Brad Marchand’s Newest Award, A Callback To His Journey To The NHL

(Photo Credit: AHL.com)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Just a week or so after receiving the First Star of the Week award, Brad Marchand has added yet another accolade to his already long list. Ten days ago, the American Hockey League announced that the Bruins’ winger was selected as the Ephesus/AHL Graduate of the Month for November.

In the 14 games he played throughout November, Marchand tallied 11 goals and 11 assists, good for 6th in the league within the month. The five players ahead of him? Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Leon Draisaitl. Of those five players, just Leon Draisaitl had gotten a taste of the AHL, where he played six games in 2015.

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - JUNE 09: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his goal during the first period of Game Six of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on June 09, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

I was curious and did a little research on what other AHL alumni have had major impacts this season. Maybe it’s not all that surprising, but just four of the top 15 scorers in the NHL have played in the American Hockey League. Those four are Marchand’s teammate David Pastrnak, Capitals defenseman John Carlson, the aforementioned Draisaitl and of course Marchand. The little ball of hate has more games in the AHL than all three combined, lacing them up in the AHL for 113 games in his career. It’s not incredibly normal that a player with an extended stay in the AHL makes a big mark in the NHL, but Marchand is anything but normal. Marchand’s years in Providence were a major part of what has made him so damn good today, so let’s take a look at his journey.

In his time in the AHL, Brad Marchand was able to make quite the name for himself. Coming off of a big season in the QMJHL and a promising World Juniors showing, the grind to make it to the NHL began for the Halifax, Canada native. In his first season with the Providence Bruins, Marchand portrayed what made him so good in juniors. He maintained his strong playmaking ability and added the snarl we all know and love by putting up 59 points (41 of which were assists) and 67 penalty minutes.

Image result for BRAD MARCHAND ROOKIE

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org)

The next season was a massive one for Marchand’s development. He bounced between the minors and the big leagues throughout the season, not able to find any sort of consistency at the NHL level. For a Bruins team that was looking for scoring, Marchand went goalless with just a single assist in the 20 games he played in the NHL. Despite the very minimal success with Boston, Marchand still managed to put together a successful AHL season with 32 points in 34 games with Providence.

During that season’s playoff run, Marchand was apart of the Black Aces. When a hole seemingly opened up for the skilled forward when David Krejci went down with an injury, the Bruins elected to give NHL journeyman Trent Whitfield the shot over the young Marchand. That choice did not work out for Boston, as Whitfield failed to record a point in the four games he played and the Bruins suffered one of the franchise’s biggest collapses in team history, blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Following the infamous 2010 collapse, Brad Marchand made quite the promise in the annual exit meetings with the then Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien. Despite failing to reach the back of the net once in 20 NHL games AND not reaching 20 goals in either of his two seasons in the AHL, the former 3rd rounder promised to hit 20 goals in the 2010-2011 season. So naturally, the undersized forward who was never a prolific goal-scorer faltered and had a bust of a season, right? Well, you all know that isn’t the case. Marchand scored 21 goals and helped lead the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup victory, ending their nearly 40-year drought.

Brad Marchand

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

Year after year following his rookie season, Marchand’s role with the Bruins continued to evolve. He’s steadily progressed from a 40 to 50, to 60, to 80 and now 100 point player. Playing in the AHL was just the first step out of many for Brad Marchand to cement himself as one of the best players in the entire NHL. By winning the AHL Graduate of the Month Award, it seems Marchand has had a bit of a “come full circle” moment.

I feel it is worth adding that the Bruins took their time with Marchand and it paid off. Not every player can skip straight past the AHL and jump to the NHL and just because they have the skill, speed or size that doesn’t always mean success. This is important to the Bruins’ system that is filled with players with great potentials. Just because guys like Zach Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril, and Trent Frederic have spent their first few pro years in the AHL, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the chance to become true NHL players.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Tampa Bay: 12/12/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

Home: Tampa Bay Lightning (15-11-3)

Away: Boston Bruins (20-6-6)

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Palat-Point-Kucherov

Killorn-Cirelli-Stamkos

Maroon-Paquette-Gourde

Verhaeghe-Stephens-Joseph

Defense

Hedman-Rutta

McDonagh-Cernak

Sergachev-Shattenkirk

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

McElhinney

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Ritchie

Bjork-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

First Period

Just seconds into the game, Zdeno Chara dropped the gloves with Pat Maroon to attempt to get the B’s going and try to take an early lead. The Bruins did just that as Patrice Bergeron stuffed home a rebound just under four minutes into the game.

