|Bruins season preview: Forward projections||10.01.13 at 8:23 am ET|
It isn’t the opening week of the NHL season without people incorrectly guessing what’s going to happen (not to brag, but what has two thumbs and totally called that Johnny Boychuk would score five goals in 2011-12? Yeah, that’s the extent to which these predictions have been right).
Here’s a look at the predictions for the offense. As you can probably tell by the goal totals, the thought here is that the B’s will see some bigger individual performances than in years past. Part of that is the fact that the top two lines will be very good and part of it is the smaller goalie pads.
Note: It’s silly to predict injuries, so all players’ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play.
David Krejci: 23 goals, 52 assists, 75 points
Playing with two heavily motivated power forwards, Krejci sets a career high in points. Then again, he’s probably going to put up 75 points in a single playoff run one of these years.
Jarome Iginla: 35 goals, 29 assists, 64 points
Thirty-five goals for the aging Iginla — sounds crazy, right? It shouldn’t. That’s just half a goal less than what Iginla has averaged in the last four full seasons. The argument against this happening is that he’s 36 years old now, but he hasn’t appeared to have lost a step and certainly hasn’t worn down. He’s missed a grand total of zero games due to injury since January of 2007.
Milan Lucic: 31 goals, 30 assists, 61 points
Two 30-goal-scorers for the Bruins in the same season? That hasn’t happened since the 2002-03 season, but B’s came three goals away from it in 2011-12. Lucic won’t slump this season like he did last year; Iginla will demand more of him.
Patrice Bergeron: 22 goals, 49 assists, 71 points
Also look for Bergeron to be among the league-leaders in plus-minus. With the addition of Loui Eriksson to his line, the bump in offense will mean he remains a Selke favorite.
Brad Marchand: 31 goals, 26 assists, 57 points
I’m actually predicting that every player in the NHL will have 30 goals this season, including goalies. All kidding aside, there is no reason why Marchand’s numbers shouldn’t go up this season, as he’s stepping one year further into his prime and he’s playing on the best line he’s been a part of in his NHL career.
Loui Eriksson: 28 goals, 37 assists, 65 points
These numbers might not jump off the page, but we’ll go with a more conservative prediction for Eriksson as we learn more about him. Among the questions: Will he be better or worse now that he’s got people paying attention?
Chris Kelly: 12 goals, 20 assists, 32 points
Kelly doesn’t have it in him to have two bad seasons in a row, but there are definitely questions about what this line will produce.
Carl Soderberg: 14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points
At long last, Carl Soderberg is an honest-to-goodness NHLer. He’s had his training camp, he’s used to the ice and he played in two Stanley Cup finals games for good measure. We’ll see how he holds up at wing.
Reilly Smith: 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points
After winning the job, Smith now has the challenge of keeping it. He looked good in camp, so expect him to stick.
Gregory Campbell: 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points
He’s healthy and ready to do something ‘ anything ‘ to make people forget about his leg.
Daniel Paille: 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points
Just a reminder: Paille scored 10 goals in the 48-game season last year. He’s a serviceable third-liner playing on the fourth line.
Shawn Thornton: 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points
This is the last year of his current contract, but Thornton doesn’t want it to be his last in Boston.
|Bruins feel fighting worth risk in preseason||09.23.13 at 11:23 pm ET|
The NHL is having a ball with preseason fights, and the Bruins and Capitals were the most recent participants. There were five fights at TD Garden Monday night, with Bruins regulars participating in three of them.
In addition to Kevan Miller and Nick Johnson, the B’s saw Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid drop the gloves at different points Monday against the Capitals. Joel Rechlicz was the adversary of both Lucic and Boychuk.
While it sure looked like fun for the parties involved, fighting always carries a risk, and the reward is that you can either swing the momentum of the game or prove that you and your teammates stick up for one another. Sorry, but in the preseason, proving either of those two things doesn’t outweigh the risk of getting hurt. The Bruins feel differently.
“There’s a lot of cons to fighting in the preseason,” Lucic admitted following the game. “You don’t want to break a hand or get a concussion or anything like that from fighting in the preseason. The pros are you’re showing that no matter what the situation is and no matter what the game is, you’re going to stick up for yourself and your teammates, [no matter] what the situation is.”
One major issue surrounding fighting is that this season will be the first in which players will be penalized for removing their helmets before a fight. Last week, the Islanders and Devils got creative when Krys Barch and Brett Gallant politely removed each other’s helmet and then fought. There was a similar situation involving Miller and Aaron Volpatti Monday night.
Asked about the new rule, Lucic clearly wasn’t in favor but gave as politically correct an answer as he could.
