Haggerty: Right move for Bruins to stand pat?

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Haggerty: Right move for Bruins to stand pat?

Peter Chiarelli admitted he doesnt get many cold calls from the NHL's 29 other general managers these days.

He likes his hockey club and it shows.

Chiarelli is bringing 12 forwards back from last years Bruins team minus Benoit Pouliot, and five of their six defensemen plus 19-year-old super prospect Dougie Hamilton. Theyve got two goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin that suited up for the Bruins last season even if Tea Party Tim Thomas has flown the Black and Gold coop to Colorado.

When asked if teams constantly ask about Bostons top prospects in potential trade talks, it seems Chiarelli is successfully sending out a consistent message: He intends to keep the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning nucleus together.

"Ive been pretty clear over the last year and a bit that I really like the large makeup of our team," Chiarelli said. "Other GMs have been backing off. I dont get a lot of trade calls. Guys call and try to cherry pick on our top end guys, and I dont blame them for doing it. But I dont get a lot of calls. Its kind of a cycle: were a good team and nobody really wants to help us.

I dont want to say comfortable because you never want to say comfortable in this position. But Id be very content if our roster now is the roster we go with to start the season. Id be really content. But crazy things happen in trades or free agents, so you have to be on top of it in case you want to do something.

There is plenty of reasons for Chiarelli to be enamored with his club. After all, they marched to the Cup and proved they could be successful in their current incarnation.

When the factors are right, Bostons combination of toughness, depth, and quality goaltending gives them as good a chance as anybody else to come out of the Eastern Conference, which has been wide open the last two postseasons.

The Bruins also have young players like Hamilton, Rask, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand that are still on the upswing in their careers, so theres plenty of argument to be made that they can get even better.

Whats the biggest potential flaw in Chiarellis potential status-quo plan?

It would appear every other team in the Eastern Conference is steadily improving, and some are hastily attempting to build a hockey super power.

The Bruins are getting busy staying the same while the rest of the East is moving on with their improvement plans.

Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby, Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, and it has begun clearing money from their salary cap to make serious runs at both elite unrestricted free agents, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. That is a scary proposition for the rest of the league when the Penguins were already one of the favorites to win the Cup next season.

The Rangers could have been the team in the Cup Finals rather than the New Jersey Devils, and they have a cast of young players hungry for their first Cup as well as plenty of cap space to make a big move headed into next year.

The Flyers have taken a step forward defensively after their deal with Toronto for Luke Schenn, and GM Paul Holmgren seems on the verge of making a big splash each and every offseason. Last season his moves gave Los Angeles the building blocks for a Cup winner, but they also tend to keep Philly strong and hungry every year.

The Washington Capitals still need a head coach, but they had a good weekend at the draft adding former Montreal flop artist Michael Ribeiro and tough customer Tom Wilson after they already seemed to be getting the hang of the winning thing during the playoffs.

The Maple Leafs have already added 22-year-old forward-on-the-verge-of-a-breakout James van Riemsdyk and look ready to pull the trigger on a Roberto Luongo swap that could finally address their longstanding goalie problems.

Erik Karlsson has helped elevate the Ottawa Senators to a legitimate playoff team as he augments a roster with an intriguing mix of young players and capable veterans who have Cup Finals appearances on their resume.

Tampa Bay still has Steve Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, Victor Hedman and a crop of talented young players with GM Steve Yzerman reshaping them into a contender.

The Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils return playoff teams confident they can get back there again even if the Jersey roster is suffering through some painful turnover.

The Carolina Hurricanes were a much better team under new coach Kirk Muller in the second half of the year, and their young squad is going to play with a different kind of energy watching the Staal brothers, Jordan and Eric, skate together for the very first time.

The Buffalo Sabres still have the same team everybody listed as trendy Northeast Division favorites last fall before team chemistry issues and Milan Lucic's assault on their goaltender submarined their season.

The Montreal Canadiens organization finally had a much-needed front office enema after last years embarrassing campaign, and the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets should be improved next season.

The point of going through the off-season ups and downs of the Eastern Conference is simple.

Nearly every other team in the conference has done something significant to improve themselves. The Bruins have done nothing aside from retaining their own players while their GM stays faithful to a team that bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.

the departures of Joe Corvo and Benoit Pouliot might be addition by subtraction, but thats a different story for another day.

Chiarelli will still be hunting for a Recchi-type forward after July 1 to add to the Boston mix as their one big roster-building move for next year. Any veteran acquisition the Bruins make will surely be done after the start of free agency, and be part of the secondary trade market Chiarelli has mentioned more than once.

Otherwise, Chiarelli likes what he has.

Everyone talks about teams that have oodles and oodles of cap space, but youve got to find players, said Chiarelli. Youve got to fill spots. I like the spot that were in right now.

Watching other teams improve wouldnt be a sole determiner for us to add somebody. I dont ignore it, but I wouldnt engage in trade talks because of it. I think were in a good spot right now. Were in a good roster spot.

Is standing pat the right move for the Bruins? Or should they be showing a willingness to execute a big, bold move in what's an important offseason for the Bruins?

Depending on how it all ends up, Chiarelli's decisions will be looked at as either justified faith or stultifying conservatism.

There will be all kinds of frustration if Nathan Horton goes down early in the season, and the Bruins have the same kind of offensive struggles that cropped up once he was done with a concussion in late January.

The Bruins are also slicing and dicing the power play this summer in hopes of revamping and improving it for next year, but its legitimate to question how much offense can be siphoned out of the same old PP personnel that crapped out during the last two playoffs.

Time will tell whether Chiarelli made the right call by standing pat, but thats his offseason plan and hes sticking to it.

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder.