Bruins

Bean: Should the Bruins have just signed Kovalchuk?

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Bean: Should the Bruins have just signed Kovalchuk?

The games aren't played on paper, but roster-building is. 

And on paper, the Bruins felt a pretty big need for another top-six scorer. If they hadn't, they wouldn't have made pushes for Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares. 

Now, having seen both go elsewhere, Don Sweeney faces the difficult task of deciding whether to trade one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, Torey Krug, in order to get that help up front. It begs a very fair question: Why didn't he just sign Kovalchuk? 

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Kovalchuk, who re-entered the NHL waters this offseason after a five-year stint in the KHL, proved to be too rich and/or risky for the Bruins' blood; the 35-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Kings worth $6.25 million a year. From a total money and term standpoint, it's identical to the deal Patrick Marleau signed with the Leafs last summer at age 37. 

It's not a good contract and it's a massive risk considering how long Kovalchuk's been away. That the Bruins did not want the player for that long is completely understandable. What's less understandable is the idea that doing something like trading Krug is a better alternative. 

Of course, that's an unfair shot to take because the Bruins have not traded Krug. They have made trading a defenseman likely, however, by signing John Moore. Krug, who finished three points behind Erik Karlsson last season and has two years left on a reasonable contract, would be a very appealing asset for other teams. 

Know why he would be appealing to those teams? Because he's really good. He's not great in his own end and he's by no means a top-pairing player, but he's also the third-best blueliner on a team that only has three really good blueliners. Whether a trade would be good or bad obviously depends on which player the B's would acquire, but trading Krug for a scorer would be robbing Peter to pay Paul when you could have just signed old-ass Russian Paul while leaving Peter the heck alone. 

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Having not landed that right wing (or Tavares, whose signing would have triggered some sort of roster shakeup that would theoretically have also gotten them some help on the right side), here are the Bruins' potential alternatives:

- Trade Krug as part of a deal for Artemi Panarin, a 26-year-old two-time 30-goal-scorer who will be commanding a big raise from his current $6 million mark after next season. 

- Hope that Rick Nash decides to keep playing and get him for a high cap hit on a one or two-year deal. 

- Hope one of the kids seizes the right wing job on David Krejci's line, though Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato are all lefties. 

- Hope David Backes finds the fountain of youth and goes back to resembling a top-six forward. 

Three of those four include the word "hope" and the other includes shelling out a ton of money. Signing Kovalchuk would have also included that word ("hope this doesn't end up an absolute disaster"), but at least you wouldn't be losing Krug. 

Of the options remaining, standing pat may be the best alternative unless Panarin is feeling generous in contract talks. Kovalchuk is far from a safe bet, but signing him would leave the Bruins with less of a dilemma today. 

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Maple Leafs' Jake Muzzin agrees: TD Garden ice has 'been pretty bad'

Maple Leafs' Jake Muzzin agrees: TD Garden ice has 'been pretty bad'

Brad Marchand raised a few eyebrows Sunday by offering unprompted criticism of the ice conditions at TD Garden.

But he's not the only player who feels that way.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman echoed the Boston Bruins forward's sentiments Monday ahead of the teams' Game 7 clash Tuesday at the Garden.

"It's been pretty bad," Muzzin said, via Sportsnet's Chris Johnston. "But they've got to play on the same sheet we do."

The Maple Leafs and Bruins both looked a little sluggish in Friday night's Game 5, and it seems the ice may have played a factor; outside temperatures reached the 70s during the day, which may have caused the Boston ice to soften.

Even Toronto coach Mike Babcock said the Garden ice quality wasn't up to snuff after the Maple Leafs' 2-1 win in Game 5.

"Defensively the ice was tough," Babcock said, via the Associated Press. "It was humid in the building. ... But I thought our guys kept grinding and stayed patient."

That "tough" ice hasn't bothered the Leafs too much, as they've won two of their three games in Boston during this Stanley Cup Playoff first-round matchup.

But with this criticism out in the open, expect the TD Garden staff to do everything it can to provide a quality sheet in Tuesday's Game 7.

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David Krejci misses practice, will be 'fine' for Game 7

David Krejci misses practice, will be 'fine' for Game 7

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It created a minor stir when David Krejci wasn’t on the Warrior Ice Arena for Monday’s practice after the Game 6 win in Toronto, and really was the only regular missing.

But Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy assured reporters that it was just a maintenance day for the playmaking center, and that Krejci would be in the lineup for Game 7 on Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s fine for tomorrow,” said Bruce Cassidy following Monday’s skate, where Chris Wagner hopped in as the second-line center between Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.

The Czech center has two goals and four points in the six games thus far in the series, and has been pretty solid with a number of different right wings still being tried out during the first-round playoff series.

Krejci was instrumental in Sunday afternoon’s win as he teamed with DeBrusk for the game-winning goal in the second period and has locked up with the Auston Matthews line for much of the best-of-seven series. That doesn’t even mention Krejci’s penchant for stepping up in big games with the biggest of the season, a Game 7, facing down the Bruins against the Maple Leafs, the third time the two Atlantic Division rivals will face each other for a seventh game over the last six seasons.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings, with Cassidy saying that he’s inclined to stick with the same group that won a decisive, strong all-around effort in Game 6 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Johansson-Coyle-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore

 

Rask

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