The Bruins are in an unusual place in that they have all the cap room they need to make internal tweaks to the roster. It has been ten games, and it’s clear not only are some players doing better than others, but some are trying harder than others. I’ve been to Bruins practices where the effort was more game worthy than some of the shifts various players have put in this season.

If the problem is a S****** C** H******* then maybe some players need a day or two of rest. With the collective bargain agreement expiring, and so many unsigned UFA’s to be at the end of the season it is never too soon to start evaluating what is in the pipeline at the NHL level. Some of them can just be given maintenance days, anyone late for practice or to the arena for games can be suspended by the team.

Two Providence Bruins forwards are clearly leading the way in the AHL. One is a rookie currently second on the team in scoring, the other is an AHL veteran who was second on the team in points last year despite a call up to Boston, and has to be considered a key driver behind their being in second in their division. Carter Camper is the rookie out of Miami of Ohio, currently playing wing. Zach Hamill has through ten games improved his points per game from .63 to .82.

We have forwards making more than the combined cap hit of these two who have only one or two points through ten regular season games. It is time to let them rest, and let these two into the opportunity to shine at the NHL level as they’ve earned.  Even if they are eventually sent back to Providence or dealt to bring in a different element the NHL time can hardly hurt them, and the odds of them being less effective than certain players who have been on the ice but not in the game this year are small enough to make the lottery look like a good investment for everyone.

Defensively there has been slightly less dismaying play, but it should be noted goals against is up over last year and the teams goalie tandem can’t really be blamed for that. Boychuk who didn’t turn the puck over that much last year is on pace for his giveaway total to increase by over a third.  Of the defensemen to have played each game so far none has a lower hits and blocked shots number than Joe Corvo, this despite being third for ice time.

If you thought you noticed the Bruins are blocking less shots than last year, you’d be right. Overall the forwards and defenemen are doing a much worse job at blocking shot this season. They are currently 17% below last years number.  Changing players out at defense from the AHL could be a bit more difficult, but the vote of confidence Colby Cohen or Kevin Miller would get by playing 12-14 minutes at the NHL level in two or three game can’t hurt their game. Equally true, if rookies and young players can benefit from a dozen or so games a year in the press box watching the X’s and O’s take shape the refresher course for seasoned veterans shouldn’t take nearly as long.

Like everyone else I’m sick to death of hearing about the Bruins Cup Hangover. I’m even more sick of the absolutely asinine statement that we need to go out and find another Recchi. First, there aren’t many 40+ players in the league dying for a third Stanley Cup who have recently mentored two superstar forwards in two different cities. There are even less who possess an indomitable work ethic, a hall of fame resume walking in the door, and the rare at any age or talent level ability to command respect simply by breathing.  Obviously the cure is going to need to be something different.

The most likely solutions given the Bruins management style, the players current status and the performance of other teams are:

  1. A small trade that takes someone off the roster and moves them for a player with a slightly different skillset but not one of the core players.
  2. A move from within that sends one or more players packing and promotes someone from Providence (or if we’re going to be guilty of hubris the CHL) as either a permanent solution or a stop gap until closer to the deadline
  3. Medium trade of no more than one or two top six forwards or top four defensemen (with or without picks and prospects attached) for another player or players who can fill those roles.
  4. A blockbuster trade that involves players getting more than five million a year, All Star level talent or involves three or more roster players on at least one of the teams, honestly not likely, but still possible if the right pieces fell into place or it turned into one of those now very rare three team deals.

Of teams and players who might be shopping or looking for a shakeup themselves here’s a few that might fall into the mix.

The Kings are reportedly shopping Dustin Penner, and getting the third line a stable left winger over constant juggling of a prospect and this years hope for magical coaching, could have larger effects. Good news: Pretty healthy over all, has hit the 30 goal mark in the past. Bad news: not especially physical clearly in a slump or not fitting in with LA. I wonder if they’d take the future considerations we got for Sturm in trade?

If we’re going to insist on getting older, why not go with one of Tim Thomas’s contemporaries and neighbors while flashing back to before the lockout? Brian Rolston would be a solid leader, good mentor and as long as he wasn’t allowed to take slap shots in practice good for the team in a number of ways, including likely the powerplay.  Good news: Great shot, smart player. Bad news: 38 years old, 5 million cap hit, and an NTC that could make it hard to pry him loose given he’s just had another kid.

For a potentially cheap, and low risk high reward player, that we could send one of the roughly 72,345 centers in the system from Providence who might slide into their second or third line at the NHL level in exchange for one of the Senators AHL prospects, I think a call to Peter’s old stomping grounds about Filatov might be in order. He’s had an interesting couple of years, but has yet to actually play for a good team where he wasn’t clearly the most gifted offensive talent on the roster. While that isn’t quite true in Ottawa, Spezza has had his injury issues, and Alfredsson is old enough to be Filatov’s dad. Good news: Skilled, fast and likely cheap. Bad news: potential locker room issues or just plain head case depending on who you believe. (Note, was spotted in Ottawa for practice while this was being written.)

Since it’s always fashionable to draw up trades and potential trades with the Phoenix Coyotes, I guess I’ll throw one in too: Oliver Ekman-Larrson is a pretty iinteresting young defenseman. Good news: Young, has 3 goals already, is playing 18+ a night. Bad news: I can’t see the Coyotes giving him up cheap, especially not where they are getting good goal scoring as a whole.

Old friend Kris Versteeg has been in Sunrise for weeks now and despite a hot start it must be time for trade rumors to start about him. Good news: Been there, done that, only 25, RFA at the end of the year on a solid deal, currently a RW but plays some center. Bad news: There has to be a reason he’s on team three since leaving Boston for only passable returns.

With Crosby eventually returning to the lineup, and in theory a time when all three of their top centers are healthy, the Penguins are likely to need to move someone. Who? Who knows.

The Blue Jackets are a grade a mess with little true top six and top four talent and a goaltender best described as shaky. They could blow everything up either for immediate talent or lots of picks and prospects. The very well traveled Vinny Prospal is playing some of the best hockey of his career to little effect. With his 10 points in 11 games, and small cap hit, he could still bring a solid return to the team. Good news: Playing well, clearly still hungry. Bad news: 35, is currently leading the Blue Jackets in scoring.

Carter Ashton is buried in the AHL, and is the only rookie in their top five for scoring, The Tampa Bay lightning prospect might be available for defensemen or  defensive prospect since the team is deep at right wing and giving up 3.00 goals a game already this season.  Good news: Young, good size, good speed, good touch. Bad news: Probably wouldn’t come cheap.

Brandon Dubinsky is off to a slow, slow start in New York City, could Sather be talked into a mutual shakeup move? Would we be stuck taking Avery or worse Redden if that was they case? Good news: Once out of the slump would likely become a fan favorite, similar player to Bergeron. Signed for a couple years at less than I expect Krejci to get on his next contract. Bad news: Unless he’s gotten very desperate for a defenseman, say Boychuk or another NHL regular I suspect Sather either says “no” or demands an absurd return.

The New Jersey Devils are currently in twelfth place, the face of their franchise for the last two decades is under-performing, and their best home grown talent will be a UFA that get’s big, big offers if he isn’t signed buy July 1. Since no writeup of idle speculation is complete without the sensible of the surface but too ridiculous to make happen for real trade idea: Tuukka Rask for Zack Parise.

The Bad News:

David Krejci is utterly useless thus far this season. Utterly. He’s got one goal, zero assists and is a team worst -5. Yes, he had a “core” injury, but core and ‘brain’ aren’t the same thing.

Dennis Seidenberg it appears that the German defenseman used up all his hockey sense during the playoffs. He hasn’t been the worst defenseman on the ice, but that’s hardly high level achievement. His puck bobbles are not inspiring.

