Bruins

Hagg Bag: Plenty of suggestions to improve Bruins' offense

Hagg Bag: Plenty of suggestions to improve Bruins' offense

The Bruins are off to a 5-1-1 start to the regular season, and the Perfection Line has accounted for 14 goals in those seven games. The Bruins are coming off a shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning where their power play struck for three special teams goals and they went toe-to-toe with one of their biggest divisional opponents.

Still, there’s also the sneaking feeling that this team isn’t anywhere close to playing its best hockey and that they need more help up front if they’re going to enjoy a diverse offensive attack. Right now, they are relying on their Perfection Line way too much, and that’s where the fans come in with their trade and prospect insertion ideas.

As always the Hagg Bag mailbag is full of real tweets sent to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hashtag, real messages to my NBC Sports Facebook fan page and real emails from real fans to my @jhaggerty@nbcuni.com email address.

Now, on to the bag:

Dear Haggs,

The Bruins have been trying to find a right winger to play with Krejci it seems like for centuries. With Taylor Hall being an unrestricted FA at the end of this year and no long term deal with NJ in sight for him and with the Devils struggling mightily, NOW IS THE TIME TO POUNCE! The Bruins have a plethora of young players who would fit the Devils young core “rebuild”. Pairing Hall with Krejci and possibly Kuhlman I think would put this team over the top in the East this year. Even if it’s a rental deal for Hall, this is the type of player the Bruins NEED. Would love to hear your thoughts on a deal built around Heinen and Bjork and more for Hall??

Would love to hear your thoughts on this if they can make the cap room work.

Justin Forman

JH: Obviously, the Bruins would and should be interested if Taylor Hall becomes available, just like the rest of the 30 other NHL teams – well, maybe 29 since I don’t Edmonton would be in the running for him either – because he’s a Hart Trophy-level talent. Two seasons ago, he had 39 goals and 93 points and realized the potential that’s always been there since he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Oilers back in 2010.

Unfortunately, the cap gymnastics and asset requirements to get him are just one part of the problem. There’s also the issue that Hall is pretty much a left-wing, left-shot forward on a Bruins team that has plenty of left-wing, left-shot forwards already stocked on the roster. Now, one could make the argument that Jake DeBrusk would be one of the pieces going back to New Jersey in exchange for Hall, and that would create a space for him on the second line teaming in a dynamic pairing with David Krejci.

It's interesting to be sure, but it also still wouldn’t address the Bruins issues on the right wing behind David Pastrnak. The Bruins might even be able to afford Hall after this coming season with dead money (Seidenberg and Hayes buyouts) and a possible David Backes buyout clearing significant cap space, and a real question as to whether 42-year-old Zdeno Chara will be back again next season.

Would a package of DeBrusk, Jakub Zboril and a draft pick be enough to land Hall should the Devils decide they’re not going to be able to re-sign him? Interesting thought, but I think we’re a long, long way from that happening.

Yes or No....(LW)DeBrusk to Vegas for (RW) Tuch. Line you’d create Bjork-Coyle-Tuch #Haggbag

--Mike C (@mcolesr)

JH: Yes. I would do that 100 times over. No offense to DeBrusk, who scored 27 goals last season, but Alex Tuch is 23, 6-foot-4, 200-pounds and is coming off 20 goals and 52 points last season while also playing on the right side. I like DeBrusk as a player, but I also wonder how much better he’s really become the past three seasons. I might start to consider him in trade talks given how many other left-wing-types the Bruins have in their organization. That doesn’t even count that Tuch went to Boston College and the local college hockey thing is a big check in favor of any players in the eyes of Bruins management.

 
Was at the game – [Mike “Sarge” Riley] is fine but should stop doing Jim Martin’s “wooooo” after announcing Bruins goals. Doesn’t work for the guy

--Mark (@bostoncig)

 
JH: Dude, the Bruins use a recording of Ric Flair from a past wrestling event at the Garden. They always have. Hang your head and feel shame, Mark.


You have full casting control over the next Spider-man movie and a Bruins player has to appear. Cast someone as a villain or any other character.

--Dave Green (@DavidMGreen)

JH: Great question, Greenie. Man, I wish Claude Julien was still the head coach. He would have been a pretty great Vulture, or even better as a French-Canadian Kingpin. How about Zdeno Chara with a mustache as Kraven the Hunter? I think he’d be pretty believable wearing that African hunting safari get-up. Jake DeBrusk is probably the best Peter Parker candidate on the roster, but I don’t think anybody on the B’s roster gets to be Spider-Man.

Haggs,

Haven’t we been saying this same thing for a few years now? It might be time to take some of these youngsters and move them for a legit 2nd line RW. Eventually you gotta stop saying give the kids a shot when the problem is the same 2-3 years later.

