|Wheeler, Campbell file for arbitration||07.05.10 at 5:18 pm ET|
Agent Matt Keator has confirmed to WEEI.com that Bruins left wing Blake Wheeler filed for arbitration before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline. The Boston Globe was the first to report the story. Center Gregory Campbell also filed, as he was on the list of players to elect the process by the NHLPA Monday night.
Though Wheeler and Campbell both filed, a possibility still exists that the team could reach agreements with the forwards before their respective arbitration hearings, as the team did last summer with Matt Hunwick.
Defenseman Mark Stuart, the other Bruin eligible for arbitration, did not file, as Keator, who represents both Stuart and Wheeler, indicated that the two sides felt they were close enough to reaching a one-year deal that filing wouldn’t be necessary.
Wheeler had 38 points this past season for the Bruins, scoring 18 goals while playing in all 82 games.
|Quick hits from Chiarelli||06.29.10 at 1:29 pm ET|
– Though the Bruins didn’t tender restricted free agent Daniel Paille a qualifying offer, the two sides are still “moving towards a deal.” Since the team didn’t tender the winger, they cannot sign him until free agency begins on July 1.
“Every year there’s some players that aren’t qualified,” Chiarelli said. “We didn’t qualify Dan Paille but we’re moving towards a deal. Part of it is once you qulify him, they have the right to arbitration, so that number could be hazardous. I’m not saying that’s the case with Daniel, but that’s sometimes what happens. … That’s just part of negotiating and positioning and whatnot.”
– Marc Savard has not asked to be traded and Chiarelli was brief in his answers regarding potentially moving the center to free up cap space. He added that the new media has been overwhelming with some of the rumors they’ve come up with but that the Bruins continue to think very highly of Savard.
“I still think he’s an elite offensive player,” Chiarelli said. “Nothing’s changed in that regard.”
– The deadline for filing for salary arbitration is July 5. Both Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart are eligible, but after meeting with agent Matt Keator, who represents both players, while in Los Angeles, Chiarelli doesn’t know whether either will file.
“I’m not sure,” Chiarelli said. “I hope not.”
– It seems anyone expecting a notable free agent signing will be disappointed. The team will continue to look for upgrades via trade.
“We’re going to work the trade market,” Chiarelli said. “We’re not going out and signing anyone unless 1. We have someone we really want and/or we have the cap space. Right now we don’t really have the cap space to go out and sign a big deal but that could happen. We could make a trade and there could be cap space, but that doesn’t mean we have someone in mind. We’ve got a list. The list is small and in the event we do enter it, unlikely.”
Chiarelli did note that the team will look for a third goaltender and also peruse the defenseman market in free agency.
– Steve Begin and Miroslav Satan are both players in what Chiarelli calls the “secondary market.” The team will pursue other options before potentially negotiating with them.
– The Bruins, who Chiarelli said had been targeting Horton for two and a half years, wanted to get a Horton deal done before the draft. As it turned out, it was the draft pick they parted with (No. 15 overall) that got the deal done.
“I know that was a turning point from Florida’s perspective,” Chiarelli said. “There was another team — there were a few other teams in there — but there was another team that had a pick that was close to 15, but ours was higher.
“It was good to get that deal out of the way, and to add a potential impact player like Tyler is good,” Chiarelli added. “We’ve added one definite top-three forward, and who’s to know what Tyler will become in the short term? We know what he’ll become in the long term.”
– Chiarelli had a good quip when asked whether Seguin wearing Joe Thornton‘s old No. 19 was significant, saying, “I guess. You guys can make it significant.”
“I don’t think there’s any overt attempt to outdo Joe,” he added on a more serious note.
|B’s getting defensive about tonight||05.12.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — While Zdeno Chara wears the ‘C’ as captain, Mark Stuart’s return has been a steadying influence in the Bruins dressing room.
He missed the last two weeks of the regular season with an infection following surgery on his pinkie. And then he missed the opening round against Buffalo and the first three games against the Flyers. When he finally returned in Game 4 of this series against the Flyers, a quiet leader had returned to the Bruins dressing room.
That leadership was on full display on Wednesday morning when asked if he and his fellow defensemen need to get more offensive pressure on just-returning Flyers goalie Michael Leighton after getting just two shots on net in Monday’s 4-0 loss.
“Obviously, we want to get as many shots as we can,” Stuart said. “We didn’t do a great job of that last game. Tonight’s a new night here. If we can just forget about last game and quit talking about it and go play tonight.”
“Anybody who’s been out for a long time, it just doesn’t come back overnight,” Julien added. “What you need to see is a guy getting better and better and I think Mark was better in the second game than he was in the first and hopefully he’ll be better in the third than he was in the second so it’s like every player that comes back, you hope that they get better as they move on here.