Joe Corvo earth to Joe holding on to your stick when attempting to block or strip a puck on a full layout at center ice might be useful at some point in your career, or even your retirement in which if you play like this you can be the fourth best defensemen in a Clarksdale Mississippi mens league game. With your ten games to his six and your two hundred and seven minutes to his forty six you have been somehow out hit by Jordan Caron. Could someone explain this?

Merlot Line, this line has been good for about two periods across ten games. That isn’t the line that was worth ten plus minutes a night in the playoffs.

Good News:

Jordan Caron has updated his play from invisible to fairly solid. In Montreal against Montreal he made several nice passes broke up a couple solid plays and short of scoring made the most of his opportunity to play with Pouliot on the shelf. Three hits and four blocked shots is a good use of about ten minutes time. In his previous game he looked reasonably solid as well.

Tuukka Rask is playing solid, aggressive and engaged despite the shameful play in front of him.

Tim Thomas, strong numbers but he can’t do it all.

Julien is doing everything he can to jolly along this group of players in the right direction, I’d recommend dynamite or water boarding but I think the NHLPA would frown upon that.

The rest of the team qualifies as profoundly unknown. Stupid penalties, sporadic good play, catastrophically uneven play and random acts of laziness that make you wonder if the good play or the bad is the real team.

 

I looked at the standings this morning. I’m willing to be the depression rate among Bruins fans will climb exponentially as more and more crack open their internet browser and do the same Given where things stand right now, the Bruins would be looking at the serious possibility of drafting first. Thanks to an hour of gong show hockey by the Flyers and Jets, coupled with their own continued sloppy play and what is almost certainly the best game of the year for Carey Price, the team finds itself in 29th place this morning.

Among the four teams that went to the conference finals last year, the Bruins made the least and least dramatic moves since. The Sharks booted Heatley and Setoguchi  and turned them into Burns and Havlat. The Lightning brought in a better performing back up goalie, allowed several free agents to find new homes, and are giving a hungry rookie his time to shine. The Canucks let some of their underperformers in the playoffs go, and brought in a legitimate (if slumping) power forward to help provide secondary scoring.

You can call it confidence or complacency but the Bruins most dramatic move of the off season was flipping a fourth round pick to a conference rival for defenseman who’s greatest claim to fame is having been arrested for punching a woman in a Boston bar. One of their top power play producers retired, the other, just as he was edging back into productivity was allowed to walk. They were replaced by a #4 draft pick who is the least skilled forward to play for the Bruins in the last half decade.

The powerplay is ranked 24th in the NHL. The team that finished the season with the best goals for to against numbers has given up more goals than they’ve scored. In the second period this season they have given up twice the number of goals they’ve scored. The only two players who appear to be trying their best for sixty minutes both wear masks.

Peter Chiarelli’s plan for creating competition for jobs in training camp was to bring in a 35 year old who’s best days are long, behind him, and to pick up a the twice discarded Pouliot. No signings during free agency of what might be legitimately considered a top six or even top nine forward, no trades to improve team speed or size or goal scoring. Not even a trade to pick up a draft pick or two. Not a single draft pick was kept in town to infuse hangover central with a little more enthusiasm. Khokhlachev, Spooner, Knight or one of the other skilled forwards could have been spark enough that even if eventually sent back to their junior teams the Bruins would have to have more points than the Winnipeg Jets, or the Ottawa Senators.

For that matter, picking up Wayne Simmonds as they Flyers struggled to get under the cap on the cheap would have added a very Bruins-like player to the roster and one who had a lot to prove. The Senators picked up Filatov for not a great deal, even with the questions that surround him and his former team, no one who has seen him and Pouliot play can doubt which of the two is more skilled.  Bergenheim had five goals in seven games against the Bruins in the conference finals, and Joel Ward was the Canucks own personal nightmare, both were available this off season if a complimentary piece is all that was wanted.

