One week into the playoffs and the questions keep coming. Will Claude Julien remain the Bruins’ bench boss? Will the Bruins ever be sold? What’s wrong with that Boston power play (0-for-11 through the first three postseason games)?
You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
Question: With the draft lottery complete, the Bruins will pick ninth in June courtesy of the Phil Kessel trade. A few questions:
1. What do you think Peter Chiarelli and Co. have learned from the 2007 draft with a similar slated pick that year in which they took Zach Hamill? Do you see them taking lessons from that draft and applying them this summer? Logan Couture would look real nice right now in a Bruins jersey given Savard’s condition.
2. Do you foresee them trying to move up in order to pick a Doug Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, or Ryan Strome? Who do you view are players they will try and target? It appears their biggest weakness in terms of prospects is high-end d-men. Will that be their focus or go with the best player available approach?
3. Any other theories in terms of getting a second top-10 pick? This appears to be a strong draft class. No Ovechkin/Crosby types, but solid, at least in the top 8.
–Jay Kendrick, Medfield, Mass.
KPD: 1. Every draft is different. But overall, I think Chiarelli and Co. will be less inclined to spend such a high pick on a player such has Hamill, whose lack of size made him more a ”project” than a ”prospect.”
2. Hamilton and Murphy both could fall to No. 9. Not likely, but it happens. No one ever thought Cam Fowler would fall to No. 12 last year, allowing the Ducks to pick off a very good defenseman. The time to move up in the draft was last year, when a bold play might have picked off Taylor Hall at No. 1. Personally, I would have surrendered Nathan Horton and maybe even Greg Campbell and the No. 2 pick in order to pick No. 1 last June. Not sure I would have been right doing it, but I like what Hall brings to the table.
3. Given how mediocre Tomas Kaberle has been since his arrival, I think they might be more aggressive than initially expected, but again, as we saw with Tyler Seguin this year, it’s foolish to expect too much too soon from 18- and 19-year-olds.
Question: Many fans have questioned the Jacobses’ commitment to winning here in Boston. The amount spent on player salary was always an issue, but now with the cap and nhlnumbers.com everyone can see what they are spending on players. But what about coaching and scouting? And budget on their AHL and ECHL teams and player development? Is there a way to compare the Bruins to other NHL teams on an ongoing basis?
— David Prach, Sudbury, Mass.
KPD: No way to compare, because clubs don’t make public how much they spend in areas beyond player payroll. Fact is, they don’t make player salaries public either, but there are enough sources out there, such as nhlnumbers.com, that it’s virtually impossible to keep those numbers confidential.
Let’s put it this way: Bruins ownership for years now, going back some five to seven seasons prior to the lockout/salary cap, has spent the money necessary to win. It just hasn’t always spent the money wisely. Case in point: $5 million a year to Martin Lapointe. And let’s not forget the money they put into the likes of Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet, or even Paul Coffey, all of whom were well beyond their prime playing years when they pulled on the Spoked B.
Truth is, the Bruins these last 10-12 years or more could have spent less if they had paid the right people and not the wrong people. It’s not about total bucks spent, but what kind of bang you get for your buck.
Question: With the Bruins’ cap space going into next season (assuming Savard retires), there has been a lot of speculation about them making a run at Brad Richards. But given the Bruins’ physical style of play, doesn’t a crash-the-net-at-all-costs winger make more sense? Of course I am referring to RFA-to-be Zach Parise. Sure he’d cost the Bruins draft picks, but in my opinion he is a much better fit, may come with a slightly cheaper cap hit, and screams Boston Bruin more than Richards. Also, with Krejci, Bergeron, and Seguin already on the roster, why would the Bruins commit big bucks long term to another center? And if they don’t see Seguin as a future center, wouldn’t they want to target a bigger, more physical center to compliment Berg and Krejci? — Cal in Boston.
KPD: No question, the Bruins need top-six talent up front, and I agree that Parise fits their mold better than Richards. Parise, who will turn 27 this summer is also younger by some four years.
But I don’t think they will end up with either player. I like them both, and I think both could be successful in Black-and-Gold, but my gut read on both is that they won’t be coming to Boston. I think Richards ends up either in New York (Rangers) or Toronto and that Parise sticks with the Devils for at least one more year.
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Question: Is the playoff roster set for the duration of the round, but adjusted if there’s an injury? Or, can players be dropped and added per game? — Paul Munzing, Danvers, MA
KPD: The Bruins have about a dozen players on their roster right now as extras, not all of whom traveled to Montreal for Game 3 and 4. If they were so inclined, they could dress any of them for a postseason game. Play ’em if you got ’em. Realistically, the players most likely to get the call are the likes of Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron and Steve Kampfer, all of who saw action with the varsity during the regular season. At the moment, Kampfer is still rehabbing from injury.
