Monthly Archives: March, 2015

Bruins Win a Thriller Thanks to Spooner Line

Claude Julien definitely deserves blame for some of his lineup decisions this year, but he deserves a ton of credit for keeping Spooner, Pastrnak, and Lucic together even after the David Krejci injury.

Tonight, that line continued their great play by getting a tying goal from Pastrnak on a shot by Spooner, and then Lucic scored on a beautiful 5 hold snapshot from the high slot.  The line was clearly the best of the 3rd period for the Bruins, and the team needed it after the awful 2nd period that started with a 1-0 lead and ended with a 3-2 defecit.  As Jack Edwards called after the Pastrnak goal, the kids are a “human adrenaline rush” on that line with Lucic.

The Bruins are now pulling away from both Ottawa and Florida.  It looks like Detroit will beat the Sens, giving the Bruins a 5 point lead with 1 more game played already.  Florida is now behind by 6 with 1 more game played than the Bruins, so they’re done.  Tonight killed them.

Tonight was exactly what the Bruins needed, just like the Spooner-Pastrnak-Lucic line is exactly what the Bruins needed to save their season.

And hey, it’s always nice to see Roberto Luongo skate off the ice of the TD Garden hanging his head.

With 9 Games Left, Dougie is Out Indefinitely

The Bruins may just be screwed, but you probably already knew that.  The Ottawa Senators are a point up on the Bruins with a game in hand after the B’s have lost their last 5, because God forbid that they follow up a winning streak with half decent play.

The 2015 Bruins season has been one of the most aggravating and frustrating ones that I can remember in any sport.  The 2010 season was tough, as the B’s were coming off a 1st place finish in the East in 09 by falling to 6th and looking inconsistent throughout the season, culminated in one of the worst playoff collapses of all time.

Coming off of a Presidents’ Trophy, the Bruins are probably going to miss the playoffs.  The team just isn’t that good, as they’re 10th in Corsifor% but just 16th (!!) in Fenwickfor%.

The team’s biggest problem is having no depth on the blue line, and that’s why the Hamilton injury hurts so much more.  Chara isn’t the player he was in 2011, although he’s obviously still a damn good no. 1 Dman.  Dougie is sufficient as a no. 2, but then Torey Krug, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, and Matt Bartkowski should not be the 3-6 defensemen of any contender in the NHL.  Krug could be a sheltered 4 or 5 on a contender, preferably 5 like he was last year pre-Seidenberg injury, and then Seidenberg, McQuaid, and Bart are all probably 6th or 7th defenseman.  This team has exactly ZERO 2nd pairing defenseman, and that will likely be the downfall of the team.

Peter Chiarelli should definitely be held accountable, if not by getting fired then by at least being on thin ice next year after whatever he does this summer.  The Seguin trade was good for 2014 and I was fine with it as an overall gamble, but he didn’t get as much as he could have for a soon to be superstar.  The Stars would have at least thrown in another draft pick or 2.

The Seidenberg extension was and is still terrible, as was not getting rid of Gregory Campbell and maybe McQuaid this summer, when he should’ve seen that they were declining and that a younger, cheaper player could’ve given at least 95% of what they did.

For many reasons, the Bruins are in trouble, and Dougie Hamilton’s indefinite injury is just a culmination of a downward trend in Boston.

Revis Signing with the Jets Actually Shows Pats’ Superiority over Them

So yeah, it sucks that Darrelle Revis went with the money.  Chose $39 million guaranteed and $48 million total over the first 3 years, with the final value of $70 million total that puts him just behind Patrick Peterson for most in the league.  (An interesting question to ask is why the Jets didn’t offer, or Revis didn’t ask for, just $.06 million more over the life of the contract, which would have put him just over Peterson’s $71.05 million deal.  What’s the point of going right up to the line of most paid guys in the league but then not crossing it?  If a big aspect of the deal is respect, then go all the way.)

This is a blow to the Patriots, of course, who lose out on the best or 2nd best cornerback in the league.  But the Patriots are still the Patriots, and the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS are still the pathetic, lowly Jets.  And their fans and media proved it in the way that they covered this story.

