Bruins

Haggerty: 'If not Iginla, how about Michael Ryder?'

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Haggerty: 'If not Iginla, how about Michael Ryder?'

Its less than a month into the NHL season, but theres already been an inordinate amount of trade speculation surrounding the Boston Bruins.

For a team thats lost only twice in regulation in their first 12 games and has very few weak spots on their roster, its perhaps advanced a bit by the shortened 48-game schedule. One household NHL name has been associated with the Black and Gold more than any other since Peter Chiarelli cleared the 5 million Tim Thomas cap hit away from the books: Jarome Iginla.

Its with good reason that Iginla is mentioned.

If and when the Calgary Flames do decide to move the All-Star forward in the last year of a deal paying him 7 million a season, Iginla would be the exact kind of rugged, hard-nosed winger with size, strength and offensive ability that Bruins management normally covets. Sure Iginla is getting a little long in the tooth at 35 years old, and hes got only one goal in his first 12 games for the Flames this season.

There have been whispers that the competitive fire has gone out for Iginla in Calgary after too many years in mediocrity. That may even be true as hes slowing down with age, but a return to a Stanley Cup-worthy team like the Bruins would be exactly what the doctor ordered.

It revived Mark Recchi at the end of his Hall of Fame career, and there was a noticeable difference between Brian Rolston toiling with the Islanders and then catching fire with the Bruins are arriving in Boston. The Bruins Cup-winning nucleus and proven championship management teamcoaching staff is exactly what any NHL veteran would be seeking while hunting for a sniff of the Cup.

The Bruins certainly have the cap space with upwards of 10 million in flexibility once they placed Marc Savard on Long Term Injured Reserve, and they have the draft picks and prospects to pull the trigger on a deal for an Iginla-type player. But Chiarelli is keeping his cards close to the vest as the Bruins keep on the lookout for scoring wingers and defensemen depth.

When we did the Thomas deal it was about at least being in the game if a big name becomes available that requires a lot of cap space, said Chiarelli. Im not really looking for anything right now and its still pretty early. But I think this season that switch is going to be flipped pretty quickly.

Usually its a gradual build-up, but I think its going to come quickly. We could add close to 13 million in salary if we wait until the deadline, but its dangerous to just wait until the deadline. You may lose a player you were coveting. I want to be in a position to do a trade earlier.

Iginla may or may not be the player that the Black and Gold are coveting when push comes to shove, or he may not be interested in coming all the way across the continent to Boston. There is one player to keep an eye on if Iginla in a Spoked B sweater isnt the slam dunk some people wish he would be.

How about a second go-round with former Bruins winger and Cup team member Michael Ryder?

The Dallas Stars are currently in the bottom rung of the Western Conference playoff teams and dont presently have any desire to sell of their assets. But like Iginla the Stars winger is in the last year of his contract, has a cap hit that the Bruins could easily absorb and has the added bonus of already having proven chemistry with the player on Bostons roster.

Twice last week during the press conference announcing the signing of Jay Pandolfo, Chiarelli stressed how vital chemistry is to our team, and thats not be understated for the Bruins.

Ryder has also shown an uncanny knack for raising his game during the playoffs (17 goals and 35 points in 51 playoff games for Boston over three years), and did so after sometimes underachieving during the regular season.

This much cant be argued: the Bruins never would have lifted the Stanley Cup over their heads two years ago without the streaky forward, and Bostons management puts a paramount value on new acquisitions blending in with the current mix of players.

He can also still play a little bit as evidenced by the 35 goals and 62 points the 32-year-old Ryder cranked in for Dallas last season. Ryder wouldnt be a drag on their team speed and he actually skated on the wing with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley during Bostons playoff run the exact role he would probably fill once again if a deal back to Boston ever came to fruition.

Its understandable that Bruins fans around the city of Boston have Iginla fever as Calgary continues to drop in the Western Conference standings. Perhaps it will even be the perfect match that everybody hopes for placing a player with a team that would seem to have that exact need.

But nobody should be disappointed if its a potential perfect fit like Ryder or some other talented offensive winger that comes walking through that door prior to the April 4 NHL trade deadline.

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.

