Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
By Claude Julien’s count, about half of the NHL’s teams now play man-to-man defense. Tampa Bay was one of those teams last year. The Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final by playing man-to-man.
Julien does not plan to join that growing number this year.
“We’re not sold on man-to-man yet,” said the Bruins coach. “Maybe two years from now, whether the system changes or different things happen, we might say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get man-on-man here.’ But right now, our defensive game still works. Our scoring chances against are still low. We’re sticking with it.”
Julien points to the results the Bruins had in the second half last season. By then, Julien praised his players for improving their movement in the offensive zone. Defensemen pinched down the walls without hesitation. The forwards were good about keeping a third man high.
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from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of fighting majors for the Bruins on Friday night with Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid and Tyler Randell all dropping the gloves to stand up for teammates, showing the Capitals that they won’t be pushed around. It could also create a little uncertainty in opponents where they hadn’t been any last season. If the Bruins are out to prove that last year’s soft, pale imitation of the Bruins wasn’t going to return this season, they did an effective job of expressing that on Friday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You saw tonight that guys are sticking up for each other, so that's also a good sign in my mind.” –Claude Julien, after watching his Bruins players standing up for each other in a fight-filled preseason game against the Capitals.
more on the Bruins...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
- The Bruins have a good trade chip in Malcolm Subban. The third-year pro projects to be an ace, as Tuukka Rask’s successor or elsewhere. But Subban won’t be in the mix if the Bruins are talking trade with Winnipeg regarding Dustin Byfuglien.
The Bruins need help on defense with Dennis Seidenberg out for two months following back surgery. Byfuglien, the dynamic right-shot rover, would help. But the Jets are set in goal long term with Eric Comrie and ex-UMass Lowell puckstopper Connor Hellebuyck in the minors under Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson.
The Jets would want one of the Bruins’ two 2016 first-rounders and help off the roster. Winnipeg has to budget cash for Andrew Ladd (unrestricted), Jacob Trouba (restricted), and Mark Scheifele (restricted), whose deals will expire after this season.
As unique as Byfuglien is, the UFA-to-be is 30 and is seeking what could be his final big contract. Byfuglien would be a good addition for the Bruins as well as any other club, but one that would come at a cost.
- That the Oilers have never ceased chatter about taking the captaincy away from Andrew Ference indicates the move will happen. The ex-Bruin and Edmonton native was a good choice to wear the “C” when the previous management group signed him to a four-year, $13 million contract. But it’s time for the 36-year-old to pass it on to Taylor Hall. Ference is a good employee and will hand it off gracefully, despite the sensitivity of the transition.
via Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe,
Chara skated off the ice at 4:12 of the first period. It was announced that he had an upper-body injury. Coach Claude Julien did not have an update on Chara’s status immediately after the game, saying only, “He’s going to get evaluated, I guess, closely. We’ll see. Upper body.”
Dan Rosen of NHL.com opens up the mailbag...
How do you see the Boston Bruins' season going? How deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
You're assuming I think the Bruins are going to make the playoffs. They're a bubble team. I'm not sold on their defense, which just lost veteran Dennis Seidenberg for eight weeks with a lumbar spine disc herniation that will require surgery. Zdeno Chara is getting older and it's going to be difficult to ask him to play upwards of 25 hard minutes a game again. That's why trading Dougie Hamilton didn't make sense. Hamilton was the guy who could take some of Chara's minutes, some of his workload, and eventually assume it all. Now he's in Calgary and the Bruins don't have anybody that can withstand the heavy load that Chara gets. Chara has to do it again. It's asking a lot, despite the fact that he's in tremendous shape.
The Bruins will be in the mix for either third in the Atlantic Division or one of the two wild cards out of the Eastern Conference. They're not better than the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Montreal Canadiens. It's questionable if they're any better than the Detroit Red Wings or Ottawa Senators....
Is San Jose a sleeper pick in the Pacific Division with its newfound depth?
If by sleeper you mean a team nobody will pick to win the division, yes, you can say the San Jose Sharks are a sleeper team. The Ducks are by far and away the favorites to win the division. The Kings should be better than they were last season. Look for more consistency from them. Anze Kopitar told me that as much as it wasn't fun to miss the playoffs, the summer for him was great because the rest was welcome. The Kings should be better off because of it. The analytics suggests the Calgary Flames will take a step back, but I'm not buying it. They're still a solid team and will compete for third place in the division because of the addition of Hamilton, the return of a healthy Mark Giordano, and a group of young forwards that is only improving. Michael Frolik might be the best underrated addition any team made in the offseason. The Sharks are behind them. I'm not sleeping on them. They're better than they were last season, but I'm still not sure by how much, and I'm not sold yet on Martin Jones.
