Providence Bruins Weekend Recap – Week 3

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By: Jen Stasio Coombe | Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

It is still early, but there was something to smile about this weekend for Providence Bruins fans.  Colby Cave extended his scoring streak to 5 goals in 4 games and the team saw some marked improvements all around. The back-to-back games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers finished with an overtime loss on Friday and a runaway win on Saturday.  This gave our team 3 points for the weekend bringing the total for the season up to 5, still just ahead of the Hershey Bears in the division.

As a team, they did a better job of keeping on the puck and making a more consistent effort throughout the game and not just in the third period.  Our power play effort was once again an area for concern as we went 0 for 6 this weekend, but the penalty kills were a success, preventing the Sound Tigers from sinking even a single shot in their 9 power play opportunities.  One area Jay Leach will undoubtedly be reviewing with the lads this week is the excess of penalties we are handing over.

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Goaltender Performance:

Dan Vladar manned the net on Friday in Bridgeport and stopped 30 of the 34 shots on goal bringing his save percentage down to .896.

Zane McIntyre stood guard on Saturday in Providence and stopped 25 of the 27 shots on goal bringing his save percentage up to .813.

This Weekends Scores:

FRI Oct.19 AWAY              Providence 3-Bridgeport 4 OTL 

SAT Oct.20 HOME            Providence 5-Bridgeport 2 WIN!!!

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Detailed Daily Game Re-caps:

Friday, October 19, 2018, Providence Bruins Vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY)

Webster Bank Arena came alive Friday for the first meeting of the Sound Tigers and the Providence Bruins.  The crowd of 3,065 who attended to see the grudge match would not be disappointed as it was a tight one throughout with multiple lead changes and an overtime to boot.

The first period saw Bridgeport come out in a whirlwind, as Toews and Rathgeb set up Dal Colle to score only 3:15 into the period.  Not impressed, Colby Cave answered back with an unassisted goal at 7:20 for Providence bringing the score level. Three penalties, 2 to Providence and 1 to Bridgeport, were handed out before the horn sounded to mark the end of the period. Not a six-penalty period as we saw last weekend, but we could be nearing the 24-penalty minute average per game if they keep it up.

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The first half of the second period was one that you could watch while standing in line at the concessions.  There was a lot of back and forth, a few scrambles for the puck and several shots on goal, but nothing to write home about.  Until the 18th minute when Jakub Zboril took the help from Martin Bakos and Cameron Hughes and sent one home to put the Baby-B’s in the lead by a score of 2-1.  Three more penalties issued this period.  This time 2 to Bridgeport and 1 for Providence and we are only at 12 PIMS for this game…looks like that average could be in danger of coming down a notch or two.

Not satisfied with ending the period behind by a goal, the Sound Tigers came out to open the third period with a goal at 0:42 to bring them level again.  This time Rathgeb got the point, and Aho and Dal Colle were there with the apples. That goal was followed by 3 Providence penalties and finally a Providence goal at 17:49 from Colby Cave assisted by Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson to once again put Providence back on top (3-2).  The lead would not stand though as with 41 seconds left in regulation Wotherspoon, assisted by Chris Bourque and Seb Aho, was able to tie it up for the Sound Tigers and force the game into overtime.

Overtime was but a blink of an eye when at 0:32 Sislo placed the final nail in the coffin for the night and sent the Providence Bruins home with their first OTL of the year.  The loss was even more heartbreaking after having led twice in regular time and having not trailed since the third minute of the first period. Perhaps, the greatest loss of all for the team this night was that of their Captain, Jordan Szwarz, who was later diagnosed with a concussion after hitting his head on the ice when his skates were kicked out by Bridgeport’s Wotherspoon.

Saturday, October 20, 2018, Providence Bruins Vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

Still feeling the sting of the overtime loss the previous night in Bridgeport, the Providence Bruins came out with a renewed vigor that we have not seen in our Baby-B’s this year.  Judging by the ferocity of the game the Sound Tigers were also a little charged up due to their win.  Whatever numbers were lacking in penalty minutes last night were surely made up for tonight, with a whopping 38!

