Opening Line in Vegas Pegs Boston Bruins as Also-Rans

( Above Photo Credit:  Pintrest )

By: Bob Mand                             Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyMand 

The Westgate Las Vegas sportsbook released it’s over/under win totals earlier today, and surprise, surprise the venerated opening line of opening lines had the Boston Bruins on the outside looking in when the 2018 postseason kicks off next April.

This can’t really be surprising, right? The Bruins lost key contributors Dominic Moore, Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller (Miller will hurt the most, but he played in just over two-thirds of the team’s games – so draw conclusions as you will)… While gaining Paul Postma and access to a slew of young, untapped talent from the farm. Of course one would predict them to fall beneath the Mendoza-line of playoff entry as the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Division.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins holds the Frank J. Selke Trophy after winning the award during the NHL Awards, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)


Now, now. Calm down your self-righteous indignation: The greater part of this misguided placement is the consideration that several key opponents will be even stronger this year – notably Tampa Bay (division winners at an over/under of 102.5 points) and Buffalo (closing in on contention in the Atlantic and jumping to 87.5 points).

And there’s plenty of regression elsewhere in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Washington all manage to see their game breaking chokeholds on the East suffer by between six and fourteen points in the offseason. And low-standing teams like Colorado, Arizona, and Dallas on the West all made dramatic moves up the ladder.

( Above Photo Credit:  Sports Rant )

So perhaps we shouldn’t freak out.

Then again, Montreal is still ranked above Boston (at an over/under of 100.5 which is second in the Atlantic), and no matter how many playoff series’ they lose, that will always sting. Especially given a summer which could be seen as – if not dismal – certainly disappointing by Habs’ standards. Sure, they gained Jonathan Drouin (a skater I’ve long prized) in a huge trade… But it cost them top defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev (and maybe a pick). They lost UFA Alex Radulov to Dallas in a move that surprised no one… And shockingly low-balled Andrei Markov with a one-year offer, sending him scuttling to the KHL, surprising everyone.

Perhaps it’s a bit passé to bemoan the preseason positioning of our longtime rivals especially in this post-1993 era where we’re winning (One to nothing!), but I can’t seem to shake the sour taste in my mouth from this opening line. Carey Price or not, this is still a club with some significant identity issues up-front and one which will rely even more heavily on the aging Shea Weber to defend Ser Price’s crease.

So I guess I’ll have to wait for this season to kick off to smite my opponents in visceral, holy glory. I’ll wait to unleash the awesome power of my ire until the ink is dry on the first set of power rankings, when I’ll blast the authors for not considering this, that or the other thing.

BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 12: Andrew Shaw #65 of the Montreal Canadiens and Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins fight during the first period at TD Garden on February 12, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Yeah, I’m feeling better already. Cooler. Calmer. More ‘In the Moment.’

Anyone wanna make a bet?

Boston Bruins Need To Buy Out Jimmy Hayes


The Boston Bruins should just cut their losses and buyout the contract of forward Jimmy Hayes.

The Boston Bruins traded for forward Jimmy Hayes back in 2015. At the time, it seemed like a good move for the Black and Gold. The B’s were trading Reilly Smith (who was having a rough hot-and-cold season) and the remainder of Marc Savard’s contract.

The Bruins were hoping for a 20-goal scorer that could use his physicality to shut down opposing teams.

The move had every catch phrase Bruins fans seem to love. Hayes was the ‘big bodied guy’ who could put pucks on the net.  That he was a Dorchester native was the icing on the cake. The B’s front office and the fans were hoping that the 6’5″ Hayes could fill in the hole left by Milan Lucic.

That didn’t happen. Not by a long shot.

Hayes didn’t live up to his billing and the fans weren’t happy.  When his name got linked (later proven to be false) as a reason why Jimmy Vesey chose the Rangers over Boston, it made matters worse.

Jimmy Hayes found himself getting pushed around on the ice these last two seasons. Smaller players like Matt Beleskey (last season) and Frank Vatrano (this season) were providing the physicality the Bruins needed.  While I can’t speak to the actual effort put forth by Hayes these last two seasons, the results are pretty damning for the former ‘Pride of Dorchester’.

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In all honesty, Hayes was the worst player on the ice for Boston this season. He only played 58 games for the B’s this season. He put up just five points (two goals) for the Bruins. By comparison, Noel Acciari put up the exact same numbers, and did it in half as many games.

This fight kind of sums up Hayes’ time in Boston.

Hayes spent extended periods as a healthy scratch. When Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien, there were hopes the shake-up would provide motivation for players like Hayes. That didn’t happen. He spent more time guarding the popcorn machine on the ninth level than making plays on the ice.

Moving forward, the Bruins are going to need cap space. They’ve got to sign David Pastrnak to his first ‘real’ contract, and that will likely be in the high-five/low-six million range. The last thing they need is a two million dollar albatross weighing them down.

Boston could find a way to package Hayes as part of a multi-player deal. It’s unlikely though. Unless they can figure out a way to make that happen, the Bruins should just cut their losses and buyout Hayes.

This is how a buyout for Jimmy Hayes would work out:

  • Jimmy Hayes is 27 years old at the date of the buyout
  • Salary remaining: $2,600,000
  • The buyout ratio is 2/3, which results in a total buyout cost of $1,733,333
  • There are 1 years remaining on this contract
  • The buyout will be spread out over 2 years
  • The annual buyout cost is $866,667

On some level, I hate this idea. The Bruins would be essentially rewarding Hayes for being a terrible NHL player.  Still, his numbers don’t lie. He was the worst forward (and possibly overall player) for Boston last year.

Hayes could still be a decent NHL player, but he’ll need to do it somewhere else.

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The Surprise Of The VHS Line


By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)

So far in the Bruce Cassidy era, we have seen a four-game win streak, high tempo offense, Tuukka Rask standing on his head, and chemistry between Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner, and Frank Vatrano. They have only played together for four games, but it has Boston Bruins fans talking all over Causeway Street. It takes a lot for a Bruin’s fan this year to admit that Hayes is playing well and I’ve seen people stick up for him on the internet lately, instead of bashing him; it’s crazy I know. The line has garnered a nickname, which is the VHS line; great name by the way.

Cassidy changed up the first three forward lines as soon as he took over the coaching duties of the Bruins. He moved David Pastrnak to the second line with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik, forming the Central Europe line, no one has been able to come up with a clever name yet. David Backes has moved up to the first line with Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, fitting in well with their chemistry. The big surprise is when he brought Hayes down from the ninth floor and stuck him on a line with Spooner and Vatrano.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins

(Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports)

We all saw the lineup card before the game and were scratching our heads. Why is Hayes back in the lineup? We all asked. Apparently, Cassidy saw something we didn’t, the line has played better with every game they play together, and the familiarity builds between them. Spooner has struggled at times this year, and it seemed like no one could find where he fit in, besides the powerplay. In the three games since forming the VHS Line, Spooner has had one goal and two assists. He has been able to play center again, use his skating and passing skills to his advantage and scoring a goal to help his club. Vatrano has had two goals and two assists since being put on this line and has looked like one of the fastest skaters on the ice, every game. Hayes had had two assists in those four games and has been able to use his size in front of the net to generate scoring chances.


(Jeff Chiu – AP)

I feel the line has worked well so far because each player brings a different aspect that compliments the other. Vatrano has a great shot with blinding speed, Spooner has an uncanny vision on the ice with a finishing touch, and Hayes has that body presence we haven’t seen since Florida and the confidence that his line mates will get him the puck. We don’t know what the rest of the season will hold for the Bruins and this line, but one thing is for sure, it’s exciting to watch right now.

Bruins Struggles Continue


Above Photo Credit:

By: Mark Allred    Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins are currently on a four-game losing streak with a loss on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paint Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earlier this evening and looking at the next two games ahead, it certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to be any better. This week’s games will have the Detroit Red Wing visiting Boston on Tuesday night and the Penguins who beat up on an effortless B’s team today coming to the TD Garden on Thursday night.


Now I’m not one for writing articles about trashing my beloved team, but I have serious concerns about our beloved Bruins and their efforts on home ice and in front of hard working paying fans/season ticket holders. The B’s are currently on a two-game winless streak at home but what’s more frightening is when you look at the games left in the 2016-17 NHL regular season campaign and see the Bruins will be playing 19 of the remaining 32 games at the TD in Boston. As all Bruins fans know this organization in the past few seasons has had a tough time when returning home.

The Bruins and their home woes seemed to trend downward after going 31-7-3 in 2013-14 which would be the last time this franchise has been involved in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following that year the B’s went a respectable 24-10-7 in 2014-15, then hit a brick wall in 2015-16 when the team had a pathetic under .500 record (17-18-6). This season the team is 10-12-0 on home ice and on the path to be even worse than last year.

With the lack of motivation to make changes that many seem necessary, Don Sweeney and other members of management seemingly want to stand firm and ride out the year to not push the panic button and risk key members of this team’s future. The Bruins prospects in the lower levels of development are mere years away from breaking out as many of them will be operating on low-risk entry-level deals creating valuable cap space to have the flexibility to afford a decent player as this franchise continues the rebuild.

Additions By Subtractions Approach In The Future?


With the Bruin likely walking away from defensemen like John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow at the end of this season and keeping the team’s obligation with Captain Zdeno Chara for another year, this organization could make some impressive additions with younger talent. This would be a great time to promote defensemen currently with the AHL’s Providence such as Matt Grzelcyk or Rob O’Gara or blueliners that are eligible for the AHL or NHL next season, like Jeremy Lauzon or Jakub Zboril. These young defensemen that are knocking on the door of the NHL are going to put General Manager Don Sweeney and organization in a tough spot with the extensions given to vets Adam McQuiad and Kevan Miller. Let’s not forget about 2016 Bruins draft pick Charlie McAvoy and where he could end up as he’s in his sophomore season close by at Boston Universtiy.


Now the offense in the future is certainly going to be interesting as the team will most definitely say good-bye to forward Jimmy Hayes as he’s got one more year left on his deal but can be bought out after this season fro a mere $816,000. Do you resign Dominic Moore whos’s added a nice touch to the fourth line? Has Tim Schaller and Austin Czarnik earned more time in the NHL? What do you do with Ryan Spooner as the pending extensions of young forward David Pastrnak is set to begin contract negotiation at the end of this season? Is Riley Nash deserving of a buyout at the end of the year over Jimmy Hayes at his walking number could be under a million? All questions that will be addressed in the coming time but the future is something to be noticed now.

Looking at the forward depth players such as Peter Cehlarik, Sean Kuraly, Anton Blidh, Danton Heinen, and even Jake deBrusk who’s been playing decent lately all have shots at an NHL roster spot during the team’s annual training camp every September. Not to mention forward prospects Jesse Gabrielle and Zach Senyshyn who are officially eligible for the AHL and NHL next season as both are currently playing their last seasons of Canadian Junior Hockey.

Relax My Friends………. Easier Than Said Than Done

With all this being said, Yes I understand the fans and the passion to win now, but I think this Bruins organization is going to need 3-5 years to build a solid team like the one that brought the team the Stanley Cup in 2011. Embrace the youth coming into the system and have patients as these young men develop the skills needed to be ultimate professionals in the world’s best league.