Bruins VS Caps: How Did The Forwards Perform?

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 2.00.51 PM(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By Jacob Albrecht | Follow me on Twitter @bruinsfan3725

On the surface, Sunday’s preseason game against the Washington Capitals was just that, a preseason game. For the fans, it’s a sign that opening night of the NHL’s regular season is inching that much closer. For the players, it’s an opportunity to impress the coaches and win a spot in the lineup when the puck drops on a brand new season in a few weeks. Going into this year’s preseason matchups, a majority of the Bruins’ roster has already been decided. However, there are some spots available, as well as a number of possible combinations throughout the lineup that the coaches want to test out. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the performance of the forwards in the opening matchup of the Bruin’s domestic preseason.

Sunday’s matchup with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals at the TD Garden in Boston was a prime opportunity to do just that. With many of the Bruins’ regulars overseas for the O.R.G. NHL China Games, many spots were given to young prospects, allowing them to strut their stuff. Before getting into the nuts and bolts, here’s the full highlight reel in case you weren’t able to catch the game:

A couple young guns on the offensive side of the puck stood out in particular; 2018 3rd-round draft pick Jakub Lauko, 2015 15th-overall pick Zach Senyshyn, and 2013 4th-round pick Ryan Fitzgerald. Of those players, Lauko showed the most prowess throughout the game. A very fast player, he was able to consistently use his speed to get up and down the ice and create space. For a guy who’s main focus would be scoring goals, he was solid on defense as well, making the sacrifice and putting himself between the puck and the net on multiple occasions. He took one shot off the leg later in the game right at the point and despite feeling quite a bit of pain finished his shift. Not all of his plays will show up on a highlight reel, but the most important of all certainly did. Take a look at the Bruins’ only regulation goal from the game:

The most promising part of this entire play isn’t the end result, but the effort and skill put in to make the play. First off Lauko does a solid job picking the puck up in the slot and maintaining possession while surrounded by Capitals defenders. He doesn’t give up on the play after his first shot attempt gets blocked down, he corrals the puck and rips a quick wrister through the defenseman’s legs to put the Bruins on the board. It’s clear he knows how to celebrate and enjoy his time on the ice too. That kind of jam, as one Bruins announcer Jack Edwards would say, is what coaches look for in young players. Lauko’s skating and scoring ability matched with his willingness to fight for the puck and put his body on the line could have him wearing the black and gold sooner than most might think. Lauko himself certainly agrees, here are his thoughts on his performance:

Fitzgerald’s performance didn’t result in any goals or flashy highlights, but he meshed well on a line with David Krejci and Danton Heinen throughout the entire game. While they weren’t able to convert on any of their scoring chances, they certainly had a good number of them. There were multiple instances in the 2nd and 3rd period where the Bruins were able to hold the Capitals in their own zone for at least 90 seconds, even 2 minutes at one point.

Fitzgerald fit well in the offensive cycle, took advantage of his opportunities and got the puck towards the net. Most notably is the pass he made to a streaking David Krejci in the opening period in the above highlight reel. Krejci was thwarted, but nonetheless, it was one of the Bruins’ best scoring chances the entire game. Senyshyn also had a strong scoring chance later on in the 1st period on a rebound from an Anton Blidh breakaway. Senyshyn certainly wanted to make an impression on the Bruins coaches when he dropped the gloves with Tyler Lewington in front of the Capitals’ net. He’s definitely feeling pressure from the other young guys in the system and is looking to be in the conversation when it comes to final roster spots or injury call-ups.

Now for the more established players, the likes of David Krejci, Danton Heinen, and Daniel Winnik. It’s a known fact that Krejci will center the Bruins’ 2nd forward line, but his linemates have been in question all summer. Most likely Jake DeBrusk will retain his spot on the left wing from last season. Danton Heinen looks to move up to the right flank of Krejci in his sophomore season. The pair seemed to have strong chemistry, linking up to create multiple grade-A scoring chances. Heinen was also given the chance to show off his own individual skills at the start of the shootout. Here’s the silky smooth play where Heinen had the puck on a string:

Heinen undoubtedly has the skill and hockey IQ to play on Krejci’s wing for this coming season. If he does, he most certainly will improve on his point totals from last season (16 goals, 31 assists, and 47 points in 77 games). Given more time together throughout the remainder of the preseason, Heinen could win that spot. This would allow Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to keep the dominant top line from last season of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak together. That line with a DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen 2nd line would provide strong scoring throughout the top-six and a lot of flexibility in the bottom-six. Assistant coach Joe Sacco had this to say on the Krejci-Heinen combination as well as Lauko and defenseman Axel Andersson’s performance:

Further down in the lineup we find NHL veteran Daniel Winnik who’s been invited to camp on a professional tryout (PTO). Winnik’s been playing in the NHL for over 10 years and has played on 8 different teams, playing in 798 career games. He consistently has put up 20-30 points and been a strong bottom-six forward throughout his career. It’s a smart pickup by the Bruins who we’ll likely see getting significant NHL time this year, especially if injuries hit the forward corps as they have in the past few years. Cassidy and the Bruins have a lot of options in front of them at the moment ranging from young prospects just getting their first taste of NHL action to veterans with years of regular season and playoff experience under their belts. The lineup for opening night against the Washington Capitals on October 3rd is an unknown at the moment, making for an exciting run up to puck drop.