The Bruins do have some legitimate cause for putting up less impressive numbers than fans could hope. The inconsistency and lack of continuity on the ice is not something that can be entirely blamed on the short summer. Leadership has claimed their are constantly looking for ways to improve the team, and that they wanted to create competition for jobs at camp,. One free agent signing, a tentative at best promotion of a prospect and the brandishing of an injury plagued forward with less points than last seasons rookie number six defenseman don’t lineup with those statements very well.  I’m not sure when the media and fan backlash will begin, and while no small part of it should be aimed at the players it is no secret that organizations can only be as good as their leadership.

The greatest rivalry in sports rejoins the fray. As always PuckSage, PuckSage.com, the NHL, The Bruins, Canadiens and anyone else you might try and blame your problems on assume no responsibility for your actions but promise to Like the Youtube video of you doing something regrettable.

Take One Drink:

For each fist pump of Rene Rancourt, or one for each bar in which an alternate singer misses a note.

Each time Carey Price is shown doing the Dryden pose.

Tim Thomas is shown smiling.

Someone mentions Perry Pearn

The words “hot seat” or “hangover” are used to describe either team.

Take Two Drinks:

Each time the Subban hit on Marchand is played.

For each replay of video from this springs playoffs.

For each injury injury mentioned.

If a Montreal skater switches between forward and defense at any point in the game.

Take Three Drinks:

If there is a post whistle scrum involving P.K. Subban and no one gets between him and whichever Bruins player he’s annoyed.

If there is a replay of Jack or Bricks best lines from the playoff series.

Each time the broadcast makes it to a commercial break without mention to the Chara-Pacioretty hit from last season.

Take Four Drinks:

If the all time record for the teams is mentioned.

Someone mentions the last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.

Cole scores a goal.

Pouliot scores a goal.

The pain of hearing about “The Kids” in Edmonton drives you to needing pain relief.

Video or screen shots of something that happened in the game make it to twitter or a major blog before the end of the game.

Skip A Drink:

When Subban or Marchand are on the ice and someone else on their team is doing most of the jawing.

If Chara loses it because someone took liberties with a team mate.

 

The Montreal Canadiens who are injury battered, diminutive, and under-talented are off to their worst start in decades. They haven’t drafted well, they’ve made questionable trades, the coming and going of free agents has been brutal, today General Manager Pierre Gauthier took the obvious and clearly necessary step of removing the biggest obstacle to success from within the organization. Over the objections of Head Coach Jacques Martin, he fired special teams coach Perry Pearn.

Habs fans, ever reluctant to publicly criticize anyone did reluctantly, and with great reticence take to Twitter to express their opinions. Despite the small number of people willing to weigh in on the issue, it somehow tipped over into a minor meme. Here is some of what as been shared:

Did not acquire Vincent Lecavalier ina timely fashion #Pearndidit
@RawCharge
Raw Charge Staff
16 year old me went to Perry Pearn's 3vs3. I did not make the NHL. #PearnDidIt
Signed Peter Budaj as the backup #PearnDidIt
@doogie2k
Doogie
parked several cop cars near the centre bell #PearnDidIt
@twolinepass
ryan lambert
BREAKING: Closer examination reveals last season's Chara hit on Pacioretty did NOT involve the stanchion... #PearnDidIt
@warwalker
jrwendelman (Junior)
Called Marc Savard a "little fake artist." #PearnDidIt
@doogie2k
Doogie
December 2, 1995, he refused to pull Patrick Roy after the Hall-of-Famer allowed his fifth goal in 17 shots. #PearnDidIt
@DailyFaceoff
Daily Faceoff
@ He forgot #PearnDidIt RT @ Pearn failed miserably at getting Andrei Markov's knee to heal faster.
@gparkes
Gparkes
Failed to block Nathan Horton's series-winning slapshot #PearnDidIt
@Hail_Grabovski
Darryl Finch
Drafted Andrei Kostitstyn one pick before Jeff Carter was taken. #PearnDidIt
@draglikepull
draglikepull
Convinced Vancouver it was all right to riot #PearnDidIt
@QJR3
Q.J. Ross
Made Carey Prices Sv% sub-.900 #PearnDidIt
@mlse
Pension Plan Puppets

See any more great ones? Leave a comment.

