Monthly Archives: February 2019
…is my impression of the Boston Bruins’ moves at the trade deadline.
Sorry, that’s the best I can come up with.
What, you guys are fired up about Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson? Doubtful.
Look, getting veteran players and putting them in places where the rotating group of kids not named Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen weren’t getting it done is probably not too bad of a thing. Maybe they can be a lot more helpful. They can’t be worse. I think we can say that much.
Popular opinion was that the Bruins needed a third line center and a second line winger. Again, the Sean Kuraly/Noel Acciari/Chris Wagner line is now really the teams’ third line, but we will go with them as still the fourth line since everyone else is.
Technically, Coyle and Johansson can fill those slots. Fine enough. Could they have aimed higher? Surely.
But I will say that General Manager Don Sweeney did a pretty good job of not giving up roster players in his attempt to improve the team as well. The only player given up was Ryan Donato, who had played 34 pretty uneventful games for the big club earlier this year but was down at Providence at the time of the deal for Coyle. A fifth round pick was tossed in for Coyle, as well as a second and a fourth for Johansson.
People rail on Sweeney for giving up picks and generally tossing them around like the what the patrons at Orchids of Asia toss around down in Jupiter, FLA. We even mentioned it in the last Bruins piece here, where we talked about the trade for Coyle.
But come to think of it, how many draft picks has Sweeney used in recent years, acquiring all these kids that were supposed to blossom? And are STILL supposed to blossom? They are all still here, other than Donato. Well, in Providence anyway. So why does he need a fourth and a fifth? And then the second can be chalked up to the cost of doing business.
He really doesn’t. Especially if very few of those previous picks ever pan out. We don’t want Donnie Hockey blowing any more of them in that case. But that is a story for a different day.
So give Sweens props for not giving up much. Though Donato has 4 points in 3 games with the Wild. That will bear watching. As previously noted here, Ryan was the kid we probably least likely wanted to trade. Because he showed something last year. Could be an impressive offensive player, especially in today’s NHL. Then again, if he doesn’t put on weight, he may not last in any kind of NHL. Seems like he got pushed around a little bit, especially in the playoffs last season, where everyone’s flaws are usually exposed.
But let’s not bad mouth Donato here, because yes, we would still have liked to hold onto him to see how he developed over time.
So should Sweeney have swung for the fences here? Depends on who you ask. And depends on who was available. The Bruins have plenty to offer in the form of young talent. But undeveloped talent that may never make it. And who wants that? Perhaps no one really did want some of that supposed “young talent”? Boy, that would be a telltale sign.
If they were truly going after REAL difference makers, then are you talking about giving up roster players such as DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy. No thank you. And who else is on the actual roster are you giving up in a trade? No one that will actually bring anything back. Torey Krug? Very useful piece, but probably not getting a ton in return. Despite what people may want to tell us. Offer up Kuraly and Wagner (and Backes!!) all you want, but they ain’t bringing studs back either.
Also consider the fact that, despite the Bruins having the 3rd best record in the league, they are light years behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sure, in the playoffs, anything can happen. But, barring injury or something else catastrophic, this may be Tampa’s year since they are so far ahead of everyone.
Plus…what are the odds that Tuukka Rask gets hot like a goalie can and steal you a Cup? You know what I think…
So give Donnie Hockey some credit there too. Why empty the cupboard when your available talent to give up is either too far along to trade, not ready at all or may never be ready. And when you may not have a chance based on a juggernaut existing in the league. Especially when you are probably relying on a goalie that has no stones anyway.
Let’s not even revisit what we spoke about last time as well…David Pastrnak’s injury. How long will it take to come back and what he will look like when (if?) he does. Does the team know something we don’t?
In any event, all we can do now is see how it plays out. I mean, the team is 10-0-4 in its last 14 games. Seems pretty good.
Let’s see where Pasta ends up when he comes back too. There could be some mixing and matching. Does he go back to his normal spot with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron? Does he pick up where he left off on the David Krejci/DeBrusk line?
I’ll tell you one thing: If Coyle plays on the line like he did last night, with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom, then it won’t matter how good Coyle is. That third line is still going to stink. And Danton Heinen may be better off playing with Marchy and Bergy, because you may then get something out of him. Backes/Coyle/Heinen could stink too. And Heinen didn’t exactly work out well with Krejci and DeBrusk either early in the season.
Sssssoooo…time will tell…just like with anything else. But I raised the question last time, to ask me Monday night (or I suppose anytime right after the deadline) if I thought the Bruins were true contenders or not.
The answer? I still don’t know. They are better than before the deadline. But they need Pastrnak to come back full strength. And of course, no other injuries. Major ones anyway.
But to get off the fence, I would normally say that, yes, they are true contenders. I feel like this team can make a run. But then I remember that Rask is in net. And I have zero faith in him come playoff time. Unless Tuuks really craps himself down the stretch, he will be the guy in April. And that scares the bejesus out of me.
I am hoping that if Tuuks is bad at any time in the playoffs, Coach Bruce Cassidy will have no hesitation in going to Jaroslav Halak. Cassidy seems to be the type of guy that will have no problem pulling the trigger. But that remains to be seen when push comes to shove.
Then again, if a team is juggling goaltenders in the playoffs, that cannot bode well…
In a league where it’s seemingly the Tampa Bay Lightning and everyone else, maybe that’s not exactly an easy answer no matter what NHL team we want to talk about. Tampa is close to 20 points better than the second best team in the entire league. So maybe it’s only the Lightning that is contenders?
We all know better than that though. Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That, of course, has been proven time and time again through the history of the NHL.
So do the Boston Bruins find themselves truly in the mix for the Cup?
My answer? I don’t know.
My initial reaction is…no. Not right now anyway. The simple reason? Once you shut down their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who else scores on this team? Are we really going to rely on the WAK line (Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly)? I think not.
Sure, Jake DeBrusk has been lighting it up lately. And David Krejci has been pretty consistent this season. But this rotating group of kids and/or 4th liners and/or bums parading through that third spot on the line leave a lot to be desired (more on these dudes later). Then forget about the “3rd line”, which is really the “4th line”. People continue to insist the Acciari line is still the 4th line, but they really have elevated to the 3rd line recently. I guess we are basically splitting hairs here since neither of the lines will be full of consistent scorers…ever.
No one is talking much about the Pastrnak injury now either. How long does that thumb injury keep him out? Two weeks they are saying…at least. Then the doctors reevaluate. How long after then? And how will that affect his play going forward from there? Pasta was on pace for 40+ goals when he went down (literally…as he fell in a parking lot after a sponsorship dinner. Hmmmmmmm…nothing curious there). What can we expect when he returns?
Danton Heinen has played well on the top line since Pasta’s injury. But as an allegedly wise man recently said (why do they call this man “Keo” anyway?), “he (Heinen) actually has been decent with 37 (Bergy) and 63 (Marchy), credit to him. But then I think we could put 69 on your back, stand you in front of the goal and a few would bounce off you too.”
Fair point by Captain Obvious…other than putting any number on my back and letting me on the ice in any capacity. But you get the point. Plus…Heinen was borderline terrible on any other line he previously played on this season. That doesn’t help.
In any event, a fully healthy forward set of lines that includes…
- David Backes?/Karson Kuhlman?/Peter Cehlarik?/Joakim Nordstrom?/Trent Frederic? (the options currently here)
…simply does not cut it, in my opinion.
But wait! The trade deadline is Monday. General Manager Donnie Sweeney will make some moves, no?!
Probably. But are we excited about his track record with deadline deals? Nope. Not even a little bit. We could go through the Jimmy Hayes’, the John Michael Liles’, the Zac Rinaldo’s, etc. But I’ll spare you the gory details…which are likely embedded in your brain already anyway.
I mean, it looks like he has already brought back “Suitcase” Lee Stempniak…a failed acquisition from 2 seasons ago. Stemp was in camp with the B’s on a tryout basis and then who the hell knows (or even cares?) where he has been since then? Until he showed up for two Providence Bruins games last week. Will this be Donnie Hockey’s big deadline move?
Well, I guess the answer is no, seeing that he pulled off a deal on Wednesday. The B’s obtained Charlie Coyle from the Wild for Ryan Donato and a fifth round pick. That Donnie, always needing to throw picks into deals!
I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know a hell of a lot about Coyle. But what I do know is that he sounds like a bottom six guy. Not opposed to acquiring one of those types, since as you can see above, they need better bodies there. But I also can’t say I am very inspired by the move.
I will also say that while Sweeney has stockpiled “prospects” over the past few years, how many of these guys can actually play? Some of these dudes have gotten some decent run up in the NHL. And, as of now, only DeBrusk and I suppose Heinen look like keepers.
