Bruins

Haggerty: Do the Bruins' moves signal a Krug trade in the future?

Haggerty: Do the Bruins' moves signal a Krug trade in the future?

With the signing of free agent defenseman John Moore on July 1, don’t blame the Bruins if they begin suffering a case of déjà vu over the next few months.  

It was four seasons ago when the Bruins had a similar surplus of defensemen and some accompanying salary cap issues entering training camp. Everybody around the organization answered questions throughout the preseason about all of the quality NHL bodies they had on the back end, and what they were going to do with them.

As most Bruins fans will remember, training camp ended that fall with Peter Chiarelli infamously dealing top-4 defenseman and Stanley Cup champ Johnny Boychuk away to the New York Islanders for a couple of second round picks that eventually turned into Brandon Carlo and Brett Connolly.

The fact it involved No. 55 was a bit of a surprise at the time, but the writing was on the Black and Golden wall that one of the D-men was on his way out the door prior to the start of the season.

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Now the Bruins have a similar surplus of NHL-caliber defensemen with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk and now Moore on the left side, and Charlie McAvoy, Carlo, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller on the right side. Clearly something has to give for the B’s, and all signs point toward Krug being the very valuable trade chip for Boston.

Clearly it’s not that the Bruins are anxiously looking to jettison the diminutive, super-productive D-man, but instead Krug is the biggest valued asset that could bring Boston a goal-scoring forward suitable for second line duty.

The 26-year-old Krug is far and away their most marketable D-men in trade talks with a whopping 110 points over the last two seasons, and a key PP quarterback role on a Bruins power play that’s been dynamite in the last few years. Krug is an easy sell to a team in need of major power play upgrades, and in the all-around offensive game only elite D-men Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and John Klingberg have more points than him over the last two seasons.

Much like Boychuk a handful of years ago, there will be some growing pains moving on from a quality player like Krug with his puck-moving and elite offensive ability. But then again Krug has also ended each of the last seasons with an injury that knocked him out of the postseason, and put into question his ability to remain healthy through the physical playoff pounding.  

So will the Bruins deal him with a couple of seasons to go left under contract in Boston with a cap hit slightly north of $5 million?

The smart money says “yes” and it may happen late in training camp a la Boychuk with Krug is coming off a fractured ankle. The undrafted D-man will need to show that he’s fully healthy and up to speed as he’s expected to be in training camp. Clearly the extra B’s bodies on the back end will be one of the big talking points of training camp this fall, and it would very interesting if it leads up to a hockey trade right at the tail end of preseason.

It’s also entirely possible, however, that the Bruins could carry all these D-men into the regular season given that they still have roughly $4 million in salary cap space, and a number of young forwards they’d like to try out on the second line. Perhaps Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen turns into an offensive force and negates the need for the Bruins to go out and get a heavy duty, scoring winger like Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Wayne Simmonds.  

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Reading between the lines, Don Sweeney admitted as much when talking about teams with “surplus” at certain positions in good standing for trade discussions now that the free agency period has passed by the first day of July. There’s also the very realistic scenario that second-year D-man Charlie McAvoy is ready to be a top PP quarterback and point producer for the Bruins, and that young guys like McAvoy and Grzelcyk will be ready to take the next step.   

“We feel very comfortable with the group of guys we have [on the back end], and we’ll move forward with it. When the [trade] calls come as a result, that’s part of the business, and everybody understands that. It also allows some of our younger players to develop at the natural pace without necessarily putting them in situations they’re not ready to handle,” said Sweeney. “If they are, we’ve been adamant in that, in terms of consistently sending that message that, if they are, then we’ll move and do what we have to do.

“There are teams that maybe were trying to accomplish things [in free agency] that didn’t, now whether or not you have surpluses or…there’s certainly been discussions leading up to it that have indicated [trades will happen] in some point in time. When that is, whether that is training camp or the first part of the season, everybody is going to kind of look for surpluses or areas that other people have strength in that you don’t. It was leading up to it. Whether or not that actually happens, you just never know.”

One thing is certain right now with the Bruins: They have at least one too many D-men, and they don’t have enough bona fide goal-scorers that could diversify the very one-dimensional offense that we saw from Boston in the playoffs.

That could change with one hockey trade over the next several months, and the onus is now on Sweeney to find that deal and pull the trigger on a trade that would put the Bruins back on equal footing with the improving Maple Leafs and Lightning this spring.

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Brad Marchand on the shootout whiff: 'You’ve got to have fun with it'

Brad Marchand on the shootout whiff: 'You’ve got to have fun with it'

PITTSBURGH – Brad Marchand is still on pace for 35 goals and 107 points and he’s one of the best players in the league, so his expression and his words don’t betray much of a lack of confidence. The 31-year-old winger has been through slumps and tough times before, and he’ll undoubtedly go through them again.

