Joe Haggerty

#HaggBag: Clock ticking for Bruins at NHL trade deadline

#HaggBag: Clock ticking for Bruins at NHL trade deadline

The Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline is quickly coming upon us and that means the Bruins will ultimately have to decide quickly how much they’re going to invest this season. Making it all the more difficult is the fact that the Bruins are playing some of their best hockey of the season with a five-game winning streak, including going 3-0-0 since David Pastrnak went down with an injury.

They've also pushed past the Maple Leafs into second place in the Atlantic Division for the first time in a long time and have a good chance to actually advance in the postseason if they stay in that spot. So what will the Bruins do whether it’s a big splash or a little splash?

My readers and followers have plenty of ideas. As always these are real tweets to my Twitter account, real messages to my NBCS Facebook page and real messages to my @JHaggerty@nbcuni.com email account. 

Now, on to the bag:

#HaggBag Do you think the Bruins stand pat at the deadline, considering the big players available at the deadline are going to cost a lot in assets and that player will potentially walk on July 1st? That player walking in free agency will be the final straw in trusting Sweeney!

--Alissa the Twitch Mermaid (@NerdMetalChic4)

JH: Hi Alissa. I don’t think the Bruins will stand pat at the deadline. It may they just go out and get a third-line center to finally stabilize a line that’s been in flux all season with Joakim Nordstrom, David Backes and a bevy of centers being rearranged like deck chairs on the Titanic. A strong veteran third-line center, such as Riley Nash the past couple of seasons, could be exactly what is needed to bring a little more depth and offensive punch to the lineup and they would not have to completely overpay for a player like that on the trade market.

Now, the top-6 winger who can score goals is going to be more costly and a bigger risk for the Bruins general manager. That will be where Don Sweeney ultimately has to decide whether it’s worth going after a player like Wayne Simmons, Artemi Panarin, Michael Ferland or Kevin Hayes, and losing whatever assets are dealt away for naught should that player walk away.

Do I think they should make that move? Sure, as long as it’s a conditional first-round pick with the condition being that the player ends up re-signing with the Bruins. Otherwise, a second-round pick and a prospect wouldn’t be the biggest price to pay

Do you see the Bruins pulling a big name player at the trade deadline? Or do you think whatever move they make will be on a smaller scale? #HaggBag

--Chris Milone (@Cjmilone)

JH: As I said above, I think they will make a move. But given that they shelled out a first-round pick for Rick Nash last season, given the supply of what are largely rentals that seem to be available and given how things stack up in the East, I’d be very surprised if the Bruins engineer a blockbuster. Especially if Danton Heinen continues to play like a man possessed while skating on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He’s shown he can do it before and if he can be a solid third wheel with those two, and David Pastrnak does come back healthy this season, there is a pathway where the Bruins might be able to get by without shelling out massive assets for a top-6 goal-scorer.

So, perhaps it’s a move to get an upgrade on the third line and also a top-6 winger if the price is right for the Black and Gold. Certainly, if they have any doubts about how Pastrnak is going to return when he does come back from the left thumb injury, then it does make it a little bit more important to get a top-6 guy who can score. I just think that the Bruins owe it to core guys Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, among others, to invest at the deadline and at least give the team a fighting chance in a postseason they’re clearly going to competing in.

How have Zboril & Senshyn been playing for Providence? Do you see them as future NHLer’s? Hard to believe we could have a Thomas Chabot & Mathew Barzal instead of those 2 players.

--Neal MacDonald (@MacDonaldNeal)

JH: It’s really in question how Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn are going to pan out in the NHL and it’s clear that at least Senyshyn was a mistake given Chabot, Matthew Barzal, Kyle Connor and Brock Boeser went right after that pick. I can understand the Zboril selection given that the Bruins needed a D-man and he was the consensus next player available after Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski and Noah Hanifin were taken earlier in the first round.

But Senyshyn was an off the board pick when there were many better players still available in a deep draft and the Bruins wouldn’t be out looking for a top-6 winger right now or a third-line center if they had taken at least one of those players. So the 2015 draft is now most definitely hurting the Bruins and it really tells the story that neither of those players could really help the B’s when injuries hit them this season. It’s an old story given how much it’s been talked about, but the Bruins passing on Barzal three times in a row is one that’s going to sting for a while.

