On the same day Bruins’ president Cam Neely told the Boston Globe he’s disappointed with his club’s performance, hockey insider Darren Dreger reports there could be major changes coming in the offseason.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Tuukka Rask was first off from this morning’s skate but, shortly thereafter, Boston head coach Claude Julien refused to say if it would be Rask or Malcolm Subban in goal tonight versus Edmonton.
There are compelling arguments for both. Subban, Boston’s first-round pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, was recalled from AHL Providence yesterday — where he’s fared remarkably well this season — and would be making his big-league debut against a relatively weak Oilers team.
Rask, however, is the club’s clear-cut No. 1 at present time and the Bruins are desperate for a win. The team heads into tonight’s contest having lost five of six, sitting just two points up on Florida for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
If we had to guess, it’ll be Rask that gets the nod.
For Edmonton, Ben Scrivens will start.
Habs at Sens: Dustin Tokarski vs. Andrew Hammond
Wings at Hawks: Jimmy Howard vs. Corey Crawford
Wild at Flames: Jonas Hiller for Calgary, no word yet on a Minnesota starter.
Kings at Avs: Semyon Varlamov for Colorado, no word yet on a L.A. starter.
Bolts at Ducks: John Gibson for Anaheim, no word yet on a Tampa Bay starter.
Cam Neely isn’t mad at the Boston Bruins.
Which, in parent speak — and as team president, Neely’s kind of like a parent — we all know is way worse.
“You go through this whole range of feelings when things aren’t going well,” Neely told the Boston Globe from Edmonton, where the B’s will try to end a four-game winless slide tonight versus the Oilers.
“I’ve been frustrated. I’ve had some anger tossed in there. And now, for the first time, I’ve landed on disappointed.”
Disappointed, because the Bruins kicked off an important five-game road trip by making a couple of “mind-boggling” mistakes in a loss to Vancouver.
Disappointed, because three days later, they blew a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Calgary Flames.
Disappointed, because after seemingly righting the ship in January, the B’s are once again in danger of missing the playoffs, just two points up on Florida for the final wild-card spot in the East.
We’ll see if Neely’s words can give the Bruins any motivation. You’ll recall early last month when CEO Charlie Jacobs ripped into them, saying, “It’s unacceptable the way that this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team. To see it delivered the way it has is unacceptable.”
A month and a half later, Neely is saying much the same thing: “Given the expectation of the team, the expectation of what we have of individual players …. we aren’t where we should be.”
Related: Is the jury still out on the Bruins?
The Boston Bruins, just two years removed from their last trip to the Stanley Cup Final, are in position to make the playoffs for the eighth straight campaign. And yet, the situation isn’t nearly as good as that statement makes it sound.
Boston has struggled to stay afloat this season and now have just a two-point edge on the Florida Panthers in the Wild Card race. Even if the Bruins manage to squeak into the postseason, there will still be serious questions about their ability to contend, both in the playoffs and down the road.
Faced with a situation that they’ve become unaccustomed to in recent years, is it time for the Bruins to make a bold move by trading captain Zdeno Chara before the 37-year-old (38 on March 18) slips further from his prime?
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector felt the idea has merit even if it’s not likely:
Zdeno Chara turns 38 in March, and has become to the Bruins what Jarome Iginla was to the Calgary Flames: that ageing superstar whom the Bruins need to make the playoffs for the next couple of seasons, but whose value will then slip to the point where any trade return on him is negligible.
History shows that the Calgary Flames should have dealt Iginla two years before they did. Instead, the Flames missed the playoffs in both of Iginla’s final two seasons in Calgary, then settled on two middling prospects — Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino — and a first round pick (Morgan Klimchuk) in a trade from Pittsburgh.
Of course, Chiarelli’s dilemma runs deep. There isn’t a GM in hockey — and he’s one of the best, IMO — who would submit to this obvious trend and deal Chara now. Not with a playoff spot still a very real possibility.
But the decline has begun, and here’s why we are mighty sure that the Bruins are not Detroit, a team that has bucked the trend: Look at the Bruins drafting record since 2007, and you’ll find the answer to why their opponent tonight has fallen on such hard times. It’s why Calgary is rebuilding. It’s why the Canucks are no longer an elite contender. And it’s why the Maple Leafs are as bad as they are.
There’s also a substantial cap component to consider. Chara comes with a roughly $6.9 million annual hit through the 2017-18, so moving him would provide the Bruins with the kind of flexibility they’ve been hurting for in recent years. The length of that deal might lead to Boston getting less desirable offers for his services, but there would still be plenty of interest in the big defenseman given his superb resume and the fact that he can still log top minutes.
CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty recently brought that up while arguing that Boston should deal Chara on the Great American Hockey Show:
At the end of the day, it would be very surprising to see Boston deal its captain at this time or even in the summer. Still, the fact that the topic is even being discussed is a reflection of just how poorly this season has gone for the Bruins.
At least the Boston Bruins got a point tonight, but their 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames might sting worse than the three more decisive losses that preceded it.
After all, it looked like Boston had finally put its recent slump behind it when Torey Krug put the Bruins up 3-0 at 0:50 of the second period.
Calgary slowly chipped away at their edge though with Jiri Hudler netting two goals for the Flames, including the game-tying goal with just 5:09 remaining the in third period. That led to T.J. Brodie ending the contest in the dying seconds of overtime with a very unusual marker:
To make matters worse, Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller suffered what might be a shoulder injury, per CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty.
“We’ll see what comes out. But it doesn’t look good,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said referring to Miller, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
With a 28-20-8 record, the Bruins have a four-point edge on Florida in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, but the Panthers have also played in one less contest. On top of that, Philadelphia has been rather effective lately and it’s just six points back of Boston.
That’s put the pressure on the Bruins to rebound in the second half of their Western Conference trip. After losing to Vancouver and now Calgary, they will face Edmonton on Wednesday, St. Louis on Friday, and Chicago on Sunday.