The first period saw Providence get on the board first with a goal by Cameron Hughes assisted by Jakub Zboril at 1:51. Ensuring his scoring streak would not end, Colby Cave nailed one home less than 2 minutes later with the help of Jeremy Lauzon and Anton Blidh at 3:13.  Apparently, this back to back goal pair did not sit well with Bridgeport’s Jones as he threw down with Trent Frederic at 3:26 and both received 5 minutes for fighting. Other than three more minor penalties that period, no other action was had, and the horn sounded the end of the first with Providence in the lead 2-0.

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The second period began with a minor penalty to Bridgeport followed at 9:11 by another round of fisticuffs.  This time Bridgeport’s Helgeson took on Wiley Sherman.  Once these two hooligans were locked away for their respective 5 minutes, Frederic took the opportunity to raise the Bruins’ lead by one with the help of Karson Kuhlman and Atlanta Gladiator call-up, Joel Messner. Bridgeport was down, but not out and scrambled to make the plays they needed to get a point on the board. Finally, at 13:22 Dal Colle assisted by Hitchcock ended McIntyre’s bid for a shut-out and got their first point on the board.  Unfortunately, being charged with a penalty for roughing was the only other call the Sound Tigers would get before the second period ended with the Bruins up 3-1.

As the third period began, it seemed like the Bruins were making up for lost time, with two goals again being scored nearly back to back.  Lauzon assisted Kovar at 0:41 with the first goal and 30 seconds later Frederic made it 5-1 Providence with assists from Cehlarik and Clifton.  However, the Sound Tigers were not done yet, like a cat being cornered they clawed and fought and were able to capture one more goal at 8:59 from Sislo assisted by Wotherspoon and Casto.  As hard as they fought and as much as they tried, they could not overcome the determination that lay behind our Providence Bruins on Saturday Night.  The Bruins walked away with a 5-2 victory their first regular season win at home this year, extending their “at-home win-streak” against the Sound Tigers to four!!!  Keep it up Baby-B’s, We are behind you all the way!

 

Bruins Pastrnak On Huge Scoring Rate

NELA5530.JPG(Photo Credit: Nancy Lane)

By: Ian Smith | Follow Me On Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The Boston Bruins are about a 10th of the way through the season, and David Pastrnak looks like he might be in the midst of his best year. Through eight games, he has lit the lamp eight times and ranks tied for second in the league in goals, trailing only Auston Matthews and tied with Nathan MacKinnon.

The strong performance of Pastrnak thus far evokes the question of if he’s a viable candidate to lead the league in goals this season. From a pure talent perspective, the answer is a resounding yes. He has eclipsed 30 goals in each of the previous two seasons, and he blends his quickness with a natural scoring ability to create plenty of opportunities for himself.

He’s on pace for 82 goals as of now, and while that astounding rate isn’t going to keep up, it’s still extremely plausible that he can win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. Over the past five seasons, the eventual winner of the trophy has averaged about 49 goals, so Pastrnak has to get somewhere around 50 to have a decent chance at winning.

That means he has 74 games left to score 42 goals. He’s averaging about 4.1 shots on goal per game, and he’s on pace to send more shots on goal this year than he ever has as well. He has scored eight goals on 33 shots so far, which is a 24.2% shooting percentage. That far exceeds his career 13.8% and his single-season best of 14.2%, and it obviously going to dip a bit as the season goes on.

Over the previous five seasons, the eventual Rocket Richard Trophy winner has finished with a shooting percentage somewhere between 12.6% and 17.3% the season in which they won. Alexander Ovechkin has won the award four times in the past five seasons, with the other winner being Sidney Crosby in 2016-17.

Each season Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy he also led the league in shots on goal. When Crosby won it, though, he ranked only 14th in shots on goal. It took a higher shot percentage for Crosby at 17.3% to win the award, which is actually higher than Ovechkin has ever shot, and Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career.

