Haggerty's Stanley Cup Playoff thoughts

768770.jpg

Haggerty's Stanley Cup Playoff thoughts

The Stanley Cup playoffs roll on, and it was an interesting weekend where all four teams continued to stay alive. Here are a couple of thoughts from both series while wondering just how stringy and weird Los Angeles Kings Captain Dustin Browns playoff beard is going to become by the end of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Great playoff performance by Phoenix Coyotes Captain Shane Doan when his Yotes teammates needed him most. You could sense his intensity when he was speaking with NBC rink side guy Brian Engblom prior to Sundays Game 4 in Los Angeles, and he went out and scored two goals in a 2-0 victory that allowed Phoenix to stay alive. Doan might be the most compelling Lets win it for fill in the blank theme that we see develop during every Stanley Cup Finals, and he showed exactly why in pushing the series back to Phoenix for at least one more game. Hes being criticized in some corners for the penalties that hes taking against the Kings, but Doan has to play with that unrelenting physicality that can sometimes push him into the penalty box. Otherwise he isnt playing Shane Doan playoff hockey and matching the intensity of guys like Dustin Brown, Justin Lewis, Brad Richardson and Willie Mitchell on the Los Angeles side.

Henrik Lundqvist still hasnt allowed a bad goal during the playoffs. There is zero shot the Bruins were going to get by New York even if theyd squeezed by the Capitals and the Flyers. Its already down to Lundqvist (1.57 goals against and .942 save percentage) and Jonathan Quick (1.46 goals against and .948 save percentage) for the Conn Smythe Trophy at this point with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar as dark horse candidates.

Pretty amazing that Claude Giroux is still leading the postseason field in scoring with 17 points even though he was eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in the last round of the playoffs.

Nine points and a minus-3 in 15 games for Zach Parise has been a little eye-opening with the New Jersey forward on the cusp of unrestricted free agency. It got so bad that he stormed out on the media after a loss to the Rangers last week, and is showing everyone just how much pressure hes putting on himself. While his numbers arent terrible Parise hasnt really done himself too many favors when it comes time to talk contract this summer.

Seeing plenty of talk about the Bruins being up close to the salary cap for the upcoming seasons. Theres no way of knowing given up the upcoming CBA battle between the NHL and the NHLPA, and the Bs still have yet to put Marc Savard on long term injured reserve. That would free up 4 plus million in salary cap space for the Bruins that theyre still currently carrying on their cap for a player that doesnt appear likely to ever return to hockey. That combined with a potential deal moving Tim Thomas away would free close to 10 million in salary cap space, so the Bruins have plenty of flexibility to make plenty of moves if necessary.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.