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The Bruins did a great job keeping possession in the offensive zone as they looked to extend their lead. Tuukka Rask did a solid job keeping the Lightning at bay although the defense did an equally solid job limiting the scoring opportunities. With 7:16 left in the period, John Moore took a tripping penalty as Tampa Bay looked to even the score. Boston killed off the man advantage as Rask made a number of key stops. Both teams continued to be quite physical as the period drew to a close.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go to their first power play early in the second period as they looked to extend their lead. The Lightning killed off the penalty as the B’s failed to get any solid scoring chances. Penalties to Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Shattenkirk resulted in a four on four with 15 minutes left in the period. Boston continued to get pucks to the net but Andrei Vasilevskiy continued to come up with timely saves. The Bruins continued to be physical with the Lightning in the middle period as they tried to hunker down defensively.

Moore took another tripping penalty with seven minutes left in the second period as Tampa Bay got a golden opportunity to tie the game. Just five seconds into the man advantage, Steven Stamkos ripped a shot past Rask to tie it.

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Tampa Bay had a huge surge after the goal as they stormed the Boston end looking for another goal but Rask continued to have a strong game which kept it tied.

Score: Tied 1-1

Third Period

The Bruins were forced to kill a penalty early in the final period as Sean Kuraly was called for hooking and the Lightning got a great chance to take the lead. Brayden Point gave Tampa Bay the lead on the man advantage with a quick release from the low slot that beat Rask and the B’s defense.

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The Bruins started to get some good attacking zone rhythm toward the midway point of the period as they looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins would get an opportunity to draw even as they picked up a power play with 9:32 remaining. The Lightning killed off the penalty as the Bruins again failed to do much of anything on the man advantage. Stamkos buried his second of the game after a turnover in the Bruins defensive zone with under five minutes to go, giving Tampa Bay a two goal lead.

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The Bruins cut the lead in half about two minutes later as Moore buried a loose puck in front of the net.

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Rask would head to the Boston bench with two minutes to go as the B’s tried desperately to tie the game and force overtime. The Bruins wouldn’t get many great looks at the net as their losing streak reached five games.

Final Score: 3-2 Lightning

Three Stars

First: Stamkos

Second: Vasilevskiy

Third: Rask

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 11 Preview

 

probru4

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 11 of the AHL season is here. The Providence Bruins are 16-9-1-2 (35 points) and 7-2-1 in the last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Binghamton Devils 6-2 and the Utica Comets 3-2 in a shootout. They would then fall to the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-1 before falling to the Syracuse Crunch 4-1. This week sees the Bruins have a home and home with a familiar foe before traveling to Pennsylvania for a game.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, December 14, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The Springfield Thunderbirds would return the favor on Sunday, December 15, 2019, when they take on the Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, when the Providence Bruins travel to Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 (AWAY) and Sunday, December 15, 2019 (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend home and home will be the third and fourth of 14 games these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 14-13 (28 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 23-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 11-7-3 in Springfield and 12-8-1 in Providence.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 72 goals in 27 games while scoring 80. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.66 goals a game while scoring 2.96. The Springfield club is 4-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 8-1 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 2-5 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-9 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 75 goals in 28 games while scoring 93. That is a +18 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.67 goals a game while scoring 3.32. The Providence club is 9-0 when leading after one period and 12-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-6-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-5-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Wednesday matchup will mark the first of six the two teams will play. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 13-9-3-1 (30 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 12-6-3-3. However, they are only 5-5-2 in Wilkes-Barre Scranton during that time.

