Haggerty: Bruins finally find strength in numbers


Haggerty: Bruins finally find strength in numbers

BOSTON -- There were many buzz words synonymouswith last years Bruins.

But the one used most often, and most complimentary, was depth. Shift after shift, the B'sarrived in attacking waves as the coaches rolled out all four forward groups period after period. The Bruins could wear out more talented opponents with their overwhelming strength in numbers, and their willingness to relentlessly keep pushing.

So it was probably appropriate that 13 different Bruin players cracked the scoresheet and all four forward lines were accounted for in Tuesday nights 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, which snapped Boston's three-game losing and Ottawas six-game winning streak.The Bruins needed to show something after a 3-7 start, and they did just that against the upstart Sens.

Thats what you want. Thats what made our team successful last year, said coach Claude Julien. I think its important to get some of that and obviously help guys get their confidence, too. When everybody goes out there and contributes in the fashion that they did tonight, its a lot better for the confidence of the whole team.

More importantly, the Bs were dogged and determined enough to ignore wide-open net chances botchedby both Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton in the early going, and didnt shrug their shoulders in weakcapitulation as theyve done too often this season.

Instead they hunkered down and kept attacking with tenacity and determination that trumped the spunky effort from the upstart Sens. It seems the Bs finally broke the spell that had them making the same mistakes over and over again.

The Bruins did some damage on the power play early, lulled Chris Neil and Spezza into taking penalties with equal parts hard work and poise under times of duress, and finally finished off some of the plays that eluded them early in the game. They attacked with 41 shots on net, and didn't ease back once they'd built up a one-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

We took all the frustration and all that stuff that weve been feeling and used to our advantage instead of getting down on ourselves, said Patrice Bergeron. And thats the only way you can get out of those things. You know what, though: its only one game. So were happy but we have a long ways still to go.

Zdeno Chara was a physical presence offensively and defensively, and assisted on a pair of early goals while holding Ottawa'sSpezza and Co. to a minus-2 in the marquee match-up. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin all played over 20 minutes of iceeach while creating 11 qualityshots, and teaming with Chara and Johnny Boychuk to shut down Ottawas top line.If anything the Bruins were a little too pass-happy in the early going, but started really coming into their own as the game unfolded.

I thought that last year that was one our strengths when we had contributions from every line, at both ends of the ice, said Chris Kelly. That was nice to see tonight.

Speaking of Boychuk, the gifted defenseman once again had his game snap into focus at the exact right time. He was a consistent offensive factor, and scored the game-winning goal with one of his patented bombs from the point after being off the mark early. Milan Lucic snagged his fourth goal in the last five games and terrorized the Ottawa defenseman with his punishing body checks in the first half of the game -- a tactic that always loosens up the opposing defensemen for turnovers later in games.

Tim Thomas was timely with his stalwart goalie play in the second period where he registered only seven saves, but stood up to goal-mouth attacks from Colin Greening and Milan Michalek when the game was still tied.

That doesnt even mention the fourth lines contribution: Quality shifts with equal parts emotion and effectiveness,and an insurance goal from Daniel Paille thrown in, to boot. Its the reason Julien opted for them to start at puck dropTuesday night, and the reason he chose their line after the teams third and fourth goals of the evening as a means toward keeping the momentum solelyin Bostons corner.

There were some down portions of the win, of course. Both Horton and David Krejci continue to struggle. Krejci was slightly better as he tries to climb out of a sluggish start to the season, but Horton is still stuck in neutral with a game that's far from north-south.

But the Bruins were able to overcome any down performances through their strength in numbers, and know that is their ultimate blueprint for success this year and any other year. It worked against the best team in the NHL during the Stanley Cup Finals last season, so it will certainly work against the Ottawa Senators on a Tuesday night in November.

We played a good team game, said Thomas plainly, truthfully and simply.

Whats the key for the Bruins now that they seem to have found their footing?

