Tag: Boston Bruins

Milan Lucic

The Bruins wouldn’t really trade Lucic… would they?


Some interesting stuff from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this morning, courtesy Nichols on Hockey:

“The only thing I’ve heard about Lucic I think there’s at least one team, I believe, that’s asked about him and I don’t think there was a deal to be made there.

“Lucic, I mean if you trade him. Here’s the thing with Boston. I think the question with Lucic is he’s not a $6 million player right now, but he can be one. He is a guy who emotionally controls a team. When Boston was at its best, Lucic was very much their emotional core. He can play a major role. I think the question is – there’s two questions. No. 1, is something wrong with his body that it’s finally breaking down because of the role he’s played? No. 2, are they trying to get him to play whistle-to-whistle and he’s simply lost his effectiveness.

“I think one of the biggest questions being asked in Boston as an organization right now is, ‘What has happened here?’ and, ‘How long-term is this? What does it mean?’ I think the Bruins are being asked about him. I think there’s a lot of hard, internal questions being asked about, ‘Do we do it, or do we think that there’s still a lot left to give because if we do trade him, we change the makeup of our team in a major way.’ “

This, of course, coincides with one of the worst slumps of Lucic’s career — six goals in 39 games, one in his last 15 — and head coach Claude Julien recently calling out the burly power forward.

“His whole game, I think,” was Julien’s reply when asked what Lucic needs to improve, per the Boston Globe. “We’d like to see him do a lot more than what he’s done. He’s a heavy player and everybody talks about him hitting — yeah, that’s one part of his game — but he’s also a guy that with his size and strength he can go to the net hard.

“He can get his nose dirty in those areas and maybe that increases his goal production and stuff like that.”

You can tell B’s are choked about this season slipping away. They started the year 13-8-0 and have gone 6-7-6 since, and guys are venting. Tuukka Rask used the word “embarrassing” to describe Sunday’s loss to Carolina and, following Saturday’s OT loss to Ottawa, Julien said Lucic — who recorded just a single shot on goal — has “got to be capable, of, again, more than one measly shot.”

In terms of contractual mobility, Lucic’s an interesting case. He’s still only 26 and has just one year remaining on a deal that pays $6M annually. But he also has a modified no-movement clause and, with free agency looming at the end of 2015-16, could be in line for another payday… assuming this current slump is something he can break out of, and not the beginning of a downward slide.

Per the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the extension Nick Foligno recently inked with Columbus — a six-year, $33 million deal — could factor into Lucic’s next contract. There’s still plenty that could happen to change that, but it’s definitely something teams thinking about acquiring Lucic would take into consideration.

The bigger issue, though, is what Friedman stated above — would Boston be willing to dramatically alter its persona during the course of the season? Outside of captain Zdeno Chara, there’s no player that embodies the Bruins quite like Lucic, and it’s tough to predict how profound an effect his departure would have on the club.

The flip side, of course, is that many a NHL team’s been burned by focusing on what a player’s done in the past — rather than what he’ll do in the future.

Have you noticed? All three Vezina finalists have been pretty average this season

Alex Chiasson, Mika Zibanejad, Tuukka Rask3

Barring a dramatic turnaround, we’ll not only have a new Vezina Trophy winner in 2015, we’ll have three new finalists.

If you’ll recall, the finalists for last season were Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov, Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, and eventual winner Tuukka Rask of Boston, thanks in large part to save percentages of .927, .924, and .930, respectively.

This season, however, those save percentages are .911, .911, and .911, respectively. (Yep, all three are the same.)

In a related story, the Avalanche and Bruins are currently on the outside of the playoff picture after winning their divisions last season, while the Lightning are fortunate to have the league’s top offense to outscore their 22nd-ranked team save percentage.

According to online bookmaker Bovada, Pekka Rinne (3/2), Carey Price (7/2), and Marc-Andre Fleury (7/2) are the favorites to win the Vezina this season.

Related: A brief post on the unpredictable nature of goaltending

Rask wonders if Bruins could use a few pregame beers

Tuukka Rask

Hockey players have their pregame rituals. Some, like Nicklas Lidstrom in his playing days, eat the same boring meal. You don’t hear about players enjoying a couple cold ones before a contest, though … at least not publicly.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask almost seems out of ideas after his team fell flat against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 2-1 shootout loss on Sunday, so he pitched an outside-the-keg idea to CSNNE.com.

“Yeah, maybe mix in a couple of beers before the games. That would make us relax. That might be the final option,” Rask said. “We don’t see a play and don’t make it, then we try to force a play and it’s a turnover where we spend a minute in our own end. That’s how it is. It’s mental…it’s mental. It’s not like the skill is gone.”

The 27-year-old was joking for comic effect (one would assume), but maybe there’s a kernel of truth in the Bruins over-thinking things.

Whatever the explanation was, Rask was confounded by the fact that the Bruins went 17 minutes without a shot on goal.

The Bruins have now lost three straight games, all after regulation. While that means Boston is at least squeezing out standings points, it’s understandable that Rask & Co. are frustrated.

Maybe they need to take a break (and possibly crack open a brew or two)? The Bruins don’t play again until Wednesday, so maybe this is the breather an anxious bunch needs.

Bruins come out flat, lose to Canes in shootout

Jiri Tlusty, Milan Lucic

For the third game in a row, the Boston Bruins have lost in extra time as the Carolina Hurricanes earned a 2-1 shootout win this afternoon. While the margin might have been razor thin, it’s hard for the Bruins to be satisfied with what happened.

“I feel like I’ve spent a little too much time talking about things, and defending myself on things. Enough with the talking, and it’s time to start playing the way I know I can,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic told CSN New England before the start of the contest. Then Boston proceeded to have one of its worst starts in recent memory.

The Bruins didn’t even register a shot on goal until 16:55 minutes into the game and were outshot 14-4 in the first period. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask kept them in the game though and Patrice Bergeron found the back of the net in a comparatively better second period.

The Bruins only managed two shots on goal in the third though and couldn’t figure out their former teammate, goaltender Anton Khudobin, in the shootout. Carolina’s Eric Staal was the only player to score in the skills competition.

With three straight overtime/shootout losses, Boston is now 19-15-6 this season. That puts them one point shy of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the second Wild Card spot. For the Hurricanes, this is their first two-game winning streak since they earned four consecutive victories from Nov. 1-7.

Oilers return Leon Draisaitl to juniors


The Edmonton Oilers announced Sunday afternoon that forward Leon Draisaitl has been returned to the Western Hockey League.

They took him with the third overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and the Oilers had hoped that he would be able to serve as their second-line center this season, in part due to how thin they are up the middle. Draisaitl ended up scoring two goals and nine points in 37 contests. He also won just 40.6% of his draws and ranked near the bottom of the team with a minus-17 rating.

By allowing him to play in at least 10 games, this will still count as the first season of Draisaitl’s entry-level contract. However, he would have been eligible to become an unrestricted free agent a year earlier had he reached the 40-contest mark.

With their hopes of making the playoffs a distant memory, the Oilers have been making changes lately. GM Craig MacTavish has fired head coach Dallas Eakins, claimed Matt Fraser off of waivers, acquired Derek Roy from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Mark Arcobello, and shipped David Perron to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 first-round pick.

Edmonton will play against the New York Islanders at 9:30 p.m. ET tonight.