Archive for the ‘Boston Bruins’ Category

Northeast Division Roundup

November 11, 2009

Greetings, hockey fans. This is Meaghan from the illustrious (humour me) Ottawa Senators blog known as Sens at Land’s End with the first of what should be many whirlwind tours of blogs covering the NHL’s Northeast Division.

Without further ado:

Let’s begin with one of the teams furthest from my heart, the Montreal Canadiens. Topham over at Habs blog Lions in Winter has thoughtfully taken on the now infamous Allan Walsh-Jaroslav Halak vs. Carey Price Twitter incident in a post puntastically titled “The Price of Being a Twit.”

Over in the Barilkosphere, Down Goes Brown claims to have revealed the NHL’s top secret flow chart for handing out suspensions. I’m not sure I believe the document posted is authentic, but it seems quite accurate. (This isn’t strictly speaking a story about the Leafs, but I imagine a team that truculent will at some point encounter Colin Campbell and his magical wheel of justice.)

With the Sens being the best the most interesting my favourite team in the league, I was able to find a huge amount of fascinating, high quality material about them. It was hard for me to narrow it down to just one story to post here, but in the end I thought The 6th Sens’ piece about the potential ripple effects of the Steve Yzerman to Ottawa trade that never happened was the most timely, with Yzerman’s well-deserved induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame having taken place on Monday.

Most Bruins blogs appear to be focused on happy things this week. David Krejci has recovered from the dreaded swine flu, and everyone is generally feeling joyful because the Bruins have won their last two games and may finally be getting on track. However, According to Cameron Frye uncovers the darker side of Boston, making the disturbing discovery that Patrice Bergeron may have been replaced by his evil twin.

Finally, the entire Buffalo Sabres blogosphere is evidently too shocked over the fact that Adam Mair was placed on waivers this week to write about much else.

And that’s what’s what in the Northeast this week. If you have any suggestions for posts I might link to in next week’s roundup, shoot me an email at sensatlandsend [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know. I’m sure there are tons of worthy blogs I’m not aware of, and I’d appreciate any tips pointing me in the direction of great material.

The Boston Bruins in "How to Go From Cap Catastrophe to Potential Dynasty in Two Easy Trades"

October 19, 2009

Brian Burke: architect of the cap-friendliest contending teams in the NHL (Anaheim and … uh, Boston, indirectly)
At first, it seemed like the Bruins were as hapless as a 13-year old trying to unhook a bra in the dark. In my preview, I criticized the Bruins for basically giving up on Phil Kessel … for Derek Morris. Even if that was a case of obvious oversimplification, my question was: what were the Boston Bruins doing?

Perhaps it came down to a simple decision of Marc Savard over Phil Kessel.
Either way, the Bruins have parlayed Kessel and now Chuck Kobasew into an intriguing bounty of draft picks and cap relief.
Boston Gives Up
Kessel (to Toronto)
Kobasew (to Minnesota)
Boston Gains
2 First Round Picks (Toronto in ’10 and ’11)
2 Second Round Picks (Toronto in ’10 and Minnesota in ’11)
Craig Weller
Alex Fallstrom
$2.3 million in cap space
As others pointed out, the Bruins probably moved Kobasew to make room for Savard, Blake Wheeler and other valuable free agents (restricted and otherwise).
What this really does is give the Bruins the opportunity to “re-load” with quality depth while most other playoff-caliber teams will begin to hemorrhage supporting cast members. Especially if the cap ceiling plummets for the 2010-11 season.

With Kobasew gone and deals like Morris’ set to expire, the prospects of the Bruins re-signing Savard (above) and Wheeler are looking much brighter.

Some have said that the Maple Leafs’ staggering ineptitude may not continue, but realistically what is the ceiling for Toronto this year (or even next)? The fact of the matter is that these aren’t just draft picks, they might be top-10 or even top 5 draft picks. It’s not every day that the top seed in the Eastern Conference could end up with two potential lottery picks that didn’t result from a regular season free fall.

