B’s Beat: Chris Kelly’s Outstanding Start

Kelly_Chris_Bruins_2014

Last night was another reminder of a trade prior to the beginning of the season, in which a beloved fan favorite Johnny Boychuk, was shipped to the New York Islanders in exchange for 3 draft picks. Though the trade needed to be done to free up sufficient cap space; it still left a bitter taste in the mouth of every single Bruins fan.

“Why didn’t they just trade Chris Kelly”? They said, “Matt Bartkowski sucks, why not him”?

It’s essentially the same pissing and moaning I have grown accustomed to from a continually spoiled Boston sports fan.

While I have a “take him or leave him” attitude with Bartkowski, I can’t say the same about Chris Kelly. Whether or not you like him, you can’t deny that he has far and away been the best player on the B’s so far this season.

Through all 8 of the B’s games so far this season; Kelly has 2 goals, 7 assists, and a +4. He is currently tied for the team lead with David Krejci. Yes, Krejci’s only played 6 games this season and put up the same numbers, but I expect that from a number one center. Kelly is a third line winger/center on this team, and typically plays a more defensive role. He leads all forwards on the team with an average of 2:18 minutes of shorthanded time per game, and has seen literally seen 40 seconds of powerplay time all season.

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Thanks To Peter Chiarelli, Bruins Defense Is A Shell Of It’s Former Self

bruins defense

 

Sloppy…

Mental mistakes…

Defensive breakdowns…

These are words/phrases you seldom heard about the Boston Bruins defense over the last 4 years.

However, this season is a different story.

The B’s “D” just seems out of sorts and at times downright lost.

The pre-season trade of Johnny Boychuk was a complete jarring jolt to the Black & Gold’s roster and their play showed it at the beginning of the season (1-3). Johnny Rocket was perceived by many to be a top four defenseman for the Black & Gold this year.

NESN:

Johnny Boychuk is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL as a strong two-way player. He’s entering his sixth season with the Boston Bruins and will play a top-four role on one of the league’s best blue lines.

Peter Chiarelli’s unloading of salary, threw a 500 pound monkey wrench into the defensive pairings and put more pressure on the young d corps (Miller, Hamilton & Krug).

The Bruins GM felt that he could overcome the loss of Boychuk with the team’s blue line depth. Well through 9 games this season, his depth is becoming depleted with the loss of Kevan Miller to a dislocated shoulder and Zdeno Chara suffering a knee injury.

This leaves Dennis Seidenberg, who is still shaking off the rust coming back from a major knee injury. Adam McQuaid, who is a shell of his 2011 (+30) self, playing just 70 total games over the last two plus seasons. Dougie Hamilton, who has struggled mightily with Chara on the team’s top defensive pairing registering a collective – 4. Torey Krug, who is great offensively, but needs a defensive minded partner to cover up his mistakes. And Matt Bartkowski is the equivalent of a 43 car pile up.

Granted, there are over 73 games left in the season, but there is a pattern developing with the once solid defensive corps of the Boston Bruins….they are SLOPPY in their own end. They are coughing up the puck in front of their own net, leaving Rask & Svedberg out to dry.

And to add insult to injury, the defending Selke trophy winner, Patrice Bergeron appears to be human and is struggling as well. He is actually a minus player right now.

They are far from BIG & BAD right now and a big part of that mindset is now wearing the blue, white & orange of the New York Islanders.

If you are a Bruins fan, be concerned and scared. This is not the exception, this looks like the rule.

And you can thank Mr. Peter Chiarelli for doing a great job managing the salary cap as owner Jeremy Jacobs so eloquently put it.

B’s Beat: Still Waiting For Brad Marchand To Step Up

brad marchand

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that Brad Marchand is coming into camp with a “chip on his shoulder”, and the best shape he has been in as a pro yet, I assume he is going to turn that into results on the ice.

Before we focus on his play through the first 8 games, let’s take a look at this “chip”.

The media in Boston, many of whom (including myself as a suggestion), alluded to the fact that he may be a trade candidate. He obviously began to take this stuff very personally, and used it to drive himself in the offseason.

I can’t say I blame him for reacting the way he did to the news. It has to be tough to play in a city you love; you have won in, and sacrificed in, only to find your name on the chopping block again and again. I always feel bad for the players that are traded from places.

We’ll talk about whether it was a fair trade or not, and the player will be picking his kids up from school and putting them in another school with strangers in a state or possibly country (often the case with older players). It is an unfortunate part of the business, but these are things you accept when you’re a pro.

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Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask Rocks Out Behind The Drums (VIDEO)

Tuukka Rask Rocks Out Behind The Drums

Everyone knows that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask rocks between the pipes, but did you know he rocks out behind the drums?

It has been well documented that #40 is a raging metal head, but he also like his share of jam band music.

This past Saturday night in Buffalo, Rask backed the band, The Mustn’ts on a Phish cover.

Tuukka knows how to bang the skins but I rather see his drumming talents at work during a Metallica or Megadeth metal skull crusher….

Pot Of Baked Beans Goes To Jam Base!

Red Sox Offseason Outlook: Catching

red sox catching

Vazquez is a rock behind the plate

The Red Sox find themselves in an enviable position this offseason; for the first time in several years they can honestly say that their catching situation is already taken care of. Christian Vazquez is the clear starter and workhorse behind the plate, and he also leads very respectable organizational depth at the position. Aside from the decision of whether or not to bring back David Ross to backup Vazquez, there is very little consideration the Red Sox need to give their catching corp this offseason.



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There is really no argument to be made against Vazquez getting the vast majority of the playing time behind the dish in 2015. Even though he only managed a .277 wOBA and a 71 wRC+ in 55 major league games in 2014, Vazquez showed why he was considered an elite prospect for so many years: he can seriously flash the leather. In that relatively limited sample size, he allowed only 8 passed balls and caught 52% of runners attempting to steal off of him. Add in his penchant for throwing to bases in an attempt to pick off runners, and he was worth 7.8 wins above the average major league catcher from his defense alone. Vazquez reminds the Red Sox and their fans of the days when Jason Varitek controlled the game from behind the plate, which is a welcome comparison for all.

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Red Sox Offseason Outlook: Bullpen

Will Badenhop return to lockdown the middle innings?

Will Badenhop return to lockdown the middle innings?

The Red Sox bullpen was somewhat mysterious in 2014, not a major strength but not a catastrophic weakness. There were pitchers that excelled (Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop), and pitchers who could have been better (Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, and to some extent Koji Uehara). The sum of these conflicting performances led to a roughly average bullpen for the Red Sox (12th in baseball with a 3.33 ERA), and leaves room for improvement heading into the offseason. GM Ben Cherington has several decisions to make on in-house free agents like Badenhop and Uehara, and could potentially look to bring Miller back into the fold after his brief stint in Baltimore. As with the starting rotation, options abound for the Red Sox to address their bullpen over the coming offseason.

The first item on Cherington’s list should be to decide who will be closing games come Opening Day. Uehara will be a free agent, and there is legitimate reason to wonder if he should be brought back in 2015. Koji showed that he cannot physically handle a heavy workload at this stage of his career, so it would probably be unwise to place high expectations on Uehara going forward. That being said, he could potentially be a valuable setup piece if handled correctly, and could provide quality innings in the middle of games. Badenhop excelled in this role in 2014, becoming a dependable weapon for John Farrell to use in a crucial point of the game. As stated above, Badenhop will be a free agent, and the Red Sox might end up being more comfortable letting some other team overpay for him, rather than lock themselves into a long-term commitment for a middle reliever. Each free agent could be an excellent middle relief candidate for the Red Sox in 2015.

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