Bruins

Chris Kreider remains top trade target for Bruins when the time comes

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USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider remains top trade target for Bruins when the time comes

There will be plenty of options for the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline when it comes to bolstering their top-6 attack.

Some seasons the B's have bagged a big target as they did a couple of years ago when they acquired Rick Nash from the New York Rangers, and there have been other seasons when more modest rental winger trades like Drew Stafford and Marcus Johansson have worked out very well for the Black and Gold.

But there is always a top target for the Bruins in each one of these trade deadlines since Don Sweeney took over as general manager, and this season will be no different for a B’s team sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers haven’t become sellers yet in the trade market, though there have curiously been rumors about the availability of backup goaltender Alexander Georgiev at this point in the season.

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But when they do become full-out sellers at some point in the second half of the season, big Rangers winger Chris Kreider will be the Bruins top option for a top-6 winger at the trade deadline, according to multiple hockey sources. It isn’t even a certainty that the Rangers will decide to part with a player that’s been a core member of their group since they selected him 19th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, but it’s hard to imagine they would keep him given their status as a rebuilding franchise.

The 28-year-old Kreider has the size at 6-foot-3, 218-pounds and he’s got the skating speed that the Bruins are looking for in every player on their roster.

Kreider has 16 goals and 31 points in 47 games this season for the Rangers, and is on pace for 28 goals and 54 points. He’s topped 20 goals four times during his career and surpassed 50 points a couple of times. Even better, Kreider represents a player that plays strong in front of the net and will bring a little edge to his game from time to time as well. The size, strength and skill combined with his background as an Eastern Conference player, a local kid and a former Boston College standout check many of the boxes for a Bruins scouting staff that seems to collect players just like Kreider on their NHL roster.

The one obvious drawback with Kreider is that his natural position is left wing, where the Bruins already have Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk on the top-6, but he would bring a different and much-needed element to that forward group given his style of play. It might push DeBrusk down to the third line and force guys like Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork to potentially play on the right side rather than the left side, but it would also undoubtedly strengthen their depth and overall quality of attack that will be needed in the postseason.

The other drawback for the Bruins is that Kreider will be in high demand as one of the top forwards on the rental market given his skill set, and that could mean the B’s will have to part with a first-round pick in order to ensure his acquisition.

Haggerty: These blown leads are concerning

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

BOSTON – Sometimes a team plays with renewed energy and vigor in the first game with new players added after the NHL trade deadline.

And sometimes a team lays an egg despite the addition of new trade pieces as everybody searches for the right fit while moving on from the players dealt away ahead of the very same deadline. 

The Bruins were much more the former when they played a flat, “sleepy” game that ended with a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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It was the second loss in a row for a team that on Saturday night provided very little resistance in a rudderless, 9-3 blowout at the hands of the Canucks and left their coach wholly unimpressed after the loss to the Flames.

“[It was] clearly not good enough. I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. [Some guys] didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like,” said Bruce Cassidy, right out of the gate after a game where the Bruins never held the lead. “I’m sure there was effort [and that] they were trying. They were just in-between, couldn’t execute or whatever. At the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

Certainly, those direct words from Cassidy aren’t meant to be a pretty pointed message to the passengers on a  Bruins team that had just watched Danton Heinen get shipped off 24 hours prior to the Calgary game.

The Bruins coach could have pointed out plenty of things that were lacking, whether it was the rare, poor overall game from the Perfection Line aside from Brad Marchand’s shorthanded goal, or the lack of resistance from too many good players when Calgary scored the back-breaking fourth goal in the third period. 

On that one, David Krejci didn’t do enough on the back-check, Tuukka Rask left the five-hole wide open for Mikael Backlund and David Pastrnak never really got things going as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Surely, the just-concluded trip to Western Canada could be used as a travel-weary excuse by the Black and Gold, but those excuses should be pushed by the wayside for a team with big-time Stanley Cup playoff aspirations.

“We weren’t at our best for sure. We didn’t have it all the way through the game. We were a little sleepy, I guess, at times,” said Marchand, whose shorthanded tally tied it in at 1 in the second period before two more second-period Flames goals allowed Calgary to pull away. “It wasn’t our normal, upbeat, high-energy game, but it’s going to happen during an 82-game schedule. You’re not going to be perfect and unfortunately, we didn’t get this one.”

The Bruins will quickly dust off that performance, be happy that the Tampa Bay Lightning also lost so they stay five points behind Boston in the Atlantic Division and instead focus on getting the intensity back against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.


 

Bruins-Flames Talking Points: B's return home with a thud in 5-2 loss

Bruins-Flames Talking Points: B's return home with a thud in 5-2 loss

GOLD STAR: Mikael Backlund was heavily involved for the Calgary Flames whether it was on the negative end on Brad Marchand’s shorthanded goal or his two goals in the third period that pushed the game out of reach for Boston. 

It was Backlund that threw a puck off the boards to move around Torey Krug while springing himself free for a breakaway before throwing a five-hole attempt through Tuukka Rask for the back-breaking insurance strike.

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Backlund then added insult to injury with an empty-netter to give him two goals on the night, a three-point performance and a plus-2 rating in 18:14 of ice time. Backlund finished with three shot attempts, one hit and two takeaways along with taking 25 draws in the Flames' win.

BLACK EYE: David Krejci might have been one of the players that Bruce Cassidy wasn’t exactly enamored with after the loss after his disinterested back-check on the back-breaking fourth Calgary goal in the third period. Krejci finished a minus-2 with just one shot on net in 16:23 of ice time and forced Cassidy to switch up the left wingers when it was clear both Krejci and Jake DeBrusk weren’t getting it going.

It’s perhaps understandable in the first home game after a long road trip through Western Canada, but it still merits mention that No. 46 wasn’t very good for the Black and Gold. He wasn’t alone, but that minimal effort on a big play in the game was notable.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins brought a little energy into their game when Marchand scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to tie things up at 1, but at that point, the wagon wheels fell off. 

Calgary scored with Boston’s best defensive players on the ice three minutes later when Johnny Gaudreau knifed through the middle of the defense before dishing to Sean Monahan for the one-timer from the high slot. Then the Bruins took a roughing call when Matt Grzelcyk stood up for Charlie McAvoy and five seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Boston net to essentially put things out of reach. 

The Bruins allowed 13 shots to Calgary in the second period and never truly regained control of the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Wagner was one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins and the fourth line was undoubtedly the best one for the B's Tuesday night. Wagner scored a third-period goal while on his belly as he shoveled a puck into the net on a mad scramble in front as the fourth line was grinding away. 

Wagner had a couple of other potential scoring chances in the game that he wasn’t able to capitalize on, but he finished with the one goal in 14:52 of ice time, two shots on net, three shot attempts, a hit, a takeaway and 4-for-8 from the face-off circle in an excellent effort.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of regulation losses at TD Garden for Tuukka Rask after finally losing one to Calgary while letting up four goals on 30 shots.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Some guys came to play, and some guys…didn’t. They didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like.” –Bruce Cassidy, clearly not loving the flat effort from the B’s.