Less than 48 hours after one of their worst performances of the season against the Canadiens, the Boston Bruins came back with a far more determined effort this afternoon as they downed former teammate Andrew Ference and the Edmonton Oilers by a 4-0 score at the Garden. Back-up goaltender Chad Johnson earned his first shutout of the season with a 22 save performance and nine Bruins had a point in the victory, which keeps a six point cushion between the B’s and the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic division.
With the Boston Bruins’ current lineup it’s a little hard to ask for style points on top of just getting wins, so it’s not a total surprise that they had their hands full with a young Edmonton Oilers squad last night. Fortunately though the Bruins they were able to pick up right where they left off in Calgary two nights before, scoring three times in an eight minute stretch in the first period, which would be enough offense to get the job done as they were able to hold on for a 4-2 victory. Chad Johnson, in the Boston net for an ill Tuukka Rask, stopped 39 Edmonton shots for the victory, his sixth of the season.
The Boston Bruins haven’t been playing very well of late. After scrambling back for a last minute victory against the Senators, they were looking for a stronger, more complete effort against the Maple Leafs in Toronto tonight, a place where Boston had won four straight games. Instead, they got a near carbon copy of their performance in Ottawa – minus the win. An early third period goal by Frazer McLaren gave the Leafs a 3-0 lead, and despite rallying to pull within a goal the Bruins couldn’t complete the comeback, falling to Toronto by a 3-2 score.
Well, it appears the NHL Lockout has finally come to an end. Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr announced just a few hours ago that both sides had reached what’s being called a ‘tentatative agreement on the framework of a deal.’ Meaning as long as nobody screws up writing down the details and the players don’t suddenly decide they don’t want to play this season, then we’re going to have NHL hockey soon. Here’s the presser:
Salary cap for this year is $60 million, with teams allowed to spend up to $70.2 million as part of the transition. Year two the cap will go to $64.3 million. The cap floor for both seasons will be $44 million.
In terms of contracts, deals can’t be more than seven years, unless a team is re-signing its own player, in which case the term can be eight years. Value cannot differ more than 35% from year to year, and the last year on the contract cannot vary more than 50% from the highest value year.
Revenue sharing will be $200 million, with a $60 million growth fund, initiated by the NHLPA, included.
Participation in the Olympics and/or the World Cup of Hockey will not be part of this deal, and instead will be part of a side negotiation.
July 1 will remain the free agency opening date, despite the NHL trying to push for July 10.
The season is expected to start January 15 or January 19, depending on whether a 48 or 50 game schedule is accepted. That should be known this week.
Much of the credit was given to federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, who had brought the sides together over the past few days and helped nail down agreements on the last few points of contention. With that said, this was also out there this morning:
Told possible reason #CBA deal. Bettman under intense pressure from major sponsors. Sponsors nervous investing again in “devalued product”
As has been widely reported, the NHL isn’t exactly winning awards for its business model. While it’s scary to think the league and players got extremely close to having to cancel another season, it’s good that regardless of where the pressure came from, they felt it and got a deal done. It will be very interesting to see how the league does from a business perspective for the rest of the season, but as a fan I’m just glad the B’s will be back on the ice soon.
From Bruin defenseman Andrew Ference‘s twitter account (@Ferknuckle):
“As players we can now do what we do best. Proudly pull on our jerseys and play with complete passion for our cities and fans. I hope that we can replace the intense negativity brought on our sport with a reminder of how great it can be when the action is on the ice. From my grandparents to our B’s fans, I am deeply sorry that we had to miss so much hockey. All we can do now is play our hearts out for you.”
Let’s see it. GAME ON!
We expected to have more time to report on this, but congrats go out to Team USA, who defeated Sweden 3-1 at the World Junior Championships to take home the gold. Team Canada lost to Russia in the bronze medal game, marking the first time in 14 years that they have failed to take home a medal.
Johnny Boychuk is already back in town, Zdeno Chara is on his way back Tuesday, and Dougie Hamilton will be at camp when it starts. Finally.
Happy new year! Here’s the latest edition of “Loose Pucks,” with some tidbits from the week so far. Let’s hope there is some, dare we say, “NHL” hockey to report on soon.
Seguin Scoring Goals
As we mentioned the other day, Tyler Seguin recently wrapped up his impressive stint with EHC Biel in the Swiss league, finishing with 25 goals and 40 points. Today the video below was making the rounds on the interweb, so now you can see all 25 goals in all their infinite glory.
