Final Buzzer: Starstruck- Seguin hatty sinks B’s, Kelly fractures femur

Chris Kelly will be missed (Photo courtesy of Alison M. Foley)

Chris Kelly will be missed Get well soon!(Photo courtesy of Alison M. Foley)

The Boston Bruins welcomed Tyler Seguin to his old digs at the TD Garden just in time to see him net his seventh career hat trick against the club that traded him on July 4, 2013.

The home team (and Boston’s penalty killing effort) suffered a brutal loss not only on the scoreboard, but on its active roster as well when veteran two-way forward went down early in the first period when Chris Kelly’s left leg buckled under him in a non-contact situation. He stayed down a long time and was eventually hoisted up off the ice by Zdeno Chara and left the surface without putting any weight on his left leg. In the third period, Don Sweeney broke the bad news: Kelly is lost for the rest of the season as Don Sweeney announced he has a left femur fracture.

Kelly’s absence showed, with the Bruins surrendering three power play goals in a 5-2 loss, but it was a  game the B’s could have won with a more consistent performance across the entire 60 minutes after a solid start.

Seguin opened scoring with a missile off the rush from the left circle, beating Tuukka Rask in the 1st period to give Dallas the lead after the Bruins had gotten off to a hot start with six shots to none before he found the back of the net with his club’s first on net.

Colin Miller answered for the Bruins, rifling home his first career NHL goal from the point to make it a 1-1 game. “Chiller” has demonstrated a heavy shot that he can get off quickly and on net.

Loui Eriksson tallied a power play goal (his third of the season and 10th point in 11 games) off of a rebound of Torey Krug’s slapper from the left circle. Patrice Bergeron also assisted on the play, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Seguin scored a power play marker in the second frame, stepping into the left circle and firing a heater past Rask with Jamie Benn set up in front taking away his sight lines.

Dallas took the lead with a point shot from Jyrki Jokipakka, who scored his first career NHL goal (in some 62 games) to make it 3-2.

Seguin tallied the hat trick again on the power play when Krug was whistled for a delay of game penalty after clearing the puck over the glass. Seguin took a Jason Spezza pass in the left circle once again and burying a one-timer before Rask could get across his crease. It was Seguin’s eighth tally of the year and gave the Stars a 4-2 lead.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski would add another power play marker to put the game out of reach.

The story of this one centers around the loss of Kelly, who was transported to Mass General Hospital and will have surgery tomorrow and then is expected to miss six to eight months. For all intents and purposes, Kelly’s season is done, and now one wonders if the team will look to Max Talbot to fill the void.

Seguin’s hat trick no doubt added some salt to the wounds in Boston, but credit the Stars for recovering from a mediocre first period after playing the night before in a loss to Toronto to turn the tables on Boston in the final 40 minutes. The Bruins outshot Dallas 39-19, but the scoreboard bore the message of Boston’s defeat: 5-3, visiting team.

Alex Khokhlachev showed some flashes of ability and hustle in his first NHL game of 15-16, but when the B’s found themselves on the PK, he didn’t get much time on ice.

UP

Loui Eriksson- Two goals tonight including a meaningless late-game score on a give-and-go with Ryan Spooner to make it a 5-3 game with a little over two minutes remaining. Eriksson has been a consistent bright spot on offense. His four goals this season have come in two games on a pair of two-goal efforts, but he’s added seven assists in 11 games as well. With Kelly gone, Eriksson’s value to the team as one of the more experienced and effective two-way forwards is even greater.

Colin Miller- The defenseman acquired in the trade for Milan Lucic continues to generate offense, scoring his first goal on a point blast. With his tools and knack for creating scoring chances from the back end, Boston fans have to be excited for this young man’s future.

Chris Kelly- B’s fans will now learn how much more the veteran did for the club that he didn’t get credit for. It is the ultimate in irony for a player of Kelly’s character to be lost on such a random play…he wasn’t blown up on a big hit. It was a freak injury with devastating effect. He gets an up because throughout his Boston tenure, he’s been a leader and gritty two-way performer. It’s a tough pill for Boston to swallow right now.

