Bruins

Bruins not thrilled with low-scoring Game 5 loss: 'We've just got to be better'

Bruins not thrilled with low-scoring Game 5 loss: 'We've just got to be better'

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t seem terribly interested in breaking down what happened after the loss in Game 5 had settled in on Friday night.

The Bruins dropped a 2-1 decision at home to Toronto Maple Leafs where both teams were scoreless headed into the final period, and where the Bruins weren’t able to score on the power-play despite getting a 3-to-1 advantage in PP chances in the game. Instead, it was Leafs youngsters Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen that scored the goals to moved Toronto a win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years.

“We’ve had better games,” admitted Brad Marchand. “I don’t think either team was great, but it was the difference of one play. Game is over now, worry about the next one.”

They also managed almost as many shots on net in a desperate third period (14) as they did in the first two periods combined (15), so it wasn’t a big display of offense or of energy from a bottom-six forward group that Bruce Cassidy shuffled around because they weren’t giving him enough.

Certainly, those expecting an all-hands-on-deck physical effort like the energetic Game 2 win at home were left disappointed by something that again didn’t quite rise to playoff-level intensity.

“I didn’t think that we had energy in the bottom of our lineup. They don’t generally play their fourth line a lot, so if our fourth line and the guys we use in that roll aren’t going together in sync then it works against us. That’s the way I saw it,” said Bruce Cassidy “We had a couple of shifts that I thought they got outplayed to a certain extent. When I used them individually, in pieces, with different lines I thought we had a better result so we kind of went three lines and then added a player here or there.

“I thought that might work out better for us. Obviously, in the end, we lost the game, so, who knows? Clearly, I don’t know if the difference in the game was the minutes that were distributed because they are generally energy anyway, and we lacked a bit of that early on.”

The best thing the B’s had going for them was that it was scoreless after two periods, and they still had a legit chance to win going into the final frame. It didn’t work out that way, of course, when Auston Matthews rifled home the one-timer to finally snap the spell in the third, and again, Boston’s top trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were held off the scoreboard in a B’s playoff loss.

“We’ve just got to be better. You know, we’re going to have our back against the wall, so we have to learn from this game and be better, and honestly play desperate hockey and get a W no matter what it takes,” said David Krejci. “We were feeling really good. We’ve been in this situation before and we’ve handled it pretty well in the past, so we knew we could do it. But it just didn’t go our way. We have to do better next game.”

Particularly discouraging for the Bruins after the loss: The Bruins are 3-20 in playoff series where they fall behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series format. In fact, they haven’t won in this situation since coming back against the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup back in 2011. 

It sure doesn’t feel like the Bruins are capable of that kind of magic after a merely okay effort in a Game 5 loss, but the B’s will get one more chance to prove themselves before postseason elimination lurks in the background.

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Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

There’s quite the interesting debate going on these days about just how much Bruins RFA defenseman Charlie McAvoy should get on his second contract.

NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk tweeted out a story proclaiming that both McAvoy and Columbus Blue Jackets D-man Zach Werenski should be in line for “huge contracts” and conjured up some numbers that put those two young defenseman in a class with Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson at the same stage of their careers.

Certainly the 21-year-old McAvoy and 21-year-old Werenski have shown promise as excellent puck-movers and developing two-way D-men in their short NHL careers. But to lump the two of them together into the same class is not something I’m sure the Bruins would do at this point in their separate negotiations.

First off, both Doughty and Karlsson were Norris Trophy finalists before they got their massive contracts. Secondly, do you know how many games Doughty missed with injuries before he signed his eight-year, $56 million contract?

He missed seven NHL games with injuries in his first three seasons with the Kings, including just one in his first two seasons in Los Angeles. Doughty also put together a 16-goal, 59-point masterpiece sophomore season, all while averaging 24 plus minutes of ice time per game over those first three NHL seasons in L.A.

All due respect to a special talent in McAvoy who idolizes Doughty, but he hasn’t even been close to that kind of dominance yet in his very promising, young NHL career. He was brilliant in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and he's shown big time flashes for the B's, but he's also missed almost 50 games with injuries over the last two years. 

Werenski has averaged 13 goals and 40 points in his three NHL seasons with Columbus and missed a total of nine NHL games in his first two seasons before playing the full 82-game schedule this past season for the Blue Jackets. He’s a lot closer to Doughty in terms of a comparable situation at this point in his young NHL career.

Werenski has the ability to be offer-sheeted by other prospective NHL teams, and has all the makings of an RFA who could cash in on something similar to the massive eight-year, $60 million deal signed by Florida’s Aaron Ekblad a couple of seasons ago.

McAvoy, on the other hand, has topped out at seven goals and 32 points in the better of his two NHL seasons (his rookie campaign) and has missed a whopping 47 games due to injuries in his first two seasons. McAvoy also can’t be tendered with an offer sheet by other NHL teams because he has fewer than three full years of NHL service based on the 40-game rule adopted by the league when it comes to restricted free agents.

So really there are very few parallels between Werenski’s negotiating leverage right now and McAvoy’s situation headed into his third NHL season with Boston.

If McAvoy wants to get the “huge contract” with the B’s then he’s going to have to earn it with a dominant, healthy season that he has yet to put together at the NHL level. It’s really as simple as that, regardless of his Corsi numbers when he has been healthy over the last two seasons.

The best course of action for both the Bruins and McAvoy?

It would be sign a bridge contract for a couple of years where the young D-man gets the $5-6 million per season based on his closest comparable players (Esa Lindell, for one), and puts together the kind of years that would put him closer to the Doughty/Karlsson/Ekblad max contract neighborhood that he’s clearly aspiring to at this point.

Basically, McAvoy at this point will need to sign the qualifying offer given to him by the Bruins or sit out until he agrees to a long-term second deal with the Boston. The reality is this: The Bruins young D-man has zero leverage this time around in negotiations aside from being a key player for the B's in both their present and future plans. Then again, the Bruins did pretty well in the first half last season when McAvoy was barely a presence while battling through concussion-related issues, and before he put together a very strong second half and postseason during their run to Game 7 of the Cup Final.

There’s no reason to think they can’t do the same this season with a Stanley Cup Final-worthy group if McAvoy’s camp plays hardball and holds out ahead of NHL training camp.

All signs point to McAvoy getting a big raise and eventually getting the cap-busting contract that he’s clearly going to be looking for, and he could get it as soon as a year from now at this time. But the 21-year-old needs to earn it first, and shame on Don Sweeney and the Bruins if they shell out tens of millions of dollars on an admittedly talented, highly-gifted player before he’s done the kind of things that earn players that type of money at the NHL level.

Why Heinen signing left B's with cap questions>>>>

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Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruins forward Ryan Donato will be staying in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

The 23-year-old, who was traded from the B's to the Wild for Charlie Coyle on Feb. 20, signed a two-year deal worth $3.8 million on Tuesday.

Donato played well after joining the Wild last season, notching 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 22 games. The Scituate native tallied 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 46 total games with Boston over two years.

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