Joe,

What are the chances we don’t go after Mark Stone or another big name and instead wait for them to go to free agency? I don’t think Wayne Simmonds would be a good fit because of his age and wear and tear. 

On a side note, everyone talks about offer sheets...if Kasperi Kapanen goes to market, why not offer sheet him? Right shot, right wing, can score and has speed. Also, I think it would be in Columbus’s best interest to trade Panarin to get assets and then offer sheet someone like Patrik Laine. Your thoughts?

Anthony 

JH: Offer sheets just don’t happen in the NHL. Look at the track record of GMs that do them and then what happens to them after they inevitably lose their job as a general manager. It’s ridiculous that GMs refuse to use a tool available to them in the CBA, but the inflationary nature of them makes “offer sheet” a really dirty word around the league.

I do think it makes a lot more sense for the Bruins to chase after Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin after the season rather than shell out assets for a few months of their services. That’s why Simmonds might actually make sense given that he’s having just an “okay” season and his price might not be through the roof once it comes down to the deadline. There’s also a real problem with so many so-so teams hitting winning streaks so close to the deadline and perhaps taking some of the more desirable players off the trade market just a few weeks away from the trades flying around.

If I were the Bruins, I might go the rental route this season for a lesser price and then make a big move for a winger this summer once free agency opens.

Joe...I might be on an island on this one but I think don cherry needs to keep his "get off my lawn" opinions on the Carolina Hurricanes postgame celebrations and understand to lighten up. We ain't living in the past. Thoughts? #HaggBag

--matthew wilson (@mattframingham)

JH: I agree. Carolina is a non-traditional hockey market where there are big-time challenges drawing and keeping a loyal fan base. So, anything that can generate excitement and bring enthusiasm to Carolina about their hockey team is okay with me. Is it a little rah-rah and more appropriate for a college team than a pro setting? Probably. But the Hurricanes fans also tailgate outside the arena like it’s a college football Saturday, so that kind of goes along with the general vibe down there. It doesn’t bother me at all, though. I think it’s harmless fun even if it’s not something I can ever see the Bruins doing.

Don Cherry and Brian Burke are purists though, and probably see the celebration as disrespectful to the game in some way. I respect where they’re coming from even if I disagree. Let them try to sell tickets in Carolina and then maybe their tune would change a little bit, however.  

What’s a movie you always have to watch when it’s on TV?

--John Galvani (@John_G_88

JH: Right now it’s Spiderman: Homecoming, which is on all the time. Or any of the Marvel movies, really. Movies like Almost Famous, Back to the Future, Karate Kid and any of the Rocky movies always draw me in. When I was a kid it was The Last Dragon, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Weird Science, Clash of the Titans or the Natural. And, of course, any of the Star Wars movies. That goes without saying.

Hey Joe,

Longtime follower from the Great White North! With the recent team success, does this deter trader Don from making a splash at the deadline. Can he afford to give up another first round pick in 2019? 

--Marina

JH: I don’t think he wants to give up a 2019 first-round pick unless he’s doing it for a player who's going to stick with the Bruins for a while. He gave up the 2018 first-rounder for Rick Nash with the intent to sign him after last season until the concussion issues cropped up and forced him to retire. Perhaps there will be another arrangement like that with another rental player acquisition this season, so my suggestion would be offering a conditional first-rounder with it being contingent on the player re-signing with the Bruins. I think that’s fair from a Bruins perspective, but who knows if it would interest a team that’s looking for a first-rounder for their rental player? The one thing I would hope the Bruins will keep in mind is this: Will the moves we make at the deadline actually make Boston better than, or at least able to beat, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division bracket?

It’s going to take quite a bit for the Bruins to vault ahead of Tampa in the talent category. They should be clear-eyed about that.

What percent chance do you give the Bruins of winning the Stanley Cup this season? And considering that number, do you think it’s worth making a big trade for a point per game player who might not be here very long? Because I don’t. #HaggBag

--Lucas (@sponge_ruiner)

JH: As currently constituted I’d give them about a 10-percent chance of winning the Cup. If they went out and got Artemi Panarin or Wayne Simmonds, I might bump it up to a 20-percent chance. Still, all of that can change depending on injuries in the playoffs or a hot goaltender, or any number of things. The bottom line is that the Bruins are a playoff team with a core group that’s won a Cup before and certainly deserves some kind of help added to the roster at the trade deadline. Does it need to be the top player available for a boatload of assets? No, it absolutely doesn’t. And it doesn’t have to be a massive trade either.