This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 110 penalties in 26 games. That means they are giving up 4.23 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 22 goals out of those 110 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 80%, which is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 6-1-1 when leading after the first period and 7-0-1 when they are leading after the second period. It should be a close game between these two division foes. I expect the Providence club to come out on top in this one. It’s one of those games they need to win to assert themselves atop the Eastern Conference.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is in his first full professional season with the Providence Bruins. The young defenseman came to the Bruins when he signed an AHL deal after an excellent freshman season at Ferris State University. It’s been an up and down season for Zech. In 18 games, he’s netted one goal and dished out five assists for six total points. However, in his last five games, the young defenseman has found the back of the net once while dishing four assists for five total points. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had a good season for the Providence Bruins thus far. In 28 games, he’s netted seven goals and dished out nine assists for 16 total points. The former Boston College Eagle has been even better over his past 12 games netting three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points. The veteran forward has been a stabilizing force on offense. It’s needed due to players moving up and down from Providence and Boston because of injury. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Not

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen is also in his first professional season here in North America. The young forward has taken time adjusting to the smaller ice. In 28 games on the year, the Sweden native has netted three goals while dishing out seven assists for 10 total points. Despite this, Steen hasn’t registered a point in his last six games. Hopefully, he can adjust to the North American ice and shake off the rust soon.

Jeremy Lauzon: Jeremy Lauzon has had an up and down year for Providence. In 28 games this year, he has seven points, all assists. While the young defenseman has matched his point total from the last two seasons, he still hasn’t registered a point over his past six games. Let’s hope the former Rouyn-Noranda Husky can turn it around and get back on the scoresheet.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Paul Carey: The Providence Bruins Captain Paul Carey has had an excellent season. In 27 games, he’s scored 12 goals while dishing out 10 assists for 22 total points. He’s also provided leadership that a young team needs. With injuries and call-ups, the former NCAA Champion has been a big constant that the offense has needed. Watch for the Captain to have an excellent weekend.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has had an up and down season for Providence. Initially, the young defenseman didn’t seem like himself on the ice. He was then called up to Boston because of injury and played really well for the big club. Since being reassigned to Providence, he’s been on another level. He’s playing well in all three zones and controlling the overall play when he’s on the ice. In 24 games this year, Vaakanainen has netted four goals while dishing out six assists for 10 total points. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Since coming back from injury, Dan Vladar has been excellent for Providence. On the year he is 3-2 with a 1.84 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Look for him to continue his hot play this weekend.

The Providence Bruins are in a good position this holiday season. The Providence club sits comfortably in a playoff seed. This is what you expect from a team looking to compete for a championship. Let’s hope they can keep up their play over the weekend. These are three games that they should be able to win. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins Reunite With Tim Thomas In D.C.

Image(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

Tim Thomas, the Boston Bruins and the District of Columbia sure do have some history — ceremonial puck drops aside.

Almost a decade after the former B’s goaltender refused a visit to the nation’s capital and did not attend the White House with his Cup-winning teammates, “TT” was front and center — on center ice fittingly — in the sanctimonious city that never sat well with him.

“Well, I definitely did not expect to see this tonight.” No one did, Pete. And you know what? Good for Thomas. Standing between B’s Captain Zdeno Chara and one-time Bruin Brian Gionta, Timmy two-pads looked sharp in his grey blazer and blue button down. At the game to be honored alongside his fellow 2019 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, Thomas was, perhaps for the first time in his own hockey history, all smiles in D.C.

Smirks count too. And sure, he left many a B’s fan and former player smirking a bit after the aforementioned unvitation, to use a Seinfeld reference. But, the official #NHLBruins Twitter account truly referenced it right (that’s right as in “correct,” not politically conservative for those keeping TT tabs): he’s a Boston legend.

I don’t think you’ll find one Bruins fan on the planet — or hockey fan for that matter — who honestly believes the B’s would have won the 2011 Stanley Cup without Thomas’ in-net heroics. To wit (apologies to Mr. Gionta who on this night was a fan of Tim Thomas but in the first five saves of the video below, a mortal enemy):

 

Yet, for all the player praise we heaped on the Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup-winning Thomas after his historic 2011 playoff run, it was his mercurial off the ice political issues shortly thereafter, not to mention his Houdini-esque disappearing act from all of hockey…

…that really seemed to bother supporters of the Black N’ Gold. You know who it didn’t bother? Tim Thomas (as quoted below in the Boston Herald ahead of the Bruins versus Capitals NHLonNBC Sports “Wednesday Night Hockey” affair):

“I live in a totally different world than the hockey world that I lived in before… I live a long ways away from Boston, and it’s not that fun for me to travel anymore. It isn’t anything to do with the Boston Bruins or the Boston fans, especially. My goodness, they loved the crap out of me when I was there to the point where it was hard to handle.”

