Bruins

Haggerty: Time for Bruins to move on

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Haggerty: Time for Bruins to move on

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Friday is the first day of the rest of the Bruins lives, a day when they have to realize that one of the greatestparties in their lives isover.

The Bs hosted one final, grand Stanley Cup shindig on Thursday night when they raised the 2010-11Cup championship banner with coaches, players, ownership, former Bruins Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy, and distinguished alumni like beautifulBobby Orr and the agelessMilt Schmidt.

It was more than a half-hour of festivities that included each Bs player triumphantlyraising the Cup over their heads on the TD Garden ice, and Recchi getting presented with the Starter Bruins jacket that had passed from player to player as a symbolic "performer of the game" award last year.

Tim Thomas said it was an otherworldly experience that would take multiple lifetimes to forget, but, really, who would want to? Thomas certainly doesn't.

That was a special moment. It was another one to add to the memory bank that youll remember forever, said Thomas. While it was happening I was picturing myself coming back and visiting for a game 30 years from now and looking and that banner and saying, 'We helped raised that banner.'

It was a great piece of closure for a magical 25-game postseason run that ended with an exhilarating celebration on the Rogers Arena ice in Vancouver, and allowed the Bruins to finally bathe in celebration in their own building. Another golden banner was hoisted into the TD Garden ceiling, and the crowd basked in the joy of a celebration held with just the the right amounts of nostalgia, energy and chest-thumpingemotion.

It was great, it was outstanding and it was well done, said coach Claude Julien. I was doing my best to keep my mind on doing my job, and the game. It was emotional, to say the least.

When you see the highlights and when you see your players going around the ice with the Cup, I felt proud for them. Emotionally, it was tough for me I kind of walked away for a while and came back and, you know, it just goes to show you the emotions that go into those kinds of things. Even seeing Mark Recchi and Hnidy when they were here you know, guys that really played big parts in different ways in helping us succeed. To see them with the group, to know it was their last opportunity to be with the team . . . those kinds of things kind of hit home.The players -- both old and young -- knew this final Garden party would be it for their Cup fulfillment, and so they let their emotions run wild one last time despite the knowledge that a regular season game awaited them.It was special. The whole package that we got to do all summer in this city was quite an experience, said Ference. To be on the ice with 1972 Bruins team that everybody knows quite a bit and to be in their company and put a banner up beside them was a very special thing. We were all very honored by the ceremony."

But then the Bruins went out and executeda pancakeflat performance in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers that demonstrated its equally important they nowmove onto the remaining 81 games, which wont include commemorative banner patches on their jerseys. Thursday was the best kind of closure, but that's exactly what it will amount when looking back on this current season of Bruins hockey.

Most guys were prepared for it and knew they had to switch modes really quickly, and I think they did," said Ference. "We just got frustrated when we didnt capitalize on some of our chances.

With a fun allusion to partying late into the night and draining the champagne bottle, the Bs coach said in no uncertain terms that its time to move on. And when Julien says the party is truly over, then its time to turn out the lights and say good night.

"When people are partying and you stay out until 4 a.m. for couple of days, you get tired of it, right? said Julien.

The champagne bottle is empty and its time to go home. We had great time with the Cup. Weve had great experiences, but we need to turn the page.

Its time for Milan Lucic to once again become the locomotive physical presence even when his offense isnt coming quite as easily, and for so many members of the Bs to sharpen up on their defensive gap control. It's time for Zdeno Chara to put a hurting on Claude Giroux when he dances through the offensive en route to beating Tim Thomas without much of a challenge.

It's time for David Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton to show more offensive punch than they showed in the first two periods when they went without a single shot on net, which didn't win any party favors from Julien afterward. It's time for Joe Corvo to show the promise he flashed during the training camp.

It's time for the lapses --the aforementioned Giroux was able to dance much too freely into the offensive zone while turning aroundthe entire Bruins' defensefor the Flyers first goal, and an unforgivable breakdown in concentration allowed Philly to add on a Jakob Voracek goal seconds later -- to stop.

It was a banner night figuratively and literally, but it didnt have a happy ending in the short term with a loss to the rival Flyers in a one-goal game Thursday night. Now the team must summon the resolve and grit that was so prevalent in 2010-11 to truly get the new season under way.

The Bruins need to turn the page, close the book or use whatever literary metaphor they want to prove that last year is now officiallyover.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

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Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

BRIGHTON, Mass – It would appear that Bruce Cassidy is ready to start shuffling the deck up front after a slow start to the season.

With the Bruins ranking among the league’s worst both offensively and defensively just a handful of games into the season, they are both introducing a few new forwards to the mix while hoping for full health to a couple of other ones. 

First off, the Bruins appear that they might get David Backes back for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after his bout with diverticulitis, supplying some badly needed size, strength and net-front tenacity on the wing. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) might not be too far behind after going through a full practice wearing a no-contact jersey. The return of No. 37 would help in any number of different areas once he’s good to go, and would have a cascade effect on the rest of the forwards.  

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Getting both players back in short order would give the Bruins a toughness around the net that was certainly missing against Malcolm Subban and the Golden Knights, and hasn’t been there consistently this season with No. 37 and No. 42 out of commission.

