Claude has me seeing Green

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Claude has me seeing Green

By Michael Felger

A couple of thoughts for you on a Monday morning one Bruins, one Celtics.

I already like Tampas coach better than ours. While Juliens roll-four-lines approach had the Versus crew asking each other questions late in the game, Guy Boucher once again employed a lineup that didnt even HAVE a true fourth line. He dressed seven defensemen and only 11 forwards, mixing and matching the final two forwards (Nate Thompson and Adam Hall) with players from the top three lines. This is the norm for Boucher, not the exception.

Meanwhile, Julien had his fourth line of Greg Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille on the ice for an extended shift midway through the third period in Game 1.

With the Bruins down two goals.

With their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in two decades on the line.

Even the announcers took note, with Ed Olczyk asking sideline reporter Pierre McGuire, at what point do you start shortening your bench? McGuires answer was pretty simple. "Now," he said. Clearly, it was something they hadnt been used to seeing a coach rolling out his crashenergy line with this team in desperate need for goals late in a Stanley Cup playoff game. But thats Claude.

I mean, really. Is there another coach in the league who wouldnt have put Tyler Seguin back on the ice soon after the rookie did what he did to Tampa defenseman Mike Lundin in the first period? Seguin certainly has his problems defensively and along the wall and those problems were on display early in the first period but he had just torn the roof off the building and had turned a 3-0 runaway back into a game. Dont you think most coaches would have had Seguin back out there soon enough, seeing if a young, talented kid with fresh legs could create more pressure on the opponent?

Not Claude. Seguin didnt play the rest of the first period and was on the pine for the first 10 minutes of the next stanza. Nearly 15 minutes came off the clock before until he first saw the ice after the goal. He played only two shifts in the second period. He didnt see a second of time on the power play, which was once again atrocious (0-for-4).

Honestly, I wonder why they even dressed the kid. It makes perfect sense to sit him down if its a tight, one-goal game and the Bruins have to lock down in their own end. Fine. Dont play him. But he doesnt even get a sniff on the power play down two goals and no one clicking offensively? He doesnt get thrown back over the boards soon after the goal to see if he can build momentum? Maddening.

You also have to wonder if Boucher is in Juliens head a little bit, with the latter chafing every time someone mentions Tampas vaunted 1-3-1 neutral-zone trap. Of course, Boucher switched it up early in Game 1, going with a more aggressive forecheck and employing 2-2-1 looks. Regardless of what Julien says, the Bs clearly werent ready for it.

Just imagine. A coach who changes systems and alters his lineup on the fly. What a concept.

All that said, I think the Bruins should win this series. Note, I didnt say "will." I have no idea who will win this thing. It could go either way. But I didnt see the Lightnings advantage in top-end talent show itself on Saturday. I didnt look at that team and say, "Theyre just better." Not even close. If Tim Thomas can sharpen up and the defensemen can stop puking on their skates, the Bs will be just fine.

Then I can go back to ignoring the things that bug me about Julien.

I love how the Green Teamers are now rationalizing the Kendrick Perkins trade. Many of them will grudgingly allow that the trade may not have worked out (really?), but it still didnt have an impact on the Heat series. This is, of course, laughable.

The Perk trade had an impact on everything. Rondo got worse. Garnett wore down. Jeff Green didnt help Pierce. The Cs, who were holding the No. 1 seed in the East at the deadline, won only 15 of their remaining 27 games and lost home court to Chicago and Miami. And that didnt impact the Heat series how?

I wonder how perceptions change if the Bulls wipe out the Heat in the Conference Finals. Im not talking among the Green Teamers. Theyre hopeless, just awaiting instructions from above. Im talking about the rest of us. Normal people. Miami sure looked rough last night. The minions said the Celts lost because it was just the Heats time, that they had the two best players on the floor and thats what wins in the NBA. Really? I thought the best "team" won. At least that what they all told me when the Celts won three years ago. What if the Bulls, who dont own the two best players in the series, either, take down LeBron and Wade? Then what? Meanwhile, Perkins is getting ready for the Western Conference finals. Whoops.

Above and beyond all that, the simple fact is that the Celtics never looked like a championship caliber team the entire remainder of the season following the deadline when everyone considered them in that class before it. In the final two months they lost to seven different playoff teams -- Denver, Philadelphia, Memphis, Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago and Miami. Take out a five-game winning streak against five opponents who missed the playoffs, and the Cs werent even a .500 team following the deal.

I dont know how anyone could separate out the Heat series from the rest. Its ridiculous. The Cs werent the same team after the trade. Period. The players didnt buy in, and the team regressed badly. They werent good against anyone, including the Heat. Face it. Danny blew this one.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Wednesday, Aug. 31: Blake Wheeler named captain of Winnipeg Jets

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Wednesday, Aug. 31: Blake Wheeler named captain of Winnipeg Jets

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while excited for Season 2 of Stranger Things now that it’s official.

*An interesting look at Jack Eichel’s perspective during the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes as it seems like he took the hands off approach toward the end.

* On this date in NHL history a classy, legendary Hall of Famer, was born in late Habs forward Jean Beliveau.

* The USA Today has a list of 10 players that could change the fates of their respective teams this season, and there wasn’t a Bruins player among them.

* Former Bruins winger Blake Wheeler has been named captain of the Winnipeg Jets in a move that makes all the sense in the world. He’s really developed into a terrific player since being traded from Boston.

* PK Subban will visit a Montreal children’s hospital to give an update on his pledge to give a big helping hand.

