Sweeney on Tavares: "We put our best foot forward and it didn't fall our way"

Sweeney on Tavares: "We put our best foot forward and it didn't fall our way"

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it was ultimately disappointment for the Boston Bruins in their chase for big ticket free agent John Tavares, it wasn’t the kind of crushing blow that will discourage Don Sweeney in his offseason team-building efforts.

Tavares picked the Toronto Maple Leafs team he grew up rooting for on Sunday afternoon while deciding between six teams including the New York Islanders team that drafted him No. 1 overall almost ten years ago. The 27-year-old Tavares signed a seven year, $77 million contract with the Leafs after spending his weekend mulling the decision, and by most accounts left money on the table with better offers from teams including the B’s, Stars, Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Clearly the addition of Tavares to an already strong Toronto core group significantly improves the Maple Leafs, and that leaves the Bruins as the third best team in the Atlantic Division behind both the Leafs and the Lightning. That’s the most disappointing part for Sweeney, who took it as an organizational compliment that Tavares considered Boston in the first place.

“I would’ve preferred [Tavares] not be in our division. The overall process was a really good process to structurally have somebody else dive inside our own team. We were thankful for the opportunity to present,” said Sweeney. “Pat [Brisson] and his group and John himself were really good about it, and he was well prepared. We felt we were.

“We put our best foot forward and it didn’t fall our way. But, again, to be in that situation is something that our group should be happy about, and it’s probably a reflection of what we’re trying to do and trying to accomplish…but I wish it had fallen our way.”

The good news is that the Bruins don’t have to go through the salary cap gymnastics that would have been mandatory had they signed a player of Tavares’ caliber. Sweeney admitted earlier this week that he had moves already set in place if they did somehow land the elite center, and it was expected that either David Krejci or David Backes, or perhaps both, would have been on the move if those dominoes started falling.

Now the Bruins have less urgency from a salary cap perspective with their current roster with roughly $4 million in cap space after entering the NHL free agency market. They still need a second-line winger to add some scoring punch to their attack up front, but sounds like it might be a slow play on the trade market to eventually get that player.

On this day, though, it was about the Bruins shooting for it all by chasing Tavares in free agency, and falling short again after they took a similar swing at Ilya Kovalchuk during NHL Draft weekend as well. The Bruins are falling short in closing the deal on these elite players, but there’s also something to be said with Boston being in the mix at all with game-breaking players.

“It’s obviously a reflection of our current players and a testament to them. I think stylistically, to our coaches, to the organization, to the support from ownership, with this [new practice] facility, overall, it’s a reflection of our entire organization,” said Sweeney. “I’ve said all along, it’s about winning. That’s the mandate that we’re trying to put forward to all of our players, whether it was the development camp guys or the highest-level free agency players that we’re trying to attract and to be a part of what we’re trying to do.”

That was obviously part of the Boston sales pitch with Tavares that included a phone call from Patrice Bergeron, but eventually fell short of the rival Maple Leafs getting much, much better in NHL free agency.  


Talking Points: Bruins better, but not good enough vs. McDavid & Oilers

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Talking Points: Bruins better, but not good enough vs. McDavid & Oilers

Here are my biggest takeaways from the Bruins' 3-2 overtime loss in Edmonton on Thursday night:

GOLD STAR: Connor McDavid was held down early in this game, but made the play when it counted in overtime. McDavid picked off a Brad Marchand stretch pass from deep in the Bruins zone during the 3-on-3 overtime, and then moved into the B’s zone with speed before dishing over to Leon Draisaitl for the game-winner in overtime.

In all, McDavid finished with two assists along with eight shot attempts in 24:58 of ice time, one hit, three takeaways and a blocked shot in the home opening win for the Oilers. McDavid certainly didn’t explode on the Bruins with a massive statistical night, but it’s easy to see why putting McDavid and Draisaitl out together for the 3-on-3 overtime session eventually turns into a lot of wins for the Oilers. It took less than a minute for that duo to do their damage in OT on Thursday night.

BLACK EYE: David Backes finished with zero shots on net in 6:28 of ice time after taking a high hit from Matt Benning in the first period that sent him back to the dressing room. Backes returned to the bench for the second period, but clearly wasn’t actually on the ice much for the Bruins following the first period. It looked like there might have been contact to the head/chin area for Backes, and that’s not good for a player that’s missed time over the last few seasons with concussions. Beyond the production for Thursday night’s game, Backes still has zero goals and zero points through seven games this season and continues to look like a player that’s really not going to be able to give the Bruins what they need out of him. For now, though, it’s about Backes’ health and the hope that he comes out of the collision with Benning unscathed.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins fell down 2-1 in the third period on a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins power play goal in the third period, and it could have been one of those moments where they started to let things fall apart in the second night of back-to-back games. Instead, the B’s scratched and clawed their way to tie the game on another David Pastrnak goal midway through the third period to push things into overtime eventually. That allowed the Bruins to at least capture a point for their trouble, and salvage something amid a road trip that’s already proven to be pretty difficult for the Black and Gold. Things fell apart quickly for them in the overtime session, but by that point the one point was already in the bank for the Bruins.

HONORABLE MENTION: It was a pretty good night for David Krejci as he continues to show that he’s finding his game a few weeks into the season, and starting to give the Bruins the secondary scoring they absolutely need. Krejci scored going to the net on a sweet lead pass from Matt Grzelcyk, and has started connecting on a few more offensive plays for a team that’s going to need it from them. He finished with over 20 minutes of ice time, had the goal along with a plus-1 rating, five shot attempts and 7-of-12 face-off wins in a very good all-around effort. Perhaps the Bruins will stick with Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk with Krejci now on the second line, after seeing some good offensive results, and more importantly seeing some life out of the playmaking Krejci’s game.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 – the game-high number of registered hits for Chris Wagner, as he continues to set a tone physically for the Bruins when he’s out on the ice.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “A good rebound game. We definitely played better hockey. It wasn’t a very good second period, but the first and the third periods were good. We battled our way back in and got a point, so definitely a better game than [against Calgary].” –Brad Marchand to reporters, on the B’s playing better in an OT loss to Edmonton than they did the previous night against Calgary.  


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Highlights from Bruins' 3-2 OT loss to Oilers

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Highlights from Bruins' 3-2 OT loss to Oilers

FINAL SCORE: Oilers 3, Bruins 2 (OT)

IN BRIEF: Just 37 seconds into the extra frame, Connor McDavid intercepted a Patrice Bergeron breakout pass in the neutral zone and fed Leon Draisaitl on the rush for a thrilling win over Boston. BOX SCORE 

1 - Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton (1 goal)
2 - Milan Lucic, Edmonton
3 - David Pastrnak, Boston (1 goal)

BRUINS RECORD: 4-2-1, third in Atlantic Division







SATURDAY: At Vancouver, 10 p.m. ET (NESN)

TUESDAY: At Ottawa, 7:30 ET (NESN)

THURSDAY: Vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 ET (NESN)

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