Boston Bruins

Morning Skate: Kessel frustrated with Penguins? Should Bruins trade first-rounder?

Morning Skate: Kessel frustrated with Penguins? Should Bruins trade first-rounder?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing I could hang out with the Ryan Brothers down in Nashville.  

*Is Phil Kessel feeling frustrated with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Do we breathe air? Is water wet? These all seem to be fairly obvious questions. 

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s a look at Felger and yours truly discussing the Bruins potentially trading the No. 18 pick in the first round. In what’s almost universally agreed upon as a weak 2017 NHL Draft class and with a number of potentially good veteran D-men available on the trade market, this would be a time when moving a first rounder would make sense for a Black and Gold team that covets their draft picks and development system. But feat not: Don Sweeney isn’t going to simply throw a first round pick into any deal, and a first rounder in this draft might not hold the kind of cachet that it usually does most seasons.  

*Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher are the NHL’s ultimate power couple bringing celebrity and hockey to the table together. 

*Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee has the attention of every NHL team, including the Buffalo Sabres, as he looks to wheel and deal ahead of the expansion draft. 

*Evgeni Malkin was a bit overheated at the end of a disappointing Game 3 in Nashville as raving Predators fans were throwing towels at the Pens players as they came off the ice. 

*Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is exactly the kind of bench boss that can help the Pens pull out of their one-game tailspin. 

*We only get four or five minutes of Don Cherry during Coach’s Corner during every Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. So it’s a special treat when we get a whopping 9 1/2 minutes of Grapes during an NHL Network broadcast. 

*For something completely different: A good piece here on the 15th anniversary of Season 4 of the Wire that focused on kids in the Baltimore school system.  

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different.