It was a big weekend for Bruins rookie hopefuls as they traveled south for a weekend trio of games in preparation for full training camp which starts on Wednesday. Despite a loss to the Panthers and ties with the Lightning and Predators rookies, a number of players had impressive performances as they battle for attention.
Along with another loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, Bruins fans had to deal with the possibility of being without center David Krejci for an extended period after he took a Johnny Boychuk slap shot to the top of the knee in the closing minutes of the game. Krejci would not return, and though he was seen walking afterwards and also traveled with the team to Winnipeg, there was no official word on his condition (you’ll remember Chris Kelly also traveled with the team to their next game before it was announced he had a broken tibia).
Day to Day, No Broken Bones
Luckily, coach Claude Julien had an update today, and it was relatively positive. “He came in for treatment and he’s day-to-day. There’s no broken bones, the damage is from the shot, as you know. But, again, he’s getting treatment and we’re hoping he’ll be back soon. It’s nothing serious to the point where we’re talking about weeks.”
Julien added that they’ll check in again with him tomorrow and take it from there. Krejci didn’t skate today and likely will not play when the Bruins take on the Jets tomorrow night at the MTS IcePlex in Winnipeg. Many of the Bruins were already talking today about needing to step up in Krejci’s and Kelly’s absence, which will be important as the Jets are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and have worked their way to the top of the Southeast Division.
Efforts are ramping up as we get closer to a potential puck drop. We bring you today’s version of ‘Loose Pucks’ in case you need to catch up.
The biggest news of the day was that the NHL Board of Governors, led by everyone’s favorite owner Jeremy Jacobs, ratified the proposed CBA. Gary Bettman gave his best apology speech, and JJ managed to squeak in a few lines of completely disingenuous sorrow, while expressing excitement about getting back on the ice (aka the extra dollars he’ll now be receiving). You can see Jacob’s statement here. The NHLPA vote was expected tomorrow or Friday, but now will more likely take place Friday or Saturday
Camps are expected to open on Sunday (pending the player vote obviously). The most followed attendee will likely be Dougie Hamilton, while Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner and David Warsofsky are the more well known names who’ll be up from Providence to battle for a spot. You can check out who we’re pegging to make the opening night roster here in case you missed it.
The official schedule has not yet been released, but details are slowly trickling out. Given the timeline, a 48 game schedule is almost set in stone at this point. It was thought that the Bruins would open against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, but it appears that has changed as the Habs will take on the Leafs in the first game back on January 19. Stay tuned to see who the B’s will face, our guess is Brave Steve and the Sabres.
Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Chris Kellyjoined their teammates on the BU Agganis Arena ice for informal workouts today. Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and a number of others have already been getting up to speed, and it’s expected the workouts will move to the Bruins’ normal practice facility, Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington later in the week. Nathan Horton is expected back in the next couple days and reports on his health are still positive.
If you’re in the Boston area, get back in the hockey spirit next Thursday night at the Harp as fellow Bruins blog Days of Y’Orr and The Sports Hub 98.5 host the ‘Hockey Resurrection Party‘. The best part? You don’t have to give Jeremy Jacobs any money to attend.
Breaking news: A 20 year-old single bachelor living alone is a mess! Tyler Seguin apparently was making it rain in his Swiss pad, and the cleaning crew had their hands full. What a surprise.
At the request of the Bruins, prospect Alex Khokhlachevwill report back to the Windsor Spitfires for the remainder of the season. He’d previously been in the KHL, and the B’s brass weren’t too excited about his progress there.
Lastly, we’ll mention the sort-of-firing-but-not-really of Leafs GM Brian Burke. Burke is most known to Bruins fans as being indirectly responsible for the presence of Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton via the Phil Kessel trade. Assistant GM Dave Nonis will take over, while Burke will remain on as ‘Senior Advisor’ to the team. Makes perfect sense.
