Tag: Jarome Iginla

Zdeno Chara

Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition


From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Boston Bruins

1. Zdeno Chara…he’s not so young anymore. In fact, only 12 defensemen were older than the 37-year-old last season, and not one of them came close to averaging the 24:39 of ice time the big Bruin did.

To be sure, nobody’s suggesting that Chara has become an average defender. Team president Cam Neely went so far in May to say, “Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game.”

But even Chara recognizes he has to work to keep up with today’s young speedsters — this after his performance in last season’s playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens drew criticism. (Wrote the Boston Globe after Game 7: “When Chara was on the ice in the first, he looked a little shaky, stumbling around uncharacteristically during one penalty kill shift. He was thrown off balance and so were the Black and Gold.”)

No wonder GM Peter Chiarelli was loath to trade veteran blue-liner Johnny Boychuk, choosing instead to give RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith the hard sell on taking less for the good of the team. Trading Boychuk would mean even more minutes for youngsters Krug and Dougie Hamilton, and nobody can be sure how that would turn out. Those two need to show improvement regardless.

To deny that any decline in Chara’s abilities would negatively impact the Bruins’ chances at winning the Stanely Cup would be to deny his importance to the team.

And to deny that age negatively impacts a player’s abilities would be to deny reality.

2. Who replaces Jarome Iginla on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic? We only ask because Iginla scored 30 goals last season. And that’s a lot of goals to replace.

Iginla, of course, was brought in last summer to replace Nathan Horton, who’d left for Columbus. But nobody’s been brought in to replace Iginla, who left for Colorado. So the Bruins are stuck hoping for more from a player that came to them in the Tyler Seguin trade — one who didn’t show all that much in his first year with the club.

“We lost Jarome, but I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year,” coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. “I think we started seeing that at the end of the year and he could be a replacement for Jarome.”

Eriksson has proven he can score goals in the NHL. He had 36 of them for Dallas in 2008-09; four times he’s scored 26 or more in a season. And he’s eager to prove he can still do it.

“I think I can bring a little more,” said Eriksson.

Except he’ll need to bring a little more than “a little more” if he hopes to replace Iginla’s 30 goals. Twenty goals more, to be exact.

3. The new-look bottom six…what if it doesn’t look so good?

When Boston defeated Vancouver in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins didn’t have a single forward that played fewer than 11 minutes.

“From personal experience,” said former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, “I know when we lost the Cup to Boston, Boston was a four-line team. Probably the best fourth line, I felt, in the league.”

It’s not clear if the Bruins will still be able to roll four lines so successfully in 2014-15. They certainly didn’t in the Game 7 loss to Montreal, when Shawn Thornton played just 3:28 and three other forwards — Matt Fraser, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille — each failed to break the 11-minute mark.

Two different games and two different scenarios, sure. But Boston’s bottom six still stands to be quite different this season. The popular Thornton is gone. Eriksson, as mentioned, may move up from the third line to the top line. There are open spots available for the taking.

“The competition, with it comes uncertainty and we’d all like things to be certain, but also the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it,” Chiarelli said.

“We’ve got some invites, we’ve got some young players pushing, I look forward to it.”

In deciding to let Thornton go, Chiarelli hinted that he wanted a faster and more skilled fourth line. That seemed to bode well for a player like Ryan Spooner, who’s scored at a point-per-game pace in the AHL. However, he’ll have to be reliable defensively if he wants ice time from Julien.

“You can give us some great opportunities up front and score goals,” Julien said recently, in remarks that were believed to be directed at Spooner. “But if you give up more chances against than you create then you’re not helping the team. In the long run, you don’t win championships that way.”

A championship remains the goal for the Bruins.

“I still think we’re in our window,” Neely said.

But the mere fact he had to say it, well — considering all of the above — isn’t that reason to wonder if they really are?

PHT Morning Skate: D2: Mighty Ducks cast brings back Flying V

Marguerite Moreau

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The cast of D2: The Mighty Ducks had a reunion, so naturally they assembled the Flying V. (TSN.ca)

Greg Chase was in disbelief when he found out that he was put on a line with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Sunday’s preseason game. (Calgary Sun)

Mike Cammalleri has traditionally worn No. 13, but the New Jersey Devils have never had anyone wear the unlucky number. They gave him No. 23 instead. (Star-Ledger)

Although the Philadelphia Flyers will try, Claude Giroux doesn’t think anyone can replace Kimmo Timonen. (NHL.com)

Jarome Iginla appears to have been made an assistant captain. (Adrian Dater)

Montreal Canadiens prospect Nikita Scherbak is making a great first impression. (Montreal Gazette)

Iginla has ‘real good chemistry’ with Duchene

Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla

After losing Paul Stastny as a free agent and trading P.A. Parenteau, the Colorado Avalanche are hoping that Jarome Iginla can fill in the void offensively.

