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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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

Here are my talking points from the Bruins’ first regulation loss at home in 2019-20:

GOLD STAR: It isn’t going to happen very often, but Ian Cole turned out to be the single biggest contributor in a team-wide win for the Avalanche. It was Cole that smoked a slap shot past the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak to give Colorado a 2-1 lead in the second period, and he made certain his first goal of the season was an important one. Cole also blocked five shots in 17:17 of ice time and was part of a gritty, determined effort to protect the lead once the Avs got up 3-1 in the third. He mixed in a couple of hits and a couple of takeaways as well, and made some big plays in what was pretty much a perfect game overall for Colorado.

HIGHLIGHTS: Bruins take first home regulation loss vs. Avs, 4-1

BLACK EYE: There’s more than a few, but how about Danton Heinen just not making the plays that he needs to make when he’s in the lineup? Forget about the zero shots on net in 16:45 of ice time, with a number of them either getting blocked or missing the net. That’s nothing new when it comes to a player that’s barely averaging a shot on net for game. But he also turned the puck over behind the Boston net in a sequence that led to Cole’s game-winner as the Bruins began to run around in the defensive zone. It was that particular play that led Bruce Cassidy to lament that the attention to details was lacking for his players at this point in the season. If Heinen isn’t making the little plays, is a minus player and isn’t bringing any offense, then he isn’t worth having in the lineup.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins went into the first intermission tied at 1-1 after only putting four shots on net, and should have had the kind of wakeup call that they needed to turn the intensity up a little bit. Instead they went through a second period where they again only put up four shots on net while falling behind by two goals headed into the final 20 minutes. The Avalanche only leveled five shots on net as well, but they scored on a pair of them and pounced all over Boston’s mistakes while playing a surprisingly disciplined, two-way game despite their explosive offensive players. This time around, the Bruins didn’t have any way to come back in the third period against a quality Colorado team that wasn’t going to fold for them.

#HaggBag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em

HONORABLE MENTION: One of the few players to put up an honest-to-goodness effort in the loss was the hard-hitting fourth liner, Chris Wagner. It was Wagner that redirected a John Moore point shot in the first period for his third goal of the season that gave the Bruins an initial lead in the game. Wagner led the Bruins with five registered hits, scored on the only shot on net he had in the game and won 5-of-10 face-offs that he took in his 12:39 of ice time. The shame was that there weren’t enough other players that rose to the level of urgency and compete that Wagner was showing throughout the game for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – The home point streak (12-0-5) is over for the Bruins as the Avs handed them their first regulation loss on home ice this year, and their first since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues almost six months ago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations. And live with the result. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us.” –Bruce Cassidy, lamenting the lack of urgency in the B’s game as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Avalanche.

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

FINAL SCORE: Avalanche 4, Bruins 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins tied it early with a Chris Wagner tip-in off a John Moore shot from the point, but from there the Avs dictated play to hand Boston its first home loss in regulation at TD Garden in the 2019-20 season. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Avs, though, who lost Calder Trophy favorite and former UMass star Cale Makar to injury.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-4-6 (46 points, 1st in Atlantic Division)

HIGHLIGHTS

WAGNER TIPS HOME MOORE’S SHOT FROM POINT

AVS LOSE MAKAR

UP NEXT:

At Ottawa, Monday, 7:30 p.m., NESN

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