“Mark, to me, was a much better player than he was in the first and hopefully, that continues.”
Just as obvious to the Bruins is the mission at hand tonight. They are hoping to avoid the pressure of a do-or-die Game 7 back in Boston on Friday night by beat the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wachovia Center. The Bruins now lead the series, 3-2, after dropping the last two games while the Flyers have gained momentum with star Simon Gagne back in the lineup.
Stuart is not the only defenseman looking to pick up his game after not getting a shot on net. Matt Hunwick was also blanked on the shot chart.
“I think we just need to relax a little bit more and not hold the stick too tight and just play how we played the first three games,” Hunwick said. “We battled the first three games. They were tight, they were close but we found ways to win. I think we can look back on those efforts and we should do a little bit better tonight.”
As for the Bruins getting together for Kumbaya, Unbuntu or any other team-building the night before Game 6, Julien said there was no need.
“I don’t think there was anything special [Tuesday] night. We didn’t do a team dinner but I think our guys, in order to have success, we can’t be tense,” Julien said following this morning’s optional pre-game skate at the Wachovia Center. “Being relaxed is maybe not even the right word but in the right frame of mind and hopefully that’s what we show tonight when we start the game.”
The Flyers can become the first NHL team since 1976 to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 with a win on home ice tonight and are looking to become the fourth major pro sports team to win a series after being in a 3-0 hole.
‘We haven’t talked about it much,’ admitted Flyers coach Peter Laviolette Wednesday. ‘Certainly everybody understands the difficult challenge that an 0-3 series presents. That’s part of the story you write through the course of the playoffs if you’re able to get through it, it’s part of the story. Our guys are well aware of it. Certainly they know not many teams get an opportunity at something like this. Any time you can put your name to a positive mark in history like that, it certainly would be a good thing.’
For the Flyers, head coach Peter Laviolette indicated that forward Claude Giroux would be ready for Game 6 after being held out of the third period on Monday after a hit to the boards from Steve Begin.
|Sunday notes: Pressure? What pressure for Game 5?||05.09.10 at 3:18 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Pressure?
There has been a lot of talk in this Eastern Conference semifinals series about where the pressure lays. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said that the pressure is on the Bruins before Game 4, Mark Recchi said afterward that he does not see where Laviolette gets that notion. Really though, we are talking about pressure. It is like talking about “character” — some esoteric notion that you know exists and it effects how a team plays and is perceived but it cannot be quantitated or examined until well after the point of pressure and high anxiety has passed.
“I feel that every game there has got to be a sense of urgency and that is the way we have approached it,” coach Claude Julien said. “Some people call it pressure some people call it something else. You put the pressure on yourself to do well because we want to do well. I think pressure is something that, if you handle well, is a great thing to have on your side. If you can’t handle it well it is certainly something that can be detrimental to your team.”
Part of the reason the Bruins may have been playing so well through the playoffs is that their definition of “pressure” may have worn off. The ultimate embarrassment for Boston would have been to not qualify for the playoffs at all a season after having the best record in the Eastern Conference and starting the year as one of the Stanley Cup favorites. In that regard there was more pressure through the end of March into April than there has been during the playoffs.
“Well, we have been better for quite a while. We did it when we got into the playoffs. This is a better team and you move on from there,” Julien said. “There was a sense of urgency or whatever you want to call it before the playoffs started so, we have gone through that and are adjusting to it right now. I find we are very focused team right now. We just have to keep that in the right direction and for us, everybody game is a must-win. So, no matter what, every game is a must win, we take that approach and it has served us well.”
After making the tournament and getting out of the first round, the fear of embarrassment or failure, which might be a good definition of pressure, has not been present. They are able to go out and play hard and have fun while working hard. It is the playoffs, it is supposed to be fun because, after all, hockey is just a game.
“You can’t play this game and not have fun. You guys can’t do your job and not enjoy it. Otherwise, might as well changed your job right?” Julien said. “It is the same thing for players. You have to go out and love this time of year. There’s a bunch of teams right now watching us play that would love to be where we are and that is fun. We have to take that approach and we have taken that approach. We have come into the dressing room after a period either down a couple of goals or tied or whatever and say ‘guys, lets just go out there and win this game and have fun doing it.’ And the guys have taken that approach and it has worked well for us.”
Notes: The full compliment of healthy Bruins skaters were present at Ristuccia with Adam McQuaid the only player who might have been a possibility missing. He is still out with a “lower-body injury” and remains doubtful for Monday’s Game 5. It is not likely that McQuaid would play either as Mark Stuart has come back to the lineup and, after a poor Game 4, feels that he will be able to get back up to mental and physical speed in his second playoff game of the year.