Just look at the situations of similarly talented – and cap challenged – teams going into next summer.
A major problem with the Blackhawks salary structure is that there’s a glaring lack of cheap talent. While the Penguins have some extremely expensive stars, they also have cheap role players like Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy.
Now obviously high draft picks take some time to translate to useful NHLers and some never pan out at all. But by adding a handful of top quality picks in years when the Bruins would normally be drafting in the bottom 10, Boston is sitting fairly pretty in a cap world full of uncertainty. They can stick with those draft picks and try to find roster talent for the future or trade picks for other quality parts.
The point is, they have options. That’s something that Chicago, San Jose and many other cap conflicted teams will envy next summer.

Cornelius of Hockey Blog Adventure on the Bruins’ upcoming draft

June 21, 2009

Cornelius is another great friend of the blog. He’s contributed to numerous CLS events, including his work for a couple of our playoff mini-blogs. You can check out his Bruins (and more) related blogging at Cornelius Hardenbergh and the Hockey Blog Adventure.

Thanks for everything, Cornelius. Make sure to follow his work as the Bruins go through a pivotal off-season that will determine whether or not the last season was a fluke or “just the beginning.”

The following are his “stream of consciousness” responses to our draft related questions. Keep in mind that the posts regarding teams with lower picks might be more general and historical.

1. With guys like Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler developing rapidly, one must wonder about the condition of the Bruins’ farm system. How do you feel about the Bruins’ remaining minor league talent?

Well, losing Coach Gordon to the Islanders (and then Nate Thompson)isn’t great for the Bruins, but they did lose in the eastern conference finals to the Calder Cup champs, so I’m not THAT worried about it. However, it could all be a bunch of career minor leaguers. However, most of the callups we’ve seen this season have at least impressed me. Matt Hunwick and Byron Bitz especially, and who could forget as-tall-as-Pedroia-at-least-according-to-the-media-guide Martin St. Pierre? Oh and Vladimir Sobotka’s impressed me as well.

That said, we did trade some good prospects at the deadline this past year, including Nokelainen. Tuukka Rask should get called up, but might not due to cap concerns.

2. Do you expect the Bruins to make any draft-day moves? Obviously, there are some Kessel/Bergeron trade rumors going around. How likely could such a move be? Do you think the Bruins should be pondering a Kessel move?

If the Bruins trade Kessel, he will light it up for some other team. He got 36 goals this year and was out with Mono (haha, oh kessel…) to boot. The only guy who got within 10 goals of him was Ryder. I worry that they’re going to make a move like trading Kessel or Bergeron, but both are excellent. Depending on how contract negotiations go with Kessel, I could see him moved.

Then again I was convinced Thomas was going to get big money with another club next year, so what the hell do I know?

3. Looking back, what are some of the highest points in the Bruins’ history of drafting? Are there any moments that stand out as absolute “steals” or shrewd moves?

Uh…hmmm. Well, let me see… googling “bruins draft history”…

They got Ken Dryden in the third round, that ended up working out pretty poorly for him though. Versteeg was a 5th rounder and Hunwick was a 7th rounder. Andrew Alberts and Milan Jurcina went in the 6th and 8th. And of course, Stanley Cup Champion Hal Gill was an 8th round pick.

hahahaha, hold the phone. Mark Stuart was drafted before Bergeron? hahahahahaha

P.K. Axelsson (yes, it’s really P.J. for Per-Johan. go with it) got picked in the 7th round, as well. I’d say that worked out pretty well. However, there are a lot of Bruins fans who hate him for some stupid reason. I hope he comes back this year, he’s a UFA and getting old though.

4. Conversely, a team with a lengthy history like the Bruins obviously must have some low moments too. What are some of the biggest bonehead moments? Are there some plaguing “what if” type decisions?

Well, they traded away a lot of good players over time, including Ken Dryden.

My favorite What If is what if bobby orr had known about the 18% ownership stake and stayed with the bruins? I’m envisioning a Mario Lemieux/Penguins sort of thing. For those not stuck in the distant past, though….

Kris Versteeg for Brandon Bochenski was probably one of the worst moves the Bruins have made recently.

Soap box time If you’d like, feel free to share some Bruins/NHL thoughts. Should the B’s go after Dany Heatley?

Hahahaha, no. No thanks, Mr. Heatley. Really, the Bruins should have tried harder to lose the case against Glen Murray so they could get back another 1.3 million in cap space. Sweet merciful deity-of-choice, we could use that space.