Still, the Bruins should go out and get a couple of forwards based on what we’ve seen from this roster all season, and based on the uncertainty of the Pastrnak injury. Remember when the B’s went out and got Drew Stafford for next-to-nothing a couple of years ago and he turned out to be a half-decent player for them? Something like that might be okay for the top-6 winger as insurance in case Pastrnak’s thumb doesn’t heal fast enough or if Jake DeBrusk and Heinen again start to struggle after this recent hot streak.

Who would you like to see cast as the next Batman, Joe? DC seems to be gaining momentum with the successes of Wonder Woman & Aquaman. Need a good long term casting for the next Dark Knight

--Dana C. Nielsen (@DCN829)

JH: I actually would be okay with Jon Hamm, who I have heard rumors about for the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. They still want somebody with that classic lantern jaw look and I think it should still be an aging Batman in the current incarnation of the DCEU. So that would be my choice. But there are a million different directions they could go with the role and have it be successful now that Zack Snyder is no longer a part of things. He was the problem rather than Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill or any of the other things be looked at as problems with the first batch of their movies. It was the self-serious tone of those movies while really making the heroes kind of unlikable. That was a huge problem and was so opposite the fun and celebration of the characters in the MCU.

Well, that’s it for the bag this week. See you next week!

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What we learned in Bruins' win over Ducks: Big night for the fourth line

What we learned in Bruins' win over Ducks: Big night for the fourth line

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at the Honda Center:

1) The fourth line continues to be a big factor for the Bruins. 
On a night when the regular Bruins offensive producers weren’t having a dominant night against a lesser opponent, it was the perfect time for somebody else to step up and fill the void. 

The fourth-liners did just that with Sean Kuraly setting up the first goal in the first period, Noel Acciari scored when he went to the front of the net and tipped a Brandon Carlo shot and then Chris Wagner stepping up and icing the game against his old team with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game. 

The rise of the fourth line is obviously a boon for the Black and Gold when it comes to secondary scoring and matchups on the road where the B’s don’t have the last change, and of course in the energy department. Still, it’s also a pretty big development given how problematic the third line has been. Kuraly, Wagner and Acciari all topped 14 minutes of ice time, which actually puts them more in line with a third line than the actual third line of Joakim Nordstrom, Trent Frederic and David Backes. 

As Don Sweeney alluded to earlier this week, it may actually be that the fourth line becomes a checking, defensive third line for the Bruins where the offense takes a bit of a backseat, but there will still be nights such as Friday in Anaheim where they can step up and carry for the day when Boston’s offensive stars have temporarily dimmed. That just won’t be a formula for success in the playoffs unless the B’s can find a way to pump up their second line as well.

2)  After a tough stretch, Jaroslav Halak is riding high.
For about six weeks, goals against were piling up, but now it appears Jaroslav Halak has bounced back. He stopped all 30 shots Friday night and earned his fourth shutout of the season. Halak is 2-0-1 with a 1.27 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in three appearances in February. His season totals are still ahead of Tuukka Rask with a 2.35 GAA and a .923 save percentage. 

Granted, the Ducks aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts and they struggled to really string together quality offensive chances on Friday, but it was Halak that made a nifty save on Max Jones after a bad Torey Krug turnover in the first period. It was Halak who made another 11 saves in the second period and it was Halak that didn’t have a single misstep while playing confidently and calmly.

With Halak and Rask once again operating on all cylinders in net, the Bruins are going to be tough to beat.

3) Jake DeBrusk appears to be getting his game back.
After going more than a month without a goal and really not looking like the next-best offensive threat behind Boston’s top line, he’s beginning to heat up again in what appears to be something of a streaky track record for the second-year winger.

DeBrusk has two goals and four points in the past two games, along with eight shots on net. He's going hard to the net and is again getting pretty active on the second line while skating with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik. His goal on Friday night was a byproduct of him playing the net-front on the power play and simply having his stick down ready to activate when Krejci made an All-World play dangling around the Ducks defense and their goaltender before feeding it to his wide-open linemate. They won’t all be that easy, but DeBrusk is showing that he’s again ready to shoulder more of the offensive burden.

