|Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey’||05.09.14 at 12:37 am ET|
MONTREAL — It was a lot easier for Claude Julien to admit the obvious after a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4 than the alternative. His team still does not look like the squad that won 54 games and the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points.
If it weren’t for the efforts of a player just called up from Providence to bolster the third line, the Bruins could easily be looking at being down 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday night back at TD Garden.
But Matt Fraser saved the day and Julien was grateful, not only to the player who got 14 games under his belt this season but to his boss Peter Chiarelli, who called Fraser up in time for Game 4. What did Julien expect?
“The winning goal,” Julien quipped. “He’s been playing well lately in Providence and actually has been scoring some goals. He’s been playing some pretty good hockey and he showed that tonight. I liked his game, not because he scored but his whole game. He seemed to be strong on the puck, making some good decisions, wasn’t turning pucks over, seemed to be skating well. It was nice to see [goal] happen. The GM probably deserves the credit because he was the one who called him up. He’s a good player. We knew that. We had him for quite a while there this year. He can certainly shoot the puck and he has a knack to score some goals. In this series, we need that.”
Then Julien seemed to go back to reality, the reality that his top two lines seem stuck in the mud against Montreal’s system, giving them precious little room to maneuver in the offensive zone. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron have been bottled up in this series. Things were so bad that Julien tried to loosen everyone up by completely breaking up the lines in the Thursday morning skate.
“A win was important obviously to get us back in this series,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey. That’s not to downplay this win. We’ve played hard but I know I’ve seen our team play better. But you know it seems to be a process right now and we’re working through it. You hope that this win here helps us to get better anyways, and you go from there.
“There’s no doubt these guys are working hard, they care, they want to. Just because it doesn’t always go as smooth as we like it to be, what I like is we’re showing character and we’re battling through it and trying to find ways to win games.
|Peter Chiarelli mum on Dennis Seidenberg, Bruins defense’s moving parts||05.07.14 at 2:35 pm ET|
BROSSARD, Quebec — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made himself available to the media Wednesday at Bell Sports Complex, but there was no special announcement or message revealed.
It’s very rare for general managers to speak during a series, and when they do, it’s with a specific message in mind. Chiarelli had none, and he opened the availability by declining comment in response to a question about whether Dennis Seidenberg could be close to a return.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Chiarelli said. “I haven’t all last series or this series. “He is skating, as you can see and stuff, but that’s all I can say.”
Seidenberg, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in early January, has been skating for weeks and is now practicing with the team. He has still yet to take contact, which would rule out any shot at him returning this series. The veteran defenseman told the Boston Globe Tuesday that he feels ready to play, but the lack of contact would suggest he isn’t close enough.
As for the players the B’s have used to fill Seidenberg’s spot on the left side of the second pairing, Chiarelli was asked about his confidence in Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros. Bartkowski missed the first two games of the first round with the flu, but after struggling in Games 4 and 5 against Detroit and taking the penalty that led to P.K. Subban‘s double-overtime goal in Game 1 of the second round, was benched in favor of Meszaros.
Meszaros hasn’t fared much better, as he also took a penalty that led to a power play goal in Game 2 and he had a poor showing in Game 3 even considering that he shot the puck that Jarome Iginla tipped past Carey Price with 2:16 remaining. The low point of the game for Meszaros was when Dale Weise slipped past both he and Johnny Boychuk, leading to a breakaway goal after Daniel Briere sent a pass up to the fourth-liner.
Given both players’ struggles, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the Bruins will go with for Thursday’s Game 4.
‘That’s a lineup decision,” Chiarelli said. “These guys have been good for us. Bart has been good for us. He had to come in when Seidenberg got hurt. And he had to find his game and he had to fit in, and he’s done that. He got sick and he got out of sync a little bit. Mez, we acquired Mez in a trade. I didn’t mind his game last night. I know there’s … I think everyone can make a mistake here or there. He made a good play on the goal. So my confidence level is really irrelevant.’
|Speed kills: Why the Bruins are annoyed with what you think of the Canadiens matchup||04.28.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien gets visibly annoyed when people talk about other teams’ speed being an issue for the Bruins, or the Bruins being too big and slow to hang with any squad with zip.
Turns out Peter Chiarelli does too.
After eliminating a fast team in five games, the Bruins once again face a speedy opponent in the Canadiens, and they’d like to be given a little more credit.
“It’s too [much of a] stereotype, and we’ve improved our speed,” Chiarelli said Monday. “I just hear about it all year, too, and obviously Claude and I talk, and we get tired of it. We have speed and we have heaviness and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’s coming from, I understand when you bring it up in the context of the Wings and now the Canadiens because they are — they’re both fast teams.”
Chiarelli traded away a lot of speed last summer when he shipped Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, but the team has hardly turned into a bunch of cavemen on skates. The development of strong skaters on the back end in Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has actually made the Bruins a faster team in getting out of their zone and getting through the neutral zone.
Montreal is faster, to be sure, but the Bruins have quickness of their own to go with their physicality, which was seen throughout Boston’s five-game elimination of the Wings.
“It’s about closing gaps more quickly. It’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys. It’s about our special teams,” Chiarelli said. “Both our PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success.”
Indeed they have. The Bruins scored six power-play goals in a series for the first time since 2010 in going 6-for-15 on the power play while holding the Red Wings to two goals on 20 Detroit power plays.
The biggest victim of the “Bruins are slow” narrative is Zdeno Chara, both literally and otherwise. The 6-foot-9 Norris finalist has never been a great skater, and the fact that he’s gotten up there in age and got injured late last postseason has painted the picture in some minds that he can be exposed. That’s yet to really happen though.
“We can’t really control what’s being said about us or maybe other teams, when they play us,” Chara said. “It’s more how we’re going to play and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we are a slow team. Obviously we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’t think we are necessarily a slow team.
“I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I know what we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”
Said Chiarelli: “Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience. So it will be a challenge, but I think we’ll overcome that challenge.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We like the group we have’||03.05.14 at 11:01 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the NHL trade deadline, his 100th fight and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With the NHL trade deadline looming, Thornton said that there hasn’t been as much discussion in the locker room because of the Olympic break.
“We haven’t really talked about it much this year,” Thornton said. “I think because there hasn’t been a lot of chatter with the Olympics, it took a lot of focus away from the deadline. Usually there’s a two-week buildup to it, to be completely honest. This year you came out of the Olympics six days later. So there hasn’t been a lot of talk.”
Thornton likes the team and is fine with the way it is, but he knows there could be players traded by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
“We’re a pretty good team, but I know that Peter [Chiarelli] is always looking to improve,” Thornton said. “And you can always get better, so we’ll see what happens by 3 today.”
Added Thornton: “We all really like each other, we like the group we have. We’re a pretty tight-knit group. We’re still winning some hockey games this year, so I’m OK with it.”
During Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Panthers, Thornton got into his 100th career fight. The fight with Krys Barch was initiated to spark the team and stick up for Milan Lucic, who fought Barch in the first period.
“We were kind of flat in the second period,” Thornton said. “Looch can handle himself, obviously, but I didn’t like that he went after Looch in the first shift. Krys Barch is a, he’s a really good guy. I played with him. … I actually kind of taught him how to fight 11 years ago in the minors.”
The Bruins’ top line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Lucic performed very well on Tuesday with Krejci recording a hat trick and Iginla scoring the fourth goal. Thornton noted that the trio is unlike any other in the NHL.
“We rely heavily on those guys and they consistently perform,” Thornton said. “And it’s funny because if there’s one game where they don’t get a point it’s like the sky’s falling. Everyone’s chirping. They’ve been unbelievable for us all year. … They bring things to the table that other teams don’t have. You don’t have two power forwards that are that tough and score.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Peter Chiarelli won’t ‘throw a player overboard’ to make move before trade deadline||02.28.14 at 1:16 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the change in play since the Olympic break as well as the trade market. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
In the week following the break, the Bruins, as well as other teams that had multiple players participate in the Olympics, have appeared tired.
“The Bruins aren’t the only team that are experiencing this after the Olympics,” McGuire said. “If you watched Chicago play last night, the first 40 minutes they looked very un-Chicago. If you watched Montreal play against Detroit two nights ago they looked very unlike the Montreal Canadiens. … A lot of teams that had a lot of players that were at the Olympics had a little bit of a hangover, but I think that will all be gone by tonight or tomorrow.”
“I was over there for three weeks, over in Russia for three weeks, and it takes two to three days to be acclimated to the time zones when you’re back here in North America.”
Earlier this month, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he wanted to add a defenseman to the team’s lineup. Chiarelli admitted, though, that it was a tough market.
“I don’t think he’s going to throw a player overboard to say he did something,” McGuire said of Chiarelli’s plan as the trade deadline approaches. “I can’t see Peter doing that — the Bruins haven’t acted that way since he and Cam Neely took over.
“One of the things that helps make the Bruins a better team is the play of Reilly Smith, and I think what you’ll see is Loui Eriksson really step it up here. They’ve become a much more deep team at the forward position, and [Patrice Bergeron] had a phenomenal Olympics so you’ve to got to be excited about where your team is at the forward position.
“That’s one of the things that I think allows Peter to have a little leeway when it comes to making a deal to get a defenseman — their strength at the forward position.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins should ‘add something significant along the blue line’||02.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the possibility of the Bruins adding a defenseman prior to the deadline, Peter Chiarelli‘s scouting and Loui Eriksson. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the NHL trade deadline next Wednesday at 3 p.m., Brickley said how the Bruins view the blue line will determine whether they add a defenseman.
“I think it all starts with how you evaluate what’s going on along the blue line,” Brickley said. “This is a team that prides itself on goaltending, team defense, some strong penalty-killing, and then that balanced offense is somewhere further down in terms of priority. And if you have that type of analysis, then I think you have to look real closely at the group of six or seven that they have on the blue line right now and say, ‘Is this group good enough, deep enough to carry us to an Eastern Conference final and get us to a Stanley Cup final and an opportunity to win this thing.’ And I think that’s what has to be addressed, because in my evaluation I would like to see them add something significant along the blue line.”
