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NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

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NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

The Bruins have now been linked to local hockey product Charlie Coyle a couple of different times in trade rumors over the last few weeks. Pierre Lebrun from the Athletic said on Montreal sports radio on Tuesday that “for sure the Bruins have kicked the tires on Charlie Coyle” in exploratory trade discussions with the Minnesota Wild.

So how should we feel about all this?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the versatile Coyle can play both center and wing, has good size, is a hockey product out of Weymouth and that he played at Boston University before joining up with the Wild. Coyle checks a lot of the boxes that the Bruins seem to require for the players around the league that they’re interested in.

After all, Coyle is a pretty solid NHL player.

He’s posted 82 goals and 228 points in 449 games after being a first round pick in the 2010 draft, and brings 6-foot-3, 218-pound size along with top-9 skill to the table while still being smack dab in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. Coyle is clearly a useful player and bringing him into the Bruins fold would instantly make them a better team if he were to slide over to third line center, or even supplant a struggling young player if Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen can’t keep up their current offensive hot streaks.

But we’re also talking about a player that’s topped 20 goals only once in his five full seasons, and only has gone over 40 points twice in those five years with the Wild. He’s a better third line center than JFK right now with five goals and 14 points in 30 games this season, but would it be better for the Bruins in the long run to get either JFK or Trent Frederic real NHL experience down the stretch rather than hand things over to a veteran with a ceiling of about 15 goals and 40 points?

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Similarly, it doesn’t feel like Coyle would be a guy that’s going to work as a goal-scoring winger on the second line with David Krejci. He has the kind of size the Bruins are looking for, of course, but Jake DeBrusk is more of an impact player than Coyle in only his second NHL season. He’s an upgrade over some of the young players currently on the roster, but how much more is really up for debate at this point.  

It should all come down to cost in the end for the Black and Gold. If they can get Coyle for a player like Anders Bjork who might not have a long-term future in Boston given some of the flaws in his still promising game, then it would be a good get for the Black and Gold to make them a deeper all-around team.

But a cost of Ryan Donato, or even the struggling Heinen, for Coyle would be too high of a price considering that Heinen’s 16 goals and 47 points last season are better than most of Coyle’s five full seasons in the NHL. He’s a good story because he’s a local kid and a Hockey East product that everybody is familiar with around Boston, but the Bruins already have more than enough New England kids and college hockey products on their NHL roster.

They don’t need more unless they are high-impact players.  

What they need is a winger who can score goals and give Krejci the kind of talented wingers he’s excelling with right now while skating in the injured Patrice Bergeron’s place with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The last three games are a stark reminder that Krejci hasn’t been given enough on his wings over the last few seasons.

Coyle simply hasn’t been that kind of high impact player for the Wild to this point in his career, and if he was ever going to be that kind of player, he’d already be doing it in Minnesota.

If the cost is right, then Coyle makes a lot of sense, but there will certainly be bigger, better names out there for the Bruins a little closer to the NHL trade deadline when Don Sweeney might be willing to pull the trigger. With the B’s still in a playoff spot, it’s a smart play to wait and see the trade landscape unfold over the next few months with no big hurry to swing a deal. 

Complacency and comfort are real concerns for a Bruins team running away with division

Complacency and comfort are real concerns for a Bruins team running away with division

BOSTON – The good news for the Bruins is that they hold a 15-point lead over every team in the Atlantic Division and it isn’t even Christmas.

The relatively bad news for the Bruins is also that they hold a 15-point lead over every team in the Atlantic Division and it isn’t even Christmas.

Clearly, the Bruins would rather be up 15 points than behind 15 points, but with every situation there comes challenges.

It certainly seems as if some disarming comfort and an old-fashioned lack of urgency have crept into the B’s game as they again stumbled through the first 40 minutes Thursday night before a patented third-period comeback earned them a point in an eventual overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.

The game against Chicago was particularly damning because it uncovered a real lack of focus in the overall game. The Bruins allowed a pair of special teams goals in the final two minutes of the first period and were caught napping again 17 seconds into the third to dig a 3-0 hole.

One can dissect the individual problems, whether it was a costly turnover from Charlie McAvoy on the power play that led to Chicago’s shorthanded goal, or the ensuing penalty from David Pastrnak that allowed the Blackhawks to double up with a PP goal 37 seconds later. Or Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug flat out getting caught flat-footed on Alex DeBrincat’s speed rush in the opening shift of the third that finally seemed to act like smelling salts to the Black and Gold.

It says something about the character and the overall talent of the team that they can continuously overcome deficits in the third period. There’s no denying they are the best team in the NHL in the final 20 minutes of the game.

They are outscoring opponents by a 2-1 margin (42-21) in the third period and have a whopping plus-21 goal differential when it comes to winning time.

But the lack of urgency out of the gate game after game of late sure looks like complacency and certainly looks like a team that knows they are far out ahead in the standings.

“Complacency? I would say no. Lack of urgency some nights? I would say yes. We’re not pushing as hard as we need to to get to our level. Is that because of where we are, is that because of last year, is that because we feel like we’re a good enough team that we can flip a switch? Probably bits and pieces of all those things, I’m not going to deny it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Our job is to make sure we don’t get complacent. I don’t think we have been, to be honest with you. I think it would show in our record if we were.

"But, lack of urgency from period to period, absolutely. We’re going to continue to address it, but to get to your level 82 times a night for 60 games, if you feel you’re better than – you’re going to be in that second season, it is a challenge for a coach, and it’s a challenge for the players, but we’ll need [the urgency]."

The danger, of course, is that the Bruins turn into this season's version of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where they race off to such a commanding lead that they never truly face character-building adversity in the regular season. The B’s have enough experience and talent to overcome that once they are in a playoff series, which would make them demonstrably different than a Lightning team that folded like a cheap chair in four games against Columbus last spring.

But there is still very much a danger now that the Bruins can float through the rest of this regular season where they only need to win half (27) of their remaining 53 games to still get to 100 points based on their bounding start. Essentially the Bruins could play .500 hockey the rest of the way and still breeze right into the playoffs, and win the division as well.

It's difficult to stay sharp under those circumstances and it will be equally difficult to match the intensity in the postseason facing a team that will have been scratching and clawing in order to get there. Torey Krug maintained he didn’t know what kind of lead the Bruins had in the Atlantic Division standings, and that’s probably the best thing for the Bruins to do right now.

“I would say normally yes, but it doesn’t feel like we’re in that position right now,” said Krug, when asked if the Bruins need to guard against complacency. “I don’t why that is. It’s so early in the season and we’re chasing perfection, and there’s a high standard here. So maybe that’s where it comes from,  but it doesn’t feel like we’re that far ahead [of everybody else].

“We’re missing a lot of guys too, so you always feel like going into these games that you need to bring your ‘A’ game because of who we’re missing. As a veteran guy, you feel like you need to take more onto your shoulders. I’m not even sure if guys know [their lead in the Atlantic] and it’s probably a good idea to just stay in the moment.”

Clearly, Krug walks it the way he talks as it was the puck-moving D-man that notched the tying goal Thursday in the final minutes to cap off the three-goal comeback in the third period.

The one silver lining that could stoke the B’s hunger and keep them at least partially invested in the game-to-game gauntlet the next five months: The top seed in the Eastern Conference is still wide open in competition with the Capitals.

Home-ice advantage all through the playoffs is certainly something to play for and could be a difference in a conference final showdown with Washington, and that should be a carrot directly in front of the Bruins that the coaching staff can sell them on.

But at no point does it seem as if the Bruins are going to have to fight for their lives for the rest of the season and they are already close to finishing the season series with the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, rivals that are chasing them in the standings.

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Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out Saturday against Colorado Avalanche

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out Saturday against Colorado Avalanche

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins will continue to be without Patrice Bergeron this weekend, but the B’s top center is making progress with his lower-body injury.

Bergeron, 34, took a positive step by participating in practice with his teammates for the first time since being injured on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, though he was wearing a no-contact sweater and didn’t really mix in with his normal linemates for drills. Bruce Cassidy confirmed following practice that Bergeron won’t play Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but remained hopeful he may return early next week barring any setbacks.

“[He’s wearing] a red sweater; that’s good. He participated in some line rushes, but it wasn’t a heavy contact practice,” said Cassidy. “He won’t play [against Colorado], but once you have the red sweater on you’re that much closer. Monday [against Ottawa] now becomes more of a target date for us if there are no setbacks.”

It will mark the seventh straight game that Bergeron has missed with his lower-body injury and the ninth game of the past 11 games that he’s missed due to the nagging injury. The amazing thing: The Bruins have gone 6-0-2 thus far without Bergeron and have done a pretty good job of getting by having David Krejci, Charlie Coyle and others fill into his many different roles on the ice. 

Brett Ritchie skated in line drills and appears close to a return, but it remains to be seen which forward he might replace in the lineup. 

Here are the projected line combos and defense pairings based on practice Friday ahead of the big non-conference tilt Saturday against eth talented, explosive Avs:

Marchand-Coyle-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Bjork-Lindholm-Ritchie

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

 

Rask

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