Thursday, March 28, 2013
Daily Debate: What's Plan B for the B's?
By Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald debate the fallout of the Bruins losing out on the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes.
BURNSIDE: Greetings, Joe, must be a lot of long faces among the Boston Bruins faithful today, many of whom might have gone to bed Wednesday night imagining they were going to wake up Thursday and find Calgary captain Jarome Iginla was a Bruin. But that’s not how it shook down as Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero snatched the highly coveted winger away from the B's and added him to an already formidable Penguins lineup in a late-night/early-morning deal. Shero has become a kind of Professor Moriarty to Boston GM Peter Chiarelli’s Sherlock Holmes (or something like that); Shero has also added former Dallas captain Brenden Morrow, whom the Bruins were likewise interested in acquiring. Throw in a couple of recent losses to Pittsburgh (not to mention Wednesday’s blown lead in a shootout loss to Montreal, the surprise leader in the Northeast Division), and there must be significant pressure on Chiarelli to make something happen rosterwise between now and the April 3 deadline. What’s your take on the Iginla switcheroo and where the Bruins are now?
McDONALD: Scotty, my friend, it was a crazy turn of events in Boston. Many, and I mean many, Bruins fans went to bed thinking Mr. Iginla would be wearing No. 12 for the Bruins this weekend. I had numerous text messages from irate fans this morning for that very reason. Tip your cap to Shero for staying in constant contact with the Flames and getting this deal done. I spoke with a few NHL front-office types this morning, and one indicated that Pittsburgh was Iggy's front-runner because of his desire to play with Sidney Crosby. As far as the Bruins, yes, there's pressure on Chiarelli to improve his team before the deadline, but I think he's motivated now more than ever to pull something off. How incredible would it be if the Bruins and Penguins meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
BURNSIDE: Oh, that would be a barn burner, for sure. And you know that Chiarelli is quite capable of making trade-deadline magic happen, as was the case in 2011, when the Bruins added key pieces in the form of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Tomas Kaberle (OK, in the case of Kaberle, "key" is a relative term) and went on to their first championship since 1972. If there are areas you think Chiarelli will be targeting, what do you imagine his priority might be? A lot of folks imagine that Ryane Clowe is now in Chiarelli’s sights. The Sharks winger would add a prototypical Bruins forward to the mix with his grit and skill set (a skill set that has been more or less hidden this season in San Jose). Or does a guy like Derek Roy, who isn’t likely to sign in Dallas and could become an unrestricted free agent in July, factor in, given the depth he would bring down the middle and to the power play? There’s also the blue line, where Ryan Whitney’s name has come up frequently in recent days. It seems inevitable the Edmonton defenseman, who grew up in the Boston area and played at Boston University, is going to be traded. Does he end up wearing a Bruins’ jersey when all is said and done?
McDONALD: Even though Chiarelli was left at the altar holding a bouquet of flowers on this deal, you can be sure he has a Plan B. As you mentioned, he's not shy about pulling the trigger, as he did in 2011. He still wants add a forward and a defenseman before April 3. In a perfect hockey world, Chiarelli would like to add to the current roster without subtracting from it. Clowe's name has been mentioned and is a strong possibility. I really like his skill set, and that reckless-abandon style of play would fit perfectly in Boston. Since the Bruins could not land Iginla, what about pursuing a player like Martin St. Louis? I think he would want a chance to play in Boston, and his contract status (locked up for another two years) could fit with what Chiarelli is looking for. The Bruins haven't been scoring goals on a consistent basis and St. Louis would help fix that issue, especially on the power play. On the blue line, a possible return to Boston for Whitney doesn't sound so bad. The Bruins are looking for a veteran presence to add to their mix on defense, and he's a solid choice. Another defenseman who comes to mind is the Islanders' Lubomir Visnovsky. Either way, you can bet Chiarelli will make deals before Wednesday's deadline.
BURNSIDE: Good stuff, as always, Joe. Before we part ways, what’s your sense of this Bruins squad with a month left in the regular season? All teams hit a little rough patch (see the Anaheim Ducks for the most recent example of that), but for a long time I had lumped the Bruins in with the Penguins as a team that occupied a different strata than the rest of the Eastern Conference teams. But the Bruins have won just twice in their past six outings and have been unable, yet, to reel in the pesky Habs. Most assumed the Northeast Division title would belong to Boston -- along with home-ice advantage and the second seed that will undoubtedly come with that position -- but now there’s a germ of doubt. What’s your gut tell you? Do the Bruins end up where most expected they would, atop the division and headed to the postseason as the second seed behind the Pens -- thus setting up at least the promise of a much-anticipated Pittsburgh-Boston conference finals? Or is there too much work yet to be done with this Boston team to be looking that far ahead?
McDONALD: We should do this more often, Scotty, and I'm sure we will with the Stanley Cup playoffs quickly approaching. The Bruins do this every season. There's always a bit of a dull spot where the team struggles in one aspect of its game or another. But the Bruins always come out of it, and they will again this time, despite their recent struggles. Once Chiarelli finishes his task at hand, and the pressures of the deadline are gone, I expect this team to surge down the stretch and into the playoffs. It will be a tight race for the Northeast Division title, but in the end it will be the Bruins in first place. My one remaining question is the play of Tuukka Rask. He's proved he can be a No. 1 goaltender in Boston, but I remain skeptical about how he will perform in big games, especially in the playoffs. With what has transpired in the last 24 hours in regards to Iginla, I hope the Bruins and the Penguins face each other in the playoffs because it would be a gift to the fans from the hockey gods. Hope to see you in Boston soon, my friend.