Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Sky's Not Falling: Bruins Lose To Habs, But Score!

Hear that? That’s the sound of the bandwagon getting a tad lighter in Boston.

Following two mind-rattling losses to the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, where the B’s scored a total of zero goals in 120 minutes of play. Tonight, it took the black and gold just over 59 minutes before they finally scored a goal against the Montreal Canadiens en route to a 2-1 shootout loss.

Former Boston Bruin Glen Metropolit got the party started for Montreal, scoring a goal late in the first period after a Dennis Wideman positioning blooper led to a collision with Matt Hunwick, leading to Andrei Kostityn having a clear path to the net with Shawn Thornton in hot pursuit of him. Kostityn was denied by Thomas on the initial attempt but was able to wrap it around the net where Metropolit was able to bang it home for his third goal of the season.

The second period was more of the same Boston and Montreal clash we all know as the B’s and Habs engaged into a defensive battle, fighting for every corner and full of hard hitting, and penalties. However, in what’s becoming expected Bruins fashion, the B’s were unable to capitalize on both powerplay chances in the period, and three in total. At the same time though, the B’s penalty kill was up to the task of shutting down the Habs powerplay, killing both powerplays Montreal had in the night.

The highlight of the second period was a goal-call reversed in favor of the Montreal Canadiens as it appeared that the B’s put one by an unsuspecting Carey Price on a rebound. However, as replay clearly showed, the net was taken off it’s moorings and was put in under the dislodged net.

Near the close of the period, a scrum erupted in front of the Boston crease where Andrew Ference and Maxim Lapierre exchanged words and went as far as Ference dropping his glove to challenge Lapierre to a fight −something Lapierre simply would have no part of, per usual. Ference shook off Lapierre and waved his hand at him, skating away while laughing and having some choice words for the Habs agitator.

It’s not often that you say this when referring to a 22-year old goaltender, but last night was vintage Carey Price.

For much of the night, the story was in net for the Montreal Canadiens as Carey Price played perhaps his strongest game of the 2009-10 season. The oft-taunted goaltender in Boston, Price made one save after another, stopping all 26 of Boston’s shots after 40 minutes of play.

In what was very reminiscent of 2007-08, where Price and the Canadiens beat the Bruins eight times in the regular season and knocked the B’s out of the first round of the playoffs, Price demonstrated excellent mechanics and had absolutely phenomenal poise.

Shutting down Boston in typical 2007-08, Price was less than a minute away from securing a regulation win when Patrice Bergeron banged the puck home for his fifth goal of the season.

In overtime, the B’s had their opportunities, none better than Patrice Bergeron’s shot from just over the blue-line in the attacking zone. Bergeron, a mini-breakaway let one rip and Price went down and made a desperation save straight out of the NHL10, stopping Bergeron’s shot with a filthy glove save.

Following a botched scoring opportunity by Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka on a 2-on-1, the B’s and Habs were going to the shootout for the first time since November 20th, 2008.

The B’s elected to shoot first and it was Blake Wheeler who was stopped by Price. The first shooter for the Canadiens was Michael Cammalleri, who ripped a wrist shot right by Tim Thomas that to be honest, I saw coming from a mile away. After one round, Montreal had the 1-0 lead in the shootout.

The B’s sent Patrice Bergeron to center ice as their second shooter but again, Price stood tall in net, denying Bergeron’s bid to tie it up. Tim Thomas was also able to stop Scott Gomez with a save off his glove as Boston was in a must-score situation when they sent Mark Recchi onto the ice.

“Mark Recchi?! Not Sturm, Ryder, Sobotka or even Marchand? Mark Recchi?!”

Recchi, although making a great attempt, was stopped by Price and the Habs got their first win against Boston since October of last season, ending a nine game losing streak including the playoffs, against Boston.

While the loss to Montreal may sting, the B’s fans should be thrilled with getting a point, along with the team scoring their first goal in 179 minutes and eight seconds. All things considered, the defense and goaltending for Boston is playing phenomenal, pointing to nothing but good coming from the return of Krejci and Savard along with Milan Lucic in the upcoming weeks.

Dumb Quote of the Night

“It’s different when we get outside buddy, when le fists come into play and at le face” - Completely ignorant B’s fans to group of Habs fans celebrating Metropolit’s goal in the first period.

