The Big and Bad Are... NOT Back.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

If a team doesn’t play like a team, they’re not going to win.

The Boston Bruins are in the worst slump they could possibly be in. The reason why? No one seems to know, including Claude Julien. During interviews the coaching staff may address the obvious problems of not being able to score or have solid defense, but there’s more to it than that. The Bruins seem to have lost all motivation to win.

Some might say injuries are the reason. Honestly though, the Bruins have gone through more injuries than imaginable in the past two seasons, they’ve learned to overcome adversity.

It’s hard to say the problem is with the goaltending. The Bruins have Vezina winning goaltender, Tim Thomas and a sensational rookie in Tuukka Rask. No, Thomas isn’t having the best season of his career but any goalie would do better when they’re defenseman are playing up to par. Mistake after mistake from Dennis Wideman doesn’t help much. He’s always where he shouldn’t be and he can’t get back fast enough when the Bruins cause a turnover.

Scoring has been a problem, too. The Bruins can never keep a lead, or score more than one goal for that matter. When Marc Savard, one of the league’s most elite passers, returned Bruins fans thought maybe there’d be a turn around, but that wasn’t the case. David Krejci, who had 18 goals at this point last year, has only recorded 10 so far this season. Also, Michael Ryder had a career year last season, but can’t find the back of the net this year. The Bruins keep going backwards, in the wrong direction.

The Bruins need to realize the big problem here. They’re not playing like a team. Last season, that was always the one thing anyone could say about this team. Analysts, the coaching staff, and the players all recognized the chemistry they had. That was broken up this year when the Bruins lost some key guys in P.J. Axelsson, Aaron Ward, Stephane Yelle, Phil Kessel, and Chuck Kobasew.

It’s noticeable how much this team lacks morale and team mentality. They appear to not be on the same page and it shows in their missed scoring opportunities, unconnecting passes, and the fact they collide with one another every other play.

What happened to the motto this year: The Big and Bad Are Back? Really? Well where the hell have they been. The Bruins checking game has been non existent. They rarely fight and when they have an opportunity to get physical, they back down.

If they continue to play as horrid as they have for the past month, Bruins fans can say goodbye to playoffs this year.

Lucic Re-Signed

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bruins fans have had a lot to smile about in the past few seasons. Making playoffs one year, to sweeping Montreal the next year, and overall having productive seasons has made Boston a hockey town again.

The reason for all of this success is because of the team they have in the locker room right now. The Bruins have youth, skill, determination, and edge.

One player that has all four of those is forward Milan Lucic. At only 21 years of age, Lucic has been phenomenal. He's not afraid to drop the gloves, play physical, and he also puts the puck in the back of the net often. His type of play is bringing back the old style of Boston Bruins hockey.

Lucic was signed to a three-year contract extension. Salary negotiations have not been disclosed to the public.

Last season, he set career highs in every category. He tallied 17 goals, 25 assists, totaling 42 points. His plus/minus was a +17, and for a young player that's impressive.

With his size and edgy play, he will help bring this team to a whole new level.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer is a short season, but to hockey fans, it’s the longest. As the summer is winding down, hockey is starting up.

The Boston Bruins look to pick up where they left off. By that, I don’t mean from game seven, overtime loss to Carolina. I mean the energy and determination the team brought all last season. The core of the team is still here, even though some players have been lost due to free agency and tight cap space.

Long time Bruins, P.J. Axelsson, will not be playing in a B’s uniform this upcoming season. He will be in his home country, Sweden. Although Axelsson probably had a few years left in him, Bruins personnel decided it was time to let him go. He was a great penalty killer and a player with experience. On and off the ice, he brought so much to the Bruins.

Two players were traded to the new found rival in Carolina; Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle. Ward, a defenseman, will be missed for his edgy play, experience, and ability to block pucks by sacrificing his body. Yelle, a veteran center, was successful on the Bruins fourth line and first penalty killing unit. While Yelle was a good fit for this team, the Bruins can deal without.

Most Bruins fans echo the same thought when it comes to the goodbyes to goaltender, Manny Fernandez, and defenseman Steve Montador. Both players have potential to be great, but just didn’t fit into Coach Claude Julien’s system.

With defenseman Shane Hnidy going to Minnesota and Ward going to Carolina, the Bruins signed Andy Wozniewski. Also new to the team is defenseman Derek Morris and former Canadien bad guy, Steve Begin who were acquired during the offseason. Morris will most likely fill in Ward’s spot and Begin will see fourth line action.

