Haggerty: Bruins aren't themselves

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Haggerty: Bruins aren't themselves

WINNIPEG, MB The time has officially come to get concerned about the Boston Bruins.

Every team goes through a midseason malaise when fatigue creeps into a hockey clubs game, and the light of the NHL regular season tunnel is much too distant to seem attainable. But a team in normal seasonal doldrums can snap out of it when necessary and the Bruins have been attempting to right the ship for weeks without believably tangible success.

Injuries, uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns from reliable performers like Zdeno Chara and a couple of weak sauce efforts in the third period in back-to-back games have the Bruins battling some very uncharacteristic results. The latest out-of-character Bs performance had then folding in the third period like an aluminum VFW chair in a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.

For some reason we cant find a way to win two games in a row, said Krejci. I think it was a pretty good challenge for us in the third period and we felt good ourselves when we scored that second goal. But from there we sat back and we cant do that. We have to play to win.

We have to find a way to be the same Bruins that we used to be. It isnt that hard because we all know that its in this room. We just have to find it again.

The first step to overcoming the losses of Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley is within the elevated performances of the others still standing on the Bruins roster, and there werent enough players raising their level against the Jets. Tuukka Rask let in a pair of soft goals in the second period when a lockdown performance was needed.

Zdeno Chara is a minus-6 in his last three games while turning pucks over and moving very slowly and gingerly out on the ice a set of developments that could very well be fatigue or nagging health issues for the Bs Captain.

One shot on net apiece from Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot and Patrice Bergeron isnt good enough when all three need to be key offensive producers without Peverley and Horton. Pouliot needs to be much more highlight reel Pouliot than disappearing act Pouliot.

Its clear Claude Julien is going to ratchet up the conservative defensive game plan without two of his big offensive forwards, and is preaching adherence to the game plan and system.

That means the defensive cant afford breakdowns like the two Bryan Little rebound goals in the third period when the Bs blueliners couldnt clear the puck out of the zone. That also means the Bruins need elite goaltending from their puck-stopping tandem and they havent received that from Rask in more than a month.

Perhaps Peter Chiarelli will whip up a big deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will give Boston the defenseman (Pavel Kubina) and forward (Ryan Malone) they most desperately need. But until the cavalry arrives or good health returns, the Bruins are in strict suck it up mode.

We need to find a way to and we need to find answers. Its way too many ups and downs right now, said Patrice Bergeron. Its not even close to the effort that we need right now. Were working hard, but were not working smart. It hurts us so much when we do that. We get away from our game and we get away from our system, and thats when we get scored on.

One has to hope that part of the problem isnt straight out complacency. The Bruins know they wont be catching up to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference after they dropped both games to the Blueshirts over the last month. But the Bs also arent getting pushed by anybody in the Northeast Division with their closest competitor in Ottawafour points behind them with Boston holding a whopping four games in hand.

The Southeast Division doesnt appear to be any kind of threat in overtaking the Bruins for the No. 2 seed in the East either, so the Bs can just row merrily along on their schedule without much worry. The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals are battling just to stay in the playoff picture without much hope of catching the B's. The Black and Gold will still end up near 100 points even if they go .500 the rest of the way on the regular season schedule, and thats a testament to how red-hot they were during the months of November and December.

The Bruins are comfortable despite the adversity set upon them, and thats partially a byproduct of the innate confidence that comes from winning a Stanley Cup. But theres also a deal danger that the Bruins will slip into a comfortable, mediocre trance for the rest of the regular season without anybody pushing hard at them.

That could leave them vulnerable during the playoffs if it takes them too long to rekindle the hungry Bruins team that leaves other hockey clubs cowering in their punch-filled path.

The only thing that can stir the Bruins from their February stupor is their own desire to be stronger and better than theyve been in more than a month. The Bruins still have a chance to turn their six-game road trip into a game-changer like last seasons undefeated voyage through Western Canada.

