Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise


Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating that Brad Marchand is willing to say something is “an absolute joke.” There are not enough candid players in the NHL like good, ol' No. 63.

*So FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Bruins are “a lowly number four nowadays” in the power rankings of the big four Boston sports teams. Certainly, Danny is technically correct in saying that the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics are ahead of the Bruins in terms of the Boston pro sports zeitgeist and that they dominate the sports conversation.

But Shaughnessy points to the Bruins doing nothing to improve themselves last summer as some kind of reason behind their low position among the other Boston sports franchises, and that’s not really a factor. The problem right now is that the Bruins are extremely young and still a couple of years away from returning to true Stanley Cup contention as a result. 
Once Charlie McAvoy is a few years into his career, some of the other Bruins prospects are in the NHL for good and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask are still at the back end of their prime, the Bruins will once again be a Cup contender that’s pushing their way back into the championship conversation that commands the attention of the Boston fan.

Would Shaughnessy have been more satisfied with the Bruins if they spent bad money on a big free-agent contract as they did with Matt Beleskey and David Backes in back-to-back years, or if they traded premium prospect Brandon Carlo for hired gun Matt Duchene? That would be the kind of “big splash” move that a bad management group would make to appease the casual fans that don’t truly understand what the B’s are going with their draft-and-development plan.

This Bruins outfit is still a playoff team while they’re building back to that Cup-worthy level. They were playing a much more exciting, entertaining brand of hockey once Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien last winter. This isn’t a lowly team unworthy of the fans’ attention, or more importantly their sports dollar. This is much more about the all-time greatness of the New England Patriots, the deserved excitement for a Celtics team that is truly going for it after being in the Bruins current “building it back up” phase for the past few years and a playoff-level Red Sox team that really has no competition in the summertime.

This isn’t about what the Bruins aren’t doing right now. This is about what the Patriots and Celtics, and to a lesser degree the Red Sox, are doing right now. It's as simple as that in a local sports landscape that’s cyclical and constantly in motion.  

*What a great Facetime hit here from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro with Jay and Dan now that they’re thankfully back to their rightful home in Canada. The technical difficulties really make the whole thing come together.  

*Congrats to Jonathan Drouin for making a commitment to the city of Montreal that goes well beyond being a player for the Canadiens.

*Lots of prayers and well-wishes to Hingham, Mass., native and New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle after his stunning cancer diagnosis. Anybody that knows the Boyle family knows how courageous they are, and how much love and support that Brian will have at a time when he’s going to need every bit of it. I also included a link to a New York Post Q&A with Boyle where he talks a bit about his father’s miraculous battle with cancer as well.   

 *John Chayka is trying to bring with him a new chapter to the history of the Arizona Coyotes, but it’s seemingly always an uphill battle there.

*Nobody should have any problems with the contract extension handed out to Mikko Koivu by the Minnesota Wild.

*For something completely different: Are we seriously living in a world where the Juggalos are marching for their rights?



Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad. 


Haggerty: Not surprisingly, injuries and schedule catching up to B's

USA TODAY Sports photo

Haggerty: Not surprisingly, injuries and schedule catching up to B's

SUNRISE, Florida – It would seem that the attrition, injuries and grueling, rugged schedule are beginning to chip away at the Bruins. 

It took half of March to get there, but the Bruins looked like a team fighting upstream in a 3-0 loss to the hungry, desperate Florida Panthers Thursday night at the BB&T Center.   

There was no magical third-period comeback to be had in this game and Boston’s top offensive duo of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand was held to five shots on net (four from Pastrnak) and a minus-3 rating.

That’s the kind of thing that can happen when a team is missing Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk to injury and then loses David Backes midway through the first period to a match penalty on a “hitting-from-behind call” call that really didn’t amount to much when you watched replays.

Add all that to a team that's basically been playing every other day for weeks now, and there is inevitably going to be a clunker or two in there. 

Pulling that much quality out of the lineup means that the Bruins probably have to hunker down a little bit defensively and get that extra save from their goaltenders, who have done just that for most of the season.

“You get these nights offensively where it’s not happening, and that’s when you hope that you keep it out of your net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ve scored a lot of goals lately to win hockey games if you look at a lot of the scores. It’s probably going to come around pretty soon where we’re going to need a night like the [Panthers] got where they keep the puck out of our net, and we need the extra save. It’s probably getting to that point.

“You’re not going to score six, or eight, or seven on a regular basis, especially when you start taking some people out of the lineup. So hopefully we turn it around quick and start getting the goals against down to a manageable number.”

Still, despite the missing bodies and the result of zero goals, the Bruins still dominated for long stretches of the game. They also seemed to settle down defensively as the game went along and players adjusted to different linemates and defensive partners as the deck keeps getting reshuffled by injuries.

The B’s launched a whopping 46 shots on net and had offensive chances all over the board with pucks bouncing and rattling around the crease against James Reimer, but that’s when the grinding mentality and the determination become the main ingredients to an effective offense. There is something, however, that’s still pretty impressive about the undermanned, injury-battered B's still controlling play and finishing with an unyielding 20 shots on net in the third period while facing a steep, uphill three-goal climb.

“The bottom line is we had a lot of shots on goal today and no goals. We don’t get any points out of a game that’s a division rival, and a team that we’re going to have to face three times in however many games that we have left,” said Backes. “There were a lot of bouncing pucks around the net where we weren’t able to find the second opportunities where you get a couple of whacks. The one where the puck was behind [Reimer] I think it was Jonathan Huberdeau that was back there for whatever reason and able to keep it out of the net.

“That might be a turning point for us if we get a squeaker like that to go in. [There was] another one where [David Pastrnak] tries to whack it in from his belly, but the puck just goes across the other side of the crease. There were other chances we just couldn’t corral the puck, and they were able to clear it out and relieve the pressure for the time being. They did a good job of defending the front of the net as far as getting to loose pucks and getting them out of there.”

Certainly, the Bruins are going to need to be better on Saturday night when they ready for the trip's finale in Tampa Bay, one of three games against the Atlantic Division-leading rivals in the final 13 games of the regular season. If the injury-plagued Bruins want any chance of actually catching and surpassing the Bolts, then they’ll need to make a strong showing in their head-to-head showdowns and a perfunctory effort like the one in Florida simply isn’t going to work.

It might not be the shape that the Bruins wanted to be in when it comes down to these final games against Tampa Bay this season, but the odds are strong they’ll be ready regardless based on the way they’ve flat-out battled this season.