Tyler Seguin- What more can you say about his performance? The former Bruin and 2010 second overall selection used his wicked shot and high-end offensive talent to lethal effect tonight, overcoming the fact that Boston held the statistical edge in most categories except in the one that matters most: the final score. The trade that sent him to Dallas will continue to polarize B’s fans for years to come, but Seguin still needs to demonstrate he can perform at this level and higher come February and beyond when it gets tougher to score in the NHL and points are at a premium. He deserves full marks for his three goals in this one, and becomes the first former Bruins player to score a hat trick in Boston since Mariusz Czerkawski did it with the Edmonton Oilers on November 6, 1996.

Jamie Benn- He’s a tremendous player and the chemistry Benn has with Seguin is admirable. He not only gets the big-time points production and consistent scoring, but he does the little things, like go to the net and set up a screen as he did on Seguin’s second goal. These two have been dynamite together, but with the way things have gone this season, 2015-16 just might be the real breakthrough year by both players as they are on pace to raise the bar.

DOWN

Boston’s penalty kill- They gave up three goals on four Stars attempts and were at their worst when they appeared to stop skating on Seguin’s hat trick goal, thinking the puck left the zone. It didn’t, thanks a strong play at the blue line by John Klingberg and seconds later, the Stars were up by two. It’s not going to get any easier with Kelly now gone for the balance of the season. Watch for Max Talbot to come back up and try to fill those skates.

Tuukka Rask- He’s gotten credit when he plays well, and he goes back on this list when he comes up short. The Bruins needed him to make the first save tonight and he wasn’t up to the task. Sure- the defense had some breakdowns in front of him, but he was off his angles and at times made it easy for Dallas, especially on the Goligoski goal, where he seemed to lose his poise and focus. Team effort tonight- and the Bruins lost as a team, but Rask needs to be better.

Zac Rinaldo- As the John C. McGinley Bob asked Tom “Leap to Conclusions Mat” Symanski on Office Space “What would you say…you do here?” Energy is good, hitting is fine, but Rinaldo is no threat to generate any kind of consistent offensive pressure, so what he brings to the table simply does not balance out what the team could better get from someone else on the roster.

Antoine Roussel- A slew foot AND a high stick on Zac Rinaldo? On the same play? If ever there was someone who could out-rat Rinaldo, it’s Roussel.

Tough loss in what was a winnable game for the Bruins in what is going to be a challenging week, as the team loses in regulation for the first time since the Columbus Day match against Tampa Bay.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams- Bruins drafts 2007-09

2009The While working out this morning I was listening to my sleaze rock/hair metal playlist and a song by Finnish glam band Hanoi Rocks provided some inspiration. Here’s what sprang up from one of Michael Monroe (Matti Fagerholm) and Co.’s signature songs.

Three years of draft futility didn’t have an immediate impact on the Boston Bruins’ fortunes, but after winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, the lack of production from 17 total picks from 2007-09 has caught up to the team. Blown drafts are nothing new to NHL clubs- every single team has had at least one in their history, with a surprising number of clubs faring poorly over a stretch. It happens. However, in the old days (read: pre salary cap era), richer clubs could at least attempt to buy back draft mistakes through free agency (didn’t work so great for the late 90’s New York Rangers). Now, with the importance of having impact talent on cheaper ELC deals and the necessity of building a quality supporting cast from within, nobody can afford to string together multiple busted drafts as Boston did early in former GM Peter Chiarelli’s tenure.

Here’s a quick look at three bad draft years with hindsight being 20/20 and who the B’s should have taken when they had the chance.

2007

Background: After striking it rich in Vancouver a year earlier with Phil Kessel and Tuukka Rask (Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand had yet to pay off, but that haul made 2006 the best single draft class in about 26 years when the team strung together two brilliant summers in 1979-80) the B’s regressed under coach Dave Lewis, missing the playoffs in Chiarelli’s first Boston season. The eighth pick put them out of range for the guys they reportedly wanted, but a top-10 selection nonetheless came with high expectations.

Who they wanted: London Knights forward Sam Gagner (Edmonton) and the Halifax Mooseheads’ Jakub Voracek (Columbus) both went off the board in the immediate picks prior to Boston’s selection. Gagner made the NHL at 18 but has stagnated, while Voracek was traded to the Flyers and has emerged as one of the league’s better offensive players over the past three seasons.

Who they took: Zach Hamill, C Everett Silvertips. Ouch. At the time, I felt Hamill was a solid pick because he had just led the WHL in scoring at age 18 while playing in a defense-heavy system under former NHL coach Kevin Constantine. What I and most didn’t know is that Hamill had some personality/off-ice challenges that made him a risky pick right off the bat. Suffice to say that his lack of speed and strength were big enough hurdles to overcome and he just didn’t have enough skill to overcome that. He finished his Bruins career in parts of three NHL seasons with just 20 games and four assists; he was traded to Washington for Chris Bourque in 2012, but never saw another NHL shift.

Who they should have taken: Logan Couture, C Ottawa 67’s. Double ouch. The San Jose Sharks knew a deal of the century when they saw one and jumped up to the ninth overall selection behind Boston to grab the OHL star. The All-Star has played in 379 games entering the 2015-16 NHL season with 139 goals and 287 points plus another 18 goals, 36 points in 56 career playoff games. Injuries have interfered with Couture’s production, but for the most part, he’s been everything you want in a top-10 pick and more. Couture here over Jamie Benn is based purely on how the players were projected in 2007, not now. More on Benn below…

The best available player (to Boston) of that draft:  Jamie Benn, C- Dallas Stars 5th round, 129th overall. Benn is exhibit A for how some players don’t hit their stride until after drafted at 17-18. In a re-draft today, Benn goes behind Patrick Kane, and maybe even edges him out for the top pick given his production of late- I’ll leave that debate to others. To know that the Bruins drafted Hamill, Tommy Cross before him is rubbing salt in the wounds. Hey- it’s not all bad, at least German bust Dennis Reul was selected with the pick immediately *after* Benn in the 5th round and not before (the Bruins didn’t have picks in the 3rd or 4th rounds).

The picks: 8- Hamill (20gp, 4 assists), 35- Cross (0 NHL gp), 130- Reul (0 NHL gp), 159- Alain Goulet (0 NHL gp), 169- Radim Ostricil (0 NHL gp), 189- Jordan Knackstedt (0 NHL gp)

The verdict: With 2 picks in the top-35 and just 20 games to show for six selections overall, this is one of Boston’s all-time poorest drafts. Yes, 2007 was not a great year, but imagine what this team would look like if they took Couture or Benn in the 1st and then P.K. Subban in the 2nd.

2008

Background: The B’s surged into the playoffs late and gave a good fight to the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, going down in seven games but making it fun to be a Bruins fan again. With the 16th overall pick in what was considered a better draft in Ottawa than the year before, the team was looking at a pick with a longer-term payoff.

Who they wanted: Joe Colborne. The Bruins scouted the AJHL standout heavily that season, and so it was no real surprise that they ended up with him, as the team was essentially bidding against themselves. Not many clubs were reported to be as high on the talented but enigmatic center as Boston was.

Who they took: Joe Colborne, C Camrose Kodiaks. No surprise as said above– he was a talented gamble of a player who was controversial for questions over his fire and competitive drive because of his family’s wealth. I always felt that criticism was unfair and while Colborne has reached the NHL after being traded away from Boston and Toronto, he’s not anywhere near the player the Bruins thought they were getting. They moved him in spring of 2011 with picks to the Leafs for veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle. In a good news/bad news scenario, the B’s won the Cup but in spite of Kaberle not because of him. He helped, but wasn’t the player Boston hoped for. Luckily, neither Colborne, nor the picks the B’s traded have come back to bite them.

Who they should have taken: Jordan Eberle, RW Regina Pats. Eberle’s star has fallen a bit in recent seasons, but he’s still the kind of speedy scoring forward that would have been a fine fit with the B’s.

The best available player (to Boston) of that draft: Derek Stepan, C Shattuck St. Mary’s. The Rangers got a steal with him at 51st overall…the B’s opted for speedy but hockey IQ-challenged Max Sauve instead in the second round. Capitals defenseman John Carlson (27th) is also in the discussion.

Hit: Michael Hutchinson, G Barrie Colts- 77th overall pick in the 3rd round was a good one as he emerged to help lead the Winnipeg Jets to their first playoff berth since the club moved to Canada and overall since 2008 when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. In fairness to Boston, he was inconsistent, alternating in Providence between brilliance and profound mediocrity, and never established himself as a No. 1 at that level in three seasons as a Bruins prospect, but just think how different their season would have been last year with ‘Hutch’ as the backup instead of Niklas Svedberg.

The picks: 16- Colborne (160gp 19-43-62-83- TOR, CGY), 47- Sauve (1gp), 77- Hutchinson (41gp 23-11-5, .918), 97- Jamie Arniel (1gp), 173- Nicolas Tremblay (0 NHL gp), 197- Mark Goggin (0 NHL gp)

The verdict: Colborne at least made it and helped the Bruins acquire a small championship piece, but nothing to show for Hutchinson and lack of success anywhere else (Former OHL forward Rob Flick– acquired for Sauve- was not re-signed) makes this another draft failure for Boston.

2009

Background: As the B’s headed to Montreal for the draft they had plans to make a splash by trading disgruntled star Kessel, reportedly to the Leafs for Tomas Kaberle and a top-10 selection. Apparently Leafs GM Brian Burke didn’t get the memo about the pick and even thought the Bruins were going to give them their first-rounder (25th overall), but this is hearsay. Bottom line- the deal fell through though Burke would pay a higher price for Kessel a few months later, while Boston held their first and hoped to do something with it after a great regular season and second-round playoff flameout vs. the upstart Carolina Hurricanes.

Who they wanted: Rumors abound that the B’s would have used that Leafs first-rounder on OHL power forward Zack Kassian. At the time, he was being compared to Lucic as a player with the physical prowess and skill to make a difference in all facets of the game. It hasn’t happened for him yet, and B’s fans can be glad that Kaberle and Kassian were not the trade returns the team got for Kessel, though Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton and their ultimate fates as Bruins are a discussion for another day.

Who they took: Jordan Caron, RW Rimouski Oceanic. Sometimes, a player looks like absolutely the right fit and things just don’t work out. Anyone who says they questioned Caron at the time is probably writing revisionist history, because though his skating issues were documented, Caron also had some of the better hands and pure finishing skills of anyone in the draft class. He even made an early impact in Boston, coming up during the 2010-11 season and flashing some impressive scoring on a few plays. Unfortunately, he never seemed to put it together during his time in Providence, and when in Boston, his play (and Claude Julien’s confidence in him) regressed to the point that by 2014-15, he was a popular internet message board whipping boy. When Caron was dealt to Colorado for Max Talbot, most looked back at the pick and felt like he was the can’t miss prospect who did exactly that.

Who they should have taken:  Ryan O’Reilly, C Erie Otters. The 33rd overall pick made the NHL right away and developed into the gritty, two-way forward and heavy player that suits the Boston style so well. He has since been traded to Buffalo and landed in hot water with the law recently, but on the ice, he’s tough to play against and can provide timely scoring, something Caron was never able to do.

The picks: 25- Caron (153gp 12-16-28-78), 86- Ryan Button (0 NHL gp), 112- Lane MacDermid (21gp 2-2-4-36), 176- Tyler Randell (0 NHL gp), 206- Ben Sexton (0 NHL gp)

The verdict: Again, not much to show for the draft picks, though Caron, Button (part of the Seguin trade) and MacDermid (part of Jaromir Jagr trade) all fetched return assets for the Bruins, so it’s not a total wash. Still- teams don’t draft players with the idea of making them trade chips. Randell and Sexton are still in the Boston system, but neither flash anything more than potential as NHL journeymen/role players, so another missed year in 2009 looks like fait accompli.

Conclusion: It’s easy to go back and play Monday Morning GM 8, 7 and 6 years later, and the Bruins are far from the only ones who have hosed up drafts in multiple years (hey- Vancouver, Phoenix, Calgary and so on- here’s looking at you!), but this is what we tend to do. After the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, the team began a natural progression downwards without fresh, young, skilled talent to replace aging veterans. To the B’s credit they got back to the finals in 2013 but could not beat a superior Chicago Blackhawks squad that had effectively re-tooled after winning it all in 2010 and captured another Cup this past June. The Blackhawks have done a great job of hitting on drafts, which was essential to their keeping enough talent in the system to off-set salary cap-driven personnel moves. They’ll be an interesting team to watch with their new look.

As for Boston- those missed years from 2007-09 forced the Bruins to play catch up and while the 2010-14 drafts have been more productive with talent yet to sink or swim, the team’s future may ultimately lie with how well the club did in 2015- with 10 picks, 6 of them in the top-52.

Here is Michael Monroe and Hanoi Rocks to bring it on home…