Oh, and don't sleep on the Edmonton Oilers either.
BOSTON, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today, Wednesday, September 23 that defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is scheduled to undergo a lumbar microdiscectomy on Thursday, September 24 to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Louis Jenis at Massachusetts General Hospital. Seidenberg is expected to make a full recovery and will be sidelined approximately eight weeks.
“I’ve just got to be a little more cautious, I’m in my fifth year in the league. I’m not second year in the league. I’m not first year in the league anymore. I’m an experienced player.
“I’m a little more mature in the sense of when to ease up on some hits, when to fight, when not to fight. I’ve matured a lot over the year and experienced a lot.”
“I’d love to be on the penalty kill. I think that’s an asset I could bring to the Bruins as a solid penalty killer, blocking shots, getting it down deep once it’s in our end....
-Zac Rinaldo of the Boston Bruins. More on Rinaldo from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
When the Hurricanes make the inevitable decision to move pending UFA Eric Staal, keep an eye on the Predators as a viable partner. Nashville’s current crop of centers—Mike Ribeiro, Mike Fisher, Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad—stands out as the weakest of any team with legitimate playoff aspirations. Ribeiro scored a respectable 62 points last season while Fisher chipped in 39 in just 59 games, but both players are now 35 years old, and it’s far more likely that their production will regress than match those levels....
Another team that might be looking to deal, maybe before the end of camp, is the Bruins. The upper-body injury that’s holding veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out for a few days may turn out to be minor, but it exposes the wafer-thin state of Boston’s blueline. Best-case scenario: the team's top-six stacks up as Zdeno Chara–Zach Trotman, Seidenberg–Kevan Miller and Torey Krug– Adam McQuaid....
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from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
One of the many problems that the B’s faced last year was that Tuukka Rask was forced to play too much after management lost confidence in Niklas Svedberg. Rask played in a career-high 70 games and, though the 2013-14 Vezina Trophy winner’s save percentage (.922) was just slightly off his career average (.926), there were times when he needed a mental break and didn’t get one. This was especially true during the team’s six-game losing streak in February when coach Claude Julien twice tried to give his No. 1 goalie the night off — once with Svedberg starting against the Dallas Stars and then with AHL call-up Malcolm Subban making his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues — only to be forced to send Rask into the games after bad nights from the backups.
While Svedberg elected to sign a deal to play with a Russian team in the KHL, there are many candidates for the backup role entering camp, but the early favorite just might be Jeremy Smith. The former second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators had an outstanding 2014-15 AHL season with Providence, his first in the Bruins organization and sixth pro season. After a decent camp last year, Smith posted a .933 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against average in Providence. And at 26, he’s hitting the age when many goalies hit their stride....
Smith is taking nothing for granted, nor should he. Subban has the pedigree of being a first-round B’s pick. Zane McIntyre is coming off an outstanding college career at North Dakota. And NHL veteran Jonas Gustavsson is in on a tryout contract....
“Last season, I missed a lot of games because of my shoulder and my head (concussion),” Gustavsson said. “My shoulder’s good, my head is good and hopefully it will stay that way. I’m 100 percent and ready to go.”
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
This season, the weak-side wing will be free to overload toward the strong side instead of staying wide. If a defenseman goes D-to-D to his partner, he will then advance to the net-front area rather than staying at home for a reverse.
Julien believes these adjustments will quicken the breakout’s tempo, provide more exiting options, force teams to retreat, and allow the Bruins to play at a higher tempo with numbers in transition. In theory, the teams applying the 2-1-2 forecheck against the Bruins last season will now be scrambling to catch up, perhaps at risk of being outnumbered up the ice.
In 2014-15, the Bruins finished with close to the same number of scoring chances they recorded the season before. In 2013-14, the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy and had the league’s third-best offense. But they tumbled to 22d last season because they couldn’t turn those chances into goals.
Julien’s objective, via the breakout changes, is to turn misses into goals by improving the pace through center ice, gaining cleaner entries into the offensive zone, and making opponents more anxious.
“If they see four men and they have to back off, that’s going to give us a great chance off the rush,” Julien said between drawing scribbles on his whiteboard in his Ristuccia Arena office. “We’ll have that fourth guy. We can have that middle drive, shoot at the net for a rebound, maybe hit that weak-side D coming on the other side if that lane’s open and the guy’s driving. Or we can hit a trailer with the fourth guy coming up on the attack. There’s a good chance it will be a centerman or the winger that originally did the breakout. He’s coming in late, so he may be that fourth guy coming in. We’re going to fill all three lanes with that fourth guy coming in. It just gives us better options.”
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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