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What should the Boston Bruins do as the trade deadline approaches?
@ESPN_Burnside: Well, that was quite a homecoming for Milan Lucic, no? The former Boston Bruins power forward and key member of the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team returned with his new team the Los Angeles Kings, and they put a big-time hurt on the Bruins in a 9-2 trouncing. Ouch. Nine different Kings scored, including Lucic (who also added an assist). We have often suggested these teams are mirror images of each other in terms of style and identity, but maybe Boston's reflection has more than a few cracks these days. While Lucic has fit seamlessly with the Kings, purveyors of heavy hockey who have rediscovered their mojo, the Bruins continue to meander through the Eastern Conference. Yes, Boston owns a wild card spot as of Wednesday morning, but is anyone confident this is a team that can stay there, or make a dent if they get in? More to the point, how does rookie Bruins GM Don Sweeney approach his first trade deadline? Add or subtract? Both? Neither?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: The NHL is a funny league, now more than ever. A rival Eastern Conference executive told me last weekend he felt the Bruins were the big sleeper in the East, that they were playing way better than they were getting credit for. And then they endure an absolute mauling at the hands of the Pacific Division leaders from L.A. The problem with the B's on some nights is that they just don't have the blue-line stability or depth to compete with the top teams in the league. No question that stabilizing the blue line will be Sweeney's focus over the next few years, especially when you consider that Zdeno Chara isn't his old self anymore. I still question why Dougie Hamilton was traded last year, but I digress. As for Lucic, I loved the reaction from Anze Kopitar after he set up Lucic for a goal, flashing as big a smile as you can imagine knowing how much that goal meant to his linemate. To me that, underscored just how ingrained Lucic has become in that Kings lineup.
@CraigCustance: I agree that the Bruins need to address their defense if they're going to be considered an Eastern Conference sleeper. I'll be interested to see how they handle forward Loui Eriksson, too. They like him, he likes Boston. There's a deal to be made there, but teams are increasingly reluctant to give players over 30 significant term on their deals, and that's what Eriksson is looking for. My expectation is that it'll take a five-year contract to get him to sign. If they sign him and then add a top-four defenseman, that solidifies the Bruins spot as a playoff team. That's still a tall order. What top four defensemen are available? Dustin Byfuglien is off the market. Dion Phaneuf is even gone. The St. Louis Blues are banged up on defense, so that makes Kevin Shattenkirk harder to trade. The Anaheim Ducks can afford to move a defenseman, but I'm not sure who would go the other way in a deal with the Ducks. Trades are so hard right now, and that's what makes Tuesday's blockbuster deal between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators so impressive. That said, if we've learned anything early on in the Sweeney era, it's that he's not afraid to act.
@ESPNJoeyMac: Every time the Kings scored a goal against the Bruins on Tuesday night my phone would light up with text messages asking me what the heck was happening. Fortunately, I was in New Jersey covering Martin Brodeur's jersey retirement ceremony. As far as the Bruins, they do need help if they want to return to the playoffs after missing the postseason last spring. Everyone is focused on Loui Eriksson, but the Bruins desperately need help on defense. I can only imagine how Rask responded after he was pulled from Tuesday's game. He needs help and Sweeney is on the lookout for the answers. The problem, however, is there's not much out there at the moment. We know Sweeney isn't afraid of pulling the trigger, though. Tuesday was an embarrassment for the Bruins and they need to clean it up soon. I'm sure Lucic had a blast on Tuesday, too.
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