Chiarelli: 'Let's man up and get this thing right'
The coach is safe, the GM is working the phones for a trade and the Boston Bruins can't score.
There's your daily update from Beantown in a nutshell, folks.
Let's start with coach Claude Julien, whose job status suddenly has come under scrutiny with his team mired in a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) and sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday morning, one point out of a playoff spot.
"I was asked this morning if his job was in jeopardy, and my response was, 'No, it's never even entered my mind,'" Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We have to improve as a team, we have to improve as a management team, we have to improve as a coaching staff, and that's what we're going to do."
The Bruins finished first in the Eastern Conference last season and reached the second round of the playoffs. Expectations were sky high entering this season. But the injury-riddled team has struggled mightily to score goals, sitting last in the NHL with an average of 2.37 goals per game.
"I'm disappointed," Chiarelli said. "You look at the team, you look at going into the year, and obviously I expected to do much better. There's still 30 games left, and we have to make hay with the sun shining right now. It's so tight in the standings that if you win four, five in a row, you're back in it. That's exactly what Ottawa [winner of seven straight] has done.
"It's incumbent on the players to play better, because they haven't played well enough," continued Chiarelli. "By the same token, it may be that we need some tweaks ... and the coaching staff has to get more out of the players. What I'm saying is, it's everybody's fault. Let's man up and get this thing right."
In the meantime, Chiarelli confirmed he's working the phones trying to make a deal ahead of the Feb. 12 Olympic roster freeze and March 3 trade deadline.
"I'm looking every year [to make trades] but maybe more so this year because of the way we performed," Chiarelli said. "Having said all that, we want to be in the playoffs and we want to succeed in the playoffs."
The Bruins have plenty of ammunition at their disposal in trade talks. They have nine draft picks in the first two rounds over the next two years, including a pair of first-rounders courtesy of the Phil Kessel trade in September (Toronto sent over a first-rounder for both 2010 and 2011). Some of those picks are in play.
"But I can tell you one thing -- I'm not trading Toronto's pick [for this year]," Chiarelli said. "I am not trading it. That pick is too valuable."
The Leafs are 28th in the overall standings, so that asset looks more like a lottery pick, which could wind up being the first overall selection.
While Chiarelli refused to discuss any specific names, another NHL source told ESPN.com that the Bruins are very much in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, along with Los Angeles in particular. While Vancouver, Philadelphia and Chicago also have reported interest, it appears the Bruins and Kings are the front-runners at this point.
But will anyone pay the price? The Thrashers, I'm told, are looking for a package that includes a first-round pick, a prospect and a player from the NHL roster. Kovalchuk is an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Bruins next play Friday at Buffalo before hosting Los Angeles on Saturday.