Jason Brough

Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) skates off the ice as the Columbus Blue Jackets, behind, celebrate after defeating the Bruins 6-4 during an NHL hockey game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Bruins got smoked at home again


Last night in Boston, another team rolled into TD Garden and opened the floodgates against the Bruins.

This time, it was the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

“Our defensive game needs to be better,” Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow said after the 6-4 loss. “Just whatever curse we have at home where we can’t seem to find the energy or get the tempo of our game up, it just has to change sooner than later and we don’t have the time to turn it around. It’s pretty unacceptable.”

If last night had been a one-off, no problem, the Bruins could’ve just regrouped for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh.

But it wasn’t. Far from it. In fact, it was the 12th time this season that the Bruins had allowed at least four goals at home. Included among those was a 9-2 drubbing by the Kings and a 5-1 no-show versus Montreal in the Winter Classic.

Of course, the B’s have also had their share of good days. Like Saturday’s 7-3 win in Dallas, for example. That was Boston’s 11th win by three goals or more. Only six other teams have more of those than that.

So, interesting times for GM Don Sweeney, who has until Monday to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agent Loui Eriksson.

If Eriksson is traded to a contender — and that’s the kind of team that’s going to be most interested, presumably — it’s unlikely that team is going to want to give up anything significant from its current roster. Which would mean the Bruins lose a guy with 23 goals and 25 assists for a return that, hopefully, will help them in the future, but is unlikely to help them in the playoffs, assuming they get there.

The best-case scenario for the B’s would probably be to re-sign Eriksson, but — given we’re talking about a 30-year-old that’s played over 700 NHL games — not for longer than three or four years.

Whether Eriksson would agree to a shorter term remains to be seen. He’d need an incentive to avoid hitting the open market. Perhaps the B’s could take a cue from the Jets, who were able to keep Dustin Byfuglien’s term to five years, but only because they gave him $7.6 million per season.

Though considering the state of Boston’s defense, that cap space may be better used elsewhere.

Related: Should the Bruins be sellers at the deadline?

Lundqvist hopes NHL will remain committed to Olympics

Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist dives to deflect a shot on goal by Switzerland in the first period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Blinch, Pool)

Henrik Lundqvist is a supporter of the World Cup.

“I’m excited,” he told NHL.com in September. “I think it’s going to be a great tournament.”

Just don’t confuse his excitement for a belief that the World Cup could replace the Olympics. Because the Swedish netminding star doesn’t believe anything could do that.

“Being at the Olympics is just an amazing feeling to have, with all the other athletes there, and the energy that’s there,” Lundqvist told Reuters. “To see them in action, it’s so inspiring. I love it, it’s very pure. It’s all about the sport.”

Granted, it might be a stretch to call the Olympics “all about the sport.” Money is a big driver of the Olympic movement, make no mistake.

But the World Cup’s purity, for lack of a better word, has also come into question. With the inclusion of Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America, the co-production of the NHL and NHLPA is not truly best-on-best, country-versus-country. Neither, for that matter, is the World Championship, since many of the best players are busy with the NHL playoffs when that tournament is on.

As it stands, only the Olympics is that. And the NHL has yet to commit to participating in the next Winter Games, in 2018 in South Korea.

“We had a meeting with the IIHF in November or October,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this weekend, per the Pioneer Press. “They said we have about a year, give or take.”

A deal to send NHLers to Sochi in 2014 wasn’t reached until July of 2013, less than a year before those Games began.

Related: Ovechkin will ‘definitely’ go to South Korea for 2018 Winter Olympics

With trade for Polak and Spaling, Wilson sends message to Sharks

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Sometime in the future, the San Jose Sharks will try to replace the pair of draft picks they traded away today to get defenseman Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Those two picks aren’t until 2017 and 2018, so there’s “ample time” to do so, according to GM Doug Wilson.

For now, the Sharks are focused on making the playoffs, then going on a deep run once they get there.

“Very important that those picks were in the future, two and three drafts from now,” Wilson said, per CSN Bay Area. “The other part of it is, it adds to our team without taking anybody out of the lineup or taking any of our young players or prospects that we drafted from the last two years, because we’re really pleased with our prospects.”

Wilson didn’t say how, exactly, the Sharks would “replenish those picks,” but trading Patrick Marleau before his contract expires could be one way. The 36-year-old is signed through next season. As of January, his trade request had reportedly not gone away.

In the meantime, head coach Pete DeBoer likes the message that management sent with the acquisition of veteran Polak and Spaling, both pending unrestricted free agents.

“I think the message is that we think we have a chance,” he said. “Management is going to do what they can to try and help the group out. Now it’s on us to get them together on the ice and deliver the proper results.”

The Sharks have quietly been one of the NHL’s hottest teams in the new year. Since Jan. 9, they’ve gone 13-3-3.

San Jose plays in St. Louis tonight before finishing off its five-game road trip Wednesday in Colorado. Both games can be seen on NBCSN.

Related: Marleau won’t say he wants to remain a Shark

Wild, Lightning were the big winners over the weekend; Devils, not so much


Four wins in a row under new head coach John Torchetti — combined with a couple of losses by the Colorado Avalanche — have seen the Minnesota Wild’s playoff chances jump from 33.4 percent on Feb. 13 to 74.2 percent, according to website Sports Club Stats.

The Wild won their fourth straight on Sunday, blasting the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-1, outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium. A few hours later, the Avs dropped a 5-1 decision in Vancouver, where the Canucks hadn’t won since Jan. 11.

Barring the unexpected, the Wild, Avalanche and Predators will compete for the two wild-card spots in the West. Arizona and Vancouver have each seen their playoff hopes plummet in recent weeks.


Meanwhile, in the East, the New Jersey Devils were the big losers of the weekend. They lost 1-0 to the Isles on Friday and 4-3 to the Caps on Saturday, dropping their playoff chances to just 26.0 percent.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were the big gainers, earning victories Saturday and Sunday in Pittsburgh and Carolina, respectively. The Bolts, after winning just once in five outings, have now won three straight, increasing their playoff chances from 78.9 percent early last week to 93.2 percent today.


The Red Wings might be the most vulnerable team currently in a playoff spot. They’re 1-2-3 in their last six, though they still have a 69.9 percent chance of appearing in their 26th straight postseason.

Sabres call up Cal O’Reilly after brother Ryan injured

New Jersey Devils center Jacob Josefson (16) takes the puck away from Buffalo Sabres center Cal O'Reilly (19) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y.  New Jersey won 2-0. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) With top-line forward Ryan O'Reilly out, the Buffalo Sabres have recalled his older brother from the AHL.

Cal O’Reilly was promoted from Rochester on Monday. The move comes a day after coach Dan Bylsma announced Ryan O’Reilly would miss between three and four weeks with a lower-body injury.

Bylsma did not reveal any details of the injury. O’Reilly was hurt in a 4-0 win at Columbus on Friday.

The Sabres signed Cal O’Reilly in free agency last summer shortly after acquiring his brother in a multi-player trade with Colorado.

O’Reilly has six goals and 22 assists in 44 games with Rochester. He also has an assist in five games with the Sabres during a previous call up.

Buffalo opens a three-game California road trip at Anaheim on Wednesday.