In Ian O’Connor’s column in response to the signing, his tagline was this:

Jets owner can’t take away title Pats won with Revis, but he did take away Revis.

Isn’t it interesting how the Jets are measuring this move to the Pats?  If you have any Jets fans who are your friends on Facebook or who you follow on Twitter or Instagram, first of all, I’m sorry.  Second, did you notice how their statuses are directed at sticking it to Pats fans?

Here’s the thing.  The Pats just won a title with one of their franchise’s best players of all time, and nothing is going to take that away.  Every Jets fan was praying that the Seahawks scored with 20 seconds to go because of how much it pains them that their biggest rival owns them.  The Jets are happy to get in one punch at the bully, and when you’re so thrilled about getting in that one punch, it’s a sign that you’re already so weak.

I wouldn’t be saying this if the Jets had a good team.  But they suck right now, and they’re going to suck in 2015, and they’re probably gonna suck for the 3 years that Revis has guaranteed money on his contract.  Their quarterback is Geno Smith or Marcus Mariota or some bad QB free agent who will lead them to another 6-10 season.  Possibly, the team could improve just enough in 2016 to be all right if a guy like Mariota takes a huge step forward, but somehow I doubt it.  Sticking it to the Patriots only works if the end results make the Jets finish above the Patriots.  And that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.

And that’s why any Pats fan who was pissed that Revis specifically went to the Jets is being stupid.  I would MUCH rather have Revis join the Jets than a team that actually might face the Pats in the playoffs.  It may not be fun having him cover Gronk or LaFell or Edelman (or maybe Percy Harvin, but I doubt it) for 2 games a year, but that’s way better than having him and Vontae Davis line up against the Pats receiving corp in January.  The Colts were the number 1 team that scared me as a Revis destination, because their secondary sucks outside of Davis and they had tons of cap space.  Even the Bills would scare me as a threat to the Pats, so long as Matt Cassel shows some level of promise as their QB and can stay afloat with a great defense and LeSean McCoy.  It’s much better to have Revis waste away on a terrible team than perform for a good one.

Belichick will figure it out.  He’s probably already turned Malcolm Butler into the next Revis without us knowing it.  But the Jets are inferior to the Pats, and you know they are because it was such a big deal that they took a great player away from Foxboro, even though most informed Patriots fans knew there was a good chance he was gonna leave.  What a pathetic franchise and fanbase.  That’s why they’re not New England.  I’m gonna enjoy whatever gameplan Belichick draws up next year to avoid Revis Island and throw at whatever Tharold Simon-esque guy that the Jets have across from Revis.

 

Patriots Barely Re-Sign Devin McCourtey to 5 year, $47.5M deal

Devin McCourty will be in a Patriots uniform for the 2015 season, even though he called Bill Belichick to say good bye and thanks for the memories.  At that point, the Pats decided to up the ante and at least come close to the offer that McCourty was about to accept with another team, and the Rutgers product knew what the right decision was: to stay in Foxboro.

Now, no matter what happens with Darrelle Revis, the Pats will have a secondary that we can still feel comfortable about.  With Patrick Chung playing better this past year then he did in his first stint with the team, Brandon Browner being a better CB than the team has had in awhile other than Revis and Aqib Talib, McCourtey coming back, and Malcolm Butler on his way to being the best defensive back of all time, the Pats can roll with the punches.

McCourty’s contract is much higher than the Pats have ever paid for a safety.  Even when the team had Rodney Harrison, they only paid him pennies because the Chargers had just released the guy who went on to have 2 of the best years a safety has ever had for the Pats.  DMac will get $47.5 million, $28.5 million of it guaranteed, and roughly $9.5 million per year is no small sum for a safety in today’s market.  Cornerbacks usually get the money, safeties don’t.  This puts McCourty right up there with Earl Thomas’ $10 million per year value.

This story is so cool all the way around.  McCourty was about to leave, but when Belichick matched the offer, he knew that he was going to stay.  And Bill Belichick, one of the coldest businessman to run a sports franchise, was convinced by a phone call to say, “You know what? Screw it.  This guy is so valuable to us.”  Both sides knew they couldn’t leave each other, so they didn’t.

We also have yet another reason that the Super Bowl win in the desert was huge for the team, regardless of the incredibly obvious positive result of winning the freaking Super Bowl.  Do you really think that DMac’s heartstrings would be pulled as much if the Pats hadn’t won?  He thanked Belichick for his 5 years, and his 5 years would not have been as positive without that win.  It also may be another reason that Revis hopefully decides to pass up more money with other teams and come back to the only organization that has rewarded his talent with a Super Bowl win.

Welcome back, Devin McCourty.  Look forward to seeing more unbelievable plays like this one where he read Joe Flacco’s eyes like a book.

Bruins May Be Turning Things Around… With Special Teams

This past weekend was a good one for the Bruins.  On Saturday, the B’s won what Claude Julien called the biggest game of the year on an amazing 3rd period and overtime from Brad Marchand.  Tuukka was Tuukka, stopping a 3 on 1 and a Jakub Voracek breakaway in overtime alone, and Patrice Bergeron played one of the best possession games that I’ve ever seen.  (I was at the game, and it was impossible to look away from him no matter where he went, because he always had a 6th sense about what was happening next.)  They outshot the Flyers 37-31 and lost in shots to the Red Wings 39-30, which, all things considered, isn’t as good as we’d like from the B’s.  If they’re going to be a contender, I’d like them to outshoot the Flyers a little more, especially because Matt Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg occasionally looked like they were trying to keep the puck in their own zone.  And we would hope that they could at least keep the shot totals even against a contender like the Red Wings, although that might be partly because the Bruins were leading the entire game.

But the B’s scored both of their regulation goals against Philly on the power play and 2 of their 4 against the Wings on the PP.  They did give up a Voracek goal on the PK and one to Marek Zidlicky on Sunday, but they also got 2 PK goals from Marchand and Paille Sunday.

This is one of the facets of the game that the team has been missing.  Rask returned to form on Saturday and then took the day off against Detroit, and he looks to be closer and closer to the Vezina winner of last year.  The team’s special teams had seriously declined from the days of springtime 2013, when they had a great PK (even better in 2011) and a servicable power play.

Pastrnak and Spooner have made both power play units better, and an important part of the Max Talbot trade is what he can do on the PK.  The Bruins have their game together when there’s a man for either side off the ice, and we haven’t been able to say that for awhile.  Before this past weekend, the Bruins couldn’t win a game while being significantly outshot through only 2 ways: Either puck luck or Tuukka standing on his head.  Now, they have a third way, which is beating the opponents with special teams.  The resurgence of the 4th line has something to do with that.

Examining the LeSean McCoy – Kiko Alonso Trade

We’re on a streak of really interesting trades in sports right now.  The NBA had a flurry of intrusting deals on deadline day, like the 76ers trading Michael Carter-Williams for the chance that the Lakers’ draft pick falls around 6-8 this year.  The Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas trade definitely interests a lot of people around here, too.  Then the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets made a Nathan Horton for David Clarkson swap that was probably the most fascinating of the bunch, as CBJ never reaches the cap anyways and would rather have dead cap money than dead players, and the Leafs are always at the cap and would rather have dead players over dead cap money.  (That sounds mean to Nathan Horton, and we hope that you recover to lead a normal life, Horty.  Thanks for 2011.)  Now, the Eagles and Bills made a trade that is a great barometer for where the NFL is right now.

LeSean McCoy’s cap hit is $10.25 million, which is simply too much for a running back other than 2012 Adrian Peterson or Week 11 Jonas Gray against the Colts.  Chip Kelly, who has become friends with Bill Belichick and seems to be like him in many ways, knows that’s too much.  Kelly decided to ship McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso, who is injury prone but a beast when he’s on the field.

I like the trade from both perspectives.  Buffalo’s defense was 2nd in the league in DVOA this past year without Alonso, and they’re the only team who knows just how injury prone he is.  Rex Ryan is a defensive coach, and his Jets teams did fine when it was just defense, special teams (Bills were 4th in ST DVOA), a good running back, and a mannequin at quarterback.  (Screw Mark Sanchez.)  The Bills think that the chance of McCoy returning to 2013 form, even if it’s a less than 50% chance, is worth a middle linebacker when they’re gonna have a good defense anyways.

