Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within


Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within

The Bruins got themselves some useful pieces at the NHL trade deadline that will complement a Stanley Cup-winning lineup, but there was nothing of the go for it variety secured on Mondays hockey shopping spree.

That made it a marked difference from exactly one year ago when Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled off three separate moves that brought a pair of key forwards and an All-Star defenseman into the mix. The deals brought depth, speed and versatility that helped them win the Stanley Cup, but things are much different this time around.

This years deadline was an exercise in frustration for Chiarelli and most other teams around the NHL as the market was flooded with interested buyers, but didnt have the appropriate number of sellers providing available talent.

The trade deadline was just about the prices, the inactivity, the reluctance to do things . . . that was the feel I got. Its frustrating, said Chiarelli. Its frustrating when youre making calls and you feel the frustration on the other side of the phone because the guy youre talking to is feeling the same thing.

That was the theme for this year: frustration, but eventual fulfillment. Every deadline is different as far as needs. Last year I think we needed to improve a couple of areas, our depth, two-way play, and our puck moving. I guess this year is depth. But you talk to every team and they always want to improve their depth. In a playoff run, guys go down, and thats just what happens.

Sure the Bruins made a serious run at Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown before word got out that he was being shopped, but there was never any real danger of a big deal getting consummated this time around.

Instead frustration reigned for just about everyone, and the Bruins brought in a versatile 39-year-old forward enduring a rough season with the Islanders (Brian Rolston), a journeyman defenseman (Mike Mottau) that just came back from a stretch of 26 games missed with a concussion and a legit shot-blocking, stay-at-home blueliner (Greg Zanon) that will aid the Bs defensemen corps.

It wont knock the socks off Bruins fans, but employing Zanon and Dennis Seidenberg gives the Bs two of the five-best shot-blockers in the league and allows them to mimic the lane-clogging, shot-frustrating Rangers efforts to block scores of offensive chances if the mood strikes them.

None of this years acquisitions will have the impact of last years crop of hockey trades, and that means the team is rolling the dice again this year with the teams nucleus. Chiarelli was unwilling to move any players off the current roster, flat refused to include Dougie Hamilton in any deals and wouldnt deal talented roster players like Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask or David Krejci.

That didnt leave much in Bostons hockey asset cupboard and didnt give Chiarelli much to wheel and deal with. Instead it will be up to skilled young players like Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to carry an offense regardless of what the team gets from Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley moving forward. Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Marchand are the only three players averaging more than .5 points per game during 12 games during the month of February, and no Bs player is even approaching a point-per-game pace during the past month of ennui-filled hockey.

It will be up to Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask to regain the form that made them the best 1-2 goaltending punch through Christmas. It will be up to Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and their new group of eight veteran NHL defensemen to hold things together defensively.

In the end Chiarelli decided that the 18 returning roster players from last years Cup championship deserved another shot at a Cup run without any major upgrades in any department. Rolston, Mottau and Zanon add up to better reserve options than Carter Camper, Max Sauve and Andrew Bodnarchuk when the inevitable injuries and ineffectiveness hit the Bruins.

Bergeron said last week that the Bruins players didnt need any saviors to rescue them this season, and the teams management has backed up that stance from one of their key leaders. Perhaps the Bruins could have traded for marginally better talent in Antoine Vermette or Johnny Oduya, but those players wouldnt be difference-makers on this Bruins team.

Youre gonna have to spend in player trades to acquire players, but the deals just werent there, said Chiarelli at the trade deadline. They werent there. Its as simple as that.

If the Bruins are to win another Cup this season it will be because the Bs best players once again used good health, good fortune and two months of good hockey to finish at the top of the NHL heap.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.