Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins back in familiar territory

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Haggerty: Bruins back in familiar territory

BOSTON -- The Washington Capitals have done well in their first-round series against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Bruins, and theyve proven the wise guys wrong by playing hard-nosed, playoff-style hockey.

The Caps and Bruins have battled through six one-goal games with the seventh and deciding matchup on tap Wednesday night the first time in Stanley Cup playoff history that two teams have played six consecutive one-goal games. But Game 7 is what separates the men from the boys, and its something the B's excelled at last year.

Boston players like Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas had previously struggled in Game 7, but flipped that on its head last season as the Bruins became the only team in NHL history to post three Game 7 victories en route to winning the Cup.

Theres no secret to Game 7 success, as the Bruin players tell anybody who'll listen. It simply comes down to confidence, poise and self-control under the greatest pressure cooker the NHL can concoct.

This is where experience can help; the playoffs are tight regardless, said Thomas, who now stands 3-1 in Game 7s during his Bruins career. If you look back at last year, we played in a lot of tight playoff games in our run. In a majority of those tight games -- even during the regular season weve done a good job of finding and figuring out a way to be the team that comes out on top. Thats where experience comes in.

I actually think being on the bad side of Game 7 losses allows you to know you can fail and that life will go on. Your life wont be ruined. Until youve had that experience its really tough to handle. It actually gave me an advantage going into the Game 7s last year. But having won having won several times in Game 7 -- also gives you confidence that you can get it done again.

The Bruins have 18 players remaining from last years Cup-winning roster, and each one of them has the cool confidence of a player thats been there and done that.

It matters a bit, said Brad Marchand, who scored a pair of goals in Bostons 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in their last Game 7 last June. We know we have to battle for 60 minutes, right down to the last buzzer. But in Game 7 anything can happen and its usually a lucky bounce or a minor mistake that will decide the game. We have to be prepared to play our best game yet of this series.

The best part for the Bruins: They havent come close to playing up to their potential in the first six games of the series, while Boston has brought the best out of the Capitals.

Were evolving here as team, said coach Claude Julien. The one thing I can say is our team has been good in the series, but I dont think its been at its best. Its at best when everybodys playing their best hockey. Last year we had that challenge in the first round. We remember that third line with Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, and Michael Ryder playing a big role and got us through.

Weve got some guys right now that have carried us through a Game 7 and some of those other guys in the last game the Tyler Seguins, the Patrice Bergerons, the David Krejcis, the Milan Lucics and the Marchands, are picking up their game. When we got everybody going were a really good team. Thats what we have to bring Wednesday night. We need to get the best out of everybody. Hopefully once that happens we get the right result and we carry forward with that group.

The Bruins have managed to push to a Game 7 despite getting zero goals from Milan Lucic; no more than one goal from anybody not named Rich Peverley, and a complete breakdown by Thomas in the third period of the Game 5. Theyre also missing Nathan Horton the guy who clinched the Game 7 victories over Montreal and Tampa Bay during last years playoff run after he was ruled out for the postseason because of a concussion.

All of that is background noise now. All that matters to the B's is the task at hand.

Even though we won last year I still have in the back of my mind all those bad feelings from losing those Game 7s, said David Krejci. Its more intense. Everybody is more involved. Everything gets tight because nobody wants to open up, so youve got to stay patient. Usually the more patient team wins.

Its fun when you win and it sucks when you lose. Ive been on both sides and its a lot more fun when you win. Winning the Cup is one thing, but we have a chance to win it twice in a row. That is something special. We have a chance in Game 7 to get a step closer. Its an exciting time. Weve got to get it done.

It hasnt been easy and its been far from pretty, but there is every reason to believe the Bruins will make it four Game 7 victories in a row when they take the ice against the upstart Capitals on Wednesday night.

They're too experienced and too ready for these big playoff moments, and they have to know theres another possible deep run at hand with the Penguins out of the playoffs and the Rangers on the brink of elimination in the East.

If the Bruins can summon up one more big game, things are once again breaking exactly the right way.

Bruins sending clear message they're going for it with Nash deal

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Bruins sending clear message they're going for it with Nash deal

TORONTO – The clear message signaled from the Bruins to the rest of the NHL this weekend is that they’re going for it. 

The Bruins landed their big fish at the trade deadline on Sunday morning by acquiring power forward Rick Nash from the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2018 first round pick, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, college D-man prospect Ryan Lindgren and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash, the 2002 first overall pick that’s scored over 400 goals and 799 points in his 14-year NHL career, will be in Buffalo and available to suit up immediately for the Black and Gold in tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. 

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While on paper it might seem like the Bruins gave up a lot in the deal, the truth is the Bruins landed the top available winger on the market and had to move all of those pieces in order to make the salary cap side of things work. 

Sure Nash hasn’t been a great player in the last couple of years with his best season coming in 2014-15 when he scored 42 goals for the Rangers, but he’s just 33 years old and fully capable of re-energizing his game in a contract year for a Bruins team with a legit chance at a Stanley Cup. In his last three playoff runs with the Blueshirts, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points along with a plus-9 in 39 games for New York and has been an effective offensive player when the bell goes off. 