But Marchand also hopes that his empty net goal at the end of Thursday night’s win over the Penguins represents an escape from a current slump that’s seen him score just three goals since the beginning of December. And so does his head coach.

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“I think he’s fighting it and he’d be the first to admit it. The puck is not cooperating with like he’d like it to, and that’s aside from the [missed] shootout. That’s in general,” said Bruce Cassidy. “When he’s in all alone the pucks are bounding when he thinks they are going to be flat and that can get on your nerves a little bit. You think you’ve got to flatten a puck when it’s already flat and there goes your time and space.

“Every player can have those moments, especially when you are handling the puck a lot. But he’s looked good [the last few days] and hopefully that translates.”

It has also seen him tweet out a self-aware message that he’s searching for a pair of “hands that have either been lost or stolen” and hopes they be returned to TD Garden.

“You’ve got to have fun with it. I’m not happy with missing a breakaway and missing a shootout, especially with the game on the line,” said Marchand. “But [expletive] happens. We’re in the middle of January. We’re not in the playoffs or anything like that. We’re in a good position as a team and one of the top teams in the league right now.”

Given that the offensive downturn has also included Marchand completely whiffing on a shootout attempt earlier this week as well in a loss to the Flyers, he felt it was about time that he poked a little fun at himself.

“It just hasn’t gone in. That stuff happens. There was a stretch there where I was having bad games and the puck was still finding the back of the net, so it all evens itself out. It’s been a while since I had a stretch like this, but it happens, and it happens to everybody.

“You just play through it. There are other areas of the game you can focus on and play well. It’s nice to get one to up the confidence a little bit, but it’s going to come. I play with too good players and get put into too many good opportunities for it to not [come], so it’s just a matter of time.”

Now that the Bruins have won a game they played well in against the Penguins, Marchand felt like he could open up a little bit more about his mindset in the immediate aftermath of completely fanning on his shootout attempt. Given who he is within the world of the NHL, he knew he was going to hear about it and he absolutely did.

But he’s also looking at from the perspective of one of the best players in the world flubbing something on the ice. It happens from time to time even to the best ones, or the ones that opposing fan bases around the NHL are waiting to carve up.

“This stuff happens in hockey. [Connor] McDavid dumped the puck in the corner in a shootout and so did [John] Tavares,” said Marchand, who admitted he’s been battling some bumps and bruises that should get time to heal over the NHL All-Star break and bye week.

“They’re two of the best players in the league. Stuff happens to good players and you just battle through it. Not everybody is great every night. You need to laugh at yourself. I laugh at everybody else, so if you’re going to chirp people you need to take it and chirp yourself.

“Obviously everybody is looking for a reason to troll. Keyboard heroes or warriors, or whatever you want to call them. That’s part of it. They feel like they pay us to chirp us. It’s going to come.

"I can laugh at it too. It’s not a huge deal and it’s the same as if I just went down and missed it. It’s the same result. You just look at it in that context, and by the way my penalty shots have been going that’s what was going to happen either way. We have such short careers that you need to enjoy every day whether it’s a good or a bad day.”

Given that Marchand is talking about and snapped out of his scoreless stretch with the empty netter earlier this week, it stands to reason that the offense is going to return in pretty short order as well.

Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: How to watch NHL game online

Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: How to watch NHL game online

The Boston Bruins just beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at the TD Garden. After the Penguins scored the opening goal just seconds into the contest, the Bruins roared back and scored four unanswered to earn the win.

Now, they'll have to bring forth that same type of energy in a hostile road environment.

The Bruins are taking on the Penguins at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon in a marquee afternoon clash at the PPG Paints Arena.

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The Penguins (30-13-5) sit at second place in the Metropolitan division behind only the Washington Capitals, a team that has the most points in the NHL. Pittsburgh is coming off a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night that will serve as a palate cleanser for the team.

Meanwhile, the Bruins (28-9-12) are coming off the win against the Penguins and have posted a modest 5-2-3 record in their last 10 games. They've made some roster changes in the past week with Brett Ritchie and David Backes being waived while Tuukka Rask is dealing with a concussion.

Rask's concussion means that Jaroslav Halak will likely start again in net. Halak had been in a bit of a slump before the game against Pittsburgh, allowing 17 goals in a five-game span in which he went 1-2-2 as a starter. Hopefully, he will be able to repeat his strong performance against Pittsburgh.

The Bruins will also be without second-line center David Krejci for another game. Par Lindholm will take his place in the lineup and will likely center the team's third line with Coyle playing on the second unit. Lindholm is on a two-game point streak and scored a goal on Thursday against the Penguins.

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