Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded by the deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded to a playoff contender before next month’s trade deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Future Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla made the right call three summers ago when he left the Bruins to cash in with the Avalanche.

Now he’s hoping the Avalanche will make the right call on him.

In the final year of a three-year deal signed back in 2014, and with the Avalanche in dead last in the entire NHL with just 13 wins and a minus-72 goal differential in 48 games this year, the 39-year-old wants a trade out of the Rocky Mountains to return to a contender.

“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla told Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog on Wednesday. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”

Iginla’s last chance to win it all came with the Presidents’ Trophy winning Bruins in 2014, when he contributed five goals and seven points in 12 games en route to a second-round series loss to the Canadiens. Iginla likely would have remained in town, too, had the Bruins been able to offer a multi-year deal (the Bruins were so tight against the cap that they could only offer Iginla another one-year, bonus-laden contract). The contract length was something of significant importance to Iginla given his age (it was going to be his last big deal and he had already love some money on the tables with a couple of NHL lockouts), as was his desire for stability for his family, which was something he got with the Avs.

But as the Avs prepare their search to find Iginla a new landing spot for the stretch run, you have to wonder if such a search would involve, or at least entertain, the idea of the veteran Iginla reuniting with the Black and Gold for another go.

 

The Bruins are a playoff team (for the moment, anyways) and sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, but their need for secondary scoring remains a dire one. If Iginla came back to the Bruins, the B’s would have the option to either put him back with Krejci, the center that helped him score 30 goals in 2013-14 and in a corresponding move send David Backes back to the third line and create a potentially dangerous three-line unit, or move Iginla in a complementary scoring/power-play presence on your third line and give Ryan Spooner a physical, scoring threat to his right side, which is something he’s simply never had. No matter the move, it would be one that focuses on giving the Bruins three offensively capable lines that Claude Julien can roll out and keep up with the Penguins, Capitals, and Rangers of the world in a seven-game series come April and May.

But there’s also been some chatter of weighing the need for a scorer versus the need for another top-four defenseman. And it almost goes without saying that the price paid for either one will probably be the biggest factor in any deal made or nixed.

There’s a plus when it comes to hammering out a potential deal with the Avalanche, and it’s with the fact that the Black and Gold have some familiarity with Avalanche GM Joe Sakic this season. And although those talks have focused heavily on Gabriel Landeskog (and/or possibly Matt Duchene), Bruins general manager Don Sweeney likely has an idea as to what the Avalanche are looking for in a trade. He would also not have to pay the premium of trading a Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy if you’re talking about Iginla instead of a player like Duchene or Landeskog. (The Avalanche, by the way, are in massive need for defensive personnel, be it at the NHL level or further down the road.) And with just six goals and 12 points in 48 games this year, Iginla’s stock is probably at an all-time low — at least compared to what it was the last time Iginla was on the trade market back in 2013 when the Bruins’ bid fell short because Iginla wanted to go the Penguins — and that seemingly bodes well for the Bruins.

But the Black and Gold are far from the only team looking for some additional scoring on the wings. The Kings, Penguins, and Blackhawks are just some of the other teams expected to be in the market for a scorer between now and the deadline. (And there’s more.) The plus for the Bruins there is that both the Hawks and Pens are tight against the cap and would probably have to move significant salary to make something major work, and that the Kings have already raided their cupboard a few times.

The other problem: Iginla has a full no-movement clause and might not view the Bruins as a legitimate Cup contender. Which was the problem the last time Iginla hit the trade market, and that was when the Bruins were a lot better than they are now.

The NHL trade deadline is on March 1.

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Here’s your mailbag …

Brad Marchand has heated back up again and climbed way up in the scoring race [note: after last night’s three point night, Marchand is now tied for third in points with 23-31—54 totals, trailing only Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby]. If he hovers around that area, will he get some MVP votes? Timmy, Dorchester, MA

I think the impish left-winger should definitely be in the conversation if the Bruins manage to make it into the playoffs. After an absolutely torrid start, Marchand’s stats cooled off even though his overall play was pretty consistent. But he’s cranked it up to 11 as of late to vault into the top three in scoring.

It’s tough to imagine where the Bruins would be without him (or without Tuukka Rask for that matter). He’s started out as a fourth-liner six years ago and is now an All-Star that trails only the two best players in the game in points. Though it’s unlikely he’d nose out either of those two superstars, stranger things have happened. Should both ever miss any time, Marchand could easily slide past them to steal the Art Ross (most points). But the Ross is no guarantee of winning either the Hart or the Lindsay. So methinks he’d need to win the scoring title in a runaway to win one of the top MVP awards. Otherwise, the fawning media will award it to either Crosby or McDavid. And really, who can blame them?

What’s up with the Claude talk? It’s goes from ‘happening any minute’ to disappearing once they win three in a row. Charlie, Watertown, MA

Every media member should get a limited amount of times they can “fire” a coach. There should also be a time limits on a firing claim (i.e. if you say a guy’s getting fired in January but it doesn’t happen until June, then you didn’t have it). Because a bunch of reporters here in Boston would have already exceeded their quota on Claude.

What happens a lot of time is a guy or lady “hears something” that is hardly concrete, he/she draws own ultimately incorrect conclusion, then goes out on a limb (but not really) to say a guy’s getting canned. In other cases, a media member just straight up lies knowing full well that it’s almost impossible to prove a source didn’t tell them what they’re claiming. And there are times when front offices, players, agents, etc. use reporters to put out a false story or get their side out to the public. At the end of the day, nobody loses their job when their “reporting” regarding a firing turns out to be bunk. However, their reputation takes a hit and Twitter never forgets.

Who is the biggest disappointment at the break? Who is the biggest surprise? Teddy, Weymouth, MA

The Tampa Bay Lighting, currently six points back of the final playoff spot in the East, have no doubt been the biggest disappointment so far this season. Yes, I know they lost their best player for an extended time. But the Lightning have shown in the past that they can overcome not having Steven Stamkos in the line-up. That’s because they got top-notch goaltending. Unfortunately for them, they’re not getting that this year and it’s why they’re on the outside looking in. For a contender like Tampa Bay, it will be crushing to the franchise if they don’t even make the post-season.

It’s kind of hard not to pick the Columbus Blue Jackets for biggest surprise. After garnering just 76 points last season, absolutely nobody thought the John Tortorella-led squad would make a run at Pittsburgh’s most consecutive wins record this year. But they did just that in wining 16 straight games, coming up one game short of tying the record. The run did allow them to stockpile much-needed points because, despite the winning streak, they’re four points behind first-place Washington (thought Columbus has two games in hand). Still, it was a damn impressive accomplishment and let other teams know that the Blue Jackets are legit.

Blog Author: 
Rear Admiral

Tuukka Rask has made 43 starts this season, the second-most in the NHL.</p>
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Capitals forward Brett Connolly  became the fifth ex-Bruin to score against the team this season. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Capitals forward Brett Connolly became the fifth ex-Bruin to score against the team this season. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

I had to rub my eyes. The picture was clear, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Brett Connolly received a pass, handled it perfectly, and found the seams in the B’s defense to bury his opportunity on Tuukka Rask and extend his team’s lead to two in the third period.

Shocked, I had to check my roster sheet and make sure that the Capitals did not have more than one Connolly than Brett the Bruin-turned-Capital. Nope. It was real, and it was him.

Connolly had scored a goal against the Bruins. A pretty one, too.

If Connolly, who might honestly have been the most snakebit man in the world last year (note: that was before I watched Patrice Bergeron this season), even tried that move a year ago, he would have tripped over his own body, lost the puck, and somehow landed in the penalty box with a bad penalty. But go figure, in just his 37th game with the Capitals, Connolly recorded his ninth goal of the season, the same he had in 71 games with the Bruins last season, and 76 games overall if you care to include his five-game sample from the year before. It was a goal that held as the game-winner for the Capitals in a 5-3 final over the Black and Gold.

Because of course.

The unlikely finish from Connolly, who was not even tendered a contract from the Bruins as a restricted free agent last summer, got me thinking. It feels that every game against a former Bruin ends with that player burning his former team in some fashion.

Is that right? Well, it’s not necessarily wrong.

Not if you care to include the larger sample size, anyways.

Connolly’s game against the Bruins was his first since leaving the Bruins for the Capitals last July, but it was the club’s 23rd game against a former player this season. Overall, he’s the 20th ex-Bruin to go against the Black and Gold this year — 21 if you care to include Matt Benning, an unsigned draft pick of the Bruins that signed with the Oilers last summer — and the fifth to have scored a goal against the Bruins. (Jaromir Jagr, Phil Kessel, Carl Soderberg, and Blake Wheeler are the others.) The goal also made Connolly the ninth player to record a point against his former team this season, again 10 if you care to include Benning on that list. He’s joined by Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Reilly Smith and Lee Stempniak there.

The list of ex-Bruins held scoreless so far, in case you’re wondering, includes Seth Griffith (one game), Shawn Thornton (two games), Chris Kelly (one game), Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Wideman (one game), Dennis Seidenberg (two games), Matt Irwin (one game), Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot (one game), and Jarome Iginla, who was invisible in two games against the B’s.

In total, that group has totaled five goals and 13 points in just 23 games against the Bruins.

That production seems a tad high, sure — and it’s somewhat expected given the motivation a player has going against their old team — but it’s actually an improvement from last year, when the Bruins were torched at will from their former teammates.

In 33 games against the B’s in 2015-16, ex-teammates recorded 10 goals and 28 points.

It was a year where the heavy hitters came to collect against the B’s; Tyler Seguin had three goals in two games versus the Bruins. Joe Thornton recorded one goal and four points in two games. Lucic each had three points in two games against the Bruins. And it would have likely been a lot worse had the Bruins not shut Phil Kessel down for zero-zero-zero in three head-to-heads.

Even goaltenders found some success against the Bruins last season, with Chad Johnson and Michael Hutchinson combining for a 1-0-1 record against the Bruins and a .925 save percentage in three games against the Bruins.

Over the last two seasons, that’s 15 goals and 41 points in just 56 games. More simple math tells you that the Bruins have allowed their ex-talents to record 0.56 points per game against them this year versus the 0.85 points per game pace they rolled at last season. It’s still a kick in the head, especially when it costs you valuable points like Connolly did Wednesday night, but it’s a bit more tolerable and dispels the notion of this year being just a shinier version of everything that happened to the club last season.

At the same time, the Bruins are far from out of the woods of getting torched by friends-turned-toes for the second year in a row. Remember, the Bruins still have two head-to-heads with Thornton’s Sharks, Seguin’s Stars, and Loui Eriksson’s Canucks.

Thornton has 11 points in 13 career games against the B’s. Seguin has five in six. And Eriksson, the newest member to join the Club of Exes after Connolly and after spending three seasons with the Bruins before signing with the Canucks this past summer, has one goal and three points in four career games against the Bruins, though all came during his tenure with the Stars.

History tell us that those totals will bump up when those matchups come.

And it’ll probably sting when they do, too.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Patrice Bergeron suffered a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Capitals. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron suffered a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Capitals. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

It’s often difficult to remember that Bruins center Patrice Bergeron does everything — and does it well — for the Black and Gold.

It’s only when he’s out of action, and when the Bruins suddenly can’t do anything, that you realize just how much the Bruins rely on him.

The third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals was the latter, as the Bruins were forced to make do without Bergeron after he took a Matt Niskanen slapshot right to the inside of his right knee.

Crumbled down to the ice on the shot, the referees blew the whistle once the puck went to the other end of the ice, and Bergeron required tons of help both off the ice and then down the tunnel to the room.

Never one to miss time if he can help it, and with the Bruins in search of the game-tying tallies, Bergeron would return to the ice almost eight minutes later and logged another two shifts (totaling 2:07 of time on ice) before he departed back down the runway and was done for the night.

There was little B’s head coach Claude Julien could offer on Bergeron’s status after the game.

“We’ll know more [later],” Julien said. “He obviously tried to come back, so hopefully better than worse.”

The 31-year-old Bergeron finished the game with one assist and a minus-2 rating in 16:24 of time on ice, but was not available to the media after the loss, with the team expected to give an update on his status tomorrow (an off day for the team).

Added Julien: “We’ll evaluate as we move on here.”

Bergeron, who missed the first three games of the year with a lower-body injury, has 12 goals and 26 points in 51 games this year.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Life is about the little things.

TJ Oshie scored the first goal of the game in a 4-2 Capitals win over the Bruins. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 22 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Life is about the little things. So I guess if there’s one thing netminder Tuukka Rask and the Bruins can take comfort in, it’s knowing that they won’t have to go to the Verizon Center, the scene of the crime for tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Capitals, again until next season.

(For a complete recap of the game, click here.)

In D.C. and with the high of a three-game winning streak that’s featured solid nights from the B’s best, the air came out of the Bruins’ sails quickly when they were put in a familiar hole behind a breakaway goal from TJ Oshie just 3:06 into the game, and then a two-goal hole when Nicklas Backstrom added another one just over 10 minutes later.

It was similar to the Two Shades of Red penned in the B’s first 2016-17 trip to the barn just within the Chinatown section of the District back on Dec. 7, though this Capitals two-goal lead came in almost 14 minutes versus the seven it took in the last game, so there was progress in some regard for the Black and Gold.

