|Chiarelli sees similarities with Sabres||04.12.10 at 12:51 pm ET|
There is to be a distinct flavor to the teams that populate the Northeast Division of the NHL’s Eastern Conference — decent goaltending, collapsing defensive styles along with rich traditions and devout fan bases.
Along those lines, the Bruins are getting ready to take divisional rival Buffalo for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday, and Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli sees a lot of similarities between how the two organizations have been built.
“I have admired the Buffalo organization. The way that they have built the team, the way that they stress bringing their players through the system, getting those players in the lineup,” Chiarelli said in a conference call Monday morning. “I admire the coach and the way that he has changed through the years, I think he is the longest tenured coach.”
The fortunes of the two franchises have been up and down in the last decade or so, though Buffalo claims the upper hand in more recent history with two trips to the conference finals in 2005-06 and 2006-07 before missing the playoffs the last two years to retool the roster with younger players and establish their stalwart goaltender Ryan Miller on the back end.
“I have seen a team that has undergone a bit of a transformation over the past few years. They have added more speed up front and you can see that in their forecheck and their neutral zone play,” Chiarelli said. “Obviously their goalie is a terrific goalie, he is very hard to beat. We have played them well, there is a defensive element to their game as well which I think is inherent in [coach] Lindy [Ruff’s] system and how [general manager] Darcy [Regier] builds teams that obviously we have, not the same type of component, but there is an emphasis on our team on that also.”
The Bruins and Sabres share some history in the front office as well as ice level. Chiarelli’s assistant general manager, Jim Benning, hails from the Buffalo organization and assistant coaches Doug Houda and Craig Ramsay both spending time with the team.
“They have some good principles there and our assistant GM, Jim Benning, is from there, they’ve got very good principles there. It is not a coincidence that we are facing each other because there are some good people who have run through there,” Chiarelli said.
Everything in this series is going to orbit and the linchpins of the respective lineups — Miller and Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask. The defense will play tight, stay close to the crease and the puck will spend a lot of time on the half walls. Chiarelli said to expect a lot of goals of the tip-in and deflection variety.
“It’s tough. You are going to see good goaltending and obviously collapsing [defense] because of the good goaltending,” Chiarelli said. “So, you will see a lot of traffic and when there is traffic and collapsing [defensemen] you are going to see tip-ins and those types of goals. I think you are going to see those types of goals deciding the games, notwithstanding really good goaltending.”
Chiarelli said a couple of times that prognosticating the results of the series will be difficult, especially considering the distinct similarities between the two rosters.
“From a matchup perspective, I think you are going to see some tight defense and the fact that you have two very good goalies. They will be hard games, they compete hard. They have a goal-scorer in [Tomas] Vanek who seems to have found his mark in the last little bit,” Chiarelli said. “I am not sure if they are getting some of their guys back but they have some pretty skilled forwards up front and if we forecheck the way we are capable of doing, I think we are in for a pretty good series.”
|Savard: ‘Just trying to feel normal again’||03.27.10 at 2:09 pm ET|
Marc Savard is taking walks, getting some fresh air and trying to regain his full wits.
On Saturday, he spoke publicly about the hit from Matt Cooke on March 7 in Pittsburgh and how it’s affected him.
Thanks to the Bruins media relations department, here is the full transcript:
On how he is feeling and if he remembers the hit:
I am not feeling myself quite yet, still. I still don’t have any recollection of the hit. Obviously, I have seen it but that’s the only recollection I have, when I see it. I just don’t remember any of it.
On if he has any close calls with similar types of hits before this particular one:
No, none of that nature, I guess. I have obviously seen them but, I haven’t come close to getting hit like that ever.
On his reaction to the hit:
Well, I have obviously viewed it a couple of times and I think it was a play that didn’t need to happen, obviously. To me it wasn’t a shoulder and I watched the [Mike] Richards on [David] Booth hit. I think that was a shoulder. I think mine was more of an elbow, so I think there was an attempt to injure there. I was, obviously, very unhappy with what happened and I think it could have been avoided very easily. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins extend defenseman Ference||03.24.10 at 3:30 pm ET|
The Bruins extended defenseman Andrew Ference’s contract for three years on Wednesday. Multiple media outlets have reported that the deal to be worth $6.75 million for a $2.25 million average.
