Report: Bruins will be ‘very active’ in trade market

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Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and president Cam Neely has suggested that the team doesn’t require a significant overhaul, but it looks like they might still be “very active” on the trade market, according to CSN New England’s sources.

Although the Bruins have been very successful over the last four years, it might not be practical for them to proceed without making a significant trade or two. They’re in a somewhat difficult cap situation in part because Jarome Iginla’s bonuses will eat into their 2014-15 budget as punishment for them exceeding the 2013-14 ceiling.

After factoring in that cap penalty and the savings they get from Marc Savard being on the long-term injured reserve list, Boston figures to have around $9 million in cap space with about a quarter of their roster still to fill.

With that in mind they might end up dealing forward Brad Marchand or defenseman Johnny Boychuk to get rid of their $4.5 million and roughly $3.7 million annual cap hits respectively. Doing so would make fitting potential free agent Iginla in under the cap a lot easier.

Regardless of what happens, the Bruins won’t look exactly the same in 2014-15 — no team ever does — but Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg just hopes that the changes are kept to a minimal.

“When you look at the whole regular season, which was a long time and a lot of games, you saw evidence of the guys being able to play well and dominate hockey games,” said Seidenberg. “In the playoffs, we just didn’t play our best hockey. That’s what you have to do in order to win rounds.

“I don’t think there’s a reason for big tweaks to the lineup, but that’s up to management. They have to do what they think is best. We’ll see, I guess.”

Related:

Columnist believes Iginla won’t return to Boston

Rangers can take lesson from last year’s Bruins

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LOS ANGELES — If the Rangers want to successfully rebound from blowing a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, they should look at a familiar Eastern Conference foe — the Boston Bruins.

It was the Bruins, after all, that opened the 2013 Cup Final in remarkably similar fashion to the Rangers, jumping out to a two-goal advantage. on the road, before losing to Chicago in overtime.

Like the Rangers, the Bruins blew a chance to steal home ice advantage right off the top. And like the Rangers, the Bruins had regrets.

“We had the game,” Tuukka Rask said, per ESPN. “We were up 3-1 in the third, and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal, a tough bounce leads to the tying goal, and we just gave it away. We’ve got to be better than that.”

Sound familiar?

Aside from the terrible turnover thing (here’s looking at you, Dan Girardi), consider what Marc Staal had to say:

“Yeah, we had a shot to win the game. It’s frustrating that we didn’t come out and do it.”

Boston rebounded nicely in Game 2 last year, scoring a 2-1 OT win to even the series at one. The Bruins did it by flipping the script, so to speak — after falling behind early, they got stronger as the game progressed and out-shot the ‘Hawks 24-15 over the final two periods and OT.

“We got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team,” head coach Claude Julien explained. “By the end, I thought we had more chances.”

Getting better as the game goes on is what the Rangers need to do in Saturday’s Game 2. The Blueshirts wilted as tonight’s contest progressed and the ice appeared tilted in the third period, confirmed by the shots on goal total:

Kings 20, Rangers 3.

That, obviously, can’t happen again if the Rangers have any hope of getting a split in Los Angeles — but there are fixes New York can make, according to Martin St. Louis.

“We did a lot of east-west stuff. They didn’t have to come back all the way in and play defense,” St. Louis explained. “They went back the other way and they got their forecheck going. We ended up spending a little too much time in our end zone and then it’s tough to get on offense when you’re trying to get off the ice. So a little bit of some of the stuff we did in the third.

“I don’t want to not give credit to them, but some of the stuff we did in the third we’ve gotta correct.”

Bruins think Eriksson ‘can be a better player’

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Nearly one year after the Tyler Seguin trade, Cam Neely thinks the centerpiece Boston got in return has room for improvement.

“Loui [Eriksson] came in and it was a difficult transition for him, and then he got hurt,” Neely said on Tuesday at the B’s annual year-end presser. “We think he can be a better player.”

Eriksson, 28, missed 21 games with a pair of concussions and a heel injury this season, which limited his production — just 10 goals and 37 points in 61 games, a .61 points-per-game average.

The worry, of course, is that ’13-14 marked the second straight season Eriksson’s production took a hit. He was at a .60 ppg average during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign in Dallas, a noticeable dropoff for a guy that recorded three-straight 70-plus point campaigns from 2009-11 (his point-per-game averages in those three years? .87, .92 and .87)

Not helping Eriksson’s cause was the fact Seguin enjoyed good success in his first year in Dallas, finishing fourth in the NHL in points (84) while pacing the Stars to their first playoff appearance in five years.

Eriksson, meanwhile, spent the majority of the year on Boston’s third line — albeit a very good third line — and didn’t do much in the playoffs, scoring just two goals and five points in 12 games. Eriksson was also a collective minus-4 in the final two losses to Montreal, going pointless with just three total shots on goal.

As such, Neely made no bones about the B’s needing more from the Swedish winger, who has two seasons left on his six-year, $25.5 million deal with a $4.25 million average annual cap hit.

“He’s proven to be a better player,” Neely said. “That’s our expectation, that he can be a better player.”

Bruins’ Marchand searches for answers after failing to score in playoffs

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Brad Marchand was involved Wednesday night, but not for the right reasons.

The Boston Bruins, the top National Hockey League team in the regular season, are out of the playoffs in the second round after a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on home ice in Game 7.

The pesky Bruins forward took a pair of trips to the penalty box for trying to somehow take Carey Price off his game in a crucial contest against the Canadiens. You can certainly argue the validity of both calls, but the second one, unsportsmanlike conduct for showering Price with snow after the whistle, was simply putting himself in a position for the referees to make a call.

And let’s face it, Marchand doesn’t have the greatest reputation around the league.

But he’s shown in the past that during the playoffs, he can balance throwing opposing players off their game while also contributing on the score sheet, as well. Remember 2011, when he had 11 goals in 25 games and managed to get under the skin of Daniel and Henrik Sedin of Vancouver?

He didn’t do that these entire playoffs, at least not in the goal column. Twelve playoff games in 2014 and only five assists to show.

“It’s tough. Every game the chances were there. Maybe it was a lack of focus, or I didn’t bear down,” said Marchand, as per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com.

No matter how much the Bruins may have tried to throw Price for a loop, the Canadiens’ puck stopper never faltered. He was fantastic in the deciding game, stopping 29 shots out of 30 he faced.

“You always give credit to the team that moved ahead and I’ll tell you one thing: Carey Price was outstanding,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, as per Conor McKenna of TSN 690.

And then there were five: Bruins eliminated

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The Boston Bruins cruised through the regular season, claiming the Presidents’ Trophy, then easily dispatched of the Detroit Red Wings in the first round.

In the second round, though, the B’s finally found their match against their long-time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins and Canadiens played in an NHL record ninth Game 7 on Wednesday night, but Montreal scored early and never surrendered the lead, sending the Bruins packing after just 12 postseason contests.

The Bruins certainly looked capable of going the distance this year, but now they will be left to ask what, if anything, needs to change for them to get over the hump after coming up short for the third straight campaign.

  • There are reasons to believe that things will get better on their own next season for the Bruins. Those who want to make that argument will be quick to point a finger at forward Loui Eriksson. He was supposed to be the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas in the summer of 2013, but suffered two concussions that really derailed his campaign. The 28-year-old forward will get a full summer to regroup and return as a bigger part of the Boston attack in 2014-15.
  • The Bruins’ young defense, led by Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Kevan Miller also seems to be coming along nicely. The trio made mistakes in this playoff run, but more than held their own for the most part.
  • That’s key, because the B’s might need to start getting adjusting to life without Zdeno Chara — or at least not the Chara they’ve gotten used to. The 37-year-old defenseman averaged fewer minutes per game in the 2014 playoffs than he has in any run since 2009, despite the fact Boston was missing blueliner Dennis Seidenberg. There’s no question Chara’s still a dominant force in the NHL, but his age might start to become increasingly apparent.
  • Boston’s major pending unrestricted free agent is Jarome Iginla. There’s a good chance the team will re-sign him, but it won’t be easy. The problem isn’t convincing Iginla, it’s that his 2013-14 contract was heavy on performance bonuses. The Bruins didn’t have the cap space to cover them this season, so they’ll count against the Bruins’ cap hit in 2014-15, which makes Boston’s already tight cap situation a little more difficult.
  • With that in mind, even if the Bruins wanted to make significant changes, it would be hard for them to do so. They just don’t have much in the way of cap flexibility, although there’s always a chance they’ll find a way to pull off another blockbuster trade like they did last year.

For more entries in this series, click here.