A few things about this. One, a good few of those goals came with Seguin standing in front of the net, untouched. While it’s encouraging that he’s going there for opportunities, the chances that he gets that kind of time and space in front of an NHL net are slim. We can always hope he took those lessons learned from Mark Recchi to heart though.
Second, when he does get time and space, this kid is money. The flashes we first saw in the Tampa series in 2011 are seemingly becoming more commonplace, and again while it won’t be as easy to pull some of these off in the NHL, it looks like Seguin’s growth is going to be fun to watch. If the Bruins can ever get their ridiculously awful power play figured out, he could put up some giant numbers.
Lastly, I can’t get over how hilarious the whole Swiss league top-scorer flames get-up is. It’s obviously a complete gimmick geared toward casual fans, but if I’m the NHL I’d at least give this some thought. I think the jerseys are off limits in the name of preserving the tradition of some of the teams logos, but I don’t think I’d be against the NHL doing a cool scaled back helmet design (maybe in team colors) that would make some of the games best players easier to pick out. Normally I’m not for things like this (see: shoot-out), but hockey admittedly is a fast game and something like this could make some sense in the name of drawing in more fans. That, plus it’s hilarious.
Quarterfinal matchups were underway this morning to determine who will move on to face Canada and Sweden in the tournament semifinals. In the first game, our own Team USA downed the Czechs convincingly by a score of 7-0. Boston College standout Johnny Gaudreau had a hat trick and earned Player of the Game honors, while defensemen Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg property) and next year’s potential #1 draft pick Seth Jones had four assists each. The US will have a chance for revenge as they face off against Dougie Hamilton and Team Canada tomorrow morning at 4am. Get your DVR’s ready, unless waking up that early is your idea of fun.
In game two, the host Russians squeaked by a much improved Swiss squad, earning a 4-3 victory by way of the shootout. Bruins prospect Alex Khokhlachev, who’s had an up-and-down tournament so far centering Russia’s top line which includes recent top draft pick Nail Yakupov, opened the scoring for Russians six minutes into the game on the power play. Khokhlachev has two goals and two assists in five tournament games, which is fourth best for Russia behind Nikita Kucherov (7 pts – TBL prospect), Yakupov (5 pts – EDM prospect), and Mikhail Grigorenko (5 pts – BUF prospect). Russia will take on Sweden in the other semifinal game tomorrow.
The big news on the lockout front is that both sides appear to be inching closer to a deal as they’ve met on consecutive days in New York to trade proposals. Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has joined the PA posse over the past two days, along with the usual suspects. In case you’re wondering how it’s gone:
“We have countered your counter to our counter of your counter, and left it on the counter, counting on your response.” – NHLPA
Both sides are expected to get back together tonight to discuss the NHLPA’s latest offer. Word from the Twittersphere is that pensions have been a remaining point of contention, so it will be interesting to see what tonight’s meeting brings. The other big sticking point seems to be the league proposed salary cap of $60 million for the ’13-’14 season, which would be a drastic drop that would impact many teams. Puck-Daddy has some of the details here, including the fact that 16 of the NHL’s 30 teams would be over that limit with their current rosters.
Another point not to forget is that the union’s option to file for disclaimer of interest is very close to expiring through it’s self imposed deadline of midnight tonight. If the window were to pass, another push to file would have to be voted on again, though hopefully letting this deadline pass would mean that both sides are truly close on an agreement. Again, we should know more later tonight.
The other big rumor floating around over the past 24 hours has been the idea of possibly expanding the playoff brackets to allow four more teams to qualify, for a total of 20 teams:
Although it hasn’t been brought up in negotiations both #NHL#NHLPA have had internal discussions on 4 more teams qualifying for playoffs
I can’t begin to explain what an awful idea I think this is (and it appears our fellow Bruins blog Days of Y’Orr would agree). While this probably has to do with the eventual league realignment (and you know, the league making more money) likely back to the four conference approach, having two thirds of teams in the league qualify for the playoffs is a joke. Even the current sixteen team format makes for a long playoff run (last two playoffs have gone April to mid-June), and adding teams would just stretch it further.
While I agree that there is nothing quite like playoff hockey in terms of intensity and excitement, adding more teams would further diminish the importance of the regular season as well as the buzz that current playoff races generate. The past few years each conference has had three or four teams within striking distance close to the end, but if we’re now talking about two or three spots eligible instead of one, I think a lot of that excitement is out the window, or at best somewhat muted. Overwhelmingly average teams shouldn’t be rewarded for being overwhelmingly average. Please, please, please do not let this happen.