A couple of hours before the Bruins pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory over the Blackhawks Wednesday night, a win that vaulted them into the NHL points lead, your faithful media correspondent caught up with NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury to gather his thoughts on the season, and the team’s quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final and emerge with the Cup this time.
Milbury, a former Bruins player and coach, has never been one to let his brain stifle an opinion his mouth wants to share. Naturally, the Walpole native has fully formed opinions on this year’s Bruins team, including what defenseman Charlie McAvoy needed to do to break his season-long goal-scoring drought.
“Shoot the puck, kid,’’ said Milbury. “Just shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot it.”
If there’s such a thing as accidental prescience, well, Milbury might have had that working in his favor Wednesday. After all, a few hours after those comments, lo and behold it was McAvoy who shot, and scored the winner against Chicago, his first goal in 52 games this season.
Milbury, who will be in the studio Sunday when NBC broadcasts the Bruins-Red Wings matinee (12:30 p.m.), of course had a few other thoughts on the state of Boston’s hockey team.
On what the Bruins need to do before the Feb. 24 trade deadline: “They’ve been trying desperately to fill a need beside [David] Krejci on the right side on the second line. Everybody will watch that to the finish line. Otherwise, it will continue to be community auditions over there.
“They’ve tried just about everybody. There have been plenty of guys they’ve given the opportunity to, but nobody seems to be able to own it. That’s why we’re now talking about options outside the organization.”
On whether he saw David Pastrnak’s emergence as one of the elite offensive players in the NHL coming: “I don’t think anybody saw how good Pastrnak could be from the day he was drafted to what he is now. He’s been a revelation. I think everybody saw glimpses of what he was capable of doing. I didn’t know if he would get to this level where he’s challenging for the goal-scoring lead for the season. I don’t know if anyone is going to knock [Alexander Ovechkin, who has 40, as does Toronto’s Auston Matthews, two more than Pastrnak] off that perch. It’s been fun to watch him play and watch him evolve. He’s one of those guys you always like to have on your team, because there’s always a smile, always a good attitude, always a little glint in the eye that makes it fun to come to the rink.”
On whether a trade is necessary for the Bruins to become the true front-runner in the Eastern Conference: “If I were in a position to do something with this team, I’d try pretty hard to get it done. I would be turning over lots of stones to see if we could get something that made sense, especially to get Krejci a right wing. This team is on the clock a little bit, with [Patrice Bergeron], Krejci, and [Zdeno] Chara all being older players. They’re going to run into a really good Washington team at one point or another. Pittsburgh is playing extremely well. The Lightning have finally found their rhythm. Those teams have depth of offense that the Bruins are a little shy on. But this is a really, really good team. There’s just a chance to make it a little bit better that they should be able to seize.”
The media reaction to the Red Sox’ financially motivated decision to send prime-of-career generational star Mookie Betts (along with David Price and half of his remaining salary) to the Dodgers earned mostly jeers in the local media, including the Globe (which is owned by John Henry). But nationally, some high-profile reporters have — well, if not rationalized it, certainly undersold the possibility that the Red Sox could have attempted to pay Betts the going rate for a top-two star in baseball. Here’s one example, a tweet for ESPN’s Buster Olney: “Mookie Betts understands his importance to the union and wanted to get to free agency, as Gerrit Cole did, to push the free agent $ ceiling for the union brethren. That is his right. Leaving Red Sox with a choice: deal him, or get almost nothing for him if he walked away.”
Betts, per WEEI’s Lou Merloni, asked for 12 years and $420 million. That sounds absurd on the surface, but it really is not. That would be the second-highest contract in baseball to Mike Trout’s 12-year, $430 million deal. Betts is the second-best player in the game to Trout, and that request is in alignment with his comparative value as a player.
Maybe it takes people that were fortunate enough to watch Betts every day to remember that.
ESPN’s “E:60” episode featuring ex-Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, originally scheduled to air Jan. 26, was shelved when news broke that afternoon of the shocking death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people in a helicopter crash. The Bledsoe episode will now air this Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN . . . One last amusing note from Nielsen’s ratings data for the Chiefs’ win over the 49ers in the Super Bowl, which drew 99.9 million viewers on Fox. The game peaked in Kansas City with a 97 share in the 10-10:15 p.m. window, meaning that 97 percent of Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) residents with a television in use were watching the game. The only other shows to draw at least a 1 share in that window? “NCIS” on CBS, and — this still makes me laugh — “Dr. Pimple Popper” on TLC. I want to meet these “Dr. Pimple Popper” loyalists.
On second thought, no I don’t.