“I know with the mandatory visors and not being able to take off your helmet, you’re going to see a lot more guys punching a lot more helmets and maybe guys breaking their hands a lot more just from hitting a helmet,” he said. “So it’s one of those rules that the NHL felt like they needed to make; regardless of what I think of it we still have to live with it.”
|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.”
|Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand all invited to Team Canada orientation camp||07.22.13 at 2:29 pm ET|
While Lucic and Marchand will compete to play in the Olympics for the first time in their careers, Bergeron was a member of the 2010 team that won the gold medal in 2010. Bergeron is a member of the Triple Gold Club as a player who has won gold at the Olympics and World Junior Championships in addition to winning the Stanley Cup.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Stanley shock: Blackhawks score two late to win Cup in Boston||06.24.13 at 10:54 pm ET|
The Bruins saw their season end just like they saw it extended three rounds earlier: with a shocking flurry of goals and an unprecedented comeback. The Blackhawks scored two goals within 17.7 seconds in the final 1:16 of regulation to overcome a 2-1 deficit and win the Stanley Cup on Boston’s ice.
Milan Lucic broke a 1-1 tie with 7:49 remaining in regulation when he took a feed from David Krejci from behind the net and buried it past Corey Crawford, but Bryan Bickell tied it with the extra attacker out and 1:16 remaining to stun the TD Garden crowd.
If that wasn’t enough, Dave Bolland then proceeded to bury a puck off a hit post with 58.3 left to seal Chicago’s second Stanley Cup in the last four years.
The Bruins came out flying in the first period and were spotted a 1-0 lead on Chris Kelly‘s second goal of the series. The goal, which came off a feed from Tyler Seguin, capped a very strong shift for Boston’s third line. Though the Bruins outplayed the Blackhawks significantly, in the first period, they paid for not scoring more when Jonathan Toews beat Tuukka Rask five-hole on a 2-on-1 at the expiration of a Bruins’ power play.
The Bruins spent much of the game hampered by a Jaromir Jagr injury, as Jagr appeared to be hurt in the first period (taking only four shifts in the first 20 minutes) and played just two shifts in the second period. With Jagr out, Seguin and Rich Peverley took turns on Patrice Bergeron‘s line. Jagr returned for the third period, at which point the lines went back to normal.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Kelly took a high-sticking penalty with 5:39 left in regulation and the B’s holding onto a one-goal lead. The Blackhawks didn’t get anything going in the first 1:35 of their power play, fortunately for the Bruins, and did not score, but that was only temporary.
— Much like the Blackhawks in Game 2, the Bruins didn’t get enough out of their dominant first period and couldn’t find a way to sustain it into the second period. The Bruins could have hit the first intermission with a larger lead, and when they returned from it the Blackhawks had found their legs and were able to pull equal in the second.
— Speaking of missed opportunities, the Bruins had four power plays and no penalties through the first 30 minutes of the game and went 0-for-4 on the power play. The B’s have been better in the Stanley Cup finals on the man advantage than in previous rounds, but they had the chance to really provide some distance on the scoreboard and failed to do so.
— The Bruins looked like the more banged-up of the two teams. Bergeron looked to be in pain on the bench in the second period, and the absence of Jagr wasn’t their only perceived disability. Lucic took an awful lot of faceoffs (and was quite good on them — he won seven of nine through the first two periods), while Krejci took six. That’s likely a sign that Krejci could have been dealing with something.
— Both teams had to deal with it, but the ice looked really bad at TD Garden. That’s no surprise given the weather, but there were lots of unsettled pucks and passes that jumped over sticks.
— A couple of whistles got in the way of chances for the B’s. First, Crawford took his mask off during a Bruins power play to get a whistle, and a play was blown dead after Shawn Thornton hit Andrew Shaw in the face with a shot entering the Blackhawks zone. Shaw was down on the ice bleeding and the refs called the play dead. It cost Thornton a scoring chance, but everyone could have done without the Garden crowd booing while a guy is down and bleeding from the face.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— The B’s dodged a bullet in the second period thanks to a huge save from Rask in front. With Seguin in the box for hooking, Bickell nearly scored on a put-back, but Rask was able to get the top of his skate on it, redirecting the puck across the crease and allowing Chara to send the puck to Peverley before Patrick Kane could get to it.
— Give Claude Julien credit for a bold coaching move that paid off in the first period. With a TV timeout following a strong shift from the Kelly line in which the B’s had some sound chances, Julien stuck with the line against Toews’ line. That looked like a very wise move when Seguin fed Kelly, who beat Crawford glove side.
— Lucic’s goal was scored stick side, a real rarity for this series. Given that Kelly’s goal was glove side, 12 of 15 goals scored this series beat Crawford’s glove.