It’s too bad the B’s always find the Caps too “hard to handle,” especially at home in Washington, D.C. — a place Tim Thomas will never be at home in no matter the audience or accolade.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content

Post-Game Report | Boston Bruins Fall to Washington Capitals 3-2

Image result for boston bruins vs washington capitals(Photo Credits: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

There was blood, sweat and hurt officials in Washington D.C. as the two best teams in the NHL faced each other tonight in the nation’s capital. No one said it would be easy and sadly for Bruins fans, it would be the Washington Capitals that came out the victor in a hard-fought game.

In The First

In what was promised to be a real physical game, the Boston Bruins came into the Capital One Arena looking to redeem themselves after the embarrassing 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The history between the two teams does not swing in Boston’s favor as Washington is now 16-1 in the last 17 meetings. With missed great opportunities from both teams, it would the Bruins who’d light up the lamp first. At 9:36, David Pastrnak would nail a slap shot (and his 26th goal) past Washington’s Braden Holtby. The Capitals would charge back, forcing Boston’s Jaroslav Halak to make multiple saves.

The Bruins would send a flurry of pucks towards the Capitals end and with minutes left in the first, Boston would draw their second power-play of the night. In what would’ve been their second goal of the night (and second in two games by Patrice Bergeron), unfortunately, would be ruled an off-side.  With seconds left in the first, both teams traded multiple high chances.

END OF FIRST: Boston-1, Washington-0

SHOTS ON  GOALS: Boston-8, Washington-7

Second Period

Washington would open up the second period on the power-play left over from the first. Boston’s Brad Marchand had a chance on a short-handed goal but was unable to capitalize. As the Caps ended their power-play, the Bruins would be awarded a power-play shortly after for a “too many men on the ice” infarction.

Image result for boston bruins vs washington capitals(Photo Credits: Michael Dwyer/AP)

In a chippy second period, Washington went on the power-play from an interference by Boston’s Chris Wagner. T.J. Oshie tied things up at 4:35 with a power-play goal. Minutes later, Oshie notch his second goal of the night, making the score 2-1. The Caps would draw a holding penalty towards the last minute of the second period but were unable to score.

END OF SECOND: Boston-1, Washington-2

SHOTS ON GOAL: Boston-15, Washington-7

FINAL COUNTDOWN

Seconds into the start of the third period, Boston would head to the power-play as Washington’s Tom Wilson was called for interference. With the power-play opportunity gone, Boston’s Sean Kuraly would score off a deflection from a shot by Torey Krug to tie up the game at 2-2. Minutes later, Washington’s John Carlson would score, putting the Caps ahead 3-2.  Despite last-minute pressure from the Boston team (who had a man advantage), the B’s were unable to make a comeback.

Tremendous plays by both goalies and for Boston, Jaroslav Halak kept the team within a  one-goal reach as the Bruins fall 3-2 in regulation.

FINAL SCORE: 3-2

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: Boston-32, Washington-25

Boston went 0-for-5 on the power-play while the Caps went 1-for-3. Halak made 22 saves. The Bruins are now 20-6-6, with three regulation losses in a row, while the Caps improve to 23-5-5.

WHAT’S NEXT: Boston Bruins face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center tomorrow night with puck drop at 7:00 PM.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content

Celebrating A Bruins’ 500th Career Game

( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Jaroslav Halak celebrated his 500th career NHL game on December 9, 2019, at the TD Garden. The Bruins hosted the stingy Carolina Hurricanes on a snowy night. The game featured a lackluster offensive showing on both sides. Neither team found a quality scoring chance until four minutes left in the third. The Bruins scored two goals in two minutes, one of which earned David Krejci his 200th career NHL goal. A shutout for a goalie in any game is satisfying, but earning his 49th career shutout in the 500th career game speaks volumes to Halak’s 14-year career.

