Boston Bruins

Morning Skate: Support system backs Kevin Stevens in addiction battle

Morning Skate: Support system backs Kevin Stevens in addiction battle

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while glad to hear that all NFL players managed to avoid any Fourth of July fireworks-related injuries this week.

*The support system around the Pittsburgh Penguins is rooting for Kevin Stevens to succeed in his comeback from a crippling addiction.

*Marc Methot talks about leaving the Ottawa Senators, and the difficult transition of picking up everything and going to Dallas.

*Five Hall of Famers that had free-agent homecomings had very different outcomes as so many players have returned home this summer. Who knows? Maybe there could be more with some big names still mulling their NHL futures as free agency rolls on.

*PHT writer James O’Brien says that the Canadiens got a bargain for Alex Galchenyuk with three years and less than $15 million.

*A few thoughts as a giant payday looms for restricted free agent Colton Parayko with the St. Louis Blues.

*The Washington Capitals are suffering from a hangover after going for the Cup in the past three years and falling well short each time. I wouldn’t call this a hangover, actually. I would call this a gross overestimation of the talent they’ve collected with each of these empty regular-season teams that do nothing in the postseason.

*The Buffalo Sabres have hired Davis Payne as an assistant associate coach on the Buff bench for next season.

*For something completely different: This lacrosse goalie needs to have a little better field awareness, methinks.


 

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. 

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