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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Around the League - Guerin, Morris pulled from lineups

Bill Guerin of the NY Islanders and Derek Morris of the Phoenix Coyotes have both been pulled from their lineups tonight. This likely means both players are getting dealt. Would Guerin be a possibility back with the Bruins? Guerin brings veteran leadership and has an expiring contract. However, it is very unlikely the Bruins make a run at him considering his age (38), he plays right wing (the Bruins need a left wing) and a decline in his production (16 goals, -15). Pittsburgh seems like a good destination and would come relatively cheap.

Derek Morris on the other hand would look nice on the Bruins blue line. Although he does shoot righty, he would be an offensive upgrade over both Ward and Hnidy. Morris has size (6'0" 220 pounds) and can play with a mean streak. An addition on the back end would be nice, but acquiring Morris would probably be costly. The Bruins need to address their left wing position first and foremost. I wouldn't be surprised to see Morris wind up in Montreal.

Pronger to Boston???

According to the Bruins agreed to a trade for Chris Pronger. James Murphy is a reliable source who is a guest on NESN Sportsdesk a few times a week. Here is the release from his site. This speculation has not been finalized or confirmed by any other sources.

Just got an update on Pronger deal and it appears Pronger to the Bruins is very real and salary cap issues are the only thing holing it up right now. One interesting twist is that Phil Kessel is currently not the main Bruin going back to Anaheim. I am being told that defenseman Mark Stuart, Prospect Joe Colborne and a first round pick in 2010 would go to Anaheim in exchange for Pronger and forward Travis Moen. Both teams have apparently agreed in principle on a trade.

The deal will also not be announced or finalized until Wednesday, so that each team can iron out the cap issues and maybe make other deals to accommodate this move. Again, I can't get into specifics over the main roster player from Boston. Right now it's not Kessel but that could change, so that's why I can't say whom it is as of now with certainty. There are other teams (I'm told New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington), still pushing hard, but Pronger to Beantown is very real!

Tune into the Inside Hockey Radio Show for more on this: 2-4 pm ET on "NHL Home Ice" XM 204 and Sirius 208, The Team 990 in Montreal, and 1120 AM WBNW in Boston. You can also listen online at or

If you miss the show, the podcast will immediately be available at and then at by Monday. And remember, to chime in you can always reach us at 1-877-645-6696 or 1-877-NHL-6696, and at

- James Murphy

Friday, February 27, 2009

Three missing from practice

Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, and Marc Savard were all missing from practice today. Lucic and Savard missed the third with upperbody injuries in last nights victory over the Ducks. Wheeler blocked a shot early in the game and limped off the ice. He played the rest of the game. Hopefully the injuries aren't serious.

Marc Savard and Milan Lucic are questionable for tomorrow's game. Blake Wheeler will play tomorrow. Vladimir Sobotka has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bruins, Avs close on a deal??

The Fourth Period
It's been widely reported that the Avs are receiving interest for the likes of Ryan Smyth, Milan Hejduk, Jordan Leopold, Ian Laperriere and Ruslan Salei, to name a few.

Smyth and Hejduk have no-trade clauses in their respective contracts, but the belief is GM Francois Giguere is looking to shed some salary and could try to move either player.

The Denver Post reported this evening that the Avalanche is rumored to be close to a multi-player trade, with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins being mentioned as a possible dance partner.

Boston, meanwhile, has reportedly spoken to the Avs about Leopold and forward Marek Svatos.

It doesn't make sense for the Bruins to go after a guy like Svatos. He's a smaller forward (5'10", 185 pounds) and shoots righty, two things the Bruins are trying to improve on. Leopold's name continues to come up and seems like a potential target. If the Bruins were to acquire Leopold it would be interesting to see what happens with current defensemen like Ference, Stuart, Hunwick and Hnidy. One of the four is likely to be sent out. The name I like is Laperierre, who is available at low cost (fourth round pick maybe?). Slot him on the fourth line with Yelle and Thornton and that is one tough line to play against come playoff time. The Bruins would still need to improve their leftwing depth which is their major weakness.

Monday, February 23, 2009

WEEI - Ryder to play tomorrow

WEEI's Joe Haggerty has reported that Michael Ryder will play tomorrow. Ryder will wear either a shield or a full cage. The Bruins need Ryder back in the lineup, lets hope this jumpstarts their offense.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Time to change the powerplay

With yet another awful showing from both powerplay units, the Bruins really need to address their powerplay structure. Having a successful and dangerous powerplay is essential in the playoffs and low scoring games. Right now the powerplay is way too predictable with too many players playing in roles they do not succeed in.

First unit:

For the first unit, establish one dominate unit. Usually the first unit will see the majority of powerplay time especially if they can keep the puck in the attacking zone. Get the best players out there together. Enough of the "need for two left handed shooters down low". If you don't have the personal to do so, then change it up.

Second Unit:

Bergeron is now used to his strength, which is playing down low. Kessel leads this team in goals and should be on the ice over Axelsson and Kobasew. Scratch Hnidy and dress Hunwick.

I know this will never happen but it would be interesting to see it tried. The current powerplay has simply looked brutal for the past ten games. The other teams around the league have figured it out and found ways to defend against it rather easily. Having a dominate powerplay can be the difference between a first round exit and the ability to advance.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Cole Update

According to the Edmonton Sun, the Oilers are looking for someone who can "win a faceoff, kill a penalty and play alongside Ales Hemsky". Doesn't Per Johan Axelsson sound like the perfect fit for this? He fits two of the three needs the Oilers are looking for. He is great of the PK and can play opposite Hemsky on one of the top two lines. An Axelsson, Karsums/Nokelainen, and a pick for Cole swap would be an excellent deal for the Bruins. Unlikely to happen but we can all dream.

TSN also reported that a Cole-Kovalev swap could also be something the Oilers would consider doing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bruins snap 4 game skid

The Bruins finally snapped their 4 game losing streak against Rob Brindamour and the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a tight, even-matched game until the third period when the Bruins broke it open with 3 goals.

- Patrice Bergeron continued to look good. Glad he got the open netter at the end.
- Tim Thomas again, allowing only one goal with multiple good saves
- The powerplay. Both units got goals tonight after struggling badly the previous 8 games.

- Phil Kessel had at least 4 golden chances to break his goal scoring slump. It's only a matter of time before he catches fire again.
- Mark Stuart took two borderline penalties. One late in the third which could have been costly.

Cole update

From todays Herald:

Rumors persist that the Bruins will acquire gritty veteran winger Erik Cole from the Edmonton Oilers, with one NHL source saying Cole is telling friends he expects to be a Bruin soon. Most speculation focused on Sobotka and defenseman Matt Lashoff as trade bait for the unrestricted free agent-to-be. Speculation also continues that Colorado defenseman Jordan Leopold could be heading to the B’s. . .

Despite the weak season Cole is having, he would be an excellent addition to the Bruins. It would give the Bruins size and the much needed left handed shot. Adding Cole would finally get Axelsson off the powerplay. Sobotka and Lashoff seem like a lot to give up for Cole. If it is a similar deal to the Schneider deal (2nd and a 3rd minus a conditional) I would pull the trigger.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

4 Bruin Scouts at Avs - Wild game

There were four scouts for the Bruins at the Wild - Avalanche game on Wednesday night. In addition to the Bruins scouting team, there was also scouts from 8 other teams. It is believed that Kim Johnsson was being showed by the Wild, especially since they are looking to deal a defenseman for a forward. It is extremely unlikely the Bruins have any interest in Johnsson, especially since his salary is 5.3 million next year, 4.85 million which counts against the cap. Other potential targets from the Wild that they could have been looking at are defensemen Martin Skoula and Marc Andre-Bergeron. From the Avalanche the Bruins could have been scouting Tyler Arnason, Ian Laperriere, or defenseman Jordan Leopold.

Not sure what to think of this but the Avalanche could use a goaltender. While Laperriere would be a great addition to the Bruins, there is zero chance they give up Fernandez for him.

Karsums, Sobotka Recalled

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has recalled forwards Martins Karsums and Vladimir Sobotka from Providence (American Hockey League) on an emergency basis. Both players will join Boston for practice on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington and accompany the team on their upcoming two-game road trip to New Jersey and Nashville.

The key words being emergency basis. That means it is unlikely that either Kobasew or Nokelainen will be available for those two games. Still no word on injury updates on either player.

New lines from practice:

New powerplay lines:
-PP1- Kessel-Savard-Yelle

-PP2 Bergeron-Krejci-Lucic

With Kobasew and Ryder out of the lineup the Bruins needed another right handed shot. Therefore, the decision to put Kessel on the top unit and have Bergeron play down low with the second. Stephane Yelle is also getting a look on the powerplay. Worth a shot right especially since everything else has not been working? He is a smart player who has better offensive abilities then Axelsson. Plus, he will actually drive to the net. Blake Wheeler did not receive any powerplay time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sharks defeat Bruins

The Bruins came out and played with passion and emotion. For the first period anyways. They outplayed the Sharks in all aspects of the game for the first period and a half. Then it all fell apart. They sat back and tried to protect the lead, something we have seen happen a lot over the past ten games. They no longer go in for the kill by bringing the same pressure they started with. Once they get up they sit back and play conservative, a type of style that will always end up proving to be costly.

- How awful is the powerplay? Julien needs to change it up and adjust to how the NHL adjusted to them. They can't even set up when they have a 5 on 3. They need to change it up and get Bergeron off the point.
- Bergeron, Axelsson, and Kobasew were flat out awful. They combined for a -7. Axelsson had numerous chances with the puck lying in the crease but did not drive to the net for the rebounds.
- Faceoffs killed the Bruins tonight. By winning faceoffs it gives your team possession. The Bruins won 15 and lost 33. Brutal.
- Clearly, more size up front is something the Bruins need to address before the deadline. They were outhit 39 to 25.
- What has happened to the Krejci line? Invisible again.
- Joe Thornton wasn't all too impressive tonight. He did score a fluke goal but hardly stood out when on the ice.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Toronto scout at last three games

The Herald reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs have had scouts at the last three Bruins games. Chiarelli and Brian Burke have made a few deals in the past. Last week Edmonton also had a scout at 2 Bruins games.

