Peter Cehlarik has been recalled. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Peter Cehlarik has been recalled. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins got some much needed rest and relaxation with their bye week, which ends today with a practice in San Jose. With the exception of one player: Forward Peter Cehlarik, who was assigned to the P-Bruins after last Sunday’s win over the Canadiens, but was recalled early this morning to join the team for their California road swing.

This was expected, of course, especially after Cehlarik’s two-point night against the Habs in what finished as a 4-0 win for the Bruins. His vision on the Adam McQuaid goal, which came with a beautiful cross-ice pass that hit McQuaid right on the stick-tape, was something to behold as far as first NHL points go, and his movement to David Backes that led to the David Krejci power-play goal was even prettier.

“He’s been playing really well, not just [Sunday] but also [Saturday] and you know he makes lots of good plays out there, it’s fun to play with him,” Cehlarik’s linemate, David Krejci, said. “So it’s been good but we have to keep working hard, keep getting better every day and keep it rolling.”

On the second line with Krejci and David Pastrnak on the right, the 21-year-old Slovak, who is a more seasoned pro than most first-year N. American pros thanks to multiple years in the Swedish Hockey League, has appeared to find a groove on what everyone should call the ‘Czech Mix’ line (please send all royalty money to this blog).

“He has the hockey IQ and the hands, big enough body guy. You just don’t know when they come up – if they can handle the pace, the pressure, time and space issues and so far, so good,” B’s interim coach Bruce Cassidy said of Cehlarik. “I like his situation where we put him, I think he will complement a [David] Krejci-type player with some give-and-go hockey. He’s not a guy who needs a puck through the neutral-zone – that’s where Krejci excels – makes the little plays down low. He’s been a nice fit so far.”

“I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to play with those kind of players that I play with,” admitted Cehlarik. “I want to make it count and I want to fit there. So I think we’re playing pretty well, hopefully we are going to keep going.”

With two assists in two career games, the obvious question for Cehlarik became when do you plan on scoring your first NHL goal?

Said Cehlarik: “Once I have my first shot.”

The Bruins skate against the Sharks at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Canadiens lost to the Jets in Claude Julien's coaching debut. (Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports)

The Canadiens lost to the Jets in Claude Julien’s coaching debut. (Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports)

Given a new start with the Canadiens a week after being fired by the Bruins, it was more of the same in what’s become the theme of Claude Julien’s season in his first game with the Habs, a 3-1 loss to the Jets.

The Canadiens carried a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play behind Andrei Markov’s fourth goal of the season, and in spite of a 15-to-6 shot advantaged that favored the visiting Jets.

But the escapist Canadiens could not avoid trouble in the second period, as the Jets’ Joel Armia scored an unassisted shorthanded goal (Julien’s Bruins gave up six shorthanded goals this season, the sixth-most in the NHL) to bring the teams even through two periods.

The Jets wasted no time in the third period, however, with a Mathieu Perreault goal scored just 1:16 into the third period.

Patrik Laine added an empty-net goal late to seal the deal on a loss in Julien’s (second) debut with the Canadiens.

The goals against certainly had an element of Julien’s Bruins, too, with both their timing and the bad luck of missed assignments and bad plays with the puck that came with them. But there were also more than a few things that served as a reminder that Julien does not have the weapons he did in Boston with this current group. For one, the Habs could not win faceoffs to save their lives in this game. Only Torrey Mitchell, who won one of his two battles at the dot, had a faceoff percentage of 50% or higher, and as a team the Canadiens were a brutal 7-for-22 (32%) in attacking zone draws. (Where’s Patrice Bergeron when you need him?) And while the Bruins had plenty of close losses under Julien this year (15 of their 23 losses were either by one or two goals), this loss was unlike those in the sense that it didn’t come with the Canadiens dominating the puck, as they were out-attempted by the Jets 59-to-49, including a brutal 33-to-20 shot advantage that favored Winnipeg.

Canadiens netminder Carey Price made 30 saves in the losing effort.

With the loss, Julien’s 2016-17 record dropped to 26-24-6 between the Bruins and Canadiens.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Zac Rinaldo disagrees with the NHL's suspension of Gustav Nyquist. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

Zac Rinaldo disagrees with the NHL’s suspension of Gustav Nyquist. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has a polarizing job.

