Haggerty: Nothing fluky about Bruins

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Haggerty: Nothing fluky about Bruins

Its become increasingly trendy over the last few months to describe the Bruins epic run to the Stanley Cup two seasons ago as a fluke, or the serendipitous case of a hockey team simply catching lightning in a bottle.
Thats right, folks.
Subduing three different quality opponents in a trio of gripping seven game playoffs and reducing a once-proud Philadelphia Flyers team to rubble in four games - before GM Paul Holmgren dropped an off-season pile-driver onto the roster with trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter -- was more about luck than skill.
The quality hockey was kept to a minimum in the opinions of some hockey pundits despite Bostons ability to take down the best statistical opponent in the Vancouver Canucks.
Thats the kind of ham-fisted flotsam and jetsam getting floated by those pining for big, bold moves from Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins in this summer of discontent.
But lets get one thing straight: the Bruins arent a superstar-infused dynasty like the 1988 Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins will always be forced to wring maximum level or CL10 type efforts out of their roster to enjoy sustained success -- and if you dont know what CL10 is then youre not listening to enough Damon Amendolara in the evenings on 98.5 the Sports Hub.
But winning the Cup was no fluke. It wasnt a one-hit wonder like Mexican Radio from Wall of Voodoo, but it wasnt the decisive, victorious question that would answer all others. It was instead a healthy, fully efficient hockey club playing at the top end of their capabilities, and doing the hockey-rich city of Boston proud.
If anything was fluky about a recent Boston foray into the postseason, it was their first round fall to the Washington Capitals in seven games. The 2011-12 postseason run appears to be the outlier everybody was searching for when attempting to quantify what exactly is going on with this Bruins team.
But here are some facts that always seem to get in the way: the Bruins have pushed things to at least the seventh game in the second round of the playoffs in three of the last four years, theyve won the competitive Northeast Division in three of the last four years, and theyve finished among the top five NHL teams in goals per game in three of the last four years.
There was also the whole first team to win the Cup in Boston in 39 years to digest, brag about and finally contemplate on.
Furthermore, the Bruins finished as No. 2 in the NHL in goals per game twice in the last four years, and have experienced no goal-producing problems aside from the year Phil Kessel left town.
Does that sound like a hockey offense thats in dire need of an offensive transfusion from Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or Keith Yandle?
Prior to this spring, the Bruins hadnt been a first round playoff victim since 2007-08 when Patrice Bergeron nearly had his hockey career derailed by a Randy Jones cheap shot. The Bruins were also a No. 8 seed during those playoffs, and widely expected to lose. Since then, the Black and Gold have been favorites in just about every playoff series theyve welcomed, and thats no fluke at all.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats