Haggerty: Don't expect Bruins to make Nash, Parise splash

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Haggerty: Don't expect Bruins to make Nash, Parise splash

Those dreaming of a scenario where the Bruins shake up their roster with a big name free agent acquisition might be in store for a disappointment. Those happy keeping together a roster that hoisted the Stanley Cup over their head a year ago today will be much, much happier.

Watching the Bs struggle to total 13 goals in seven playoff games left many with the notion that Boston needed a significant offensive upgrade. Potential franchise players like Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Rick Nash will be available via free agency or trade to the highest bidder this summer, and all three would be significant offensive upgrades both five-on-five and on the power play.

But theres little to no chance that any of them come to Boston.

There are a number of stumbling blocks that will ultimately act as impediments to Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli pulling off such a roster-shaking maneuver, but the bottom line is that its not bloody likely.

Instead, it appears Boston will move ahead with nearly the same cast of characters aside from erstwhile goaltender Tim Thomas -- that won the Cup exactly one year ago, and finished second in the NHL last season with 3.2 goals per game.

For Chiarelli thats not such a bad thing at all.

You have to avoid making rash judgments," Chiarelli said. "You have to view the season as a whole and look at injuries to players. You shouldnt react solely on a playoff series, but you cant ignore it either. There are areas we have to improve, but generally I like the experience of the team. I like what weve been through. We won the Cup because of the way we responded to defeat the year before, and well do that again.

Were not going to dismantle the team. Its a good team. Its a really good team. But weve got some areas where there will be question marks. As much as Im confident in Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in net they have to prove it. Thats an area where well be a question mark. I dont want to put too much emphasis on the power play because were slicing it and dicing it behind the scenes. But there needs to be an improvement there. I know there will be. LA won this year without a good power play, but it needs to be better because you need those timely goals.

Whats the first -- and most obvious -- road block to the Bruins adding a big name to the current mix?

How about the players own preference for where theyll be playing?

Nash would actually make the most sense for the Bruins given that Boston is one of his preferred destinations, but the trade asking price demanded by Columbus (some combination of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton) is far too rich.

So the chances of winning the Nash sweepstakes seem remote for the Bruins. As long as the Flyers appear willing to give up a player like James van Riemsdyk the high price for Nash doesnt appear to be changing anytime soon.

Both Parise and Suter would seem to be perfect players for the Bruins because all theyll cost is more of Jeremy Jacobs money.

Parise has scored 30-plus goals in each of his last five healthy seasons and led his New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals. Suter quarterbacked the top-ranked Nashville Predators power play and would be the perfect No. 2 defenseman to pair with Zdeno Chara.

But both players are unrestricted free agents, and appear to have their own plans after earning that right.

Parises hometown team, the Minnesota Wild, is going to push hard for the dynamic US-born forward and the Detroit Red Wings are already clearing the decks for at least one if not both of the 7-8 million per players.

That doesnt sound like Boston is prominent in their thoughts or desires, and thats kind of important.

With the cap going up 10-percent for the summer after July 1 the Bruins do have the cap flexibility should the right player drop into their laps.

Everyone wants to try and read between the lines. Weve done our homework and we know what and who we like in free agency if we do decide to do that depending on where the market is, said Chiarelli. If something comes up then well definitely look at it, but Im really happy with what weve got right now.

But Chiarelli would also be forced to disrupt a team structure thats built the Bruins into a perennial contender in the wide open Eastern Conference.

Bs players like Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Rich Peverley, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eschewed free agency to remain with Boston at a discounted price.

Bringing in a top dollar free agent that would immediately vault past Chara as the highest paid player on the Bruins sends the kind of message Chiarelli doesnt appear comfortable sounding off.

When we get going in free agency we have the ability to acquire that 7-8 million player and carry that player during the season, said Chiarelli. With the egalitarian approach that weve taken to building this team and youve heard me say this on a number of occasions we always say this player took less and that player took less. Thats always true. We talked about two the other day in Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly, but theres Rich Peverley, Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci.

Theres always a risk going to market, but if guys like that go to the free agent market theyre going to make more money. Its going to be hard for me to digest and facilitate the assimilation of that 7-8 million player into our lineup assuming that theyre going to get major, major dollars. Thats going to be hard. Philosophically it would be very hard to parachute a player like Parise, Suter or Nash into our group.

Theres also the long term concerns if the Bruins cracked open the vault and tossed out ridiculous cash for a top drawer player.

Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton all hit free agency after the 2012-13 season and will command a healthy chunk of player salary as the Bruins attempt to keep their Black and Gold band together.

For all of the reasons above, Chiarelli sounds much more willing to bypass the sexy NHL free agent names for something a little steadier and more familiar.

Mark Recchi isnt walking through the Bruins doors, but theyre looking to find the next best thing for a young Bs team that could still use tough veteran leadership and grit.

If were going to add somebody I would rather add a piece like a Mark Recchi. Those guys are hard to come by, said Chiarelli. They wouldnt be exactly like Rex, but those kinds of guys are out there via trade or free agency.

We have guys that are growing into that kind of leader, but hes a Hall of Fame player. We talked about the quality of chances and getting into those scoring areas that was lacking during the playoffs and hes a guy that epitomized that. He gets to those areas and other guys will follow that. Our guys will do it and theyll have learned from that Washington series that its required. But thats something you miss when Rex isnt around.

The young Bruins players did a commendable job of following Recchis lead into the danger areas en route to winning the Cup last year, but that was clearly something missing from this years short postseason trip.

A veteran NHL forward with cachet and leadership similar to Recchi would be the perfect fit in Chiarellis eyes, and there are some possibilities. Phoenix Coyotes forwards Shane Doan and Ray Whitney led their team to the Western Conference Finals, and will both be free agents after July 1.

Jarome Iginla moves closer to being traded from the mess in Calgary every single day, and is in the final year of a contract that pays him 7 million per season. A one-year investment in a player like Iginla with the possibility of extending him at a lower price beyond that makes much more sense.

Ryan Smyth has many of the same intangibles that Recchi brought to the table if he can be pried away from the Western Conference where hes made his home for an 18-year career aside from 18 games with the New York Islanders after a deadline deal in 2006-07.

There may be more names on Bostons list once the trade chatter kicks up around the NHL Draft next week, but it doesnt appear that any of those names will be Nash, Parise or Suter.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold.