Bruins

Ranford now with Kings, but still many connections to Bruins

775646.jpg

Ranford now with Kings, but still many connections to Bruins

NEWARK, NJ Bill Ranford has a theory about the future career paths of goaltenders and journeymen, bottom line forward-types.

You can never tell which players will become coaches, but it seems like the goalies go do TV and the role players become coaches, said Ranford. Very rarely do the skill guys become head coaches over the long haul.

The formers Bruins goaltender and current Los Angeles Kings goaltending coach has been working with Kings prodigy Jon Quick for the last five seasons while helping turn him into the elite netminder ready to start in the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday night.

But the former Bruins third-round pick in 1985 had actually thought television, rather than coaching, was going to be his hockey gravy train after his playing days were over.

Ranford did some work in Vancouver broadcasting local games and some analyst work for TSN after taking a broadcasting course offered by the NHLPA at the end of his playing days.

I did some broadcasting with the NHLPA Goals and Dreams program, and they approached me about taking the broadcasting seminar, said Ranford. I did a little work with TSN and some radio work in Vancouver, but Marc Crawford approached me about the goaltending job in LA after Id been doing it at the junior level for a few years.

It felt like the right time to try it and Ive been doing it for six years. With my international hockey experience and Canada Cup stuff I got to know Canadian TV executive John Shannon pretty well and I thought Id get into the color analyst stuffor something TV-wise. John helped me with that early on, but Ive really enjoyed my time with the Kings working with two very good young goalies.

Crawford cajoled him into coaching when he took the reigns of the Kings six years ago, and hes survived several regime chances as the goalie guru for a Los Angeles team thats got two great young ones in Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

Youve built that trust with your goaltenders early, and the two Jonathans have been together with me for five years now, said Ranford. You gain that trust in each other. Ive got their backs and theyve got mine.

Bruins fans will remember Ranford for several different things: jumping into the playoffs in 1986 after being selected in the third round by the Bruins just one year prior, and then later being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Andy Moog.

Then he won Stanley Cup rings against the Bruins in 1988 and 1990 one as a backup to Grant Fuhr and one as a Conn Smythe winner gaining revenge on a Boston team that dealt him away before rejoining them at the end of his NHL career. Then Ranford was again moved in another infamous deal that sent Adam Oates, Rick Tocchet and the goalie to Washington in exchange for Jason Allison, Anson Carter and Massachusetts native Jim Carey.

He still looks back on his days with the Bruins fondly despite being traded out of the organization twice, and dropped in some of his old pals during last years Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Boston is a great city. It was an excellent city to live in when I played there, and I still have friends there to this day, said Ranford. I was at Game 5 and went in to see Harry Sinden in the Bruins box. I still keep in touch with Johnny Bucyk. There are guys on the Cup winning team that I knew a little bit over the years.

During his time coaching junior hockey in British Columbia Ranford saw the career progression of a young kid from East Vancouver named Lucic, and that created another Six Degrees of Bill Ranford connection to the Bruins even if he didnt know it at the time.

I had Milan Lucic as a player at the BC junior level and I saw him grow and develop. It was pretty special to watch that, and then see him raise the Cup last year, said Ranford. I was with him with the Coquitlam Express where he was just hoping for a chance to play, and then saw him evolve into this really dominant player during his time with Vancouver.

He was very raw. He just wanted to play. He would go run through the end boards if you asked him to because he just wanted to get out there on the ice. Thats the kind of player he was.

No matter where Ranford goes it seems like hell always tied back to the Bruins organization on many different levels, and thats perfectly okay with him now that they dont have a chance to trade him one last time.

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

golden_knights_colin_miller_malcolm_subban_101617.jpg

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

MORE:

And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

cp-spark-bruins-knights-kuraly-sbias-1-101617.jpg

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE