Written by John Sheppard and can be followed at @jisheppard.
First of all before I write any more I want to thank Mark for this opportunity. For the foreseeable future I shall be writing about the Boston Bruins. I will talk about this year, the playoffs, the team, and what they’ll need in the playoffs.
The Boston Bruins are a team that builds for the playoff grind, they’re deep and roll all four lines. They love to play a North/South style
In their most recent game you saw Boston at their just about best. Strong defensive schemes, allow the goalie to see the puck, make it physical and if the other team answers with physicality then all the better. Teams like Boston and LA both know that when both teams are hitting hard, there is a higher chance of the ref putting the whistle in the pocket and fans get to see great hockey.
Two games this week vs the Kings and vs. the Hawks we watched amazing hockey.
There is a reason why the Bruins are a favorite in the east and those two games against Western heavyweights showed why.
When you look at the current team they are built for the playoffs.
The first line of Lucic/Krejci/Iginla is a first line in name only, as like I said, they roll all four. This is the best line Jarome Iginla has been part of in his career, if you don’t include International Hockey. Krejci is given freedom in the offensive zone not many centers are accustomed to, due in large part to if you hit him then Lucic will probably come in and say “Nope can’t do that,” especially if your bigger than Krejci. Argue how you want, but that’s how it should be.
This line has undeniable chemistry and even when they aren’t scoring, they are dominant on the ice. All three show signs of defensive awareness not often seen. I’m a long-time fan of Jarome Iginla but I never got to watch him much because I’m in the east and it was way too late to stay up to watch him. Each time I watch Boston and see Iginla in that jersey with that line, I wish he was there last year instead of Jagr. Iginla fits and Jagr did not
When you look at the cap of those three players you have Lucic at the highest cap hit and he brings the most unique mix of talent. Marc Savard called him recently the only true power forward in the league. His passing has looked better with Iginla on the line, he is one of the most physically imposing players in the league and will get you between 20-30 goals per year. With all that, Looch does not hurt you in the defensive end. Basically Milan Lucic is what Toronto thought they were getting with David Clarkson. He comes in at a cap hit of $6 million with two years beyond this year on his contract.
David Krejci has played a 200 foot game which does not get recognized as much because he’s on the same team as Patrice Bergeron. Playing that kind of game costs you points but gets you wins, so it’ll piss off the poolie but the fan who just wants his team to wins loves it. Krejci is the motor that makes this line work though, amazing passer and handles the puck very well. He comes in at a cap hit $5.25 million and is signed for next season.
Jarome Iginla, a future hall of famer. A player with a nose for the net, underrated skating. Plays the game the way it should be played. Personable off the ice, highly likeable, well-spoken and marketable still to this day. On the ice he is still a beast not just in the offensive zone or defensive zone, but if you do something to him he does not like, he will beat you in a fight. Jarome with bonuses reached thus far comes in at a $4.2 million cap hit.
This is an amazing first line and even when they don’t score they produce chances. One weird stat about this line that I wasn’t expecting was that of those three Milan Lucic has the least amount of shots on goal. He is doing a better job of passing but I thought Krejci would have had the least amount of shots.
Krejci is very surprising on so many levels a 52 percent winning percentage on faceoffs. 51 % Corsi for percentage and anything over 50 is considered good. Lucic comes in at 52.2 and Iginla at 52.5. It is Iginla’s first time over 50 %.
We start line two off with the man who will be the next captain of the bruins when Chara retires. Patrice Bergeron, a man considered by many to be in the top five of 200 foot players in the league a list that includes names like Datsyuk, Backes and Toews. Need a face off win, Patrice go out with that 60.3% and get us the puck. Down by one with a couple minutes left, Patrice get a goal. Every statistical basis loves Patrice, regular stats and advanced stats he is 60.3 which is fourth… In the League. Not just on a statistical basis but on that imaginary basis of ‘he’s just clutch’ Patrice is amazing. What is the cost of amazing, what is the cost of clutch what is the cost of advanced stats geeks to pound their keyboards asking us to listen… Its five million dollars on the cap
On a side note even though I love a good fight and a great physical game if you told me you could make every forward a Toews/Bergeron/Datsyuk I’d be ok with that. They play the complete game and they win championships.
Skating along with Bergeron is long time linemate Brad Marchand who is a super pest. The guy gets the job done, skates well finds ways to get open. Scores for you and kills penalties, he is a good player but man is he annoying. Marchands corsi is 58.8 but he is kind of why I’m not sure of the stat, it’s been only the last few weeks since he started playing again like Brad Marchand. Marchand comes in at a cap hit of 4.5 million for three more years after this.
