This morning, I asked Dan a few questions while C&B's Shona answered a few for their website. Her answers can be found here. A big thanks to Dan and the team at SCoC for taking the time for this.
C&B: In the offseason, the Bruins made the move to sign F Matt Belesky to a 5-year, $3.8 million contract. How has his performance been so far this season?
SCoC: He's been fine. Not great, not bad, just...fine. He's actually on pace for a career-high in points (41), so that's promising. He only has two goals, but hasn't been a black hole or anything. Truthfully, the contract they signed him to wasn't nearly as bad as we'd feared it could be, so that helps. He hasn't done much to take Lucic's role as cult hero, but I think he's done well.
C&B: After the Oilers signed Peter Chiarelli to be the Oilers new GM, the Bruins named Don Sweeney as their new man upstairs. One of his first moves was dealing Dougie Hamilton to the Flames. Has the move hurt the Bruins so far this season?
SCoC: Big time. Hamilton's departure had a domino effect on the entire defense. When Chara was out, it was that much worse: guys playing out of their spot all over the place. Now that everyone is healthy, it's a little better. But they haven't replaced him, and likely won't for a while. Hamilton hasn't set the world on fire in Calgary, but that was and remains a bad trade, one that will impact the franchise long beyond this year.
C&B: Claude Julien was certainly one of the coaches on the hotseat as the season began. The Bruins have now gone 13-8-1 on the season and 7-3 in their last 10 which includes a 5-game win streak. Is Julien still on the hotseat?
SCoC: His seat warms and cools on a game-by-game basis. Now, barring a horrible run, I'd say he's safe for the near future. He's done pretty well this year, and has shown a willingness to shorten his bench and give guys a little more leash when it comes to mistakes. If they miss the playoffs again, he may be shown the door. But he's earned a respite from the hot seat over the past few weeks.
The following questions were asked by Shona.
C&B: The Bruins made some big changes this offseason. One of the biggest was sending Lucic to the Kings. How do Bruins fans feel about those changes after a little more than a quarter of a season?
SCoC: The Lucic trade doesn't seem to be a big point of focus anymore. Part of it is probably that, while he's doing fine, he's not lighting it up in LA like Tyler Seguin was immediately after his trade, so it makes his departure less noticeable. You'll always have a contingent of Bruins fans that are rabidly pro-Lucic ripping on that trade, but really, it was a pretty good deal by Sweeney. Colin Miller has started to look very promising on D. Martin Jones was turned into an unprotected 1st-rounder this year, likely in the 17-22 range depending on how San Jose finishes. Jakub Zboril, who was picked at #13, appears to be the real deal, based on pretty much every scouting service. All of that for a pending UFA? I'll take that deal.
C&B: The Bruins are on a five game winning streak right now, what’s working for the team right now? What’s not working? And how are they able to overcome what’s not working?
SCoC: Honestly, it's hard to really pinpoint one thing. I thought their game on Friday against the Rangers was one of their better games of the season. However, they preceded that by playing an absolute garbage game in Detroit, yet they somehow managed to win. They're maddeningly inconsistent. One thing that has improved: the penalty kill. They've only allowed one PPG during this five-game streak, killing 15 of 16 penalties. For a team that needs to play with the lead, that's huge. They've also gotten some big individual games lately from the likes of Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson, and Tuukka Rask has started to look like Tuukka Rask again. What's not working: they're not getting a ton of production out of their fourth line, and the defense has been a dumpster fire at times. The Bruins need another top-4 defenseman desperately if they plan on making any noise this season. A team with speed and skill like the Oilers could run roughshod over this slow D corps if the Bruins have an off night.
C&B: Finally, the Oilers and the Bruins have played 69 times. The Bruins lead the head to head with 42 wins, what do the Bruins do that the Oilers have so much trouble countering?
SCoC: I don't think there's any formula or anything, just that the Oilers have been bad lately. If you look at the head-to-head from the 2000's and 2010's, the Oilers are 3-13-1 against the Bruins; in the 1980's and 1990's, the Oilers are a more respectable 23-33-6. The Bruins have traditionally been a big, strong team, something that many teams struggled with, which may have been the case with some iterations of the Oilers. However, your team has them beat where it really counts: the Oilers have 8 head-to-head playoff wins; the Bruins have 1.