Haggerty: Five keys for a Bruins comeback


Haggerty: Five keys for a Bruins comeback

By JoeHaggerty

BOSTON The first Eastern Conference Finals involving the Bruins since the 1991-92 season certainly didnt start out the way Boston had envisioned, but as the Bs found out while coming back from 0-2 against the Montreal Canadiens there is still plenty of time to jump back into the series.

The Bruins are down 0-1 after a brutal first period that featured some notable brain cramps and an inability match what the Tampa Bay Lightning are bringing to the playoff table. Here are five adjustments that the Bruins need to make after the Game One loss in order to get back into the series:

1) Play Tyler Seguin more, and put him on the power play. Every playoff series has its own matchup issues and strengths and weaknesses, and its pretty clear that the Tampa Bay Lightning have speed and offense skill in great abundance. Its certainly not going to turn into a grinding grudge match, and thats exactly the kind of rapid, high-flying style of play that can favor a gifted youngster like Seguin. The Bs rookie showed off just how comfortable he feels against the Bolts in Game One when he collected two points, and enjoyed a lot of success stretching Tampas defense by virtue of his great speed. The two shifts and 1:51 of ice time in the second period was a woeful mistake by the Bs coaching staff, and his elevation to a line with Brad Marchand and Chris Kelly in the third period seemed to be a sign of admiration from another GM. Theres really no reason Mark Recchi finished with 20:02 against the speed merchant Lightning and Seguin couldnt even top 10 minutes of ice time.

2) The Bruins coaching staff needs to be ready for anything. Claude Julien and Bruins answered all kinds of questions about the 1-3-1 trap employed in the neutral zone by Tampa coach Guy Boucher but thats the exact opposite of what Boucher and the Lightning started the series with. Boucher opened the game with a pair of fore-checkers wreaking havoc deep in the Boston end, and that aggressive style led to two of Tampas three goals in the first period. Thomas Kaberle looked woefully unprepared for a heavy fore-check when he coughed up the puck to Teddy Purcell to make it 3-0 Tampa. Given that Boucher pulled something out of his hat for Game One with the fore-checking strategy and has confused the Boston coaching staff with different fore-checks with the same game this season. Boucher and Co. did well forcing the action on Julien in the series opening game, and now Boucher is forcing the tempo on the Celtics rather than the other one.

3) Lucic, Krejci and Horton get involved The Bs top line didnt see a defensemen corps imposing enough to defeat then, and the Boston trio are getting all kinds of juicy chances around the net. Erick Brewer and Matthias Ohlund arent exactly Hal Gill and P.K. Subban, and wont adequately hold down the Bs trio in their efforts to feel more comfortable attacking the net.

4) Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were both held off the scoreboard and lost it against the Canadiens on behalf of the Bruins when the team announced that theyll be hanging out in Prison. Its important that they keep at it offensively -- as Bruins gained some traction while attacking Tampa over the first few games.

5) The Bruins have to do whatever they can to help speed up the healing process and get Patrice Bergeron returned to the ice this week. Whispers were circulated after Saturday nights Game 1 loss that some of the Bergerons teammates feel hell be back for action in Game Two at TD Garden on Tuesday night. Bergeron had no points in four regular season games against the Lightning this season and managed a minus-1 for his efforts. Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi were both unremarkable on the wings without Bergeron in the middle in Game One, and the Tampa goalie really looked every shape on a couple of minutes. Thats not even mentioning David Krejci winning only three out of 18 face-offs, and the whole team struggling against the Tampa Bay centers.

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

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on


Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.


Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath


Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats