Bruins get a grasp of realignment


Bruins get a grasp of realignment

PITTSBURGH The Bruins had to have the new NHL realignment plan explained to them a couple of times in the afterglow of a meaningful victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton both had surprised looks on their faces when they learned that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers will be joining them in the Snowbird Conference when things finally shake out.

Thats the most meaningful change for the Bruins. Rumors about previous plans had both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins joining the Northeast Division for an incredibly tough super-conference, but instead both the Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets remained in the Western Conferences.

The Bruins will play their current Northeast Division opponents plus Tampa and Florida six times per season, and then will battle with those teams through the first two rounds of the playoffs each season. It conjures up images of the bloody old Adams Division battles featuring the Bruins and heated rivalries with the Nordiques and Canadiens among others.

The hope is the new alignment will rekindle many of those rivalries just as the Bruins and Habs have maintained theirs through seemingly annual meetings in the postseason.

The realignment plan was overwhelmingly approved by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday night during their Pebble Beach meetings, but may not take effect next season as the NHLPA also needs to weigh in on the configuration.

But the changes still held interest for the curious Bruins players. Gregory Campbell played five seasons for the Florida Panthers before landing in Boston, and he said the move could open an entirely new competitive door for the hockey teams remaining in the Sunshine Belt.

I guess it's more travel. One of the things that was nice about coming from Florida to Boston was that the travel was so good, said Campbell. Most teams are within an hour plane ride of us, but its something that were all going to have to adjust to. Those are good and talented young teams being added to our division. Theyre up and coming, so theyll be good in the future.

So itll make things more difficult, but I also think its good for hockey. When you play in Florida you dont really have the rivalries. Theyll see firsthand the rivalries in our division, and I think we have some of the best rivalries in the league. Those arent huge hockey markets in Florida, so the change to play against bigger hockey markets on a more regular basis is a good thing for the league.

There are still some kinks to be ironed out with the realignment plan rolled out quickly by the NHL, but it seems there are few that had issues with the way things were handled by the powers that be. Classic rivalries are kept together, the Red Wings have an easier travel schedule and the Winnipeg Jets will be located in a more geographically logical place once things get started.

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.

*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.

*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.

*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.

*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.

*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.



Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

BRIGHTON, Mass – Claude Julien met with the media after Tuesday’s morning skate and there was a bit of a long pause between questions at one point early in the session.

“I understand because everything that needs to be said has already been said, right?” cracked the longtime Bruins bench boss, who was in good spirits after morning skate despite the turmoil around him.

It’s clearly less about words and more about results right now for a struggling team that’s lost a season-worst four games in a row in gut-punching fashion and has fallen out of a playoff position despite teams above them, Ottawa and Toronto, holding five games in hand on them. 

The Bruins are in a freefall at the worst possible time and at this point, Julien wants to see positive action and winning results from his team rather than the empty talk with the media.

“We want to respect our game plan, execute it well and that normally helps you. We’ve been a little bit all over the place, especially in the last game,” said Julien. “That’s what we addressed yesterday, moving forward.

“I haven’t used the All-Star break as a motivation. We’re basically looking at these last two games, and what we have to do in these last two games. I think we’re well aware of what’s waiting for them after that. The players normally know when the breaks are. That’s not for us right now. I’d like to see our focus on what we need to do [against the Wings] to right the ship. We’ve talked about it a lot, and I think right now the less said, and the more shown is probably the best thing.”

With two games left until the All-Star break, one has to wonder what Julien’s fate will be if the Bruins drop both games to Detroit and Pittsburgh before the group breaks up for All-Star weekend. 

A good showing might be enough to keep Julien calling the shots for the Black and Gold down the stretch this season. But the sense is that more of the same fragile, losing efforts from the Bruins in these final two home dates, a familiar look from this group over the past three seasons, could spell doom for the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.

One thing is for sure: Words aren’t going to do anything for Julien, and instead it’s about cold, hard results for the coach and the Bruins players who are nose-diving in the middle of the regular season.