Tag Archives: Boston Bruins

Bruce Cassidy; Your New Bench Boss

While Sunday afternoon’s game 6 against the Ottawa Senators ended in heart breaking fashion, Boston rebounded hard Wednesday. The news came in the early morning hours that the “interim” tag on Bruce Cassidy had been lifted, becoming Boston’s 28th coach.

Shadowing Claude Julien until February 7th, when the club relieved the tenured bench boss of his duties and in turn promoted Cassidy. Whom made the Jacobs family look genius by going 18-8-1 down the final stretch, good enough to earn them a playoff spot.

Cassidy is anything but a one trick pony, after a solid playing career he’s been behind a bench since 1996. Twice prior coaching at the NHL level, but it was his efforts for the Providence Bruins that solidified his position. A familiarity with the core of younger players definitely doesn’t hurt.

Embed from Getty Images

With the promotion comes a lot of responsibility. Defensively Boston needs to upgrade their staff, this includes whether or not an extension for long time captain Zdeno Chara. A task made all the more difficult when considering that this off season is the expansion draft. With the emergence of Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo there may be less of an incentive to hold on to the aging veteran.

While Boston’s exit from the playoffs wasn’t picture perfect we should expect many more trips in the future.

Advertisements

Boston’s College Hockey Products

College hockey is a sport like no other, where you can get drafted and return to your school. I’m looking at Charlie McAvoy of Boston University getting his shot at the big time. McAvoy was a top pick of the Bruins in last year’s NHL draft and has made an immediate impact on the Bruins.

Embed from Getty Images

Boston, plagued by injuries, was forced to drain a year of the kids entry level deal. A move that was crushed by many has actually panned out. It’s truly unbelievable what this kid can do with the little pro experience he has.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 1.12.07 PM.png

This has happened before actually with another Boston product. It previously occurred with Chris Krieder of B.C. when he debuted for the New York Rangers. Krieder, like Charlie, was an immediate player for the Rangers and made a splash in the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators.

Teams who have players like this cannot always take these chances. But to me, it shows that teams in the Boston area for college hockey really know how to groom their guys. Groom them to the point where in one year, they can get up to the next level and make a big impact.

This to me why other college sports could take note of this. Maybe these players, if given the opportunity, could stick around and gain the valuable experience needed to rise to the occasion at the pro level.

The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of Bradly Marchand

Brad Marchand is a dirt bag, but every team has its sleazy player.

I love how nobody else likes Brad Marchand except for Boston sports fan. Simmialrly to Brandon Gallagher or Matthew Tkachuk.

What you cannot deny is how reliable Marchand has been for this team despite the subtraction of players such as Tyler Seguin, Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, and Milan Lucic.

Admittedly, it came as no surprise that he speared Jake Dotchin’s groin area last week against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s all part of the ugly reputation that he has built up for himself. Since entering the league in the 2010-11 season, he has faced discipline from the league 6 times.

Brad received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for leaping drastically over the line separating sportsmanship and Todd Bertuzzi or Marty McSorley. In response, the NHL Department Of Player Safety awarded him with a 2 game suspension. Which, is kind of laughable. Considering the two game suspension covers the remainder of the season. All but ensuring Boston’s most offensively reliable player will be 100% healthy for the playoffs.

Now, it can also be argued that the games between Ottawa and Washington are games in which Boston would need Marchand’s added offensive punch.

unnamed (4)

Understandably so, the sentencing wasn’t welcomed with open arms by the Twitter universe. Many firmly believed he should have received much more of a punishment as rumblings of even one additional playoff game entering the final verdict surfaced from the rumor mill. With the idea being, making him sit for that playoff game would hammer home the point. That being said, you can score all the goals you wish, challenge the league elites for top spot in points, but you’ll never get the Sidney Crosby treatment.

Don’t get me wrong, Brad showed explicit intent to severely injure Dotchin. Not only should he have been thrown out of the game, he also should have had is block taken off by any member of the Lightning. But, you can’t argue that in order to get a reputation, you have to be repeatedly suspended for your actions on the ice. Keeping this in mind, Crosby didn’t face any supplemental discipline for the prior offenses highlighted above.

Inconsistencies don’t only exist in the NFL officiating, I suppose.

 

 

Water Finding It’s Level

While it may not be time to slam the panic button, your hand should be hovering over it considering Thursday nights collapse marked Boston’s fourth consecutive loss. In doing so only helping Tampa’s fleeting effort to make the playoffs. Both Ottawa and Toronto picked up huge wins, and a highly motivated New York islanders team anxiously await the opportunity to take over the final wild-card spot come Saturday afternoon.

While it should be stated that through no lack of effort were the Bruins thwarted Thursday night. In fact, their most important asset is, effort. Perhaps they should have tried their hand in trading effort for a top six forward at the deadline.

With all kidding aside, Boston shot themselves in the foot once again as a less than terrific effort in the games final frame eventually led to their demise. Yet again out-shooting their opposition only to come up short on the score board.

Rest assured, Torey Krug has stated that the fate of the last two years will not happen again this time around.

Take that how you will, but Krug’s uninspiring -14 on the season has even the biggest optimists raising an eyebrow towards the statement.

Third period collapses are some what of a specialty of the Bruins in the month of March. But it was what led up to the third period that is the most concerning. While taking the lead on three separate occasions is noteworthy. Sacrificing that lead in under a minute twice, then making Anton Stralman look like Paul Coffee a minute and change later is as deflating as it can be.

Collectively the crowd exhaled as the symbolic wind retreated from its sails. From there, it was a “wish I had that one back” goal by Jonathan Drouin to give Tampa its first lead of the game. Shortly there after, Nikita Kucherov completes the hat trick and the emphasis is pressed harder on Saturday’s showdown with the surging Islanders.

If last night was considered by most to be a must win then by all means tomorrow is do-or-die time for Boston. A win tonight by the Islanders against the defending Cup Champs means Boston is officially on the outside looking in on the playoff picture with only seven games remaining. Seven difficult games at that.

If for the third year in a row the Bruins are bounced from playoff contention with a handful of games left, one conclusion can be drawn. They’re too top heavy offensively, too porous defensively, and leaning much too hard on their 8 million dollar man, whom is paid to steal them games.

A strong effort from the bottom 6 may just be what the doctor ordered. Sooner rather than latter Cassidy will be forced to go to his backup net minders. In hopes that a new face in goal may steady the ship.

 

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Make no mistake, Claude Julien was the best thing the Boston Bruins had going for them in 2017. Over the last decade he was able to take underachieving teams and consistently put them in a position to succeed at a higher level than they were capable of.

However, as of Tuesday, February 7th, Don Sweeney and company decided going in another direction was best for the team over 50 games into the season. Following soul crushing defeats, most recently at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night, it was almost a foregone conclusion that something needed to change.

Embed from Getty Images

That being said, it may come as a welcomed surprise to some that the man who has been single handedly blamed for Peter Chiarelli’s miscalculation of the salary cap and questionable player movement, is gone. But for most, it is normal to feel a sense of emptiness. Being the most winningest coach in franchise history doesn’t come by accident and his decade long helm behind the bench which made him the longest currently tenured coach will not soon be forgotten. Giving the city its first title since 1972 and reinvigorating the passion that only Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque before him were able to create.

With inconsistencies in the playoffs and less than ideal performances come season’s end being the direct source to the decision that was made. Claude Julien may be a lot of things, but he is not a bad coach. Granted his reluctance to adapt to an evolving game at times was inductive to ripping your own hair out, but I digress.

Anyone can be successful with the right players in the right environment, but Julien never had complete control of player movement, and salary designation. Internally, the discourse between management and coach became more than apparent over the last year or so. And for better or worse as they say, a decision had to be made and a difficult one at the very least. With Cam Neely noticeably absent from the press conference held Tuesday morning, it has become outrageously obvious that the glaring issues with the organization weren’t just the coach.

