Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Devils

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Devils

Here are 15 thoughts from the game with the Bruins and New Jersey Devils tied at a 3-6 score after 60 minutes at the TD Garden and headed to overtime.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Thats all it took was the coach to throw his hands up and start making some changes. Claude Julien tinkered with the lines and put his best playmaker (David Krejci) and finisher (Tyler Seguin) together, and instant offense was born. Krejci looked like he was skating at a different gear than the past month after getting paired with No. 19 and Milan Lucic adds the size and strength that the other two cant provide. Five of the nine shots on net were from the Krejci line and they could have easily had a couple more goals were it not for Martin Brodeur.

2) Tim Thomas looks like hes in You Shall Not Pass mode after the first period. Ten saves for Thomas, and a pair of big stops led immediately to Bruins goals at the other end of the ice. He stoned Patrik Elias cold on a tip in front of the net in the opening minute, and that led to Seguin and Krejci transitioning into a goal. Then he stuffed Kovalchuk and assisted on Tyler Seguins goal after Milan Lucic manhandled Mark Fayne up the left boards.

3) Greg Zanon buried David Clarkson in front of the Boston bench toward the end of the first period and officially endeared himself to the Nation of Black and Gold sweater-wearing members.

4) Long scrap between Shawn Thornton and Eric Boulton immediately after Bostons first goal. Both landed some heavy hits before the decision eventually went to Thornton, but he did end the fight prematurely after appearing to get cut in the forehead area. He immediately exited the ice afterward and didnt return to the bench until the final minutes of the period.

5) Bruins have won nine out of 12 face-offs and appear to be playing with the energy and urgency that everybody expected on Tuesday night against the Senators. Better late than never I guess.

SECOND PERIOD

1) The second period continues to be a dud for the Bruins. As the Globes Kevin Paul Dupont has aptly pointed out, those second period shortcomings have meant the Bruins have trailed going into the third period in 18 of their last 22 games this season. Thats a tough path for a team that is much better as a front-runner.

2) Joe Corvo has to go. His neutral zone turnover led to New Jerseys first goal and he half-heartedly skated to get back into the play as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise buried Dennis Seidenberg on a 2-on-1. He was taken off the pairing with Dennis Seidenberg for a bit, but then was on the ice for New Jerseys second goal on his first shift paired back up with Seidenberg again. Hes been brutal defensively and non-existent offensively: its time for him to hit the pine for a stretch.

3) Tim Thomas was great in the first period and parts of the second period, but couldnt hold back the Jersey onslaught once it got started in the middle period. The Patrik Elias goal arrived after a puck bounced off Dennis Seidenberg in front of the net and a David Clarkson wraparound bid hit Andrew Ference between squeaking between Tim Thomas and the right post. Not his fault, but Thomas needs to find a way to keep New Jerseys third goal out of the net as he hugs the post.

4) Big miss by David Krejci midway through the first on the shorthanded breakaway looms large now. If Krejci gets that puck past Martin Brodeur it might have been a different game with the Bruins up 3-0. Give Brodeur some credit for locking things down after letting Boston go up by a couple of goals.

5) Bruins cant afford to let this one slip away. Boos at the end of the second period after watching the Bs self-destruct.

THIRD PERIOD

1) The Brian Rolston spot on the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line might not work for very long. Marchand looks like a shell of himself forced to play the off-wing on the right side. Not a good trade-off just to get Rolston into a comfortable spot in the lineup.

2) Two goals for David Krejci. The hot and cold extremes have become more pronounced as he gained experience in the NHL. One has to really wonder why that is.

3) Joe Corvo benched for much of the third period as the Bruins went with five defensemen for long stretch of the final 20 minutes. Its looking more and more like he may be the healthy scratch when the Bs take the ice again Saturday night at TD Garden.

4) After watching one game from Greg Zanon, he is going to fit in really nicely with the Bruins. Three registered hits and a physical presence to go along with the willingness to step in front of any number of shots.

5) Brian Rolston looks like he doesnt have a lot of legs during these grueling shifts for the Bruins. Dont see the skating jets that he used to have in his first stint, but perhaps that was to be expected.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.

6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.

11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox. 

15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players. 

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.

MORE: Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.

“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.

“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”

While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.

So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.

The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.

Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.

“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.

“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”

So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.

The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold.