Neely on Bruins: 'We should be playing right now'

Neely on Bruins: 'We should be playing right now'

BOSTON – While there weren’t mass firings or fire and brimstone speeches at the season-ending press conference for Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely at TD Garden on Wednesday morning, there was a necessary, obvious admission that last season was a failure. Neely addressed the media prior to the question and answer period, and put to rest any weak notions that the Black and Gold roster wasn’t good enough to secure a playoff spot among the top eight Eastern Conference teams.

Instead the Bruins executive pointed toward Boston’s position with a month left to go in the season, and the implosion that took place as the Bruins limped to a 3-8-1 record in their final 12 games while watching helplessly as the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers hopped over them for the final postseason spots.  

“Quite frankly, with 86 points and 13 games to go, we should’ve been a playoff team. We should be playing right now. We should’ve locked up the third seed, and who knows? But that didn’t happen, and we’re all extremely disappointed the way the season ended,” said Neely, of a B’s team that fell one point short of the postseason for a second year in a row. “Having said that the [Don Sweeney] plan was not a one-offseason fix.

“We know what our goals are, we know what we need to improve, and we’re taking the necessary steps to continue to do that. So from my perspective we were told by Don, it’s going to be a bumpy road, we should see some improvement along the way, and for the most part we had that. But it's the way we finished that was extremely disappointing for us.”

Both the Red Wings and Flyers are currently on the brink of elimination in each of their first round series, and the Bruins were destined for the same kind of fate even if they had stumbled their way into a playoff spot. But there’s no question that the dividing line between playoffs and no-playoffs is a giant one for the three men that shared the Black and Gold dais at Legends on Wednesday morning while coming up just short two years in a row. 

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.