The last five Rocket Richard Trophy seasons have been won by sending an average of about 358 shots on goal that season. Throughout an 82 game season, that works out to about 4.4 shots on goal per game. If Pastrnak needs around 358 shots on goal to have a decent chance at winning the award, he needs to get 325 more shots on target this season.

It’s entirely conceivable that Pastrnak will play all 82 games this season. He did it last season, but it’s always a safe assumption that some games are missed here and there over the course of a grueling campaign. Maybe Pastrnak is going to play about 70 more games this season. In that scenario, he’d have to average about 4.6 shots per game for the rest of the way to get to that 358 total. If he does play all 82 games, that number will decrease to about 4.4 shots on goal from here on out.

Considering that Pastrnak is averaging 4.1 shots on goal per game so far, he needs to slightly increase that output to have a better chance of winning the Rocket Richard Trophy this season. He’s certainly in the discussion, though, and even if he doesn’t win the award, it’d be shocking based on how he’s playing right now if he didn’t set a career high this season in goals scored.

Sports Spot 10/22/18: Episode 4: Bruins Struggle On Canadian Road Trip

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By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Due to some horrendous audio hissing, our Red Sox segment had to be cut out of this episode four of Sports Spot. But, we’ve still got Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics talk in this week’s episode. Listen, share, and enjoy. Below you can find the show, as well as the timeframe of the Bruins segment.

Bruins segment:

0:00-27:02

Is All Of This Rask Hate Warranted From Bruins’ Fans?

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Photo Credit: Nancy Lane

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Short answer?

No.

Let’s be honest. It wouldn’t be a hockey season in New England without the constant “Tuukka Rask Sucks” hit pieces. I think this is due to a few different factors. For one, Boston, and, by extension, the New England region, is a spoiled sports fanbase. The Patriots have been the most successful NFL franchise in the history of the league. The Celtics have long been the envy of the NBA. And after the Curse of the Bambino was struck in 2004, the Red Sox have found their way to three World Series titles, and are gunning for a fourth this October. Mixed into all of that craziness is the Bruins, who had a run in the early 1970s, made the finals twice in 3 years at the end of the Oilers/Islanders decade of dominance, and added another Stanley Cup in 2011. But there has been plenty of futility mixed in.

The other reasons stem from this initial one. When the Bruins won the Cup in 2011, they did so with a historically atrocious powerplay and dominated teams with a combination of intimidating the opposition into submission and one of the greatest displays of goaltending in the history of the National Hockey League from Tim Thomas. So this new-fangled, high-octane offense is troubling to some in the area. It is why there is an uproar when a below-replacement-level, bruising depth defenseman making far too much money is traded.

It’s why there is a constant need to call players “soft.” We see it with David Krejci, who hadn’t actually missed a considerable amount of time in his career due to injury until last year, and who has missed less time than Patrice Bergeron in his career, or David Backes, who has struggled to stay healthy in his Boston tenure. But Bergeron is a god amongst men (deservedly so), and Backes is given praise for his play because he hits hard and is willing to drop the gloves. I will skip the innate yet subtle xenophobic undertones that are present in this scenario. But Rask is not Tim Thomas.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Greg M. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

Might I remind everyone that while no goaltender is perfect, Tim Thomas did not have the superstar career we like to think he did in Boston? He LOST his starting job to Rask the year after the Cup victory, and his “throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks” style of goaltending led to plenty of unnecessary and bone-crushing goals. He also literally quit the team, forcing them to trade him away for pennies on the dollar. Rask has already lead the team to a President’s Trophy (Thomas never did that) and a Cup Final.

Speaking of that Cup Final, that is the other issue people have with Tuukka. “He can’t win the big games” is the favorite line of anyone trying to explain away his regular season success. But the breakdown in the final minute and a half in 2013 was not on Tuukka. A complete defensive implosion isn’t something that a goaltender can possibly be responsible for. Yet they like to berate him whenever they get the chance to.

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Photo Credit: Matt Stone

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Tuukka is not the greatest goaltender in the history of hockey. He has his moments of terror-inducing screw-ups. So does every goaltender. The facts don’t lie though. Rask has been a Top 5 goaltender in the league in the past half-decade. He has seen a slow decline over that timeframe, but it seems tied to the fact that he has been asked to start upwards of 65 games in recent years. That will wear down most goaltenders. So having a guy in Jaroslav Halak to eat 20-25 starts effectively and keep Rask fresh for the postseason is a positive. But that does not mean that Jaroslav Halak is better than Tuukka Rask. So, let’s take a deep breath, and calm the heck down. Please. Thank you.

Bruins Game 8 Preview: Vancouver Canucks

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Source: Derek Leung/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins have had a rough start to their four-game road trip. They fell to the Calgary Flames 5-2 before being edged out by the Edmonton Oilers in overtime on Thursday. Entering play on Saturday night, the Bruins will try to turn things around as they look to go 2-1-1 on their first extended road trip of the 2018-19 season.

In their way is the Vancouver Canucks. After falling flat last year, the Canucks are 4-3-0 to start the new campaign and currently rest in second place within the Pacific Division.

Who’s Hot?

The Bruins’ first line, as always, is leading the charge on offense. Patrice Bergeron has notched six goals and seven assists in as many games thus far, followed by Brad Marchand with two goals and 10 helpers and David Pastrnak who has eight goals and three assists to his name. Despite the depth’s struggles, it seems the trio will stick together for the time being.

Elias Pettersson has taken the hockey world by storm early on this season. His five goals and three assists in five games had him pegged as a Calder Trophy frontrunner. However, Pettersson is dealing with a concussion and has been placed on the IR by the Canucks and could miss one to two weeks of action.

Another youngster by the name of Bo Horvat will have to fill Pettersson’s void for the time being. The centerman has registered four goals and an assist in seven games and has averaged almost 18 minutes per game thus far. In the Canucks’ most recent game against the Winnipeg Jets, Horvat got over 19 minutes of ice time. Similar numbers can be expected against the Bruins with Pettersson out.

One more high note for Vancouver is the play of Sven Baertschi. The 26-year-old has started his fourth full season with the Canucks with two goals and three assists in seven games. He’s been averaging more than 16 minutes per game this season, and he will certainly have an asterisk next to his name in the Bruins’ locker room.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth has really struggled. There is a five-point gap between Pastrnak’s 11 points and the next leading Bruin, David Krejci, who has six points thus far. It’s a big reason why the boys in black and gold haven’t been all too consistent so far this season. Bruce Cassidy continues to juggle the lines in order to find something that will work in the bottom-9. He and the Bruins will need to find some chemistry sooner rather than later if they want to continue battling for Atlantic Division supremacy.

Krejci Canucks

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Tuukka Rask has also been struggling this season. The goaltender is 2-2-0 in his first four starts of the 2018-19 campaign and features a stat line of a 4.08 GAA and .875 SV%. It can certainly be argued that the defense has let him down at times via turnovers and poor coverage, but Rask needs to be a lot sharper – especially if the Bruins plan on making a postseason run. However, Rask had a cold start last season as well, so there is hope that he can turn things around and wind up having a stellar year overall.

Jacob Markstrom has had a rough go early in the season as well. The goaltender is 1-2-0 thus far with a 4.03 GAA and .883 SV%. He is expected to get the start against Boston on Saturday, and the Bruins’ first line may be able to capitalize on his early struggles.

Bruins vs. Canucks Outlook

The Bruins will need to take advantage of a so-so Vancouver team on Saturday. They certainly don’t want to drop three games in a row to teams who are only slightly above average at best. I’d expect the depth to show up tonight against a cold goaltender like Markstrom.

Speaking of goaltending, Halak will need to bring his A-game as he gets the start tonight. Torey Krug is still out with his ankle injury while Kevan Miller, who was injured against Edmonton, doesn’t look as if he will take the ice on Saturday. Charlie McAvoy is also dealing with an injury from Boston’s first game against the Oilers last week and is ruled out for Saturday’s contest.

Urho Vaakanainen has been called up from Providence on an emergency basis and will certainly get some minutes on a bottom-pairing. The Bruins could really use a win, but a battered defense could be their downfall. It will likely be a high-scoring affair, so look for Boston to ride its offense as they attempt to eclipse the Canucks.

Below are highlights from the last time these two teams matched up on February 17th, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Providence Bruins Name Team Captain

( Photo Credit:  BostonBruins.com / NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After longtime Providence Bruins defenseman departed from the Boston Bruins organization there’s been a vacancy at the role of the definitive team captain. Cross, who held the captaincy honor for the last three of his six seasons with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Bruins. The Providence club is certainly doing things the right way with addressing the vacancy, and after six games in the 2018-19 American Hockey League campaign so far it seems Bruins Head Coach Jay Leach and supporting cast have found their guy.  Earlier today veteran forward Jordan Szwarz was named the team’s thirteenth captain in franchise history.

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Szwarz, a 5′-11″ 201-pound versatile forward was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Phoenix Coyotes (Now Arizona Coyotes) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. After a successful Canadian Junior career with the Ontario Hockey Leagues Saginaw Spirit where he appeared in 262 games posting 82-122-204 numbers. The now 27-year-old Ontario, Canada native has spent the last two seasons with the Providence club contributing 43-60-103 numbers in 121 games played with the Rhode Island franchise. His career in the AHL consists of 215 points in 368 games and when called up to the show he’s played 47 games in the NHL and has 4-3-7 numbers in 35 games with the Coyotes (4-0-4), and 12 games with the Boston Bruins (0-3-3).

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Jordan came to Providence camp before the 2016-17 season on a professional tryout agreement but would later sign a one-year two-way contract with the NHL Bruins in November of 2016. After signing with the Boston he would play the 2016-17 season with the Providence club. In his first year with Providence, he led the club in scoring with 54 points in 65 games earning another contract extension from the Bruins in March of 2018. Another impressive increase for Szwarz is his dollar value at the minor-pro level for a veteran who’s entering his eighth year in the AHL. From his minor-pro contract of $65K per season in the Coyotes system to $350K playing on a two-way contract with the Providence club this season.

Szwarz is off to a slow start to the 2018-19 campaign with one assist in six games, but slow starts have been an enigma for the Providence club in recent years as they seem to find team chemistry in the month of December. Even though this team has its troubles in the early going, the team has been a Calder Cup Playoff team for six straight seasons reaching the Eastern Conference Finals once, second round appearance twice, and three first-round best-of-five exits.

Although it’s early in the regular season, hopefully, this Providence team with the tutelage of Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant bench boss Trent Whitfield can find what it takes to get the message embedded into the heads of these developing players and supporting veterans alike. The Bruins get back to work for game two of the weekend tonight at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island and try to erase the memory of last night’s overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Bruins May Have Found A Fourth Line Trio They Like

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By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Yes, you’ve almost certainly heard enough about the first line of the Boston Bruins. Arguably it’s the best line in hockey, and all three players are almost certainly MVP-caliber players. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak have put up an absurd 36 combined points in their first seven games. At this point, nothing this line does should surprise you as they work so well together. However, there’s another line on this Boston team that might be just as effective.

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The fourth line has always been an effective line for the Bruins going back to the Stanley Cup season of 2010-2011. Last year’s group of Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, and Tim Schaller was very impressive, and they were a group that did everything that Bruce Cassidy asked. The playing styles of all three guys blended so well together, and they were always a high-energy line. Obviously not guys who would score 20 goals but a consistent effort from all three players made it seem like that line was just as effective as the first line.

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With Schaller having moved on to the Vancouver Canucks (who coincidentally, the B’s face Saturday) the Bruins had some decisions to make in the offseason about who could come in and join the fourth line. The Bruins settled on two bottom six forwards in Joakim Nordstrom and Walpole, Massachusetts native Chris Wagner. To some Bruins fans, it was a strange move as they believed Schaller could’ve been resigned. In my mind, however, Schaller came to Boston quite the same way as these two, and some people were just as skeptical of his signing. Neither Nordstrom or Wagner have been dominant statistically speaking, but both have given the Bruins forwards who can play anywhere on the bottom six.

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To add to the depth of Nordstrom specifically, he’s shown he can perform on even the second line as he played a few games with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. With Nordstrom and Wagner, it’s not about scoring goals, it’s about the consistent effort they’ve brought to every game they’ve played.

Now, back to the fourth line. Wagner has the been the guy who’s played the majority of his games on the fourth unit with Kuraly and Acciari. Again, it’s not goal scoring that’s impressed me with this group, it’s the effort, and it’s been so consistent they’ve arguably been the Bruins second-best line so far this season. The physicality shown by this line has also been positive as they’ve constantly finished their checks and aren’t afraid to get their bodies involved.

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The energy of this line is so much fun to watch as all three guys play with a great edge and when they’re at their best they can get scoring chances often. In this era of the NHL, physical play is definitely moving away from the game, but it’s still a part of the game that can be effective for the best teams. Not only can this line be physical, but they can also bring good energy to a game when it looks sluggish, and they can on occasion give a team quality scoring chances.

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Many people figured that Kuraly would be the third line center to start the year which he was, but it was clear that the fourth line role is a better role for him. Playing on this line gives him more freedom to play the fast, physical game he plays so well without being counted on to provide tons of scoring chances. Don’t get me wrong, he can create chances, but that’s not what his strength is. Kuraly is much better suited in a role that he can get the most out of. Adding two guys in Acciari and Wagner on that line that play a very similar game to Kuraly, this group has the chance to be a special group for the Bruins moving forward.

Nordstrom Excelling Early For Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo / NBC Sports )

By: Jamie Gatlin  | Follow Me On Twitter: @JamieGatlin1217

When the Bruins signed Joakim Nordstrom this past offseason, it was not a move met with much fanfare. Nordstrom was coming off a season in which he scored only two goals in 75 games. The Bruins needed help offensively, and that is not his strength. He was signed because of his skating ability and work on the penalty kill. Through the first seven games this season he has made a good first impression and been quietly impressive.

Against Edmonton, last Thursday Nordstrom made his debut on the second line alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. The Bruins were hoping he could provide a spark. The move proved to be effective as in three games with Nordstrom, the Bruins second line had three goals. Despite his impressive play, Nordstrom was moved to the fourth-line before last nights game. Although he is not a gifted scorer Nordstrom is still valuable in many ways.

Furthermore, Nordstrom has created plenty of chances of late. Although he only has one goal this season, over the last four games he has had twelve shots on net. Nordstrom has found open space in the offensive zone and been aggressive on the puck. By being on the second line, he took the spot that was expected to go to Danton Heinen or Ryan Donato. Nordstrom showed the Bruins young wingers what they will need to do in order to be successful in that role. Heinen responded well in his first opportunity last night recording an assist on Krejci’s first goal of the season.

Additionally, moving Nordstrom to the fourth line puts him in a better position to succeed. While he was effective on the second line, his playing style does not fit a top-six role. On the fourth line, his defensive game will be more of a priority which will make up for his lack offense. He is a smart player who is good at reading breakouts, especially in the neutral zone. Nordstrom has a knack at getting to the net but struggles to finish. Alongside the physical play of Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly, he could excel.

Nonetheless, this will not be the last time Nordstrom switches roles. Other than the Bruins first line this team has struggled to score. It is early, and many players are still finding their way. Cassidy is trying to find the right line combinations to make the Bruins offense click. Even though Nordstrom is being moved down, he will still play a vital role.

Last season the Bruins fourth line was one of the most productive in recent memory. Cassidy turned to them whenever the Bruins needed a spark. This year they have gotten off to a slow start, and Nordstrom will be looking to change that. His first test came last night against Edmonton. He responded well and put two shots on net. Nordstrom has shown his versatility early on and played well in whatever role the Bruins have placed him in. The season is still young, but Nordstrom is already making his mark.

Providence Bruins Sign Kovar To PTO

( Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Providence Journal Bruins beat writer Mark Divver reported earlier today the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins have signed veteran forward Jan Kovar to a Professional Try-Out agreement. The 28-year-old Czech Republic native recently played in the Kontinental Hockey Leagues with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk where he registered 97-189-286 numbers appearing in 285 games in the last five years.

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The 5′-11″ 216-pound center was a free agent signing of the New York Islanders shortly after the 2018 free agent frenzy and was a saut after project with recent success over in Europe. Per EliteProspects.com Kovar’s development and pro-league play has been impressive to read with three Czech2 Championships,  Czech Extraliga Championship, and a two-time winner of the KHL Gagarin Cup Champion he certainly has worldly skills to take a chance on.

After his contract was over in the KHL, The Islanders were smart to roll the dice with a low cap experiment with Jan’s services and possibly be a seamless asset pending the retain or departure of the Tavares sweepstakes free agent talks which ending with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs being the most attractive option in free agency. Kovar signed a one-year $2 million dollar contract and it was time for him to showcase his skills at the highest level in the world.

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I’m not exactly sure about what happened to the relationship Kovar and the Islanders had but it was sour enough for the two parties to walk away. What would entice a player who already accepted a contract and eager to join his new National Hockey League team in North America just to have cold feet and want to leave? Per Left Wing Lock Twitter Account,  Kovar was placed on Unconditional Waivers for the purpose of contract termination.

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Well, now that he’s with the Providence Bruins after being seen by the aforementioned Providence Journal Bruins reporter Mark Divver below at this mornings practice, now it’s speculation time where he’ll play alongside other Bruins developmental talent as a 28-year-old but better yet, who’s spot could he be taking? For me and it’s early in the 2018-19 AHL campaign but I don’t believe he will take the job of current Bruins prospects in the system but could have a player that recently signed an AHL contract to play only in Providence’s job or play the role of an extra forward as regulated roster size in the AHL is different than the NHL limit.

In a later Tweet today, Divver mentioned that Kovar most likely won’t see any game action this weekend with three straight games including a home-and-home series starting tomorrow night in Bridgeport, Connecticut against Sound Tigers the minor-pro affiliate of the New York Islanders. Also chiming in on all the questions concerning Kovar was his agent Alan Walsh who said below that both the Providence Bruins and his client are going to remain in the area for the next couple of weeks and see where things go. This is a common tactic to keep players around before returning to Europe or the KHL to keep playing and in leagues with familiarity.

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Kovar is good friends Bruins superstar and countryman David Pastrnak as seen in a Tweet below from the young B’s forward dating back to when Kovar and the Islanders made the deal in July of this year.

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UPDATE: Details Below From first-year New York Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello on the termination of Jan Kovar’s one-year $2 million contract per Andrew Gross’s verified Twitter account.

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Below are some video’s of what the Providence Bruins could see in his short professional tryout in the American Hockey League.

Providence Bruins Week 3 Preview

Sound TigersBruins(Photo Courtesy of Christian Abraham)

By: Jen Stasio Coombe | Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

The number three in some circles is a magical number. Let’s hope that inspires confidence in the Providence Bruins in this, the third week of the season. The B’s enter this weekend with a record of 1-4-0-0, a total of 2 points, and sit second to last in the division, conference, and league standings. All is not lost however, it is still way too early to relegate our team to the bottom of the pack. In fact, this has been a trend with our baby-B’s over the past several years. They start out pretty shabby for the first few weeks, dare I even say months. Then as the team settles in, the chemistry solidifies, the communication strengthens, and the confidence builds to a point where they break out and show what they are truly made of. So, let’s all take a deep breath, support our team, as we always do, and take the games as they come, one week at a time. This week sees back to back games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Friday night the Sound Tigers will host the Providence club at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport Connecticut and Saturday the teams will face off back in Providence at the Dunkin’ Donut’s Center.

