It looks like the Boston Bruins will be quiet when it comes to the trade deadline. For once, no news looks like good news for the Black and Gold.
The Boston Bruins are back in a playoff position after the New York Islanders fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-0. The B’s are hanging on the second wild card spot in the East. They’re just one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and two behind the Ottawa Senators. With things looking up for the Black and Gold, it appears that GM Don Sweeney is happy with the status quo.
In the last few weeks, there had been talk about players the Bruins were looking to get their hands on. St. Louis defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk was the biggest name that drifted on the Bruins radar. In the end, the price for the 28-year old blueliner was just too high. Sure, a top-two defenceman would solve a problem NOW, but the reported asking price would have depleted the team down the road.
This was a smart move by Don Sweeney. I know he hasn’t been everyone’s favorite general manager of late, but he doesn’t want to repeat past mistakes by going all-in for rentals. The cost of bringing in Jarome Iginla led the Bruins organization to make ugly moves down the line. In the long-term, the Bruins let go of Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton, and their absence was the cause of the Bruins problems on the blue line.
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Sure, the Bruins blueline is still the biggest problem right now. Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug are the only defenceman who can play extended minutes without extended mistakes. Still, Brandon Carlo and Colin Miller are coming through this trial of fire. They’ve got the potential to be top-four minute holders for the Bruins. The young players are getting better and stronger in their positions, and that could have been a big reason that Sweeney is taking a pass at the deadline.
Don Sweeney was also likely motivated by the suddenly solid play of their number two goaltender, Anton Khudobin. It appeared the B’s were looking around (not seriously) for a possible short-term fix on that end. Since Bruce Cassidy took over, he has had Khudobin work with B’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa, and the results have been very positive.
Khudobin has gone 2-0 in the Cassidy era. He’s got a .933 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. Those numbers have brought the Kazakh goalie up to a near .900 save percentage for the season. That’s a serious improvement on a player who had to be put on waivers just a few months ago.
Cassidy has also worked wonders with the Bruins bottom-six forwards. Jimmy Hayes is playing some of his best hockey of the year under the interim head coach. The ‘VHS line’, composed of Hayes, Ryan Spooner, and Frank Vatrano are playing surprisingly good hockey. This unusual trio has found chemistry, and they’re adapting well in their new position on the third line.
The Boston Bruins look like a different team since the departure of Claude Julien three weeks ago. This transformation seems to be the big reason why Sweeney thinks the team is fine just the way it is.
We’ll see if he’s right at the end of the regular season.