Questions abound. The first one: Why now? With 11 games to 10 games to play in the regular season and a couple of months before the start of free agency after, the Bruins had ample time to negotiate with Ference (who would have been an unrestricted free agent) or get a feel for what other options might be available.
“There was no reason behind [the timing],” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “I guess we just tried to get ahead of it with some of these players. When we came to an agreement is why it is done now … We just try to be proactive on certain fronts and this falls into that category.”
There are some things to like about the 10-year veteran defenseman. He is a good puck mover and tends to play hard when he can stay on the ice. He slots between a third to fifth defenseman and has versatility to provide depth to a group of blue liners. Chiarelli acknowledged Ference’s abilities.
“He is experienced and that experience brings an element of stability on defense especially when you have some younger players. He competes. I remember him playing for Calgary in the Stanley Cup playoffs the year they went to the finals,” Chiarelli said. “He is efficient enough on the ice where he can play in the top four, compliment the top four and still have that compete level that he has … He has got a lot of ingredients we look for in a player and we are glad to have him in the mix.”
At the same time, Ference has not exactly been the model of a healthy citizen the last couple of years. Groin injuries have limited him to 50 games this year (with eight assists and a plus/minus of -7) and 47 games last year. Chiarelli said that Ference’s injuries were just “part of the package.”
“He is a player who can give you 20-plus minutes a night,” Chiarelli said. “With [Ference] there is an element of leadership, he has the skating ability to retrieve pucks, probably his biggest strength is that first pass out of our zone. He really contributes to the flow of our defense. A lot of understated attributes to his game and I think you have seen him back in the last couple of games. He plays a hard game and does have injuries as a result. That is part of the package. He takes very good care of his body.”
Ference feels that he can be healthy moving forward.
“Not bad,” Ference said of his current state of health. “I have been battling injuries the last couple of years. It has been frustrating as far as some of them go but it is part of the game and I feel fortunate enough that injuries that I have had are completely reparable and that I can come back and feel 100-percent from. Obviously that goes into the decision making in keeping me around and obviously the doctors are confident enough to tell the team that I will be able to come back from and be 100-percent.”
Chiarelli said that he was given assurances that Ference will be healthy once he gets over his current round of ailments.
“I think with a player of his size there will be injuries, knock on wood,” Chiarelli said. “I was given an assurance with regard to his groin and core area that everything is reparable and everything will be fine. We are prepared to take the injuries with the way that he plays.”
Chiarelli said that the beauty of locking up Ference is that he has utility within the defensive core. He can be a top four puck mover or can slide back to the bottom pair to compliment what the other guys are doing.
“He can play at a multitude of different spots, which is why he is attractive,” Chiarelli said. “He can play in the top four, he can play in the bottom pair. His game lends itself to different roles and he is versatile and that is why he is attractive also.”
Where does Ference signing leave the rest of the Bruins defensemen? Johnny Boychuk and Mark Stuart are both restricted free agents after the year and Dennis Seidenberg is an unrestricted free agent. That leaves Ference, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick under contract heading into 2010-11. Chiarelli said that front office continues to evaluate.
“We are always evaluating,” Chiarelli said. “The last two games we have played well defensively. Well, the whole year we have played well defensively, relatively speaking. I know the rest of our play has not been up to far according to pundits, myself included. So, we are always evaluating and we have brought a new member in the mix in [Seidenberg]. I am not going to comment on what your specific plans are but there seems to be a good mix there right now and we will see how it plays out the rest of the year.”
Ference said that he asked for a no-trade clause in his contract because he would like to stay in the Boston area where his girls have started school but that he did not receive one.
|Chiarelli gets defensive||03.03.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
Call it spin or creative marketing.
But Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, while admitting frustration in not landing one of eight snipers they hoped to add before Wednesday’s trading deadline, did say the Bruins accomplished something significant that indirectly could result in a better offense.
In making two deadline-day trades while shipping one of their current defenseman and a forward out of town, they remade their blue line. The centerpiece is 28-year-old defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, a defenseman aquired from Florida, along with the rights to Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski, in exchange for forward Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round draft pick in this year’s draft.
‘I know a lot of the questions will be, ‘Why didn’t we get scoring?’ And those are very good and valid questions. Firstly, we wanted to change the composition of our defense. I can say that was an equal priority to getting some more scoring,’ Chiarelli said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Bruins sent 31-year-old defenseman Derek Morris to Phoenix for a conditional pick in the 2011 draft. On Tuesday, the Bruins added defensemen Cody Wild from Edmonton and the rights to University of Michigan defenseman Steve Kampfer from Anaheim.