The main trade that would possibly have a chance at messing up the chemistry and offense the 2008-2009 Bruins team had would be Phil Kessel to Toronto. (I’m too mad to talk about it, though. All I can say is, he looks bad in blue!)

The most important players that the Black and Gold need are still here. Vezina Trophy winner, Tim Thomas, was re-signed at the end of last season for another four years. With him at his best and Tuukka Rask as his back up, the Bruins should have things covered pretty well in between the pipes.

Marc Savard, one of the most accurate passers in the NHL, will most likely stay on the first line along with Milan Lucic. Lucic, who hits anything and everything in his path, works well with Savard because he creates space.

Coming back from an injury plagued season is fast and skilled goal scorer, Marco Sturm. He’s a potential 40 goal scorer who can bring plenty of offense for this team.

Last season, there were two unstoppable lines that clicked all season. The second line, consisting of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder, was the force behind most of the Bruins offense. Krejci and Wheeler both had hat tricks and all three had career highs in many categories.

The other line was the third line which included Chuck Kobasew, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi. This line wasn’t together all season, seeing as how Recchi has only been a Bruins since March when he was acquired at the trade deadline. However, they clicked right away and were their best during the playoffs.

All six of these players are also coming back this season. The old and the new Bruins kick off the season at home this year. In 10 days, the Washington Capitals come to town for the first game of the season. Welcome back hockey.

Good Day for Trades

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The first day of free agency is almost over, but the trades aren't. There were many trades today, as I expected, but most of them surprised me. I want to go over the ones I find beneficial to the teams, the ones that are random, and then the ones I laughed at.


Chicago signed a great player and lost a great player in the same day. The Hawks inked Hossa to a 12 year deal, good move but too long of a contract for my liking. Hossa is a game changing player who will help bring this team to a whole new level. (Also from Detroit, Chicago got left wing Tomas Kopecky.) At the same time, they lost goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin to Edmonton. Khabibulin played in 42 games last season and in past seasons has played as many as 72 games. This is good for the Oilers though, because just today their goalie got signed, by the Islanders.

The New York Islanders for once, made a very smart decision. They already have a great goalie in Rick DiPietro. That is, when he's actually healthy. The Isles signed Dwayne Roloson, who played in 63 games this season. He has plenty of experience in the NHL at the age of 39 and have played for four different NHL teams.

Another great pick up was Scott Clemmensen by Florida. Again, this is another situation where a team got a great player but also lost one. Florida lost net minder Craig Anderson to Colorado. Anderson had a great season for the Panters in 2008-2009, recording three shutouts in 31 games played. Both great goalies got snatched up by these two teams.

Marian Gaborik was reported to have gone to the Rangers which would be a great player for them to get after losing Scotty Gomez to the Habs. Gaborik is a 30-40 goal scorer which is exactly what the Rangers need. In the Gomez trade, New York acquired Chris Higgins, another player that makes a difference. Last season he was brought down by constant injury, but in past seasons he has had 6+ 20 goal seasons. If healthy this year, he could probably produce 30 goals for the Rangers. As for the Canadiens getting Gomez, it's a great deal for Bob Gainey. With the Habs having 10 free agents, they're obviously going to have a lot of new faces. Gomez has had one 30 goal season, but the other season when he hasn't, he's made up for it with points. He will help the Habs get back on track for their 101st season.

The Capitals signed a player that I feel will fit in perfectly with their team and system. Mike Knuble is now a Cap! It's good for both of them. Knuble is a hard working player who I've seen first hand score those clutch goals.


Bruins General Mangers, Peter Chiarelli was quiet basically all day. As a Bruins fan myself, I was wondering what was up. I'm already mad because I have a feeling Kessel won't be a Bruin next year so when I heard they had signed former Canadien, Steve Begin, I was dumbfounded. My first thought: Whaaaat?! This is so random. Yes, he's got grit and is a physical player but why do the B's need him? They don't. The team has their chemistry, speed, scoring, defense, and goaltending all intact and I feel as though Begin coming to Boston isn't needed. Let's hope he proves me wrong, and makes up to Marc Savard by fighting anyone who comes within five feet of him.

Who watched last year's playoffs? I don't think the Rangers did even though they were in it. Do they not remember what Donny Brashear did to their very own, Blair Betts? Well now Brashear is a Ranger and typing that it felt really weird. Random.

Good luck Buffalo and fans. You guys are the lucky ones to win Steve Montador! Since I'm a Bruins fan, I am relieved to see him go and glad someone was dumb enough to take him. Maybe he'll fit into their system but he definitely didn't work with the B's. I felt safer when he got a penalty even though it up the Bruins short handed, because from the box at least he couldn't turn over the puck. Still a random trade I didn't see coming.


