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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It's absurd people are worried about Bruins after losing glorified exhibition games

It's absurd people are worried about Bruins after losing glorified exhibition games

The panic level for Bruins fans entering this week’s playoff round after an admittedly limp performance in the round-robin games is bordering on the absurd.

There’s no doubting the B’s put pretty much zero import into the results during the three round-robin games against the Flyers, Lightning and Capitals, but instead focused on two things:

A) Building their game over the two weeks leading into the real Stanley Cup Playoffs.

B) Staying healthy headed into the games that actually matter after watching Victor Hedman potentially go down with an injury for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bruins averaged a paltry 1.33 goals per game in the round robins and went a putrid 0-for-9 power play, and the Perfection Line managed just a single point between Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak in the three round-robin games. But they accomplished the two main goals they had in round-robin games they comically viewed as “preseason games” rather than playoff games that count as such in the NHL record books.

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Brad Marchand said as much when asked about the round-robin games following Monday’s practice in the Toronto bubble.

“Collectively, we just have to improve with each game. With the way it was set up, it’s not like it was the playoffs and it was do-or-die. Obviously, each game [moving forward] means a lot more. The pride and the willingness to do the extra things that maybe we weren’t doing during preseason [will be there],” said Marchand.

“What we’ve gone through the last four games doesn’t mean anything. Those were preseason games. Let’s call it what it is, those [round robin] games were exhibition games for the playoffs. We were in the same position as other teams and it was hard to have the same mentality as a playoff series.”

Full disclosure, this humble hockey writer is getting a kick out of panicked fans going all Chicken Little about the Bruins pretty much sucking in the round robin. They may feel pretty silly once the President’s Trophy-winning B’s show up for the real playoffs starting Tuesday night against the Hurricanes.

The bottom line: Absolutely nobody is going to be talking about the round-robin results a couple of weeks from now in a scenario where seeding doesn’t even really matter.

The B's clearly didn’t care about the round-robin games and said as much publicly and privately as a veteran hockey club that knows they had nothing to prove aside from getting ready for what’s next. The Blues did the same thing in the West, so it’s pretty instructive the two teams that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last summer had absolutely no use for these glorified exhibition games.

Conversely, it makes sense that a team like the young, eager Flyers dominated the round robin. They have something to prove after getting back into the postseason this year, and their young, skilled group will ultimately be tested in the real playoff games.

Now the Bruins have a path in the Eastern Conference where they’ll face Carolina in the first round, potentially see the Flyers in the second round and might put off a difficult playoff series with Washington or Tampa until the Eastern Conference Finals based on being the No. 4 seed.

That’s actually as good as it could have worked out for the Black and Gold.

They stayed healthy, worked on what they needed to in practice and steadily improved their play as they went along. Their best performance was the Sunday loss to the Capitals in the round-robin finale where Braden Holtby stood on his head. That was their goal.

Getting mad about them treating round-robin games like the preseason is kind of missing the point when they’ve got much bigger fish to fry with a Stanley Cup window that’s quickly closing.

The other absurd fallacy is that a team like the Bruins can’t “flip a switch” and just turn it on once the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

How about just last season when the B's lost four of their last seven games, got whacked by the Lightning twice and the Perfection Line was playing awful hockey at the very end of the regular season?

Everybody assumed the Bruins were doomed to lose to the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs and instead they pushed all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. It certainly felt like they “flipped the switch” with a veteran group when it was put up or shut up time in the postseason, didn’t it?

The Bruins might even struggle a bit in the first period of Game 1 on Tuesday night as they acclimatize to the win-or-go-home intensity Carolina played with in the qualifying round series against the Rangers. There was no way to replicate that in the round robin.  

But anybody who thinks the real Bruins aren’t going to show up in the real playoffs after coasting through the round robin hasn’t really watched how this proven, grizzled Bruins team operates over the last 10 years. It’s too bad because you’re missing a pretty good hockey team that’s got a full tank of gas headed into another Stanley Cup playoff run.

Rangers win 2020 NHL Draft lottery, chance to select Alexis Lafreniere

Rangers win 2020 NHL Draft lottery, chance to select Alexis Lafreniere

The New York Rangers will have the No. 1 overall selection in this year's NHL Draft.

They were the winners of Monday night's draft lottery, which means they'll have the chance to select highly touted prospect Alexis Lafreniere.


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The Rangers finished the regular season with 79 points and were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes -- the Boston Bruins' first-round playoff opponent -- in their qualifying round series.

Lafrenière, 18, is almost unanimously considered the obvious pick at No. 1. While the Rangers are already in pretty good shape at left wing, it'll be hard to pass up the opportunity to draft a generational talent.

The NHL Draft is scheduled to take place Oct. 9.