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The Slovakian was drafted 271st overall in the 2003 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Halak’s draft position is unique today because 2003 was the second to last year the draft featured nine rounds. In 2005, the NHL decreased the round total from nine to seven, which still reigns true today. The 2003 draft also featured a number of goaltenders who still play in today’s game. Marc-Andre Fleury (selected first overall), Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, and Brian Elliot. Jaroslav’s draft position warranted some time to play in the American Hockey League. Halak was called up for 16 games in 2006 to back up Montreal’s starter Cristobal Huet. Halak began appearing regularly in the NHL in 2008, where he and (current Montreal starter) Carey Price split time. Montreal drafted Carey Price fifth overall in the 2005 draft with the plan that he would be their long-time starter, which has come to fruition. This sealed Halak’s services in Montreal. A week before the 2010 NHL draft, the Canadiens traded Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

Before Halak, the St. Louis Blues’ goaltending situation was a constant merry-go-round of players. The Blues did not have a four-year tenured starter since Brent Johnson from 1999 to 2004. They desperately needed a goalie who could handle the workload of a starter. After trading for Halak in 2010, the Blues offered a four-year, $15 million deal. His first season with St. Louis yielded a fourth-place position in their division, missing the playoffs. The following year, Halak posted an exceptional 1.97 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, earning him and fellow teammate, Brian Elliot, the William M. Jennings Award (fewest goals against in 25 minimum games).

The two could not continue their fewest goals feat against the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings, in the 2012 semi-finals. Additionally, the following two years the Blues exited the playoffs in the first round. Suddenly, Halak’s days in St. Louis were dwindling.

The Blues drafted Jake Allen 34th overall in the 2008 NHL draft. Within the organization, Allen was primed to guard the team’s blue paint for the foreseeable future, which made Halak expendable. In a mammoth deal during Halak’s final contract year, the Blues sent Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 1st-round pick, and 2016 3rd-round pick to Buffalo for 2009 Vezina Winner Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. Buffalo flipped Halak and a 2015 3rd-round pick to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Michal Neuvirth and forward Rostislav Klesla. Jaroslav only played 12 games with the Capitals before they shipped him to the New York Islanders for a 2014 4th-round pick.

Halak and the Islanders agreed on a 4-year, $18 million deal in 2014. He started in 59 games his first year with the Isles, leading the team to second place in their division. The Isles, unfortunately, experienced another first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In 2016, for the third time in his career, Halak split playing time with another goalie, Thomas Greiss. Neither could help the struggling Islanders, and they finished fifth in the Metropolitan Division in 2016. The 2017 season didn’t fare any better as the Islanders allowed the most shots and goals against. The Islanders finished with 2,918 shots against and 293 goals against for the year, which equates to 35.5 and 3.5 a game, respectively. Halak performed the best he could with what he had, once posting a 50-save shutout against the New York Rangers.

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Unfortunately, Halak could not give these heroic performances all year and the team finished seventh in their division. Halak found himself looking for a new home after finishing the season with an abysmal 3.19 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

Don Sweeney, current Bruins General Manager, had been looking for a consistent and reliable back up for Tuukka Rask for a few years. Rask is at his best in the playoffs when his playing time is managed. The Bruins just came off of a second-round exit in the 2017 playoffs after running into a buzz saw in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their back up goalie, Anton Khudobin, received a sizable raise from the Dallas Stars that the Bruins were unwilling to match. Sweeney called Halak on the first day of free agency and struck a deal for 2-years, $5.5 million. Halak brought a starting goaltender resume and could relieve pressure from Rask. Halak appeared in 40 games in the 2018-2019 season posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Not only did he provide Rask much-needed rest, but he also added a little flair to his starts.

Fast-forward to the current season: Halak and Rask have split time almost evenly. Rask has appeared in 17 games thus far versus Halak’s 11. Halak still hovers in the 2.14 goals-against average and .934 save percentage range in these 11 games. The two have been a large reason why the Bruins are sitting atop the league’s standings.

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The Bruins finally have two reliable goaltenders and can start either one with confidence. There is a thought around the league that goaltending tandems could become more common in the playoffs, and the Bruins would benefit immensely.

