Things with the Bruins lineup have been so dull of late that a debate as to who coach Claude Julien will play on the team’s fourth line is their “hot question” coming into tonight’s Game 5.
Julien told reporters today he’s deciding between Kaspars Daugavins and Carl Soderberg to play alongside Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton and we won’t find out who he’s going with til tonight. When asked why he was tinkering with things, he was pretty direct.
“Why? Because I’m the coach and because I can,” he said. “You guys ask me why I make those changes. I didn’t spend three days thinking about that. It’s a situation that I can do.”
As for whether Soderberg will indeed make his Stanley Cup Final (and playoffs) debut tonight, it sounded like Julien was hedging his bets.
“Well, I haven’t seen (Soderberg) that much. He’s only played a few games, and that’s probably the main reason he hasn’t played in the Playoffs is we went with some experienced players,” Julien said.
“I have to look at whether I feel comfortable staying with Daugavins, or as you know right now, it’s been between Soderberg and Daugavins. But they’re two different players. Size-wise they’re different. One is obviously real gritty along the walls, and the other one is probably more of a play maker.
“So there’s a difference there, and that’s where I have to make my decision what I feel I may need for tonight.”
After a disappointing finish to their season, the Anaheim Ducks’ offseason is at least shaping up to be limited on drama.
Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports the Ducks won’t be using either of their compliance buyouts this summer. With a handful of recently signed long-term deals just starting and a shortage of bad money deals elsewhere, there’s no need to buy anyone out. The Ducks are also doing well against the salary cap.
According to CapGeek.com, the Ducks’ payroll is at $52 million for next season and they have 19 players under contract. With about $12 million to spend to fill out the rest of the roster, their issues don’t lie in cutting costs. Instead, Anaheim’s problems surround which players to sign back before free agency.
The Ducks have 11 free agents-to-be this summer and only two of them are restricted (Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey). Veterans like Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Toni Lydman figure to get the most attention before the Ducks go looking elsewhere to fill spots in the lineup. Stephens says the Ducks will give Selanne as much time as he needs to decide if he’ll return next season or retire while Koivu appears set to return.
After Chicago’s Game 4 overtime win, one thing they thought they were able to do was find weaknesses in Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s game. Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed to find some amusement in that idea when speaking with reporters following the team’s morning skate today.
When asked about Jonathan Toews’ comments about possibly exposing Chara’s weaknesses, Julien dared the Blackhawks to do it again.
“I mean, they’re allowed their comments. If that’s what they think, then they should try it again,” Julien said. “A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno, and he’s the type of player he is. People talk about five goals against, but were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually.
“But if they want to think that way, they’re entitled to it. I have no response to that except to know that my player is going to be good and ready tonight, and they can try it again if that’s what they think.”
Toews made it his business to poke the biggest bear on the Bruins roster in Game 4. The handful of scrums he had with Chara seemed to light a spark in the rest of the Blackhawks. Now that they’ve talked the talk on Chara, they’d better be ready to walk the walk.
It’s become the norm for Marian Hossa to miss out on team practices and morning skates since getting hurt, and today was no different.
Coach Joel Quenneville quickly put to rest any thoughts about Hossa’s health after meeting the press today.
“He’s fine. He’s going to play, and we’ll say he should be better,” he said.
Hossa went through the same thing ahead of Game 4 on Wednesday as well as missing yesterday’s practice, but after surprisingly missing out on Game 3 you can’t blame folks for being a bit nervous about his status.
You can expect Hossa to be back on the same line he was on in Game 4 alongside Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp. Those two skated with Jamal Mayers in Hossa’s place this morning.
Ilya Bryzgalov’s future in Philadelphia is in doubt, that much we know.
After seeing Mark Streit agree to a lucrative new deal with the Flyers and Danny Briere bought out out of the final two years of his contract, Bryzgalov might be the next to be paid to go away.
Bryzgalov’s agent, Ritch Winter, tells Sportsnet 960 in Calgary (via Frank Servalli of Philly.com – worth a read as he tears the duo apart) that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren will give him a heads up if something is going down.
“Paul has also been candid enough to say, ‘Never say never. I don’t know what I’m going to be offered at some point, so I’m not going to guarantee you anything, except that I will give you plenty of warning if I do so,’ ” Winter told Sportsnet radio.
So what if, as the Flyers decide to keep him around? Winter says his client is up for the challenge.
“At the end of the day, he would rather look face-first into that storm and face the challenge and make the changes necessary for the goaltending to be part of the success Philadelphia has, rather than run away from it. Ilya Bryzgalov is a lot of things, but he’s not afraid of a challenge.”
Safe to say the Philly drama is only just starting to pick up. The next couple weeks should be a real hoot.