--Bryan Deyermond (@Bryan_BSF)

JH: Yes. I think it might be that time. We’ll see, though. They may be able to make another Marcus Johansson deal at the deadline to get them through another season while giving up a minimal cost. But I do believe they need to bring in another dynamic top-six forward, preferably a right wing, if they want to get over the hump to again be a Stanley Cup Final team the next few years.

They certainly have enough young guys to spare a few in a trade. But I also think they should probably take a look at a healthy Anders Bjork up in Boston before they go the trade route.

 
#HaggBag How impatient are you getting waiting for The Rise of Skywalker trailer Lucasfilm is supposed to be coming on Monday Night Football?

--Alissa Boops You (@curvymermaid617)

JH: I am very, very impatient. I sense a good feeling in the Force with JJ Abrams in charge of this movie with a chance to undo some of the bad feelings perpetuated among the Star Wars fan base following The Last Jedi. I didn’t hate that movie per se, but there was enough I didn’t like about it that I left wondering what the point of the movie was aside from trying to go in a different direction from so much of the Skywalker saga before it. I just think it was a big misstep. I mean, anybody that thought Princess Leia Poppins was going to be this big emotional scene was truly mistaken.

Hey how many 5v5 goals do they have?? Just saying....Bruins have a 5v5 problem in general

--Rob Petrella (@RobPetrella)

JH: The Bruins have 19 goals this season in seven games. They have scored eight PP goals, so that means the B’s have only 11 5-on-5 goals in seven games and they have only four players besides the Perfection Line that have scored 5-on-5 goals this season. In other words, they are again struggling in even-strength play after being a bottom-third even-strength team last season as well. They need more scoring talent up front if they want to become a better 5-on-5 team and therefore be a better, more well-rounded team come playoff time. It all points toward the Bruins needing an upgrade among their top-six forward group, and it will be interesting to see how Don Sweeney goes about doing it this season.

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

Hagg Bag Mailbag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em>>>

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Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

BOSTON – It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got burned for playing like they could flick on a third period switch and beat everybody across the NHL.

After a number of third period comebacks and salvaged points over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins couldn’t pull the same trick against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the first regulation loss on home ice for the Bruins this season at TD Garden and it was exactly what Boston deserved after managing just nine shots on net in the first two periods while making some simple mistakes that led to goals against at inopportune times.

“For us, [it was a] lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that is definitely in our game early on. If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We go back with it and all of a sudden [it’s in the net]. We win a faceoff to start a period and we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and 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. They’re good teams. We got away with it for a while here, good for us, right? It’s a results-oriented business. But against the better teams, I think at some point, they will close out games. [The loss to the Avs] was a great example of that.”

The Heinen play really was the killer as it came midway through the second period, led to the Bruins running around in their own end and then ended with Ian Cole rocketing a slap shot past Jaroslav Halak from the top of the face-off circle. Then Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk botched defensive coverage in transition at the end of the second period, and that led to Andre Burakovsky scoring the insurance goal right at the end of the period.

At that point, it was over despite Boston outshooting Colorado by a 12-6 margin in the third period, and the Bruins have to hope that it was a lesson learned at this point. It may take a few games for the Bruins to snap out of some of their current bad habits, but there’s also that overall malaise that might be an unavoidable part of the team’s commanding 13-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

That being said, Brad Marchand spoke for all of Boston’s team leadership in knowing that the current state of being for the Black and Gold isn’t something that can sustainably bring success.

“It’s a losing game. You can’t continue to go down by a couple of goals, especially to good teams,” said Marchand. “Teams like that know how to win and how to keep a lead. No matter how many times you come back, it’s going to eventually catch up to you. We’ve had that, especially early on [in games]. We tend to be much better when we’re behind. I think then it’s a bit of a wakeup call and we all have to play good in order to come back.

“But we have to play that way from the first shift of the first period. If you want to win, if you want to be a good team and if you want to have a chance in the playoffs, you have to be able to do that all game along. It’s tough sometimes because the season can get long. That’s no excuse. We have to realize the mistakes that we’re making and improve if want to continue to get better. That’s what good teams do.”

It would behoove the Bruins to get things in order quickly with a slate of important games over the next week including a mid-week tilt with the Washington Capitals, and a pair of divisional games against Tampa Bay and Florida later on in the week. But there really isn’t any worry coming from the B’s about anybody distantly trailing them in the standings right now while 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall.

Instead it’s about the Bruins themselves becoming the best hockey team that they can be and getting back into a groove where they are paying attention to details and doing the little things that lead to winning hockey.  

Hagg Bag Mailbag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.