Bruins add defensemen, ignore offense

Every trade deadline there has to be a sense of anxiety around the league, as players contemplate how quickly their immediate future may change. Some welcome the change and are hopeful for a new start while others are wary of leaving their teammates behind.

The Boston Bruins were in a situation where management could have decided to take drastic action, especially when the team went on a horrific nine-game losing streak that threatened to derail the season. In those nine losses the team failed to score more than three goals in a game and scored just one five times. The worst offensive team in the NHL was in desperate need for scoring help at the deadline, and the players on the team had a feeling that things might change, according to Tim Thomas.

“I noticed it a little bit in
people’s body language [because Tuesday] was my first day back,” he
said. “Even the few days before the break, because they knew there was
going to be [movement], there was some nervousness. You can’t help it.

“You do your best not to think about it
but that doesn’t mean you don’t think about it at all.

“I just think it’s human nature. If you’re
on a team that’s hit a protracted losing streak like we did back then,
that makes you wonder. But then, if you’re on a team that is playing
really good, you’re wondering, ‘Is this team going to try to add
something for that Stanley Cup run and am I going to be the player that
goes?’


What was interesting was seeing Boston not only keep most of the team in tact, but to focus on the defense first. From the Boston Globe:

“I might as well get this right out there,” Chiarelli said in his
opening remarks, “because I know that a lot of the questions will be,
‘Why didn’t we get scoring?’ And those are very good and valid
questions.

“What you have to look at – at least, what we looked at – was firstly,
we wanted to change the composition of our defense. I can say that was
an equal priority to getting some more scoring. I put it as an equal
priority because I feel that if we change the composition, that will, in
itself, allow us to improve from the back end out. It should result in
better offensive production. It allows the defensemen to play in their
appropriate roles and positions.”

I understand the philosophy, but defense has not been the problem this season at all. Not by a long shot; the Bruins are 4th-best in the NHL with a 2.44 goals-against average and Tuukka Rask is 4th among all goaltenders with a .926 save percentage. Tim Thomas, who is having a ‘down year’ is in 15th. Not exactly a big worry here.

I’ll give them this: the Bruins are in the middle of the NHL in shots allowed per game. Well, that certainly spells reason for adding defense rather than offense.

I can understand the goal behind getting the defense into shape with the hopes that the offense will start scoring. Sort of. But is adding Dennis Seidenberg to your blue line suddenly going to fix the issue that the Bruins don’t have a scorer in the top 100 in the NHL? How is Seidenberg going to help Blake Wheeler, who has 3 points in his last 14 games? With crisp breakout passes and a big shot from the point?

If I were a Bruins fan I’d be pulling my hair out today. Says Stanley Cup of Chowder:

For a team that is last in the league in goal scoring that is still in
the playoff hunt not to land a goal scorer is inexcusable. Peter
Chiarelli and the Bruins brass sent a clear message: this is not “the
year to B here”. A Cup run this year was a bit of a pipe dream but I
figured the B’s would still want to win a playoff series to line Jacobs’
pocket with an extra couple games’ worth of concession sales. Peter
Chiarelli tried to spin it like they were trying to improve for this
year, but it is clear that this deadline was all about the future, not
the present.

The market for scorers wasn’t particularly hot this year and the Bruins did supposedly try. But don’t try and spin it by saying that adding Seidenberg and “changing the composition of the defense” will help scoring. You swapped out Derek Morris for Dennis Seidenberg, that’s it.

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    Ducks’ Perry being evaluated at hospital for lower body injury

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    The injury woes for the Anaheim Ducks continued on Monday night.

    On the same night they got Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg back in the lineup, they lost forward Corey Perry to some sort of a lower body injury.

    Perry exited the game after playing just 3:49 in the first period.

    After the game Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said that Perry is being evaluated at a local hospital for the injury and that there was no other update at this time.

    According to Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens of the OC Register Perry did not suffer a skate cut.

    In 31 games this season Perry has scored six goals to go with 16 assists for the Ducks. The Ducks have been absolutely crushed by injuries this season, a development that has no doubt played a major role in their slow start.

    The Ducks were 3-2 winners on Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The Buzzer: Bernier shines for Avs, Rangers waste Pavelec’s great night

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    Player Of The Night: Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche

    After losing six out of their past seven games the Colorado Avalanche finally got back into the win column on Saturday night by crushing the Florida Panthers. They followed up that performance by marching into Pittsburgh and stealing two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 win that was highlighted by a stellar showing from starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

    Bernier was the Avalanche’s best player on Monday night, turning aside 39 of the 40 shots he faced.

    It was not until the final 11 seconds, when the Avalanche were already holding a two-goal lead, that he finally surrendered a goal.

    It was probably Bernier’s best performance of the season and just the fifth time in 12 starts that he managed a save percentage higher than .900 in a game.

    Wasted Effort Of The Night: The New York Rangers

    Maybe “wasted” is too strong of a word considering the Rangers did get a point out of the night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars, but let’s be honest be here. They did not even deserve that.

    The Rangers were thoroughly dominated by the Stars and only managed to get the game to overtime thanks to a stellar performance from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

    Pavelec stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced and almost single handedly got the Rangers to overtime.

    After the game Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had this to say about the game: “There are two positives, Pavs played unreal and because of his performance we were able to get a point. Other than that….we weren’t good.”

    That was it.

    Ducks Get Some Help Back In The Lineup

    The Anaheim Ducks got some much needed help back in their lineup on Monday night when Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg both returned to the lineup.

    Silfverberg made an immediate impact after missing the past five games. He scored his sixth goal of the season in the Ducks’ 3-2 win.

    Getzlaf did not factor into the scoring, but having him back in the lineup was still a huge lift for the Ducks. He played 20 minutes in the win.

    Highlight Of The Night

    The Winnipeg Jets have an outstanding offense. It was on display here with some nifty tic-tac-toe passing to take the lead against the Vancouver Canucks.

    Factoid Of The Night

    Brock Boeser scored another goal for the Canucks in their loss to the Winnipeg Jets. He is having a tremendous rookie season.

    Scores

    New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 1

    Dallas Stars 2, New York Rangers 1

    Colorado Avalanche 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1

    Florida Panthers 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

    Winnipeg Jets 5, Vancouver Canucks 1

    Anaheim Ducks 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    The Panthers and Red Wings had a fight night (Videos)

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    The Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings seemed to be in a fighting mood on Monday night, dropping the gloves three times in the first two periods of their game in the Motor City.

    Things started early in the first period when Red Wings tough-guy Luke Witkowski, playing in his first game back since serving a 10-game suspension, dropped the gloves with Michael Haley of the Panthers.

    Have a look…

    The two would square off once again in the second period.

    Not long after the Witkowski-Haley rematch, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Red Wings forward Luke Glendenning took part in a rather vicious fight that left Glendenning bloodied on his way to the penalty box.

    Given Ekblad’s history of concussions the Panthers can’t exactly be thrilled to see him taking part in a fight like that.

    Ekblad is not much of a fighter, with Monday’s fight being just the third of his NHL career. It is, oddly enough, his second fight of the season with the first one also coming against the Red Wings.

    Back in October he fought Justin Abdelkader.

    Big centers back: Getzlaf in for Ducks, Panthers regain Barkov

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    The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.

    That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Check out how much better everything fits together with the returns of Getzlaf and Silfverberg, not to mention the recent addition of Adam Henrique (line combos via the Ducks website):

    Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
    Cogliano-Henrique-Silfverberg
    Blandisi-Vermette-Kase
    Wagner-Grant-Shaw

    The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.

    As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.

    While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.

    Interestingly, Left Wing Lock lists Barkov along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, rather than Denis Malgin taking Bjugstad’s spot (Malgin received looks, at least, once Evgenii Dadonov suffered an injury).

    That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.

    While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.

    It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.