Bruins notes: Krejci blasts Bauer for sticks

191545.jpg

Bruins notes: Krejci blasts Bauer for sticks

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON David Krejci was lambasting Bauer hockey on Saturday afternoon following Bostons loss to the Sharks because hes being forced to play with an old model of sticks for the next week while waiting for a new Bauer factory to open on Feb. 11.

Krejci said he put in an order for a new batch of Bauer sticks weeks ago, and was told that he would have to play with the Bauer model he was dissatisfied with at the beginning of the year and it was the Czech center up in arms while he waits.

This stick sucks, and thats all Ive got, Krejci, who was actually named Third Star of Saturdays loss after firing four shots at the net in 22 minutes of ice time, told DJ Bean of WEEI.com. You can put it up on TV or in the papers. I dont care. This stick sucks.

That was the reason why I changed from those sticks to the new ones Im using, because I dont like these ones, he said. I changed them because I didnt like them anymore, but now its the only thing I can have.

Krejci hasnt scored a goal in 19 games, but has six assists in his last 10 games while playing with a batch of bum sticks, and wanted to stress he wasnt using the equipment excuse for anything less than outstanding play.

Im not making excuses for my game, said Krejci. I just dont like those sticks. Thats all it is.

Its always a little unfair to look at players drafted in the same class a few years down the road, but it was difficult to ignore the connection of San Jose forward Logan Couture and Bruins center Zach Hamill when each team faced off Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Hamill was selected by the Bs as the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft in Ottawa, and Couture was taken one spot later by San Jose scouting director and Melrose native Tim Burke in a selection thats turned out very well for the Sharks.

While Hamill played his second career NHL game on Saturday afternoon and wasnt much of a factor on Saturday afternoon, Couture cranked in his 23rd goal of the season to lead San Jose to a 2-0 victory over the Bruins.

Couture leads all NHL rookies with the 23 tallies this season, and was invited to take part in All-Star weekend after his impressive first half of the season in San Jose.

I think he is the most complete player that Ive seen at that age, said Sharks Captain Joe Thornton of Couture. He penalty kills, he plays power play. He plays all the important minutes. Hes been a stud for us all year long. He is very very complete, by far the Calder (trophy) winner so far this year.

Hamill meanwhile is still trying to establish himself as a thinking mans center capable of seeing plays develop and picking teams apart with his passes despite average size and skating speed for a skill center in the NHL. Its a tough spot to be in, and it becomes tougher when youre lumped together with a player like Couture that the Bs arguably had a chance to select way back in 2007 with their high first round pick.

Hamill has taken a longer and more deliberate path to the NHL since draft day, but has turned a bit of a corner while leading the Providence Bruins with 25 assists prior to his promotion to Boston this weekend in the days leading up to a decision whether or not to shut Savard down for the rest of the season.

Hamill said he knows Couture a little bit from the draft and their junior hockey days, and said watching his Sharks opponent play inspires to try and have a similar kind of impact for the Bruins.

We know each other to say hi and thats about it, said Hamill. Hes a good hockey player and a nice guy. We were both right there and hes obviously had a good year and stuff. You see the kind of year hes having, and you want to go out there and do what hes doing.

You see him doing that and you want to do the same thing.

Joe Thornton was happy to be back in Boston again for his third visit since getting dealt to San Jose way back in the 2005-06 season, and even happier to get the victory for the Sharks. While Thornton admitted that the first time he came back to Boston was an important one to him and a game where he lasted mere minutes after hitting Hal Gill from behind and earning an ejection from the contest in the first period its more about playing one of out 82 now that Jumbo has been in San Jose for such a long period of time.

What can I say? I had really, really long hair and obviously was eighteen years old. That was a long time ago, said Thornton. Pat Burns was the coach. He was really tough and a really good coach for me, but I really dont remember too much from being eighteen.

It is just a win. Maybe the first time I was here, you wanted to win the first one. But now it is just any other road game, I think.

The last remnants of the Thornton trade are also gone from the Bruins as Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm have all moved on to other hockey pastures after arriving in Boston via the deal that rocked the Bs franchise five years ago.

Saturdays win was the first shutout of the Bruins for the San Jose Sharks in the franchise histories of both hockey clubs.

The Sharks had an apparent goal taken away because of goaltender interference in the second period.

The Bruins' previous low for shots allowed was 20 on Oct. 28 in a 2-0 win over Toronto.

Zdeno Chara played in his 900th NHL game and Tim Thomas played in his 300th career NHL game on Saturday afternoon.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

The Bruins coach and leaders in their dressing room spoke out this weekend, and their words all basically spread the same supportive message.

Claude Julien and his longtime players aren’t ready for a change at the head coaching position for the Black and Gold and they hope the longtime bench boss is in Boston for as long as possible after 10 mostly successful years on the job.

Still, it may not go down that way this season with real pressure on B’s management, coaches and the players to end a two-year playoff drought. Things are currently going pretty badly with the Bruins in the middle of a three-game losing streak before facing the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

The heat has been dialed up as high as it’s ever been on Julien in his 10 years of employment with Boston and everybody seems to know it.

