Can the Bruins survive without Marc Savard?

2 Comments

Savard6.jpgWe’ve talked here plenty about the trade rumors that have swirled around Bruins center Marc Savard and how this could work for the Bruins. The Bruins are searching for cap space and people have grumbled about how Savard is a bit of a handful to deal with in the locker room. But what about his presence on the ice?  He’s a high-scoring centerman on a team that can’t throw the puck in the ocean at times and lopping that off of any roster, especially one that struggles scoring, can make life more than difficult.

Sure the Bruins can win games by keeping the other team off the board just fine and skirting by with one or two goals, but is that something you really want to bank on doing game in and game out in the “new” NHL? Rory Boylen of The Hockey News doesn’t think so.

There are six teams whose best point-producer made less than Savard last season and was no higher than the fifth-highest paid player on the team: Derek Roy’s $4 million in Buffalo; Stephen Weiss’ $3.1 million in Florida; Mikko Koivu’s $3.25 million in Minnesota; Patric Hornqvist’s entry level salary in Nashville; Zach Parise’s $3.125 million in New Jersey; and Steven Stamkos’ $3.725 million in Tampa Bay.

With Hornqvist an RFA this off-season, Parise and Stamkos RFAs next off-season and Koivu set to be a UFA next summer as well, all the best players on this list will soon be making more than Savard, who won’t see a new contract until 2017. And would you take Roy or Weiss over ‘Savvy’? Heck no.

An interesting point made there for sure, but every single one of those players is younger than Savard. Sure, they’re paid less and likely due raises but they’d be worth it given that they’re anywhere from 23-27 years-old while Savard is 32. Paying $4 million for a player at the start of the peak of his career makes a lot more sense than it does for a guy that is 32 and coming off a very serious concussion.

Where Boylen doesn’t miss the mark is on how the Bruins lines set up with and without Savard. Without him in the lineup, things get a bit hairy.

WITH SAVARD
Sturm – Savard – Horton
Lucic – Krejci – Recchi
Wheeler – Bergeron – Seguin

• Even without Wheeler, this top three looks tough.

WITHOUT SAVARD
Sturm – Krejci – Horton
Lucic – Bergeron – Recchi
Wheeler – Seguin – Ryder

Of course, Marco Sturm is out until at least November after suffering another severe knee injury in the playoffs. Blake Wheeler is an unsigned RFA and Mark Recchi is approximately the same age as Abraham Lincoln. The Bruins lineup without Savard (and without Sturm for two to three months) is startlingly iffy. The guy that could be the key here for an offensive punch is none other than 2010 first-round pick Tyler Seguin.

No pressure kid.

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

Leave a comment

If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

8 Comments

Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

Getty
1 Comment

Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

5 Comments

The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.