But I like the trade better from the Eagles’ perspective, mainly because of the money.  There’s no way that Bill Belichick would have made the trade from the Bills’ perspective, but he definitely would have from Philly’s.  McCoy is young for a guy going into his 7th year at just 27 this July, but he declined this past year — despite still being a great running back — and it’s always best to get rid of these guys a year too early than a year too late.  The Eagles need defense more, and Kelly’s offense is gonna find a way to get production out of the running back spot.

And here’s the kicker.  McCoy makes $10.25 million, Alonso makes under $1 million.  That means that the Eagles could sign DeMarco Murray for under $9 million, a line which his salary almost surely won’t cross, and replace McCoy right there.  The Eagles could also get Randall Cobb, Byron Maxwell, or trade for anyone that they think is worth it.  Hell, why wouldn’t they sign Stevan Ridley and another running back with low risk and high potential and hope one of them pans out?  Maybe even make a play for Darrelle Revis or Devin McCourtey, the latter of which might be worse for the Pats because Revis likely won’t re-sign anyway.

Running backs are plentiful in the NFL, and even if this specific middle linebacker is a little worse than this specific running back, I’d rather have a the middle linebacker and a lot more money to replace said RB.  Chip Kelly really is friends with Bill Belichick.

Examining Bruins’ Best Trade Options

Now that the Bruins have let Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, Erik Cole, and Antione Vermette pass them by, the pressure is really on Peter Chiarelli to make a deal.  There are still quality options available, but the buyers and sellers couldn’t be more clear this deadline, so if the Bruins aren’t diligent, they may lose out well before 4 pm tomorrow.

Here, I’m going to give a quick summary of which guys would be best for the Bruins and why, and the list is done roughly from most important to least important.  There’s 2 things to keep in mind with this list.  The first is that rentals are likely the best option for the Bruins, who shouldn’t want to give up cap space for next year.  And the second is that the Bruins need a defenseman or 2 far more than they need a forward.

Zbynak Michalek

Michalek needs to be the Bruins prime target, and it’s not even a question.  Michalek is a righty, which is huge for the Bruins because 3 of their clear top 4 defensemen, Chara, Hamilton, Krug, and Seidenberg, are lefties.  Michalek is also 32, so there’s not a huge reason for him to stick in Arizona for a rebuilding process.  His corsi is 51.9% on the lowly Coyotes despite starting significantly more often in the defensive zone than the offensive.  He makes $4 million and I doubt the Coyotes would be willing to eat salary with their low budget ceiling, but the Bruins could definitely make $4 million work now that Chara, Krejci, and Miller will all have had significant chunks of their salary put on LTIR as well as the automatic $4 million that the Bruins get every year after the first day of the season from Marc Savard.  Based on what I’ve seen, the Bruins can probably take about $5-6 million on in saiary, but it’s hard to say exactly.  (This is something that the NHL should keep track of and encourage people to follow, similar to what they did with analytics.)  How much salary the Coyotes eat on the off chance that they do or how much salary the Bruins would send back in a deal may be the determinant over whether or not the Bruins can trade for a 2nd guy.  For instance, if Chiarelli plays a mind trick on the Coyotes and convince them that Matt Bartkowski and his surprisingly high salary of $1.25 million is a trade asset, then that mitigates some of Michalek’s $4 million cap hit quite nicely.

The trade for Andrej Sekera got a prospect and a 1st rounder, and Michalek is worth it if the team is gonna go all in for the playoffs.

Jeff Petry

If the Bruins don’t get Michalek, I’d be happy with Petry, another righty.  Petry’s corsi doesn’t look good at just 48.9%, but he does play for the Oilers, of course.  He also starts the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone, and the Bruins need a defensive defenseman more than an offensive one.  He makes just over $3 million, fitting in pretty well with what the Bruins are looking for.  And the Oilers would probably be willing to eat half the salary if the Bruins’ offer trumps that of other teams.

