BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins’ season is over following a disappointing Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
General manager Peter Chiarelli has come under fire following the loss, with many feeling that he didn’t do enough to give his team a boost at the trade deadline — especially with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out of the mix. He added defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter to the blue line, but neither did anything meaningful during the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Canadiens added Bruins killer Tomas Vanek, who didn’t play great but still scored four goals during the series.
However, Jeff Marek of Sportsnet Canada said that criticism of Chiarelli is unnecessary. While adding help on the blue line seems like it would have made a difference, nothing is certain when adding a new player to such a complex defensive system as the one Claude Julien employs in Boston.
“That’s the one team we looked at on deadline day [that we didn’t expect to make a move],” Marek said of the Bruins on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Thursday night. “You looked at their lineup and said they didn’t need to do much based on the prices out there and what the Bruins have on the horizon. The Seidenberg injury, and Cam Neely addressed this earlier, that was the main failing of this group is that they couldn’t find a guy to replace Siedenberg.
“But when you look at the Bruins, and this is a tip of the cap to Bruce Cassidy in Providence, in their own zone you won’t catch a defenseman chasing anybody,” said Marek. “It’s a hard system to learn, but it’s something you have to learn how to do. It’s almost counter-instinctive not to chase a player.
“So I don’t know if you can go out there and just find a plug and play defensemen. Look at when they acquired Tomas Kaberle figuring that would help the power play. He had no idea what to do in that system that Julien employs,” added Marek. “I know there is a knee-jerk reaction to say that Peter Chiarelli didn’t do enough to help that blue line, but really when you look at what’s out there and how hard it is to play the specific style of the Boston Bruins, I don’t know that we can say we fault Chiarelli for not finding a replacement for Seidenberg.”
As for the offseason, Marek doesn’t think the Bruins should change much, as they’re still an elite team in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t think you need to do a whole lot. The old saying is when you’re on top you have to change 10-percent of the team to make sure there is some healthy churn going on so nothing becomes stale and there’s some new voices and new faces. But when you look at the Bruins, nothing is really going to change on that top six,” he said. “You may do something in the bottom six, and we’ll see what happens with Shawn Thornton in the offseason.”
“Then you look at the blue line, and anyone would love to bring in elite level blue liners – the one commodity you can’t have enough of. But then when I look at what’s on the horizon, and watching the development of Krug, Hamilton and Kevan Miller, I don’t know if Chiarelli is under the gun to do a lot this offseason,” said Marek. “It may sound frustrating to fans, after bowing out in the second round to a heated rival, but the smart general managers are the ones that don’t react to a very specific situation. If you’re wise and you’re the Boston Bruins, you’re saying to yourself we still have an elite level team in the Eastern Conference. Maybe you tweak something with the bottom six, but I don’t think the Boston Bruins should be in any position to do anything with the team other than letting the young defensemen continue to develop in the system.”
Along with Thornton, Jarome Iginla is also an unrestricted free agent. Marek sees Iginla returning to Boston on a deal similar to the one-year pact he signed last summer, adding that Ignila looks right in a Bruins’ sweater.
“He’s a great fit for the Boston Bruins,” said Marek. “There are some guys that just look right in a certain jersey, and he didn’t look right in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey… The second he put on the black and gold I said to myself ‘this guy looks like a Boston Bruin.’
“Sure he’s on the back nine of his career, but if you can get him at the right price I’m bringing back Jarome Iginla in a flash.”
Marek also gave his opinion of Milan Lucic’s actions in the handshake line with Montreal.
“Let’s not pretend this is the first time something has happened in a handshake line,” he said before listing a number of Hall of Famers who were less than courteous in handshake alley.