“Yeah, it was a little different actually, I felt like I was crashing the party,” Stuart said. “I thought my emotion level would be there because of the playoffs and it definitely was because of the situation and the intensity is way up and everything is faster. I think I will be up to speed tomorrow.”
Dennis Seidenberg skated on the Ristuccia ice after the rest of the team had completed its practice and was worked out by trainer John Whitesides. Seidenberg has been on the ice for two days in a row now as he battles back from a lacerated tendon suffered in Toronto on April 3. He had a hard cast taken off the left forearm last Monday to reveal a long, horizontal scar five inches up from his wrist. He is not expected to be back until at least eight weeks after the surgery but Julien said that it has been encouraging to gets guys back into the lineup even as big performers (Marco Sturm, David Krejci) have hit the infirmary.
“Any time you see that kind of thing around your team it is a positive,” Julien said. “We have been hit this week with some big injuries but then you look at the other side and you see some other guys start to come around. So, hopefully we continue to win hockey games to give those guys and opportunity to come back.”
|Stuart medically cleared, game-time decision for Game 4||05.07.10 at 12:54 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The revolving door continues.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid goes down in the first period of Game 3 with a lower body injury and all of a sudden Mark Stuart is medically cleared to play coming back from cellulitis in his left hand. It has been the way the Bruins have rolled this year — a deep roster of capable players mixed with a little serendipity.
“Yeah, still a game-time decision but if they call my name I am ready to go,” Stuart said. “Yeah, it is just me and the other guys to see who is going. For now it [the decisions] is in warmups, after warmups, something like that.”
The other decisions of which Stuart speaks would be between him, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Andy Wozniewski and Jeffrey Penner. It is hard to imagine that coach Claude Julien would take one of the two rookies (Bodnarchuk, Penner) or lifetime AHL blue liner Wozniewski over a relatively healthy Stuart. Even if McQuaid was not injured, Stuart still should get the nod coming back. He is a solid top-four NHL defenseman and when he is playing well, the Bruins defensive corps is deep and that much tougher to crack. Stuart said that it is a little bit different coming back for the playoffs — the intensity is must higher — but it would be the same for him as the other defenseman who have been sitting all playoffs.
“Yeah, a little bit. It usually comes back pretty quick. You try to get your mental game going as quick as you can and hope that the physical part catches up. I have been on the ice and it feels good but now it is just a matter in getting in some games,” Stuart said.
Stuart’s injury is a bit of an odd one as there is actually nothing structurally wrong with him. Cellulitis is a bone infection and he has been on antibiotics treating it. The biggest fear would be to contaminate the infection, there is a lot of other people’s sweat and potentially blood in a hockey game. Yet, if the staff has medically cleared him, there should be no reason not to suit him up. He has been skating and working hard to come back for the last week and it seems that he is ready to make a go of it.
“It has been quite a bit in a short time. I would not say rushing it but like I said before I have the luxury of the guys playing so well and getting some wins,” Stuart said. “I don’t know if it will be harder or easier, actually. It is playoffs, it is fun. You kind of get into the intensity early. I have not played in the games but watching them and being around the guys you definitely feel the energy.”
|Julien has to make decisions for Game 4||05.06.10 at 3:34 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins are focused.
It could be sensed on Wednesday which team is walking the concentrated, confident path and which one a little bit lost in the dark. The Bruins have the swagger, the Flyers need a flashlight.
So, when it comes to the loss of a key guy like David Krejci, the collective Boston dressing room bucks up and comes together to continue down the road. It is a key loss, for sure, but it is not like these Bruins have not been dealing with it all season. They lost Marc Savard to a Grade 2 concussion for two months and have been without two of their top for defenders in Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg throughout the playoffs. Yet, here they are, one game away from the Eastern Conference finals.
“It is never easy to lose guys like that. We’ve got two guys in our top four ‘D’s’ who are out of our lineup still,” coach Claude Julien said. “It is part of the game. It is one that you can’t dwell on because it takes away your focus on what you need to do to succeed so as a coach you look at what you got there and you have to make the best of what you got.”
Julien has not yet made a decision on who will replace Krejci in the lineup, it will be either Trent Whitfield or Brad Marchand but the coach also has to figure out who will take rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid’s spot as well. The blue liner was lost for the rest of Game 3 after being hit behind the net in the first period on Wednesday and tallied three shifts for 1:49 of ice time. Julien said on Thursday that he had a “lower-body injury” and is “very doubtful” for Game 4. His options in the cupboard are either Andy Wozniewski, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeff Penner or maybe, just maybe, Stuart.
“He suffered what we would call a ‘lower body injury,’ in the playoffs. Basically, very doubtful for tomorrow but then will be a day-to-day situation,” Julien said of McQuaid.