Halak is currently in his final contract year with the Bruins. The team has three goaltending prospects in the system that are working their way into NHL game-shape. None of the three are considered NHL-ready as of this season, so the Bruins could look to extend Halak. Those within the organization can estimate if a prospect is ready to take the leap, but Sweeney will be cautious. The Bruins have rarely benefited from employing a reliable back-up who could give Rask numerous games off. The two biggest obstacles in keeping Halak, however, are other NHL teams’ needs and Halak’s salary demands.

If Halak continues his strong play throughout the season and maybe the playoffs, he could be looking at a larger raise than Khudobin received from Dallas. Will Sweeney be willing to offer that, given the salary cap constraints if a prospect isn’t ready? NHL organizations are always looking for a formidable goaltender and Halak’s resume fits the mold. If he continues to post legitimate goalie stats, NHL teams will be calling on July 1. Bruins fans have come to love Halak with his acrobatic saves and reliability. Hopefully, Bruins fans see more of #41 and his play yields more than a playoff exit. Congratulations to an incredible feat of 500 games and here’s to many more

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content! 

Bruins Players Make Holidays Happy For Area Children

Image result for bruins holiday toy shopping(Photo Credit: Boston Globe)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Boston Bruins always make the holidays happy when area kids in need are hoping for a happy holiday.

Each year, the team heads to a local Walmart (this time in Saugus, MA) and stocks up –Santa-style– on tons and tons of toys for good girls and boys being treated at children’s hospitals across the community. This year, players hope to reach 600 kids when they deliver the gifts just before Christmas.

Quoted from WHDH:

“This is probably the thing we look forward to the most throughout the year.” — Brad Marchand.

“Finding that time a few weeks before Christmas to get some toys for the kids, you know, I think obviously if a child or anybody has to spend the holidays in the hospital, it’s tough.” — Tuukka Rask

“It will make us feel good but even better when we hand out those toys and gifts to the children and families who probably won’t be able to be home for Christmas.” — Zdeno Chara

This annual tradition holds a very special place in most of the B’s hearts but also serves as a steadfast reminder as to how they celebrate the spirit of the giving season.

Image result for bruins holiday toy shopping(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

The 2019 Holiday Toy Drive marks the 10th time B’s “Co-Captain” Patrice Bergeron has spearheaded the popularly positive event. He took the reigns from former Black N’ Gold Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque.

It’s hard for other players not to take part when such history and personality are “B”-hind it, especially the younger stars.

Quoted from NESN:

“The toy it says 4+ but I’d love it now and I’m 23 so I’m getting it [for a kid like me]. Now moving on for a couple more gifts.” — David Pastrnak

“I think this is probably one of my favorite things that we do. Obviously the Bruins Foundation and the organization does a great job of involving us in the community and this one is just awesome.” — Charlie McAvoy

“For us just to pick out, you know, some fun things that children will eventually get to open on Christmas and to have some fun with that… it’s a thrill.” — Torey Krug

 

Of course, the toy drive doesn’t come without toying around with your fellow generous teammates, as Torey Krug proved in the video clip above. He said he’d like to get B’s forward Brad Marchand a “step stool” for Christmas to help him reach things in the cupboards.

Marchy defensively fired back at the defenseman that he’s not even worth the coal in his stocking this year. Krug’s getting a “whole lotta nothing” this holiday season, he quipped.

While those two have always been on each other’s naughty lists, thankfully hundreds of kids who can’t make it home for the holidays made the B’s nice one. And that’s a surefire way to make this festive time of the year even brighter for those who shine the brightest –the children.

“We just try to do whatever we can to help and kind of cheer them up,” as Tuukka Rask told 7 News in Boston. “It’s a great tradition.”

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Potential Bruins Trade Target: Tyler Toffoli

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(Photo Credit: John Wilcox-Boston Herald)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

The season is more than a third over and the infamous “United States Thanksgiving” measuring stick has passed with Boston securely in a playoff spot. Despite the B’s great start, there is always room for improvement.

With that sentiment in mind, this is the first in a series of articles that will look at some possible trade targets for the Bruins as they “gear up” for what is (hopefully) another long playoff run. I just did an article about the logjam the Bruins have on defense, so while you can never say never, I am going to assume Boston will be looking at bolstering their forward depth. The most obvious need appears to be a 2nd line RW, but if the B’s found a 3rd-line center they really like, that would allow them to move the right-shot Coyle to the RW2 spot if they wanted.

