Bruins

Bruins may target Blues' Brayden Schenn or Vladimir Tarasenko in trade

Bruins may target Blues' Brayden Schenn or Vladimir Tarasenko in trade

BOSTON -- Perhaps some of it was because the Bruins will be hosting their team at TD Garden on Thursday night. Perhaps some of it was about their scouting the Montreal Canadiens.

But whatever the reason, the St. Louis Blues had a group of talent evaluators at TD Garden Monday night for the Bruins-Canadiens game – vice president of hockey operations Dave Taylor, assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting Billy Armstrong, and pro scout Kevin McDonald –- while the Bruins scouting staff has spent the last few days meeting in Boston as well.

Certainly the Blues -- second-to-last in the Western Conference and certain to be sellers at the trade deadline -- could be looking at both Bruins and Habs players, since both Boston and Montreal are jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference. St. Louis is expected to make a number of veterans available ahead of the deadline, and several hockey sources say forward Brayden Schenn is someone who interests the Bruins. But perhaps the B's are aiming even higher, with Vladimir Tarasenko rumored to be available.

Schenn would undoubtedly be a versatile, rugged fit for the Bruins as a center coming off a career-high 28 goals and 70 points last season. He’s also a hard-nosed type who could add size, strength and versatility to Boston’s forward group.

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Tarasenko, on the other hand, would be a home run for any NHL team. He hasn’t scored fewer than 33 goals or 66 points in any of the last four seasons and would be the kind of game-breaker who could transform Boston’s second line into a bona-fide weapon. He'd immediately make the Bruins a much more serious contender.

It was apparent once again in Monday night’s loss that the B’s still are in need of another top-6 offensive forward. Despite Bruce Cassidy mixing and matching players on the second and third lines, the team still managed to scrape up only two goals on 43 shots.

The coach admitted after the loss he’s trying to find some high-performing forwards to pair with a motivated David Krejci, who has scored goals in three straight games and is poised for a big second half if the Bruins can provide him with wingers who'll finish off plays.

“I think [Krejci] has played really good hockey for us this year, whoever’s been on his wings, so you don’t want to lose him if, say, his linemates aren’t going well,” said Cassidy. “So we mix someone else in there. Then you get behind and you think, well, maybe you have to use [a] more offensive-minded [player], say [Ryan] Donato, who’s scored some goals, who . . . when [he] gets a chance can bury it.

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“It’s a bit of the thought process in there. And then if we feel like a guy’s just not committed, then that’s a message usually to a younger guy.”

Both Schenn and Tarasenko are signed beyond this season and thus would cost far more in trade assets than a rental. It remains to be seen what St. Louis would be looking for, beyond perhaps a first-round pick and B's prospect (and St. Louis native) Trent Frederic. It would make sense that either Torey Krug or Matt Grzelcyk could be available, as Urho Vaakanainen doesn’t appear too far away from regular duty in the NHL after a promising performance for Team Finland at the World Junior tournament.

We'll see if Bruins GM Don Sweeney changes course a little bit this season and gets aggressive with an early deal ahead of the rush at the deadline. But the big Blues presence is a sign they’re at least taking a closer look at an awfully big, and needed, upgrade.

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Recapping milestones Bruins hit with playoff-clinching win vs. Panthers

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USA TODAY Sports

Recapping milestones Bruins hit with playoff-clinching win vs. Panthers

The Boston Bruins secured a Stanley Cup playoff berth with Saturday night's 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers, and they set, tied or extended a few milestones as a result.

Here's a recap of the notable Bruins milestones from the playoff-clinching victory.

--The Bruins will soon make their 72nd appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Only the Montreal Canadiens (83) have made more appearances.
--The Bruins will be the third team in NHL history to play in 100 best-of-7 playoff series.
--Boston improved its record to 46-20-9 for 101 points. It represents the Bruins' 23rd 100-point season in history, extending their own league record. The next closest teams are the Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers with 19 100-point seasons.
--The Bruins almost certainly will play the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens in Round 1. If that happens, it will be the seventh time in their last 10 playoff appearances that the Bruins have faced a Canadian team in the first round. Boston is 4-2 in the previous six matchups. There's about a 98% chance the Bruins will play the Leafs in Round 1 for the second consecutive year.

The Bruins cannot catch the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division, so their next goal is clinching home ice advantage in Round 1.