Brickley was complimentary of Chiarelli’s ability to identify defensemen who work well with the team.
“The thing about what Peter is able to do along with his management team and the scouting crew, identify a guy like Torey Krug and go out and pay maybe a couple extra dollars to make sure he comes to Boston,” Brickley said. “You make a deal for [Matt] Bartkowski, when nobody really makes notice of it or takes notice of it. You draft a kid like Dougie Hamilton in the first round. You identify a player like Kevan Miller and allow him to play in the American Hockey League and learn how to be a good depth defenseman. And those guys are all significant pieces to what the Bruins have been able to put together and accomplish and pile up points to this point in the regular season.”
Brickley is concerned with the lack of experience the young defensemen have, however, and would rather move Johnny Boychuk out of the top two.
“But as we know the playoffs are a different animal and you’re talking about very little experience there in that foursome,” Brickley said. “Now you have Johnny Boychuk, because of the added absence of Adam McQuaid as well due to a lot of injuries over the last year plus, almost two years. And of course Dennis Seidenberg being out of the lineup. Now you have [Zdeno] Chara, Boychuk, that’s your one-two combination. And I think you’re a really strong defense if Boychuk is somewhere in your top four, but maybe not your top two. And that’s certainly not an indictment on his play, because I love his game and I love how, how game he is, as a matter of fact, to speak to his character.”
Added Brickley: “But if you can go out and acquire, or certainly add to the players that you have on the blue line, as well as they’ve played, now I think you have a much better chance when you get in the postseason. You know there’s going to be injuries, you know there are certain matchups that you’re looking for, based on the opponents that you’re going to draw, and if you can have seven, eight NHL caliber, and maybe even a top two, three that might not be there right now, I think your chances certainly improve as far as going where you want to go and reaching the goals that you set.”
Eriksson, who has not produced big numbers in Boston, played well for Sweden in the just-completed Olympics. Brickley said that the extra playing time, along with playing on the third line, could help the 28-year-old.
“Eriksson needed to play hockey, he needed to play hockey over in Sochi, and he seemed to be — he seemed to be finding his game more and more a little bit before the break,” Brickley said. “He seemed to have some chemistry with [Carl] Soderberg in particular, the two Swedes. Seemed to slide into that third line, instead of the pressure of being in that top six, that seems to be paying dividends. And his awareness, when you watched him play, although it was the bigger ice surface, his awareness of all the moving parts going on around him seemed a lot cleaner, a lot sharper. When you come back from injuries, that’s the one thing you have to be concerned about when you’re coming back from a concussion, is that awareness. Seemed a lot better in the Olympics, so that’s what I’m looking for. And he needs to continue to play. So maybe the break was good for him in terms of playing hockey.”
|Peter Chiarelli happy with how his summer moves have worked so far: ‘That’s what is expected of me’||02.08.14 at 5:35 pm ET|
Eyebrows were a bit more than raised when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli traded away young gun Tyler Seguin and reliable forward Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars last summer in return for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser.
That was a Fourth of July calculated gamble that Chiarelli was willing to take just a week after his team lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals. Smith has 18 goals this season on the Marchand-Bergeron line, second only to Marchand’s 19 goals this year. Add to that the addition of veteran forward Jarome Iginla to replace Nathan Horton on the top line, and the moves have worked out quite nicely for the Bruins.
Iginla scored again Saturday and all of a sudden has 17 goals with 25 assists. Eriksson assisted on the first two goals Saturday and has 14 helpers on the season, not bad considering he’s missed 21 games with a pair of concussions.
Before he joins one of seven Bruins off to the Sochi Winter Games, Chiarelli was asked before Saturday’s 7-2 demolition of the Senators at TD Garden just how satisfying it is knowing the deals he made in the summer have paid off.
“It’s good, I mean that’s what is expected of me,” Chiarelli said. “Certainly I’ll hear it from you guys if they don’t. You, know Iggy ‘ high character. So you know you’re going to get a good effort. What were my other deals? Loui [Eriksson], yeah Loui is still a work in progress but I’ve seen parts of his game that I’m going to expect at some point that I have seen before. He’s got to work his way through it but he is a very good two way player and I’m happy with him. Reilly [Smith], of course has been good. So yeah it’s good. That’s what I’m expected to do and it helps bringing these players into a successful team and structure. It’s easier to do that provided they buy in and these guys have bought in.”
Will he look at bringing in veteran leaders at the March 5 trade deadline?
“Usually when I’m trying to add something on a temporary basis, on a rental basis, I’d like that player to have some experience,” Chiarelli said. “So, that usually translates into being a veteran. Playoff experience would be good too so that’s something I look for, I don’t know if I’m going to get it if we add somebody but that’s what I look for, I think it’s important. I t’s not so much for leadership; I feel our group has strong leadership. It’s more for having been in the battles and having that composure because that is what you need to win, is composure and compete by the composure also.”
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