NHL on NBCSN: Bruins, Red Wings look for a spark (and some offense)

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena at 8 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings come into Wednesday’s game with remarkably similar viewpoints about how they need to improve upon sluggish starts to the 2014-15 season.

“I think our group’s been more than fine,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com on Monday. ” … We just got to keep grinding and getting better, but I’m happy with the way we played.”

“Our record is pretty bad . . . 1-3. I thought we played a decent game last game. If we play like that [against the Red Wings] and put some pucks in the net then we’ll come out with the win,” David Krejci told CSNNE.com. “We just need to play the same way, crash the net and get a win. It’s a bad record, but this road trip could help us get back on track.”

While the Bruins must clearly be in a more uncomfortable state of mind – Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith admitted as much – both teams seem like they’re unhappy with only producing four goals this season (even if Detroit’s came in two games versus four for Boston).

Each squad is also dealing with some substantial inconveniences when it comes to injuries, but don’t expect these common threads to make the two teams chummy tonight.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $10,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday night’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $1,000. Starts Wednesday at 8pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Recent history

On one hand, the Red Wings have gotten the best of the Bruins quite a bit lately. The most obvious example is last Thursday’s 2-1 win against Boston, a very much grinding victory as both teams combined for just 38 shots on goal. As MLive.com notes, Detroit is 8-1-0 with a 29-15 scoring differential against the Bruins in nine games since 2009-10.

Of course, most would agree that the B’s still have some serious bragging rights considering the fact that they dispatched the Red Wings from the first round of the 2014 playoffs in just five games.

Boston looks for answers

Bruins head coach Claude Julien admitted to CSNNE.com that the team is still “experimenting” to get the right mix together. Adding Simon Gagne to the mix provides more options, but also more variables.

“We’ve got some young guys in different places, so there are still opportunities there,” Julien said. “We’ll hopefully put that puzzle together to the extent that we really like it at some point, but I think we’re still experimenting. Sometimes you have to do that as a team. Just because you have training camp doesn’t mean you have all the answers. We’re trying to get those answers.”

Considering the veteran players and coaches on both sides, it must be strange to ponder the Bruins and Red Wings searching for answers. Maybe tonight’s game will prove at least one of these teams with a few breakthroughs?

(Video) PHT Extra: Why Bruins fans should be worried

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On Tuesday, Brough and I spoke with Jenna Corrado about Boston’s slow start — just 1-3 to start the year, with only four goals scored — and asked the question: Should Bruins fans be concerned?

The answer? Yes.

Why? Watch the video.

Bruins sign Gagne: one year, $600K (Update)

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After a slow start to the season in which they’ve scored four goals in four games, the Bruins are rolling the dice on a veteran sniper.

Simon Gagne, who was with the B’s in training camp and preseason, has agreed to a one-year deal worth $600,000, per ESPN. Gagne, 34, didn’t play at all last year while recovering from injury but looked good in exhibition play, scoring two points in five games while firing nine shots on goal.

Formerly one of the league’s most prolific snipers — he had 47 and 41 goals in back-to-back seasons for Philadelphia from 2005-07 — Gagne will likely get a shot at breaking into the lineup immediately, possibly in time for Wednesday’s Rivalry Night game against Detroit at Joe Louis.

Where Gagne fits, though, remains to be seen.

Following Monday’s 2-1 loss to Colorado, B’s head coach Claude Julien said rookie winger Seth Griffith looked good in his NHL debut and was “an upgrade” to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

“We’ll see if he can build on that stuff, but I thought he got better and he skated well,” said Julien, per CSNNE. “He made some plays. So, to me, I thought our lineup was an upgrade tonight.”

Gagne also saw time with Ryan Spooner and Dan Paille during the preseason, so that spot is also an option.

UPDATE: In addition to signing Gagne, the Bruins waived forward Bobby Robins and sent fellow forward Jordan Caron to AHL Providence. Robins, 32, was one of the league’s best stories this preseason, making the Bruins out of training camp before appearing in three regular-season contests — he’s been placed on waivers for the purpose of going to Providence, so we’ll see if he clears and sticks with the organization.

Caron, the 23-year-old taken 25th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, make his season debut on Monday, finishing minus-1 in 8:05 TOI.

Iginla: Bruins will be fine despite slow start

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Jarome Iginla might not be a member of the Boston Bruins any more, but he still thinks highly of them.

Boston suffered a literal last-second loss to Iginla’s Colorado Avalanche Monday afternoon, which lowered the Bruins to 1-3-0 this season. Although the defeat has to be taken with a grain of salt given how close the game was, there were already some concerns about Boston’s slow start before Monday’s contest even started.

Iginla doesn’t think Bruins fans need to worry though.

“They’ve all been close games,” Iginla said, per CSN New England. “Getting [David] Krejci was a big boost for them, and I know they’ve got some guys out. I have no doubts that [the Bruins] will be just fine over there.”

Three of the Bruins’ first four games have been decided by just a goal, although Boston did suffer a 4-0 loss to Washington on Saturday.

Iginla has gotten off to a slow start himself, but the Bruins likely wish he was still with them, especially after Boston recorded just four goals in its first four games.

The Bruins were up against the ceiling though, which made it difficult for them to compete for Iginla’s services.

Haggerty: Bruins’ slow start a legitimate concern

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With just one win in their first three games — and after losing 4-0 at home to the Capitals on Saturday — CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty thinks it’s “okay to question what the heck is going on” with the Boston Bruins.

Writes Haggerty:

Players, coaches and executives can say all the right things after a deal like the Johnny Boychuk salary dump, but the message that’s reverberating from the upper levels down to the locker room is that the team isn’t “all in” to win this season. That can have a toxic effect in the clubhouse, and signs of that toxicity have shown up in the first three games. Witness how many B’s players seem to have a look of doom on their faces when they get down by a couple of goals, and there have been more shoulders slumped in the last two losses to Detroit and Washington than at any time in the last five years.

The Bruins are hosting Colorado (speaking of slow starts) this afternoon at TD Garden, and it sounds like they’ll have David Krejci back in the lineup. Which is to say, there’s a very good chance that Boston comes out with the win.

But even with a victory over the Avs, the concerns in Boston won’t be alleviated. Boychuk will still be on the Islanders, and Jarome Iginla will still be playing for Colorado.

Speaking of Iginla, in Haggerty’s opinion, Loui Eriksson — the guy the B’s were hoping could step into the top six and replace the departed 30-goal-scorer — is “a third-line winger in Boston, and he’s never going to be the offensive force the Bruins hoped he’d be when they acquired him as part of the package for Tyler Seguin.”

Related: Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition