Bruins

Pressure mounting for Don Sweeney to make a power move for Bruins

Pressure mounting for Don Sweeney to make a power move for Bruins

The Boston Bruins have won nine of their last 10 games and have been the best version of themselves since coming back from the NHL All-Star break and bye week.

That’s the good news coming out of a weekend where they beat a couple of teams they should beaten in the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. 

Sunday afternoon's 3-1 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden pushed the B’s to 86 points for the season, three points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and seven points ahead of everybody else in the league.

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But the Bruins did lose a key battle on Sunday when they missed out on a forward they were interested in, as the New Jersey Devils dealt Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first round pick and top forward prospect Nolan Foote. 

The 28-year-old Coleman has been a thorn in the Bruins' side over the last couple of seasons and would have been an excellent fit for the B’s given his skating game, his grit and his pesky ability to be a factor on the penalty kill. He was also already signed for under $2 million for next season, so Coleman was a 20-goal scorer with a bargain-basement salary price for teams bumping up against the cap ceiling.

That’s undoubtedly part of the reason the Lightning paid a premium for him while beating the Boston to the punch for his services. 

The Bruins would have needed to deal a first round pick and Urho Vaakanainen as a comparable offer, though a first rounder and 2015 first round pick Jakub Zboril feels more like an offer the Bruins would have made for a player they were clearly interested in ahead of next Monday’s deadline. 

The bottom line: With Coleman now joining a Lightning team that’s only lost two regulation games since the Christmas break, Tampa Bay just got even better while remaining hot on the Bruins' heels in the Atlantic Division. The Pittsburgh Penguins also improved via their pre-emptive deadline deal with Minnesota for a skilled winger in Jason Zucker, who adds depth and scoring to a Pens team dealing with some injuries this season. 

Now Don Sweeney is on the clock in a big way for the Black and Gold and badly needs to pull off a deal that’s going to net the Bruins a top-6 winger ahead of next week’s trade deadline. The window is closing for a group with an aging core and now is the time just as it clearly is for teams like the Penguins and Lightning.

Chris Kreider is still at the top of Boston’s list of available impact wingers, while Columbus power forward Josh Anderson is a classic buy-low asset with just one goal this year after posting 27 goals and over 200 registered hits for the Blue Jackets last season.

There are others like Tyler Toffoli, Ilya Kovalchuk, Andreas Athanasiou, Sam Bennett and Mike Hoffman who may be dealt ahead of the deadline, and centers like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Joe Thornton and Chris Tierney that would bring talent while also forcing the Bruins to rearrange their forwards like deck chairs in a situation that would be less-than-perfect.

The Bruins have now watched a pair of teams that they may face in the playoffs vastly improve, and the pressure is on Sweeney and Co. to match those acquisitions with a big upgrade of their own.

They may end up paying a bargain price (comparably speaking) by waiting a little bit to edge closer to the deadline, but the supply is also beginning to shrink as at least two of the available top-9 wingers are off the market with the early Zucker and Coleman deals going down. 

It's Sweeney’s turn to make a move. The sooner the better for a Bruins team that clearly needs another impact player on offense, and can’t afford to sit around and wait while their adversaries are making power moves. 

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

As the oldest player in the NHL, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara doesn't really know when his last chance to win another Stanley Cup will come.

It might have been last season when the 43-year-old Chara led the B’s to within a Game 7 of winning a Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues only to brutally come up just short. Then again, it looked like Chara and the Bruins had another solid chance this year while leading the entire NHL with 100 points with roughly a month left to go in the regular season.

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Then, things were put on pause due to a coronavirus outbreak that has brought the entire world to a standstill.

For aging players like Chara, 34-year-old Patrice Bergeron, 33-year-old David Krejci and 33-year-old Tuukka Rask, this season might be their last, best chance to win another Stanley Cup before the championship window perhaps begins to close on the Black and Gold.

Chara was asked how much that was on his mind as he sits in his Florida home with his wife and children while waiting out the coronavirus outbreak with no real knowledge as to when, or if, hockey will be back around the NHL this season.

Clearly his mind is on the seriousness of the situation, as the priority is on getting people through the next few weeks when the outbreak could be at its most intense in the US. But Chara also said the unknown of it all with this season is more than a little disconcerting.

“It is obviously one of those situations that you can’t really control. Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families,” said Chara, on a Zoom webinar conference call with reporters organized by the NHL on Monday afternoon. “I know it’s kind of a cliché answer in these days, but hockey is really secondary. If you have to look at it that way then, yeah, it’s kind of hard to look at the pause on the league at the stage where we were at.

“With only a few games until the playoffs and so close to the playoffs with the team playing well and with confidence, we were obviously in a good place. But who knows? We can’t always wish for the perfect situation. These types of situations do happen once in a while. Hopefully we play again and we’ll see when that’s going to be.”

With places like California, New York City and Florida getting hit hardest by the coronavirus right now, even a conference call with hockey players was about thanking medical personnel, first responders and other people stepping into the breach right now.

“These are strange times. There are challenges we’re all facing right now. Most of us are away from the things we love to do. The things we don’t have to work, to play and to entertain people. Hopefully we get through this. A huge, big thank you has to go to the medical professionals, the people that are volunteering and the people that are delivering food,” said Chara. “It just takes time. We have to stay patient, and safe, and disciplined. There is no other way to do it, but to do it together.”

The words are inspiring for the longest-running captain in the NHL and one of the best leaders of his generation in all of pro sports. Hopefully, Chara and the Bruins get that chance to see good they can be in the playoffs over the next four months with an NHL that’s going to do everything they can to make sure there is a postseason conclusion to a 2019-20 regular season that had been almost entirely played out.

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Zdeno Chara was probably not the Vegas favorite to give the funniest and most entertaining answer of an Atlantic Division Zoom conference call with NHL reporters, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday afternoon.

Chara, Dylan Larkin, John Tavares and Brady Tkachuk answered questions online for 30-plus minutes and the Bruins captain saved his best material when asked which teammate he’d least like to be quarantined with.

His choice was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and the reasons behind it were pungently amazing.

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Apparently, Rask has an issue in the fart department and it’s chronic enough that his longtime Bruins teammate would not want to be anywhere near him for the stinky aftermath of his beloved chicken wings.

“I have to say Tuukka Rask. The way he farts? The smell is awful,” said Chara. “He likes his chicken wings. And after the chicken wings I’ve had to sit behind him on the bus. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got to control myself sometimes.” 

How this farting issue remained a well-kept secret within the Bruins locker room over the years is nothing short of amazing. 

Rask has been a regular at Buff’s Pub in Newton over the years while living in the suburban city, so none of this should be surprising information when it comes to Boston’s No. 1 goaltender.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chara singled out Charlie Coyle and Kevan Miller as teammates he enjoys spending time with and guys he wouldn’t mind being quarantined with if he had his choice.

On a more serious note, Chara, who mentioned during the call that he drove to Florida a couple of weeks ago with his family to live in their gated community property, mentioned several times that hockey is secondary right now while the entire world is going through the “strange times” of a global coronavirus outbreak, and thanked the medical personnel, first responders and food delivery people who continue to do their duty under very dangerous, trying conditions.