INSIDE HOCKEY » Boston Bruins http://insidehockey.com Get Inside! Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:49:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 David Krejci Strikes (Black and) Gold http://insidehockey.com/david-krejci-strikes-black-and-gold http://insidehockey.com/david-krejci-strikes-black-and-gold#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:01:20 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59165

The Boston Bruins have just paid their top-line center.

According to sources, David Krejci has agreed to a six-year contract extension with the Bruins that will pay him somewhere around $43 million. Based on annual value, the playmaking center will make around $7.16 million per season.

The $7.16 million cap hit would put him slightly above the pay scale of Patrice Bergeron ($6.5 million), Zdeno Chara ($6.9 million) and Tuukka Rask ($7 million) to make him the highest paid Bruins player on an average annual value basis. The salary number should not come as a surprise given the rising salary cap and the big money extensions handed out to Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews earlier this season, and guarantees that the Bruins will keep together a roster built around their top two frontline centers for the majority of the next decade.

The 28-year-old Krejci was entering the final season of a three-year contract extension signed during the 2011-12 season, so the B’s clearly wanted to take care of their prized offensive weapon before the team headed into training camp.

Krejci is coming off one of his best regular seasons: He produced 19 goals and 69 points along with an NHL-best plus-39 during the regular season, but cooled off in the playoffs with just four assists in 12 games along with a minus-3 rating.

On paper, Krejci deserves the money, and would have likely received similar dollars if he were to test the open market this time next year. The problem here is the Bruins will have no one to blame but themselves for their lack of cap space and their inability to go out and sign high-priced veterans. Krejci would have been an excellent trade piece that would have brought back a substantial return. Now, management has put all of the eggs in the metaphorical basket known as the presently-constructed B’s roster.

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And the NHL ’15 Cover Goes To… Patrice Bergeron http://insidehockey.com/and-the-nhl-15-cover-goes-to-patrice-bergeron http://insidehockey.com/and-the-nhl-15-cover-goes-to-patrice-bergeron#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 20:19:35 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59021

nhl-15-box-artOn the brink of the cover vote announcement, we sat down with Patrice Bergeron at the EA Sports studios in Burnaby, BC to talk about how it feels to be the cover star of EA’s latest on-ice series, NHL 15.

It was a sunny afternoon as I made my way up to the spacious EA studios. As I was approaching the large entrance, a car pulled up beside me and out walked the man himself – Patrice Bergeron. After an introduction from the team at EA, Patrice would make his way into the studios to try out the game. When I sat down to speak with him, he was fresh off the experience of trying out NHL 15 for the first time.

“NHL 15 is the start of a new generation of hockey video games, where the sights, sounds and feel of the fastest sport on the planet come to life in a way you’ve never experienced before. NHL 15 features the most realistic looking and skating hockey players ever in a video game, along with the most detailed and authentic representation of the game of hockey itself,” states EA in a boilerplate about the game. Patrice’s unprompted explanation of NHL 15 would later nod to this. Interestingly, Patrice is the first cover winner of this next-generation of NHL games.

The gameplay of NHL 15 is impressive and has a realism to it unmatched by previous hockey video games. EA released a trailer of the game as a teaser, which can be viewed here, to showcase the level of gameplay and quality of graphics fans can expect. NHL 15 is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Game gymnastics aside, sitting down to speak to Patrice I couldn’t help but ponder his accomplishments. Born the same year as myself, the 28-year-old Bruins centre has numerous accolades to his name including a Stanley Cup and two gold medals. I had to ask – where does winning the cover of NHL 15 rank in all of this?

“It’s tough to compare,” he admits. “I don’t want to put numbers on anything that I’ve accomplished with my team or with this, with the cover vote. It is pretty special. I’ve played the game growing up and I remember so many times playing with my brother coming back from school, and never in a million years would I have imagined being on the cover of that same game that I’ve played. So it’s very special. And there are so many amazing players that have been on the cover before in the past so it’s very humbling to be part of that list now.”

We asked Bergeron how he felt knowing the fans voted for him and, despite his humility and wanting to focus on his team rather than his own accomplishments, it was clear he appreciated the support.

“It feels great. I’m definitely grateful of the response that it created, and that the fans made a run for me in the cover vote so it’s definitely something very special. And it’s not surprising from the Bruins fans, we know how passionate they are. I’ve heard about it a lot back home in Quebec, a lot of people like friends and people that I don’t even know that voted. So it was actually a great turnout.”

Bergeron paused. “It’s tough for me to talk about myself, it’s usually more about the Bruins, but it’s definitely very special.”

