Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Happened upon an interesting Twitter conversation this morningwith uber-hockey columnist Justin Bourne, who pops up on Yahoo! Sports, The Hockey News, USA Today and many other fine publications with his bang-on and amusing hockey observations.I was throwing out the scenario that the Eastern Conference was wide open for the taking with the situations developingon many other contending teams around the Bruins. I say "wide open" in the sense that its anybodys playoffs, with each team harboring at least one major weakness and a playoffpath could be open for a long, bountiful run like the one undertaken by the surprising Montreal Canadiens last spring.I say wide open with the full-well notion that the Flyers have a monstrous positional player roster with some very suspect goaltending until proven otherwise. The Penguins have no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and no shot without both of them working together as a duo. The Capitals have been a mess all year, have choked in the playoffs multiple times and were looking at Bs castoffs like Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm as part of the solution. Color me not impressed after they needed 26 minutes out of Wideman in his first night suiting up for them.The Tampa Bay Lightning have a young team in playoff terms with little real experience beyond Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Dwayne Roloson.Beyond those five teams (including the Bruins), its a mess of mediocrity in the East.The one thing that Boston has over every single other team: the best goaltender in the NHL (who's also motivated to see how good he can be as the candle begins flickeringat 36 years old) and a great deal of impressive depth fortified by the deals for Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.The Bs are top five in goals for, top five in goals against, the best team in the NHL in the third period and boast a physical edge with good size and strength. The one thing they dont have: a game-breaking scorer. Its the point smartly brought up by Bourne in the conversation, and its altogether true.There is no CrosbyMalkin, ZetterbergDatsyuk, ToewsKane on the Bruins, and thats the hurdle Boston will have to clear in any manner of Stanley Cup run. It could certainly be done, but itll be in a different way of winning (Charlie Sheen trademarked)than weve seen out of the last handful of Stanley Cup champions, dating back to the Carolina Hurricanes.What the Bruins dohave is the right combination of depth, physical, hard-nosed players with the right amount of skill -- and emerging young players that could both surprise and wear down opponents in the playoffs. Just ask the Canucks or Flames if you're looking for testimonials.Either way its going to be fascinating to watch in the conference with a ton of parity among the top five seedsOn to the links: Heres FOH (Friend of Haggs) Justin Bourne on his eponymous blog dissecting the Bruins with 19 games to go in the season, and liking what he sees. Elliotte Friedmans always anticipated and always celebrated 30 thoughts for the week including some reasons for the dud of a trade deadline. Mike Milbury on NBCs Pro Hockey Talk choosing the winners and losers at the trade deadline, and certainly insulting someone in the process. A good look at the Bemidji State hockey program for all of my Minnesota readers out there. Do I have any Minnesota readers? Guess well find out. Michael Russo with an excellent piece on the Nystrom brothers, and their hockey legacy. On Frozen Blog gives us a peek at the Washington Capitals and some fresh now things hes seeing from the Caps in a largely stale hockey season. Dustin Penner likes what hes of the Los Angeles Kings, and in theory he should be a nice fit as a big-bodied forward to pair with Anze Kopitar. A double-dose of Elliotte Friedman this week as Ive also included a fascination sleep study that some NHL teams are enrolling in, and the results that could change plenty within the game of hockey.Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.