WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Coming soon to a theater near you: The Bad News Bruins.
Even Murphy's Law has nothing on these guys. Nothing, or at least very little, has gone right for the Boston Bruins during this injury-riddled season. And as this team continues to fight for a playoff spot, it received more bad news Wednesday.
Newly acquired forward Brett Connolly suffered a displaced fracture of his right index finger and will be sidelined six weeks. It was only his second practice with the Bruins when he was hit in the hand by a shot and exited the ice in obvious discomfort.
Only a few minutes later, team trainer Don DelNegro emerged from the locker room and made his way over to general manager Peter Chiarelli's rink-side office at Ristuccia Arena. As DelNegro delivered the news that Connolly was on his way to be examined by the team's hand specialist, Chiarelli could be seen shaking his head in disbelief.
It didn't take long for the team to receive the results of the X-rays that indicated a break.
In the early-morning hours Monday, Chiarelli sent a second-round draft pick in both 2015 and 2016 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for the 22-year-old Connolly. The Bruins were hoping Connolly, a former first-rounder (No. 6 overall) in 2010, would have an impact this season and beyond.
His Bruins career, at least for now, has been placed on hold.
Connolly's injury could have another effect on the team from a business standpoint. On Jan. 16, the Bruins officially committed to keeping rookie David Pastrnak in the NHL for the remainder of the season. Chiarelli said at the time there could be games the rookie would sit out if it seemed like the workload was too much and it was hindering his development. Pastrnak has played 25 games for the Bruins this season, and with only 19 remaining, if he reaches 40 regular-season games, that would allow him to become a free agent one year earlier, per the CBA.
Now that Connolly is injured, Pastrnak will reach that milestone.
Chiarelli, or coach Claude Julien, does not want to make excuses for the team's inconsistent play this season. No matter how this season ends, the abundance of injuries will be the GM's defense during his exit meeting with team president Cam Neely.
Entering Thursday's home game against the Calgary Flames, the Bruins have endured 107 man games lost this season, including 72 by defensemen.
Forward David Krejci, who is currently sidelined with a partially torn MCL in his left knee, has already missed 24 games with various injuries -- and if he does not return by the finale on April 11, it will mean a total of 44 games missed for the team's top-line center.
Captain Zdeno Chara missed 19 games with a knee injury. Defenseman Kevan Miller was limited to 41 games due to a right shoulder injury that recently required surgery. Fellow blueliner Adam McQuaid (broken thumb) missed 18 games.
The Bruins don't own exclusive rights on injury excuses this season, because a lot of NHL teams have been hit with the injury bug. It just seems more magnified in Boston because of the team's sudden struggles this season.
If anyone is cursed this season, it's Chiarelli.
He's been criticized for trading Tyler Seguin. He's been criticized for mismanaging the salary cap, which forced him to trade Johnny Boychuk. Fans have picked and prodded at Chiarelli, and some believe he should lose his job if the Bruins fail to make the playoffs or lose in the first round.
Well, that shouldn't be the case.
We’ve discussed the Seguin deal time and time again. He would not be producing in similar fashion if he were still in Boston. Like it or not, Seguin's lack of performance and immaturity off the ice forced the Bruins to trade him to the Dallas Stars.
As far as Boychuk is concerned, Chiarelli knew the Bruins would not be able to afford the veteran defenseman once he became an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He will likely earn in the range of $6 million per year, and that price was too steep for the Bruins. In order to get something in return, Chiarelli dealt him to the New York Islanders for a second-round pick in 2015 and 2016 and a conditional third-rounder in 2015.
If the Bruins earn a postseason birth -- and I still believe they will -- Boston then becomes a dangerous team in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The only team that will give them a problem is the Montreal Canadiens. Other than that, the East is wide open and the Bruins can beat anyone.
Chiarelli worked for weeks leading up to Monday's trade deadline to improve the team, but a lot of other GMs made it difficult for him because their asking prices were too high. Opposing teams were hesitant to make deals with Chiarelli because no one wants to help the Bruins improve, knowing how dangerous they could be in the playoffs.
The only thing that will help heal the Bruins this season is a Stanley Cup, and that's still a possibility. But if Boston's luck doesn't turn around quickly, this film will be rated F.