Bruins players spoke to a jam-packed room of reporters in comically large media scrums after what might have been their last morning skate of the season. They answered their questions, sounded optimistic, but Milan Lucic sounded tired of his own words. He looked, pretty obviously, like a guy who just wanted to get back on the ice for Game 6.
After all, the Bruins know their situation: Win and it’s Game 7. Lose and it’s over.
“When you’re in a moment like this, there’s definitely nothing to save it for. You don’t come this far to lose, right?” Lucic said. “It would have been easy to quit two months ago in that Game 7 in Toronto to get ourselves through that game. There’s no reason why we can’t dig deep and find a little bit extra to get us through this one.”
Added Lucic: “This is where players are remembered the most. You’ve got to find it within you to do whatever you can. You never know when you’re going to be back in this situation, and you’ve got to make the most of the opportunity that’s given to you. Right now you’ve got to view this as an opportunity and try to do everything you can to force a Game 7.”
The Bruins came back against Toronto in the most unfathomable way possible. If they’re trailing by three goals midway through the third on Monday (or maybe Wednesday), you can bet that they’ll be toast. Still, the lesson in Toronto’s collapse is that anything is possible. Both teams will have the rosters they’ve had throughout the series (Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews are in), so the Bruins don’t need to worry about anything but coming out of Game 6 with a win.
How might they do that? Getting better looks against Corey Crawford would be a start. The B’s outshot the Blackhawks in the early going of Game 5 (the Blackhawks held the overall edge at 32-25), but they didn’t pepper his glove side the way they did when they scored five against him in Game 4. Lucic says the B’s need to take whatever chances they can get.
In general the Bruins could stand to get more out of the top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Though they produced a goal in Game 5, the members of the line have yet to score since Lucic’s two-goal performance in Game 1.
Consider the circumstances of their most promising period in a while. The Bruins had the Blachawks on their heels at points in the third period and saw the Krejci line produce a goal, but they were able to do that with Jonathan Toews not in the game. The Krejci line scored against the Bickell – Kruger – Kane line on a Zdeno Chara blast, but given that the Blackhawks were mixing and matching without this season’s Selke winner, the Krejci line played against the Kane line and also Dave Bolland‘s line in the third. Still, you’ll take results either way, and though Chicago got that goal back on a Bolland empty-netter and sealed up Game 5, Krejci was encouraged by his line’s third period.
“I think we had a great third period,” Krejci said. “Maybe the best in the whole finals. We’ve got to try to build on that and bring it to tonight’s game from the first minute to the end.”
Krejci still leads all playoff skaters in a landslide with 25 points (the next guys have 19), but he has yet to go off in the finals like he has in series past — most notably, they could use some production like he had in the first round. After having 13 points (five goals, eight assists) against the Maple Leafs, Krejci has put up four points in each of the last three series: four assists against the Rangers in five games, four goals against the Penguins in four games, and four assists against the Blackhawks through four games.
If the Bruins are to push this to seven, more offensive output from their top line would go a long way.
“We need to do more. We’ve definitely talked about being better,” Lucic said. “We’ve been playing well throughout the whole playoffs, and we’ve talked about [how] there’s no reason we can’t bring our best in situations like this.”
|Bruins’ physical play helped lift them back into Game 2||06.16.13 at 8:47 pm ET|
The Blackhawks know they aren’t the NHL’s most physical team — both coach Joel Quenneville and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson acknowledged the fact on Sunday. Whether or not that played a role in the Bruins’ comeback win in Game 2 is harder to determine, but Quenneville said it’s a possibility.
“It’s hard to gauge,” Quenneville said. “I know you look at the hit sheet game to game, and I think we’re always on the underside of it by whatever number or margin. You’ve got certain guys that are more physical than others. I think we’ve got to be harder to play against than we were last night.”
The recorded number of hits the Bruins had compared to the Blackhawks isn’t particularly significant, given that hits can be measured differently in every venue. But as the Bruins worked their way back from a flat first period, outmuscling their opponents for loose pucks and seeing their hardest hitters — like Milan Lucic, who saw more time on the ice than any Bruins forward except David Krejci — play their hard-nosed style helped them even out the game.
The Blackhawks have faced teams known for their physicality before in this postseason, most notably the Kings. Quenneville said they’ve responded to the Bruins’ big hits much the same way they did to Los Angeles’.
“As long as we’re not deterred in where we have to travel to be successful, is something we’ll talk about,” Quenneville said. “L.A. is a physical team. Boston, they’re a big team. At the same time, we can’t get distracted knowing if we get out-hit, it makes a difference. Our guys have to travel, whether it’s to the net or first to pucks, we’ve got to be there.”
Defenseman Duncan Keith agreed, saying he thought the problems came when the Blackhawks were outworked in puck battles.