rangers for Boston’s fourth line. ‘¦ Pittsburgh, I can tell you, has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line,” McGuire said. ” Paille, Campbell and Thornton aren’t going to run around and dominate the way they did the Rangers. Because guys like Jussi Jokinen, guys like Joe Vitale, who played at Northeastern University, a kid out of St. Louis, guys like Craig Adams, who played at Harvard. You’re going to see, these guys can make a mess and they can put you through the boards as much as Thornton can, as much as Paille can, they can fight as much as Campbell can. That’s going to be the X factor that really helped the Bruins last series, it won’t be as much of an impact this series.”
Andrew Ference, who missed the entire Rangers series with what the Bruins called a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at Tuesday’s practice. That’s let to discussion about which young defenseman the B’s might sit if the team wants to make room for the veteran. McGuire suggested the B’s might want to give Ference more time to recover fully.
“He’s walking around with a walking boot on, so clearly there’s a problem with the lower part of his foot or ankle,” McGuire said. “It’s not easy to come back from something like that at this time of the year. So, I don’t think they’re in a rush. And Andrew would probably be the first person to tell you: You know what, when a team’s playing as well as Boston’s playing, especially those players, you probably don’t take them out of the lineup.”
Another topic of discussion around the Bruins is whether the team should move Tyler Seguin back up to the second line in place of Jaromir Jagr.
“We saw what Jaromir could do in confined areas against the Rangers, and there were points in that series where he really wanted to take the puck over but he was overextending his shifts and you could see he was breaking down a little bit,” McGuire said. “Tyler, you could see, and I talked to Tyler a couple of times during the series, he was fighting it in terms of getting pucks in, but he was still making plays. I know he turned the puck over a couple of times. That’s going to happen with offensive players, you’re going to turn the puck over because they’re trying to make stuff happen with the puck. It’s the checkers that you can’t afford having them turn it over. Because they don’t do much with it. They chip it in and chip it out, and they usually don’t score a lot.
“Tyler will probably get augmented minutes. I’ve got to believe the coaching staff is seeing what we’re seeing, and that is that here’s a kid that’s got a chance to be a difference-maker, and his speed is going to be huge.”
|Claude Julien: Proving Jarome Iginla wrong not Bruins’ priority vs. Penguins||05.27.13 at 1:20 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla chose the Penguins over the Bruins, and now they have a chance to make that decision look wrong.
The Bruins and Flames agreed to a deal prior to the trade deadline that would have sent Matt Bartkowski, Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round pick to Calgary in exchange for Iginla. The veteran right wing had said he would waive his no-trade clause for the Bruins, Penguins, Kings or Blackhawks, but upon the agreement of the trade informed the Flames that he would only go to the Penguins. The Flames then negotiated a deal with Pittsburgh to accommodate him.
At the time, the Bruins said they took no issue with Iginla’s decision, but the Iginla-Boston storyline will certainly get attention during the Conference finals. Claude Julien understands that, but he sees bigger motivation to beat the Penguins than simply proving Iginla wrong.
“I would say that moving to the Stanley Cup Finals is way more important than that situation,” Julien said. “That’s where our focus has to be.”
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