Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
A lot of money remains on the sidelines these days for the Bruins. Marco Sturm, on the books for $3.5 million a year, will have knee surgery this week, the timeline unknown for his return. Patrice Bergeron’s cap number is $4.75 million, and he is now two-plus weeks beyond another concussion, his second in 14 months.
As of today, no one knows whether either will be back in uniform for the second half of the season, or the postseason.
What is Peter Chiarelli to do? Is the time at hand for the third-year general manager, with what amounts to $8.25 million in shopping money, to dress up his roster by adding a veteran free agent for what appears to be a legitimate run at a Cup?
Truth is, it’s not that easy. Chiarelli said yesterday that if it were determined, say, this week or next that neither Sturm nor Bergeron could make it back before the playoffs, bringing in another high salary now could prevent him from making moves around the March 4 trade deadline.
from Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the National Post,
It took some time, but Peter Chiarelli’s unconventional plan is finally starting to pay off.
When the Boston Bruins’ general manager acquired goaltender Manny Fernandez from Minnesota in July, 2007, he envisioned a goaltending tandem - Fernandez and Tim Thomas - that could lead his team to NHL supremacy.
Thomas set career bests in goals-against average (2.44) and save percentage last season - and the Bruins, eighth in the East, made the playoffs for the first time since the lockout - but a knee injury limited Fernandez to just four games.
This year, the goaltenders are making Chiarelli look like a genius.
from Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe,
The Bruins are for real. The Bruins are loaded. The Bruins are deep, talented and extremely well-coached, and they are a legitimate threat to win—deep breath here—Le Coupe.
I mean, aren’t they?
Admit it: If you are like most Bostonians, the Bruins have had their place for a long time. They are No. 4. (This is the only similarity to Robert Gordon Orr.) Yet the simple, indisputable truth today is that Bruins are indeed No. 1, in more ways than one, meaning it is time for some of us to learn, once and for all, the true difference between a hockey puck and a Ring Ding.
from John Bishop of BostonBruins.com,
The 10-game run of victories is the Bruins longest such streak since a 10-game win streak from March 9-28, 1973. It is the longest such streak in the league this season and is tied for the fourth longest in team history behind streaks of 14, 13 and 11 games.
The Bruins also extended their home win streak to 14 games. It is their longest such streak since a 16-game home win streak from Jan. 10-Mar. 25, 1976. It is the longest such streak in the league this season and is the fifth longest in team history behind streaks of 20, 19, 16 and 15 games.
Not bad, but just don’t expect the Bruins to be talking about the victory on Friday.
“After every game…we’ve really turned the page,” said Julien. “[Friday], we’re going to start talking about Buffalo – we’re not going to be talking about Pittsburgh….”
The Vancouver Canucks placed Curtis Sanford on injury reserve Tuesday and listed the goaltender as week-to-week.
With star netminder Roberto Luongo (groin) still on the mend until at least the All-Star break, the Canucks acquired Jason LaBarbera from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 7th round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry draft.
Sanford suffered a groin injury in Tuesday’s morning skate but had hoped the injury would loosen up prior to the evening contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Boston Bruins have placed forward Patrice Bergeron on injured reserve.
“His headaches are always better as we move on. But they’re still there,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told the Globe. “That’s the reality of it. He is feeling better, and certainly at a better rate than the first time it happened. It’s not even comparable. But the headaches are still there. They’re minimizing every day and hopefully, sooner or later, they’ll disappear.”
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
While the NHL doesn’t track time of possession, the Bruins’ offensive numbers indicate they have had the puck more this year than they did last season. By scoring five times last night, the Bruins jacked up their output to 3.65 goals per game, a Zdeno Chara-sized bump from the 2.51 goals they scored in 2007-08.
The Red Wings seemingly have mastered the art of puck possession. Their skilled defensemen retrieve pucks smoothly. They hit their on-the-fly forwards with outlet passes in center ice. The forwards carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and swarm opposing netminders. Even when a play isn’t available for the Wings, they backtrack, regroup, and try to restart the flow.
The Bruins, in contrast, have featured a more lunchpail version of puck possession that, while missing the grace of Detroit’s game, has been just as effective in wearing down opponents.
“It’s not like we have the puck all the time,” Thomas said. “And it’s not like we want to regroup, set it up, and try again, which is Detroit’s tendency. That Russian influence.”
from Matt Kalman of the Hockey Journal,
Former Bruins standout Rick Middelton, who now lives in New Hampshire, remembers how everyone pretty much did their own thing when they arrived for a game during his days with the Black and Gold (1976-88).
“Well there wasn’t any soccer, I’ll tell you that,” he told Hockey Journal, with a laugh under his words….
“Every routine that I saw was different,” he said. “And then there’s the routine itself – what time you do certain things. Some guys get dressed and sit there three hours before the game; some guys liked to get dressed in 15 minutes.”...
“We had a goalie, Marco Baron. I guess it must’ve been on game days that he played he couldn’t touch doorknobs – unless he turned it exactly the right way, he wouldn’t walk through it,” Middleton recalled. “I said, ‘Thank God the door to the Bruins’ dressing room didn’t have doorknobs; we never would’ve got out there because the goalie goes first.”
from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,
The B’s have about $43 million already locked up in 2009-10 contracts, leaving about $13 million open. It’s easy to see how the Thomas, Kessel, Krejci and Hunwick contracts will total, say, $14 million - which would leave no cash for other signings, like unrestricted free agent P.J. Axelsson.
Thomas declines comment on contract matters, but likely will be the first guy with a new deal. It will be interesting to see how high he aims. He has arguably been the Bruins’ MVP the last three seasons - while earning a total of just $3.3 million, which is the best bargain in the game. His age (35 next season) cuts his earning potential, but he should still command something like a three-year, $12 million pact.
The 21-year-old Kessel and 22-year-old Krejci are more difficult to peg.
from John Grigg of the Hockey News,
...But there’s one under-the-radar player who is fast making a name for himself around the NHL and coming up in Calder chatter (at least when I’m involved) – Boston defender Matt Hunwick.
The 23-year-old native of Warren, Mich., is an alumnus of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the University of Michigan. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started this year – his second pro season – with the American League’s Providence Bruins, but was called up after just two games. His first NHL game this season came on Oct. 15, but then he sat out until November. When Andrew Ference fractured his leg, Hunwick got a chance to be a regular and has only missed one game since.
After failing to register a point through his first five NHL games this season, Hunwick reeled off a six-game point streak in which he tallied three goals and eight points. He currently has three goals, 14 points (tying him for 10th among rookies with Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan) and is plus-13 in just 21 games.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
...there’s a good chance that if Wheeler (11-9 -20, plus-19 in 33 games) continues to produce at his current rate, he’ll earn some extra cash to tack onto his $875,000 base pay.
Wheeler is in line to hit three $212,500 Individual A bonuses: scoring at least 20 goals, finishing among the top three Bruins in plus-minus, and making the All-Rookie Team. Wheeler is on pace to score 27 goals. He is second on the team in plus-minus, trailing only Marc Savard (plus-20). Among rookies, Wheeler is tied with Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski with 20 points, trailing Columbus’s Derick Brassard (25), Chicago’s Kris Versteeg (25), and St. Louis’s Patrik Berglund (21). Brassard dislocated his shoulder last Thursday and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
more on the Bruins
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com