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Boston's new hope (cont.)

Posted: Friday March 28, 2008 9:48PM; Updated: Friday March 28, 2008 9:48PM
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The team may not get far in the postseason, especially if they line up against the Canadiens, a team that's on an 11-0 roll against the Bruins. No matter what happens though, Boston fans can gladly go into that long summer knowing that their team again has it's heart.

They're not the Big, Bad Bruins yet. But with Lucic, it's a start.

Jamming The Crease

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No surprise to hear that the NHLPA this week slammed the door on the NHL's proposal to move the start of free agency from July 1 to July 7. Although the league tried to sell it as a way to avoid the hassles brought on by dealing over the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays, it smelled like a fast one from the start. Essentially, it would have allowed teams to close a bothersome little loophole.

Under the CBA, players who make less than $1.5 million have until July 5 to elect for salary arbitration. That essentially left a five-day window for a restricted free agent to consider offer sheets before having to finalize a decision regarding his current team. If the date had been moved to the seventh, that window of opportunity would have been closed for the player, though it would not have impacted the ability of the teams to file for arbitration.

In their entreaty to the PA to move the UFA/RFA date, they didn't mention advancing the arbitration date.

Nice try, fellas.

San Jose's 14-0-2 mark may be the most publicized stat of the post-trade deadline period, but it's far from the most impressive. Try this one on: in the 14 games since he joined the Tampa Bay Lightning, checking center Jeff Halpern has exploded for eight goals and seven assists.

Actually, that should just be 13 games. He played only 13 seconds against Pittsburgh last Friday before leaving with an injury. Either way, it's an amazing and completely unexpected outburst from a grinder who compiled just 25 points in 64 games with the Stars before the deal.

As thrilled as the Lightning are with his production, the numbers look even better by way of comparison. Brad Richards, the centerpiece of the deal who went to Dallas in exchange for a package that included Halpern essentially as a throw-in, has nine points in 10 games (a stat skewed by the five assists he had in his first game as a Star). Since that night, he's struggled to find the chemistry with a series of linemates in Dallas that Halpern has enjoyed with Mathieu Darche and Michel Ouellet. Ironically, neither player clicked when skating with Richards earlier in the season. No doubt the Stars make this trade 100 times out of 100 if given the chance for a mulligan, but it's funny how trades can work out over the short term.

No surprise to see Lightning coach John Tortorella named Friday to fill that role for Team USA at the upcoming World Championships -- after all, it appears as though every other soon-to-be idled NHL bench boss is Canadian. Well, other than Atlanta's Don Waddell, but he's busy filling the GM role for the Americans. Still, this is a big opportunity for Tortorella who, surprisingly, has never held the head job for Team USA in the past. The results he gets here could influence USA Hockey's decision when it comes time to choose the man who'll do the job in Vancouver in 2010.

The late start of the tournament, which gets underway May 2 in Quebec City and Halifax, means that rosters won't be finalized until after the first round of the playoffs conclude. Still, look for the Yanks to make some early commitments, leaning heavily on younger players like Dustin Brown, Kane, David Booth, Kyle Okposo, Mueller, Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson with an eye toward building chemistry for the Vancouver Games.

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