Even more importantly for the Bruins, Nash is the exact kind of power forward-type at 6-foot-4, 213-pounds that has enjoyed excellent success with David Krejci in the past and really gives that Bruins second line a formidable look for a postseason run. He’ll fit right in replacing the speedy, skilled Spooner alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, and give them the exact kind of rental winger they’d been looking for on the trade market. 

With only David Backes as a big, heavy physical winger among a bunch of smaller, younger and skilled wings headed into the trade deadline, the Bruins needed to get bigger and stronger with the physical battles ahead in the stretch run and postseason. 

To his credit Spooner had turned his game around this season and showed that he wanted to stick with the Bruins, and actually had lesser, but comparable, numbers to Nash with nine goals and 25 points this season in Boston. Spooner will get a chance to be part of the fast, young, skilled Rangers group as an RFA after this season, and could very well flourish given a fresh start in a different organization after doing many of the right things for his NHL career this season. With the youth movement in full swing in Boston, however, there was no real room for Spooner on the Bruins roster moving forward beyond this season’s expected playoff run. 

There was also no room for Spooner as anything more than an extra part if he did remain on the Bruins after the Nash deal with his spot gone on the second line, and no appetite from the B’s to break up third or fourth lines that have been very good for them this season. If the Bruins were going to remove a piece from their NHL roster without really disrupting all the good things that they’ve done this season, Spooner might just have been the best candidate in a trade. 

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Beleskey was buried in the AHL after disappointing the last couple of seasons, and the Bruins get salary cap relief by including him in the deal as a contract that needed to be moved in order for the Bruins to absorb Nash’s $7 plus million cap hit. 

The real cost here, obviously, is the first round pick and a solid Bruins prospect in Lindgren, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Minnesota and a 2016 second round pick. But that’s the going rate to land the premier winger available on the trade market even if Nash hasn’t cracked 40 points with the Rangers in each of the last two seasons. 

Lindgren was a staple on the Team USA World Junior team in each of the last two seasons and is well-thought of in scouting circles for his leadership and toughness, but he’s also a stay-at-home, left shot defenseman in an organization that is well-stocked in that area with Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen and a number of other players even after trading away Lindgren and Robbie O’Gara. 

The message from the Bruins is clear here: The Black and Gold are going for it this season and they didn’t have to give up any of their untouchable pieces in order to do just that. That’s something Bruins fans should be ecstatic about once the shock of a big time rental move engineered by Don Sweeney is digested and broken down beyond this weekend.

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UPDATE: Bruins acquire Rick Nash from Rangers

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UPDATE: Bruins acquire Rick Nash from Rangers

UPDATED: The Bruins and New York Rangers completed the trade for Rick Nash this morning:

More to come . . . 

TORONTO – It sounds like the Boston Bruins are on the verge of a fairly substantial trade if they can iron out some of the details both big and small.

According to multiple reports and sources, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is closing in on a trade for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The 33-year-old Nash has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games this season for the Blueshirts, and really has been in decline over the last couple of years in New York since scoring 42 goals and 69 points back in the 2014-15 season.

Still, Nash has quite the resume as the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and a guy that’s scored over 400 goals and nearly 800 points in his 14-year NHL career while starring for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers during that time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder would bring the size, heaviness and experience factor that the Bruins have been looking to add to their wing ahead of the stretch run and playoffs, and certainly could be energized down the stretch while potentially playing a second line role with a center like David Krejci.

Don Sweeney indicated prior to the reports surfacing that the Bruins could be more invested into the rental market this season, given their strong campaign, than they originally thought they’d be when the season started.

“We’d like to think that the group can continue on along the path that they’re on, but if you can add to it and help it…the rental market depends on what you’re going to give up, and what that impact of that player is necessarily going to be and how they’re going to fit into the group,” said Sweeney. “The chemistry piece is an important piece in and around the trade deadline, so that’s something we have to be cognizant of.”

There are, however, a couple of issues for the Bruins and Rangers to work out before it’s a done deal. One is the massive cap hit for Nash that would still be well over $3 million even if the Rangers agree to eat half of his remaining contract, and that would leave the Bruins to need to clear some space with a corresponding deal elsewhere. There’s also the matter of ponying up assets in exchange for Nash, who it’s believed would cost the Bruins a first round pick and a solid prospect that is not yet on the NHL roster.

That means the Bruins would able to avoid potentially dealing Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen from their NHL roster, which it wasn’t expected they would need to move in a rental deal for Nash. But it does mean the Bruins likely would be parting with a blue chip prospect still in the development stage, whether it’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn or even a college hockey prospect like Trent Frederic.

That’s a big price to pay from Boston’s future to be sure, but it would be done based on Nash being an impact player this season for a Bruins team that looks like they might have a pretty good postseason run in them.

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