The Boston Bruins forward and Quebec native has fond memories of playing video games with his brother, but confesses that he plays less now.

“I don’t play anymore, my brother plays a lot still but I got away from a bit as I got older but still I guess. I have so many great memories. That was my first game in a while,” Bergeron admits, referring to testing out NHL 15 immediately prior to our interview. “I was impressed and amazed by how the game looks now, how realistic it actually is. We were in the (TD) Garden playing the Bruins and I was amazed. You know it’s basically like you’re watching TV almost, really intriguing to see.”

nhl-94-quebec-hartfordAnd his favourite video game as a kid?

“NHL for sure!”

He continued, “Yeah NHL 94. I still remember that one-timers were the only – well, the best – way to score goals and I was always the Nordiques, you know growing up in Quebec City. So I remember that a lot growing up.”

And what would he say if he could go back in time and tell himself playing NHL 94, ‘Hey buddy, you’re going to be on the cover of that game one day.’ What would that bright-eyed kid say back to him?

“He’d think I was crazy,” smiled Bergeron. “That would be the one thing for sure. I mean, it was always my dream to one day play in the NHL and make it and I definitely worked hard to get here. I’ve had amazing people along the way who helped me get here, but like I said I never before imagined this would actually happen. It’s a special feeling and I know I’ve had a lot help along the way.”

He’s worked hard too, and he’s inspiring other young hockey fans along the way. It’s a great irony that there are kids right now in the same place Bergeron found himself in all those years ago when he was playing NHL 94. There will be kids out there who play NHL 15, see Bergeron on the cover and dream about it happening to them one day. What message does he have to those kids about following their dreams? His message was simple.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re crazy. It can actually happen. I’m the perfect example, I was one of those kids that had a dream and worked hard for it.”

Bergeron is humble and doesn’t elaborate on his accomplishments, but the truth is he is a great role model for so many. He does a great deal of work giving back to his community and kids really do look up to him. But what about his teammates? We spoke to him ahead of the big reveal at the NHL Awards, and wanted to know what his teammates would say about him being on the cover.

“That’s a good question. I’m sure my teammates will be supportive. They will be happy, and part of it is they’ve helped. I know a lot of teammates who also voted so they helped me get on there and they’ve helped me on the ice as well. So I know they will help me and be behind me. I’m just excited.”

It’s been a big year for Patrice Bergeron. Success in Sochi, winning the cover of his favourite childhood video game, and of course hoisting the Stanley Cup back in 2011. What’s next?

“Hopefully another Stanley Cup. It’s definitely the goal. Once you actually taste it you want more and you want to relive those emotions. It’s definitely something that’s on our mind.”

Something tells us that his wish will come true soon enough.

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B’s Say Goodbye to Fan Favorite in Thornton http://insidehockey.com/bs-say-goodbye-to-fan-favorite-in-thornton http://insidehockey.com/bs-say-goodbye-to-fan-favorite-in-thornton#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 18:20:42 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58982

It is hard to imagine the Boston Bruins taking the ice next season without the services of veteran winger Shawn Thornton.

Unfortunately, that will actually come to fruition.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Monday afternoon that the team would not re-sign Thornton, thus making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Thornton averaged just 5.1 goals and 7.0 assists per season since coming to Boston from the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, but he became one of the B’s most popular players for his physical play and leadership skills. What often goes unnoticed is a certain player’s hard work, dedication, and loyalty to the community. Here, Thornton was actively involved all around the Boston area, servicing several organizations to make the children of the community excited to call themselves “Boston Strong.”

He played in 64 regular-season games and all 12 of Boston’s playoff games this season, totaling five goals, four assists and 78 penalty minutes. However, this season will leave a stain on his reputation when he assaulted and sucker punched Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. The incident led him to being suspended for 15 games. There is no way to assume that factored into the decision not to bring Thornton back, but it is difficult to envision that played a huge role in the organization’s mind.

His leadership, toughness, and captain-esque qualities will be missed in the locker room. Assuming the Bruins go younger for that fourth-line winger role, Justin Florek, Craig Cunningham, Jordan Caron, and Matt Lindblad would be solid internal candidates. Florek flourished towards the end of last year, recording two points in four regular-season games and one goal in six postseason games. His size and speed could make him the logical front-runner for the job.

As for the veterans, someone will have to step in and become a presence for the Black and Gold, both on and off the ice. We wish Thornton the best in his future endeavors. He will remain a Bruin at heart.

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Would Marchand for Marleau Have Made Sense for Boston? http://insidehockey.com/would-marchand-for-marleau-have-made-sense-for-boston http://insidehockey.com/would-marchand-for-marleau-have-made-sense-for-boston#comments Sat, 14 Jun 2014 00:26:36 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58934

Rumors began circulating last night that a trade between the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks might be brewing. Sources said that the Bruins would be willing to give up forward Brad Marchand for Patrick Marleau of the Sharks, and that the teams had been in talks regarding those players.

The Bruins traded forward Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars last summer after a falling out with him and the team and bad playoff performance. Marchand performed even worse in the Bruins 2014 playoff run which ended with a second round loss to Montreal. However, general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke on Friday morning and said he would not be trading Marchand.

Marchand did not score once in the playoffs, and other than a 31 game stretch in the middle of the season where he netted 17, he scored just four before and after that stretch. Trade rumors had already begun, but after the playoff loss he already stated that he hoped the team didn’t trade him like they did Seguin.

“I have had no discussions for Marchand and I have no plans to trade him,” Chiarelli told WEEI.com in an article by Bruins writer DJ Bean. “I don’t make it a practice to respond to reports in the social media, but occasionally it is necessary.”

That negates the rumor from last night and any other rumor involving Marchand. However, the question now becomes, would this match have made sense?

First of all, while when general managers squash trade rumors it usually means nothing, it does for Chiarelli. He never denied the rumors about Seguin, so there is no pattern here. If he says he won’t trade Marchand, then he probably won’t.

Marleau might be an interesting player for the Bruins. First, the Sharks are willing to move him whether the Bruins are interested or not. After blowing a 3-0 lead in the first round to the Kings, they are looking for a makeover, already announcing that Dan Boyle won’t return.

The Sharks met with Marleau in mid May and it is widely speculated it was to discuss a trade, since he has a no trade clause. He is the team’s all time leader in games, goals, points and many other marks. However, he is also an older player, and the Bruins right now clearly lack speed. Jarome Iginla, another veteran they brought in last season, could not always keep up. Would Marleau have been the same thing?

Marleau is 35 years old and carries a cap hit of around $6 million while Marchand’s is $4.5. However, the Bruins do have some cap room and if Iginla leaves as a free agent as well, that creates even more room. This would be a non issue in a potential deal.

If the Bruins are worried about speed, giving up Marchand, the third or fourth fastest player on the roster, makes little sense. However, if they are concerned about performance or a Seguin situation, the fit isn’t that bad. Marleau, after 16 years with the Sharks, is a potential hall of fame player and will be able to score. The Bruins do lack pure goal scorers, so that is another reason for a fit.

It is all for naught though, as this trade isn’t happening. Still, it’s interesting to wonder.

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Photo Gallery: AHL Bruins @ Penguins (5/19/14) http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-ahl-bruins-penguins-51914 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-ahl-bruins-penguins-51914#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 12:02:13 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58763

  Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game #6 in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Providence Bruins Alexander Khokhlachev had 2 goals and 1 assist to give the Bruins a 4 to 1 win over the WBS Penguins. Series is now going into Game #7 which will be in Providence.  The “3 Stars of the Game” were #3 WBS Conor Sheary, #2 PRO Niklas Svedberg, #1 PRO Alexander Khokhlachev. Photos taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Photo Gallery: AHL Penguins @ Bruins (5/17/14) http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-ahl-penguins-bruins-51714 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-ahl-penguins-bruins-51714#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 20:04:05 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58745

AHL Calder Cup Semifinals Game 5: Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center

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Photo Gallery: WBS Penguins @ Providence Bruins 05/17/14 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-wbs-penguins-providence-bruins-051714 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-wbs-penguins-providence-bruins-051714#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 01:23:04 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58748

  In Providence, Rhode Island during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between Providence Bruins and WBS Penguins.  In the 3rd period the Penguins Anton Zlobin scored the winning goal at the 14:20 mark giving the Penguins a 3-2 win.  Penguins lead the series 3 games to 2 games.  The “3 Stars of the Game” were #3 PRO Tyler Randell, #2 WBS Anton Zlobin, #1 WBS Peter Mannino.  Photos taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Michel Therrien: Giant Killer http://insidehockey.com/michel-therrien-giant-killer http://insidehockey.com/michel-therrien-giant-killer#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 00:33:58 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58730

I would like to add a new term to the hockey lexicon: Giant Killer.

The definition is as follows:

Giant Killer, n. A hockey coach (and team) capable of defeating the President’s Trophy winner in Stanley Cup playoff competition. (Before the President’s Trophy was first awarded in 1986 it could also mean a coach and team capable of defeating the team with the best regular season record in playoff competition).

Giant killing is a unique skill in the history of NHL coaching but not a rare one. In 97 seasons of NHL hockey the team with the best regular season record has gone down in defeat in the playoffs 55 times. In the President’s Trophy era it is much more common: the President’s trophy winner has been slain 20 out of 28 times. Still Montreal head coach Michel Therrien took a major step in his career as an NHL head coach when he led the Habs to a stunning upset victory over the Bruins in the second round of the playoffs.

Even though Montreal stole home-ice advantage over the Bruins in game one, they allowed Boston to steal it back. It required goalie Carey Price to play the two greatest games of his NHL career to re-steal the thunder and glory of the Stanley Cup chase; allowing only one goal in two games against one of the most potent offenses in the NHL today. It required defensive stalwarts P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, and Mike Weaver to apply considerable muscle in shutting down Boston’s top guns like Milan Lucic and David Krejci. It required that the Canadiens forwards put in an impressive ensemble effort with Thomas Vanek, Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller, Thomas Plekanec, Danny Briere, and Brendan Gallagher all pooling their talents to seal the victory.

Montreal’s victory is astonishing in that they defeated a team used to facing and overcoming adversity; a team adept at winning pressure games and killing giants in their own right (which they did in 2011). And yet the Bruins forgot what made them a great team. They forgot the old Japanese proverb which goes, “when you’re winning, tighten your helmet strap.” Instead Montreal knocked their blocks off; out-hitting and out-hustling the Bruins during those last two games.

Montreal has not been to the conference finals since 2010, but this is a different Canadiens team now. They are hungrier and more focused than they have been in the past. They will face a Rangers team flush with its own improbable victory over a favored Pittsburgh Penguins. If Montreal wins then reaching the Stanley Cup finals will be a long overdue homecoming for the Habs who haven’t been to the big dance since 1993. More Michel Therrien returning to the finals will be even more significant. A conference finals win will add more points to his coaching value (from a +24 to +29). Winning the Cup will elevate Therrien to the ranks of the top fifty hockey coaches of all time.

The Canadiens and their coach are knocking on the door of greatness, the question remains is whether they have the will and the strength remaining to enter and make themselves at home in the halls of Stanley Cup championship immortality? Can they overcome the curse of Marty McSorley once and for all?

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Bruins’ Inability to Finish Seals Their Fate http://insidehockey.com/bruins-inability-to-finish-seals-their-fate http://insidehockey.com/bruins-inability-to-finish-seals-their-fate#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 17:19:33 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58708

Game 7. It encompasses all that is the hockey spirit. Passion, physicality and the will to win, the epic series-deciding affair doesn’t get better than two hated rivals squaring off, with a chance to clinch an Eastern Conference Final birth. From Game 1 to Game 6, the series has had it all. Story lines abundant, with Boston’s finishing struggles leading the way- on Wednesday, when needed the most, the home team’s stars remained invisible, and the team still couldn’t finish.

The depth that had gotten the Bruins this far, at least come playoff time, also carried over their Game 6 struggles, making for the most disappointing exit possible for the black and gold. With both the stars and depth missing in action, the Bruins Game seven effort versus Montreal is inexplicable. Never would you expect this Bruins team- the president’s trophy winner and arguably best Boston team in recent memory- to go down like this. Getting outscored 7-1 in the final two games of the series when needing only one win is unacceptable.

Finish is the key word here. The Bruins struggle to finish. It’s fact. Yes, they’ve won a cup; and yes, they’ve been back a second time. But a constant theme in recent years- from the “first round and out” to the “cup contending” Bruins- is the inability to finish, and its hurt them. Finishing chances is what strangled the Bruins in this series, and an embarrassing Game six effort is what ultimately derailed them.

“I think the one thing that really hurt us probably moving forward is we had a lot of first-year players in our lineup and you could see tonight that there was a lot of nervousness,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of his team postgame. “I don’t think we played badly but we certainly weren’t playing as well as we could to be a team that would move ahead. So no doubt it’s a disappointing night for us, but at the same time I think our young guys this year did a great job of stepping in for some serious injuries to certain of our players and had a real good season. So maybe it came back to haunt us a little bit, but certainly not disappointed with our team.”

It’s true. The young defense, the hiccups, misplays by both Kevan Miller and Matt Bartkowski stand out as crucial turning points in particular games and in this series.

