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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.

Hockey Is Starting Already?!

I’m not ready.  Period.

Feels like last season just ended.

And we know how disappointing that end was for Boston Bruins fans.  I suppose we do not need to cover that again.

Speaking of disappointing, the Bruins transaction activity this offseason.  Sure, they re-signed Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo…and I suppose Danton Heinen if you will.  But the team did not sign any new acquisitions…none of any note anyway.

We also know they didn’t lose much in Noel Acciari and Marcus Johansson.  Sure, Marcus would have looked nice on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.  But we also knew the B’s were not going to pay him.  Well, because they had to pay Carlo and Chaz.  And they had to keep Tuukka Rask on the roster.  And of course, they NEEDED to retain David Backes…sigh…

But, once again, that is a big part of the problem.  Bringing essentially the same team back after a long championship run is not a recipe for success.  Ask the 2011-12 Bruins themselves.  Or the 2019 Boston Red Sox.

But Team President Cam Neely and General Manager Don Sweeney obviously feel differently.  So there is not much anyone can do about it.

So where do we go from here?  What kind of preview of the 2019-2020 Boston Bruin season can we give, if the same team is basically the same from last year?

Not much.

Similar to the 2011-12 team, I expect a much shorter run from the team this year.  First round playoff loss seems about right.

Why do I say that?  Well, let’s dig a little deeper.

The first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak remains intact.  You know, the same first line that disappeared in the Stanley Cup Final?  Ok, maybe that is a little unfair.  But while Pasta should continue to grow, how much more upside is there for the other two?  Marchy broke 100 points last year, can he do it again?  Bergy is now 34 years old.

Listen, these guys won’t be the problem.  They will most assuredly enjoy productive regular seasons, barring injury.

But once again, is all the scoring going to be on that line?  Well, you’ve got David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk anchoring the second line.  Krejci enjoyed a bit of a scoring renaissance last season.  But at 33 years old, already banged up even before the season starts and once again, without a decent right winger, what does his season look like?  Hopefully Jake keeps trending up.  But…who is the other winger?

All indications were that Karson Kuhlman would at least start out in that role.  BUT…he was shipped to the minors yesterday.  Some sort of procedural move?  Perhaps.  You find hockey teams doing things like this all the time.  Maybe he suits up tonight in the end.  But as I write this, he is not on the team.

So who is the winger in this case?  Backes?  Brett Ritchie?  Par Lindholm?  Based on the roster as I write, those are the options.

Take your pick.  There are only 12 forwards listed on the current roster.  So they will all play.  Unless there are roster shenanigans, as I said.

Heinen and Charlie Coyle make up the rest of the third line.  Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner the fourth.

I will say that none of those last 3 lines excite me.  Will Coyle play wing on Krejci’s line?  Doubtful.  But I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

So I just wonder who is going to score.  Especially if the old guys get older and the injuries become more prevalent.

Reinforcements in the minors?  I don’t know.  Sweeney had stockpiled the minors with “prospects” for years.  But have (or will) any of them pan out?  So far, just DeBrusk…and I suppose we have to count Heinen.  But there have been many, many more that haven’t (or will not make it).

Peter Cehlarik was once a popular name.  But he just cleared waivers.  That should tell you all you need to know about his prospects.  Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson signed with a Swedish team even before their Cup run was over last season.  Anders Bjork always comes with some hype.  But he was shipped out again.  Kuhlman?  Maybe.  Jack Studnicka?  Pavel Shen?  Samuel Asselin?  Yeah, we will see.

I know one thing:  I am not counting on any of the kids to come up and light things on fire.

So we shall see where the goals come from.

The defense should be solid with all the returnees.  Chaz, Carlo, Torey Krug, Big Z, Matty Grzelcyk…John Moore and Kevan Miller when they are healthy…Connor Clifton…wait, he just got demoted too.  Oh yeah, Stevie Kampfer is back!  And Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vakakakakakaeienen may soon be ready to contribute too.  I’m not worried about the defense, no matter how old Big Z is.

But you know who I AM worried about?  TUUKS!!!  I am sure you are shocked.  He did play well for most of the postseason.  Speaking of shocking.  Until the end of course.  Which wasn’t shocking.

Ok, enough of that.

Tuuks will be fine…for the regular season.  Splitting time again with Jaroslav Halak will once again “keep him fresh”.  Yup, paying a goalie like a #1 when he can’t play as many games as a true #1 can.

So where does that leave us?  Or the team rather?

Unless some of the youngsters provide some scoring touch.  Or if there is a mid-season acquisition or two that does, I think we are looking at a playoff run, but an early exit.  Tampa Bay is most assuredly looking to redeem themselves after their playoff disaster of a season ago.  Other teams have made improvements.  And the Bruins stood still.

Not good enough.

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