 

Some members or positions on the Bruins seem to come up for speculation on a daily basis. Some times it is highlighting a weakness, sometimes it is because of excess depth. David Krejci’s name has come up more often than before recently. Someone asked me what I would consider a good return on him. Personally I wouldn’t trade him before the All Star game at the earliest and even then to the return would have to be advantageous. For all his potential, Seguin isn’t as solid at center as he is at wing, nor has he at this point proven he can be consistently better than Bergeron, Krejci, Kelly, and arguably Peverley at the position.

Scenario one:

Player for player even swap. I don’t see too many names on the market that might be both available and of equivalent value when age, contract and injury history are considered. Ideally the player coming back would be either a shooting power play quarterback defenseman who can be relied upon in his own end as a 2-4 guy. The other option would be a productive winger who isn’t a disaster in their own end, and can get 6-10 powerplay goals a year if given a reasonable amount of time  on the man advantage.

Scenario two:

Trade for picks and prospects. Given what the going rate for players was going into last years trade deadline, his RFA status on July 1, that he lead the NHL in post season scoring on route to a Cup, and having been the leading scorer on the Bruins a first round pick should be the minimum. The first should be for a team projected to finish with a top ten pick. Ideally a prospect would come back, or a conditional second round pick.

For a swap for prospects it would need to be a pretty exact fit for the Bruins current needs and likely be someone who could be playing in the NHL successfully but wasn’t do to depth on the trade partners team.

Scenario three:

As part of a large scale trade I can’t see including more than two prospects or one other roster player and one prospect for anyone but the untouchable level players in the NHL. Since I don’t see Bobby Ryan, Duncan Keith, or other players at that level becoming available, I suspect if we saw that size trade in the Bruins at this time it would signal bigger issues than there are any indications of.  But if the Ducks were to offer up Bobby Ryan for Krejci, McQuaid and a prospect or 2nd round pick or later, I’d have to look really hard at the idea if i were sitting in the corner office.

 

Yesterday afternoon the Bruins front office set of a wave of speculation. All they had to do was let the hockey universe know they were going to be holding a press conference today at 6pm. No one I’ve seen, or heard knows anything and the lines of speculation are both long and distinguished. Some of the more plausible ones include:

  • A trade, either major along the lines of acquiring a number 2 or 3 defenseman, or goal scorer to help finish when on the powerplay. Or just a shakeup move or shuffling of excess and or disappointing parts .Andrew Alberts and Chuck Kobasew were all traded early in the season under Chiarelli. Peter also pulled off some last years key trades well in advance of the deadline, so a settling in period is clearly part of his philosophy.
  • A contract extension for someone in management. I could be his, or someone else.
  • A change in parts of the coaching staff.
  • Injury updates: Marc Savard being the most discussed, but some have pointed out Krejci and Mcquaid’s injuries as cause for concern as well questioning the extent to which Rask is recovered.
  • Others have wondered about health of off ice personnel and management.

Trade talk has focused on a few specific people, without the overwhelming, ridiculous, and flat out wrong push given in notable quarters to the acquisition of Tomas Kaberle. While that doesn’t mean this won’t be a major trade, it is entirely possible the trade won’t be for who is most speculated.

  • Ryan Whitney of the Edmonton Oilers is a big contributor from the backend. He’s been in the 40 point range most seasons, and peaked at 59. Points wise that lines him right up with Zdeno Chara, he’s also a 28 year old Boston native with a four million dollar cap hit this year and next.
  • Daniel Alfredsson is one of the more interesting players speculated. Age and injury history make the amount of time and money left on his contract risky, but the fact he’s still up to playing over 19 minutes a game which is comparable to Patrice Bergeron who is more than a decade younger is solid counter balance. Add to that Chiarelli’s days in Ottawa, the fact he was worn the C even through all the nastiness the last few years there, and that he is well known to Chara and Kelly and you bring the appeal a bit higher. He was a big part of the Senators “golden years” when they were crushingly dominant, but at 38 has still not won a Cup.
  • Rene Bourque (no relation) of the Calgary Flames has his name floated about in trade talks about as often as Michael Ryder did after his first season here, and for similar reasons. When he’s good, he’s damned good, when he’s not he’s almost invisible. His cap hit is reasonable considering he’s produced two straight 27 goal seasons on team with questionable centers.