“They did get the early goal again like they did in Game 6, and certainly those things really hurt us again,” Julien said. “Young player missing his assignment as far as awareness, and they get that early goal in the first couple minutes of the period. So those are things we have to face and look at and say, you know what? That’s of our own doing and we have to live with that.”

It wasn’t just the young guys though. The combination of their struggles paired with the top guy’s inconsistencies is what really killed this team. The top line trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla struggled the most- uncharacteristic mistakes being made by all three players all series long. Iginla had his chances, especially in the last two games, but couldn’t net the big goal at the right time.

“You want to be playing your best at this time of the year,” Iginla said. “And unfortunately you know as a line we weren’t probably as – you know, there was more that we could have been better, but it wasn’t for lack of guys wanting it or desire. But we definitely can feel getting those close one-goal games, and there were lots of them this series. And we feel a lot of responsibility there, for sure.”

Where the Bruins go from here should be interesting.

Dennis Seidenberg will be back. There was apparent “framework of a deal” made during the trade deadline, so a defensemen (Alex Edler of Vancouver?) could be coming in. After an abysmal postseason and general decline in overall play, this might be the end of the “merlot line.” Chris Kelly could be gone. And that’s right, Iginla could be gone.

Questions now surround the former president’s trophy winning turned second-round exiting Boston Bruins. After poor efforts from the first line, fourth line and some young defenders as well, could an actual “shake-up” be in store? Don’t believe they go that far, yet; but the ultimate question rightfully remains- when will this team really learn to finish? To match a team’s Game 6 desperation and not let it go the full seven? Until then, they will always have work to do.

FROM THE ROOM:

David Krejci

 

 

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Bruins’ Season Ends, But Now What? http://insidehockey.com/bruins-season-ends-but-now-what http://insidehockey.com/bruins-season-ends-but-now-what#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 17:15:40 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58699

We fully expected the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens to jostle for position all the way to the end of this series. The 34th playoff installment of this rivalry culminated on Wednesday night, and the winner would have earned the right to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

There was no safety net for either team on this night; one of these teams was moving on and the other would be heading home for the summer. Everything was going to be left out on the ice. Also, it is worth noting that this was the ninth game-seven meeting between these two teams, a record for all sports.

Game 7, arguably the two greatest words in all of sports, went to the Canadiens. Despite what we may think, they played like they wanted this more. Sure, the Bruins had their struggles, but you have to give credit where credit is due.

Now, it is time to criticize.

All throughout the playoffs, the B’s first line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Jarome Iginla could have been considered invisible. During the regular season, the trio posted 73 goals and 116 assists combined. Not too bad, right?

When the playoffs roll around, that is the time where the most productive offensive weapons are supposed to thrive on the big stage and produce. Through the first two rounds, the B’s top line combined for 18 total points.

The most stifling and head-scratching performance came from Krejci. He had no goals and just four assists in the 2013-14 playoffs. He has led the Bruins in points during their last two Stanley Cup runs, so it is easy to point the finger at the catalyst. Krejci has put an enormous amount of pressure on himself to be Boston’s biggest threat in the postseason.

One of the biggest surprises for the Bruins during the playoffs was the emergence of the third line. The two staples on that line were Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. They were put together after Eriksson returned from his second concussion, and they instantly started clicking.

The lone problem was to find the proper left winger that would mesh well and compliment the Swedish combination. Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron, and Justin Florek were tolerable options, but Matt Fraser became a force since being recalled from Providence to fill that void.

Fraser, who also came over to Boston from Dallas in the Tyler Seguin trade, played in 14 regular-season games in which he recorded a pair of goals. In four games this postseason, he posted two points, including the game-winning goal in overtime at Montreal in game four.

This line was red hot in the second round against Montreal. They combined for 10 points in the series, six of them coming in game five.

Chris Kelly was out of the lineup for the Bruins since April 8 due to back spasms. However, Fraser has proved that he is a capable player on that third line. The coaching staff will have an interesting decision to make if Kelly returns next season.

Lastly, Tuukka Rask made the saves he needed to make in the series, but he was outplayed by Carey Price. Rask posted a .928 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average in 12 games this postseason, which is solid. However, it was not enough to bring a title back to Boston.

We will see the Habs next year, but it is time to move on and focus on the big picture. The new task at hand is concentrating on the offseason.

Many of the big questions will be answered in the upcoming months: Will Adam McQuaid be with the team come September? Will the Bruins add more speed up front? Will Iginla get a contract extension? Is Chad Johnson a worthy backup?

For now, let’s enjoy the rest of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Bruins can now do the same.

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