The first target I want to examine is LA Kings right-wing, Tyler Toffoli. He has been linked to the Bruins for a while now, going back to last season’s trade deadline, before they opted for Marcus Johansson instead. His name has popped up again this week in connection with Boston. It’s easy to see why, as he is a right-shot RW, playing for a franchise that’s currently last in the West, and who will certainly be a “seller” before too long.

Toffoli was a 2nd-round pick (47th overall) in the 2010 Prospect Draft. The same draft where the B’s took Tyler Seguin 2nd overall. It’s a bit ironic in that they could have had Toffoli in the 2nd round twice, instead of selecting Jared Knight (32nd) and Ryan Spooner (45th), neither of whom are still in the NHL.

Toffoli played for the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL and put up 37-42-79 totals in 65 games in his draft year. The six-foot, 200-pound Scarborough native proved those totals were no fluke. He followed that up with seasons of 108 and 100 pts before making the jump to the King’s AHL affiliate, Manchester Monarchs, in 2012-13. After getting a 10 game NHL cameo that season, Toffoli established himself for the good the following year with a very respectable 12g/17a in 62 games with the Kings. He then chipped in 7g/7a in the playoffs, helping LA win their second Cup in three years.

Toffoli 2

(Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The following season he would score 23 goals for LA and be producing like a legitimate Top 6 forward. In 2015-16 he really broke out, scoring 31 times at the ripe old age of 23. Unfortunately, over the next three seasons, Toffoli’s numbers would reflect the fortunes of an LA team that was slipping from its perch at the top of the NHL standings. He recorded 34, 47, and 34 points during those years. Not bad totals, but not what you would expect from a former 30 goal-scorer.

Despite the down years, Toffoli still remains an attractive trade target for a number of teams, including Boston. This is true for several reasons, not the least of which is that he has become a reliable three-zone player as he has matured. We all know that even if you are an elite scorer if you want to play for the Bruins, a strong 200-foot effort will be required by the coaching staff. That will not be an issue with Toffoli, who also has some other things going for him, besides his two-way game.

Even though the Kings are “rebuilding”, Toffoli has maintained above average advanced statistics this year. His Corsi, Fenwick, Shot, and Scoring Chance percentages at even strength are all in the mid-upper ’50s, despite grinding for a last-place club. On a stronger team like Boston, one would assume that he would at least continue to be good in those areas, and potentially improve.

While his 6-7-13 numbers in 30 games are not going to blow you away, 10 of his 13 points have come at even strength, and he would be tied for 7th on scoring for forwards in Boston. These numbers are more representative of a 3rd line player than a legitimate second-line player, but there are a couple of things to consider. First, the Kings are not a very good hockey club. Second, we heard the same thing about Johansson last year, who was also coming from a bad team and was one of the better playoff performers for the Bruins.

Toffoli 3

(Photo Credit: Rogers/Sportsnet)

Toffoli is in the last year of a four-year deal worth $4.6m per season, and it is unclear at this point whether the Bruins would consider him a pure rental or try to re-sign him. Some fans have expressed some concern about continually trading for rentals, as opposed to players with the term (like Coyle last year). While I understand the concern, a player in the last year of his deal will demand a lower return. With the Bruins cloudy cap situation and the free agents they have, Boston may want a player they don’t have to worry about fitting under the cap for next season.

If you are looking for negatives in regards to Toffoli, there are a couple. Since his 31-58-69 numbers in the 2015-16 season, his totals have declined. He bounced back in 2017-18 but then regressed again last season. Some of that can be attributed to the team he is playing for, but it is definitely a red flag. The other “issue” is that Toffoli is not overly physical. He’s not small, and he doesn’t avoid the “dirty” areas, but he also doesn’t play an overly gritty game. In a little over six NHL seasons, he has less than 400 hits, which works out to roughly 60 hits a season. If a “heavy” style of play is your cup of tea, Toffoli is not going to be your guy.