Whatever Montreal's GM, Bob Gainey, is on...I want some! Who voluntarily signs Hal Gill? Do you want to lose games? Right there is your ticket OUT of the playoffs. I'll give him credit of having size and strength, but he doesn't use it so there's no point. This trade made me smile just a little because Habs' fails are funny.

Also putting a smile on my face was the fact that Milan Lucic's punching bag, Mike Komisarek, is now on the Toronto Maple Leafs. That sucks for him, seeing as how Toronto doesn't seem to be playoff bound anytime soon. At least Komi is still on a team I hate, therefore making it easier to hate him.

I'm sure more trades are coming, but for now these are the ones that made headlines in my mind. The Habs seemed to have acquired the most amount of players, but this is probably due to the fact they have the most free agents. Thanks again for the laughs Bob.

It's A Wild Situation In Minnesota

Monday, June 29, 2009

A lot of teams like to focus on signing a natural goal scorer come July 1st, but no one is in more need than the Minnesota Wild. The Wild's team is made of a solid defensive core, which is great for a team and their goalie. But if you can't score goals, you have no chance of winning hockey games. The only real 30-40 goal scorer they have is right winger Marian Gaborik, who hits the free agent market come the first of July.

The biggest name on this Wild roster is Gaborik who, due to injury, only played in 17 games this past season. In those 17 games though, he scored 13 goals which simply proves right there he knows how to find the back of the net. Can you only imagine how much damage he would have done if healthy? Along with his 13 goals he put up 10 assists to total 23 points which averages out to at least one point a game. Now he has a contract of $7.5 million at the age of 27. To me, that's a lot of money but Gaborik's probably worth it if he can stay healthy. He's never played all 82 games in a season, coming close in 2002-2003 playing in 81. According to, Minnesota, Vancouver, Edmonton, Los Angeles and Dallas are interested in him. My personal opinion: if Minnesota wants to make playoffs next year, they either keep Gaborik or sign a player like Heatley or Hossa.

Other forwards that will be free agents are centers Krystofer Kolanos ($500,000), Bryan Lundbohm ($500,000), and left winger Stephane Veilleux ($862,500). Veilleux is the same age as Gaborik and scored just as many points, only difference is he participated in all but one of the Wild's games this season. He is still a reliable forward though. As for the other two, if Minnesota is serious about getting another goal scorer, these two players could be traded as a package deal. Kolanos played in 21 games for the Wild and Lundbohm spent most of his season with the affiliate team, Houston Aeros.

On the defensive side of things, they have four free agents, one of them being the stay at home defenseman, Martin Skoula. For a blue-liner, he didn't have many penalty minutes as he had only 10, which is a plus. He put up 16 points through 81 games last season. So should Minnesota re-sign him? I believe they should, simply because for the 10 years he has been in the NHL, he's always been reliable.

Other free agent defensemen the Wild have is Marc-Andre Bergeron ($1.69 million), Kurtis Foster ($1.025 million), and Tomas Mojzis ($500,000). Bergeron is more of the offensive type of defenseman. During the 2008-2009 season, he scored 14 goals in 72 games to make a total of 32 points. In the past, he has had one 20 goal season, two 17 goal seasons, and one 15 goal season. This is a player the Wild really shouldn't let go of. The Wild have enough cap space to sign Bergeron and Foster if they wanted to.

About the goaltending situation, they already signed Niklas Backstrom, one of the candidates for the Vezina Trophy this past Awards Ceremony. They inked him to a four year, $24 million deal. Backstrom went 37-24-8 this past season.

On the night of the draft, the Wild acquired Kyle Brodziak, a center from the Edmonton Oilers. He's not one to put up big numbers on the score board, but he's one to stay healthy, be physical but stay out of the box, and keep his +/- at a reasonable number. I guess you could say he is one of those players who make up for the offense by doing the little things.

During the off season, the main focus of this team should be on scoring. Of course it could never hurt to add talent and depth to your defense as well, but if they don't, they should be fine.

Sens' Off Season Situations

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Ottawa Senators were once a team to be reckoned with. They were a playoff contending team for years, including making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually losing to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. This past season, however, everything fell apart for the Sens. They didn't make the playoffs, they stayed at the bottom of the standings, and their line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson just wasn't the same.

Now Heatley wants out. This is something Ottawa really can't control. Yes, he is one of their best players, but Canada's capital city doesn't suit him anymore. Heatley has a list of teams he would go too (might I add one of them being my Boston Bruins =D ) and Ottawa was hoping to get a trade done before the NHL draft this Friday. On his list of teams includes the Bruins, as I mentioned, the Kings, Rangers, Sharks, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Canucks. For a player like Heatley, Sens fans better hope they get some good players out of a trade with him.