Embed from Getty Images

Filling in the now vacant position is Bruce Cassidy. The 51 year old played professionally for the Chicago Blackhawks and more recently was named as Julien’s assistant entering this season. Cassidy commented that the promotion has felt like anything but, considering it has come at the demise of a friend. Now it should be noted that the promotion is on an interim basis, which more probably than not means yet another change at head coach may loom on the horizon. Through 55 games this season the Bruins have managed to keep themselves in playoff contention in a less competitive Atlantic Division. Sitting 26-23-6 places them 4th in that respective division, now only the top three teams per division make the playoffs with the possibility to qualify for two wild card spots.    

Personally I take issue with how management handled the removal of Claude Julien from the organization. Waiting until the Patriots championship parade to make the formal announcement, in what I can only imagine was a lackluster attempt to take attention away from the severity of the situation. On the other side, perhaps it was an attempt to allow Cassidy some practice time to prep his team for San Jose Thursday night. Whatever the reason Cam Neely, the president of hockey operations not even making a public appearance at said conference is laughable at best. Leaving Don Sweeney to deal with the press alone. It felt like a major disrespect to a man whom the bulk of the players had nothing but the utmost respect for. A man who for all his flaws, and there were quite a few, managed to keep himself in the discussion as one of the league’s elites.

hehehhaahhahahho

Claude Julien’s era is over in Boston and for what it’s worth he deserves to go out with respect and a sense of decency. Not with the covers thrown over his head and kicked out the back door. It doesn’t feel professional, nor does it seem like something that one of the NHL’s most sought after franchises should be doing. Don’t shed too many tears for dear old Claude. The 56 year old now free agent coach has more than enough experience to take a bubble team and make mold them into a contender. With Boston in 2007 as a prime example of just that. Winnipeg, St. Louis, Florida and now Las Vegas have all been rumored to be in the market for a new coach. Also don’t rule out a return to Montreal or even New Jersey, the teams he manned prior to Boston.

Au revoir monsieur Julien, I look forward to seeing you behind a bench in no time at all.

Same Song And Dance

Leading up to NBCSN’s broadcast of Wednesday Night Rivalry, the Boston Bruins had won three games in a row. Which when you consider how the regular season has gone up to that point was impressive. The level of inconsistency seen from the Bruins had left even the most die hard fans deflated. And the Capitals resembled an admirable opponent to go through to get their 4th win in a row.

Washington embodies the polar opposite when it comes to consistency. One of the leagues hottest teams, faces a team that still needed to find its identity. Going off that point even further, Boston only has two players to reach the 20 goal mark so far this season. In fact, they only have five players with goals in the double digits.

Embed from Getty Images

Washington has 8 players who have scored at least 10 goals so far this season with Alex Ovechkin leading the way with 25. Furthering my point on the differentiating seasons.

Waking up Thursday, following the 5-3 loss to the Capitals, the Bruins clutched to the final playoff spot in the Atlantic for dear life. Having learned nothing new about the team that has spent a significant portion of the season soul searching.

Embed from Getty Images

Brad Marchand remained Boston’s hottest scorer, but one player can’t win you a hockey game. Along with Marchand’s two goals, David Krejci also got his name on the score sheet while David Pastrnak chipped in with three helpers. Which is all well and good, but it continues to prove a point, which is Boston lacks significantly with depth scoring.

The expectation going into the season is that your top six forwards will manufacture the bulk of your offense. While your bottom six forwards contribute sparingly along the way. Outside of those top six forwards, Boston’s next highest goal scorer is their 4th line center, 36 year old Dominic Moore.

Players such as Riley Nash and Matt Beleskey were brought in to be very productive third line players with the potential to crack the second line. Both of which to this point have not lived up to the expectation.

Now more than ever, the Bruins need those who play in the latter half of the lineup to get involved offensively. Especially with Brandon Carlo, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask being banged up across the last two games.