The Bs need to follow up a nice statement win against the Senators with more strong efforts inback-to-back fashion. They had three singlewins prior to Tuesday, but haven't been able to follow up any of those victories with anothervictoryto get a winning streak going.That needs to change.If the Bruins are set to go streaking for a while, theyre going to need everybody on board as they were Tuesday night in a flashback performance.

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Bruins management has been in a holding pattern waiting for something to “shake free” in the top-four defensemen department and that might have finally happened this weekend.

With the news on Saturday that Jacob Trouba won’t be reporting to training camp with the Winnipeg Jets and has asked for a trade, a player is becoming available that the Black and Gold have had their eyes on for months and months.

CSN was the first to report that the Bruins were putting together a plan for an offer sheet for the 22-year-old American-born defenseman back in June, but that never materialized. GM Don Sweeney eventually backed off that aggressive plan to nab a player they have tapped as a top-four, right-shot defenseman, but clearly there is still interest from a Boston team that literally did nothing to upgrade their back end over the summer.

Cam Neely admitted to CSN a couple of weeks ago that the Bruins were still positioned to make a move for a D-man if something opened up on the market.

“Basically from April to now everybody is talking about our back end, and not being able to land a top-four defenseman. We still have an opportunity as far as cap space goes if something shakes free, and I know Don [Sweeney] has been working hard trying to do something,” said Neely. “But I feel like as a group we can do better than we did last year.

“I think Tuukka [Rask] can play better than he did last year. If that happens we should be a better club. It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be competitive. But I feel like the changes we’ve made through the organization, and not just in player personnel, that there’s opportunity for our group to improve.”

Well, here’s a memo for the B’s brass on Causeway Street: things just opened up as high and wide as a vintage Rich Peverley shot off the high glass. The ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft is going to be made available and will undoubtedly be the best defenseman to move in trade between now and the start of the regular season.

He’d also go a long way toward providing the B’s with the kind of bridge D-man that could improve markedly in the present, and allow the back end to be much closer to good until young defenesmen Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Brandon Carlo are ready for prime time.

This Saturday night statement from agent Kurt Overhardt explains the situation succinctly, but basically Trouba doesn’t want wind his career away stuck behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side of Winnipeg’s defense.

“Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter,” said Overhardt in the statement. “There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

“To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

Our client has nothing but respect for the people and City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets, its fans, management and ownership - our desire to get him moved has everything to do with opportunity. We will continue to work with the Jets in good faith to achieve this end.”

Clearly, Trouba will draw big interest around the league: he’s a 6-foot-1, 200-pound, right-shot defenseman who posted 10 goals and 29 points in his rookie season as a teenager and has averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league. 

This is yet another chance for Sweeney and Co. to close a deal on a defenseman and finally start to address some of the damage done while shipping away Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in successive years. It will undoubtedly cost a pretty penny in terms of assets, but there has to be a reason why Sweeney has been stockpiling centers headed into training camp.

A package of Ryan Spooner, Joe Morrow and a first-round pick would be considerable, but it also might not be enough to get a deal done for a high-demand talent in Trouba. Undoubtedly the Jets would also for a blue chip D-man prospect such as Carlo, or perhaps they’d be more interested in  veteran right-shot option Adam McQuaid, who could immediately replace Trouba in the Winnipeg lineup.

The worst-case scenario is Kevin Cheveldayoff taking a page from the Kevin Shattenkirk trade talks, and both starting and ending any conversations with David Pastrnak as the main trade chip. The Bruins have made it clear they’re done “sprinkling their talent around the rest of the league” as one B’s front office exec made clear to CSN.   

The bottom line: it’s not going to be easy, but this is exactly the kind of situation where Sweeney needs to become a closer rather than a lamenter who starts an explanation with “price are high” or “it takes two to tango.”

It takes a good manager to close a deal his team desperately needs. This Trouba situation is shaping up to provide the B’s with that opportunity. 

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.