Honestly, I understand this is a rivalry, but why are we resorting to violence towards fans for being happy that their player scored a goal? This fan proceeded to charge at all of these fans during the first intermission, shoving them up against a wall and calling them all cowards because they wouldn’t fight him. For starters, they were here to watch sixty minutes of hockey, not twenty. Secondly, this man had about seven inches and a good hundred pounds on each on them, I can’t blame them.

B’s fans, it’s time to grow up and leave the fighting to the guys on the ice.

What’s Next?

It’ll be a Saturday night showdown with the Northeast Division leading Buffalo Sabres at the Garden. The Sabres come into Boston winning five out of their last six before tonight’s tilt against the Flyers at the HSBC Arena. They’re led by Ryan Miller, who’s completely playing out of skull right now, posting a 9-1-1 record with a 1.69 goals against average and two shutouts.

The Sabres, who always seem to give the B’s a hard time regardless of their record, should provide a daunting challenge to the Boston Bruins, who will once again be without Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wings Shutout Boston: A New Streak Begins, Kessel Debuts In Toronto, Winter Classic Tickets

Unfortunately for Boston, as one streak ends, a new one begins.

In tonight’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the B’s snapped a loss-win pattern that has plagued the club throughout their first 13 games of the 2009-10 NHL season. However, in the process, the B’s failed to score a goal, rendering them goal-less in their past 133 minutes and 58 seconds of play.

Following tonight’s display in Detroit, is the frustration officially beginning to mount in the Hub?

While the Bruins got shutout by an Original Six team for the second time in the past 72 hours, these Bruins simply don’t appear to be trying out there as a cohesive unit.

Yes, top-liners such Marc Savard and Milan Lucic are both on the long-term injured reserve, but isn’t that extra incentive for players such as David Krejci, Michael Ryder and Marco Sturm to step up?

Tonight, it was more of the same from the black and gold−which simply hasn’t been a good thing this season.

The daggers tonight came from Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, who both scored late in the first period of the Tuesday night contest in the Motor City. Zetterberg’s powerplay goal seemingly happened instantaneously, so quickly that the VS cable crew was nearly unable to catch it on TV.

Three minutes later, and one Thomas positioning-gaffe later, and Tomas Holmstrom put the Wings up by two, which is more than what Chris Osgood needed to earn the ‘W’ tonight.

Osgood, who came into tonight’s match-up boasting a 4-2-2 record with a 3.10 goals against average, was mechanical, lucky and mechanically lucky for sixty minutes, making 29 saves and getting two lucky post-rings to secure his 50th career shutout.

For Boston, the powerplay-woes continue as the Bruins went 0 for 3 tonight with a man-advantage, worsening to 1 for 20 since being without Marc Savard in the line-up due to a broken foot.

Some good for B’s fans to take solace in is that fourth line cogs, Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin, to continue to play strong and create chances even without 6′4″ Byron Bitz out of the line-up. More good news surrounding the slumping Bruins is that since the team’s acquisition of Daniel Paille, the B’s have killed off 17 out of 18 penalties.

Warning: Phil Kessel Talk Ahead

Tonight marked the debut of Boston’s newest-villain, Phil Kessel, in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform. The formerly-loved and delightfully dangerous goal scorer, who lit the lamp 36 times in 2008-09 for Boston, who demanded/didn’t demand a trade out of Boston this off-season after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new deal.

To the joy of Boston fans, Kessel had an absolutely frustrating night tonight in his Leafs debut. In his return from major shoulder surgery over the off-season, Kessel was on the ice tonight for just under 24 minutes and had a career-high 10 shots, the end result? Zero goals, zero points, and one bone-crunching and bloody-lip inducing hit from Bolts blue-liner Mattias Ohlund. Anyone else want to go out and buy an Ohlund shirt?

Also, honestly what was penalty worthy about that hit? Nothing dirty there, just keep your head up, Ke$$el.

Oh Phil, how Boston will feed off your misery.

Who Got Winter Classic Tickets? Oh Yeah, That’s Right, This Guy!

Honestly, this process was a lot easier than I expected for those of you who have yet to purchase your seats. However, it was still a little questionable to me.

After logging in using my private password and username, I selected the option of “Best Available”. The results weren’t not what I expected. While I knew seats atop the Green Monster, in the left-field grandstands and in the Pavilion Club would be gone, I didn’t expect what I got back.

Two seats, right field grandstand 3, row 13. The view? Here. The price? 225.00 dollars per seat. Errrr, what? For a near-outfield-bleacher view, I simply wasn’t paying this price. I instead opted for seats along the right field line, in right-field box 93, row 7 for 125.00 dollars per seat. My only hope is that I’m not behind Pesky’s Pole.

