Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

773476.jpg

Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

The Bruins pulled off a move on Memorial Day weekend.

It probably wasnt the hockey trade anybody was pining for, but it was the kind of low riskpotentially high reward move that has become as big a part of the Peter Chiarelli Era as collecting a seemingly endless army of ex-Senators players.

The Bruins dealt restricted free agent Zach Hamill to the Washington Senators for unrestricted free agent Chris Bourque. They have more than a month to come to terms with the Bs Hall of Famers oldest son.

The deal can be looked at from two different directions: They unloaded something they clearly no longer wanted or valued, and they have potentially added some good depth on the cusp of the NHL. Lets start off with the fact that any Bourque progeny skating around an NHL rink in a Black and Gold Bruins sweater is all kinds of right.

The most electricity running through the Beanpot Final in recent years was when Bourque scored the game-winning goal to win it for Boston University in the House that Ray Built. The Bruins have again become beloved in the city of Boston, and part of that comes from the organizations new-found willingness to give the favored sons of Massachusetts a chance to play for their boyhood favorites.

Whether Mike Mottau re-signs with the Bruins or goes elsewhere, the South Shore native has a big smile on his face after living out his lifelong dream of donning the Bs sweater. Theres no doubt Bourque has dreamed of skating for the Bruins after growing up in Boston watching his father carve out a Hall of Fame career with them.

But beyond that the kid can also give them some needed organizational depth.

The 26-year-old Bourque has proven everything possible at the AHL level, and is coming off a 93-point season where he registered 27 goals and 66 assists.

Hes scored 20 plus goals in every single full AHL season and has experienced a season in Europe with the KHL and Swiss League.

In 33 NHL games, however, Bourque has managed only one goal and three assists along with a minus-6 during cups of coffee with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The left winger would appear destined to compete for a third line spot with the Bruins, and has the kind of speed and playmaking ability that should work in the NHL if theres enough strength in his 5-foot-8, 180-pound body.

If injuries crop up for the Bruins as they did last season and Bourque doesnt make the team out of camp, theres a capable offensive player in Providence that can step in the breach. Thats something the Bruins didnt have last season, and sorely needed when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion.

On the other side of the coin, Hamill was a bust for the Bruins. Theres no other way to put it when Hamill never developed into the playmaking center that Boston imagined he would become after selecting him eighth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. He was selected one pick before Logan Couture by the San Jose Sharks, and the different development tracks experienced by the two players is stunning.

In 20 games with the Bruins he managed four assists and a plus-5, but never showed enough strength to handle the banging, bruising NHL. The 24-year-old also never topped 14 goals or 44 points in the AHL, and couldnt consistently harness the passing and playmaking that everyone saw in flashes from the young pivot. The final straw came last season during a 16-game run with the Bruins as Hamill played up and down the lineup. He showed some promise early, but once again sunk into a stretch of ineffectiveness and inconsistency. His final game with the Bruins came against the Pittsburgh Penguins: the lasting image of Hamill will be him getting buried in front of the net late in the third period with a chance to tie a one-goal game.

Its a play that showed Hamill getting to the right place at the right time to make a play, but not having enough strength to hold his ground when it came to finishing things off at the NHL level. There wasnt much interest in Hamill within the trade market, so it was more a change of scenery for a player that reminded the Bruins organization of a rare first round bungle by the Bs scouting department.

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

ap_17083100627774.jpg

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.