Bruins Get Rare Win

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
9:50
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The Bruins defeated the Devils in overtime for just their second win in nine games.

With Rask ill, Bruins recall goalie Smith

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
1:55
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The Boston Bruins on Friday recalled goaltender Jeremy Smith from Providence of the AHL.

Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in New Jersey earlier in the day that goaltender Tuukka Rask was sick and was questionable to play Friday against the Devils. Niklas Svedberg ended up getting the start.

Smith, 25, has played in 26 games for the P-Bruins this season, posting a 14-8-4 record, a 2.08 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
Antoine VermetteBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesLooks like the Bruins are now in on the Antoine Vermette sweepstakes as well.
The Boston Bruins continue to shop away as the clock ticks toward Monday's trade deadline.

As of Friday morning, the Bruins remained in the mix for the services of pending unrestricted free agent winger Chris Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres, a dance that's been going on all year, but another source said that the Bruins are in on the Antoine Vermette derby as well. Management from the Bruins and the Arizona Coyotes spoke a few times Thursday.

It's believed the Bruins' shopping list also includes Erik Cole of the Dallas Stars and Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Vermette would be a big pickup, especially with star center David Krejci hurt. But the Chicago Blackhawks are seen as being very eager for Vermette as well, among other potential forwards. A source told ESPN.com Friday morning that the Blackhawks were hoping to complete a trade by the end of Friday.

And whether it's a forward or a defenseman remains to be seen; the Blackhawks could end up with both before Monday's deadline.

Elevated Plays Of The Week

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
12:09
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Check out some top goals, saves and hits from this week in the NHL.
Tuukka RaskAP Photo/Larry MacDougalGoalie Tuukka Rask has played in 51 games this season; his career high is 58.

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Goaltender Tuukka Rask doesn’t need daily affirmation to know that he’s healthy, well-rested and ready to play the majority of the Boston Bruins' remaining regular-season games.

The Bruins enter Friday in position for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, only two points ahead of the Florida Panthers, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Boston has 22 games remaining in the regular season, and Rask should play nearly all of them. Nothing against backup Niklas Svedberg, but the Bruins need all the points they can get -- meaning a heavy dose of Rask will almost certainly be required to secure a postseason berth.

Rask has played 51 games this season with a 24-16-9 record, including a 2.37 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. His current career high is 58 games, set last season, so he should exceed that total.

The 27-year-old has played 18 consecutive games and is showing zero sign of fatigue.

“I feel great,” Rask said. “It’s tough but no complaints. Honestly, I don’t feel that bad. Obviously, you play [18] games in a row you’re going to feel fatigued, but the more you play and you battle that mental fatigue, you kind of try to put all your energy on the right things and you don’t overthink the play and the game. So, it’s been working well and we’ll see.”

When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Tim Thomas played 57 games in goal during the regular season. Once the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup playoffs, Thomas was ready and provided one of the greatest goaltending performances in postseason history en route to a championship.

When the Bruins returned to the finals in 2013, Rask led the way. During the lockout-shortened, 48-game season, he played 36 games in a short period of time, but it’s not fair to compare what he did in 2013 to the number of games he’ll finish with this season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien generally plays his top netminder in the range of 55 to 60 games during the regular season. Given all the struggles the Bruins have experienced this season, Julien has been forced to play Rask more than usual.

“It’s a lot of games, and for every goalie it’s individual what’s the optimal amount of games,” Rask said. “I’ve played 45. I’ve played 55 and whatever I played last year [58], so this year it will be a career high and I feel the same.”

Rask is well aware of his workload. With the team in the thick of the playoff chase, he’s trying to stay focused, healthy and avoid burnout.

“Obviously you want to play as much as you can and feel good about your game," Rask said. "Right now I’m feeling good and the biggest thing is just managing rest and make sure you don’t burn out, because once you play 65, 70 games with no breaks, it might hurt you in the long run, or in the playoffs, because you’re obviously prepared for a 20-plus-game postseason. If you manage your rest everything will be fine."

Julien has tried to give Rask time off, but it hasn’t worked. The Bruins have six remaining back-to-back sets, so it’s likely Svedberg (5-5-0 in 13 games) will be asked to spell Rask in at least a couple of those.

Despite Rask’s workload, Julien has been pleased with the goalie’s durability.

“He feels strong,” Julien said.

B's create flexibility before deadline

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
6:36
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BOSTON -- The Bruins have placed forward David Krejci and defenseman Kevan Miller on long-term injured reserve, which allows general manager Peter Chiarelli to have salary-cap flexibility prior to Monday's trade deadline.

