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May 8, 2012 | 7:32pm ET
Bigger Bruins next season
By Shawn Hutcheon, Boston Correspondent
TheFourthPeriod.com

BOSTON, MA -- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli met with the media two days after the defending Stanley Cup champions were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Washington Capitals. He answered questions from the media and discussed the future of the organization.

Chiarelli began by discussing the regular season and the team being forced to play without key players due to injuries.

"We had our challenges this year and I thought we handled them well to start -- not so much, we all talked about the hangover -- but we had various little challenges internally and I thought we handled them well. I know we had a slow start, but I thought we had a good middle portion.

"We were challenged a little bit through injuries. I thought losing Horts (Nathan Horton) and (Adam) McQuaid hurt our size and strength and hurt our balance up front. And, I honestly thought Horts would've been back but it's obvious there were some serious implications with that injury and I think he's on a full road to recovery."

Concerning his team's seven game loss to Washington, Chiarelli was disappointed with the Bruins' offense.

"We obviously didn't score a lot of goals, and you know coming from a team during the regular season that scored, I don't know if it was third or fourth in the league (tied for 2nd with Philadelphia), but we certainly had a lot of goals (260)," he said. "A lot of them were in the front end of the year, but we certainly have the talent and skill to score."

The general manager hinted that a deal or two may be in the making. "I think offensively, we didn't score at the time we had to score and I think we could've so I think that's an area we'll have to improve, how I will improve that, we'll figure out as the summer goes on."

When discussing the squad's third line which, for most of the season, consisted of Chris Kelly centering wingers Rich Peverley and Benoit Pouliot with Brian Rolston seeing duty there, after arriving from the New York Islanders in a deadline deal, and its fourth line of checkers Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, Chiarelli added, "With regard to our third and fourth line, we had been negotiating with those guys and I'll pick those up in the very near future."

Immediately following the elimination of the defending champions, speculation began on who will be Boston's No. 1 goaltender next season. Fans and media began asking whether Tim Thomas, who has one year remaining on his contract that will pay him $5 million for the season, had played in his last game with the Black and Gold while back up Tuukka Rask is a restricted free agent and may receive offers from other NHL teams.

Chiarelli was asked about Boston's goaltending situation for next season and put to rest all rumors concerning his netminding duo.

"I view it pretty much the same way I saw it going into the last summer, the biggest difference being Tuukka [Rask] obviously didn't play towards the end because of his injury so for me there's no uncertainty there with regards to him being back and healthy. I know I've seen speculation about moving a goalie and all that stuff, but certainly I'm not inclined to do that. Tim didn't have statistically the year he had before but I thought he had a very good year. We have, if not the best, one of the top three goalie tandems in the league."

Fans can rest easy as it does not appear that Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins plan on making a move of the blockbuster variety. This is a young team with 14 players age 29 or younger, including its leading scorer, 20-year-old Tyler Seguin, which means there is no need to "blow it up" as some are calling for. The organization will be looking for depth as Chiarelli compared some of his depth players with those of Washington's.

"You saw Washington's third and fourth lines," Chiarelli said. "Those are some big, heavier guys. The (Joel) Wards, the (Matt) Hendrickses, the (Troy) Brouwers -- those guys lean on you. Over a seven-game series, when the teams are close, it makes a difference. Maybe there's one play where our D pulls up because he knows he's got 220 pounds coming down on his left shoulder."

Chiarelli will look to make a minor deal and/or sign a free agent this coming summer that will add size, skill and that all important depth, to the lineup.

Fans can expect the team that has the reputation for using its size and strength to play on the edge will more than likely be bigger and edgier when training camp opens in September.

As Chiarelli said in his press conference, "Because we lost in the first round after having won the Cup last year, to me, we can go after the Cup next year... I have every confidence that we can do that."

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for TheFourthPeriod.com and covers the Bruins.


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