Filling out the line is a young responsible hard working Reilly Smith. I didn’t know who he was when the Bruins made the trade it was all about a man to be talked about later. Reilly is so dependable and fits with Bergeron and in some ways he fits more than Seguin did. Tyler Seguin while amazing likes to carry the puck as does Bergy and Marchand. One could hope the ceiling hasn’t been hit for Reilly but chances are there isn’t much left and if this is what we get then I’d be happy with it. Reilly Smith’s advanced stats say his Corsi is 58.1% and a Fenwick of 57.6 %. He also comes in with a cap hit of 900 K but is a RFA at the end of the year. He will be getting a raise.
This line is good real good. It can get you points and serves as a shutdown line which will counter your mistakes very quickly.
Loui Eriksson who just had a very good Olympic tournament and I hope he keeps that up. He has been battling concussions all year both from very dirty hits. That’s another story and not this one. Loui has been playing better for Boston and fits pretty well with this line he also before Orpik looked good with Bergeron on the second line. Loui is a great player he was exceptional in Dallas and I wouldn’t know that if not for hockey pools. Adv stats wise he has consistently been over 50 % but maybe his lack of playing explains his 10 % bump here in Boston. Very good 120 foot player does it all and does it at 4.25 mil for two more years after this year.
Going along with Loui is fellow Swede Carl Soderberg. He is finding his game on the small ice and has looked very comfortable. Can take a face off if need be and has proven at times to be dominant especially on a third wing role. He also plays on the power play and has developed some serious chemistry with the aforementioned Loui. His Corsi percentage is 52.4 and Fenwick is 51.3 the Corsi is higher then Krejci but a lower Fenwick. I like Carl but he is not David Krejci. Soderberg comes in at a cap hit of 1 million for this and next year.
Finishing the third line out is Chris Kelly a Penalty killing wizard, he is solid on faceoffs winning 48.3 %. Kelly will never be confused with a top six but he is a top nine forward. Best thing to happen for him in that Bruins uniform was Peverly being shipped to Dallas, they played the same game and now you have two different elements on that line making it into a complete line.
Known by the color of their practice jerseys this is the Merlot Line. How many teams’ fourth liners play the penalty kill. Well two of Boston’s penalty killers do; Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. One had the insane shift on the penalty kill that forget Bruin lore it is in hockey lore. Gregory Campbell’s penalty kill on a broken leg was what many a hockey player will do. It is what we love about the sport the most; the heart.
Shawn Thornton fills out the line, heart and soul player stands up for his teammates. After the Orpik incident he is also the man of iron fists. Thornton is one of the legit fighters in the league that does not hurt you when he’s on the ice.
The entire fourth line comes in at a cap hit of 3.9 million plus Jordan Caron is the extra forward at 600 K
For this I’ll just focus on the current top seven
Zdeno Chara: An all-time great, a giant man who started off with limited skill and even less upside or at least that’s what Mike Milbury thought when he traded Chara along with Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. Don’t know why I mentioned that other then pointing out Milbury’s ineptitude. Zdeno Chara is a beast, but he’s getting older and Bruins are in a win now mode. Bruins have him for a few more years and hope for multiple cups while they have him before he retires. Chara has a cap hit of 6.9 million
Johnny Boychuk: Another guy who was drafted late and worked hard to become a NHL defencemen. Boychuk went from emergency call up to top four defender. Big shot from the point, does get it on the net. Plays great in his own end protects the goalie and has great timing for when is the right time to step up for a big open ice hit. Boychuk does have a injury history but with the way he plays that is expected, he also heals real quick. Boychuks cap hit is 3.36 million and he will be a UFA in 2015-2016
Dougie Hamilton: He is the future, Dougie does everything well. He has stepped up big time this year and shown more maturity in his game in all three ends. Shows more confidence in handling the puck and going in for the shot when need be and is still maturing in his own end which he will only get stronger as he matures. The hope is Dougie keeps with the line of Bruin defenders that started with Orr then went to Park, Ray Bourque and a big ol gap before Chara showed up. Cap hit of $894,167 expires same time as Boychuks in 2016 but he will be a RFA
Matt Bartkowski: The man who would be a Flame if not for a change of heart from Iginla. A solid defender, skates well solid pass out of the zone and is strong in his own end. Probably better suited as a five or six defender then a top four. Don’t know if the management feels comfortable with him in the top four vs Crosby and Malkin
Torey Krug: The ultimate number six, his minutes make you think he’s a top four but dude is a beast on the power play. Excellent skater, amazing shot but undersized for his own end. He holds his own but will have problems with other teams top six forwards. He has been what this team has long looked for and thought they had with Kaberle back in 2011. He is also miscast by some American writers who think he was an Olympian, specialist players are not Olympians. Torey Krug comes in at a cap hit of 916 K which expires this year. Krug’s best comparison is Marc Andre Bergeron.