Bruins’ Preseason Game 1: Defense

Jeremy Lauzon

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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

The Boston Bruins took the ice against the reigning Stanley Cup champions at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon in a preseason matchup. While the majority of the Bruins’ NHL starters found themselves overseas for preseason competitions in China, the team in Boston was able to showcase a number of their up-and-coming prospects.

Zdeno Chara was Boston’s only NHL regular along the blue line which allowed the likes of Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, and Axel Andersson to get some time in the spotlight. The Bruins defensive core for their game against the Washington Capitals was effective despite their inexperience.

Axel Andersson

Boston’s 2018 second-round pick is well known for his speed and ability to produce points. Last season, as a member of Djurgardens IF J20 of the SuperElit league, Andersson registered six goals and 25 assists in 42 games. The Swede had plenty of promise and displayed that on Sunday.

6-foot-1 Andersson was paired up with 6-foot-9 Chara when the puck dropped to signify the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign. The Jarna native quickly showcased his confidence with the puck and was able to create a number of opportunities for Boston’s forwards. In fact, the inked the sole assist on Jakub Lauko’s first-period goal. He kept the puck in the offensive zone, side-stepped an oncoming Capitals forward, and got the puck to an open forward – what more can you ask?

I suppose you can ask for some solid play in his own zone, which Andersson accomplished. As the youngest Bruin on Sunday afternoon’s roster, I was impressed by the Swede’s ability to stay poised along the end wall and wrap the puck around to his defensive partner to spark a transition. During an oncoming rush, Andersson was able to stand his ground. On the occasions that he got beat by an opposing forward, he was quickly able to recover and keep his man from getting to the hash marks. Andersson gave the Bruins plenty of reason to hand him 21:26 in time on ice.

Jeremy Lauzon & Connor Clifton

Lauzon and Clifton found themselves together on the second defensive pair. It was a very versatile duo, each countering each other’s weaknesses. Clifton, who tallied a goal as a right winger in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo earlier this month, was not afraid of skating the puck into the offensive zone. He also never seemed to shy away from physical play, dishing out one of the biggest hits in the game.

Clifton was also strong along the boards and was able to win a number of 50-50 pucks in Boston’s defensive zone. Like Andersson, if Clifton was beaten, he was able to get back into position to thwart a clean scoring chance.

Lauzon, on the other hand, played a more stay-at-home game. He was strong along the boards as well, but most notably stayed solid in front of his own goaltender when guarding the slot. He didn’t see the opportunity to skate the puck through the neutral zone all too often but did receive time on Boston’s power play.

The 21-year-old showed the poise of a power play quarterback when given the chance. He registered two shots on the man-advantage and another two at even strength. Lauzon displayed nice hands when moving the puck along the blue line sending it deep into the zone to a winger. This was an encouraging sight considering Lauzon registered just a goal and six assists in 52 games last season – his first with the Providence Bruins. Other than Chara, Clifton and Lauzon led Bruins defensemen in ice time with a tally of 22:35 and 22:22 respectively.

Emil Johansson

Bruins 2014 seventh-round pick, Emil Johansson, also got some time along Boston’s blue line. He was paired with Mark Fayne for the preseason bout with the Capitals.

Emil Johansson

Photo: Andreas Sandstršöm

The 6-foot, 189-pound defenseman played a similar game to Andersson in terms of his mobility and abilities with the puck on his stick. He soaked up 17:19 in ice time, with 2:59 of that coming on the penalty kill. While the majority of Johansson’s 22 shifts hovered around a length of 45 seconds, on six occasions, he was caught on the ice for over a minute and remained solid despite his energy draining.

The Swede was even given the responsibility of logging time during the 3-on-3 overtime which quickly turned into a 5-on-3 man advantage for the Capitals. It was here where Johansson really proved his worth of not only being able to carry the puck but also be able to help kill crucial and daunting penalties.

Where Do The Bruins Stand In The Rebuilding Process?

(Photo credit: Steve Mitchell)

By: Chris Nosek | Follow Me On Twitter: @cnosek6342

Back in 2015, the Bruins promoted Don Sweeney to be their new General Manager and start a rebuilding process for the organization. Now that we are entering his third season in the role, it is time we start to evaluate where in the rebuilding process the organization lies. Is this rebuild going in the right direction and if not, what changes should be made to potentially “right the ship?” As fans, all we want is a team that is in the playoffs each year with a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. With the early success in the process this past season, many would say we should be competing for a cup this season or next. So how accurate is this?

First, let’s remember exactly what the team looked like when Don Sweeney took over the reigns from Peter Chiarelli back in 2015. Despite being only two seasons removed from its second trip to the cup finals over a three-year span the situation was a lot more tumultuous than it appeared. Peter Chiarelli had just traded Tyler Seguin and Johnny Boychuk, both of whom were expected to be big pieces in keeping the success of the organization moving forward. 

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 19: Johnny Boychuk #55 of the Boston Bruins takes the shot against the Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden on December 19, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)(Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Seguin was a young, top-line center who proved he was versatile enough to also play on the wing as he did so next to Bergeron and Marchand with great success. Boychuk was a solid second-pairing defender who played well in his own end and brought some great physicality and a hard slap shot in the offensive zone. If these were the only two setbacks that Sweeney had to overcome the rebuild would not have been such a big deal and would be expected to be much shorter in time. Instead, he also inherited a disgruntled Dougie Hamilton, who made it known he wanted out of Boston and a completely alienated Alexander Khokhlachev. Khoko was so disgusted with the organization that he decided to go play in Russia rather stay in Boston.