It’s almost impossible to find a suspension that everyone has agreed with, and there are many in the league that feel that there are different sets of rules for different players based on their status as a top-six forward or defenseman versus a depth piece.

And the fallout of Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist’s straight-up vicious spear to the face of Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon last Sunday won’t help dispel that theory any time soon.

In one of the more heinous slashes you’ll see this season, Nyquist tried to explain to the media that the incident was accidental, but later fessed up to the DoPS that he was going for a retaliatory slash/crosscheck, and was handed a six-game ban and fined over $158,000 (one that he will not appeal) for the incident.

“While we accept Nyquist’s explanation that he did not intend to spear an opponent in the face, there are two factors that elevate this incident to a level more serious than merely accidental or reckless,” the league’s disciplinary system explained. “First as Nyquist conceded he is attempting to use his stick in a retaliatory fashion. Second, no matter how he specifically intended to retaliate with his stick, Nyquist is completely responsible for using his stick to deliver a blow that was extremely dangerous and easily could have resulted in a major if not career-threatening injury.”

A malicious, potentially ‘career-threatening injury’ from the stick of somebody that’s twice scored at least 27 goals at this level is worth just six games. That obviously doesn’t sit well with those that feel they’ve overly punished given their role.

Insert Zac Rinaldo.

The agitating energy winger, who has five goals and two assists and just 20 minutes in penalties in 29 games for the P-Bruins this season, took to Twitter on Thursday to voice his displeasure with some of the perceived double standards with the league.

On the surface, Rinaldo, who was placed on waivers and by all means banished to the AHL after another run-in that came with a five-game suspension for this hit on Lightning forward Cedric Paquette last season, is not wrong. The biggest difference though, is that this was Nyquist’s first incident, while Rinaldo has been suspended four times in his career.

Rinaldo, an unrestricted free agent this summer, still has to serve that five-game suspension upon any NHL recall.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Atlantic-leading Canadiens not only hired Claude Julien to coach their team, but they backed up the Brinks truck to make it happen.

The Canadiens signed Claude Julien to a five-year contract. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

The Canadiens signed Claude Julien to a five-year contract. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

The Atlantic-leading Canadiens not only hired Claude Julien to coach their team, but they backed up the Brinks truck to make it happen.

Granted permission to talk with the recently fired Bruins coach of 10 years on Sunday, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin quickly fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Julien on Tuesday, and awarded the 56-year-old an additional five-year contract worth a reported $25 million (which begins next year) to make it happen.

“I’m convinced that in hiring Claude, we are getting one of the best coaches in the NHL,” Bergevin said. “In my estimation, he’s the best man to reach our goal. Claude has proven his worth.”

Not only does that contract take the Bruins off the hook for Julien’s reported $3 million contract next season, but actually gives the 2009 Jack Adams winner a raise from his salary with the Bruins and moves him closer to the top of the league’s highest-paid coaches behind Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock (over $6 million per season) and Blackhawks boss Joel Quenneville.

Julien, who admitted that he did not expect to get fired in-season with the Bruins, likes what he sees in the Habs, too.

“They skate well, they’ve got a good balance of grit and skill and some size,” Julien said of the Habs at his introductory conference call on Wednesday. “We all know they’ve got the best goaltender in the world. They’re solid in the back end and there’s a lot of talent up front. That’s not to say that we don’t have to fix things and make them better. I’m here to fix and tweak and do things that will put this team back on track. The key for me is to maximize that potential and give the team the best chance to win.”

This is Julien’s second tenure as Montreal’s coach and the second time he’s replaced Therrien as the team’s coach.

Julien compiled a 72–62–10–15 record in his first tenure with the Canadiens (and his Habs eliminated the B’s from the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs) from 2003 to 2006, and comes back to the ‘CH’ with a 538-332-10-117 career record, including the most wins in Bruins franchise history (393).

The Bruins struggled and went just 26-23-6 record under Julien before his dismissal on Feb. 7.

Fired by the Bruins just games before the 1,000th game of his NHL coaching career, which oddly enough would have come against the Canadiens, Julien now gets a chance to do that with the team he grew up cheering for as a kid in Ottawa.

