Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins aren't alone in standing pat

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Haggerty: Bruins aren't alone in standing pat

There's a common phrase in professional sports that says if youre not getting better, then youre getting worse.

If thats the case then the entire Eastern Conference outside of New York City and Carolina is getting worse, including the Boston Bruins.

The Nashville Predators matched the 14-year, mega-bucks offer sheet for stud defenseman Shea Weber, leaving the Flyers with a gaping defensive hole rather than a Chris Pronger replacement.

Ryan Suter and Zach Parise both went to the Minnesota Wild and the Western Conference.

In essence, the Rangers improved because they added Rick Nash without giving up any of their core pieces, and they addressed an offense that can at times be the teams biggest liability in John Tortorellas defensive system.

That makes a Rangers team that already gives the Bruins fits that much better.

Hes a good a really good player. Hes a very good goal scorer. Hes a big, strong player, said Peter Chiarelli. I dont really get into details as far as our negotiations, our discussions with Columbus.

The fact that the Rangers got him, I think its going to help their team. Theyre obviously in our conference and we play them more than we would play a team in the Western Conference.

The Carolina Hurricanes also were big winners this summer by trading for Jordan Staal and giving the Canes a pair of legit centers to go with the up-and-coming players around them.

The Bruins re-signed their own players and kept their core together the biggest priority after they won the Stanley Cup two years ago but avoided bringing in any players from the outside. Perhaps watching the Joe Corvo disaster unfold in Boston last season made them a little hesitant to bring in players from outside the Black and Gold program.

At the end of the day, when you look at it, its about the team. When certain players come in your lineup, it doesnt mean that its always going to work. Youve seen teams in the past that have loaded up with extremely skilled players and nothing was accomplished that they had hoped for, said Claude Julien. So Im one of those guys that believe in team. I think my example was my first year here. If you really look at the talent we had that first year compared to now, and we still made the playoffs.

It was because of team. That goes a long way. So they can do that, and theres no doubt they improve. But they still have to show it. My confidence right now is that this team is capable of playing against any team in this league with this lineup that we have right now.

While that belief is there across the board, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is still watching closely at whats going on around the league.

Were going to continue to improve. I dont want it to be misconstrued by just keeping the core intact that were standing pat here. When rivals make moves like that, when Philly has the offer sheet on Shea Weber, I dont lose sight of that stuff. I know that these are good teams that are getting better, said Chiarelli. So our foundation, our team right now, is quite good. Weve got some things that we may do at a later point.

We may wait until later this season. Were not standing still. With the Weber thing and the Nash thing, those are things that we certainly dont ignore we dont react right away but we certainly dont ignore."

But who else monumentally improved in the Eastern Conference?

The Penguins missed out on their big targets and lost Jordan Staal in one fell swoop. So not only did Pittsburgh not get any better, but theyre demonstrably worse than last year without addressing their defensive issues.

The Flyers traded away an up-and-coming scorer in James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for an overrated defenseman in Luke Schenn, and missed out on the summer's premium targets.

Bobby Ryan is still available, of course, but there are serious questions whether Anaheim will deal the high-scoring winger after watching the unimpressive return Columbus got in the Nash deal.

The Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres both got tougher and grittier in moves that will make the Northeast Division much like the old Adams Division bloodbaths of the past. But they havent done much to improve themselves otherwise.

Tampa Bay got a goaltender in Anders Lindback, but hes not even a proven starter at the NHL level. The Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators were playoff teams and didnt suffer big roster losses, but they havent made wholesale major improvements either.

Roberto Luongo may get traded to Florida, but he doesnt exactly strike fear into the hearts of anyone hailing from Boston.

Then there are the Eastern Conference teams that got demonstrably worse through departures and free agent desertions.

The New Jersey Devils were decimated by the departure of Parise and wont be making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals next season. The Washington Capitals lost the one coach in Dale Hunter that had managed to get Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin to buy into a system capable of winning hockey games, and Semin doesnt look like hell be going back to Washington.

It will certainly be more of a dog fight for the Bruins within their division next season. But theres nothing happening within the Eastern Conference to indicate Boston wont once again win the division next season, and perhaps do it as comfortably as they did last year in topping the Ottawa Senators by 10 points.

That would keep the Bruins among the top three finishers in the East as theyve been in three of the last four years, and among an elite group of Eastern Conference teams that havent exactly reinvented themselves this summer.

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

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“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

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