Cam Atkinson

Atkinson would be a great get if the Bruins want a guy that they’d be likely to resign next season.  That might be a little strange if Pastrnak, Smith, and Eriksson are still on the roster, so trading for Atkinson could signal that Chiarelli is thinking of moving Smith or Eriksson in the offseason.

Atkinson had 21 goals last year in his age 24 season, and he should continue to grow there.  Despite his lack of size, he’s a good possession player, having an almost average corsi on a bad team while starting more often in his own zone.  He’s passable at a lot of things, which would look nice next to some guys in the Bruins bottom 6 who simply suck at a few aspects of hockey.  Atkinson only makes $1.15 million, so trading for him should definitely not be all that the team does at the deadline.

Martin Erat

After the year he had last year, I can’t believe I”m saying this.  But Erat has been good this season, with a 52.9% corsi despite starting more often in the defensive zone on a horrible team.  But Erat could be a good answer for the Bruins, although it’d be hard to know which line he would play on.  My guess would be putting him with Bergeron and Marchand, which would send Reilly to the 1st line.  Erat would be higher on this list, but we’ve seen recently how bad he can be in a situation that he doesn’t like and doesn’t fit him, and we don’t know how that’d work out for the Bruins.  But, considering that the rest of the league feels that same way about Erat, his price could also be driven downwards.

Jan Hejda

Hejda is not on the same level as Michalek or Petry.  His corsi is below 45% but starts way more often defensively and faces hard competition.  He should be a 4th or 5th defenseman to be played in tough, defensive minutes, making him sound like the perfect partner for whatever is left of Dennis Seidenberg.  Hejda is the kind of guy whose perception becomes inflated at the trade deadline, but the Bruins could use him considering that their other options on the blueline are so weak.

Dion Phaneuf

This one comes with a huge caveat.  The Bruins should only try to trade for Phaneuf and his ginormous contract if the Maple Leafs can take back Dennis Seidenberg.  If that happens, them I’m ok with the Bruins throwing in a good prospect into the trade.  Phaneuf is the kind of guy who plays really tough minutes and just tries to hold his own, and the B’s might need that.  Phaneuf’s numbers would then get a lot better playing with Chara and Hamilton rather than the defensive corp of Toronto.  Whether or not the Maple Leafs would even give up Phanuef in a trade that would require them to take back on a ton of salary is already debatable.  But if they are, both sides could scratch each other’s back with this kind of move.

 

Bruins Have Let too Many Rental Options Pass By

Throughout the season, there were 2 guys who I had been saying I wanted the Bruins to trade for, both from the Carolina Hurricanes: Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty.  And within the past few days, the Kings have traded for Sekera and the Jets have traded for Tlusty.  These ones sting for the Bruins, and the trades are a sign that Peter Chiarelli may have already misplayed the trade deadline.

Andrej Sekera makes $2.75 million, has a 53.0% corsi despite starting more often in the defensive zone than offensive, and is a great 2nd pairing defenseman.  Doesn’t that sound like the exact type of player that the Bruins needed?  What’s more is that he was Zdeno Chara’s defensive partner in the Olympics, and they played well together.  He’s a lefty, so the Bruins would have trouble pairing him with Chara, but they have already shown they can play together in crunch time just to get the best guys out there.  The Kings traded a prospect and a 1st rounder for him, and that is no doubt a high price.  But I would’ve done it for Sekera, partly because I don’t think this should be a rental.  If they B’s had traded for him they should’ve done what they could to resign him, assuming his showing in Boston was good.  He could have been an awesome fit for the Bruins.

I’m much less upset about the trade of Jiri Tlusty for a few reasons; the Bruins don’t need a forward as much as a defenseman because of the play of Pastrnak, there are more options at forward than defense on the market, and doesn’t fit the team as well as Sekera would.  But Tlusty’s corsi% is above 54%, and he can easily tally a little more than half a point a game on a team that actually has offensive ability, unlike Carolina.

And now Antoine Vermette and Curtis Glencross are also gone, both players that the Bruins could have used.  The prices for both guys makes it so that I don’t really blame Chiarelli for letting them pass, but the fact remains that the Bruins need help, undeniably.  Chiarelli needs to put a big trade together tomorrow, because the Bruins can’t afford to be the only ones on the sidelines.