There is still no word on medical clearance for Stuart coming back from a cellulitis infection in his left pinky. He has been skating and practicing but has not been fully cleared to get into a game. McQuaid going down will not speed up the timetable for Stuart and Julien reserves the right to make the decision on if the defender is ready when he does get clearance.
“No, we are not going to accelerate [Stuart],” Julien said. “If [Stuart] ever plays it is because he is ready to play and he is also a guy who, when I say re-evaluted, we haven’t gotten clearance from the medical staff yet but he has been cleared for full practice so all we need now is full clearance. If we do have that tomorrow, whether we get it or not, then it will be our decision.”
Stuart has been practicing with an IV cast that he moves around his arms and is still on antibiotics until May 25th. He feels he has good conditioning and has repeatedly stated the desire to get into the playoffs as soon as he is cleared. On Thursday he skated with Penner, Wozniewski, Bodnarchuk, Whitfield and Marchand along with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Dany Sabourin. Outside of the net minders, pluck two players from that list, perhaps Bodnarchuk and Whitfield as a first guess, and insert them into the Bruins lineup for Game 4 on Friday.
“I think we have a lot of guys who have been around our team for a while now and we will keep that decision probably for tomorrow,” Julien said. “I still got a whole day to sort things out here and we have a lot of guys capable of jumping in and doing the job here. It is a matter of picking and choosing who we want. So, there are still a couple of question marks. We talk about Stuart, we talk about the other ‘D’s’ available, we are definitely going to need a guy there and definitely going to need another forward. So, there will be two new additions in our lineup tomorrow.”
On a separate injury related note, Seidenberg had his hard cast removed from his left forearm on Monday to reveal a two to three inch scar from where he suffered a tendon laceration. He wears a splint over it and has been working out though not yet able to take the ice. He is about four weeks through the eight weeks of expected recovery time which might make him available if the Bruins go to the Stanley Cup Finals.
|A little rest for the heavy hitters||05.04.10 at 1:42 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It is easy to forget through the first two rounds of the playoffs that the Bruins are still operating without some significant depth on the blue line. Mark Stuart started skating this week, coming back from surgery for cellulitis, and Dennis Seidenberg has been a regular press box presence at TD Garden, but otherwise the injured players are in the forgotten man ether that comes with the disabled list. The de facto top four defensemen — Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick — have logged big minutes since the last week of the regular season and even though coach Claude Julien has stepped off the throttle with them a little bit as Andrew Ference has contributed and rookie Adam McQuaid has settled down, the top two pairs are still the oxen pulling the cart.
Hence, all four blueliners got the day off on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Julien dresssed six the three Black Aces the Bruins have up with the team — Andy Wozniewski, Jeff Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk, along with Stuart, Ference and McQuaid.
“I think it is just a matter of giving a few guys some days off here and doing something different,” Julien said. “We can still get them on the ice before the game tomorrow morning. It is just about managing that stuff.”
The other heavy hitters in the Bruins lineup got to sit Tuesday as well including Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Tuukka Rask. A minor reward for carrying the team to a 6-2 record through eight games but nothing major. The rest of the team only skated for a half-hour or so as it has a quite turnaround for a 1:30 p.m. flight to Philadelphia.
In terms of Stuart, the defenseman is not yet ready to make the jump back to the lineup. He has been skating for the last week and only with the full team a couple of times as of yet. He said on Tuesday that he is still on antiobiotics (until May 25) and still wears an IV cast like thing on his right arm. With him around the team people cannot help but ask if he will be ready for Game 3 but the situation is not as simple as a workout or practice. He will not be on the ice Wednesday night and the team still has to wait for medical clearance as well as for Stuart to get back to a level where he can contribute.
“Definitely no … He is not playing tomorrow, he is not ready for that yet,”Julien said. “It is a situation where he has to be medically cleared and what he has got is a bone infection. He can practice now is what we have been told, he can do some things but before we can ever consider him he has to be medically cleared and feel that he is ready to go as well.”
Stuart sees a defensive unit that has been playing well through the playoffs and knows he will have to be ready to contribute when he does finally make his return to the ice.
“It is not like we don’t have six D-men playing their best right now, cause we do,” Stuart said. “It is not going to help to play a guy who hasn’t done anything for two months just to rush him back. So, I feel good out there though and obviously I want to play but it is going to be a coaches decision when they feel like I can contribute and they feel like they need me and I will just be ready whenever that comes.”
Here are the lines from Tuesday’s skate:
Red — Begin, Shawn Thornton, Vladimir Sobotka
Defense — Wozniewski, Penner, Bodnarchuk, Ference, McQuaid, Stuart
Goaltenders — Tim Thomas, Dany Sabourin
Out — Chara, Boychuk, Wideman, Hunwick, Bergeron, Recchi, Rask