The Bruins progressed forward in another way, too, as Brad Marchand put the club on the board before the period came to a close, thanks to a Brad Marchand power-play goal scored with just 1:14 left in the period.

In what has become a frequent happening throughout this return to competitive hockey and off their January deathbed, the Bruins recognized the deepening hole and answered in the form of a momentum-shifting goal, hit, or fight.

Marchand and the B’s carried that into the second period, too, on their second power-play opportunity of the night behind an easy tic-tac-toe goal from Marchand for his second of the night, 23rd of the year, and his third multi-goal night in the last four games.

But old habits die hard, especially in this building, and the sirens followed, as Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin sniped a power-play goal through Rask with just 14 seconds left in the second period, which gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead after 40.

It was a goal that you could sense coming from a mile away, too, as the Bruins were straight-up bullied around their own zone for what felt like the entire second half of the second period, and their penalty was just the match the Caps needed to light it up. As for Ovechkin scoring it, well that’s a mere formality, as it was his eighth goal in 21 home games against the Bruins.

Up against it in Boogeyman Braden Holtby, a goaltender with 10 wins and a .948 save percentage in 11 career starts against the Bruins, down by a goal in the third period, the negatives compounded for the Bruins when Patrice Bergeron was hobbled with a massive slapshot right off the inside of his right knee on a penalty kill (Bergeron would go back down the tunnel, return, and then go back down the tunnel). Things got worse when ex-Bruin Brett Connolly — a player who would have tripped over his own helmet, broken a stick, and then somehow become a healthy scratch by the time he even made it to the net if he even attempted such a goal for the Bruins a year ago — scored to put the Capitals up by two just three and a half minutes into the third period.

Evgeny Kuznetsov made it a three-goal lead late in the period, and although the Bruins made it a two-goal game with a David Krejci goal late in the third period, it didn’t matter as the Caps rolled the Bruins at home in a business-as-usual night.

In a night that really saw the Bruins limit the Caps’ chances early and often, it was Tuukka Rask that looked every bit a goaltender that played last night and didn’t truly have an All-Star break, with five goals allowed on just 22 shots against.

These Washington ice struggles are nothing new to Rask, of course, as the effort dropped him to 0-6-4 with an .882 save percentage in 10 career games at the Verizon Center. It is the only Eastern Conference building in which Rask has yet to win a game, and just one of three buildings overall, with Anaheim’s Honda Center and the Kings’ Staples Center being the others.

But what was new was the exhaustion and delayed reactions that the 29-year-old appeared to struggle with in this game.

In the crease for his 43rd start of the season, which puts him in a tie with the Sharks’ Martin Jones for the second-most in the NHL behind Oilers netminder Cam Talbot’s 46, you could feel Rask struggle on his rebound control (evident on the Backstrom goal) and he even appeared to strain himself on a beautiful stop against Ovechkin late and with the game out of reach. Those are fatigue issues more than anything else, to be honest, and after almost 2,500 minutes in net this year, how could they not be?

Now, it obviously didn’t help that the Bruins put forth one of their worst defensive games of the entire season, but for this team to go anywhere, it has to be with Rask in net and looking like what he did for the first three months of the season. With that in mind, their situation (the Bruins need to win at close to a .650 winning percentage to make the playoffs, you’d believe) has not allowed them to give their franchise netminder the rest he likely needs, and that part of it is not going to change.

If Rask is the tired Rask that’s been burnt out in back-to-back years, nights like Wednesday will become the norm.

Be it in Washington, Boston, or anywhere else for that matter.

The Bruins are back in action Saturday night against the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins will look for their fourth straight win tonight. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will look for their fourth straight win tonight. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Things have changed for the Bruins over the last week and so, and undoubtedly for the better. On death’s door with losses in four straight games, the Bruins have since rattled off three wins in a row for just the fourth time this season, and will look to make it four in a row as they visit the Capitals in D.C. for a Wednesday Night Rivalry match.

Wait a second, this all sounds eerily familiar.

Oh, that’s right, this is the second time this has happened this season.

It was back on Dec. 7 that the Black and Gold touched down at the Verizon Center with three straight wins to their name and against teams they needed to beat not only because of the standings but because of the struggles that preceded the winning streak.

The end result: A near miraculous comeback that fell just short, as the Bruins overcame an 0-3 deficit to force extra time against Braden Holtby and Co. but fell when Nicklas Backstrom beat Tuukka Rask through the wickets for the overtime dagger. That loss served as the first stumble in what was a slide that then featured losses in five out of six games. The Bruins can ill afford such a slide this time of year. In fact, it would be the Doomsday Scenario that unofficially-but-officially puts their playoff hopes to bed.

But let’s not look at that potential disaster just yet, as likely as it may sometimes seem given the topsy-turvy nature of this team through the first 53 games of the year, but rather focus on the task at hand tonight for the Black and Gold.

 

With a win against the Caps tonight, the Bruins would have their first four-game winning streak of the season. This is their fourth try at accomplishing the feat (they’re 0-2-1 in their previous three), and it’s basically a must for this team to stay afloat. When you look at the teams ahead of the B’s, almost every single one of them has had a great run somewhere to this date. If you look at the teams behind the Bruins, many of them have made things interesting for the Bruins because of a hot streak (yeah, I’m most definitely talking about you, Islanders group that’s gone 5-0-1 since making a coaching change two weeks back).

The Bruins, a month from the trade deadline, are still looking for their hot run.

Their current stretch is the closest thing they’ve had.

Unlike their other three-game streaks, this one has really looked like a team effort, and that their will to win has been there from all 20 skaters. Their best players have come to play throughout the stretch, too. Brad Marchand has four goals and six points in three games. David Pastrnak has one goal and four points. Patrice Bergeron has two goals and two helpers in his last three games. David Krejci had a goal and an assist last night. And even David Backes, while without a point, has found ways to contribute, with 17 hits and eight shots on net in his last three games. Their contributions have eased the burden on the bottom-six players to carry the load for this team, and allowed those players to excel in the complementary roles that suit them entirely better.

 

Tuukka Rask will be in net for the second night in a row and for the 43rd time this season. Rask made 18 stops on 21 shots thrown his way against the Bolts last night, and has won three games in a row despite an .870 save percentage. The 29-year-old Rask has one win in 13 career starts against the Capitals, and has never won a game in Washington.

Holtby, with a 24-8-4 record and .930 save percentage this year, gets the call for the Caps. Holtby made 27 saves in a 5-2 win over the Devils back on Jan. 26, and has 10 wins and a .948 save percentage in 11 career starts against the Bruins.

This is the second three head-to-heads between the Bruins and Caps this season.

 

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named one of the NHL's three stars of January. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named one of the NHL’s three stars of January. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand was everywhere in January.

Fittingly, the first of February is when that was acknowledged by the NHL, too, as Marchand was named the league’s Second Star of the Month of January, sandwiched between First Star and Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and Third Star, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.

The 28-year-old Marchand, who has been the most consistent Bruins skater this season, was his normal self in January, but turned it up a notch with an NHL-best 11 goals and 20 points in the month.

Marchand closed his month out with back-to-back-to-back two-point nights, led by two-goal nights that kickstarted comebacks against the Red Wings and Penguins last week, and contributed two assists in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Lightning. A lot of that late-month success came back to a reunited first line that’s put David Pastrnak as the right wing next to Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron.

“We’re working together well, we’re finding that groove of where we have to play and how we have to play,” Marchand said of his line, which has been considered the best line in hockey this season, and their recent return to success. “We’re getting some bounces too, which helps, and it’s great that guys are stepping up at the right times and helping the team.”

Marchand was also named to the first All-Star Game of his career in the month, and added one assist in the game.

The Nova Scotia native is currently sixth in the NHL, with 21 goals and 51 points in 53 games played.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins have recalled Zane McIntyre. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have recalled Zane McIntyre. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

For the third time in about five days, the Bruins have switched Zane McIntyre and Anton Khudobin’s assignments, with McIntyre returned to the NHL and Khudobin reassigned to the P-Bruins.

McIntyre was originally sent to the AHL to stay in game shape with a start during the NHL All-Star break, which is exactly what he did with a 32-of-34 winning effort against the Hershey Bears on Jan. 27.

The win improved McIntyre to 11-o-0 with a .950 save percentage and 1.44 goals against average for the P-Bruins on the year, and he was promptly reassigned to the Big B’s in a neat paper transaction.

But the Bruins then flipped it once more, this time to allow McIntyre to play in the 2017 AHL All-Star festivities Monday, which forced Khudobin back into an NHL practice at Warrior Ice Arena and dress as the team’s backup last night against the Lightning.

The 24-year-old McIntyre returns to the NHL with an 0-3-1 record and .860 save percentage in seven games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson