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A Little Bit Of Everything…

Tying up the rest of the loose ends:

*Boston Bruins.  So the NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching.  Some trades have already happened.  But things should head toward fast and furious in the coming days.

What will the Bruins do?

Last season, GM Don Sweeney went out and got Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, which admittedly was more than I thought he would do.  I mean, it wasn’t like getting Jon Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak, like he did one year.  You can argue the merits of handing Coyle a 6 year extension for huge bucks this season.  But the moves from last year worked out pretty well, I think we can say.

Unfortunately for Donnie Hockey, that hole on the right wing of David Krejci (and Jake DeBrusk) still exists.  Seems like it has existed for years.  And I guess it has…other than the Johansson stint.

In my opinion, that’s almost the only move to make.  The “Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is all set.  Wait, I still need to know where that moniker came from.  No one but people on the NHL Network seems to call them that.  I don’t ever remember hearing that nickname until the playoffs last spring.  Mostly out of Doc Emrick’s mouth.  Annoying…but whatever…

The gaggle of third and fourth liners the Bs have would probably suffice.  Coyle/Anders Bjork is a fine start to the third line.  Sean Kuraly/Par Lindholm/Chris Wagner/Joakim Nordstrom/Anyone is certainly acceptable as a fourth line.

Karson Kuhlman may very well be an NHL player.  But I am beginning to think that isn’t this year.  And I am totally done with the Danton Heinen Experiment.  On any line.

If you added some beef to the bottom six and a somewhat of a scoring RW to the second line, I think we are good.

Wait…defense anyone?  I am not sure they need it.  Well, no one will stop any kind of upgrade attempt of course.  But I think the 2nd line guy is more important.  The 9-10 guys in the mix now on D would seem to work.  Perhaps Jeremy Lauzon is the real deal.  Or perhaps he is being showcased for a trade.  He did just sign a cheap extension after all.  And you ain’t getting rid of that John Moore contract.

But if they stood pat on D, I actually wouldn’t mind.

Who to give up?  Anyone!  Maybe Sweens can soak someone into taking Heinen.  Or even better, “The Player Formerly Known As David Backes”.

Ummmmm…yeah, I know those ain’t happening.

But the time is now to make another run.  Patrice, Marchy, Z, Krejci, Tuuks, etc aren’t getting any younger.  As much as I would like to hang on to guys like Bjork, Kuhlman and Jack Studnicka and hope they develop, if the package is right, Donnie has to consider dealing those guys.

After all, guys like JFK, Peter Cehlarik, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Zboril, Anton Blidh, etc. have or will ever make it.  And those are “kids” that Sweeney had high hopes for.  Among many others.  So who is to say the likes of Kuhlman will either?

*Tom Brady.  Everyone sick of this talk yet?  Still a month away from free agency.  It will be an absolutely fascinating process once things start going down.  But I’m a little exhausted from it all at this point.

How much more can we talk about it?  Hasn’t every angle been covered thus far?

Is there really any NEW news?  Or just idiots like me speculating?  I say it’s the latter.

Wake me up on this one in a few weeks…

*Dustin Pedroia.  I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again:  PLEASE GO AWAY!!

The guy was a good player for a long time for the Boston Red Sox.  But he seems to be the only one that doesn’t realize that his career is over.  We keep hearing he has setback after setback.  And how he needs to “regroup and consider his options”.  We hear it seemingly hear it every day.  And will through Spring Training, most assuredly.

I appreciate his zeal to get back and play the game.  But that ship has sailed.

If it’s all about getting the 25 mil plus left on his deal, well that is all guaranteed, so he’s going to get it anyway.

Step aside Dustin.  It’s long past time.