Donato, Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, etc. The jury is probably still out on Frederic and Kuhlman. Zach Senyshyn can’t even get a sniff up in Boston. How bad was that first round pick? We can go back to Frank Vatrano and Austin Czarnik if you like. And some of the D-men, including what could be another wasted first round pick in Jakub Zboril. I have no problem trading some, if not all of these guys for established, and good, players. But Donato showed some scoring ability at least last year. He may have been the last guy on this list to ship out of town.
I’m not sold on this one…yet anyway. But I also feel like Sweeney will do more. He’d better.
As for the defense and the goalies, we don’t think he has to do anything there. Solid 7 D-men as we speak, 8 if you count Stevie Kampfer, but I don’t. Kampfer is on quite a roll worth mentioning, however. He hasn’t suited up in almost two months. Not easy being the 8th defenseman when only 6 dress. But I suppose it’s better to collect an NHL salary than an AHL salary.
In any event, even though Zdeno Chara looks like he is skating in quicksand more often than we all like, even though Torey Krug still looks lost on defense more often than we all like, even though Charlie McAvoy misses more games than we all like, I can’t say I am too worried about the D as a whole.
Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are plenty capable in net, though that pains me to say about Tuuks cuz most know how I feel about him. But this is a pretty good tandem for the regular season anyway. The big question is, who is the #1 guy for the playoffs? It’s not like they will rotate when the time comes. Well, they could, but that kind of thing is pretty much unheard of in the postseason. Both netminders have had their bad stretches. But they have also had stretches where they have stood on their head. It will be interesting to see how that plays out…even though I imagine it will be Tuuks at the end. After all, he’s the one that makes a gazillion dollars…
Ssssssoooo…are the Bruins true contenders or not? My real answer? Kind of. They can be. But ask me again on Monday night…
I admit, I can’t really watch much anymore. I can’t…and I don’t really want to either.
The Boston Celtics that is.
It’s kind of a shame since basketball was one of my top two sports growing up. Granted, that was during the Larry Bird era. Kind of a good time to start following the local team, I will allow.
The game has changed since those days…and I’m talking more than just the short shorts that the players wore back then. THAT is one of the positive changes over the years, no doubt.
Many people will tell you the game has changed for the better since the 1980s. That’s completely their right to have that opinion. But they would be wrong.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again…repeatedly, for sure. Too many threes being jacked up. Too many one on four breaks…and when there is a four on one break, one of the four pulling up for a three pointer. Boxing out, rebounding, passing and many of the fundamentals of the game have deteriorated, in my opinion. Sure, there can be some decent passing…but generally with four guys around the three point line. Guys passing up layups to throw it out to the three point line. Too much “Showtime” and guys still wanting to see themselves in the highlight reels. Etc.
Again, my opinion…and perhaps I just don’t watch enough basketball. The skill level of the players is certainly higher than in past eras…maybe even exponentially so.
But the quality of the actual game? Inferior. Sorry. And I am not even including the debacle that was on in the background where I was on Sunday…the NBA All-Star Game…which we know is not a real game. But atrocious nonetheless.
In any event, this piece really wasn’t supposed to be about the state of the NBA in my eyes. But the state of the Boston Celtics instead.
The C’s were SUPPOSED to be the Eastern Conference’s representative in the NBA Finals this year. I mean, didn’t we all think that? Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward added back to a team that lost in seven games in the Conference Finals last year. LeBron out West now. Toronto, even with Kawhi Leonard being added to the mix, having a poor playoff reputation. Teams like Milwaukee and Philadelphia, though possessing talent, not being quite ready to take that “next step”.
Welp, so much for THAT. I mean sure, it could still happen. But who feels confident in that now?
Certainly not I.
The Celts still do have all that talent. Though Hayward clearly isn’t the same guy as he was before his gruesome injury, at least thus far. But as we have seen this season, there appears to be a problem in the locker room. And is Coach Brad Stevens finally showing some cracks in the armor?
The locker room thing appears to be a case of the veterans versus the young guys. And as much as a lunatic Kyrie can seemingly be at times, I think I end up falling on the side of the vets. Jayson Tatum appears to be a future superstar. Jaylen Brown could possibly be as well. Terry Rozier? Not in my mind. But he thinks he is already. And it appears the other two dudes do too.
