|Peter Chiarelli unsure Bruins will retain Shawn Thornton||05.16.14 at 6:45 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton‘s future with the Bruins is murky at best, as he was not told that he wouldn’t be re-signed Friday, but Peter Chiarelli did not tell him the team plans to retain him.
Thornton, a free agent, wants to play another two years. His preference is to play in Boston, so the sense is that if the Bruins will have him back, he’ll return. If they don’t want him, he won’t. Chiarelli told Thornton that he needs to look at some things before he decides whether the team will make him an offer.
“Thorty I thought had a kind of up and down year,” Chiarelli said. “He got, obviously, the incident with Pittsburgh and you know, there’s trends in hockey and the fisticuffs trend — again, this doesn’t characterize Thorty as just a fighter because he contributed on that [fourth] line.
“That line has had a lot of success in the past, but there is definitely, we’re trending away from that style. I had a discussion with Thorty this morning and I said, ‘Look, give me a couple weeks to digest what’s happened and then we’ll go from there.’ That same comment applies to [Jarome Iginla]. I haven’t talked to the other [unrestricted free agents] yet but to Iggy and Thorny so far.”
Iginla is a free agent as well. He played this season on a one-year deal in which the Bruins were able to pay him bonuses that will go against next year’s cap in order to save money on this year’s cap. The team can keep doing that on Iginla, but only on one-year deals.
Iginla, who tied for the team lead with 30 goals in the regular season and led the team with five postseason goals, said he does not wish to negotiate publicly, so he was generally tight-lipped about what he wants. He did say that at age 36, he still feels he can play a while longer.
“I still want to play for a while before I quit. I’ll push myself to be better and there are no issues,” he said. “I loved playing here with the guys and there’s a great chance for next year for the Stanley Cup. They keep getting better with the young guys that they have, Dougie [Hamilton] and [Matt Bartkowski]. The core is still young. There’s lots of reasons. Very fortunate if I can be back here.”
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|Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg begins taking contact||05.12.14 at 12:41 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Dennis Seidenberg has begun taking contact, marking a sizable step in his road back from ACL/MCL surgery.
Seidenberg, who had surgery in early January after tearing the ligaments in his right knee on Dec. 27 and being ruled out for the season, stayed out after Monday’s morning skate and did one-on-one battle drills in the corner with Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros. Seidenberg has been skating since April 8, doing more and more until eventually joining the team in practices late last month. Monday was his first time taking contact.
The 32-year-old had said last week that he felt good enough to play but that he still wasn’t healed. Now that he is taking contact, the chances of him returning this postseason — assuming the Bruins advance past the Habs — become much more realistic, but the timetable is unknown. Daniel Paille, who was working his way back from a concussion, had begun taking contact on April 25 before playing May 1, but Seidenberg has been out much longer, and such timetables vary from player to player and injury to injury. It’s safe to assume that Seidenberg would need at least a week of contact before the team could start considering him as an option to play.
The Bruins initially had said that Seidenberg’s recovery time would be 6-8 months, but he has been well ahead of schedule. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has declined comment on the status of the player since the beginning of the playoffs, saying only that the team is not assuming that the player will return at some point.
“We’re not counting on Dennis to be back,” Chiarelli said on April 14. “We’re going to be very cautious with this injury. He has been skating and that’s pretty much all I can say on it.”
If Seidenberg were to return, he would provide stability on the B’s back end in a spot that has seen some inconsistency. Both Meszaros and Matt Bartkowski have struggled on the left side of the second pairing, and though Seidenberg traditionally has served as Zdeno Chara‘s postseason partner, he might be better served strengthening Johnny Boychuk‘s pairing.
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|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.”