Bruins

Bruins on Patriots success: 'We would love to be that'

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Bruins on Patriots success: 'We would love to be that'

BRIGHTON, Mass. - The Bruins are clearly in a much different place now with a young, up-and-coming group, but they certainly have hopes and aspirations to build something similar to what the Patriots have in place in Foxboro.

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The Pats are headed to Minnesota looking for their third Super Bowl title in four years to go along with the three Super Bowls in four years at the start of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Era. Plenty of Bruins players were on hand in Foxboro on Sunday with the day off from practice. Torey Krug even posted a picture on Instagram with Charlie McAvoy, Riley Nash, Paul Postma, Matt Grzelcyk, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask all ready to cheer on the Patriots in a truly entertaining AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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#letsgo

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Clearly, the Bruins semi-recently had a nice run of their own with seven consecutive seasons of playoff appearances and two Cup Final appearances between 2011-2013, but the Patriots’ current dynastic run is something that’s never been seen before in modern professional sports.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy makes no bones about being a fan of the Patriots and the way they play and said it’s something that inspires him and should inspire his team full of players as they roll through a very good season of their own.

“You can’t help but get caught up in it,” said Cassidy. “I’ve been in New England ten years, and you can see how teams continually can’t put the Patriots away. It’s not just one time. So they’re in people’s heads...I don’t care what anybody says.

“There are conversations, probably less about their own game and more about what the Patriots can do. On a game day, they’re probably focusing less on themselves. It’s an amazing quality that team has, the character, the culture they’ve created and the identity. We would love to be that. We’re coming at you, we’re coming at you, and it doesn’t matter what happens right to the bitter end. We’ll see where that goes, but you’ve got to be champions to do that. There are guys in this locker room that were [champions] and would love to be again, and with the younger guys hopefully, it’s something that they embrace.”

For those Bruins that have won before, the ongoing excellence of the Patriots, who've been dominant for close to two decades, becomes the truly amazing accomplishment. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have been through one cycle of dominance earlier in their B’s careers, but before getting on that upward trajectory again, they needed to hit a rough patch for a couple of seasons that included a housecleaning of their GM and coach.

That’s something the Patriots have never really had to do since the arrival of Belichick and Brady, and it’s something that blows away those veteran Bruins who have watched it all unfold. 

“It’s not easy. You see it in every sport that the one season you win, and then the next season you don’t even make the playoffs,” said David Krejci. “The Patriots year after year they’re always a top-four team and last season they won the Super Bowl. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks and watching the game, especially given the way they played with the injuries they had with [Julian] Edelman and Gronk getting hurt. It was fun to watch [on Sunday].”  

If nothing else it’s inspiring for the younger Bruins to simply see how focused the entire community gets supporting one of the local teams when they reach the championship level and just how bonkers the Boston area will become if the Patriots take it to the Super Bowl house for a record-tying sixth time in NFL history. 

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Bruins send McAvoy, Miller back to Boston for tests

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Bruins send McAvoy, Miller back to Boston for tests

Bruins defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller were sent home to Boston from Vancouver for medical tests, coach Bruce Cassidy said Saturday ahead of the B's game against the Canucks.

Cassidy said McAvoy took a hit against Edmonton last week in a game in Boston and "hasn't been feeling right" and Miller was hit on the hand by a shot.

McAvoy was out for nearly two weeks last January after having a cardiac ablation, a procedure to correct an abnormal heartbeat. Cassidy didn’t confirm that’s what this issue is.

Defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was called up from Providence of the AHL on an emergency basis. 

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Hagg Bag: How about a Bjork-Donato line with _______?

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Hagg Bag: How about a Bjork-Donato line with _______?

It’s that time of the week again. Time for the Hagg Bag mailbag with real questions from our readers using the #HaggBag hashtag on Twitter, sending messages to my NBC Sports Boston Facebook page or emailing my @JHaggerty@nbcuni.com account. Now on to the bag!

Sup Haggs?

A lot of people have been yelling about getting someone to play on Krejci's wing but after watching the last couple of games, I'm intrigued by Bjork and Donato playing together. Backes isn't the most fleet of foot guy on the team and I don't see him as a great fit between those two guys. Do you think the B's could possibly trade for a guy like Jason Zucker? I'd be willing to give up Heinen and maybe one of the young D-men and maybe draft picks or whatever. I think a Zucker, Bjork, Donato line would have some serious potential and Backes, at this point of his career, would probably look better playing wing with Kuraly and Acciari.

Billy Hud
Revere, MA

JH: Hey Billy. I think there was a better shot of trading for Jason Zucker when he was unsigned with the Minnesota Wild over the summer. I like the player and think he is the kind of guy that the Bruins obviously need right now. In my humble opinion, the Bruins are short one established top-six forward right now. I know some people think it’s the third-line center that the Bruins should be chasing instead, but what happens if you get a fairly young guy such as Zucker and pay him? Now you’ve blocked Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson from winning that job and you’ve tied up money at a spot where you could have a young player on an entry-level deal if you show a little bit of patience. The Bruins still need a goal-scoring winger on the second line and that’s where I’d be chasing if I were Don Sweeney right now.

I do think that the Bruins are going to have to give up either Bjork, Heinen or Donato to get a quality player. I’d be okay with potentially shipping Matt Grzelcyk as well if It was the right deal that could improve the Bruins as Toronto and Tampa have clearly done over the past 8-10 months. I am with you on Backes, though. He needs to be a bottom-six winger at this point in his career, though I’m still not ready to relegate him to the fourth line. I honestly worry more about the concussion stuff eventually catching up to him.

Favorite and least favorite Star Wars character & movie. Show your work.

--Dave Green (@DavidMGreen)

JH: Favorite Star Wars character? Chewbacca. He’s loyal, he’s physically stronger than everybody else and he’s proud enough that he needed to be kicked in the butt to go down the garbage chute. Least favorite Star Wars character? That’s easy. Jar Jar Binks. I have taught my 5-year-old son that his name is actually Jar Jar Stinks and he still believes that to this day. Favorite Star Wars movie is Empire just like everybody else, and my least favorite is probably the Phantom Menace. Although the Last Jedi was a big disappointment to me as well, though I’m not opening up that Pandora’s Box in the mailbag. Thanks for the question, Greenie!

Hi Joe!
Your thoughts.....

We all know ‘Krech’ had his best years with bigger wingers (Lucic, Horton, Iginla and a small sample with 61Nash).  Still think having a winger with snarl, size, & skills to go with DeBrusk and/or can move up/down in lineup is the answer...And as I briefly stated before, really think that player is currently being wasted in Anaheim... Nick Ritchie. 

If and when he is traded (like possibly Anderson, another big, skilled winger with CBJ) to Toronto or another division/conference team... oh, well a loss for B’s!!

Would even call up Senyshyn for ‘trial’ on RW...now when games count and given big shot after a decent preseason, why not? Heinen, Donato, Bjorkie....next man up!!

Keep the write ups coming!!!

Ron
Saitama, Japan 

JH: Ritchie would have been a solid idea last week before the Anaheim Ducks signed him to a three-year deal after his protracted holdout. He has some good size and pretty decent physicality as the Bruins have seen first-hand, and he’s obviously got talent as a first-round pick. I even noticed that Anaheim special assignment scout Dave Nonis had a pretty long conversation with Sweeney that made me think the wheels were turning on something with Ritchie, but may there is still something to be done with Anaheim now that they’re in pretty tough salary-cap straits. So, stay tuned with the Ducks and the Bruins.

Zach Senyshyn was one of the first Bruins prospects sent down to Providence and cut from training camp, so I don’t think the B’s were overly wowed by what they saw out of him. I don’t think he’s close right now. The more likely scenario is a trade in the coming weeks with one of Bjork or Heinen probably going the other way for a young, top-six type winger or third-line center, but it’s difficult to pull off early-season trades. We may see the Bruins simply try to shine it on with their young guys for a bit until the trade deadline gets here. I will keep the write-ups coming.

 
At what point do the bruins run out of patience with tuukka? #HaggBag

--matthew wilson (@mattframingham)

JH: We may know as soon as Saturday night in Vancouver when it comes to Tuukka Rask. If Jaroslav Halak gets a second consecutive start then Bruce Cassidy has already run out of patience with his slow-starting No. 1 goalie less than 10 games into the season. Who can blame him? Rask has given his team zero shot to win in two out of his four starts this season, including both starts against likely playoff teams. Rask has a 4.08 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage. Those numbers are putrid. Frankly, he really doesn’t deserve to play at this point until he turns his game around.

Would you be willing to create a package that is centered around Brandon Carlo? If they won’t take Krug he’d be the next D-man I’d move

--Bar Bobby (@BGBobLucy)

JH: If it comes to that, but it would have to be a game-changing top-six goal-scorer that the Bruins envision in their lineup for a long time. I like Carlo a lot and still think there’s an upside to his game offensively along with the clear size, strength and toughness qualities that will make him a good shutdown D-man. The guy is 6-foot-5 and strong and can skate. Those kinds of D-men stay employed in the NHL for a long time.

The one consideration with Carlo, and with Charlie McAvoy for that matter though nobody should consider trading him, is that the entry-level contract is ending this season and both of those young D-men are going to start costing a lot more money. If it was a player such as Artemi Panarin with assurances he was going to sign with the Bruins, I would include Carlo in that type of package to the Columbus Blue Jackets. If it’s an aging player, such as Wayne Simmonds, who's about to cost a lot of money in free agency, I would not be wasting my good young players on an admittedly still-good asset that’s in decline.

Morning Joe,

Is Bjork going to get a look on the Krejci-Debrusk line anytime soon? I think he has looked pretty great coming off injury and without any real preseason action. With the speed of Debrusk and Bjork, I think the line could fly if old man Krejci can keep up. Thoughts?

Thanks!

Mark (Jacksonville)

JH: Hey Mark. I wouldn’t mind seeing Anders Bjork with Krejci and DeBrusk at some point after Heinen and Donato have gotten their looks there. That being said, I thought Heinen looked good back with Krejci and DeBrusk on Thursday night in Edmonton after a couple of healthy scratches. He picked up his first point of the season on a nice play that helped set up Krejci’s goal early in the game. Heinen is the best two-way player of the three winger candidates to play there and I think that’s a big reason why he is going to continue to get looks. If Bjork continues to play a heavier brand of hockey to go along with his speed and skill, though, he’ll get his look there too. He just needs to continue to build on some of the good things we’ve seen from a hungry player that wants to establish himself. I just wonder if Bjork is the guy who eventually gets moved for an established player given his value as a prospect. He’s also shown a bit of a softness to his game at times that the Bruins can’t be wild about. He’ll score in the NHL, but I’m not sure if he’s ever going to be strong or heavy enough to be a frontline player on a playoff team.

That’s it for this week’s bag, we’ll see you next week!  

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