The rumors tell us that the kids feel like they didn’t need Kyrie and Gordo last year to advance as far as they did. So they feel like they don’t need them now. But the pair came back and have been kind of ruining the kids’ mojo. Truth? Not so sure about that. Adding a superstar and a pretty good player when he was at full health should not hurt the situation. Yes, “having too many cooks in the kitchen” can sometimes be detrimental. We have talked about that a number of times before. But that’s where Stevens should make his presence felt.
But is he? Or HAS he?
Seems like this is the first time Brad has faced any adversity during his NBA coaching tenure. And I am not sure it’s working out the way he wanted…at this time anyway. I know I wouldn’t mind seeing…or hearing…more noise around him. Meaning, what he is doing to try to make things better. But also maybe putting more heat on him to figure it out. But yeah, yeah, yeah…he keeps it all “in house”. So we may never know what Brad is doing behind the scenes. But whatever he is doing hasn’t manifested itself in public. And Stevens seems still mostly to be in the honeymoon stage with the fans.
The C’s are currently tied for 4th in the East, six and a half out of first with 24 to go. They are playing .638 ball, which sounds ok…until you realize that it’s only good for 52 wins in an 82 game season. Plus that 14-13 road record ain’t so appealing.
Barring a catastrophe, they will not finish worse than 5th. They are a game out of third place coming out of the All-Star break. And it would seem to behoove them to finish in third so they can play whatever flotsam finishes in 6th. Rather than finishing 4th or 5th and having to play the Pacers or 76ers in the first round.
The Celtics can conceivably not make it out of the first round this season if the latter scenario unfolds. Think about that for a second. If the C’s get dumped in the opening round, how does that affect the team next year?
Welp, that could mean Kyrie’s official exit. Wait, he committed to Boston in the fall, right? Ummmmm…maybe? Based on how this season has gone, it would not shock me if he took off this offseason. But wait, Danny Ainge can trade for Anthony Davis and Kyrie will stay and all will be good, right? Well…sure.
At this point, nothing would surprise me. I also actually think that the C’s will make the trade for Davis this offseason. I feel like that since New Orleans did not trade AD at the deadline, therefore creating a difficult atmosphere in THAT locker room the rest of this season, that the Pelicans were almost telegraphing a trade to the C’s during the summer. I say this because, although I am sure they got some decent offers at the deadline, they probably thought that the Celtics would have the best offer in the summer.
Sure, another team could make a great offer in the offseason. Absolutely possible. But the way Ainge lusts after Davis and the amount of “assets” that the Celts COULD offer the Pelicans…isn’t this almost like a foregone conclusion?
I feel that way. Then again, the Pelicans just fired their general manager. So who the F knows what happens now?
Either way, there’s a good chance Davis gets traded to Boston, then hits the road to the Lakers when he can after one year in town. So there’s THAT. And that ain’t gonna keep Kyrie in tow.
I guess we won’t worry so much about the offseason until the offseason. Let’s get back to the outlook this season. In which again, I am not confident. All the above we already spoke about. Marcus Morris had some words to say, while he hasn’t been the same player as earlier this year. Marcus Smarts’ shot has (predictably) stopped falling. Trade rumors, free agent rumors, etc. Add it all up and it doesn’t look good.
And then Danny did nothing at the trade deadline. Feels like that is unusual. Well, he did trade Jabari Bird for absolutely nothing. Wait, who? Bird is a guy that hadn’t played a minute for the team all season. With good reason too, as he really should be in prison. Why? I don’t have the energy. Just trust me on that one. Or Google it if you like.
I suppose that opens up a spot for a guy that was bought out. Yippee! Greg Monroe, Part II anyone? If a big guy is going to be the target for that spot, I’d rather give those minutes to Robert Williams. But Stevens apparently is treating this year as a redshirt year for him. Why? I don’t know. Seems to me that at the very least, the last spot on the bench on the active roster would be ideal for a guy that can block some shots and grab some rebounds if you need him to. What’s the sense of dressing Guerschon Yabusele instead? I mean, what does Yabusele bring to the table? To me? Zero.
In any event, based on all of the above, I have pretty much lost interest in this season. Despite the two wins right after Morris did his chirping, including a big win on the road in Philly. This season has been underwhelming and a big disappointment. There is time for the team to redeem itself, specifically in the playoffs. But again, does anyone expect them to? “Train Wreck” may be a little harsh. It’s not that bad. But then again, I am not ruling anything out.
All of this can make you pine for the scrappy days of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and the gang a little bit, no? Sad to say, I’ve given it some thought…