Bridgeport(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Friday, October 19th Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY)

The Webster Bank Arena will come alive on Friday with Tigers and Bruins fighting it out for the title of ‘First Victor’ in this yearly grudge match. Last seasons’ first match-up for this pair was in November and took place on home ice for Providence. They met twice that weekend, once on Friday the 3rd and a second time on Sunday the 5th. Both of those games saw Bridgeport roaring to life, scoring 7 goals in total and preventing Providence from putting a single point on the board.

That weekend saw Providence put two different goaltenders in the Sound Tigers path, attempting to put a halt to their charge. Friday night saw the rookie Dan Vladar take his post, as Zane McIntyre had been called up to Boston on an emergency basis. Vladar put in a very strong showing that night, saving 31 of 32 shots on goal. Unfortunately for the rookie netminder, that one he let slip by was the game-winner. Sunday’s game had Zane McIntyre back between the pipes. The number of saves was the same 31, but the number of shots that found their way through was much higher. Six biscuits sped past Zane in that matinee match-up, not the veteran performance the team was hoping for.

The historical note of hope for this weekends first 2018-2019 match-up is the fortune of being on the road. The first road game played against the Sound Tigers on December 3 last year was a 4-1 win for the B’s. Zane McIntyre was in the crease for the match-up and was able to stop 26 of 27 shots on goal, a much-improved showing from the previous month. Fingers crossed we get that version of ‘Mickey’ this weekend.

RBorque(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Saturday, October 20th Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

Getting used to having a tag-along on their return trips to Providence, the Bruins meet up with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on home ice Saturday. The record last year for home games against the Tigers was an even split. The first three home games went to the visitors, but Providence had enough and decided to take the last three at the Dunk for themselves. So, If we purely look at the meeting of these two teams in Providence, our Bruins are on a 3-game winning streak, no need to end that now. Zane McIntyre was the goal tender for all three of those games, with save numbers of 29 of 29, 35 of 38, and 44 of 45. You can’t ask much better than that.

The same games saw our skaters do their part as well, both forwards and defenders took turns putting the biscuit in the basket. Scoring 1 goal in the first game, 5 in the second and 4 in the third. Clifton, Johanssen, Szwarz, and Zboril all put up points during those three games. With some of the new additions, Fyten, and McNeill spring to mind, I would hope to continue the home ice scoring frenzy when we meet the Tigers this Saturday and extend this run to four.

An interesting pair to check out on Saturday are the Bourgue brothers. Chris and Ryan Bourque, both sons of Ray Bourgue, were reunited on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this year. Last year they played for separate teams, Chris for the Hershey Bears and John with the Sound Tigers. Back on the same side, it will be fun to see them here in Providence.

bourques(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

My picks to watch this weekend:

Up Front:

Blidh/—/Fyten – I don’t care who center these two. They are both on the top of my watch list, with their solid play and aggressive style. What’s not to like?

On The Blue Line:

Johanssen/Clifton – Not necessarily on the same line, but both have scored against this team in the past, and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off the offensive defenseman act repeatedly.

In Net:

Dan Vladar – Having met the Sound Tigers twice last year and held a very solid line against them, I am encouraged and am looking to see what level the past year’s development has brought him to now.

Johanssen(Photo Courtesy of Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Similar to last weekends penalty extravaganza, we could be seeing the penalty box staying warm throughout the weekend with penalty minutes averaging about 27 per game when these two teams go head to head.

Cheers to week three, some solid hockey, and best of luck to our Baby B’s. I will catch up with you next week and until then, feel free to message me on twitter with any questions or comments and as always take some time to check out the other great articles by the incredible team here at Blackngoldhockey.com. Now Go Get Hockey With It!