And as of the last few minutes (in case it was news to anyone), Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston just tweeted this:
Spoke to Bruins President Cam Neely earlier and he/Bruins brass expect prospect D Dougie Hamilton to be in B’s lineup for season opener.
Revenge was sweet this morning for Team USA, who laid a 5-1 beating on Team Canada to advance to the World Junior Championship final on Saturday morning. The loss was Canada’s worst since their world junior program began in 1982.
After falling to Canada just four days ago in the prelims, the American offense has exploded for 21 goals in three games, led by Boston College star Johnny Gaudreau, who followed up a quarterfinal hat trick with two more goals in this morning’s win.
It was clear early that an extra day off for Team Canada was no favor, as they were noticeably flat and terribly sloppy in the opening period, especially in their own end. And as flat as Canada was, USA was that sharp. Defenseman and USA Captain Jake McCabe (BUF prospect), not normally known for his scoring, netted two goals in the first to put USA up 2-0 after one.
It was the same story in the second as just three minutes in Gaudreau went top shelf after a nifty toe-drag move in the slot for his first goal, and Harvard’s Jim Vesey ended Canadian goalie and Bruins prospect Malcolm Subban‘s morning early after he found space streaking through the right circle and buried a wrist shot far side.
Despite an early shorthanded goal by Canadian forward Ty Rattie early in the third to get the score to 4-1, solid play by US goalie John Gibson (ANA prospect) kept the Americans confidently ahead, and Gaudreau’s second goal with five minutes to go sealed the deal. You can check out the highlights below:
The US will now face Sweden on Saturday morning for the gold medal, while Canada will face Russia, who fell to the Swedes 3-2 in the other semifinal, for the bronze medal. The tournament final game has a much more reasonable 8am start time, so set the alarm and start the day off right.
In terms of Bruins prospects, this game was obviously pretty ugly. Obviously Subban would be the first one to jump on after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots before being pulled midway through the second, but the stats don’t really tell the story. Subban was screened on the first two goals of the game, especially on the first as there were no fewer than five players battling in front of him. On the third goal he faced a fly-by screen and let’s face it, few goalies would have stopped Gaudreau’s wrister. Vesey’s goal would probably be the one he would have wanted back, as he was deep in his net and with his team down 3-0 that would be one that you’d need your goalie to stop to give the team a chance. All in all the defense in front of Subban was terrible, as the US continued to dangle through the Canadians even after Subban was pulled.
This includes Dougie Hamilton, who had an unimpressive game as well. He mustered just two shots on net and finished a -2 for the game. He wasn’t as awful as some of his defensive counterparts, but Canada needed its stars to show up and Dougie was pretty quiet. He did have some good power play looks in the third, but he couldn’t beat Gibson. This was all after he reportedly spoke to his team before the game to caution them against the extra day layoff from his experiences last year. His leadership is obviously a good sign, but it’s just as important to back it up with his play, and he didn’t do much to turn the tides for his team.
Canadian forward Anthony Camara was a non-factor, though he did continue to play hard and physical throughout the game which was good to see. Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev was quiet in his team’s loss to the Swedes as well.
Here’s an abridged version of ‘Loose Pucks’ for today, as there were a few updates from the last night’s lockout negotiations.
We mentioned earlier that the new CBA will probably include one-time ‘Amnesty Buyouts’ for teams to get out of bad contracts. The report now is that each team will get two of these. Fellow Bruins blog Days of Y’Orr has a good take on who might be on the chopping block for the black and gold.
The NHLPA decided against moving forward with a disclaimer of interest as its deadline passed last night, though now it seems the players will vote for a second window, this one 48 hours, to disclaim again. Obviously the decision not to disclaim last night should be a relatively good sign, especially knowing that Donald Fehr had full power to make that decision himself.
Who really knows what the state of negotiations are at this point. Talks reportedly grew contentious last night over HRR reporting, which led to the second disclaimer vote mentioned above. This is what my Twitter feed is looking like these days:
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.