Those are the three most reasonable and frequently speculated trades. Some others possibilities exist, and are at least to me more interesting.

  • The New York Rangers are sputtering. They may have beat the Jets last night, but through seven games they’ve only scored fourteen goals. As much as they like having Dubinsky and Callahan are very similar players playing on the same line and it is possible a different player might be what is needed to give the team some mojo. Neither is playing particularly well, both play center and wing, often alternating during the game. Both were recently signed, but Sather and company can’t have too much room left on the leash after the way the team has ended the last couple seasons.
  • Kyle Turris is frequently named in speculation since the Phoenix Coyotes and he have yet to reach an agreement, but I don’t find this likely given how many times the GM has said he’d rather let Turris sit the year than trade him.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets have just about flatlined. They have 1 point in eight games, have allowed more goals than any team in the league, and spent a lot of money in the off season specifically so they could see more teams below them in the standings than above them. Of the players they might be willing to move, R.J. Umberger is former Flyer with a lot of playoff experience who has the center/wing experience that the Bruins management favors, I suspect going back would be defensemen and maybe a goalie.
  • The Nashville Predators have a lot of big decisions to make both as management and players. Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter will be UFA’s if not signed by July 1, Shea Weber will be an RFA with arbitration rights. Weber has indicated he only wants to stay if they are committed to winning, I can’t imagine Suter and Rinne have said or done anything different. While I don’t expect we’d land any of them, a couple draft picks from a team that might finish outside the playoffs in exchange for parts of our system that don’t fit could be win-win for both teams.
  • Another team that for the sake of it’s long term survival, and recent change in ownership can’t be ignored in any trade speculation, especially given how much change there was in Buffalo when Pegula took over is the Winnipeg Jets. They aren’t an expansion team, but they might as well be, and they will need to to keep the fan base very satisfied with such a small building to draw revenue from.

The Montreal Canadiens and Phoenix Coyotes made a trade that may just be the most over discussed trade of fourth line talent and AHL players of they year. Stay tuned, Columbus and Ottawa could trade guys off their second line.

Former Boston Bruins Joe Thornton and Hal Gill (@Skillsy75) who broke into the NHL the same year each reached their 1000th game. Joe Thornton had contemplated retirement due to injury, and many speculated that with the elimination of licit obstruction Hal Gill would be rendered useless in the post lockout NHL. Gill was a key piece in the Penguins Cup win, Thornton has been the games best passer for the last decade, and is a point per game producer.

James Reimer the current anointed savior of the Toronto Maple Leafs left a game the other day after Brian Gionta made contact with him and is expected to miss at least a came.Henrik Lundqvist left a game due to what was called skate induced foot pain.The goalie guild is no doubt proud.

The Columbus Blue Jackets can’t hold a lead or buy a win. Something tells me there may be a correlation.

The once and future King who has taken three years to get to the NHL after his draft, will take the ice against his big brother when Brayden and Luke Schenn square off. The Flyers and Leafs will be a matchup of he most changed roster of the summer and the most over achieving team of the fall.

Jonathan Quick had three Ok games in a row for the LA Kings.

The Edmonton Oilers either have a scoring problem, or not enough forwards named Ryan.

Congrats to Zach Hamill  (@ZHamill9) on leading the Providence Bruins in scoring.

Anyone who would like to contribute to getting goal for Jaromir Jagr or faceoff wins for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins please contact their respective coaches.

Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes is sporting a 42% faceoff win percentage, has just one assist through eight games, and of the 638 skaters to take the ice this season he was the worst plus-minus and -10, which is twice his teams -5. Karma?