Adam McQuaid: Another third pairing defender, he will probably slip into top four when he gets back from yet another injury. Love McQuaids simple game, he like so many others on this defence core minus Dougie worked his way into the NHL lineup with hard work and determination. Wish he still had the mullet though. Cap hit of 1.56 mil which expires in 2016
Kevan Miller: The latest guy who rose through the ranks with hard work like Boychuk and McQuaid before him. Said to be the second strongest player on the team behind only Chara this kid could very well develop into a top four defender on the team going into the future. Today though he could play with Boychuk but shouldn’t be paired with Krug. Cap hit of 800 K next year and 550 K this year
Tuukka Rask: One of the four best goalies in the league along with Carey Price, Henrik Lundquist and Jonathon Quick. People say ‘oh he don’t make the crazy save like Tim thomas’. Well that’s because Rask made the crazy save look routine which it is when you don’t mess up. Rask is so technical and athletic it’s kind of scary. Same could be said for Price but I’m not writing on Montreal. Rasks cap hit is seven million the highest on the team and when you are top four arguably top two at your position and In your prime you get the highest cap hit.
Chad Johnson: A solid not spectacular goalie a definite step down from last years back up of Anton Khudonin. Cap hit of 600 K
Currently the Bruins have two players on Long Term injury
Marc Savard (damn you Matt Cooke) whose cap hit would be 4 million and Denis Seidenberg who has a season long knee injury. Don’t watch the video of it, gross injury. Seids cap hit is 3.25 million
Those two give the Bruins 7.25 million in extra cap room to play with.
Possible trade targets:
Obviously from what I wrote and as I wrote it a top four defender and ideally that would have been Dan Girardi but alas he is re-signed to the Rangers.
Henrik Tallinder: I’ve read about him being tied to Boston numerous times, don’t know if he’s an upgrade over Millar or Bartkowski at this point
Andrew MacDonald: From all reports he is a top four, solid puck mover who is highly underrated. Getting some playoff time with the Bruins or wherever he ends up. Bruins have come out and said they won’t deal a first rounder for him.
Andrej Meszaros: Lot of reports the Bruins are interested in him some Philly reporters are saying that Chara is nudging Boston to make a deal for him. If it’s a 3rd round pick that is fairly cheap as long as its not a conditional 3rd rounder that becomes a 2nd then becomes a 1st. So far this is the most obvious of names until
Chris Phillips: to quote Bob Cole “Oh Baby” this makes sense all over the place. Former sen, played with Chara. Fits how the Bruins like to play D, active and tough likelihood of him coming to Causeway street. Slim, legit Boston reporters have longed for this guy and for good reason. I just don’t think he leaves Ottawa, I think he’s a lifer.
Nick Schultz: This guy has played and looked great in structured defence before when he was a member of the Wild. Would fit well with Boychuk and I believe he ends up in Boston and could be a first rounder or a conditional second. Maybe even a prospect like Caron and a second rounder.
Tom Gilbert: No.. Sorry Adv stats guys but the puck does end up in your end at times and that’s where hes weak. He is not a upgrade on any of the Bruins listed above already on the roster
Christian Ehroff: Solid player definitely top four but if your going to pay for a expensive Buffalo defender why not get
Tyler Myers: Missing the mean streak that Chara and Pronger and Jared Cowen have been blessed with. I think he’d come into his own with Boston and Chara’s tutelage.
Ron Hainsey: Love this guy, real solid game he is a top four. Be kind of cool to see the head union guy in negotiations on Jeremy Jacobs team
Mark Stuart: This is the most likely scenario I do believe. No learning curve as he’s played in the system as a former Bruin. Solid player who will work well with Boychuk
Ryan Whitney: Local boy, Bruins don’t need local boys to sell out but always good to have them
Mark Fraser: Bruins got a good look at him last year in the playoffs, didn’t do well with Carlyle but Julien is a different beast. Could slip into top four if need be, plays his position well enough especially when he has a good partner which Boychuk would be.
Zenon Konopka: Didn’t see that coming did you but guess what he fits with Boston and if there’s an injury to the fourth line he fits replacing Thornton or Campbell. Great fourth liner the ideal kind of fourth liner that any team would want. Does all those things that Ryan Callahan does minus the goal scoring but costs a hell of a lot less.
My final name
Kevin Bieksa: I know it won’t happen but seriously that’s a Cup parade name right there. Plus you can make a hockey deal dealing Loui Ericcson for him. Loui who played so well with Daniel at the Olympics he fits with Vancouver and Bieksa going to Boston means the Bruins are Don Cherry’s favorite team again.
Trade Loui and recall Ryan Spooner. Makes sense probably won’t happen though
Debunk a name: Chris Stewart; this came from Bruce Gairoch and makes NO sense. NONE. Stewart is known as a inconsistent take games off player and we seen how the Bruins view these guys. They don’t want them. They know you can’t score every game but they want compete every game. Look at Neelys discussion with Loui Ericcson. So stop making stuff up its almost as bad as Ryan Callahan for Martin St. Louis.
These reporters who have never and will never work for an NHL team just make stuff up and are accredited to vote on who is the best in the sport… Ugh
Sorry for the final part but those two trade rumors really irked me as they made NO SENSE.