The Sens also have two unrestricted free agents in forwards Mike Comrie and Chris Neil. Comrie, acquired before the trade deadline, put up three goals and four assists in 22 games played with Ottawa. Neil, on the other hand, has spent his whole career with Ottawa. He has played in 511 career games, posting 61 career goals. If Ottawa was to only resign one, my personal opinion is Comrie is the better guy to go with. Only problem is, he has a $4 million contract to pay, while Neil's is only $1.2 million. Although when it comes to signing players, it's sometimes better to go with the player with more quality.

Thirty-two year old defenseman, Filip Kuba, will become a free agent as well. This past season he produced 40 points, three of which were goals. He also ended the season a +4, with 28 penalty minutes which isn't bad for a blue liner. His contract is worth $3 million.

Ottawa has a few small contracts that will be free agents as of July 1st, such as Brad Isbister ($650,000), Greg Mauldin ($500,000), Drew Fata ($550,000), Luke Richardson ($500,000), and Brian Elliott ($758,000).

As far as the draft goes, Ottawa should look for a goaltender that they can use as a back up to Alex Auld. Auld, if he doesn't get traded, should make for a solid starting goalie. Goaltending was a slight problem during the 2008-2009 season, so a goalie should be top priority for General Manager, Bryan Murray.

The Wanna B's Woes

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hockey season has sadly been over for eleven long, dreadful days, but there are still plenty of things to cover during the offseason. There will be time to cover the draft as well as free agency, so I'm going to start my summer off with the Providence Bruins.

The Baby Bruins roster is always changing. Whether players get sent back to juniors, get called up to Boston, get traded, and on an every night basis: alternate every other game because there are so many of them. Whatever the case, I never know who I'm going to get to see play that night. Heading into next season, however, there are some names I definitely want to see back on the roster and some that I don't think will be back.

Starting with the guys from the point, there are a total of eight defenseman on the P-Bruins roster right now. Alain Goulet signed to Amateur Tryout in April, after joining fellow Bruins the past two years at the Rookie Development Camp. This name is not one I've seen brought up in talk with Providence; therefore I am not sure he will be returning next year. Most likely, he will be released from his contract. David Kolomatis and Matt Stephenson are two other defensemen that were added to the roster late in the season. Both players who alternated different games, and are ones I would place on the "unsure to return" list.

Names known in Providence and by Bruins fans are Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Jeff Penner, and Andrew Bodnarchuk. Boychuk definitely proved why he deserves to be wearing a Bruins jersey. This past season he was the leading scorer of the team with 66 points and 20 goals. As a defenseman, these are impressive stats. McQuaid, on the other hand, is more of a reliable defenseman. He doesn't always show up on the score sheet, but he makes up for it on the back end by always throwing his body around and passing the puck up to his forwards. Penner's style is one of the most unique I've seen. He's used on the power play, he's one to stay healthy all season, ended up a team hight +22, plays physical, and can rush the puck up the ice. To me, he's a very skilled defenseman, and it actually blows my mind he hasn't gotten called up by Boston yet. Bodnarchuck has some experience with the team, having played for them the past 2 seasons. Again, he's another one that doesn't contribute as much offense as some, but still plays a big part for this club.

As for forwards, there are fifteen of them total, while a hockey roster only allows 12 on the bench. This is where the alternating came in also. There are too many centers and wingers to sit here and write something about each of them, so I will simply mention a few. First, there's Vladimir Sobotka who knows Route 95 very well. For those of you outside Boston, that is the highway taken to get from Providence to Boston, which Sobotka seems to be doing more often than not. He's always getting called up and sent back down. I love when he plays in Boston because his style of play at a young age amazes me. Be sure to see him on the roster for Providence next year. Other notables that I think will be on the 2009-2010 roster are Brad Marchand, Wacey Rabbit, Matt Marquadt, Marty St. Pierre, and Jordan Knackstedt.

Out of the four goalies currently on the roster, I strongly believe (and hope) that Tuukka Rask will be playing for Boston next year. Rask played all sixteen of Providence's playoff games and 57 of the regular season. His first call up from Boston last season was versus the New York Rangers where he posted his first NHL career shutout. Adam Courchaine, Kevin Regan, and Kevin Natsiuk will have some competition during Development Camp to see who gets the top spot.

*I will post updates from the week of July 6th- July 12th from Ristuccia, on the Providence Bruins and draft picks*
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