Bruins now turn to finding a defenseman


Bruins now turn to finding a defenseman

By JoeHaggerty

BOSTON Now that the Bruins have found themselves a center to stabilize their forward group in Chris Kelly, the focus shifts solely to defenseman for the Bruins.

General manager Peter Chiarelli met with the media at 11:15 p.m. on Tuesday night to discuss the deal that sent a 2011 second-round pick a draft pick acquired in the deal with Minnesota last season for Chuck Kobasew to the Ottawa Senators for the gritty center, and revealed that the Bruins have nine defensemen on their board that seriously interest them.

Atop the list of available defenseman is Tomas Kaberle, who would lead all Bs defensemen with 37 points and 22 power-play assists and has been the subject of trade overtures from Boston in each of the last three years. He was nearly acquired in a draft-day deal for Phil Kessel two years ago in Montreal and then again last summer when the Bs were shopping Marc Savard to either the Senators or the Maple Leafs.

Now Kaberle is approaching unrestricted free agency following another lost year in Toronto, and the Bruins are once again in the market for the puck-moving defenseman capable of running the power play with surgical precision.

The Bs could have used Kaberle while going 1-for-4 on the power play and getting little oomph out of the man advantage in a 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in a frustrating game at TD Garden that had Bs coach Claude Julien spitting nails after the game.

We had four power plays. One-for-four, and there is a time where we could have maybe put the game in a different direction, changed momentum with the power play, said Chiarelli following the loss to Toronto. Thats been a recurring theme.

I think its just a solid defenseman that were looking for that can log some minutes. There are some out there like that, solid two-way defensemen. There are other defensemen also, different types of defensemen. Its hard to find a match as far as a team that is willing to maybe trade just for futures. There are different routes to get to that defenseman, but there are some decent options.

Both Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Bruins president Cam Neely admitted to 98.5 the Sports Hub that the two teams were talking about a deal, and Kaberle is the clear players being talked about. While indicated that Kaberle would be amenable to a trade to Boston should that work out, hockey sources told that the Leafs defenseman hasnt been approached about waiving his no-trade clause.

Until Kaberle is asked to waive his blanket no-trade clause, a deal between the two teams really isnt all that close to happening. Regardless of whether or not the deal is close to fruition, the 32-year-old Kaberle seemed to be warming up to the potential idea of playing in Boston and getting to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

I would think so. Obviously they have a pretty good team and good goaltending, said Kaberle. I have played a lot of games against them and they are always tough to beat. We will see what is going to happen.

For sure it is always nice when you have a chance to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Obviously I havent played in them in five years. Right now it is tough on me and my teammates in Toronto. We dont want to have a distraction.

There were plenty of trade whispers, fake twitter accounts announcing phantom deals and rampant speculation that Kaberle would be getting dealt while Toronto was visiting in Boston, but that certainly didnt happen. Instead the Bruins will keep talking to Toronto, who sources told was asking for a bit too much of a return for a strict rental player like Kaberle.

Who are some of the other defenseman that the Bruins are considering in potential deals alongside the seemingly perfect of Kaberle?

Here are some of the other names among the nine tossed out there by Chiarelli:

Chris Phillips the 32-year-old defenseman is a minus-7 with a single assist in his last 10 games, and hes passed 20 minutes of ice time per game only four times over that period of games. There are plenty of rumors about Phillips coming to Boston, but he should be nothing more than a fallback option.

Jon-Michael Liles Even worse than Phillips, perhaps, is Liles. He has one assist in his last 11 games with a minus-17 to show for it, and had a horrendous game against the Bruins in Colorado when he was stuck with a minus-4. Liles has a good offensive resume, but hes been awful for the Avs.

Joni Pitkanen Hes possibly the best combination of affordable and available defensemen should Carolina fall out of the ice, and Pitkanen become available on the trade market. As it is right now, Pitkanen isnt being offered around as the Hurricanes battle for playoff contention, but he does have eight assists in his last 10 games.

Zach Bogosian a 20-year-old defenseman who was a No. 3 overall pick three years and apparently wants out of Atlanta after underachieving thus far. Bogosian would cost the Bruins a No. 1 pick, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler in a costly deal that might not help them win this season.

Brian McCabe The 35-year-old McCabe is out of action for the Florida Panthers with a jaw injury and hasnt played for a playoff team in a long, long time, but hes got plenty of offensive spark and power play juice to help the Bs.

Eric Brewer The 31-year-old has averaged upwards of 20 minutes of ice time per game throughout his career and has been healthy this year for the first time in three years. Brewer is on a pace for 12 goals and 20 plus points this season, and isnt the dream defenseman for the Bruins. But hed do nicely.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.