With 60 games completed, things are not looking so good for the Bruins, especially on the injury front. Today (Thursday), defenseman Kevan Miller underwent surgery to repair his right should. Forward Gregory Campbell is out of the lineup for a week with an upper-body injury. All in addition to the loss of David Krejci for 4-6 weeks, after suffering a partially torn medial collateral ligament. The tight conference standings still have the Bruins looking over their shoulder, as the Florida Panthers are just two points back. The Flyers, fight to keep pace, but remain four points behind Boston.
Plus, the added pressure of the rapidly approaching trade deadline in five days (March 2), and the fact that the Bruins are struggling to hold onto the eighth, and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs doesn’t help. With several B’s players’ fate hanging in the balance, General Manager Peter Chiarelli will again have to work his magic to strengthen his team for the playoff run, should they make the cut. February has not been a good month for Boston, as they’ve only managed to pick up two victories in their last ten games. A stat that is more glaring, following their highly successful month of January, in which they emerged victorious in eight of the 12 games played.
The Bruins are off until tomorrow (Friday) night when they are hosted by the New Jersey Devils, currently on a four-game win streak. Saturday’s early start (5:30) will have the B’s hosting the lowly Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are on a 7-game losing streak, and battling the Edmonton Oilers for last place in the Western Conference. A welcome four-days off gap follows in the schedule, and may help some of the walking wounded, and fatigued players, before the Bruins embark on a hectic schedule of five games in eight days.
In a rare visit to Boston’s TD Garden for a game that was neither a playoff contest, nor one marking an historic event, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with local media. Bettman’s availability for close to twenty minutes between periods of Tuesday’s Bruins/Canucks game had the Commish touching on a variety of subjects. When asked the reason for his visit to Boston, he replied, “I try, as you know, I try to get everywhere at least once. I was in Vancouver three or four weeks ago to catch a game, it gives me an opportunity to touch and feel the game everywhere. You all know game presentation, crowd, buildings are all different. So I haven’t been to a game in Boston this year. It fit into my schedule, and that’s why I’m here.”
Among the subjects he broached, included the future of the NHL participation in the Olympics. He reported, “We haven’t had any discussions about that … at some point we’ll sit down with the Players Association because it’s a joint decision, and focus on what we think makes sense going forward. I think since Sochi our attention has really been focused on the World Cup.”
When asked as to how the new embellishment and diving enforcement has gone this year. “Well I won’t comment on the particulars – if a letter notice is issued, you’ll be the judge. I think it’s good. We’re trying to effectuate a change in behavior by highlight the players who are repeatedly embellishing. I think long term this is going to get us to a better place, a place that we want to be on that particular subject.”
Addressing the upcoming Winter Classic that will have a Boston-Montreal rivalry on New Year’s Day 2016, Bettman gushed, “The Bruins will be the first team, I’m going to state some of the obvious, the first team to host The Winter Classic twice. We’ve had teams in multiple outdoor games but the Bruins will be the first team to host The Winter Classic twice. I know a lot of people are looking forward to playing at Gillette. Fenway was great; Gillette is going to be great. Having the Bruins and the Canadiens – I think they’ve played each other more than they’ve played any other team. It’s a great rivalry, and if it’s about 28 degrees and snowing it will set a picture perfect night.