Boston Bruins

Threat of trade could push Bruins forward

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Threat of trade could push Bruins forward

BOSTON -- The Bruins have gone through the many different stages of recovery when it comes to the Stanley Cup hangover thats dropped them into last place in the Eastern Conference.

There was denial, avoidance and self-medication through portions of the summer and early fall, but now it appears that blame, anger and change for changes sake have arrived at the door of the Black and Gold.

Just days after saying he wasnt ready to start tinkering with the roster that proved championship-worthy last spring, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is working the phones looking for a deal. It remains to be seen if hell find anything on the trade market this early, but lets not forget the Bruins waved goodbye to Chuck Kobasew less than 10 games into the season two years ago.

Claude Julien clearly supports the GMs search for whatever will help the current plight, but an argument could be made that sitting an under-performing forward like Nathan Horton or Milan Lucic would be more effective as a short term solution for a hockey team spinning its wheels.

Names like Kyle Turris, Ray Whitney and Rene Bourque have been tossed around when it comes to the whispers around the trade rumor mill, but it appears that any potential moves can be avoided if the team pulls out of their post-Cup funk.

Last night was probably the worst executed game from the second period on that weve played all season long. It wasnt pretty to watch, said Julien. But the first two games of the playoffs were similar to that as well, but we went back, we regrouped and hopefully it happens again.

We need to be realistic and acknowledge this is happening, and as a group we need to turn it around.

Would a trade or the specter of a trade looming over their heads -- benefit a team that has slumped to start?

Those are all questions that I think will be answered by our play, said Claude Julien. Its just one of those things where when you see the team react youll know whether rumors have an impact or not. Time will have to tell because I cant answer it for you.

Youre asking for my opinion. Im always going to support my general manager. We talk a lot. Whether it happens or it doesnt happen those decisions are made as a group. Certainly never second guess because once a decision is made were all on board.

From our end of it as coaches whether its line changes or practices and what youre trying to bring into them. Its trying to find solutions, but weve always said is that its a two-way street. You have to players that follow up, and we have a group were confident they will because theyve done that in the past. The quicker, the better.

The Kobasew deal never really sparked a team that went through Kessel withdrawals all season long without a true No. 1 line right wing, but that hasnt stopped Chiarelli from pursuing some deals in all corners of the NHL. Thats what happens when a team staggers to 3-6 out of the starting gate, and has the embarrassing distinction of answering phone calls on Causeway Street as your last place Boston Bruins rather than your Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

The Bruins players understand that trades and personnel changes are part of the business, but it carries a little more sting when the hockey nucleus has gone through something as meaningful as winning a Stanley Cup. For anybody that wants a refresher course on getting traded away from a team destined for good things, Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart are available for interviews in Winnipeg about watching their former team celebrate a Stanley Cup win in Vancouver last spring.

These things happen. Its part of sports. When a team isnt reaching its full potential then obviously changes need to be made, said Chris Kelly. Peter is going to do what he thinks is best for the team. Hopefully we can rectify things soon. You cant worry about things like that because theyre out of our control.

Heres a quick primer on the players most likely to be discussed if things get real in trade talks with another team like Phoenix or Calgary:

David Krejci is the single most valuable chip that the Bruins could offer, and it makes sense on some levels given the teams surplus of top-six centers and Tyler Seguins expected price tag several years down the road. The Bruins and Krejci have had some level of contract talks and its expected that the playmaker will command a 5 million per year contract extension in the same neighborhood as Patrice Bergeron.

The Bruins have to make a determination if theyre willing to pay a player that can disappear out on the ice at times during the season, and has seemingly hit his limit as a 65-point per season center. Krejci is heading into restricted free agency and could yield a bona fide scoring winger in return, but hes also routinely Bostons point leader on a yearly basis and moving No. 46 would significantly alter the structure of the team.

Johnny Boychuk has been mentioned in some circles as a player the Bruins would be willing to move in the final year of a two-year contract with the Bs. There's certainly a willing trade market out there when it comes to serviceable NHL defensemen. But trading Boychuk means that either Matt Bartkowski or Steve Kampfer would be thrust into a top-six role for the Bruins, and the early season indications were that neither blueliner was ready for 15-20 minutes per night.

Trading Boychuk would amount to shaking up the team for changes sake, but it makes little to no sense for a player thats been good thus far this season and played a pivotal role in one of the teams few wins this year. The Bruins should be reaping the performances of players with something to prove in the last year of their contract rather than flipping them to other teams. Besides all of that, it remains to be seen how much No. 55 would bring back in return.

Tuukka Rask is a player that has experienced a difficult time serving in a backup role to Tim Thomas, but its hard to envision the Bruins not riding Thomas into the sunset for as long as he wants to play hockey after last years playoff performance. That leaves Rask playing once a week and pining away for a chance to establish himself as a starter elsewhere.

Teams remember how good Rask was two years ago when he led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage, and like Krejci his value would be high on the trade market for a team madly in search of goaltending. Rask would net the Bruins some serious talent up front, but the question remains whether the Bs are willing to mortgage their goaltending future for the scoring upshot they might receive by peddling their Finnish goalie off to the highest bidder.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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