With other veteran guys starting to dwindle in their play, it seemed like a daunting task for Sweeney to retool this franchise and keep it competitive. Sweeney and Neely soon made it clear that the plan was to stockpile draft picks and as much young talent as possible. Between the trades of Hamilton, Lucic, and Carl Soderberg; Sweeney was able to bring in a total of seven draft selections, and all but one of them would be in the first two rounds of the draft. He also brought in young players like Colin Miller, Jimmy Hayes, Sean Kuraly, and Martin Jones in these deals – all of whom were 25-years of age or younger. Jones, Kuraly, and Miller have all proved to be solid players, and overall these moves paid off for Boston – would have if they didn’t lose Miller in the expansion draft to Vegas or flipped Jones to San Jose. 

Photo: The Bruins surprised everybody when they took (left to right) Jakub Zboril, Zachary Senyshyn, and Jake DeBrusk with picks 13-15 at the 2015 NHL Draft. (Courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)(Photo credit: Dave Sandford)

After all his wheeling and dealing was done, Sweeney ended up with the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall draft picks in 2015 along with three picks in the 2nd round. This one draft resulted in the Bruins taking home 10 players in; Jakub Zboril, Jake Debrusk, Zach Senyshyn, Brandon Carlo, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Jeremy Lauzen, Dan Vladar, Jesse Gabrielle, Cameron Hughes, and Jack Becker. So far with Carlo and Debrusk proving to be solid NHL players and Zboril, Senyshyn, Lauzen, Gabrielle, and Fosbacka-Karlsson all developing nicely, this season will be the most important for this Bruins rebuild. Right now there aren’t enough spaces for all those players to make the NHL club this season, but over the next 2-3 seasons a lot more spots will open up for them to step in.

Although he wasn’t named to the general manager position until 2015, Don Sweeney was the assistant GM and mostly oversaw the development of the young players. Taking a huge role in the 2014 draft, Sweeney was a big reason why this team ended up drafting; David Pastrnak, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, and Emil Johansson. Heinen and Pastrnak play two of the biggest roles on the team right now, and Donato and Bjork have shown flashes of brilliance but needed a little more time to develop their bodies. All four are projected to be on the roster for the 2018-2019 season, and this type of drafting success is exactly what ANY team could hope for.

Although this current rebuild is not yet complete, it is looking like Don Sweeney could turn what could have been a five-year rebuild process and done it in only three seasons. This preseason we will give us answers on the growth and development for the remaining draft class from 2014 and 2015. Next season will show us how the remaining players from the 2016 and 2017 class will project; with successes coming from those draft classes more players could make the jump quicker than expected. Charlie McAvoy is already a top-tier defender in the NHL and Jack Studnick, Urho Vaakanainen, and Trent Frederic all look like they could be ready for the NHL in the next year or two.

The experience this team gained from losing in the Eastern Conference Final last season will prove tremendously valuable moving forward, and while we can only truly call the rebuild complete when we see them back in the cup final again it looks like they may fall short for another season or two, but once they get back we will see them there for many seasons to come. Casual fans of this team need to really start paying attention to what this team does on draft day because before they know it, Don Sweeney will be considered one of the top General Managers across the NHL.

Jakub Lauko: A Steal For The Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Jakub Lauko #94 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period of the game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on September 16, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)(Photo Credits: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

Preseason is underway and today’s game against the Washington Capitals was a chance for many fresh-faced players to strut their stuff in front of coaches and fans.  After an impressive blocked shot and with 2:59 left to go in the first, Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko scored, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. A solid debut for the 18-year-old rookie, so much so that he was bumped up to play alongside fellow Czech David Krejci. Even though it’s a long shot that he gets on the Bruins roster this season, the young Prague native has certainly made his mark while wearing a Bruins jersey.

Who’s The Fastest Of Them All

In today’s NHL, it’s all about speed, and the Bruins picked perhaps one of the fastest players to come out of the 2018 NHL Draft. During development camp and in today’s game, it’s not hard to see what Lauko can bring to the ice.  And if you don’t believe it, the very confident winger will tell you:

“My speed is my biggest strength. I think I’m one of the fastest players in this draft. I want to use my speed to help Boston.”

On scoring his first NHL goal:

“It was good. It was good…the feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I was there like ‘Oh my god, I scored. What to do now?’ So it was a nice feeling.”

A quick glance at some stats and you can see why he was ranked #20 in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the NHL Central Scouting. In the 2015-2016 season, while playing for Pirati Chomutov Under 16 (Czech U16), he had 26 goals with 35 assists in 24 games. According to the Drafting Europe Scouting Report, Lauko:

Brings likeable work ethic and attitude to the ice, with his outstanding acceleration and straight line speed. He’s a real threat on the rush.

cp-bruins-lauko-091618.jpg(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports)

Following today’s pre-season opener win, Assistant Coach Joe Sacco had a lot to say about Lauko (along with Axel Andersson who assisted with the goal).

Tough Competition

Even though its just the pre-season and the wins don’t technically count, it’s hard not to be a bit impressed by the speedy Lauko. With so many young prospects looking to continue their narrative in Boston, the young Czech does not shy away from the fact that he wants to stay here in America. One scenario is that he would be sent back to Europe to play for the Czech team of Pirati Chomutov. For now, Lauko is looking to give everything he has on the ice.

Will it be enough to get a spot in this season’s roster? That would be a  tough call. But after today’s great start, the brass may have to take a closer look at their third-round draft pick. After all, he did say he is the “fastest player” and one of the “biggest steals” in the draft. And being moved up to the Krejci line in today’s game would surely indicate that the Bruins staff is liking what they’re seeing.  As long as he continues to do well under pressure, Lauko will hopefully see more ice time in a Bruins uniform.

Image result for jakub lauko(Photo Credits: ProfiMedia.cz)

Chris Nosek’s 2018-19 Bruins Roster Prediction: Youth Movement Continues

(Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

By: Chris Nosek | Follow Me on Twitter: @cnosek6342

As the start of the new hockey season is quickly approaching, it is now time for the questions and speculation about who will be on the roster this year, and who will be the one to beat the odds as a young player and compete for a roster spot on the big club. Two seasons ago, 19-year-old Brandon Carlo came out of nowhere as a 37th-overall draft choice to make the big club and earned a spot on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. So this season, who will be the big surprise to make the roster? Which youngster will step up and make the team forcing a veteran out of their position?

“Then it’s a matter of the younger guys — can they push one of the more established guys? That’s what it comes down to. That’s when you know your team is good, when the younger guys push the older guys and if they are better, then we make room for them.″ – Bruce Cassidy

Not long ago my colleague, Max (@tkdmaxbjj), posted his thoughts, predictions, and projections for the upcoming season — seen here in his article Mainville’s Full 2018-19 Boston Bruins Predictions. One of his predictions includes his thoughts on the starting line combinations for the upcoming season, and although I agree with him in many areas, there are a few spots where we differ in opinion. Also, with the 20 guys in the lineup each game, who are the three guys that sit each day? One major question for this year is whether or now Sweeney will make the unusual decision to carry eight defensemen on the roster.

Forwards

    Brad Marchand                  Patrice Bergeron              Danton Heinen

    Jake DeBrusk                       David Krejci                       David Pastrnak

    Ryan Donato           Jakob Forsbacka- Karlsson         Anders Bjork

     Joakim Nordstrom            Sean Kuraly                        David Backes

When it comes to the starting 12 forward positions, one of the top units will consist of the second-year left-winger Jake DeBrusk getting paired back with David Krejci as last season they were extremely effective playing together. They will be rejoined by 22-year-old David Pastrnak on the right side as Cassidy has made it known this was a line combination he was anxious to get on the ice at the end of last season, but injuries and poor play altered those plans.

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports )

Moving Pastrnak back down with Krejci opens up the wing next to Bergeron and Marchand. Bjork is the plan to put there, however, given the fact that he is still recovering from his injury last season it remains to be seen if he can get out of the gate with enough momentum. I think that Danton Heinen will start off on that unit coming out of camp. Until Bjork hits the ice this preseason, he won’t have done enough to take the top-line wing position while Heinen posted 16 goals and 31 assists last season mostly in a third-line role.

Anders Bjork will have a great shot at taking the top right wing spot from Heinen but will start on the third line until he is able to show he is fully healthy and ready for NHL action. He will find himself on a line with rookie Ryan Donato on the left side as it is becoming more and more clear that the plan is to convert the 19-year-old into a left side winger. The question of who will center this line is completely up in the air and is probably the biggest question on the roster and Cassidy and Sweeney have made it clear they have no one penciled in for this role and that ANYONE can take the opening.

NHL 2017 - Sep 28 - BOS vs PHI - Center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (#23) of the Boston Bruins names spans the width of his jersey

(Photo Credit: Bob Fina)

With three of the top young prospects vying for the third line center role, at this point it is almost anyone’s guess as to who will step up and take it. I believe that the current favorite to win the job is the 21year-old Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson. As the only one with NHL experience (albeit only one game), he is entering the final season of his ELC as it officially kicked in when they called him up at the end of the 2016-17 season. As someone who has drawn many comparisons to this team’s top centerman, his skill set will go well with that of Donato and Bjork. I think the biggest threat to Forsbacka-Karlsson taking this role will be Jack Studnicka. The 19-year-old, former 53rd overall draft selection, has averaged just about a point per game at every level he has played, and if that type of production continues, Sweeney would be hard-pressed to send the kid back to Providence.

( Photo Credit: JOHN TLUMACKI / Boston Globe Staff )

I must agree with Max that David Backes will find himself on the fourth line despite his $6 million contract. Coming into camp 10 pounds lighter should help with the speed that was lacking in his game last season, and if he is fully healthy from his colon issue and the concussion from the postseason, then he might have a shot next to Bergeron on the top line. I just don’t see him bouncing back that much, and his presence on the bottom unit will help spread out the leadership through the lineup. His partnership with Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom will prove to bring a very physical presence with a nice scoring touch. The fourth line with Backes, Nordstrom, and Kuraly could prove to be one of the most effective in the league if everyone stays healthy and plays at the top of their game.

Defense

                           Zdeno Chara                        Charlie McAvoy

                           Torey Krug                            Brandon Carlo

                            John Moore                           Kevan Miller

Even though he has taken a small step back, Zdeno Chara will not be separated from his current puck-moving partner Charlie McAvoy. The new 1-year contract that Chara signed shows that they are still expecting him to be every bit as good as he was last season. Cassidy does need to look for every opportunity he can find, especially during the beginning part of the season to cut back on Chara’s minutes — which has been said for the past 4-5 seasons. With Carlo and Krug healthy again this season, not only will they be the second pairing as they have since the emergence of McAvoy, they are both going to need to show all they have because both are due for new contracts at season’s end.

( Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports )

The third and final defensive unit has certainly generated the most buzz and has only gotten more interesting since the trade of Adam McQuaid. It would appear that Kevan Miller has played his way into securing the right side of that pairing. After Cassidy took over coaching duties from Claude Julien, Miller’s play improved so significantly that he was chosen to be protected over the younger Colin Miller at the expansion draft. I wish we could see more of him playing with Matt Grzelcyk. However, I think we will have to wait until further in the season to see that. At the beginning of the year, he will be paired with newcomer John Moore, while Grzelcyk will remain the team’s 7th defenseman.

Goaltenders

                                                   Tuukka Rask

                                                   Jaroslav Halak

Barring a major shock in camp, Boston will only carry Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to play between the iron. Although Halak has been a starter before, Rask is the clear starter for this team and Halak is meant to provide a more consistent and reliable backup than was Anton Khudobin. With Malcolm Subban being shipped to Vegas last season and McIntyre taking a step back in his development, Sweeney needed to find a veteran presence to hold down the spot until either Vladar or Swayman prove they are ready to make the big club. Should an injury to Rask or Halak occur, McIntyre is the only one of the three youngsters with NHL experience so he will get the call-up. We can only hope he would be ready by then should it be a long-term injury.

Final Three Spots

Matt Grzelcyk                            Noel Acciari                         Chris Wagner

As mentioned above, the team will almost certainly be carrying Matt Grzelcyk as their seventh defender leaving just two more spots open on the 23-man roster. They may opt to send him down to Providence because Zboril or Lauzen — two of the top defensive prospects closest to making the team — don’t have to clear waivers to get back to Providence.

( Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with two more open spots, who are going to be the ones lucky enough to take these spots? First, there is Noel Acciari. He gets bumped from the starting 20 as Nordstrom has a more natural fit on the left side and he hasn’t done enough to outplay Kuraly for the center position. Acciari’s versatility to play both the wing and center he will certainly be one of the first ones off the bench should an injury occur, or a player requires a day off.

The last roster spot will be given to Chris Wagner (assuming he has a solid camp). First and foremost, he was just brought in on a 2-year contract, and he would require clearing waivers before going down to Providence. Jack Studnick, Trent Frederic, and Peter Cehlárik could all put up a solid fight for the last roster spot, however none of the proven consistency at the NHL level enough to stay, just yet. Cehlárik may be the one who pushes the hardest for it. However, his injury history has really put a damper on his development and a little more time in Providence may be a good thing for him.

Can The Bruins Fourth Line Repeat Last Year’s Success?

(Photo Credit: Tim Fuller / USA Today )

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

Last season the Bruins’ fourth line was one of the most productive in recent memory. They drew comparisons to the Bruins’ fourth line in 2011, which was key in their Stanley Cup run. This offseason, the Bruins lost Tim Schaller in free agency as he signed with Vancouver. He was one of the key contributors on the team’s last line. Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly are projected to return to the fourth line, leaving an open spot on the wing. How that spot is filled has yet to be determined, but the Bruins do have a couple of options.

Since that magical 2011 season, the Bruins had failed to find a fourth line pairing that was as successful as the “Merlot Line.” Last season proved to be an exception as the trio of Kuraly, Schaller, and Acciari became fan favorites. They endeared themselves to Boston with their gritty and energetic style of play. Whenever the Bruins needed a jolt or change of pace, the fourth line often was whom Cassidy called on. They were unexpectedly productive offensively as of the trio only Sean Kuraly scored less than 10 goals. They will look to make the same kind of impact even with the loss of Schaller in free agency. Whoever replaces him will be filling a key role.

Fortunately, the Bruins have multiple players who could fill the vacant spot on their last line. Those options include Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom. They both bring their own unique characteristics to the Bruins and would be good fits in Schaller’s spot. The Bruins signed Wagner, a Massachusetts native, to a 2-year deal earlier this offseason. He is not known for his offense, but he was able to record 16 points last season. Wagner made his impact with his physical style of play and finished third in the NHL with 235 hits last season. He can play both the center and wing, which gives the Bruins flexibility. He brings a similar blend of offense and physicality like Schaller. The fact that the Bruins gave Wagner a multi-year deal shows how much the Bruins believe in him. However, he will have competition in the form of another Bruins free agent signing in Nordstrom.

Comparatively, Joakim Nordstrom is not a physical player like Wagner. He is a smart player who is good at reading plays and disrupting breakouts. He can be frustrating offensively, which limits his upside. He has been a good enough penalty killer to stick around in the league. Nordstrom had a knack for getting to the net but struggled to finish last season which is partly why he will end up in a bottom-six role. Where he ends up will be interesting as it could be on the third line. After a solid 2017-18 campaign, Kuraly could be bumped up to the third line. This would mean that Nordstrom could center the fourth line with Wagner on the wing. Wherever Nordstrom ends up will have a significant impact on the Bruins’ bottom lines.

Last season the trio of Kuraly, Schaller, and Acciari showed how important the fourth line could be. Even with the loss of Schaller, the Bruins have good replacements. They will need to step and be counted on in big moments. Whoever ends up on the Bruins fourth line will have the responsibility of continuing last season’s success. It will be a key storyline to watch as these players will look to replicate the same grit and energetic play that made the Bruins fourth line so successful last season.

Help Wanted: Join Our Black N’ Gold Writing Team!

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Are you a passionate Boston Bruins fan who wants to voice your opinion to a wide audience throughout Bruins Nation? As the 2018-19 National Hockey League season approaches, we are seeking writers to fill certain positions on our growing team. This is a great platform for folks that want to get started and possibly showcase their writing skills to higher Boston Sports media companies that would like to see samples of your work.

Currently, we are a team of 19 writers and 4 podcasters, but we’d like to play a bigger role and cover the multiple levels of the Bruins organization. We could always use more NHL Bruins writers but also want to invite B’s fans that might want to cover the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins, ECHL Atlanta Gladiators, and Bruins prospects playing throughout North America and overseas in Europe.

We also would love to add writers that have an interest in the history of the NHL club and would definitely entertain the thought of a “This Day in Bruins History” writer for that nostalgic feel. Also, we are looking for motivated individuals that can post game recaps from the NHL Bruins and AHL Providence team. Our goal in the upcoming year is to have a recap done for every game at both levels.

If anyone is interested in covering the NWHL Boston Pride, we are also looking to add coverage from that club here on our Black N’ Gold website. If you’re available to attend every home game played at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Mass., let us know and we’ll look into getting you media passes and provide links to cover away games as well.

We are also looking for skilled editors to join our crew so we can publish articles in a timely fashion depending on the article topic and if it’s breaking news or not. Maybe writing isn’t for you but we have other roles that need to be filled here so please apply and let us know if this is something that would be interesting to you.

Black N’ Gold Team Requirements

We highly recommend you get a Twitter account. Very important tool when it comes to sharing your work and following the well-known hockey personalities for news ideas.

1) Applicants must have previous writing experience and WordPress media program knowledge. If you’ve never written for any previous media company or blog platform in the past, we ask that you still apply but please have strong punctuation and spelling skills.

2) Must be able to post four articles during the regular season and two articles during the summer offseason. Our regular season writing schedule here on our team is from the beginning of September and ends when the Bruins season ends or how far the club makes it in the playoffs.

3) Regardless if it’s our regular season or our offseason posting schedule, to be eligible for our Advertising Revenue Share Program, you must post five or more articles per month to receive compensation for your hard work and dedication to our team. This is not an opportunity for full-time work and is not by any means a dollar value that you can quit your current job. The more you post, the greater your share could be, but please keep in mind that other team members will have the same opportunity to post as much as they can so distributed amounts can change per individual.

4) Members of our team have had the pleasure of representing our website as media members for events such as Bruins Development Camp, annual Prospects Challenge, and Rookie/NHL Main training camps in the past. Our goal is to get our website credited by the Bruins organization to cover B’s regular season and playoff games regularly.

5) Must be a team player if hired on with us. This means you are asked to support fellow members’ work and often share on the many social media outlets that you currently use.  Also, a requirement is to be active on our BNG Slack team communications app for important announcements and article topic discussions.

6) As we do our due diligence and try to get our website noticed by the Bruins organization to cover games from the TD Garden we ask that you refrain from bashing a player, the organization, or another writer that works for another media affiliate in your articles. If you happen to disagree with another off team writer or frustrated with a certain player, we ask that you be respectful and seek many angles to your argument. Foul language will not be tolerated here, and after ONE warning you will be removed if vulgar language is used or personal attacks are made.

7) We ask that potential new hires use our previous articles as a template for how we do things here. Any changes that do not look the same will be reverted back so we can keep our format the same for every post. Articles are to be at least 500 words or more and in the case of a “Breaking News” story to get something out quick, you may go under the 500-word threshold but keep in mind that any articles that are under that minimum will not be considered when it comes to our Advertising Revenue Share Program that was mentioned above. 

All applicants that are serious about this opportunity and want to join our team, please send an email to blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourselves and what type of team player you could be if hired. Also, if you do have previous experience on another platform, we ask that you please provide a sample of your work. If you do not have any samples, it’s not a big deal and will not be the end-all-be-all when it comes to the hiring process.

Bold Predictions For The Bruins In 2018-19

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders(Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

The 2018-19 Boston Bruins season starts in less than three weeks, and one could argue that the season has the potential to go any which way — whether it’s an early-round exit or a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. I don’t like to necessarily make predictions for the season as I don’t like getting my hopes up but I do have a feeling that this year’s team could be even better than last year’s. The offseason wasn’t spectacular by any means, but the moves they did make were interesting and bold, which is where these predictions come in. Again, I’m not a huge predictions person but here are some bold claims I could see coming true this season.

David Pastrnak will score at least 40 goals

This first prediction might not be all that crazy as Pastrnak has scored just under 40 goals the last two seasons. Pasta added a bit to his assist total last season going from 36 to 45, but I would think that Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins brass would want him to be shooting the puck more. He’s greatly improved his shot accuracy in recent seasons and saw a slight uptick in power-play goals last season, and they should go up again this season.

Pastrnak should get to 40 goals no matter who he plays with, there’s no doubt he’ll get opportunities playing with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci. This season we could see Pastrnak take a big leap and possibly pass Brad Marchand as the team’s top winger.

Charlie McAvoy will lead the Bruins in average time on ice and will eclipse 50 points

This might be my boldest prediction as Zdeno Chara has led the Bruins in ice time essentially since he joined the team. Last year was the first year I can remember that another defender got close to his ice time. Chara logged an average time of 22:54 per game while McAvoy was right behind him with an average time of 22:09 per game. Chara is another year older and clearly does have a lot left, but he might be better off playing a little less during the regular season. Keeping a guy like him fresh could be huge come playoff time.