‘I put [defense] as an equal priority because I feel that if we change the composition that will, in itself, allow us to improve from the backend out and that should result in better offensive production,’ Chiarelli said. ‘It allows defensemen to play in their appropriate roles and that was the motivation behind that now.’
Chiarelli said he and his staff targeted eight potential forwards around the NHL as possible acquisitions prior to the deadline but he deemed the asking price too high. Names such as Edmonton’s Steve Staios, Raffi Torres, who wound up being traded from Columbus to Buffalo and Carolina’s Ray Whitney, who wasn’t dealt at all, were among the names rumored to be on Boston’s radar.
‘With regard to improving the scoring, there were some players out there and we were in on more than a couple,’ Chiarelli said. ‘But I guess at the end of the day, I just wasn’t in a position to give what they wanted. I didn’t think additions that I contemplated would produce more than marginal improvement. Hard to believe after scoring one goal [Tuesday] night, I really believe our group can score more and we will score more.’
|Chiarelli to fans: I feel your frustration||at 5:23 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli faced the music and the New England media approximately 90 minutes after the NHL trade deadline passed.
He was unable to land one of eight scoring forwards he and management had targeted to help a Bruins team that – with 150 goals – ranks dead last in offense in the NHL.
It was the great frustration of his, as he readily admitted throughout his question-and-answer session.
“As a manager, you try to separate the direct results of the team on a day-to-day basis. I wasn’t happy with [Tuesday] night and we didn’t try to react and we didn’t react today because we put a lot of planning into a bunch of these things,” Chiarelli said. “I know the fans want more scoring and they want us to have more success. So there’s my frustration. I didn’t put that in place.”
|Bruins players react to Morris, Seidenberg trades||at 1:37 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A professional sports team is broken up into two parts: the front office who make the decisions and the players who actually do the competing. We have heard from the Bruins front office on Wednesday with the trade for Dennis Seidenberg and the departures of Derek Morris and Byron Bitz. For the players it is a different, more emotional type of day.
“There is still two-and-a-half hours left until the day is over,” Tim Thomas said. “But, it is meant to effect the team and hopefully it does so positively … I noticed [that there has been more nervousness in the locker room] a little bit. I noticed it yesterday, since yesterday was my first day back but I noticed it even a little bit before the break. I think there was some nervousness about it and you try your best not to think about it but that does not mean you do not think about it at all. It really does no good to think about it because no matter what way you think about it, it is not going to work out that way.”
Not many people would have suspected that the Bruins would ship out Morris and replace him with Seidenberg. Coupled with Bitz the Bruins have opened up some cap room to bring in a scoring forward later in the afternoon. There have been rumors of talks with the Blue Jackets about acquiring Raffi Torres but the cost might be a first round pick which would make it prohibitive for general manager Peter Chiarelli.
For the most part the Bruins players understand that the NHL is a business and that this team was probably looking at some type of shakeup at the deadline, but that does not mean they are numb to watching their teammates shipped out.
“Both the guys we lost were good teammates and good people,” Thomas said. “I had a lot in common with Derek and I had a lot in common with [Bitz]. They both played in the ECAC in hockey and are actually some of the only college graduates in here. It is sad to see them go but you just want to wish them the best wherever they end up being traded to.”
Defenseman Matt Hunwick learned a lot from Morris during his time in Boston.
“He was a big part, I think, in helping my game this year. I played with him in different stretches and he really added a calmness to my game. I think I really played my best hockey when I played with him and it is tough to lose a veteran defensemen that you look up to but things happen and you have to move on and remember the things that he told me and keep improving.”
As much as Morris has meant to Hunwick, the loss of Bitz touches a little closer considering that they were both first year professionals the same year with Providence and started their NHL careers with Boston last season.
“Well, it is tough,” Hunwick said. “Bitz is a great guy and someone who came up last year and helped this team and really earned his spot, that is for sure. It is always tough to see someone go especially us being first year pros together in Providence and being up last year. It is obviously tough to lose guys, especially guys who you have some history with.”
On the other end, the Bruins are acquiring a strong defenseman from the Panthers in Seidenberg who is comparable to Morris but plays a different game. Boston is familiar with Seidenberg as he was a top-four defensive pair with the Hurricanes during the playoffs last year.