Krejci, Kessel or none of the above? A Boston Bruins salary cap outlook

May 21, 2009

So far, CLS looked at the salary cap situations of the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. With news of off-season surgeries and Sporting News executive awards for the Bruins’ front office, it seems like a natural time to take a look at the future of the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins
Current projected 2009-10 Cap number:
approximately $47.5 million (One goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards)
Best contract(s): Marc Savard (one year left, $5 million cap hit); Milan Lucic (one year left, rookie contract)
Worst contract(s): Tim Thomas ($5 million per year through 2012-13); Marco Sturm ($3.5 million through 2010-11)
Dude who is Seven-feet-freaking tall (on skates)’ contract: Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million per year through 2010-11)

It’s been a really nice two years for the Boston Bruins. After suffering briefly from a Joe Thornton hangover, they snagged the former assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators to construct a team that shares some similarities with Peter Chiarelli‘s old squad: staggering depth, splendid regular season play and … Zdeno Chara.

An unexpected (and utterly, undeniably dominant) run to the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference allowed the Bruins to stuff another gluttonous bowl of Chowder in the over-fed mouth that is the Boston sports market. At their best, the Killer Bees looked good enough to make Western Conference teams nervous.

That great run came at a price, as the Bruins were forced to hand their admittedly exhilarating goaltender a contract that will almost definitely bite them in the end. A Vezina-caliber season notwithstanding, Thomas has a few prominent strikes against him. Not to be an age-ist, but at the ripe age of 35, how long can an unorthodox goalie like Thomas thrive before he turns into Roman Cechmanek with a nicer yacht?

Still, signing Thomas allows the Bruins to focus solely on the extremely difficult decisions regarding their two young forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci.

Kessel has the pedigree. After having some up and down years (including earning the respect of any human by overcoming cancer), the 2006’s #5 draft pick exploded as much as any Boston Bruin this season. In an abridged 70 games, he managed an impressive 36 goals. To put that in perspective, his .51 goals per game average ranked eight best in the NHL. He also showed impressive speed and was at times very dangerous in this year’s playoffs, with 6 goals and 11 points in 11 games. Despite injury concerns, Kessel is a true game breaker.

Say what you want about the dubious nature of the plus/minus statistic, it’s still pretty astounding that David Krejci lead the league with a +37 rating. After flying under the radar with 27 points in 56 games last season, Krejci managed a 73-point season. He’s a smart player who played a full season in 2008-09.

So, the question is: how much is each player worth? With All-Star caliber Marc Savard and former stud Patrice Bergeron already on the roster, should the Bruins settle for getting for a few draft picks for Krejci and/or Kessel? If you had to choose, would you rather get the dynamic but injury prone (and potentially more expensive) Kessel or the heady and steady work of Krejci (who you cannot be totally certain isn’t a contract year guy)?

Obviously the decision is circumstantial. If Krejci only wanted $3 million per year, Boston would be crazy to let him go. On the other hand, if Kessel wants to be paid Sidney Crosby money, that wouldn’t work for the B’s at all.

It’s funny that Chiarelli received a GM of the year award, because the next seasons will test that honeymoon period immediately. Three crucial contracts will be up for renewal for 2010-11: Savard, Blake Wheeler and borderline folk hero Milan Lucic.

While the Chicago Blackhawks are my pick for the team with the most potential to make shortsighted analysts look silly (“Why, they have young players so that means they automatically have a bright future derp!”), the Bruins’ window could close quickly.

It could end up a lot like Chiarelli’s Senators did. After being a dominant-yet-frustrated team for years, the team could no longer keep Chara, Martin Havlat and other solid-to-great players not named Spezza, Heatley or Alfredsson. By the time Chiarelli left, Ottawa became a top-heavy, deeply flawed team. Then again, there are also Buffalo Sabres parallels: a team featuring a talented cast-off (Savard/Daniel Briere), staggering depth and an exciting score-by-committee approach that ultimately became unsustainable within the confines of a salary cap structure.