And is going to be paid handsomely to do so.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins are on Day 2 of a week-long break. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are on Day 2 of a week-long break. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins, who at one point this season had a stretch that included 50 games in just over 100 days, are happy to finally get some rest.

But of course, it had to happen right when the club is in the midst of their best stretch of the season, with wins in three straight games, including two wins over division leaders in the Sharks and Canadiens.

“Someone asked me that just before we played San Jose about the break, well if we’re winning we don’t want the break if you’re not then it’s a good time,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Sunday’s 4-0 thumping of the Habs. “It is what it is, right? I’d rather keep playing, guys will enjoy themselves, they’ve earned that and we’ll get ready to go Saturday for Sunday’s game in San Jose.”

“We’ll take it,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid admitted. “It’s our break, so yeah, I think it’s good. I think maybe when you’re stringing together a few wins, you might want to keep playing, but we get a little break, just come back with the same mindset.”

When the Bruins do come back, they’ll have the dreaded California tour with games against Sharks, Ducks, and Kings, and after that they will then head to Dallas for a head-to-head with the Stars.

It’s not exactly the most forgiving trip. And teams have not responded well to these breaks, as deserved as they may be.

Oof.

Although the Bruins have done their best to work their way out off death’s door with that aforementioned three-game winning streak to go into the bye (and the Bruins actually have wins in six of their last eight games, believe it or not), a slump out of the gate would put the Black and Gold right back into a dire situation and against some stiff competition no less.

Even after this four-game road swing through California and Texas, the Bruins will come back to the Garden for one game against the woeful Coyotes before the trade deadline comes (alternatively known as Bruins GM Don Sweeney’s last chance to improve his team’s chances to make the playoffs this season), and before it’s time for a head-to-head against the Rangers.

In other words, the Bruins have one gimme between now and March.

That’s why finding a way to keep this rolling while everyone is either on vacation, resting up, or just hanging out, is a must.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving on the break and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” David Backes said of the break. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. Again, it’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture and that’s what we’re building.”

With that said, the Bruins will keep tabs on where they are in the standings, but not dwell on ’em very much, if at all.

“Not a chance,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said when asked if he’d be watching hockey this week.

“Obviously we want things to go our way in the standings,” Cassidy said. “But listen if we take care of business, if the Boston Bruins take care of the Boston Bruins, hopefully we will be good enough.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Claude Julien is the new coach of the Canadiens. ( Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)Never have I realized that I needed something quite like I need a playoff series between the Bruins and Canadiens to come to life this spring.



Claude Julien has been hired by the Canadiens. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien has been hired by the Canadiens. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Dumped by the Bruins exactly one week ago, Claude Julien has found a new love to spend Valentine’s Day with in the form of the Canadiens.

In one of the most surprising switches in recent hockey history, the Canadiens today subtly announced the firing of Michel Therrien and immediately replaced him with Julien. The move made loads of sense for the Canadiens, especially after the latest lifeless loss the Canadiens suffered, which fittingly came at the hands of the Bruins last Sunday.

Julien coached the Canadiens from 2003 to 2006, and was the man behind the bench when the Habs eliminated the Bruins in the first round of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 56-year-old Julien accumulated a 72–62–10–15 record during his first tenure with the Habs, and was oddly enough Therrien’s replacement the first time he worked for the Canadiens.

Julien, the B’s all-time winningest coach and 2009 Jack Adams winner, had a 26-23-6 record with the Bruins this season.

The Bruins and Canadiens do not meet again this season.

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was a smiling face spotted in the press box during Sunday’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens.

Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are both on the trade block. (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are on the trade block, and their front office was in Boston last night. (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was a smiling face spotted in the press box during Sunday’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens.

Sakic’s Avalanche, of course, were not in Boston nor will they be anytime soon. Sakic was accompanied to TD Garden by assistant GM Chris MacFarland and amateur scout Neil Shea, too, so I mean it was pretty clear that this was more than just a night in the Hub. The Avalanche, with an 11-point lead on the worst record in the NHL, are sellers, and both the Bruins and Canadiens are expected to be buyers. So the Avalanche are scouting. And scouting hard.

In what was an obvious ‘two birds with one stone’ kind of situation for Sakic and crew, things became interesting when nearly the entire second intermission was spent with Sakic and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney chatting it up against the walls of the ninth level.