Placing Krejci (out four to six weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee) and Miller (out for the season due to right shoulder surgery) on LTIR gives Chiarelli an estimated $6 million to play with.

However, there's no imminent trade for the Bruins, a league source said.

If Chiarelli acquires a player or two before the deadline and Krejci is ready to return prior to the end of the regular season (which is still a possibility), the Bruins would have to be cap compliant. If Krejci does not return until the playoffs, any new players added to the Bruins' roster, along with Krejci, would be eligible for the playoffs, because the cap doesn't come into play for the postseason.

Krejci said this week he did not want to be placed on LTIR.

"This question is for management, but no, I don't want to sit out. I want to play, obviously," Krejci said. "If there's only a little chance I can play, I would like to play. Management has to do whatever they feel is right for the team and get our team into the playoffs. It's not an easy decision for them, but [Chiarelli has] been making good decisions since I've been here, so I'm pretty sure he's going to make the right one again."


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Claude Julien not worried about job security

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
4:41
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- With the Boston Bruins struggling to hang on to a playoff spot, many are questioning whether there will be changes to the organization’s front office and coaching staff if the team fails to reach the postseason.

In early January, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs publicly announced it would be “unacceptable” and an “incredible failure” if the team did not earn an eighth straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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If the Bruins don't make the playoffs, what should the team do?

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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien have been on the public’s hot seat for the majority of the season, but the chatter does not bother Julien. He addressed the situation following the team’s practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

“It’s not even an issue for me, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve got to come in here and do my job. It doesn’t matter that other people think whether upper management thinks there needs to be change, those things don’t matter to me.

“What matters to me is that I come in and do a job here. Whatever they decide they can decide. It really doesn’t matter to me. If they think I can do the job, that’s great. If they don’t think that the job was done to the expectations it should’ve been done then that’s their prerogative. But those things don’t even faze me the least bit -- trust me when I say that. I’m here. I’m happy. I’m doing my job. I’m working with players and people around me that I enjoy working with and when that doesn’t suffice anymore then we move on and that’s life of a coach.”

Some fans have suggested that the players have tuned out the coach. That’s not the case. If, for some reason, the Bruins fail to earn a playoff spot, Chiarelli and Julien shouldn’t be fired because of one bad season. There have been too many injuries and an unhealthy lineup for the majority of this season, so the GM and coach should receive a stay of execution.

While Julien sits in his office wearing earmuffs, Chiarelli continues to work the phones in an attempt to improve the team before Monday’s trade deadline.

Rumblings: Bruins will make move by March 2

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
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The pressure is mounting on Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to make his move, and there’s no question he will before Monday’s deadline.

I think there’s interest in the likes of Erik Cole, Curtis Glencross and, as we’ve been saying all season, Chris Stewart.

Sources told ESPN.com that Chiarelli tried on Devante Smith-Pelly this week before the young hulking winger went to rival Montreal instead.

But Chiarelli has shown in past trades deadlines that he’s very capable of making moves under pressure. He’ll get his winger before it’s all said and done.
Antoine VermetteChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesAntoine Vermette is among the best remaining "rental" options on the trade market.
And just like that, the rental trade market has thinned out considerably.

On Tuesday, the trade for Sean Bergenheim helped set the price for a rental, with the Florida Panthers getting a third-round pick while shipping a seventh-rounder to the Minnesota Wild along with the forward, who had asked out.

The other general managers took that bit of information on Wednesday and ran with it.

“I think the Bergenheim price motivated some sellers to take what they can get. That was not a great price if you’re a seller,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “The value -- I don’t think it was anywhere near what people were saying the market was going to be.”

That said, the price the Pittsburgh Penguins paid for Daniel Winnik was high, in part because he was one of the few rentals they could squeeze under the cap. And the Los Angeles Kings paid a nice ransom for Andrej Sekera, but get the double benefit of adding the best available rental defenseman and preventing him from going to Chicago.

In a span of two days, Bergenheim, Winnik, Sekera and Jiri Tlusty were removed from a market that also no longer contained Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli.

There are still useful options out there, but it moves the spotlight to the "hockey trade" market. This is the market in which contenders vie for a player who has more term on his deal.
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The list of injured Bruins keeps expanding: David Krejci has been ruled out 4-6 weeks.

Chiarelli could gain room to maneuver

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
12:32
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are in a position to make an impactful deal or two prior to Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli wants to improve the team, and the organization’s belief is it can still make a push in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite Boston’s 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday at TD Garden, the Bruins still own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Florida Panthers, who fell to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Tuesday's shootout.

In the most unfortunate way, the Bruins could find some salary-cap flexibility prior to the deadline that could help the team add some important players (most likely a forward and defenseman) for the stretch run.

How?

Since top-line center David Krejci will miss the next four to six weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee, Chiarelli could get creative with the salary cap.

[+] EnlargeSmith
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesAlthough Reilly Smith and the Bruins had a disappointing result Tuesday, the organization isn't ready to give up on the season.
In no way, shape or form would the Bruins be manipulating the salary cap if the team decides to place Krejci on long-term injured reserve. He has a legitimate injury. During an interview Tuesday afternoon on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Bruins team president Cam Neely said the NHL frowns upon teams trying to manipulate the cap, and the Bruins would not attempt to do so.

The Bruins are well within the rules to add space to their current cap situation if Krejci and Kevan Miller (season-ending shoulder surgery) are placed on LTIR. If that occurs, it would free up an estimated $6 million for Chiarelli to work with prior to the trade deadline.

If Chiarelli acquires a player or two before the deadline and then Krejci is ready to return prior to the end of the regular season, the Bruins would have to be cap compliant. If Krejci does not return until the playoffs, then any new players added to the Bruins’ roster, along with Krejci, would be eligible for the playoffs, because the cap doesn’t come into play for the postseason.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended Tuesday’s game at TD Garden and was asked about any potential loopholes that would give the Bruins an advantage at the deadline. Bettman said he doesn’t think the Bruins are trying to pull a fast one.

“We frown upon the use of loopholes, but I don’t think an injury was sustained in order to create a loophole,” Bettman said. “The rules are the rules. They’re competitive. The collective bargaining agreement tends to be fairly clear, and we try to enforce it consistently across the board.”

There are ways to massage the salary cap, and GMs across the league do their best to work it for the betterment of their teams. Again, there will be zero issues with the Bruins if Krejci is placed on LTIR.

“You can only ice a certain number of skaters, and the fact of the matter is, who’s to say how severely the injury will impact his play longer term, what kind of shape he’s been in?” Bettman said. “These are all speculative questions, and I’m not trying to duck them; it’s just simply let’s wait and see what happens before we draw any conclusions.”

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Before Chiarelli decides whether to put Krejci on LTIR, the team needs to have a better understanding of whether he could return prior to the end of the regular season. That decision needs to be made before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Krejci said he hopes to return before the end of the regular season to prepare himself for the playoffs. A six-week timetable would peg his return for sometime during the first week of April. The Bruins have five games in April, with the final regular-season contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 11.

Krejci addressed the injured-reserve situation on Tuesday morning and said he would rather play, if healthy and cleared for action, before the postseason begins.

“This question is for management, but no, I don’t want to sit out. I want to play, obviously,” Krejci said. “If there’s only a little chance I can play, I would like to play. Management has to do whatever they feel is right for the team and get our team into the playoffs. It’s not an easy decision for them, but [Chiarelli’s] been making good decisions since I’ve been here, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to make the right one again.”

Chiarelli has been working the phones and could be close on a few deals, but opposing GMs realize the Bruins are a desperate team due to the losses of Krejci and Miller and because they are fighting for a playoff spot.

After the team returned home from a 1-2-2 trip, the Bruins were hoping for a better result to Tuesday’s game. Despite the loss, coach Claude Julien was pleased with the team’s effort. Vancouver goaltender Eddie Lack finished with 40 saves en route to the victory. The Bruins were buzzing around the net all night and dominated play but couldn’t produce more than Daniel Paille’s lone tally.

“The only thing we talk about here is pretty simple,” Julien said. “It’s not the offense; it’s the lack of finish. When you come back from a long road trip like we did, we all know that that first game becomes a challenge, and I thought our guys handled it well. We came out there, skated, worked hard and dominated the game. [We] had lots of shots and scoring chances, but the inability to finish is the only reason that we’re sitting here tonight with a loss.”

Chiarelli will make a deal prior to Monday’s deadline. The Bruins will be a better team down the stretch, and they still have the ability to contend in the playoffs. If Krejci’s injury can somehow help the team at the deadline, and if the Bruins can hold on without him while the GM adds what this team needs, it all could work out in the end.

Canucks Edge Bruins

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
10:21
PM ET


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Zack Kassian's third-period goal lifted the Canucks past the Bruins 2-1.
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Steve Levy and Barry Melrose count down the top three goals of the week from across the NHL.
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Steve Levy, Barry Melrose and Scott Burnside previewed the Sharks' trade deadline needs and the Devils' trade plans and looked at the Wild Card race in the Eastern Conference.

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