Boston Bruins

Morning Skate: Nico Hischier and the evolution of Swiss hockey

Morning Skate: Nico Hischier and the evolution of Swiss hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after another day goes by without a Stanley Cup Final or NBA Finals game. Yawn.

*A good piece on the evolution of hockey in Switzerland and what top lottery pick Nico Hischier represents to the NHL world and to his homeland.

*A great piece from Hall of Fame legend and New York Islanders' Stanley Cup champ Mike Bossy on the Players Tribune as he writes a letter to his younger self.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has five telling stats from the Penguins/Predators Stanley Cup Final through four games where the home team hasn’t made a false move.

*In a situation that perfectly encapsulates what the NHL is compared to the ridiculous monsters that are the NFL, MLB and the NBA, there isn’t a single Canadian or a hockey player that made the Forbes highest-paid athlete’s list of 2017. Google the NHL’s biggest-name players and compare them to the other sports, and you’ll see the same kind of disparity in search numbers. The NHL is a growing, booming sport with some really interesting things in place to make them continue to climb, but they are still also firmly No. 4 right now among the four major pro sports in North America. Still, they’re a multi-billion dollar business and there ain’t anything wrong with that.

*Scott Gomez says he won’t be a one-trick pony as a new assistant coach on the New York Islanders bench. That remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see what he does the first time an angry player fires a puck at him in practice, for instance.

*Down Goes Brown gives a list of five Hall of Famers that had multiple playoff runs as “rookies” per the NHL rules for what’s classified as a rookie player. The list, of course, was inspired by Penguins goalie Matt Murray going for his second straight Stanley Cup.

*Jeremy Roenick says that Joe Thornton will be back with the San Jose Sharks, but Patrick Marleau won’t be returning to San Jose.

*For something completely different: The early reviews have been all over the place, but I’m absolutely looking forward to “The Mummy” as Universal kicks off its “Dark Universe” cinematic world with all of the classic monsters.


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.