Iginla is 37 years old, but he had 30 goals and 61 points with Boston last season. He’s also getting the opportunity to play with a great center in Matt Duchene. They teamed up with Ryan O’Reilly in Sunday’s scrimmage and while you can’t read into the box score of an intrasquad game, Iginla has been upbeat about working with Duchene.

“I enjoyed it a lot,” Iginla told the Denver Post. “I think there’s some real good chemistry. I’ve been here about a month now, and although training camp just started a few days ago, it feels like it’s been a few weeks now because guys got together early. I like playing with Dutchy and Factor (Ryan O’Reilly).

“They’re skilled, they’re quick and they create a lot. You can tell they’ve played together a lot, because they have great chemistry, and I just want to add to it.”

Colorado has the potential to have two very effective lines as Alex Tanguay, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog are a viable combination for the team’s second unit. MacKinnon spent a fair amount of time with Duchene and O’Reilly last season, but he’s also got plenty of experience playing alongside Landeskog. Having a pair of recent Calder Trophy winners (MacKinnon in 2014, Landeskog in 2012) on the same line is a very rare luxury that the Avalanche have been afforded.

Colorado will get to further test out its lines in a pair of games against Anaheim Monday night.


Avs’ Tanguay looking to bounce back from injury riddled season

Sakic says Avs ownership gave ‘green light’ to ‘make this team win’

Would the Leafs break up their top line?

Phil Kessel

The Toronto Maple Leafs top line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combined for 133 points or 70 percent of the team’s scoring last season.

They were second only to Boston’s trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, which accounted for 152 points in 2013-14.

However, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail suggests it might make sense to break up the trio and spread the scoring around.

“Would that idiot break up that line?” coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’re saying that [about me]. Or you’re going to say it if I do it.”

Carlyle added, “We’re willing to experiment in training camp.”

That experimenting began on Saturday.

The Leafs dressed lines of Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin while Kessel played alongside Petri Kontiola and first-round pick William Nylander during a scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp.

The question of breaking up the top trio is prevalent as the Leafs attempt to find that elusive secondary scoring.

As Mirtle points out in his piece, winger Joffrey Lupul has played nearly half his even strength minutes over the past three seasons alongside Kessel. When the duo is together, the Leafs account for 3.7 goals per game. With them playing on separate lines, that number drops to 2.5 goals per game.

Keep in mind that’s a small sample size, but wherever Kessel plays, scoring seems to follow.

“You find ways to get it done out there,” Kessel said. “Obviously training camp’s getting used to guys and getting a feel for it.”

Kadri could also benefit from playing alongside van Riemsdyk on the team’s second line.

“If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they’re pretty balanced,” van Riemsdyk said. “They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways.”

Expect the experimentation process to continue as Toronto begins its’ preseason schedule Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: Leafs deny rift between Kessel and coaching staff

Avs’ Tanguay looking to bounce back from injury riddled season

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 24: Alex Tanguay #40 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on January 24, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. Colorado defeated the Panthers 3-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Hip and knee injuries allowed Avalanche veteran Alex Tanguay to appear in just 16 games in 2013-14.

Now healthy, he’s at Colorado’s camp looking to be a factor this season.

“Last year I was a passenger, watching from the sideline,” Tanguay told The Denver Post. “I was almost a fan. But this year I want to be a part of it, and I’m hoping to contribute quite a bit.”

The 34-year-old helped the Avs get out to a 12-1 start last fall, but was then sidelined for 36 games with hip and knee injuries. Tanguay returned for just three games before Colorado shut him down for the remainder of the season.

In February, the forward underwent major hip surgery.

“It was a long, long road with a lot of frustration, lots of everything, and I just wish the surgery would have been done in November, looking back,” Tanguay said. “But at the time we thought I would be able to come back and play. It just didn’t pan out that way.”

According to the Post’s Mike Chambers, Tanguay is expected to star the season on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

Tanguay, who helped lure free agent Jarome Iginla to Denver, should get a jump start playing with the two gifted forwards.

The former Avalanche first round pick (12th overall in 1998) had four goals and seven points before having his season ended last year.