It was certainly worth noting given where these two franchises are right now, namely with the calls for big changes that have followed each club all season long. But it’s also the ultimate ‘could be something, could be nothing’ that comes with bored reporters sitting in a booth with nothing to watch or report for 18 minutes.

At the same time, there’s nothing new when it comes to what these teams want from the other.

The Bruins have had interest in Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog for quite some time now.

Landeskog can play the heavy game that the Black and Gold have always had an affinity for, and he’s probably in need of a fresh start somewhere else given his declining numbers in three straight seasons (Landeskog is paced for what would be a career-low 37 points). Signed through 2021 at just over $5.5 million per season, Landeskog would also present the Bruins with a capable second-line option on the left side behind the elite Brad Marchand, which has been an issue at times this season, as injuries and inconsistencies have derailed or delayed Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano at various points this season. The need to find a fit next to David Krejci on that second line is a big one for the Bruins, too. Peter Cehlarik was the latest to get a crack to Krejci’s left, and was returned to the P-Bruins early this morning after tallying two assists in last night’s 4-0 win over the Canadiens.

But do the Bruins, who will have to pony up a good chunk of change on a new contract for budding superstar David Pastrnak this summer (likely somewhere in the $6 million per season range), really want to invest in a player that’s trended downwards in back-to-back-to-back seasons with the pure hope that it’ll work out here and that he’ll begin to live up to his expectations as a former No. 2 overall pick? At first glance, likely not. But then you remember what Sweeney said less than a week ago.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term,” Sweeney admitted of his trade deadline plans. “Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

The position of strength that interests the Avs, too, comes with the 6-foot-5 Brandon Carlo.

A 20-year-old that’s already playing top-pairing minutes as a fit with Zdeno Chara, Carlo fits a definite need for a defenseless Avalanche group (even if the Avs’ right side looks relatively set between Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie). But do the Bruins have a strong enough read on what Carlo truly is to justify trading him? Utilized in a defense-first role under Claude Julien, interim head coach has said that he believes there’s a more offensive side to Carlo’s game, and would like to find ways to bring that out.

At the same time, however, the Bruins are somewhat jammed on the right side between Carlo, Colin Miller (who is playing the best hockey of his career), Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller (Miller has played the left side because of this jam), and it will not get any easier once 2016 first-round pick Charlie McAvoy makes the jump from Comm Ave to Causeway Street next fall.

(Speaking of McAvoy and the Terriers, Sakic and his cohorts will be at the Garden once again on Monday night, too, to scout the Beanpot final between Boston University and Harvard. That game will feature four Bruins prospects between BU’s McAvoy, forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, along with the Crimson’s Ryan Donato and defenseman Wiley Sherman.)

And not much has changed overall. While everybody has seemed to indicate (maybe the better word there is believe or maybe even hope) that the Bruins and Avs will make a deal at some point, Sweeney has not seemed to budge on the idea that he’s not moving Carlo, who makes less than $800,000 for two more seasons after this one, for the pricier Landeskog.

But what about for the Avs’ other talented forward, Matt Duchene?

Another player that’s on the market (and one that the Habs have been expected to go all in on, which is an additional reason for Sakic’s presence at the Garden on Sunday), Duchene has scored 15 goals and 32 points in 48 games played this season. Although considered a natural center, Duchene has played both the left and right wings at times throughout his tenure with the Avalanche, and recorded the first 30-goal season of his pro career last year. And much like Landeskog, Duchene would not be a rental-type that Sweeney wants to avoid, and would count against a team’s cap for $6 million per season through 2019.

The quick-skating, shot-first forward may fit what the Bruins are looking for under Cassidy a bit more than Landeskog, too.

But like the problems that come with a Landeskog trade, Duchene would create a similar cap-jam when it comes to signing Pastrnak next summer if the lone NHL centerpiece moved out of Boston in the deal is the more-than-affordable Carlo contract.

And that could make the difference between the Bruins committing to such a deal or this is just being more talk.

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” Sweeney said during his media availability following Julien’s firing last week. “But I think it does tail with the fact that I’m not going to be shortsighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now. Our players and our core players are too good to not have that plan in place in the short-term and the long-term.”

A plan that has until the league’s Mar. 1 trade deadline to become clearer.

That’s more than enough time for some more intermission chats.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson