Morning Skate: Bruins cap situation isn't messy at all


Morning Skate: Bruins cap situation isn't messy at all

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while going through withdrawals with no Game of Thrones on Sundays anymore. 
-- I love PHT writer James O’Brien like the NBC Sports brother that he is to all of us over here at CSN New England, but I think there’s some serious sportswriting hyperbole being used when he talks about the Bruins with a “messy” salary cap situation. That hasn’t been the case since the Bruins swallowed hard once Don Sweeney took over and traded away Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton as high-priced items they weren’t going to pay anymore. Sure they have a few contracts -- like David Krejci, David Backes and Matt Beleskey -- that wouldn’t be considered very good at all under any circumstances, but they also have cap space this season (roughly $3 million) along with almost zero big contract decisions to make for at least a couple of years. It’s literally been years since they needed to make a trade due to salary cap reasons. They also have an armada of young, cheap and talented prospects coming up through the system right now or already on the team, like Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and Anders Bjork, who are going to be cheap labor for the foreseeable future. Could their cap situation be better? Sure. Anybody’s could. But they got Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak signed to under-market deals and they face no imminent cap issues with the cap ceiling expected to still go up by a few million each season. So as far as I can see, Boston’s cap situation is actually a pretty good one as compared to many other teams around the league.  
-- Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov aim to pick up where they left off this season for the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Stamkos injury hurt them last season. 
-- It looks like former Merrimack standout Stephane Da Costa is going to have to put the NHL return on hold after suffering an injury while reportedly talking to the Montreal Canadiens about a contract. 
-- A number of prominent players, like JVR, Evander Kane and others, are entering the final season on their contracts, and could be at play in trade talks moving forward this year
-- Here are a few things that the NHL can learn after its first foray into China, where the league hopes to really make a dent in a massive, growing market. 
-- Interesting piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Joe Smith on Tampa Bay’s evacuation for the Lightning organization during Hurricane Irma, and the menagerie of animals that it included.  

-- For something completely different: This is truly a sad state of affairs when artists like U2 and Ed Sheeran have to cancel concerts in St. Louis due to safety concerns for themselves and their fans.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"


Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.