What’s Next?

On Thursday night in Boston, it’ll be the 700th meeting between the Boston Bruins and the hated Montreal Canadiens. Both Boston and Montreal are coming off losses on Tuesday night. The Canadiens shouldstart Jaroslav Halak for this match-up against the team that eliminated them from the 2009 Playoffs, considering the absolute disaster of a start Carey Price has had to the 2009-10 season. Halak is 5-2-0 with a 2.85 goals against average on the season and has clearly outplayed Price thus far (then again, that hasn’t been hard).

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bruins Return To Garden To Battle Devils

Hi Boston, remember hockey?

It’s been five days since the Boston Bruins have played a game, a thrilling win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night in Canada’s capital where the B’s scored two goals with under a minute and a half left in the third to tie it and eventually win in the shootout.

Tonight, the B’s will play host the New Jersey Devils, a team that has given the Bruins trouble and close match-up’s for years. Under Claude Julien, the Bruins are 3-2-3 against the Devils and no final score between the two clubs has had a goal differential over three, which has happened only once.

Ten games into the season, the Devils, back with Jacques Lemaire behind the bench, are off to a 6-4-0 start, but their road record has been more than impressive, it’s been perfect. The Devils are undefeated on the road with a 5-0 record.

As always, a main cog in the success of New Jersey has been Martin Brodeur, who missed much of last season with a torn bicep injury. However, luckily for Boston, Marty will be watching tonight’s game from the bench as Yann Danis will make his Devils debut tonight in Boston.

With the departure of Scott Clemmensen to Florida through free agency and retirement of Kevin Weekes, the Devils were without a solid back-up and addressed this issue with the signing of Yann Danis to a one year contract worth league minimum.

For Danis, this is his third NHL franchise in as many years, spending last season with the New York Islanders, where he put together a respectable season on a dreadful team with a 10-17-3 record, .910 save percentage, and 2.86 goals against average.

Despite his decent numbers, the same cannot be said when Danis stepped in between the pipes against the Boston Bruins.

In three games last season against the Killer B’s, Danis went 0-3-0 with a .881 save percentage, including a start against the Bruins in the Isles season finale where he was lit up for four goals in 25 minutes.

For Boston, the focus will be on looking to continuing the momentum they gained last week as the team gained five out of a possible six points while without top-liners Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.

The Bruins will still be without Lucic (finger) and Savard (foot) for tonight’s game, but call-up’s Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka have played considerably well and aren’t causing headaches for fans in the Hub of Hockey when on the ice just yet.

Last week, the success for Boston came in the final five minutes against the Sens, a task they surely don’t want to have to repeat tonight with Danis in net. The keys to the game will be to put the pressure on the Devils early and get Danis rattled. However, given the Lemaire trap-style of play, inducing lullabies everywhere since 1993, the B’s may have very limited chances to do so in tonight’s game, creating the mantra of capitalizing on their chances.

Players To Watch

For Boston, the pressure-cooker has got to be building on Matt Hunwick. Hunwick, who missed nearly all of the Bruins playoff-push last year following a ruptured spleen injury, has struggled out of the gate on a defensive standpoint so far in 2009-10. While the 24-year old has three goals in ten games thus far, he’s been a total liability when it comes to defending the Bruins zone responsibly. If this continues, B’s fans will be clamoring for the return of Johnny Boychuk from the press box in place of Hunwick sooner, rather than later.

Tim Thomas, coming off a huge 27-save performance in Ottawa on Saturday will be in net tonight for Boston and will look to improve to 5-3-0 on the short season. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner has experienced relatively good success against New Jersey, boasting a 4-3-3 record and .920 save percentage, including a shutout of last year’s Devils.

In red and white tonight, while Patrik Elias is tops among Devils forwards when it comes to career points against Boston, Elias will be inactive tonight still recovering from off-season groin surgery, putting the focus on Devils captain and notorious Bruins killer, Jamie Langenbrunner. In 10 games this season, Langenbrunner is already off to a fast start with seven points and a +4. Always the dangerous playmaker due to his size and effective skating, Langenbrunner has already tallied 23 points in 34 career games against Boston and could have more if not contained by the Bruins.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

This Week In Bruins: Tuukka, The Kids, Philly & My Negativity

Here in the first week of “This Week In Bruins” (okay, I’m cheating, the season is about three weeks old now but who makes up these rules anyhow?), we’re going to examine the past seven days in all things Bruins.

Following a dominating performance against a semi-healthy Dallas Stars team, the Bruins sputtered out of the gate and lost to the currently-untouchable Ilya Bryzagalov the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 in the desert. Before the game, the Bruins lost Milan Lucic for the night, and went on to lose him for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken finger.

Just how does one of the NHL’s toughest players get away with sitting out four to six weeks because of a broken finger? Well, you can ask him if you see him, but I know I won’t be backing you up.

* To add injury to injury, the Bruins also placed linemate Marc Savard on the long-term injured reserve with a broken foot. While Savard’s seven points were good for best on the Bruins, it was deemed best if 91 spent some time in the press box, giving him time to let the broken bones heal. The injury was suffered during the pre-season, but gives Savard more time to pursue a modeling career, photos by the Improper Bostonian, courtesy of the Looch Ness Monster blog.

* The Bruins call up Guilliam Lefebvre, sent him down, call him up for a half hour, and send him down again. While Lefebvre is heading back to Rhode Island for perhaps the rest of the season, I’ve grown curious as to how much gas money Peter Chiarelli has given Lefebvre.

* Brad Marchand gets an assist in his first NHL game, but rubs Bruins, music, and musically-inclined Bruins fans the wrong way before the game when he admits to wanting to interview Nickelback.

* The Bruins acquire Daniel Paille from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for one of the Bruins 1,982 draft picks. Paille impresses Bruins fans the next night with his dogged determination, tenacity and assist on a game-winning goal for Boston.

* Steve Begin continues to make Boston fans miss P.J Axelsson and Stephane Yelle less and less by the game. Currently, Begin is on pace for 54 points and is second on the Bruins with four assists.

* Surprisingly, Patric Hornqvist survived 60 minutes out there against the Bruins on Wednesday. The Sweden native forward, who stands at a whopping 5′11″ and 186 pounds was hacking away at Thomas’ pads all game, crosschecking Sobotka and being an all around irritation to the Bruins.

* Bruins survive a last second melee in front of Tim Thomas’ crease to secure a win against the Nashville Predators, continuing their streak of inconsistency.

* My negativity towards the Boston Bruins via Facebook status leads to the team waking up, I know I’m friends with Zach Hamill on there, but does news really travel that quickly?

* Both Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand admit that Marley & Me made them cry. Winning the hearts of dog-lovers all over, but creating a buzz about just what is going on in the city of Providence?

* Bruins unveil “official” Winter Classic hats during pre-game skate with Philadelphia Flyers, continuing to upset fans with their lack of anything cool for this year’s battle at Fenway Park.

* The scouting report on Tuukka Rask continues to read “top-shelf”. However, Tuukka still performs admirably in the 4-3 shootout loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, including a stellar save against Jeff Carter on a shorthanded breakaway.

* Scott Hartnell has still refused to get a haircut, to the dismay of even his closest family. His search for revenge on Bart Simpson continues.

*Derek Morris scores his first goal with the Boston Bruins and tallies an assist against Philly, stopping the complaining of B’s fans..for now.

* Is there any team more appealing to loathe than the Philadelphia Flyers? Between that clinically-insane punk Daniel Carcillo to Chris “Mr. Stomp” Pronger, is there any reason as to why anyone outside of Philadelphia would bother liking this club? I suppose it fits their city well though, GREEN-MAN!

* The Canadiens continue to stumble, to the joy of Bruins fans, posing the question, est la Coupe truly downtown? Even more joyous, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still winless seven games into the season, with a wonderfully terrible record of 0-6-1, on pace to give the Boston Bruins the first overall draft pick in 2010. Hey Kessel, how do ‘ya like ‘dem apples?

Tomorrow, the Bruins take to the ice in Kanata, Ontario to take on the Ottawa Senators. This will be the first time that the Bruins face off against Alex Kovalev since his departure from Montreal. Will L’Artist have any tricks up his sleeve or will the Bruins continue to play hard, physical and cliche as they prove to be “tougher to play against”?

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Glimpse of the Future? B's Without Savard For 4-6 Weeks

When it rains, it pours.

Earlier this morning, the Boston Bruins announced that they’ve placed center Marc Savard on the long-term injured reserve with a broken left foot, joining fellow linemate on the B’s top line, Milan Lucic.

It’s unclear as to when Savard aggrivated the foot he injured during the preseason, but Savard noted that it was undoubtedly in the best interest if he took some time off. “The best thing now is to shut it down for a couple of weeks and let it heal.” a disappointed Savard said today when talking to the media.

