Bruins look ahead to next season after missing playoffs
BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins aren't used to cleaning out their lockers so early in the year.
For the first time in eight seasons, they missed the playoffs even though their 96 points were the most ever by a team that didn't reach the postseason. They lost their last three games and were eliminated on the final day of the regular season.
''We look at the whole year because points that you get or points that you lose at any point of the season are valuable points going one way or the other,'' Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Monday.
Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien spoke at a news conference amid uncertainty about their futures. Chiarelli has been general manager nine seasons, while Julien missed the playoffs for the first time in his eight seasons after succeeding Dave Lewis as coach.
''The job uncertainty, the questions surrounding us, it's part of the job and you have to deal with (it) and just move forward,'' Chiarelli said, ''but it hasn't impacted my interviews (with players), my discussions, my meetings with Claude. Business as usual.''
Julien said he's doing his job as usual, including conducting exit interviews with players.
Whether he keeps his job ''is not my decision to make,'' Julien said. ''It'll all depend on how it's being viewed from above me and (I'll) deal with it from there. ... I've been here for eight years and enjoyed being here. And (I'm) certainly looking forward to staying here. But again, having said that, I also understand the nature of this business.''
Long-term injuries this season to defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton and center David Krejci took their toll.
With the departure of Jarome Iginla as a free agent before the season, the Bruins offense struggled in a league in which they couldn't match opponents' speed and quickness.
Last season they scored the third-most goals in the NHL, 261 (84 more than their opponents). This season they had the 23rd most, 213 (two more).
The trade of solid defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders just before the season didn't work out.
Tuukka Rask, last year's Vezina Trophy winner, matched a team single-season record for goalies by playing in 70 games because the Bruins lacked confidence in backup Niklas Svedberg.
Young forwards David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner showed promise but lacked experience.
''We're looking at areas where we need to improve and we're not going to react drastically because we didn't make the playoffs,'' Chiarelli said. ''We're all under review. There's no secret there and we're going to go about our business and make the right decisions and make this team and the organization better.''
Players were inconsistent throughout the season and showed a lack of passion in the last week with a playoff berth at stake.
The Bruins had a seven-point lead on Ottawa on March 10, but failed to get either of the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots that went to the Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2010-11, lost the finals in six games to Chicago in 2013 and had the most points in the regular season in 2013-14.
''We've been at the top for a while now and I think we all just thought we were going to be the top team again and there's a process to getting to the playoffs,'' forward Brad Marchand said.
''You can't just float your way into the playoffs. You've got to make sure you play your best every night from the first game of the season. And it shows now how much every game matters.''
The Bruins are near the salary cap so they are limited in their possible moves. They have five unrestricted free agents - forwards Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Carl Soderberg and defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid.
Left wing Milan Lucic has one year left on his contract and is coming off an up-and-down season in which he often played on a line with two rookies.
Most of the core should return.
''This is a feeling that we don't want to experience again,'' Lucic said. ''So I think we've got to use that as motivation for the offseason, for everyone to get themselves better personally, and you hope that's the mindset heading into this offseason.''