Bruins downplay line changes, not panicking


Bruins downplay line changes, not panicking

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin skated with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Brad Marchand skated with Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

Usually, those are the Bruins' third and fourth lines, respectively. And after coach Claude Julien switched up his offensive combos at Friday's practice at the TD Garden, Seguin was asked how it felt to be moved down.

"Moving down, eh?" asked Seguin, partially under his breath, but loud enough for the surrounding microphones to pick up.

Seguin was trying not to disrespect Kelly and Pouliot. But he was also unintentionally describing the mood in the Bruins dressing room following Thursday's Game 4 loss to the Washington Capitals, which evened their first-round playoff series at 2-2.

A few feet away, Kelly sat in front of his cubby, re-lacing his skates, and was a little more open about where the B's feel they stand, entering Saturday's Game 5 at the Garden.

"It seems to be that you guys a lot more panicked than we are," said Kelly. "It's a good hockey team over there. We're tied 2-2. We've scored seven goals. They've scored seven goals. I think it's been an entertaining series. Both sides have been good in their own end. Both goalies have been good. And to me, that's the way the playoffs should be.

"By no means is there any panic in this room, and I'm sure there's no panic in their room," added Kelly. "It's two good teams playing a best-of-three series now, opposed to a best-of-seven."

The Capitals have a powerful offense. And if you told the Bruins -- heading into the series -- that they'd have the same amount of goals as Washington through four games, then they'd tell you their offense was doing pretty well for itself.

Instead, it's been their offense that hasn't been able to bury when necessary, which has been the difference in a series that very well could have ended in a Bruins sweep if they had some key offensive players playing their best hockey.

But that hasn't happened, and it's now a best-of-three series, and Julien has switched up the lines. Still, the Bruins say they aren't panicking

"I think the outside is overreacting to stuff," said Julien. "This is a 2-2 series right now. We're not down in it. It's tied. Like I've said, we've done a lot of good things. At the end of the day, we just haven't scored. That's the only major issue right now that we have, is the fact that we're not scoring."

He hopes his line changes spark that part of their game.

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

There’s been smoke for weeks signaling trade talks between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, and things are reportedly heating up with the Bruins potentially reaching a tipping point with their subpar play on the ice. According to Bleacher Report columnist Adrian Dater, things may be progressing between the two teams because the Bruins are beginning to entertain the idea of trading away 20-year-old top pairing rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Bruins Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jrwas expected to be out in Colorado scouting the Avalanche/Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, and perhaps getting a long look at players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie among others.

The expectation is that 24-year-old Landeskog is in the middle of these trade discussions, and that he would be one of the players targeted by a Bruins team that could use more size on the wing, and more players that can put the puck in the net. Certainly Landeskog has done that in his brief NHL career after being a No. 2 overall pick, and has four 20-goal seasons on his resume prior to a disappointing, injury-plagued current season in Colorado.

The word around the league was that talks fizzled between the Bruins and Avs previously when Joe Sakic asked about the availability of the Colorado Springs native Carlo, and those discussions hit the same crunching roadblock that Winnipeg did in discussions with Boston about Jacob Trouba.

Perhaps that has changed in the last 24 hours after Cam Neely and Don Sweeney watched their Bruins completely no-show against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders, on Monday afternoon. Now one would expect that Bruins management is getting desperate feeling that a third “Did Not Qualify” for the Stanley Cup playoffs could be in their future if they don’t make a bold, swift move to shake up their dazed hockey club.

But let’s not pull any punches here. The entire Bruins management group should be fired on the spot if they trade a 20-year-old, top pairing shutdown defenseman on an entry level contract like Carlo unless they are getting a bona fide superstar in return. Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak should all be young, untouchable assets for a Bruins organization that is years away from legitimately holding a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Landeskog is not a bona fide superstar. He’s a good player that’s topped out at 26 goals and 65 points in the NHL, but he’s also the Captain on a horrendous, underachieving Avalanche team over the last three years.

If the price were right for Landeskog it would make all the sense in the world for the Bruins to deal him, but it’s a giant honking red flag that Colorado is looking to unload a player like him that’s signed for a reasonable $5.5 million price tag over the next four seasons. Teams don’t trade young players like that with term unless there’s more to the story, and that’s something the Bruins would do well to consider before giving up a player that could be a top-4 shutdown defenseman in Boston for the next 10 years.

Teams like the Bruins that are in reloading mode also shouldn’t be trading 20-year-old players for 24-year-old players that have already cashed in on their second contract. That’s exactly how the Bruins can get right back into salary cap trouble, and do it with a team that’s producing far less than the Peter Chiarelli groups that were at least still making the playoffs.  

Certainly the Bruins have other young D-men like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon coming down the pipeline, but none of those defensemen are in the mold of a true shutdown D like the 6-foot-5 Carlo. With Zdeno Chara in the final few years of his career with the Black and Gold, the B’s are going to need Carlo to slide into that defensive stopper role given his size, strength, wing span and willingness to do the dirty work the D-zone.

That goes beyond the simple fact that rebuilding the back end with ALL of those young stud D-men is the best way to actually build the Bruins back up into a legitimate Eastern Conference power. 

It would be a giant mistake for the Bruins to ship away a player like Carlo with the hope Landeskog can put Boston over the hump for the playoffs this season, and perhaps ease some of the intense pressure currently weighing on Sweeney and Neely. That kind of desperate move smacks of doing it for all of the wrong reasons, and that’s one way to ensure that the Bruins will never escape the web of mediocrity that they’re currently caught in.