This is a very important objective for the B's given their success at TD Garden this season -- Boston owns a 28-7-3 home record. Home ice also proved to be a huge factor in the B's beating the Leafs in their 2013 and 2018 first-round playoff series, both of which ended with a Game 7 victory in Boston.

So, while the Bruins' first major objective of the regular season has been accomplished, there's still work to be done over the final seven games.

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What we learned in the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

What we learned in the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center that clinched a playoff spot for the Black and Gold.

1) Zdeno Chara is finally beginning to show some signs of age at 42 years old, but with that age and experience come some pretty great career accomplishments as well. Chara had a special day on Saturday as he signed a one-year contract extension for $2 million plus $1.75 million in incentives that will give him another season in Black and Gold. Then he went out and played 25 plus minutes in a throwback performance while scoring his 200th career goal that puts him in rarified air with only 22 other D-men in the history of the NHL. It’s that kind of offensive production, longevity to go along with being the best shutdown D of his generation that has already punched his ticket to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Last night’s win in Florida that was pushed along by his offense and defensive work was just another reminder of how consistently excellent he’s been in a Bruins uniform since arriving, and how important Chara’s leadership, work ethic and talent have been to Boston consistently being a playoff team during his tenure with the team. It was nice to see Chara show some child-like enthusiasm after he scored as well along with some neat sentiments following the game that the goal was dedicated to his father. "I would like to dedicate this goal to my dad,” said Zdeno Chara to reporters in Florida. “He brought me to hockey and he was always very supportive...last few weeks he was joking about when I was gonna score." Early in his career with the Bruins, Chara was hesitant to share about his off-the-ice life and didn’t really talk all that much about his family. So it’s pretty great to see him sharing those kinds of things with fans, media and his teammates alike as he moves toward the end of a brilliant career with the Black and Gold.

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2) Noel Acciari is stepping up his game at the right time of year. Acciari has slid back into his fourth line center spot with David Pastrnak’s return to the lineup, and on Saturday night he was centering David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom. Acciari scored his second goal of the road trip when he blasted home a centering pass from behind the net from David Backes in the first period, and then he dropped the gloves for an epic tilt with McKenzie Weegar in the second period. Acciari was channeling PJ Stock during the fight as he just kept throwing windmill left-handed punches in a big flurry until he finally dropped Weegar to the ice in a brawl that really energized the Black and Gold. Acciari finished an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick in what would have been a pretty cool thing for the fourth line grinder out of Rhode Island, but Acciari finished with the goal, a plus-1 rating and four shot attempts in 12 plus minutes of energy and physicality.

3) Connor Clifton has been very strong since coming up again to the Bruins from the AHL. On Saturday night he picked up his first point while assisting on the Noel Acciari goal that kicked off the scoring for the Bruins. He also topped 16 minutes of ice time, a plus-1 rating, four shots on net and a couple of blocked shots, and hasn’t looked out of place at all in the late season intensity of the regular season. Clearly Clifton probably doesn’t have a place in the B’s playoff lineup if everybody is healthy, but he’s playing well enough to earn consideration nonetheless given how strong he’s been at both ends of the ice along with a pretty strong workload. The 23-year-old was just as impressive in his first go-round with the Bruins as well, so it wouldn’t shock this humble hockey writer to see him in the B’s lineup should injuries hit at some point during the postseason.

PLUS

*Noel Acciari scored the B’s first goal, manned the middle for the fourth line and dropped the gloves for a memorably ferocious hockey fight with McKenzie Weeger. It’s been a good road trip for the Rhode Island kid.

*Zdeno Chara topped 25 minutes of ice time, scored the 200th goal of his NHL career and did all of that after signing a one-year extension with the Bruins on Saturday morning. That’s pretty good stuff for the 42-year-old.

*Steve Kampfer was actually really good for the Bruins with a goal and five shots on net while maximizing his performance in a little over 12 minutes of ice time. The reserve D-man has been ready to go since he got his recent shot and he deserves credit for that.

MINUS

*The Bruins were 25-for-65 in the face-off circle, which is under 40 percent success and pretty horrendous for the usually very-good B’s men in the middle.

*Henrik Borgstrom was a minus-3, had zero shots on net and was 1-for-6 in the face-off circle while stinking up the joint in under 10 minutes of ice time.

*Two shots on net, three giveaways and a minus-3 rating for Jonathan Huberdeau, who certainly won’t be showing the film of this game to the NHL Awards voters when it comes time for Selke Trophy consideration.  

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