It all starts with playing Bruins hockey and getting the expected results, and that hasnt consistently been the casefor 17 games and counting.

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

According to a hockey source, Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins “are preparing an offer sheet” this week for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba as an aggressive option to land a No. 1 defenseman after trades didn’t pan out at last weekend’s NHL Draft.

The Bruins have watched Trouba closely for some time, and clearly have an interest in the 22-year-old D-man with size, offensive abilities and a workhorse nature that’s seen him average more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league as a 19-year-old.

Trouba is coming off a six-goal, 21-point season while playing in 81 games for the Jets, and was a career-best plus-10 for Winnipeg. With Trouba, a restricted free agent, and the Jets locked into big money deals to fellow right shot D-men in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, the writing has been on the wall for some time that the Jets would need to give one of them up.

Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.

Part of that high total is crafting an offer that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to match, and part of that is the Bruins’ own doing while casually tossing away their own draft picks. Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.

The good news for the Bruins: for offer sheet purposes, AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years.

Example: a 7 year offer sheet worth $49 million total, would be considered an AAV of $9.8 million ($49 million divided by 5) for offer sheet compensation purposes. That means the Bruins could make an offer sheet to Trouba in the $7-8 million per season neighborhood on a seven year deal, a reasonable contract if Trouba turns into the No. 1 defenseman that the B’s are envisioning.

The real price for the Black and Gold would be surrendering four first round picks, but the Bruins have made five first round picks in the last two years while stockpiling their prospect cupboard. The B’s have also been hit-or-miss with their first round picks, so sacrificing a few of them for a surefire, young defenseman would theoretically be worth the price.

Clearly the offer sheet route is the product of Bruins’ frustration at being unable to broker a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler last weekend in Buffalo, and at the realization that they need a stud No. 1 defenseman in order to again be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps even the threat of an offer sheet could spur the Jets into dealing Trouba, just as the threat of an offer sheet pushed forward the trades of Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad last season. 

Dirty Water Media Bruins reporter James Murphy was also reporting the buzz that the B's are exploring their offer sheet option. 

Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

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Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

While the Bruins fourth round pick might sound eerily like Finnish fourth line center Joonas Kemppainen, the Black and Gold are hoping for much more from fifth round pick (135th overall) Joona Koppanen. The 6-foot-5, 194-pound Finnish center is obviously a big body in the middle of the ice, and already plays a responsible, smart game on the defensive side of the ice.

In keeping with the parallels to Kemppainen, Koppanen is a bit less developed on the offensive side of the game at this point in his young career as an 18-year-old.  

“I think that the draft was awesome and I’m really excited for the draft to Boston,” said Koppanen, who added “Tuukka Rask plays there” when asked what he knows about the Bruins. “My strength is to skating and I’m a good two-way forward.”

The Big Finn had nine goals and 26 points in 40 games for the junior team in Finland last season, and was shut out in seven games for Team Finland at the World Junior U-18 Championships. So he’s got some work to do developing his offensive game and getting both bigger and stronger, but the Bruins see size, strength and the work ethic to improve in Koppanen.

“He’s a big guy, and for a big guy he can really move around. He’s very good defensively and smart with his positioning. He plays hard,” said Bruins head scout Keith Gretzky. “The skill is the one area that needs to develop, and we think it’s going to do that. He was a guy that we targeted because he’s a big guy that can skate, and is good in his own end.”

One thing the Bruins focused on heading into the draft was acquiring some size at the center position, and they’ve clearly done that with 6-foot-2, 200-pound Trent Frederic and the 6-foot-5, 198-pound Koppanen.

It just remains to be seen what kind of offensive upside these gritty, tough competitors will have once they reach the pro ranks a few years from now, and that will go a long way to determining how good these picks end up being.

One thing is for sure: they must be projecting that Koppanen is better than Kemppainen, who was an absolute bust in the offensive zone.