 

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

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Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

BOSTON – It feels like the Bruins might finally be hitting their critical mass with all of the injuries in the first few weeks of the season.

The B’s were down Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Krejci as the new injuries Saturday night and clearly missed those players, along with the others currently out with injuries in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The Bruins had a three-goal lead in the second period and a two-goal lead in the third but frittered away both while allowing the hapless Sabres to outshoot them 21-6 in the third and overtime.

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Anton Khudobin battled his rebound control for most of the game while facing 42 shots on net but it was the absence of Miller and McQuaid in the D-zone that made it a little too easy for Buffalo to push Boston when it mattered late.

Torey Krug was on the ice for the last three of Buffalo’s goals and was out penalty killing late in the third period in a spot where he would never have been in if the B’s were healthy on the back end.

“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world. They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done. And that’s why they are paid to get it done,” said Bruce Cassidy. “So yes, we miss them. But, last week we missed other players. So the guys that are out there, it’s up to them to get it done, right?

“It didn’t happen tonight, and hopefully we learned from it and can be hungrier the next time. There’s not much else to analyze that. That was it. Someone had to play in that situation. We pick guys who we figure would get the job done, and it didn’t work out for us. Next time, we’ll keep working at it.”

As part of the injury factor, there are also players that are banged-up and back in who are also clearly not back to full strength. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are both back from their early-season issues and Krug continues to play with a healing fractured jaw, but all three key players combined for just a single assist and three shots on net in a game that featured nine goals.

Krug was the most noticeable weak link in the loss as he was overwhelmed in the D-zone on the game-tying goal when an Evander Kane shot bounced on him on its way into the goal. Krug was down on his stomach after losing his balance while battling in front of the net. Krug then was out for an extended period in OT before bumping a Sabres player around the crease who fell into Khudobin just as Ryan O’Reilly was pushing the game-winning goal past him.

Krug spoke on Saturday morning about feeling like things were starting to come together for him but he finished a minus-3 against the Sabres with his big, bad teammates out with injuries. He's a startling minus-8 after the first two weeks of the season.

“Obviously we have to do a better job tonight. Two-goal lead in your own building, it’s got to be the hardest place for the opposing team to come in and overcome that. We’ve got to be better,” said Krug. “I thought I had an opportunity to win a battle in the corner on that loose puck. Just trying to swat away and all of a sudden it comes out the other side, and we just couldn’t overcome. That’s survival mode. “Especially when they were able to make changes like they were. We just got to stay calm, composed, and make sure we’re not getting beat one-on-one. We obviously managed it for a while, but we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

It was also clearly about Khudobin, who had a big chance to put the Bruins team on his back with Rask out with a concussion. The Russian netminder made 37 saves and at times looked energetic and ready to battle between the pipes but at other times couldn’t make the clean save that the Bruins needed in order to get a whistle and calm things down. In OT, Khudobin couldn’t make a clean glove save on a Rasmus Ristolainen tester from the high slot that would have allowed the Bruins to get some tired players off the ice in the 3-on-3 OT.

Instead, Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were out on the ice for 2 minutes, 15 seconds and eventually got beaten on O’Reilly’s play that took the puck straight to the Boston net. Cassidy called it an “erratic” night for Khudobin when they needed calmer, more poised play from their goaltender and that was clearly a reflection of the Black and Gold missing Rask.

“[Khudobin] was erratic. He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. [He] certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him,” said Cassidy. “But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out [on plays] that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.

“[There were instances] in the third period, plus overtime, where we needed to calm the game down. Whether it’s a face-off, even right before the overtime goal, we had opportunities to get possession out of that pile. They came out with it. And that’s what I said. They were hungrier than us. Late, they won more pucks. If we win that puck out of that pile, we might not be talking about losing. Maybe we get out of trouble and it goes our way. We’ll never know.”

Maybe things would have gone the Bruins way if they had more of their walking wounded back and contributing. Instead, it feels as if the B’s are being tested with new, damaging injuries with each passing day. A number of those had a direct impact on a brutal loss to the Sabres on Saturday night. One has to wonder if there are more of those coming until the Bruins can start stabilizing their medical situation.