* Resident NHL cheap shot artist Raffi Torres will be getting a tryout with the Carolina Hurricanes, but he’s one type of player that the league can do without these days.

* The Hockey News lists young center Matthew Barzal as a player that could make or break the season for the Islanders. That’s the same Barzal that the Bruins skipped two years ago to draft Zach Senyshyn in the first round, for those that are keeping score.

* For something completely different: Stranger Things season 2 details? Ummm, yes please.

Countdown to camp: Malcolm Subban

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Countdown to camp: Malcolm Subban

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Malcolm Subban.

Things might have been much different for Subban had he avoided the fractured larynx injury last winter, and instead been able to continue building momentum toward winning an NHL job this season as the understudy to Tuukka Rask. Instead, Subban sustained the freak injury that knocked him out for the final months of last season, and now finds himself stuck organizationally after the B’s signed old friend Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on July 1 to once again work in tandem with Rask. Now it looks like it will be the AHL again for the foreseeable future for Subban.

What happened last year

Subban has shown flashes throughout his young career after the Bruins made him a first-round pick in 2012, and that continued last season prior to the stray puck that hit him in an unprotected part of his throat during pregame warm-ups. The shame of the injury’s timing was that Subban was perhaps playing the best hockey of his career and it finally appeared like he was headed toward the consistency that’s eluded him thus far. Instead the 22-year-old finished last season with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage and didn’t appear on the surface to make much of a progression from his first couple of pro seasons. The injury cost Subban any chance to potentially move into this season as Tuukka Rask’s backup at and really puts a lot of pressure on him to turn the corner this season in the AHL.

Questions to be answered this season

The question still lingers as to whether Subban is an actually NHL goaltender. He still has the potential to be a No. 1 guy as he gains experience and confidence between the pipes. He’s still just 22 with three years of AHL experience and goaltender is a position where it can take longer for the development arc to be completed. But Subban needs to start showing a little bit more dominance in the AHL if he wants to start pushing for looks in the NHL, and clearly needs to be more consistent rather than shining every once in a while with brilliant performances. The talent is clearly there for Subban as a gifted athlete playing goaltender, but it still looks like he’s a late-comer to the goaltending position as he was in his teenage years. Perhaps this is the season where it all comes together for him.

In their own words

“I’ve been hit in the neck before. I have all the gear on now, the protection and stuff. I’ve gotten used to it. Honestly I feel like a tank. I’m not even worried at all about getting hit again. [My approach] is the same as it’s been since I was drafted. I just focus on myself and my game, and that’s all I can really control. My goal is to make the team the same as it is every year, so that’s what I’m trying to do. I just have to play well and give my chance a team to win every night.” –Malcolm Subban talking about his injury and his approach at development camp in July.

 Outlook

We are entering make-or-break territory with Subban and the Bruins as he enters his fourth pro season with the organization with very little discernible progress made over that time period. The injury makes it even more difficult to gauge if he has shown significant signs of development in his time in the AHL and if he’ll be a better goalie than the one that imploded in St. Louis during his NHL debut a couple of years ago. Subban has made strides in his technique and certainly seems to understand the need to gain consistency at this point in his career, but all of this will be happening at the AHL level for the next couple of years barring any injuries to Rask or Khudobin. One has to wonder if Subban is going to end up in another NHL organization via trade given the current goaltending situation in Boston. Subban won’t be getting his NHL shot anytime soon in Boston and he still has work to do before he’s even earned it. With Rask a fixture in Boston and Subban’s lack of clear dominance in the AHL, it makes one wonder why the B’s selected him in the first round back in 2012 when clearly there were bigger organizational needs.  

 

 

Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

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Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

The Bruins announced some organizational signings and one surprise dip into late summer free agency with a one-year, $900,000 contract for 36-year-old depth center Dominic Moore.

The B’s also announced one year, two-way contracts for forward Brian Ferlin, along with defensemen Chris Casto and Alex Grant, and all three of those players will serve as young, organizational depth players in Providence.

Moore has spent each of the last three seasons with the New York Rangers amid a career 765 NHL games played as a solid face-off and penalty-kill player that has fourth line candidate written all over him.

The Bruins will be former Harvard center Moore’s 10th NHL team. He’s coming off a season where he posted six goals and 15 points in 80 games for the Blueshirts, and has previously played for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose along with the Rangers.

While Moore is a solid candidate for fourth-line duty that will provide leadership, good face-off work, solid and gritty penalty-kill work and all kinds of NHL experience, he is also a 36-year-old on a team that has a ton of center candidates headed into camp. 

Moore’s presence could be problematic if he’s standing in the way of developing young centers Austin Czarnik and Noel Acciari. The expectation is that B’s coach Claude Julien, as he always has in the past with safe veterans like Chris Kelly, will go with a player like Moore over the youngsters if times start getting tough for the Black and Gold.

Ferlin, 24, completed his second professional season with the AHL's Providence Bruins in 2015-16, producing six goals and eight assists for 14 points with 27 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating in 23 games. He was sidelined for much of last season in Providence by a concussion.

Casto, 24, completed his third full AHL season with Providence in 2015-16, establishing career highs with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points with 47 penalty minutes in 68 games.

Grant, 27, spent the 2015-16 season with the Arizona Coyotes organization, splitting time between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate in Springfield. He recorded seven penalty minutes in five games in the NHL, while compiling 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points with 57 penalty minutes in 69 games in the AHL.