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Pure Unadulterated Gibberish…Conclusion…

Continuing on with more nonsense from the piece the other day…

*While we were talking about trade deadlines for the Celtics, we are less than impressed with the Danny Ainge’s winter partner, Boston Bruins GM Donnie Sweeney’s performance.

Donnie Hockey was able to unload Danton Heinen and his putrid contract (that Sweeney gave Heinen of course).  But Ondrej Kase?  Nick Ritchie?

Underwhelming.

Yeah, they both have “term” left on their contracts.  Love how “term” has become a hot word at each NHL trading deadline in recent years.  But a first round pick for Kase?

I guess unloading David Backes in that deal was a positive too…but the Bs are still on the hook for 3 mil of his dough.

And Kase doesn’t exactly have a storied NHL history, except for being injured.  Haven’t seen him do much since he’s been here either…other than him getting sent to the box for embellishment on Saturday night.

Sure it’s only been a handful of games.  But Kase isn’t what I envisioned for a second line right wing.  The pundits seem to love the deal and him in particular, so I guess I’ll have to give it time.  What else can I do?

Ritchie…whatever.  Heinen is gone and that makes his deal an overall plus.  But he’s miscast on the second line, I can tell you that much.

The Bruins needed scoring and they simply didn’t get it.  With Jake DeBrusk in a long funk and the Bruin power play scuffling a bit in recent games, the lack of scoring punch has been exacerbated perhaps.

I suppose nothing will matter if Tuukka plays like he has been for the most part recently…giving up some nice softies.

The Bs will be alright.  But how far “alright” takes a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen.  At least they didn’t give up any of their highly touted kids.  Though a lot of their most recent highly touted kids haven’t exactly panned out…so there’s that.

Especially if they suffer from the “President’s Trophy Curse.”  Also especially, if the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a mission to avenge the first round sweep last season after winning the President’s Trophy last year and setting records in the process.  With or without Steven Stamkos.

*NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION SOCCER!!!  Started Saturday.  I’m excited!!  Are you??!!

Wait a minute, no I’m not.

And guess what?  They played to a tie in their opener.

Shocker.

*XFL.  Still no interest.

Moving on.

*The Patriots have OTHER free agents besides Tom Brady?

GO FIGURE!!

We kind of went through it all 6 weeks ago or so.  But we will take another look as the onset of free agency is upon us.

It goes without saying that I don’t think anyone really cares about the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Elandon Roberts and Shilique Calhoun.  Or even Danny Shelton, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner or Justin Bethel.  I’d say the same about Ted Karras.

At least I feel that way.

After Brady, the key four are Joe Thuney, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty.  Love to have them all back.  And I may actually pay Van Noy.  And slightly overpay McCourty for his leadership.

I have a hard time seeing any of that though.  Especially if Brady leaves.  The Pats may let them ALL walk as part of a total rebuild.

Thuney for sure is gone.  He will command huge dollars.  And the Pats already paid their other guard, Shaq Mason, huge dollars.  Even though the offensive line was fairly putrid overall last season, the feeling here is that they can plug in another serviceable guard for a fraction of Thuney’s cost.

I’d be wary of handing Collins another huge contract.  He wanted one the first time around here.  Got dealt for pennies on the dollar.  Then signed a huge deal with Cleveland.  And didn’t seem to make much of an impact.  He was dominant on a cheap contract early last year.  But the competition was weak.  He sort of disappeared as the schedule got tougher.

I really would consider paying Van Noy.  He fits well in the system and has turned into a very good player.  But at 16 mil plus, will the Pats pay him?  I have my doubts.

If anyone gets overpaid, it’s Devin.  But how much is too much?  He was extremely overpaid in his last deal.  He is getting up there in age.  Who is going to open the vault for him?  His leadership is invaluable, but how much is that worth?  His brother Jason is due 5.5 mil, a ton for him.  The Pats are supposed to keep him at that number.  But what if they don’t?

I do feel like Devin and the Pats work something out.  Maybe at the expense of all the other free agents.  But maybe for the leadership, it will be worth it.

That all being said, it still comes down to Brady.  If he walks, this team could possibly look entirely different next season.  Even if Brady stays it will look different.  But it could be drastic if he goes.

Fun times indeed!

*Last but not least, YOUR BOSTON RED SOX!!

Speaking of fun times!!

This honestly will be a whole nutha column upcoming.

But the Chris Sale situation last week was fun, wasn’t it?

Look, I am not a doctor, but the guy is still going to need Tommy John surgery at some point, no?  So why are they messing around?  Just do it, get him recovered and back for…I guess 2022.  He honestly should have had it last year.  All reports seem to indicate that anyway.

Ownership and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom can call it what they want.  But this year is some sort of bridge year, right?

The offense should still be fine.  But the pitching staff?  Gross.  Especially if Sale eventually is shut down…which EVERYBODY expects.

Eduardo Rodriguez had an awesome year last year.  But would anyone be surprised if he goes something like 13-11, 4.28 this year?  I won’t.

Counting on Nathan Eovaldi to be a key guy?  Not a great idea.

And the nickel and diming the Sox brass just did to Rafael Devers?  In case you missed it, the team “came to an agreement” with all of their pre-arbitration players on contracts.  Like 20 of them or something.

The Sox “renewed” Devers’ contract.

Big difference.

Yes, the Red Sox are completely within their rights to renew contracts when they can’t come to an agreement otherwise.

But to do it to one of your best players?  Stupid.

If Raffy was asking for 10 million this year, ok.  But I am betting he wasn’t.  Probably more than the almost 700k he got.  But seeing as how all these players have to kind of “pay their dues” before they get PAID, I am betting it wasn’t an outrageous ask.  Something should have been able to have been worked out with his agent.

Again, stupid.  Great way to alienate your players.

Just ask Mookie Betts.

Just like Betts, and especially if he keeps trending up, Devers is going to remember this one.

Guaranteed.

Again, more on the Sox coming up.

But who is excited about the upcoming season?

Not many, I am afraid…

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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