|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
The NHL’s 3 p.m. trade deadline came and went Wednesday afternoon, and unfortunately for Bruins fans, news of a major trade that would bring the team the offensive firepower they have lacked all season wouldn’t be heard all day long. Instead, teams from the top to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings wheeled and dealed, positioning their roster to achieve their goals, whether it to be to retool for the future or to make a Cup run this spring. But for Boston, save for a few small player shuffles early in the day, the B’s front office failed to deliver the shot in the arm this team needed to get them up off the mat and into serious contention. Instead, Boston will be another one-and-done team in the playoffs, if they even make it there at all.
On Tuesday, the B’s made a pair of minor moves, acquiring a pair of young defensemen in Michigan Wolverine Steve Kampfer and former Providence College standout Cody Wild. Wednesday, the blue line shuffle continued, as GM Peter Chiarelli sent free agent to be Derek Morris back to the Phoenix Coyotes for a fourth-round pick in 2011. He followed that up with the acquisition of German Olympian Dennis Seidenberg from Florida, along with Ohio State defenseman Matthew Bartkowski, giving up forwards Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and a 2010 second-rounder.
Seidenberg, who many Bruins fans will remember from October 2008′s collision with Patrice Bergeron that resulted in a concussion for the Bruins center, also was a key player for the Hurricanes in last spring’s thrilling seven-game playoff series against the B’s. He currently leads the NHL in blocked shots with 179, but his offensive contributions leave a lot to be desired. Morris, who was considered a bust with his three goals as a Bruin, gets swapped out for Seidenberg, who has found the back of the net even less frequently, with only two lamp-lighters on the year.
And so the Bruins are left to play out the string of 21 remaining games, hoping to find the solution to their scoring needs from within the organization, all while the teams around them in the standings actively sought to get better before the deadline passed. Let’s now quickly assess the comings and goings of the Eastern Conference, now that the dust has settled from yet another active deadline day:
Welcoming in a quartet of new contributors in Joe Corvo, Scott Walker, Milan Jurcina, and Eric Belanger, the Caps capped off a roster built for a lengthy Cup run. Rumors spread early afternoon that they made a play for Boston’s Tim Thomas, but instead they will rely on the tandem of Theodore and Varlamov to bring home the hardware to the nation’s capital.
The Devils’ only move on the day was the acquisition of defenseman Martin Skoula from Toronto, who had just arrived their hours before from Pittsburgh in the Alex Ponikarovsky deal, but GM Lou Lamoriello already made his mark with the Ilya Kovalchuk acquisition before the Olympic break. New Jersey is poised to contend for the Eastern crown as well.
The Sens made a pair of deals before today’s fireworks even began, adding center Matt Cullen and defenseman Andy Sutton to their already strong roster. Ottawa’s not going away; they’re the team no one will want to face off with in the playoffs.
The Pens landed Ponikarovsky from Toronto late Tuesday night, but beyond that they didn’t make any impact moves at all, which is uncharacteristic for GM Ray Shero, judging from past deadline days. Pittsburgh knows how to win though, and they’ll be there in the end.
The Sabres were able to add some scoring punch up front with the acquisition of Blue Jackets winger Raffi Torres. With Olympic hero Ryan Miller in goal, this team can ride their goalie’s hot hand and hope that he can take them to the promised land, deep into the playoffs.
With the loss of goalie Ray Emery for the rest of the year, many experts figured the Flyers would be active today, shopping for some netminding help. Instead, the phones were silent in Philly, leaving them reliant upon unproven goalies Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher. Yikes…
Also quiet today were the bleu, blanc, et rouge in Montreal, who made only one small deal swapping forward Matt D’Agostini for Blues winger Aaron Palushaj. They may have enough to eek their way into the East’s top eight, but I don’t see that the Habs have a long playoff run in them this time around.
As I said above, they just didn’t do enough to fix the league’s worst offense. Unless Tuukka Rask can put this team on his shoulders and win a string of 2-1 games down the stretch, Boston’s playoff hopes are on life support.
The Rangers were mighty quiet on deadline day, only involved in one small move swapping minor league forwards, but their early February addition of center Olli Jokinen from Calgary have the Ranger faithful hoping that the team can make a run at the top eight and then roll the dice come playoff time.
The Thrashers have already lost their star power with the shipment of Kovalchuk to New Jersey, but only two points out of the playoff picture, Atlanta could get rolling and find their way in. Unlikely though.
The ‘Ning unloaded forward Jeff Halpern to Los Angeles and didn’t get much in return. Their playoff hopes are slim, unless their stars, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, can turn it on and lead this team up the standings.
Nothing earth-shattering from GM Garth Snow and the Islanders heading into deadline day. The Isles hung in there and battled for playoff positioning for a good portion of the season, but this youthful squad has begun to fade and will likely continue to fade into irrelevance by season’s end. Keep rebuilding, guys.
Unless the addition of Byron Bitz fills the missing piece to greatness for the Panthers, don’t expect Florida to be making any playoff plans come mid-April. I hear the golf is spectacular in the Sunshine State by then anyway.
The ‘Canes had a yard sale in the days leading up to the deadline, selling off their prize possessions for pennies on the dollar. They were one of the busiest teams on the transaction wire, but for all the wrong reasons. ‘Canes fans better buy a program at their next game because many of those names and numbers will be new to the Carolina puckheads.
GM Brian Burke was a busy man on the phones in recent weeks as well, and Wednesday was no exception. Wheeling and dealing like it was his job… and it is his job. Burke re-shaped his roster, and then re-shaped his roster again. All for what? Nothing immediate. Their place in the cellar of the Eastern Conference standings remains pretty secure. So while Boston fans are disappointed in what their own team didn’t do on deadline day, they have to be happy with how awful the Leafs are now, right? I smell a top three pick coming to the Hub of Hockey…and it smells good!