“I thought he played excellent in the playoffs last year,” Thomas said. “Having said that I was focused on the puck most of the time. I was not focused so much on people … we brought him here, I am assuming, to make the team better so, I hope he can.”
Marco Sturm played with Seidenberg on the German Olympic team and knows him well.
“He is a good guy and a big strong guy, so, I think he will help us on the power play too,” Sturm said. “He has a pretty good shot, a heavy shot and blocks a lot of shots so I think he is a solid defenseman … I have known him a long time, we have played together on the national team.”
With the turnover today the Bruins have created some space under the cap. Chiarelli is still looking for a forward and for his part, Sturm does not think the Bruins are done dealing yet.
“I don’t think it was a surprise that [defensemen were traded], well, maybe a surprise that it was [Morris] but we still needed a defenseman,” Sturm said. “I still think we are not done yet.”
|Chiarelli has options on deadline day||at 10:14 am ET|
The big day has finally arrived.
Wednesday is the NHL trade deadline with all moves to be completed by 3 p.m. this afternoon. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. at TD Garden to discuss the moves the Bruins did, or did not, make to improve the team down the stretch looking for a third consecutive playoff birth.
All the blood that has been squeezed from the Chiarelli stone this past week has been “we are looking for a top-nine forward with a scoring bent” with the caveat that market prices are prohibitive at this point. Outside of the upper echelon teams (Chicago, Washington, San Jose) the rest of the league is tightly packed making this year a sellers market as there are a plethora of buyers. The six through 12 seeds in each conference are separated by nine points heading after Tuesday’s games.
With 65 points, the Bruins currently have a tenuous hold on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference (tied in points with the Rangers, one behind the Canadiens, four behind the Flyers). Injuries and inconsistency have been the name of the game in Boston. Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien have been holding onto the fact that several Bruins have not performed to expectations this year and that a turnaround by them (David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Dennis Wideman to name the primary candidates) will do a lot to turn the team around.
Yet, here we are, 61 games in with 65 points to show for it. To expect a sudden turnaround by all these players would be foolish at best, damning to the front office’s reputation at worst. Some of them may go on a hot streak down the stretch but of those five names, two, maybe three can realistically rise to their expectations. The question then becomes; what tact do the Bruins take at the deadline and is the price really worth it?
The smart money at this point says that Chiarelli will not make a major move. By major, a top-nine forward along the lines of Raffi Torres, Teemu Selanne, Ray Whitney, Keith Tkachuk or Paul Kariya (to name a few on the rumor mill). Do not expect to see Marian Hossa or Ilya Kovalchuk or their ilk walk through the door. If those type of players were on the market, which they are not, it is doubtful that Chiarelli would spend what it would take to bring them in anyway. So far he has been guarding his horde of draft picks, either waiting for the best deal to come along or to really restock the Providence Bruins and Reading Royals for years to come. Protecting the first round picks is understandable, laudable even, considering the Bruins have two each in the next two drafts. Yet, with five second round picks between 2010 and 2011, it is hard to argue that Chiarelli could not flip one of them relatively painlessly for Whitney or Torres. That would be a high price but the sellers control the market.
At the same time, the Bruins have to worry about money. So far, Chiarelli has been penny wise and pound foolish. The pennies have been spent in the last couple of days reorganizing the minor league system with the Steve Kampfer and Cody Wild trades. Do not expect to see either of them in Boston soon, if ever. The pounds that Chiarelli spent were mostly last summer, giving Tim Thomas his four-year $20 million contract looks like a big mistake and the extensions to Krejci and Lucic may have been premature. It all adds up to next to nothing for the Bruins to spend under the cap so a contract from the NHL roster would have to go the other way or players like Vladimir Sobotka, Johnny Boychuk would have to be stowed in Providence to free up their nominal salaries.
In the realm of sanity (a small bubble at any trade deadline), Chiarelli probably knows that no matter what he does at the deadline, the Bruins are probably not going to jump any higher than the sixth seed in the conference. Thus, why rush to make a transaction now when the market is so prohibitive to making a value deal? Chiarelli could happily sit on his picks, wait for the season to end and the draft to come and make a splash in the summer. The ways the Bruins are currently constructed, he is going to have to rock the boat eventually.
Whether he decides to do that before 3 p.m. today remains to be seen. Chiarelli is set to hold a press conference at TD Garden at 4 p.m. to discuss the decisions he made and the moves he did or did not make.