Toronto and Edmonton will both be looking to get rid of impending unrestricted free agents before the deadline. Nik Antropov, Dominic Moore, and Brad May all have expiring contracts at the end of this season for Toronto. Edmonton has Eric Cole as it's lone potential unrestricted free agent. If the price is right, I would not be surprised to see Chiarelli pull the trigger for a winger. My personal choice would be Cole, but his pricetag may be steeper then the rest.

No Ryder at practice

Michael Ryder was no present at practice today. Ryder underwent surgery to repair a facial bone today. For now he is out "indefinitely". Petteri Nokelainen took his spot with Wheeler and Krejci.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Bruins - Flyers Postgame

- Manny Fernandez played for the first time in over 30 days. Fernandez allowed 4 goals but did not look too bad. A few unlucky bounces make the 4 goals more misleading then they appear.

- Michael Ryder missed the game with a facial fracture. He may require surgery. Shawn Thornton skated in his place on the second line.

- Aaron Ward missed the game with the flu. Matt Hunwick took his spot and was paired with Chara. Hunwick logged 14:42 of ice time.

- Mark Stuart recorded two assists giving him 6 assists for the season, a career high. Stuart and his defensive partner Shane Hnidy finished +3 a piece.

- Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic only skated 40 seconds of powerplay time.

- Blake Wheeler logged only 7:30 of ice time. Only one shift in the third period. He also received no powerplay time. Wheeler's linemate, David Krejci, 10th in the league in points and arguably the Bruins best center only played 12:41. While Wheeler did take two bad penalties, he is still one of your top forwards. If Julien wants to send messages to players who hurt the team, why not sit Axelsson when he makes two awful plays resulting in two goals against in the previous game?? Axelsson skated 21:06 with 4:23 in powerplay time, both more than Wheeler and Krejci combined. Did I mention Krejci is 10th in the league in points?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Lucic should be available tomorrow

From Fluto's blog:

A CT scan this morning revealed there is no break in Milan Lucic's left foot. While Lucic said he has some purple toes, the left wing said he should be available tomorrow afternoon against Philadelphia.

Hopefully this means Lucic will be playing tomorrow. Philly should be back to full health after battling the flu on Wednesday. The Bruins need Lucic in the lineup and on the first line, especially with the alternative being P.J. Axelsson. Depth on left wing is something the Bruins really need to address at the deadline.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Oiler's scouting Bruins

From Today's Globe. Kevin Paul Dupont's Notes.

Dave Semenko, who made his bones in the NHL as Wayne Gretzky's sidecar policeman during their great years together in Edmonton, now scouts for the Oilers, and has been showing up lately at Bruins games. He attended the Bruins-Canadiens match Sunday in Montreal, and he was here last night to see the Bruins beat the Flyers, 3-1.

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli, when queried about Semenko's presence, flashed a broad smile and simultaneously offered a pronounced shrug of his shoulders. The third-year GM steadfastly refuses to address trade speculation - just as he won't discuss contract negotiations - which leaves the media able only to speculate about what moves could be afoot.

The Oilers, still in the hunt for one of the final playoff seeds in the Western Conference, are in need of a winger to play on the Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky line. They also could use help at the faceoff circle, where Horcoff takes most of the draws.

The Bruins would have great interest in ex-Hurricanes winger Erik Cole, the big, smooth-skating winger. He has 12 goals and 22 points in 50 games this season. Cole, 30, who is making $4 million this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Bruins could fit him into the salary cap because they have Marco Sturm's $3.5 million at their disposal, following the German winger's season-ending knee surgery.

The Oilers likely would target the likes of winger Vladimir Sobotka (now in Providence) and/or defenseman Matt Hunwick (sidelined with flu-like symptoms) in a swap for Cole.

If the Bruins can pull off a trade for Cole and only give up one of Sobotka or Hunwick plus a pick or two, then I would pull the trigger on this one. Cole has not had the greatest offensive season but does possess a scoring threat, something Bergeron's line lacks. Putting Axelsson back on the fourth line gives everybody their best opportunity to succeed. However, if the Bruins need to give up both players plus picks, I do not see Chiarelli making the move.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Rask Assigned; Fernandez Ready?

Tuukka Rask has been sent back to Providence just two days after recording his first career NHL shutout. Meanwhile, Manny Fernandez was back at practice today. Fernandez has been out since January 8th with a bad back. If Fernandez cannot make the road trip Wednesday, then Rask will be recalled again to join the club.

In other news, I just have to officially give the Montreal Canadiens credit for having the ugliest uniforms in the history of any pro sport. Congrats Habs fans, it's the only award you win this season.
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