McAvoy will be the main quarterback of presumably the second power-play unit so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see 50 points out of the former Boston University Terrier. Remember — McAvoy missed nearly 20 games last season with various ailments including a knee injury that sidelined him for the last part of the regular season. Playing in only 63 games, McAvoy put up 32 points his rookie season. There’s a reason he’s drawn comparisons to P.K. Subban, and it’s because of his impressive offensive ability. Expect his numbers to see an uptick both offensively and defensively.

Tuukka Rask will finish in the top 5 of Vezina voting

Rask will be a lot more fresh this season and hopefully will get off to a better start than he had last season. After starting the year 4-8-2, Rask went on a 30-6-3 tear and had that undefeated stretch for more than two months. With a borderline starter in Jaroslav Halak as the backup, he’ll be able to give Rask games off to keep him fresh. Rask finished just outside the top five in Vezina voting last season and with a better start to the season I have no doubt he’ll get into the top five.

Expect Tuukka to play about the same number of games this season but have slightly better numbers in the save percentage and goals against average categories. Looking at the top five in voting for the Vezina last year, I would expect Rask to have a better season than Frederik Anderson and potentially Marc-Andre Fleury, who will be 34 in November. Having another good season out of No. 40 would hopefully silence his many doubters.

David Krejci will score 60 points for the first time in 3 years

Krejci has been a guy who everyone seems to have an opinion on. Both he and Rask draw passionate opinions on social media ranging from very positive to very negative. Both of these players are arguably two of the most important players on the team. The Bruins have been attempting to find a good winger to pair with Krejci — and to be honest they have one already on the roster in David Pastrnak. There’s no doubt that putting the two of them together could result in offensive numbers we haven’t seen from Krejci in a long time.

60 points is certainly not crazy as Krejci has reached it a few times in his career. Contrary to popular belief, Krejci is a guy who can certainly play all 82 games, evidenced by his season in 2016-17. Playing with Jake DeBrusk and whoever else on his right side, Krejci should return to being a rock-solid No. 2 center.

The Bruins will reach at least the Eastern Conference Final

Saved my sweetest prediction for last. A lot can change in a season, players can break out or disappoint, a key player can get injured, and trades can happen. I believe the Bruins have a group that can withstand all the potential issues a season can bring. The B’s still have a solid group of veterans who have been through all the battles in the postseason. This group probably realizes they don’t have a ton of time left together to make a deep playoff run. A lot has to go right for a deep run including clutch goaltending and good special teams play. In my opinion, the Bruins have a deeper group this season, with multiple guys who you can count on.

One of the potential issues last spring was the amount of young players experiencing their first postseason. With a year of experience for guys like Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen, it should help them get used to the rigors of postseason play. The B’s will need to count on a similar amount of young players this season, but they certainly seem up to it. With the playoffs set up the way they are, the Bruins would most likely play Tampa Bay and Toronto again. Toronto obviously added this offseason, but it remains to be seen how deep they are defensively. Tampa Bay is a juggernaut, but they’ve had issues in recent years with big games in the playoffs. The Bruins may not have been flashy this summer, but I believe the moves they made could get them further in the playoffs than the past few years.

Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge: Part 1 — Bruins Go Big And Go Home

 Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway) 

 By: Jen Stasio-Coombe  |  Follow Me O Twitter @hockeygirl2976

The Prospect Challenge in Buffalo, New York kicked off on Friday Sept. 7 and ran through Monday, Sept. 10. The challenge featured a round robin-style tournament between the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New Jersey Devils, and our own Boston Bruins.  Boston, Buffalo, and New Jersey each won 2 of their 3 games and Pittsburgh waddled home without a single win on the weekend. Final standings, as seen below, ended up being determined by the goals for and goals against.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting out a series of articles on my experiences and takeaways from this incredible experience. So, sit back relax and enjoy the first of these here and now.

When it comes to prospect tournaments, the play is often rough and tumble, a little chaotic and very, very fun to watch.  You bring together a team composed of young men who may have had a few pro games under their belt (if they were lucky) may or may not have played together before, and some who have barely even skated North American ice until now.  Next, you put them in a game situation where they are required to rely not only on their own skill and understanding of the game but trust in the teammates they have just met and possibly even learn a new style of play, which may completely differ from what they have trained their whole lives.

This is a recipe for a scrappy, emotion-filled, challenge ridden matchup and if you are looking for structured NHL formula style hockey, you are out of luck.  A chaotic environment results in one of two outcomes — you adapt, learn, and rise to the challenge, or you continue to do what you always have done and go back whence you came. Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach said, “It’s about when they are ready…we will push them, but we won’t push them into something they aren’t ready for.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

In hockey, going back from where you came is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is not because you aren’t adapting, sometimes it is for your own good, and sometimes it is because you just need more time. A prime example of this is one of the breakout stars of this challenge, Axel Andersson. He wasn’t perfect, but this kid is like an angel on skates, his puck handling is on point, and his touch is incredible. He is one of the boys I mentioned with little to no North American ice time and the style of defense played abroad is different so he had to learn on the fly. After seeing him skate the first night against the Penguins, paired up with Wiley Sherman on the third-line D, I was convinced. He has smarts and this pairing is sweet!

I asked each of them how they felt being paired with the other. Axel explained, “I liked having Sherman there, he was confident, and made me feel comfortable.”  The respect was mutual as Wiley said, “I have always been paired with skill players, he is a skills player,” placing a hard emphasis on skills, “I really enjoyed playing with him.”