“Right now we’re all confident in Claude, and we all want to be here and play for him. If [saving Julien’s job] is the extra motivation you need for the games then so be it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “But we’re all professionals and we’re here to win hockey games. I’ve said this before that I’ve been with Claude for 10 years, and he’s the guy that I believe in and that I want to play for.”

Similarly, the Bruins captain has been with Julien for the long haul in Boston and has worked closely with the coach keeping lines of communication open in good, Cup-winning times and bad, non-playoff times. Chara bestowed Julien with every bit the endorsement that Bergeron did, and it’s clear much of the core group wants to keep the longtime coach in place.

“We don’t pay attention [to the chatter]. Claude is our coach and Claude will be our coach. We have confidence in him,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “He’s proven to be a coach that does a lot of good things for this organization. We just have to come up with some wins, battle it and we’re all in this together.”

One thing that’s a legitimate question: Is the devotion of players like Chara and Bergeron toward Julien a defining reason to keep the longtime coach?

There isn’t a sense the Bruins have tuned out their coach, as can happen in dysfunctional NHL situations, but there is a feeling that longtime B’s players with status are pretty comfortable with iron-clad no-movement clauses in their contracts and a relationship with the coach where there’s a level they may not be getting pushed toward very often.

Comfort isn’t always a good thing in an NHL dressing room and it’s felt altogether too comfortable at times in some of those no-show performances from the Black and Gold over the past couple of failed seasons. 

For his part, Julien doesn't think that was the case and intends on continuing to work his way through the struggles with a mix of youth and veteran players who clearly have enough to be a playoff team.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the [firing] rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

It would be ridiculous and pointless to compare this season’s Bruins roster to the groups that won Cups, made it to the Finals twice and even won a President’s Trophy in 2013-14. Clearly, this particular roster isn’t as deep, or as difficult to play against, as those talent-stuffed hockey clubs, but this team also has enough high-end talent that they should edge teams like Toronto, Ottawa and Philadelphia out of a playoff spot.

This is where the theoretical move to fire Julien comes into play.

The Bruins are at a critical stage of their season where things are slipping away from them and the team is showing some of the maddening characteristics of the past two seasons.

They are unprepared to play on too many nights. They take opponents lightly on too many nights particularly in the past couple of months. A tiring Tuukka Rask isn’t able to bail the team out as much as he was in the first couple of months. Because the Bruins are being strangled by a roster of immovable players with no-trade clauses and can’t even entertain trading their blue-chip prospects Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, the trade options just aren’t there for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely right now.

It would take a brilliant, creative GM to swing a hockey deal that could pump life back into the reeling Bruins. The B’s front office hasn’t shown those qualities in the past few years running the team. Instead, they have GMs from other teams lining up and making one-sided offers to the desperate Bruins in hopes that Sweeney/Neely will buckle under the pressure to push into the playoffs this spring.

So, the only impactful card the Bruins can play is firing a coach in Julien who probably isn’t the coach of the future when the next generation of B’s prospects is ready to go. The hope is that move can light a fire under their meandering hockey club if it doesn't start reeling off some wins in a row. An argument can be made that a coach such as current assistant Bruce Cassidy could get more out of some of Boston’s younger players they’re relying heavily on this season. The former Providence Bruins coach might fit a little better into the overall philosophy that management is looking to instill.

It might just be that making a coaching change is the best midseason card that Bruins management has to play given all of the circumstances.

Still, the one thing that B’s management can’t do is keep Julien twisting in the wind and answering all the questions about his future with no clear vote of confidence from his bosses. Julien is the winningest coach in Bruins history and led them to their glorious Stanley Cup run in 2011. He’s earned a wealth of respect around the league for the professional, classy way he’s always conducted himself on and off the ice and he won’t be out of work long if/when he is relieved of his duties on Causeway Street.

So, if the Bruins intend to make the move with their coach then they need to do it sooner rather than later.

People around the NHL are watching the Bruins intently to see how they handle this situation with a world-class coach in Julien, and Neely and Sweeney continue to be radio/TV silent, despite the Bruins media requesting to speak with them on Friday morning in the throes of their losing streak.

It’s high time for Bruins management to step up and make a decision on Julien for better or for worse, and treat him the way they’d undoubtedly like to be treated if it were them suddenly in the danger zone should they miss the playoffs again this spring.  

Sunday, Jan. 22: Jimmy Vesey's rookie wall

Sunday, Jan. 22: Jimmy Vesey's rookie wall

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter for taking part in the Women’s March on Saturday.

*The day-to-day NHL grind may be getting to Jimmy Vesey a bit, and causing him to hit a bit of a rookie wall after his Harvard career.

*Alex Radulov has gone from being an NHL headache to being an impact playmaker for the Canadiens in a quick pivot for the Russian player.

*Melrose native Conor Sheary seems to have found a home for himself on the Pittsburgh Penguins skating on a line with a guy named Sidney Crosby.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are always looking to improve, and they’ve reportedly kicked the tires on Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar with Detroit.

*St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is nearing another coaching milestone in what’s been a long, distinguished career behind the bench.

*P.K. Subban is slowly approaching a return to the Nashville Predators lineup from injury, and the Preds need him as soon as possible.

*For something completely different: Greg Poppovich hits the nail on the head here, and it never ceases to amaze me that he’s such a smart, well-versed human being.