While he has some warts (most players do), I believe Toffoli would be a good fit in Boston, even if he’s not the 30 goal scorer he once was. With LA being at the bottom of the standings and him being in the last year of his contract, it would seem that he would be available and not overly expensive. Personally, if the Bruins are interested, I would like to see them make a move around the first of the year and not wait until the trade deadline. It might cost a bit more, but in my opinion, it would be worth it to allow the players extra time to develop some chemistry.

That wraps up our look at Tyler Toffoli, Part two of the series will take a look at another right-wing, Columbus Blue Jacket, Josh Anderson.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Ottawa: 12/9/19

Bruins Senators Hockey

Photo Courtesy Of The Bangor Daily News

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario

Home: Ottawa Senators (12-17-1)

Away: Boston Bruins (20-4-6)

Ottawa’s Lineup

Forwards

Tkachuk-Pageau-C. Brown

Ennis-Anisimov-White

Namestnikov-Tierney-Duclair

Paul-L. Brown-Davidsson

Defense

Chabot-DeMelo

Borowiecki-Zaitsev

Hainsey-Goloubef

Goalies

Nilsson

Hogberg

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen

Bjork-Coyle-Ritchie

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

First Period

Artem Anisimov opened the scoring just about 90 seconds into the game, taking a stretch pass and beating Tuukka Rask on a breakaway.

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Both teams traded chances in the early going but the Bruins had trouble maintaining time in the offensive zone. The B’s started to get their skating game going toward the midway point of the period as they looked to draw even. The Bruins seemed to have trouble completing plays in the offensive zone but didn’t appear to be overly frustrated. Boston was helped by a number of key saves by Rask in the opening period as he kept the game within reach. Anthony Duclair doubled the Ottawa lead after a bad bounce in front of the Bruins net with about four minutes to go in the period.

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Just two minutes later, David Pastrnak found an open Patrice Bergeron on a two on one to cut the Senators lead in half.

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Score: 2-1 Senators

Second Period

Just 1:21 into the middle period, Rask turned the puck over behind his net and Chris Tierney cashed in to give Ottawa its second two goal lead of the game.

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Soon after the goal, Charlie Coyle was called for tripping and the Senators got a great chance to break the game open. The B’s killed off the penalty despite Ottawa getting a few shots on net. Boston would go to their first man advantage of the night soon after as they looked to get back in the game. The Bruins were unable to score despite some great puck movement on the power play. Scoring chances came often for Boston after the man advantage but Anders Nilsson came up with a couple big stops to keep the B’s at bay.

The Bruins would get another power play as Pastrnak was hit with a high stick with 6:52 left in the period. The Senators were able to kill off the man advantage despite the B’s getting a number of high quality scoring chances. Boston continued to get good looks at the net and drew yet another penalty on Ottawa as they tried to cut the lead to one before the end of the period. Ottawa killed off the power play to close out the period.

Score: 3-1 Senators

Third Period

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Final Score: 5-2 Senators

Three Stars

First: Nilsson

Second: Duclair

Third: Marchand

Steven Kampfer Clears Waivers, Will Join Providence Bruins

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Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Monday, Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer cleared waivers, meaning he will report to the Providence Bruins. Yesterday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team had placed Kampfer on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence.

In four games with Boston this season, Kampfer has yet to record a point, but has a plus-two rating, two penalty minutes, and four shots on goal. In 35 games last year, the 31-year-old posted three goals and three assists for six points to go along with a minus-six rating and 22 penalty minutes. Kampfer also scored one goal in three playoff contests during last year’s campaign.

Kampfer spent three games with Providence last season during a conditioning stint while coming back from injury. In that span, the veteran blueliner notched a goal and an assist as well as a plus-three rating.

Through 252 AHL contests on his career, the Ann Arbor, MI., native 28-82-110 numbers. The University of Michigan product totaled 60 points in 147 collegiate games.

Kampfer was selected 93rd-overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and on March, 2, 2010, Boston acquired him for a conditional fourth-round pick. Kampfer signed his three-year entry-level contract with Boston and joined the P-Bruins for the remainder of the 2009-10 campaign. He appeared in 38 NHL contests as a rookie in the 2010-11 campaign, recording 5-5-10 totals. During the offseason, Kampfer and the Bruins agreed to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value worth $800,000.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!