Admiration for these skills does not end with his teammates. Leach had this to say after the first night’s matchup against the Pens.

“Andy (Axel Andersson)… he is smooth, isn’t he?” Leach said. “I’ve only been able to see him play one game and (in) development camp, I have been thoroughly impressed with his game.”

Over the next three days, Jay and I spoke each day about ‘Andy’ and each day he had good things to say about how the player was learning from the video and taking the constructive criticism. On the final day, he confirmed what we had discussed on Day 2.

“The program over there (Sweden) is very good at developing defensemen in particular.  It would be good for him to play one more year there, where he is comfortable, and then I am sure he will be fine to be here.” In a surprise twist of fate I was able to meet Axel’s father and he was of the same mind as Coach Leach, but for a more parental reason, “Axel has only one year left of school and he wants to finish that first (before coming to the states),” he said. “As a father, that makes me happy.  He will continue his play at home.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Bemis (@ToCauseway)

Sweden has done a stellar job thus far, let them have at it, so long as Andy comes back to grace us with his angelic moves again next year. For now, he will be close to home, close to family, be able to finish his schooling and come back in the fall ready to get movin’ and Bruin.

A huge THANK YOU to @ToCauseway for the amazing photography you supplied for my articles for this series.  Your assistance was invaluable and your guidance even more so.  In addition, a giant THANK YOU to @wifeofsalmon for making me feel so welcome and helping me settle in on my first assignment.  You were both great and I owe you one.  Hope to work with you both again soon!

Look for the second article in the series coming soon.

Worst Bruins Logos

Image result for bruins team logos(Photo Credit: Fenway Outlet)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

OK, let’s be up front about this article: it’s IMHHO — In My Humble Hockey Opinion. So please don’t opine too much if you fancy any of the featured logos herein and think my take, as well as a few supported others, isn’t anything you want to “B”-lieve in. Then again, I think that’s what makes this whole exercise both fun & historic, if not a bit histrionic; if we can highlight the “Best Bruins Logos” then why not take a stab at lowballing the alleged losers along the way!? So, without further ado — and starting in the past and working our way to the present–may I present as my present to you (yes, that’s an excessive homonym homage) the WORST BRUINS LOGOS… IMHHO!

1944: The “Curse”-ive Look

Image result for 1944 bruins jersey(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins Alumni)

Feel free to be a lil’ scowley when looking at Bill Cowley in his mid-40’s team photo (or just curse at the cursive like I did). That’s because the B’s thought writing collegiate script on a mustard bottle would be a good team logo look. LOOK AWAY, I say! Even when current Bruins D-man Torey Krug tried to bring this look back a few years ago as our friends at Stanley Cup of Chowder pointed out, it still didn’t **hack it.

Image result for jeff hackett bruins

**(Not to be confused w/ the Hackett pictured here whose similarly colored third jersey & logo could’ve made this list…but alas did not for the soft space in my heart that a certain cuddly crest continues to keep! Photo Credit: Getty Images)

1951: We’ve Seen This “B”-fore!

Brown Bruins(Photo Credit: Third String Goalie)

GREAT SCOT! Not even Doc Brown would approve of Adam Brown’s logo look from the 1951-52 season. Fittingly, the second-highest scoring Scotsman in NHL history didn’t have to wear it that long as the picture above was from his final year in the NHL. What else should’ve had some finality to it? This overused big, bold (and now gold) “B” on the front of the team’s jersey for half of this decade. I gave credit to the brown & black “B” from Boston’s inaugural decade for historical import in my previous article as you may recall. But to recall it back and with such brightness against the black? Yikes. Then again, opposing players we’re probably blinded by the glare of it off the ice so maybe it was more successful & sought after. And for goal-happy players, **A-Ok!

Image result for 1955 bruins team

**(Not to be confused with Joe Klukay whose Lucky Premium Parkhurst Postcard from 1954-’55 was probably returned to sender faster than his puck-moving skills! Photo Credit: BMW Sportscards)

1976: Can You “Bear” It?

Image result for boston bruins 1976 jersey mike milbury(Photo Credit: Game Used Only)

No, I can’t bear it. In fact, I find it unBEARable! Why don’t we just Mike Milbury it in the annals of bad Bruins logo history!? Yes, I know this could sound like sacrilege considering the new secondary bear logo added in 1976 stuck around with the team until the B’s moved into the FleetCenter in the mid-’90s. That’s when our aforementioned friend “Mr. Cuddly” came into exuberant existence on not only the shoulders of B’s players, but also the third jersey front for a few fun years.

 

But let’s get “real” like the tweet above comparing ridiculous sporting logos and go back to this supposedly beloved “Bruin”… I just find it a bit freaky looking, that’s all. It’s more carnival Canis and at best erstwhile Ursus (sorry I went all genus, species, Latin here… 4 years of it in high school). Not to mention the fact that Yahoo! Sports ranked in among the “Top Creepy Logos” in NHL history, LOL! I guess to take one positive away, current B’s management icons Cam Neely & Don Sweeney survived wearing it all their careers before it **petered out of existence.

Image result for pete peeters bruins

 

**(Not to be confused with Pete Peeters, the professional puckstopper who proudly portrayed this painstaking patch for pivotal playoff positioning in his prime playing performances! Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions)

 

 

So, there you have it! A logo look back on the logistics of Bruins fashion — from jerseys to patches to crests to lettering to numbering and everything in “B”-tween! What are some of your least favorite B’s looks when it comes to the team logo? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #WorstBruinsLogos!