PLUS
*Acciari hasn’t scored a ton of goals this season, but he set the tone when he tipped home a Carlo shot in the first period and made the Bruins front-runners in the game. He finished with the goal, a plus-2, three shots on net and three hits.

*Halak made 30 saves in his fourth shutout of the season and made 11 saves each in the first and second periods while really getting locked back in.

*Kuraly picked up a pair of assists, made a slick dish to Brandon Carlo on the B’s first goal and blocked a couple of shots in 16=plus minutes of ice time while having a really good night.

MINUS
*Adam Henrique was on the ice for a pair of goals against, lost seven of his 10 face-offs and wasn’t much of a presence at all offensively for Anaheim.

*No shots on net and a minus-1 for Ryan Getzlaf in 20:51 of ice time as he continues to look like a once-dominant player in decline for the Ducks. It’s part of the reason they are where they are these days.

*Three giveaways and no shots on net in 19:12 of ice time for Charlie McAvoy in a step back from some of the excellent games that he’s had of late. 

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Highlights from Bruins 5-4 OT victory over the Kings

boston-bruins-patrice-bergeron-kings-20919.jpg
AP Images

Highlights from Bruins 5-4 OT victory over the Kings

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 5, Kings 4 (OT)

IN BRIEF: Patrice Bergeron scored on a power play in overtime to give the Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in a Saturday matinee at TD Garden. After trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Bruins scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead before L.A. came back to tie it a 4 and send it to OT.  BOX SCORE 

BRUINS RECORD: 30-17-8, 68 points, tied for third in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

BERGERON PREGAME TRIBUTE VIDEO:

AND THEN DOING BERGERON THINGS - FEEDING McAVOY TO PUT B'S ON BOARD:

THE OT WINNER:

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

*The 10th career 20-goal season for Bergeron, who gets the top corner snipe in OT on the day he was honored with a great pregame tribute video and a roomful of gifts for playing in his 1,000th game earlier in the week. He is just too damn perfect. Perfect Patrice finished with a goal and three points along with a plus-3 rating, had a team-high seven shots on net and won 13-of-24 face-offs on his way to getting the First Star of the Game.

*Danton Heinen finished with a goal and an assist in 15:01 of ice time and continues to look like a much-improved player skating on the top line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. It was Heinen that helped spearhead a third-period comeback when he shoveled the rebound of a Charlie McAvoy shot back into the net in the final 20 minutes to help the Bruins earn the OT win. Heinen also had a strong shift in the second period that eventually led to Bergeron feeding McAvoy for Boston’s first score of the game. It remains to be seen if he’s being showcased to raise his trade value or if this is just the spot where the B's think he can succeed, but Heinen is playing his best hockey of the season. 

*Good to see McAvoy picking up the offensive pace in this one. McAvoy cut to the net and finished off a great pass from Patrice Bergeron for Boston’s first goal and has three shots on net, five shot attempts and a couple of hits in 14:22 of ice time after the first two periods. Some of it might be about playing the guy he’s modeled his game after in LA defenseman Drew Doughty, but some of it is also about McAvoy perhaps starting to show a little more urgency in his game when it comes to creating offensively for a B’s team that desperately needs secondary offense. McAvoy also then picked up an assist on Danton Heinen’s goal in the third period as well when the Bruins staged their big comeback entering things own a goal.

*Great tribute video from the Bruins honoring Patrice Bergeron for his 1,000th game played prior to puck drop. Plenty of Bruins players past and present were shown testifying to how great Bergeron is as a person as well as Claude Julien calling No. 37 “the best two-way player I ever coached.” Of note were many Bruins players from the 2011 Stanley Cup team including Mark Recchi, Shawn Thornton, Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk among others. David Ortiz, Julian Edelman and Paul Pierce all got into the act as well to congratulate one of Boston’s iconic athletes.

*The Bruins came in 1-14-2 when trailing after two periods this season. Wow, that is an indictment on how positively “meh” they’ve been in third periods, whether it’s coming back, or simply locking down leads entering the final 20 minutes. The blown leads have been an issue lately. Almost on cue the Bruins came back and scored three goals in the third to take a lead and then blew that lead later in prime third-period fashion. 

UP NEXT:

Vs. Avalanche, Sunday, 3 p.m. NESN
Vs. Blackhawks, Tuesday, 7 p.m., NESN

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