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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    Canada women beat Russia 5-0, will meet U.S. in hockey final

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — It’s part of the routine now, as much a staple of the Winter Games as the medal ceremonies, the doping scandals or the sequins on the figure skating costumes.

    The United States playing Canada for the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal.

    Jennifer Wakefield scored twice and Shannon Szabados stopped 14 shots on Monday night to lead the Canadians to a 5-0 victory over Russia and earn the four-time defending Olympic champions a spot in another gold medal game.

    It will be the fifth time in six Winter Games since women’s hockey was added to the program that the North American neighbors have met in the final. No one else has ever skated away with an Olympic gold medal.

    Canada outshot Russia 47-14 but struggled to pull away, scoring just once in each of the first two periods before Wakefield bounced one in off goalie Valeria Tarakanova’s right arm just two minutes into the third and then Emily Clark made it 4-0 just 31 seconds later.

    Russian coach Alexei Chistyakov swapped his goalies, but it was too late. The Russians still have a chance for their first Olympic women’s hockey medal ever when they play Finland in the bronze medal match on Wednesday.

    Marie Philip-Poulin and Rebecca Johnston also scored for Canada, which has won 24 in a row at the Olympics since losing the gold medal game in Nagano in 1998.

    The United States advanced to the gold medal game with a 5-0 victory over Finland earlier Monday.

    The Americans won the Four Nations Cup, third only to the Olympics and world championships in importance, beating Canada in three of the first four games in a Pyeongchang tuneup tour. But Canada has won the last four, with a 2-1 victory in the pool play finale on Thursday.

    None of it matters, really.

    The gold medal match is the game these two have been looking forward to since Canada rallied from a two-goal deficit and beat the Americans in overtime in Sochi four years ago.

    And it’s the only thing right now that can help the 10 American holdovers from that team ease the pain of their 2014 collapse.

    More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

    PHT Morning Skate: Olympic qualification matchups set; Ducks GM thinks deadline prices are too high

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com

    • The round robin portion of the men’s tournament is over, which means the qualification matchups have been set. (NBC Olympics)

    • The U.S. Women’s Hockey players proved to be activists in their quest for equal pay and benefits. (Yahoo)

    • German goalie Danny aus den Birken came up huge in a win over Norway. (NBC Olympics)

    • There doesn’t appear to be many quality American hockey players outside of the NHL. USA Hockey should probably be blamed for that. (scottywazz.com)

    • James Wisniewski’s father, who is in South Korea taking in the Olympics, has been diagnosed with a norovirus. (USA Today)

    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    • Ducks GM Bob Murray thinks the asking prices from other general managers are a little too high right now. (OC Register)

    • The ‘Hawks might be struggling right now, but they enjoyed a heck of a run over the last decade. (Daily Herald)

    • New Jersey has a pretty special duo in Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall. (All About the Jersey)

    Eric Staal has been an important member of the Minnesota Wild this season. (Fan Rag Sports)

    • Take a deeper look at what makes Aleksander Barkov such an awesome two-way player. (NHL.com)

    • Eugene Melnyck made himself the new CEO of the Ottawa Senators. (Ottawa Sun)

    • There’s always a difference between what a fan thinks a player is worth and what a player is actually worth on the trade market. (Spector’s Hockey)

    • Are the Coyotes actively looking to move Max Domi? Different hockey insiders have given us different answers. (Arizona Sports 98.7FM)

    • The Blues are in a Wild Card spot right now, so should they consider being buyers or sellers at the deadline? (St. Louis Game Time)

    • Dallas should consider making a trade to improve their struggling power play. (Defending Big D)

    • The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the worst teams in the NHL this season, and season ticket holders are paying the financial price. (Buffalo News)

    • Being part of the 2016 All-Star has opened up a number of different opportunities for John Scott. (CFJC Today)

    • It sounds like the San Jose Sharks will start using their old logo again. (NBC Bay Area)

    Cam Ward and his seven-year-old son shared a special moment on the ice on Friday night. (Charlotte News & Observer)

    • You can check out the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Rangers and Flyers by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    U.S. women back in gold medal game after 5-0 win over Finland

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Americans have done their part, playing their way back into the most important women’s hockey game of the year.

    Once again, they have a chance at the Olympic gold medal that has eluded the United States for two decades.

    The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after shutting out Finland 5-0 on Monday in the semifinals. They will play the winner of the other semifinal between Canada and the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” on Thursday, looking to win their first gold since 1998 when women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics.

    And yes, the Americans understand the United States-Canada playing for gold is what everyone expects to see.

    ”Definitely the rivalry has been there since I think I was born, so everyone’s looking forward to that,” said 22-year-old Dani Cameranesi.

    This will be the third opportunity at gold for six Americans: captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

    ”It’s honestly a dream come true,” Knight said. ”This is the world’s biggest stage. This is the game that you want. This is the game we’ve been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it’s huge.”

    Olympic newcomer Cameranesi scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Americans over Finland. Marvin started the scoring, and Lamoureux-Davidson and Knight both scored during a 5-on-3 34 seconds apart in the second period. Maddie Rooney made 14 saves for the shutout.

    Finland remains winless in eight games against the Americans at the Olympics. The Finns, ranked third in the world last year, will try to take home the bronze medal for the first time since 2010.

    ”We’re got one thing on our mind, and that’s to get a medal,” said goaltender Noora Raty, who made 33 saves. ”They’re the best in the world (U.S. and Canada). We just need to get more girls involved so we have more to choose from.”

    The Americans opened these games a 2-1 loss to Canada wrapping up pool play.

    ”This was really a gold-medal preparation for us because they’re a darn good team, and we had to be ready to play,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said of Finland.

    The Americans wasted no time getting on the board. Captain Meghan Duggan found Marvin alone in the slot, and she beat Raty stick-side for the easy goal just 2:25 into the game.

    Finland lost defenseman when she had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room after a knee-on-knee collision with Duggan. She was knocked off balance before crashing face-first into the boards, snapping her head back. When play resumed without a penalty, some fans booed. Savolainen returned in the second period.

    Stauber said the referee immediately came over and said it was a collision. Duggan said she was really happy Savolainen got up and that any decision about a potential suspension was out of her control.

    ”There’s been some other plays that haven’t been put into question, and so I can’t imagine that there would be any disciplinary action just based on other things that have been let go,” Duggan said.

    Cameranesi put the United States up 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period, taking the puck away from Susanna Tapani and skating into the left circle before beating Raty’s blocker with a wrist shot top shelf.

    Lamoureux-Davidson’s slap shot from the left circle came with 2 seconds left on the 5-on-3 at 13:21 of the second period, and Knight got her first goal of this tournament by redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin with 5 seconds left on the man advantage for the 4-0 lead. Cameranesi padded the lead as she scored from the slot over Raty’s glove off a pass from Hannah Brandt.

    The Americans weren’t quite ready to turn their attention to a specific opponent just yet.

    ”We’re super excited to be in this position again,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. ”We worked four years to put ourselves in position to compete for a gold medal and we’ll enjoy this for a little bit, but we know that this isn’t what we came here for. We’re ready to go to battle in a couple days.”

    AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.

    Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

    The Buzzer: Auston Matthews’ late-game heroics; Pens move into top spot in Metropolitan

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    Players of the Night:

    Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Giroux notched a goal and two assists in Sunday’s win over the New York Rangers. The goal was the 200th of his career. He’s been incredible this year. The Flyers forward is up to 69 points in 59 games, which puts him on pace to score 96 points. Giroux now has four multi-point performances in his last six outings.

    Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers: Like his teammate Giroux, Konecny also picked up a goal and two assists. He’s now accumulated 18 points in 15 games. Konecny is currently riding a four-game point streak.

    Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: Even though the Oilers are struggling this season, McDavid has found a way to remain productive. His hat trick in Sunday’s tilt against the Avalanche was his third of the season. After scoring 100 points last year, he’s on pace to hit 98 right now.

    Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins: Guentzel’s three-point night helped propel the Penguins to victory against the Blue Jackets. Guentzel now has five points in his last four games.

    Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks: Pavelski had a three-point night of his own against the Dallas Stars. If you scroll a little lower, you’ll see his spin-o-rama goal. The veteran isn’t having his best season, but he’s managed to pick up nine points in his last six games.

    Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are an offensive machine that not many teams can stop right now. Connor picked up a pair of goals against the Panthers, which means he’s already scored 19 times in his first full NHL season.

    Highlights of the Night:

    Taylor Hall comes up clutch against the Hurricanes:

    If you like spinning backhanders, Joe Pavelski has you covered:

    How about this save from Semyon Varlamov:

    The hand-eye coordination from Evgenii Dadonov is pretty ridiculous:

    Sometimes it takes two to keep the puck out of the net:

    Connor Hellebuyck made a sweet save of his own against the Panthers:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Auston Matthews‘ late-game heroics against Detroit:

    The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions are in top spot in the Metropolitan Division:

    Hall is en fuego:

    Scores:

    Flyers 7, Rangers 4

    Oilers 4, Avalanche 2

    Devils 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)

    Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2

    Maple Leafs 3, Red Wings 2

    Sharks 5, Stars 2

    Jets 7, Panthers 2

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.