*Kobe.  His death was certainly tragic.  As was his daughters’.  But so were the deaths of the other seven on board that helicopter.  I think the general public loses sight of that waaaaaaaaay too many times when it comes to celebrities.  But I am never going to win that fight, ssssssooooo…

As my man Colby recently posted, along with most assuredly several others, a little bit of a cloud still kind of hung over him as his career went on.  Yes, the rape accusations were 17 years ago.  But it’s funny how that all played out.  Charges dropped, case dismissed, civil suit being settled, Kobe buying his wife like a 4 million dollar ring while this was all going on…and everything else…how soon we all forget.

Listen.  There’s no argument about Kobe’s basketball ability and the fact he was one of the greatest of all time.  He also may have remade himself into a quality person as he got older.  Maybe he was a quality person all along but made at least that one mistake.  I don’t know.  I never knew the guy personally.

But that’s my problem with putting all these athletes and celebrities on a pedestal.  No one knows “how great a guy” that any of these people are.  Am I supposed to take other athletes’ or performers’ words for it?  Who knows about those people either?

Recognize his greatness in the sport.  But let’s not get carried away with some of the nonsense that has been spilling out about him “in tribute”.

That’s all I am saying.

*XFL.  There’s been a request to comment on this.  So here goes:

I have watched very little of the first two weeks.  But what I have seen is a lot of disorganization across the board.  Officials, coaches, players, etc.  And I haven’t exactly seen great football either.

That’s not much of an analysis.  And since I’ve only seen a fraction, it may be totally erroneous.

One thing is for sure though:  If teams are already firing coaches and team captains after the first week of games, that has to raise a red flag.  ONE GAME?  A little hard to believe.

Maybe Vince McMahon sent down the orders.  That’s a little scary to think about, no?

In any event, despite the Blowhards’ love for the game of football, we really haven’t been inspired to watch much of it.  That seems like a problem for the league if we aren’t the only ones.

I could probably sum up the lack of desire in two words:  “Matt McGloin”.

‘Nuff said.

*Super Bowl.  As we all know by now, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl and Jimmy Garoppolo peed his pants in the 4th quarter of the game.  Does that mean that Jimmy Football now sucks and that he isn’t considered a franchise quarterback anymore?  I don’t have the answer to that as of yet.

What I do know is that if your coach does not trust you to with plenty of time left to move down the field at the end of the first half, then that could be a problem.

So maybe the jury is still out on Jimmy G?

No need to comment further as the game was over two weeks ago and I suppose we are all on to the XFL.  And…I passed on watching the halftime show and most of the commercials.  So I don’t have any intelligent analysis there.

I really just needed a few words on the game to wrap up the picks portion of the season.  As poor as they were, we still have to recap, right?

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  10-7

Season (against the spread):  136-131

Season (straight up):  171-96

Back To Earth?

Been over two months since I wrote about the Boston Bruins.  Since…before the season started.  Solid work, I know.

Does this now mean that I am “ready for hockey”?  If you remember, I wasn’t ready for the start of the hockey season in early October.  It seemed like the previous season had just ended.

Welp, we are almost halfway through the NHL season, so I’d better be!

Wait, halfway through already??

Yup.  36 games in.  82 game season.  Honestly, doesn’t seem real.

So I guess it’s time to say SOMETHING about the local hockey team.

So what do we say?

If you also recall, I was not excited about the Bruins’ prospects this season.  Not because they aren’t a talented squad.  But because it was a long year last year, one that ended in disappointment.  Then, General Manager Donnie Sweeney brought basically the same team back this year.  In my opinion, this is not a recipe for success.  We’ve seen it many times before.  In more than one sport.  I’ve always felt a team in that position needs a little turnover the following season.  Keeps hunger in the room.  My opinion anyway.

Then the B’s started 20-3-5 (or 20-8 for people that have no interest in tracking overtime and shootout losses).

Maybe that’s why I hadn’t written anything?  Because I looked like an idiot?

Nah.  Though if you wish to think that, please feel free to do so.

Of course, seeing that I am choosing to write now in the recent 1-4-3 (1-7!) stretch over the last 8 games would lend some credence to that theory as well.  Wouldn’t blame you either way.

But the bottom line is that football has just taken precedence.  It’s fall.  Autumn, if you will.  It’s football season!!  To wit, we haven’t written about the Boston Celtics in a couple months either.

Whatever.

Sssssssooooo…what do we think of the Boston Bruins as we sit here right now?  Funny thing is, I feel EXACTLY the same as before Game Number One of this regular season.

What?!

Yup…the SAME.

You know I am never going to change my tune on goaltender Tuukka Rask.  There has never been a lot of love from me headed in his direction.  Again, he should be ok splitting with Jaroslav Halak all year.  But it doesn’t mean I have to like him.

My main concern is basically the same concern we have had for quite some time around here.  This is still a “one-line” team.  Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.  That’s it.  Sorry.

Can you honestly tell me otherwise?  I mean, just cuz you hand Charlie Coyle 31.5 mil over the next 6 years doesn’t mean he is all of a sudden a first line forward.

Yeah, that contract was a little much.  Listen, Coyle is a nice player.  And maybe he can play wing on the second line.  Maybe.  But that may have been money better spent elsewhere.

OR…you couldn’t have signed him for like 4-5 years at 4 mil per?  Someone was going to give him more?

In any event, what is the second line technically right now?  David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk and…Danton Heinen?  DeBrusk and Heinen seem to be the best of the young guys that were drafted in recent years.  But honestly, that is not saying much.  I keep waiting for Jake to kind of explode.  But it hasn’t happened.  Heinen appears to be a third liner at absolute best to me.  I guess Donnie Hockey and the brass like his defense.  Which is all well and good.  But if you are playing on an offensive line, it would be nice to see some points come along with the D.  Maybe that’s just me though…

Anders Bjork has shown some promise.  Perhaps Karson Kuhlman develops.  Or Jack Studnicka.  But these guys aren’t top six guys anytime soon.  Not this year anyway.

The rest of the roster is littered with Sean Kuraly, Brett Ritchie and Chris Wagner types.  Speaking of Wagner, he’s a nice 4th liner.  But was it necessary to lock him up for three more years?  I’m just not a fan of handing long-term contracts to bottom of the roster guys.  They are a dime a dozen.  Makes me think of former GM Peter Chiarelli handing those out with no movement clauses like it was Halloween candy.

But I digress…

The point is, where is the scoring coming from after the first line?  Same question as before the season.  Not to mention that when scoring on the top line dries up, how is that going to look?

I’ll tell you.  1-4-3…or 1-7, to be precise.

Pastrnak has cooled off (and he wasn’t scoring like 75 goals this season anyway just so you know).  Marchand hasn’t scored in over 10 games.  And Bergeron has missed some games this year.

And not much is being done along the rest of the lineup to pick up the slack.  Nor do I expect any of those players to.

Speaking of scoring, the overtime and shootout record of the Bruins is jarring.  2-3 in OT and ZERO AND FIVE in the shootout.

That is pathetic.  And although I don’t have the lineups that coach Bruce Cassidy throws out there each time they enter a shootout.  I can’t imagine he has many choices on who to pick.  Other than Pastrnak I would say.  Marchand’s career shootout numbers are not good.  Who else can you depend on there to snipe one home?  Not even Bergy, I have to say.

Midseason moves?  Maybe.  We are still several weeks away from the trade deadline.

But who are you going to go get?  And with extremely limited cap space, how good is that player (those players?) actually going to be?

I don’t see much coming for reinforcements.  Not from outside the organization anyway.  That leaves the likes of Kuhlman and Studnicka.  Hopefully not the likes of minor league veteran Paul Carey.

I did not see the Bruins starting out as hot as they did.  But the end result will be the same, unfortunately.  A playoff spot for sure.  Then I’m predicting a fairly quick exit.

Prove me wrong.  There is plenty of time to do that.

Indifference…

…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…

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