If Boston is going to hold on to the playoff spot they currently possess, a move must be made at the deadline. A deal with more magnitude than swapping a 3rd round pick for a bottom six defense  man such as Wade Redden, or another aging veteran who’s best offensive days are well behind him like Brian Rolston.

 

 

Broadcasting Beauties on NBC

Canada has “Hockey Night In Canada”and the United States has “NHL on NBC”. When it comes to sheer games being broadcast over the course of a season, Hockey Night is clearly the victor.

With that being said, hockey fans in America have been the beneficiary of some fantastic games this past week. That is if they happened to tune in.

While Jared Spurgeon may not be unanimously considered to be within the top 100 goal scorers in the league, he absolutely dazzled the fans with this insane hand-eye coordinated thing of beauty.

My goodness, perhaps the Twins ought to give this guy a call to add some depth to their batting order.

Alex Ovechkin is no stranger to grand stage theatrics. The “Great 8” has been notorious for getting fans out of their seats and into the action right away. With a matchup last Wednesday against bitter rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, sparks were sure to fly. Especially when a specific milestone was within reach for my generations most lethal goal scorer.

Just 35 seconds into the game, Ovechkin’s toe drag-roof job set the tone for the rest of the night as the Caps cruised to a 5-2 victory. His early tally was his 1,000 NHL point. At just 31 years old and no prior injury concerns, Ovechkin has the opportunity to conjure up some instant magic.

Just 5 nights later, Crosby and Ovechkin would exchange pleasantries again. This time in Pittsburgh. The Caps leaped to a 3-0 lead early in the second, but the lead didn’t last as the Penguins riffled 6 straight goals before the start of the third period. Remarkably, the scoring didn’t end there for either side. As the Caps would tie the game at 7 late in regulation, only for the Penguins to take the decisive second point in overtime.

Your final score, 8-7.

When two original 6 teams face off against one another, it’s often must watch television. In the case of the Bruins vs. Red Wings game this past Wednesday, I’d certainly have to agree. Following an embarrassing defeat at the hand of the anemic Islanders, the Bruins looked for a confidence building team victory in Detroit. Boston’s young guns shinned early as Frank Vatrano nailed two goals and Brandon Carlo’s missile saw the Bruins up three goals on Detroit. An answer from Dylan Larkin cut Boston’s titanic lead to just two. Shortly there after, Patrice Bergeron’s deflection put the Bruins back up by three.

While three unanswered goals by Detroit would tie the game at 4 a piece, McQuiad and Nyquist would each score for their respective teams to force overtime. 5 pulse pounding minutes later, a shootout would decide who would possess the all important second point in the standings.

Detroit sent the hometown fans off with an excellent group victory. For Boston they continue to lick their wounds and search for an answer to their struggles. Emerging discussions about the future dealings of the head coach are once again at the forefront. With time being the only indicator of what course of action will be followed through on, a win against Chicago could prolong the process.

Embed from Getty Images

While it may be old news now, the Montreal Canadiens got smoked by the Minnesota Wild last Thursday, 7-1. I’ll admit, entering this season there were some questions I had in regards to their locker room chemistry. Those concerns were quickly squandered. Montreal looked like the real deal for a significant portion of this season. Attribute it to the lingering affects from the World Cup of Hockey or the pressures of playing in Montreal. But Carey Price has looked aside himself this past month. Granted Montreal currently is in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic, you need to play your best hockey at this juncture of the season. Expect Montreal to make it to the spring tournament, and be a nightmare matchup for whatever team they get in round one.

Embed from Getty Images

On the other hand, aside from filling the net against Montreal, Minnesota has also been filling in the win column. Playing arguably their best hockey since becoming a professional team. Since acquiring Parise and Suter in the same offseason, Minnesota has had their eye on a Cup. With the changes that have been made to tweak the roster in the last 365 days, that dream is looking attainable.