Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Jets

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Haggerty's thoughts from Bruins-Jets

WINNIPEG Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets locked in a scoreless tie after the first 20 minutes at the always loud MTS Centre.

1) Im not sure who this James Wright character is, but he dumped Zdeno Chara into the side boards with a hit from behind and then knocked Adam McQuaid off-balance with a hit in the defensive zone. You dont see that very often, but Ill go out on a limb and say hes pretty strong. He also zinged a shot wide of the net when he had a wide open look after a Mark Stuart point shot bounced off the end boards to him.

2) Only four Winnipeg players have shots on net in the first period including a pair of shot attempts from Nik Antropov. Bruins defense doing a good job of containing the Jets in the defensive zone thus far this afternoon.

3) Three of Bostons nine shots in the first period were from Nathan Horton, who looked like he was attempting to pick up the slack on that line with his power forward partner Milan Lucic out of the lineup. Every forward on the Bruins will need to step up, but a guy with size, strength and the ability to finish like Horton elevating his game becomes even more important.

4) Five blocked shots for Ron Hainsey in the first period. Hes certainly got a leg up on the Ice Bucket Award for this game when its all over. It must always be a thrill for a local guy like Hainsey to play against the Bruins after starring in Massachusetts and for UMass Lowell.

5) Three shifts and 2:04 of ice time for Jay Pandolfo in the first period. Nothing spectacular but certainly enough to get his feet wet as Claude Julien has been very selective with usage of his fourth line against a Winnipeg team that doesnt use their fourth line much at all.

Wednesday, April 26: How Rangers can bust Senators’ trap

Wednesday, April 26: How Rangers can bust Senators’ trap

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while the working world of sports journalism becomes a tougher and tougher place to make a living with each passing day. Stick salute to Pierre Lebrun, Scott Burnside and Joey MacDonald today, three talented and valued peers in our hockey media world.   

*Craig Custance provides the New York Rangers with the ways that they’ll be able to bust through the 1-3-1 trap employed by the Ottawa Senators, which they should be able to do given their tremendous team speed.

*It looks like Troy Brouwer will be left unprotected by the Calgary Flames in the expansion draft, which is a giant turn less than a year after signing a big free agent contract with them.

*Erik Karlsson said he’s “not much into secrets” in revealing the foot injury he was playing through. I suspect he’s out of the woods with the injury, however, or he wouldn’t be quite so open about it while he’s still playing.

*The story of how Patrick Maroon ended up with the Edmonton Oilers and really energized his career with the move.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Mike Halford has Tyler Seguin undergoing shoulder surgery now that the year is over for the Dallas Stars.  

*Pierre McGuire says he is “really happy” for Bruce Cassidy taking over as the head coach of the Bruins on a full-time basis.

*For something completely different: SI gives us the top 50 wrestling catchphrases of all-time in a list that the masses never knew they needed so badly. I’ve got to say, though, I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t a single Rowdy Roddy Piper one on there that I saw. That’s a stunning omission and in general the old WWF wrestlers were ignored a little too much.

 
 

Bean: Why we should shut up about Tuukka Rask, Part 1 million

Bean: Why we should shut up about Tuukka Rask, Part 1 million

I feel like I’ve written this lede roughly a thousand times, but here it goes again: When Don Sweeney took over as Bruins GM, he didn’t reinvent the salary cap. He got rid of some good players, which is essentially the only thing a GM can do when trying to create cap relief. 

At least immediately, losing Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic and, to a degree, Reilly Smith, did not not make the Bruins better. The goal is to have as many good players as you can afford. 

Which somehow [and I’d use the F-word here if I could] brings us to Tuukka Rask, the most polarizing athlete person in Boston world history. 

MORE BRUINS

On one hand, you have people saying he makes more money than he’s worth. On the other hand, you have people saying he makes more money than he’s worth. It’s what else the respective sides say that divides them into camps of rational and foolish. 

The foolish side: They’re not contenders with him, therefore they’re not contenders because of him. 

The rational side: While not blameless, he has seen his numbers decrease as the roster in front of him has. You don’t want to keep getting rid of good players [there's a "horses vs. ponies" thing that people like to reference]. A young defense might want to have a good goaltender. 

First, the degree to which he’s overpaid: It’s up to $1 million. As previously noted, he was one of 14 goalies with a cap hit between $5.5 million and $7.5 million this season. In a season far from his best, Rask ranked eighth in save percentage among them. So is $7 million a high cap hit? Yes. Is it problematic for a team that is seemingly interested in getting good goaltending? No. 

Then there’s the question of how the Bruins could replace him if they dealt the 2014 Vezina winner. Presumably, they would be getting something in exchange for the player, which would cost cap space. From there, they would likely have to turn to free agency, which would give them options like Ben Bishop, Scott Darling, Jonathan Bernier or Brian Elliott. 

Bishop and Elliott were both worse than Rask last season -- which, again, we’ve all noted was a down year for him -- and Bernier, who has been worse throughout their careers, had similar numbers in 38 games to Rask's 65. Darling has had a higher save percentage (.919 to .915) than Rask over the past two seasons while playing less than half the games as Rask and doing so behind a vastly superior defense. 

Because the Bruins did not advance to the second round of the playoffs, my always-entertaining co-worker Mike Felger suggested Tuesday that the Bruins should replace Rask with another goalie who would not singlehandedly be able to make up for for injuries to three of the team’s top four defensemen. 

“Why pay someone seven when you can pay someone three to do the exact same thing?” Felger asked on Early Edition. 

Well that’s dumb. It’s a results-oriented business, but stealing two games while keeping the other ones close is not the same as getting swept. The team would be better with him than with a $3 million guy they’d sign. 

Also, if “did you win a playoff round” is the barometer of a good goaltender, what the hell will the Canadiens do with Carey Price? Is Cory Schneider bad? The Devils didn’t even make the playoffs. 
 
Speaking of making up for the back end, the Bruins have encouraging pieces on defense. They’re also not paying much money there as they transition. The Bruins are one of just seven teams that only has one defenseman making more than $4 million against the cap next season, and Boston’s highest-paid defender (Torey Krug) only commands $5.25 million. 

Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are on entry-level deals. Zdeno Chara has a very team-friendly $4 million cap hit. The Bruins don’t need to spend a lot on this defense as its young players grow; paying a little extra to make sure those guys are in a more stable situation with regard to their goaltender is certainly a manageable endeavor. 

This isn’t to say that Rask shouldn’t be criticized. Go for it. Yet, it’s perplexing as to why one of the team’s good players is identified as a problem when there are far greater ones on the roster. 

The Bruins have a number of other players -- David Backes, Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes among them -- who also make at least $1 million more than they probably should, and Rask is better at his job than they are at theirs. 

That’s the logical way to look at it, anyway. The Rask talk won’t stop. It might not get smarter, but it definitely won’t stop.