Question: On the coaching front, it seems that since the pinnacle season of 2008-09, when every player seemed to have a career year, it seems we have seen nothing but regression in the development of skill players in Boston and Providence. We have a young core of talent (Seguin, Krejci, Horton, Kampfer, Caron) with skill that needs to be developed. Is Boston better served to look for a new coach who can get the most out of those guys, rather than Claude Julien? Julien’s strength is implementing a system and strong defensive play, and that has served the team well as it was pulling out of the league basement with little talent on the roster. But now the talent is here, and it’s underachieving in Julien’s reign. — Mike Z in Derry, NH.
KPD: I suspect your question is exactly what Chiarelli and Co. will ask themselves during their offseason review of the coaching staff and player roster. I don’t have the answer for you, in part, because I don’t believe they have the answer. How the postseason plays out could make that answer self-evident.
I don’t particularly enjoy Boston’s overall defensive style of play. If the goaltending were substandard, then OK, I would see the virtue in playing it so tight to the vest. But I think they have the netminding and skill throughout the lineup to push the puck, take more risk.
But remember, this roster was engineered around defense, specifically team captain Zdeno Chara, and the coach hired on the premise that the team would play a heavy, defensive style. Chiarelli wanted more give and go when he hired Dave Lewis, then quickly made Lewis gone because the product was so disheveled.
Question: Everyone talks about firing Julien/Chiarelli if the Bruins don’t perform well in these playoffs, but I rarely hear fans talking about the players as a part of the equation. For me, the players are responsible for 90 percent of the on-ice results and if there’s one thing I’m looking at, if the Bruins fail again, it’s the core of this team. Lack of leadership, character, urgency/desire to win is plaguing this team for way too long. Agree? — Luc in Montreal.
KPD: Sure, players have to be held accountable, and I agree blame too often gets directed at a coach when a team fails. But you know the adage: easier to can the coach than fire 12, 15, or 20 players.
When it comes time to make a realistic assessment of a team’s performance, it’s not unlike trying to figure out all the parts of a collective bargaining agreement. Chiarelli has assembled these players around this coach who has a very obvious, clear style.
Now, if you go to square dance, do you expect the fiddler to play a waltz? If you do, then you’re in the wrong hall. If this coach fails with this roster, then it’s up to Chiarelli to decide whether he wants to find better players to go with this coach, or if he thinks he has a team that is ready for a different style dance. If it’s the latter, then he’ll have to find a new coach — to be fair both to Julien and the current roster.
Question: Michael Ryder needs to sit. He doesn’t have the magic touch this year. In my eyes, he is Blake Wheeler 2.0 (or is Blake Wheeler Michael Ryder 2.0?). He carries the puck into the offensive zone, stick handles 1 on 2, then fires the puck into the mid-section of the goalie. Every time. I’m at the point where I trust Seguin with the puck more than I do Ryder. I know Seguin has to improve in courage and grit, but he has vision and talent and the only way to improve on those is to be in the lineup. If Ryder isn’t producing, why isn’t Seguin in? I also would like to see Rich Peverley and Mark Recchi switch lines. In the playoffs, teams need two strong lines (not 4 deep). I love Recchi and the intangibles he brings to the team, but he’s really slow now and gets by playing savvy and crafty. The second line has been stagnant for some time now and needs a playmaker. I believe that Bergeron and Marchand would get a real boost of productivity playing with Peverley. Thoughts? — Eric in Weymouth, Mass.
KPD: Totally with you on Ryder and Seguin, and I don’t say that because I see Seguin as a much bigger upgrade at this point. I just don’t have any faith in Ryder delivering on anything other than a No. 1 or No. 2 line, and his overall effort doesn’t deserve that kind of role. So, why not try the kid?
The other moves suggested here make sense, too. I’m not sure any of them are game-changers, Seguin included, but my overall approach as a coach would be to try things quickly when I sense stagnation. And there has been a lot of that so far — especially on the power play (0 for 11 in the first three playoff games).
Question: Do you see the Boston Bruins ever being sold? If so, to whom? — Harry in Gloucester, Mass.
KPD: No sale. Not for a long time. The Jacobs in residence, Charles in Charge, likes what he has and the life that goes with it. And ownership has its privileges.
Question: Here is a kind of off-the-beaten-path question for you. My parents are from Newfoundland, It is a small place, but has produced a fair share of NHLers for a place where there are probably more moose than people. Who in your opinion is the best player Newfoundland has placed into the NHL? I think for my money I would say that Dan Cleary had he not been such a bonehead early in his career could have been by far the best of the bunch. He has turned himself into a solid NHL player. What do you think? As a hockey scribe I know you are familiar with “The Rock.” — Christian Noel, Tewksbury, Mass.
KPD: I like the player Cleary has become in Detroit — smart, dependable, consistent, solid teammate. He grew up, and it takes some players time to do that. Heck, some never get there, so good for Cleary, originally chosen No. 13 overall in the ’97 draft, the same draft in which the Bruins took Joe Thornton No. 1 and Sergei Samsonov at No. 8. Of the three, only Clearly has a Stanley Cup ring (2008 with Detroit).
Cleary went through three NHL teams — Chicago, Edmonton and Phoenix — and spent the lockout season in Sweden before he found a real home in Detroit. And at that he had to earn his way on to the roster via tryout. Sometimes a player’s greatest talent is his ability to get himself together, focus, and assert himself. Seems to me that Clearly mastered it.
Question: Just out of curiosity, is there room for an independent Bruins blog in Boston.com/Boston Globe? I am a longtime (frustrated) Bruins fan who would love to contribute a weekly blog of some kind. I have some editorial ideas that maybe fans and subscribers would have interest in. Not that Fluto, Chad, yourself and others aren’t writing what we want to read; I always read your stuff and look forward to the articles from the staff. I don’t need a salary or anything. I’m a Bruins fan with a bachelor’s degree in English, who’d love to contribute in some way. Thanks for your time. — Pete Albert, Gorham, Maine
KPD: Well, Pete, you’ve said the magic words (”I don’t need a salary”) in today’s journalism. Please be advised that I have forwarded your email and salary demands to the powers who be here at Morrissey Boulevard and wish you sincere luck. I wouldn’t want to be your investment adviser, working on a commission, but ….
Question: This stinks. I’m 35 – it’s pathetic that I long for the “glory” days of the early 90s when I knew we had no chance of getting past Pittsburgh every spring. At least I knew then we were losing to a loaded powerhouse of a team. I swore them off after the lockout, but of course they’ve pulled me back in over the last 4 years. My wife and I went to Prague last fall to see them. And now this. Ugh. OK, so let’s assume the worst and the Habs finish this thing off … put on the GM hat…what do you do this offseason/ next season?
I assume Claude will be gone, Savard is done, Rex retires and Ryder is not resigned, but what else? That would leave some money to play with, correct? Can’t see a reason to sign Kaberle at this point as he’s been a monumental disappointment (might top the Eric Gagne trade as far as shockingly bad). I’m continually blown away by how badly he’s playing. Now back to the search for the ever-ellusive puck moving D-man. Who’s out there?
Does Thomas finally get traded and the job handed to Rask?
Kelly/Peverley have been underwhelming to say the least. I believe one is signed for next year and the other is gone. Either way, neither of them excite me.
Is Brad Richards a realistic hope? Does the new coach let Seguin loose a bit and say “all right kid, show me what you got”?
Who’s the coach? Please no recycled failures.
Or does the whole thing get blown up and handed over to the kids? And I don’t think the kids are anything to get excited about, especially now with Colborne gone. Thanks for the great work. — Mike Gauthier, Lowell, Mass.
KPD: Well, now, there’s a ton o’ sunshine to warm ourselves under these chilly spring days. Look, I can’t say I disagree with much of your sentiment, but let’s see where the Bruins are as of late Saturday night, after Game 5. They’ve never rallied back from an 0-2 playoff start, but there is a chance — and the Habs are a very ordinary bunch. I mean, heck, stranger things have happened…Round 2, Bruins vs. Flyers last year, just as an example.
Question: Who is to blame for the awful Bruins power play? Is it Julien or is it the players? I lean toward blaming Julien because the PP plays drawn up seem too basic and lack imagination. It involves rolling D (Kaberle) to set up a slap shot to Chara. Every time. Now I know it is easy to blame Julien, but after watching night after night (during the season and postseason) and seeing other teams have great setups for their PPGs (the Darche goal from Cammalleri was beautiful) it makes me think that the blame lies with Julien (because the plays are drawn up by the coach). I don’t get it. All this talent and the PP is awful (and nearly unwatchable). — Eric Harris, Weymouth, Mass
KPD: I think the Bruins have enough skilled players, especially with the addition of Kaberle, to have a very good power play. If Julien gets canned, I think his inability to get the man-advantage out of its funk will be high on his ”reasons for dismissal” list. It can be better. It should be better. No excuses.
For starters, I would do one of two things, maybe both: 1. Park Zdeno Chara at the top of the opposition’s crease and have him take the abuse that comes with standing there. Either he’ll score or he’ll draw a penalty that will give the Bruins a 5-on-3 advantage. 2. On a second unit, park Milan Lucic at the top of the opposition’s crease and have him do what the smaller Tomas Holmstrom has done for a decade or more with the Red Wings — stand there, don’t move, collect points.