“[Bergeron] is progressing. In the past we’ve ruled him out ahead of time, but we’re not ruling him out for [Thursday vs. the Canucks]. Backes looks closer to being ready to play,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Some of the games that have gotten away from us, those guys are glue guys that really add that element to us to keep us on the rails without the game getting away. Some nights you just need their offense or some hard defending, and you miss their leadership obviously. They’re all good players, but most of them you know they’re bringing that North/South game and a few good shifts here or there could have got us back on track.

“[Bergeron] is underrated in his ability to get to the front of the net especially with Marchand and Pastrnak on his wings. So we miss that part of it: Getting there on time, making plays and finishing off plays. Backes is just a big body there and you certainly miss that part of it. With Vegas the other night that was one of the biggest things we were missing was getting second chances, shooting for second chances, hitting the net and getting those rebound chances against a team that was harder to get inside on.

A few moves on Wednesday might also suggest some on-the-fly changes with some forwards that haven’t been working out with the Black and Gold. Ryan Spooner suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday night against Vegas, and it sounds like it might not be a short-term injury for the center with just one point in his first five games. Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano also haven’t produced much in the first couple of weeks of the season, and could be in danger of losing roster spots to Providence call-ups Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik.  

Both players were late cuts from training camp and were showing the blend of size, strength, skill, experience and production that Boston needs more of as they search for answers among their forward group. Beleskey, Spooner and Vatrano have combined for one point, a minus-6 rating and just 12 shots on net in a combined 14 games this season, so clearly that is one of the first spots to look for upgrading the roster from within.

“[A tryout period] is a good way to put it. We talked about that in training camp when we had a long look at guys, but not Cehlarik because he didn’t get a chance to play [because of shoulder surgery]. He obviously piqued our interest last year and did a lot of good things for us,” said Cassidy, who has been in a state of constant flux putting forward lines together due to injury and ineffectiveness. “We just went in a different direction at the trade deadline, but we brought him up to give him a look. We have a decision tomorrow and I’m not going to say whether [Cehlarik] is in or out.

“He’s really played well in Providence, and we just thought he might be able to help us. Some of it may depend on the health of the other guys as far as who’s in and who’s out. If both Cehlarik and Agostino are both in the lineup there’s a chance [they might play together]. They were with [Riley] Nash today in the middle, and he has some of the same qualities as JFK down in Providence. But until we sort through who’s in for tomorrow, and that starts at the top with Bergeron and Backes, then stuff will fall into place for all of them.”

Depending on how Don Sweeney plays with his 23-roster spots, perhaps the time has come to put one of those players on waivers for a trip to the AHL. Simply based on merit it would be Vatrano and the total nothingness he’s shown in his first four games this season, but there would also be a legitimate concern they’d lose the 23-year-old Massachusetts native on waivers for nothing.

For their part, players like Agostino and Cehlarik ripped up the AHL while teamed with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in Providence, and were just looking for their chance to carve out a role in Boston. Now they may get their chance based on others not really grasping their opportunity, and they’re ready if that’s the case.

“It’s encouraging for me, but I’m just taking things day-by-day. I’m not looking past anything and I’m looking in the past. I just take things as they come here,” said Agostino, who leads the Bruins two goals and seven points in three games thus far. “This isn’t my first time [up at the NHL], so I’m just going to do whatever I can to make the best impression possible.”

What if Agostino and Cehlarik, a career AHL player and a former third-round pick, can’t make the impact that the Bruins are looking for?

Hopefully by then the Bruins will at least have their top two lines healthy and firing on all cylinders, and can continue to mix and match things in the bottom six until they find a combination of forwards that work. But it may come to a point where the Bruins need to look outside the organization for an impact forward or two, or at least find somebody that can make an impact on the ice rather than will themselves invisible.

Only Beleskey has been at all effective this season as he’s dropped the gloves and played physical at times, and certainly can still be an effective third or fourth liner with the right players skating alongside him. For those reasons along with the massive contract money still owed him, Beleskey should be given every opportunity to succeed in Boston. But one thing is clear at this point: There is too much dead weight on the Bruins roster right now at the forward position, and something needs to be done about it if they hope to pull themselves out of their early-season funk.   

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

The Bruins have absorbed another substantial injury to their forward group with the news that Ryan Spooner will be out 4-6 weeks with a torn groin. According to sources, it was something he was playing with for some time before the right adductor muscle in his groin finally tore in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

With Spooner out of the Bruins lineup, there will be challenges to both team speed and to a power play unit that the fast-skating center was a key contributor over the last couple of seasons. Sean Kuraly was centering Tim Schaller and David Backes in Spooner’s absence during Wednesday practice, but it remains to be seen how they’ll go about filling the void for the next couple of months.

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“We’re no different than anybody else. We’d like to have our full complement [of players],” said Bruce Cassidy, when addressing the injury situation. “To be healthy and 100 percent in this league is tough, but we’d love to be there.”

Spooner was very clearly slowed by something at the start of the season with just one point and four shots on net in his first five games of the season along with a minus-2 rating, and that’s a tough development for a player like Spooner that relies on his speed and skating for much of his effectiveness at the NHL level. It will be interesting to see if Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson eventually gets a look given his fast start at the AHL Level, and the fact that Spooner is on a one-year deal that may see him playing somewhere other than Boston next season, or perhaps even following this spring’s trade deadline. 

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