Although the struggling Bruins certainly need the presence of their number one powerplay-producer, could B’s fans be getting a glimpse of the future as Savard could be without the club for nearly two months?

Savard enters 2009-10 in the final year of a four year contract he signed with the Boston Bruins back in July 2006 that pays him five-million a year, a bargain when looking at the numbers put up by the 5′10″ center from Ottawa. In all three seasons in the Hub so far, Savard has put up at least 60 assists or more, something only duplicated in the entire National Hockey League by Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

However, given the expected decrease in the salary cap along with the continuing development of players such as David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Milan Lucic, all younger players with contracts of 3.75 million or higher, just where does Marc Savard fit into the plan of the Boston Bruins’ future?

When examining the players who finished with the same amount of points and/or more than Marc Savard last season, their average salary totals out at an average of 6.4 million dollars a season. While there’s been plenty of internet chatter about the Bruins interest in signing Savard to a three-year extension worth 6.5 million a season, there’s been no substantial quotes, figures or talks been expressed by both sides to date.

Regardless of the numbers put up by number 91, the Bruins numbers when it comes to the salary cap sets off quite the alarm, creating a large doubt about Savard’s potential return to the club past 2009-10.

Currently, the Bruins have 39.4 million dollars of the 2010-11 cap tied up between 11 positional players and Tim Thomas. However, besides Savard, included in the Bruins pool of pending free agents are promising players Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart, Tuukka Rask and Vladimir Sobotka along with roleplayers such as Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton and Derek Morris.

Without including Savard, the Bruins would have approximately 15.9 million dollars to spend on 10 players to fill out a roster. While it’s expected that players such as Mikko Lehtonen, Zach Hamill, Jeff Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk will be challenging for spots on the big league roster next September, the likelihood of Savard remaining a Bruin without Peter Chiarelli having to continue to move pieces around is near impossible.

Posing the question, could what we’re about to witness be the future of the Boston Bruins?

Called up from Providence over the weekend, fiesty smaller forwards Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka are expected to make their cases for a role on the NHL roster with Kobasew out of the equation and will certainly get their chances with the injuries to Lucic and Savard. They will be helped by the addition of Daniel Paille and call-up of journeyman minor leaguer Trent Whitfield.

Also expected to take the load off Savard’s back on the powerplay will be promising and proven NHL capable centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. While David Krejci totaled 73 points in 2008-09, the 23 year old Czech forward has shown some signs of still being in the midst of recovering from off-season hip surgery. On the other hand, center and 2003 2nd round pick Bergeron has been on an absolute tear, scoring five points in seven games this season and playing much like he did back in 2006-07 before concussions took their toll on the B’s alternate captain.

While tonight’s match-up against the 2-4-1 Nashville Predators may be a good way for the young guns to get into the action, the real tests will come as the B’s schedule gets tougher with opponents such as the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers facing off against Boston in the next nine days.

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Bruins Acquire Daniel Paille From Sabres

It didn’t take Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli too long to find an alternative to now former third-line-staple Chuck Kobasew. Today, the club on Causeway announced that they have acquired Sabres forward Daniel Paille in exchange for a third round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and conditional fourth rounder in ‘11.

While most Bruins fans are no Darren Dreger or Pierre LeBrun, the move has been dubbed as ‘puzzling’, ‘confusing’ and even ’stupid’ on some internet forums so far.

For one, following the placing of Milan Lucic on the long-term injured reserve over the weekend, the Bruins called up forwards Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka to fill in the holes created by Looch’s injury and Kobasew’s departure for Minnesota.

Sobotka, who had an impressive pre-season, creating concerns as to why he wasn’t apart of the NHL roster to begin the season, is absolutely tearing apart the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins thus far, posting six goals and ten points in just six games so far for the Baby B’s. The same can be said for Brad Marchand, who’s put up eight points, including six goals in six games for Providence.

Seemingly ready for their chance in the National Hockey League, the Boston-hopefuls may have some new competition for ice-time with the addition of Danny Paille into the Boston line-up.

Paille, who’s been a healthy scratch for Lindy Ruff’s Sabres for four games already this season is looking for a new start in the Claude Julien system.

Considering Paille’s decrease in point production by eight points from the season prior, much of that can arguably be attributed to his diminishing minutes as his average time on ice a game went from 13:16 down to 11:54 a game.

So far in 2009-10, Paille has an assist and a +1 in two games for the Sabres. Paille’s career high in goals (19) came in the 2007-08 season, as did his point total, 35, in the same season.

Personally, I love this move. Paille brings many of the same intangibles that Kobasew did, at half the cost with a 1.1 million dollar cap hit. The addition of Paille also gives Boston flexible if Marchand, Sobotka or both, falter at the NHL level, avoiding the idea of thinning out your presumed-NHL-ready depth on the farm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kobasew Traded To Minnesota; What's Next?

Well, this is certainly surprising, at least at seven games into the season it is.

Today, the Boston Bruins have announced the trade of Chuck Kobasew to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for winger Craig Weller, the rights to unsigned fourth round pick from 2009, Alexander Fallstrom, and a second round draft choice in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Kobasew, a Boston College alumni and first round pick from the 2001 NHL draft, was beginning his third full season with the Boston Bruins after being traded to Boston midway through the 2006-07 season.

Always the fan favorite, Kobasew was known for his strong two-way play and never-afraid-to-get-your-hands-dirty approach to the game and his steady play has been more than welcomed to the Bruins. In 158 games, Kobasew tallied a total of 44 goals and 84 points frequently playing on Boston’s third line. Kobasew was also coming off two consecutive 20-goal seasons in the Hub of Hockey.

However, while Kobasew was a valued and often unsung hero on the Boston Bruins roster, his presence and increasingly unfavorable contract was without question weighing on Boston GM Peter Chiarelli’s mind.

As it stood in the Hub, and now in Minnesota, Kobasew’s making 2.3 million dollars a season through the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. A price simply too rich for the thinning blood of the Boston salary cap.

Coming to Boston in the now is forward Craig Weller, who’s totaled 95 games, 14 points and 127 penalty minutes in two seasons split between the Coyotes and Wild. Along with Weller and the draft choice, the Bruins have obtained Harvard freshmen Alexander Fallstrom, a Swedish forward with a knack for scoring goals in Europe, something he’s looking to replicate with the Harvard Crimson.

So just what does the moving of Kobasew out West create for possible scenarios for the B’s?

1. Deadline Blockbuster – In Boston, one name has been consistently repeated, Atlanta Thrashers captain and star forward, Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian forward has put up five straight seasons with at least 40 goals and has an expiring contract and may want out of Atlanta if they continue their decline on the map of hockey relevancy. If the B’s are to fail in landing Ilya, they could also used the freed up cap space to perhaps land a top six forward like Nathan Horton from Florida or Alexander Frolov from the Los Angeles Kings.

2. Re-Signing Savard? – The Bruins have reportedly expressed in re-signing top center Marc Savard before he hits the open market this off-season. Savard is coming off three straight 60+ assist seasons and is in the final year of a contract that pays him five million dollars per season. Savard, who’s already off to a good start to 2009-10 with seven points in as many games, is considered a bargain at five million per season and is often looking for his last big contract in the 6.5 million dollar range.

3. Restricted Free Agency Wiggle Room – At the conclusion of this season, young stars such as Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart and Tuukka Rask headline the B’s crop of restricted free agents. Given the success of the youth while the cap dwindles down, the Bruins are clearly at a disadvantage and need to take the proper steps towards creating a solid crop of players developed into their own system. The clearing of Kobasew’s contract does just that.

Personally, I believe the Kobasew trade makes the Bruins a premier buyer at the NHL Trading Deadline this year. As it stands now, the Bruins have six draft picks in either the first or second round of the 2010 NHL Draft, absolutely huge bargaining chips at the deadline for a cellar-dwelling team looking to unload some expiring contracts.

Also, I’ve noticed a large outcry from Bruins Nation about the trading of Chuck Kobasew. Honestly, my response is just, “At 2.3 million dollars a season, is he really worth what he is on a very talented B’s club, a third liner?”. While Kobasew is, was, a fan favorite at the Garden, his goals will be replaced by a combination of Brad Marchand, Vladimir Sobotka ( who were both called up from Providence today) along with added offensive contributions from role-players Byron Bitz and Steve Begin.

Heading into Wednesday, the Bruins will likely role a set of lines similar to these.

Marco Sturm – Marc Savard – Michael Ryder

Blake Wheeler – David Krejci – Byron Bitz

Mark Recchi – Patrice Bergeron – Vlad Sobotka

Shawn Thornton – Steve Begin – Brad Marchand

Extra Skater: Guillaume Lefebvre

With the shake-up’s seemingly done for now, the Boston Bruins will focus on the Nashville Predators, who come to town on Wednesday for a showdown at the Garden.