Sports 03-05-2015

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

Bruins and players and hope

Another crucial point has been reached in this tumultuous 2014-15 season for the Boston Bruins. That point was the trade deadline, which has come and gone, with little if any surprises regarding any major moves. General Manager Peter Chiarelli, appears to have decided, after some maneuvering and speculation, that the present roster still has the goods capable of creating cup chaos in the playoffs. Showing confidence in his current defense corps, Chiarelli did not make any changes to the Bruins blueline corps.

Chiarelli did pick up a couple of forwards, Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a couple of draft picks, and Maxine Talbot from the Colorado Avalanche for the little played Jordan Caron, without having to surrender any of Boston’s regular lineup, or top prospects. His reluctance to part with Boston’s #1 draft pick, technically tied Chiarelli’s hands, as several of the top trades included a #1 pick to consummate their deals

In Connolly, the Bruins received a 22-year-old right wing with good size (6-2, 180 lbs), drafted number six overall by Tampa Bay in 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He scored a dozen goals playing on Tampa’s third line this season, and Chiarelli tags him as a top-six forward. Not a rental, along with his youth, the B’s will have the rights to Connolly for three additional seasons following this one, which will give him ample time to make his presence felt, and a possible piece to fit the Boston puzzle at right wing.

Connolly was on Tuesday’s practice ice with the team, and when queried about the youngster, Coach Claude Julien commented: “It’s early, this is a guy that’s in his first full year — I think he’s got skill, I know he can shoot the puck, but we’ll see how he fits in with our hockey club, and where he fits in, with time. I think once we see him, we might realize that he’s a pretty good player. I know he’s got a good shot, good size, and I know for a fact that in Tampa Bay, when you’re playing behind the Callahans that are righties, and the Stamkoses and stuff like that, it’s hard — but we certainly have a shortage of right-hand shots here, so I would expect him to help us immediately.”

Talbot, 31, brings with him solid NHL experience, having played with three NHL teams, the Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Originally drafted in the eighth round (#234) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, he has certainly displayed ‘staying power.’ Performing in 648 NHL games, he has posted 194 points (89 goals and 105 assists), and was on the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins team in 2009. His veteran experience, and presence, will certainly be a positive factor in the Bruins’ dressing room.

         Boston’s swap of Caron and their sixth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, also included center Paul Carey. The former Boston College alum returns to play for his hometown organization, as a resident of Weymouth, MA. A lesser deal saw the B’s pick up Minnesota Wild forward Zack Phillips for Providence Bruins forward Jared Knight. Phillips, at the tender age of 22, was drafted 28th overall by the Wild in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He wore the uniform of the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, posting totals of 27 goals and 48 assists (75 points), in 196 games.

         Chiarelli has basically put his faith on the line with his decision to go with his troops, and few changes. The question is will his warriors respond with the much-needed return to playing Bruins-style hockey – and winning. With all the above falling under ‘past history,’ the Bruins will hit the ice tonight (Thursday), at TD Garden and take on the Calgary Flames (7:00pm), to begin a three-games in four-nights schedule that will feature two weekend matinees. On Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers will be guests of the Bruins in a 1:00pm contest, followed less than 24-hours later (23 after clocks are turned back), to take on the Detroit Red Wings in a 12:30 game, recently switched from the scheduled 7:30pm start.

SHORT CUTS: Patrice Bergeron is teaming up with 98.5 The Sports Hub and members of the Bruins roster for the 8th annual “Cuts for a Cause” event Tuesday, March 24 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (VIP session: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.) at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Bergeron and his teammates will have their heads shaved by auction winners to raise money for the Boston Bruins Foundation and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. Over the past seven years the “Cuts for a Cause” event has raised over $360,000 for charity. Bruins fans will bid on the opportunity to shave the head of their favorite participating Bruins player. The bidding begins on Monday, March 16. Auction winners will also receive admission to the VIP session from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. where they will meet and greet the players on the event floor.

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