Julien will be back behind Bruins bench; Sweeney has ‘work to do’

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Claude Julien will be back behind the Bruins bench next season. Boston’s GM, Don Sweeney, said so this morning at a press conference, where he sat alongside his head coach and sung his praises.

“I believe in Claude as a coach,” said Sweeney. “I think our core principles align very well.”

But after the disappointment of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, there will be at least one change to Julien’s staff, and there could be more coming.

“Doug Houda will not be back,” Sweeney said of the long-time assistant, while noting that there are other assistants who are currently without contracts.

When asked where it all went wrong this season, Julien pointed to his team’s failures to get results in the big games. He used the Winter Classic as a prime example. (Boston, you’ll recall, was blown out by the Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. At the time, Julien called it “one of our worst games at the worst time.”)

As for the offseason?

“I have work to do,” said Sweeney. “There’s no question that we have areas that we want to address.”

Expect the defense to be one area that he’ll try to improve. The Bruins went young on the blue line for this season, and things didn’t work out as planned.

In a potentially related story, Sweeney wrote a letter to Bruins season ticket-holders this morning, in which he shared the following:

“One of our objectives last year was to improve our salary cap situation, and through various trades and signings, we were able to accomplish this. We now have some cap flexibility heading into the offseason and this summer’s free agency planning period. This will allow us to re-sign players or make competitive offers to free agents on the market that we believe will help our club.”

Still, despite seeing a clear need to make some changes, Sweeney does not believe the Bruins need a “major overhaul.” He thinks it’s important to remain patient with the organization’s youth, using 19-year-old David Pastrnak as an example.

“We have a very, very bright future with a number of young players that we have,” he said. “It’s rightfully so to be excited about that, but it’s also imperative to be patient to allow them to hit their ceilings.”

A pending UFA, Bruins’ Eriksson in wait-and-see mode

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The Boston Bruins decided not to trade Loui Eriksson at the deadline. Now, after missing the playoffs, it’s very possible they’ll have to watch him walk away for nothing.

Eriksson, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s coming off a 30-goal season. There’s already speculation that a team like Vancouver could be interested.

“I feel good about where I am in my game,” Eriksson told CSN New England. “It’s a big decision, where I end up. So, we’ll see what’s going to happen this summer. I had three great years [in Boston], and we’ll see what’s going to happen here this summer. That’s all I can say.”

Because he’s now on the wrong side of 30, a major factor in whatever deal Eriksson signs will be term.

From the Boston Herald:

It’s not impossible that some team might go to five years and $30 million — which would likely be too much for the Bruins’ taste. But it does seem probable that general manager Don Sweeney will make a serious offer. It’ll then be up to Eriksson whether he wants to stay, or chase the bigger bucks of the open market.

If Eriksson leaves, it could make it very important that the B’s sign Harvard free-agent winger Jimmy Vesey — who conceivably could step into Eriksson’s role.

There are a handful of other pending UFA wingers that may — repeat: may — be available this summer, including 26-year-old Mikkel Boedker and 27-year-olds Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo.

Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer, both the same age as Eriksson, could also end up hitting the market.

Related: Salary cap estimate for next season falls to $74 million, with one notable assumption

Bruins bits: Surgery for David Krejci, B’s sign Danton Heinen

Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46), of the Czech Republic, reacts as Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella (6) celebrates his go-ahead goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. The Wild won 4-3. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP
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The Boston Bruins held their season-ending media availability on Monday, so there’s no shortage of information trickling in. The team website has the full bounty here.

If you’d rather forego some clicking for a little bit of scrolling, let’s touch on some of the high points.

  • David Krejci said that he’ll undergo surgery on his left hip, which would be a procedure that is similar to what he experienced six years ago for his right hip.

The talented playmaker admitted that his hip bothered him for about the last 20 games, although the Bruins’ medical staff was able to keep him game-ready.

Last time around, Krejci needed four months to recover, yet he hopes that this time will be speedier (despite him being six years older). We’ll see.

  • The Bruins signed University of Denver forward Danton Heinen to a three-year, entry-level contract. For a quick overview on Heinen, click here and here.
  • It sounds like Tuukka Rask was merely dealing with a “stomach bug.” The Bruins provided other injury updates in their wrap-up.
  • The B’s assigned the following players to the AHL:

Finally, some assorted postmortems:

The Bruins cleared up a lot of things on Monday. Of course, the biggest question – the future for head coach Claude Julien – still lingers in the air like the feelings of disappointment from missing the playoffs.

Flyers clinch playoff berth, Bruins miss postseason again

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All things considered, the table was set for the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Maybe they didn’t churn out a meal that was a work of art, but it got the job done.

By holding on for a 3-1 lead against their bitter rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers clinched a playoff berth that seemed unthinkable months ago.

In many ways, it was fitting: things weren’t always pretty, but the Flyers kept fighting.

It’s also fitting how Philly made the playoffs, as they head in strong while the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings lost huge contests on Saturday. Ultimately, the Flyers and Red Wings won that three-team race for two spots.

Wayne Simmonds has been a huge part of this run, and he scored the two most important goals for the Flyers.

The Bruins, meanwhile, find themselves out of the playoff mix for two straight seasons.

Red Wings stumble into playoffs, Bruins in serious trouble

RedWings
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The streak has been preserved.

For the 25th consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings have advanced to the playoffs. That streak ties the St. Louis Blues and puts Detroit four seasons shy of matching the Boston Bruins’ all-time streak.

Speaking of the Bruins, the Red Wings aren’t making the playoffs thanks to their own efforts on Saturday. Detroit suffered a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, but in the end it didn’t matter because Ottawa crushed the Bruins 6-1.

Boston had to start backup Jonas Gustavsson because Tuukka Rask was sick and while that certainly didn’t help matters, it would be unfair to put this blowout solely on Gustavsson’s shoulders.

Regardless, Boston and Detroit have now both finished the season with 93 points in 82 games. However, because the Red Wings control the tiebreaker, they secured the third Atlantic Division seed while Boston is in the second Wild Card spot. The problem for the Bruins now is that the Philadelphia Flyers are just one point shy of them and have two games left, including their ongoing contest against Pittsburgh.

If Philadelphia gets at least two points in its last two games, Boston will miss the playoffs and the Flyers will get that second Wild Card spot. In other words, the Bruins’ fate is now entirely out of their hands.