Let’s not be TOO negative, though, as a very tough summer might turn into a series of shrewd, Ken Holland-sque maneuvers for the Bruins. There are definitely bright sides to look on: Chara is the only guy with a huge contract and he’s (probably) worth it. And for all the negativity about Tim Thomas’s gamble of a deal, it’s at least not as bad as questionable No. 1 contracts floating around the league like Cristobal Huet ($5.6 million through 2011-12), J.S. Giguere ($6 million through 2010-11) or Rick Dipetro‘s lifetime $4.5 million per year cap hit.

So, what do you think? Are the Bruins the Team of the Future in the Northeast division, just a fortuitous blip on the radar or somewhere in between? Either way, the Big Bad Bruins should be an interesting team to watch the next few years (on and off the ice).

(For the record, I strongly believe that the Bruins should do whatever they can to keep Kessel. Seriously.)

I’m a SOOTHSAYER! (drools)

May 15, 2009

It’s not often that I predict something correctly. Even something benign like, “I’m going to take a shower in 15 minutes.” But believe it or not, I called the Scott Walker OT series winner in Twitter form. Sort of. Here’s the full stream:

WALKER did it! My God I blindly predicted something correctly! First time EVER!

@Forechecker Tim Thomas is fun to watch. Still think that contract is going to haunt Boston long term, though.

Whoops did I jinx the Canes? Suddenly they fact that they’ve played three more games this playoffs is starting to sink in. They look tired.

The Bruins just got away with a too many men on the ice. Don Cherry just rolled in his grave. Oh wait, he’s alive.

Have a weird feeling the Canes are going to take this one.

Imagine if Scott Walker scored the OT S(eries)WG?

Bruins fans: “We want it.” Boy, those Massers sure love Faith No More. (Jesus that’s an out-dated joke).

Watching Boston – Carolina on a delay, but still: did Aaron Ward’s goal saving sweep remind anyone else of Willie Mitchell vs. Dallas in 07?

Jussi Jokinen’s slash on Zdeno Chara: shades of ‘Dumb and Dumber’

May 11, 2009

I haven’t been able to find a good clip of Jussi Jokinen‘s slash on Zdeno Chara (so this might be updated, please e-mail me if you found it already), but there was something oddly comical about Chara’s animated reaction to the slash. Then I realized it was eerily similar to a scene in the artistic masterpiece “Dumb & Dumber.”

You may recall a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) viciously canes Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in the back of the knee. If you need to refresh your memory, start at about the 6:40 mark of this video:

Pretty good match, right?

Update: Denson from Bangin’ Panger sent the clip of the timmmbbbbeeeer slash

Another hockey blog adventure

May 3, 2009

Cornelius has another great photo-report sharing his experiences in game 1 of Boston-Carolina. Check it out at our Bruins-Hurricanes blog. Also, if you’re interested, here’s his first trip report from the Bruins’ first round series against Montreal.

Round 2: Who’s under pressure?

April 30, 2009

With the second round set to begin in Vancouver tonight, the stakes are rising for the remaining 8 teams. Still, expectations and future outlooks play a huge role in how a team’s playoff run is evaluated. Taking that into account, which teams have the most to lose (and gain)? Are there any teams “playing with house money”? Let’s take a look.

1. Boston vs. 6. Carolina

Both teams defied expectations this season. For the Bruins, that came early, as Boston went from being a nice little 8th seed last year to a squad good enough to make people wonder if they could go toe-to-toe with San Jose and Detroit. In Carolina, the Hurricanes went through most of the regular season looking like their typical selves (limping through stretches, remaining thoroughly mediocre … the ultimate bubble team) and then all of a sudden became arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Hockey fans will probably remember the Canes stunning two goals in 1:20 to shock the Devils for years to come. At this point, Carolina is the perfect foil for a number one seed: they’re playing their best hockey of the year and just seem to have everything falling in place. If they lose, no sweat, really. Right?

One thing that stands out for Boston is that they have some tough salary cap decisions to make. David Krejci and Phil Kessel are RFAs this summer. Marc Savard only has one year left on his contract and will certainly command a bigger cap hit than his current $5 million.

The B’s are a nice story, but the startling depth that made them such a juggernaut won’t last forever.

Bruins have way, way WAY more to lose than the Hurricanes.

2. Detroit vs. 8. Anaheim

The second of two “behemoth vs. Cinderella” match-ups, although the Ducks have more to lose than the Hurricanes (and the Red Wings are probably yawning at the pressure of being heavy favorites).

Anaheim will have a lot of questions to answer this off-season, particularly when it comes to Scott Niedermayer. Could this be the last year of the Norris brothers?

Still, the Ducks can’t sweat it too much when they look at their young forward trifecta: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan make up quite the nice group of sub-25 threats. With Getzlaf and Perry wrapped up for a long time at a low cap hit, Anaheim isn’t crazy to wonder if the sky is the limit.

And if they get bounced, it will at least make Jonas Hiller easier to re-sign.

It’s difficult, however, to muster much fervor for the Red Wings. Yes, it would be a letdown if Detroit blows this series but they won the Cup last year. They have a mountain of talent wrapped up for below market value prices. If they screw up this year, they’ll be a top-3 seed for the next decade anyway.

Ugh.

Detroit has more to lose than Anaheim, but they both have bright futures.

2. Washington vs. 4. Pittsburgh

No doubt about it, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have a lot to lose in this series. They are the two faces of the league and will suffer from harsh Photoshops, mouth-breathers in comments and a predictable “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!11” mentality. Evgeni Malkin can obviously swoop in and show that perhaps he should be the Hart trophy winner instead of Ovechkin.

Hell, even Alex Semin has plenty to prove after his “Kane over Crosby” comments from earlier this year.

If you had to choose, the slight edge in pressure might go to the Capitals. They are the higher seed with home ice advantage. After barely beating the Rangers in a 7-game series – and getting, honestly, severely out-played at times in that decisive game – the Capitals need to show that they’re not just a weak willed collection of gorgeously talented Europeans.

The Penguins have “been there” before, putting up a cute little fight against the Red Wings in the SCF last year. In some ways, that means that they have quite a bit to lose, as they don’t have the excuse of inexperience.

The Capitals and Penguins face extreme pressure to deliver on all the media hype, with a slight bit more on the Caps’ shoulders. Either way, someone’s getting flamed in a message board before this one is done.

3. Vancouver vs. 4. Chicago

The Canucks are an odd story this season. On one hand, you have disappointments like Mats Sundin and the hot button issue of re-signing the Sedin twins. There’s also the oddness of Roberto Luongo being the first goalie to be a team captain since the railroad industry was thriving.

That being said, there’s the “aha!” season of Alex Burrows and the assorted flavors of hard scrabble two-way forwards this team provides. Will Kyle Wellwood make you pay for that fat joke? Shall Ryan Kesler show us why he’s a Selke finalist? Lots of sneaky good guys on this team.

One story I promise to beat to the ground is that the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t be so loosey goosey this year. Everyone seems to think that the BLACKHAWKS ARE A TEAM OF THE FUTURE. While that would be great, it might not be so easy.

Martin Havlat and Nik Bulin are all but gone, barring some crazy hypnosis-based contract signings. As I wrote before, the team might have a devil of a time re-signing its talented trio of Kane-Toews-Keith between now and the 2010 summer.

Yes, the Hawks are still in their cliched “losing to learn how to win” season, but they might want to think about skipping that process altogether. Things might get a lot tougher for this team in the future.

The Canucks are under more pressure, but the Blackhawks are under more pressure than you’d think.

Epic jersey fouls and a hockey adventure in Boston

April 19, 2009

Fantastic stuff from Cornelius of the great Bruins-oriented Hockey Blog Adventure. Just a priceless group of photos from his experiences going to Game 1 and 2 of the Boston-Montreal series.

Keep your eyes peeled on all the miniblogs because we’re adding contributors left and right. I’ll do my best to drop links up on the main blog, especially when it’s a first-time contribution, but there might some posts that go up while I’m away from the ‘ol laptop.

Great stuff from Cornelius at the Boston-Montreal blog.

Onus Brothers

April 12, 2009

Our amigos at Bangin Panger asked us to participate in their pre-playoff special, choosing one player per team who will make-or-break his squad’s fortunes. The first post features the No. 1 seeds San Jose and Boston, with my choices plus those of the two Bangin Panger dudes and also Reed CK from Capitals Kremlin. We’ll let you know when each one goes up.

Hope that you enjoy it and your Easter.

Coming soon: more Hockey Orphan, including an afternoon offering from the vaunted Puck Huffers. Keep your eyes peeled kids.