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Hagg Bag: Boston Bruins Coming Out Of The Break



It’s been a nice, long break for the Boston Bruins, who will get back to work this weekend after the NHL All-Star break and the bye week. As they get back to work, the B’s are admitting that the break was necessary and needed, and has brought the Black and Gold back with a renewed energy after a little vacation time for most of the players this past week.

“I think it’s to keep getting better, keep improving in the areas we have to work on, keep building the chemistry but also the work ethic and resilience we’ve built over the course of the year,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, when asked about the B’s goals for the traditional second half of the season. “I think there’s no special recipe. It’s staying the course and being ready to face whatever comes our way down the stretch.”

With all that in mind, it’s time to crack open the Hagg Bag mailbag and answer some questions from the Boston Bruins fans. As always these are real questions from real fans using the #HaggBag hash tag at my twitter account, or through messages sent directly to my Facebook page.

Now let’s crack open the bag:

Who do you want the Bruins to add by the deadline?

–Mc (@mclu91)

JH: I think the Boston Bruins need to add a tough-as-nails depth defenseman. I want an experienced, big defensemen that can hit, drop the gloves and throw ‘em and play the intimidation game with the other team when things get dicey in the playoffs. I really think Luke Schenn fits that bill and adds insurance depth should anything happen to Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy injury-wise down the stretch. Schenn also has the added benefit of being a really good fit salary cap-wise with just a cap hit of $850,000 for a team like the Bruins that has very little room to work under the cap.

I understand why they were interested in Bo Horvat given their organizational situation at the center position with 36-year-old David Krejci and 37-year-old Patrice Bergeron, and Horvat could have been part of the long-term solution for the Black and Gold. And Patrick Kane might be worth the stretch given his playoff pedigree and the sheer talent he would bring to the table for a Boston Bruins team that feels like some of those old NBA teams that collected veteran All-Stars trying to make title runs.

But the Boston Bruins realistically have to be very careful about significantly altering the DNA of their current team while chasing shiny objects available at the NHL trade deadline. I feel like depth moves to fortify this group make way more sense than seismic roster changes unless the Bruins can land a legit top-6 center that will be in Boston for a while.

Hey Joe,

I know the focus in on this year, but I see dark days ahead when Bergy & Krejci retire. If you were running the B’s, how would you address the severe lack of scoring prospects, in particular at C, so that they don’t fall off a cliff after 37 & 46 are gone?

Also, your thoughts about Mr. Gunn’s plan to reinvigorate the DC universe?

–Anders Johnson (via Facebook page)

JH: Okay, let’s be real. With Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand still around along with an extremely strong goaltending duo in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, it’s not going to be dark days ahead.

Of course, the center is an extremely important position, and the Boston Bruins will be left with a gaping there if Krejci and Bergeron do indeed retire after this season. That’s why the Bruins were in the running for Bo Horvat, and one would suspect it’s why they would be interested in a guy like Ryan O’Reilly if he were to become available as well. Certainly they have stopgap options with Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle that can step up into center vacancies next season and beyond if there are no other solutions, but it really feels like the Bruins are going to need to fill at least one top-6 vacancy from outside the organization. Ideally it would be a clear-cut No. 1 center brought into the fold, but those don’t exactly grow on hockey trees.

Beyond Zacha looking like he has the potential to be a No. 2 center down the line, the Bruins don’t have any young center solutions in the talent pipeline and they really can’t count on Krejci and Bergeron coming back again after this season. So something will have to be done there sooner or later,  but it’s an incredibly difficult decision when weighed against the unique opportunity that the Boston Bruins have to win it all this season.

As far as James Gunn goes, I have the utmost confidence that he’s going to do something that the fans, including myself, are going to enjoy. I really liked Henry Cavill as Superman and would have liked to see somebody that actually enjoys and appreciates the Superman character in charge of it while he was playing the role. I mean, they got it right on television with Tyler Hoechlin’s version so it’s really not that difficult.

But I’m intrigued by some actors like Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa sticking around, a new wave of actors coming in and wiping out Zack Snyder’s universe and all of the television and movie content following the same DCU continuity. I really liked Peacekeeper and Suicide Squad from Gunn, so I’m pretty I’m going to like everything that’s coming down the pipe.

Don’t do the usual Sweeney thing and miss the boat on mostly everything, the one glaring thing Sweeney never addresses is a tough intimidation guy, he has failed to do this a number of years ,and come playoffs it’s costed them every time

–vking1 (@raptorman14)

JH: I agree with you about getting some toughness on the back end prior to the Stanley Cup playoffs and that’s why I’ve been a big proponent of bringing in Luke Schenn. Saying he’s missed the boat on everything when he’s traded for Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm in each of the last two NHL trade deadlines, and signed them to long term contracts, is absolutely 100 percent incorrect.

You can be critical of certain things that Don Sweeney has, or has not done, over the years but many of his moves that led directly to the dominant team that we see on the ice this season. Bringing in Hall and Lindholm at the trade deadline, signing Linus Ullmark, and making the head coaching change to bring in Jim Montgomery have played massive parts in the NHL’s best team this season. To say or imply otherwise really is severely missing the point.

hey Joe,

I’m a huge B’s fan and I live in Montreal. Been a fan since the days of Oates Neely Ken Hodge Jr. I just wanted to let you know I enjoy reading your articles. Only time they talk about the B’s up here is when they play the Habs. I’m sure you get 1000 questions a day, but I just wanted to ask if you think the B’s are playing better this year in front of Linus Ullmark than Rask 2 years ago, or do they just have more faith in Linus than they did in Rask?

curt (via Facebook fan page)

JH: Hi Curt. Thanks for the kind words. I honestly think they are a better, deeper team this season than they have been in the past. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with having any more faith than anybody else. Tuukka Rask won Vezina Trophies, a ton of regular season games and had them on the doorstep of winning the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 when he would have been the Conn Smythe winner had the B’s prevailed in Game 7. It didn’t happen, of course, but I think this is just about a loaded, deep roster this season that’s got everything working for them and has a goaltender in Linus Ullmark that’s in the prime of his career while enjoying a breakout season.

Is Jakob Chychrun a tough D-man? I really don’t know about him. Schenn seems to be the one that could fit the bill, no?

–Rich Semertgakis (@RES96)

JH: Jakob Chychrun has some toughness to him, but he’s not a physical guy that’s going to make his bones hitting, blocking shots and doing the little things. He’s more of a frontline defenseman that offensive skills and skating ability that does everything pretty well. He would come into the Boston fold and give them three frontline D-men in McAvoy, Lindholm and Chychrun that would be nearly impossible for other teams to match, so it’s obvious what the draw would be for the Boston Bruins.

But Chychrun is signed for two more years after this one at a very good cap number and is going to cost a ton of any team that acquires him. I just don’t think the Boston Bruins are going to be in a position to make a move like that when push comes to shove at the NHL trade deadline.

I understand why the Boston Bruins feel like they need to be “all in” if this is Patrice Bergeron’s final season and they want him to go out as a Stanley Cup winner, but bagging a big name target isn’t realistic unless it’s a scenario like Patrick Kane where he maneuvers his no-trade clause into a deal that delivers him to Boston. Short of that, I’m not sure there are going to be massive fireworks for the Boston Bruins at the deadline aside from pushing up the price tags for other contenders in the Eastern Conference. That’s all for this week, see you at the rinks.


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