Bruins Players Set Example On The Ice & In The Community

Patrice's Pals3(“Patrice’s Pals” – Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

If you’re a professional athlete, there’s a level of expectation from fans, media, and management to “give back.” After all, you’re playing sports for a living and making large sums of money for it. Life can be a whole heckuva lot harder. Yet, for players on the Boston Bruins–both past and present–giving back has never been an issue. In fact, it’s been as consistent as a Zdeno Chara slapshot, Patrice Bergeron assist, Brad Marchand breakaway, or Tuukka two-pad stacker. You can count on all of the above just like you can count on anyone wearing a B’s sweater to do their part in the community.

It’s setting this example both on and off the ice where the best Bruins players have excelled most recently. And it’s the reason why some of our favorites from yesteryear continue to be talked about and admired today. Here are just some of the ways generous gents wearing the Black N’ Gold have shown the best kind of charity to local New England charities over the years, and why we think the world of them for it (I’m sure I’ll miss mentioning some of the charitable ways the B’s have bettered their community, but that’s a nice problem to have I think)!

Bruins Wives’ Charity Carnival

Bruins Charity Carnival Shirt(“Charity Carnival” – Photo Credit: Etsy)

This was my first introduction to generosity with a capital “G” for players wearing the spoked capital “B.” As you can see from the vintage shirt pictured above, the slogan B’cause we care, were ‘Bruin’ up a better Boston, fit the team, city, and organization to a “T” (another Boston wink & nod). While no longer in existence, the Bruins Wives’ Charity Carnival raised money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and featured the most popular B’s roster players of the era–along with their spouses–playing hockey games, holding competitions, fielding Q&A’s, signing autographs and more, all in the heart of “The Garden,” old & new. If I still lived in Western, Massachusetts, I’d have driven to my parents home and raided the basement to find all my old Charity Carnival programs, pictures, pins and the like. It was an eye-opening experience for any young B’s fan not only because you got to meet your favorite players, but also because you met many kids your age benefiting from the CFF. To see first hand what “giving back” looks like had a profound effect and I’ll forever be grateful to the B’s for instilling that commitment to community within me.

The Cam Neely Foundation

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins(“The Neely House” – Photo Credit: CamNeelyFoundation.org)

No. 8 was my favorite player growing up, and as soon as I was a grown up working in local media and often partnering with area children’s hospitals and clinics, Cam Neely became even more of a favorite of mine. That’s because in 1995 he started the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care in honor of his parents, both of whom passed away due to cancer. Since then, the former B’s All-Star and current Team President has worked alongside a dedicated foundation team to “donate over $30 million to Tufts Medical Center to design, fund and complete projects with immediate tangible results that have had a positive impact on thousands of families” dealing with cancer treatment, care and hospitalization, according to its website. We always knew Neely to be quite the prolific goal scorer, but these goals are achievements with life-changing results that have positively impacted countless Boston-area children and their families. Maybe we need a new hockey nickname for the B’s boss: “the Gr8 one!”

The Boston Bruins Foundation

Bruins Foundation.jpg(“The Boston Bruins Foundation” – Photo Credit: NHL.com)

This Summer, Bruins owner Charlie Jacobs made a big announcement: the Boston Bruins Foundation, which started in 2003 as a way for the team to give back to the organizations that matter most to the fans in Boston, successfully raised more than $3 million to 150 area non-profit charities. Among them, “the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Operation Hat Trick, local Boys & Girls Clubs, Franciscan Children’s Adaptive Skating Program, and Massachusetts Hockey,” to quote but a few from the celebratory press release. One of the most notable beneficiaries of the Foundation and one that B’s legend Bobby Orr was integral in helping was the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey league team. The Bruins largest 50/50 raffle of the 2017-18 season donated a total of $200,000 to the team’s community relief efforts in the wake of the tragic bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 players & team personnel in April.

Bruins Broncos(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

Other noteworthy sponsorships, partnerships, and collaborations from the Boston Bruins Foundation (with photo credits courtesy of all the respective events) feature both current B’s players and respected alumni, all working together to improve, enhance, enlighten and entertain the hardworking people and families who cheer on the Bruins:

  • The 15th Annual Boston Bruins Golf Tournament
  • The 3rd Annual Bowl with a Bruin Fundraiser (and yes, that’s candlepin bowling pictured for all you non-New Englanders out there)

Bourque Foundation

  • The 2018 Pan-Mass Challenge

Bruins Pan Mass Challenge

Patrice’s Pals

Pictured at the top of this article is Patrice Bergeron with kids from the Children’s Hospital, Boston as well as area youth hockey players. They are all Patrice’s Palsa “program which brings patients from local hospitals and other children’s organizations to the TD Garden to experience a Bruins home game where these deserving children are able to feel the excitement of a professional hockey game as VIP guests,” as the Bruins official website states.

(Photo Credits: BostonBruins.com)

Ever since No. 37 first took the ice for the B’s back in 2003 (FIFTEEN YEARS AGO…THAT’S INSANE), he’s been an integral, essential part of the team’s success.  A leader who sets an example through his dedication, hard work, and perseverance, Bergeron does the same when it comes to his community work. You could argue he puts the puck in the net just as frequently as he puts smiles on the faces of countless kids and families across New England. I’d say he does that even more! It’s hard to imagine where the Boston Bruins would be right now, both as a hockey franchise and as a charitable pillar in the region, without Patrice Bergeron. We could all be so fortunate to call him “Pal!”

Chara’s PJ Drive

Chara Cradles to Crayons(Photo Credit: Cradles to Crayons)

For the past three years, B’s Captain Zdeno Chara, whom everyone loves to call “Big Z,” has truly made a big difference around Greater Boston by leading the charge for the team’s annual “PJ Drive.” Like Bergeron, Big Z is as integral to the team’s success off the ice, as he is on it, working as a mentor, leader, volunteer & spokesman for numerous charitable causes & organizations, none so more endearing than the PJ Drive, which benefits area youth in need. “Over 100,000 Massachusetts children have received PJ’s through the Bruins PJ Drive over the past ten years,” according to a team press release. The only other “PJ” with this much success in Boston is Mr. Axelsson whom I featured in a blog post about the B’s best scouts earlier this Summer (you always “feel the need for Swede” when Per-Johan is around)!

Cuts For A Cause

This upcoming season will be the Bruins’ 11th season participating in the “Cuts For A Cause” program that benefits children’s cancer research at the Tufts Medical Center. As you can see in the video above, and as #BehindTheB has chronicled over the past few seasons, this event is a fan and player favorite. It’s also an incredible bonding experience for the boys in Black N’ Gold and is often referenced throughout the year as the time many players became even closer to one another and the Boston community at-large.

Our friends at Bruins Daily on Twitter shared a few years ago just how positive and difference-making this event can be for the city. “Well done,” indeed!

Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s

Thornton Golf(Photo Credit: Twitter)

You’d be hard pressed to find any person around the city of Boston who didn’t/doesn’t love what Shawn Thornton brings/brought to the table for the team and the community. Just take a look at the homepage for “The Shawn Thornton 22 Foundation,” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It’s one thing to be a Stanley Cup champion in town, and it’s something even more impressive to be a champion of the people. And that’s exactly who Thornton was, is and will continue to be in retirement. From his aforementioned Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s golf outing to his road & marathon races to his everyday volunteerism, he and his foundation are all about raising awareness, funding innovative research and helping to relieve the burden and improve the quality of life for patients and their families, as his website illustrates. But here’s the paragraph that brings a smile to people’s faces:

Image result for shaun thornton bucyk award

“While in Boston, Shawn took on a very active role in the community, becoming a fan favorite of many local residents. He is no stranger to public or media appearances and is extremely involved in the charitable world. He regularly visited local hospitals, sat on the board for a variety of charity events, and was a spokesperson for Athletes for Heroes, a program that supports the children of fallen or severely injured soldiers. In 2009 Shawn received the John P. Bucyk Award which honors the Bruins player who has contributed the most to charitable and community endeavors.”

 

“The Chief” himself would be proud of all the recent and current Bruins players who go above and beyond the “B” to set an example on the ice and in the community. And good news for Boston fans all over New England — I don’t think this admirable trend is going away any time soon!

Bruins Have Difficult Choices To Make In Training Camp

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 2.35.58 PM.png(Photo credit; Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Jacob Albrecht | Follow me on Twitter @bruinsfan3725

The Bruins have a good problem going into training camp this September; too many good players that could earn a spot on the big club’s roster when the puck drops on the 2018-2019 NHL season. This “problem” is mostly centered around the forward core, Don Sweeney, Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the staff have an abundance of options throughout all the forward lines.

Starting with the top 6 and what will undoubtedly be the top line centered by Patrice Bergeron and the second centered by David Krejci. It’s essentially guaranteed that Brad Marchand will line up on Bergeron’s left side, but the right side is more in question. David Pastrnak could retain his role there due to the incredible success that trio had last season, as seen below.

The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line put up 99 goals, 129 assists, and 228 points in total throughout the 2017-2018 regular season. They were the best and deadliest line in the entire NHL which continued into the playoffs. Pastrnak scored 6 points in just one game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s hard to argue splitting these guys up, but there are a few solid options.

Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato could all take that spot on Bergeron’s right flank, moving Pastrnak down to Krejci’s right wing. Bjork has had his fair share of struggles with injuries, but with the little time he’s spent at the NHL level, he’s shown he can play. He only managed 4 goals and 12 points in 30 games this past season, but given significant time in the top 6, those totals could quickly rise. Heinen is a much more attractive option at the moment considering he played a full season last year and put up 47 points, no insignificant amount for a rookie. Here’s a great look at the compete level and talent that Heinen could bring the top line:

If Heinen were to move up to the top line, that would spread out the scoring and talent more evenly with the duo of Pastrnak and Krejci on the second line. After his heroic performances in the playoffs and the unforgettable heart he brings to the team, it’s all but a guarantee that the left wing to Krejci would be sophomore winger Jake DeBrusk. Hard to argue with this:

The last option for the top 6 would be rookie (sensing a trend?), Ryan Donato. He’s only provided a small sample size so far, but what he’s provided has been very impressive. In his NHL debut alone he scored his first NHL goal and added 2 more assists, all while playing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. The chemistry that trio showed up with for that game and subsequent games is a strong argument for them to stick together for the start of 2018-2019. Here are the highlights:

If Donato plays on Krejci’s right side with DeBrusk on the left, that leaves the top line the same as it was this past season, Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak. Heinen would be the odd man out and would slide down to a top 9 role, playing right wing on the third forward line with David Backes opposite him on the left wing.

Continuing on into the third and fourth lines is where roster spots for opening night’s puck drop become significantly more up for grabs. Most importantly is who will center the third line with Riley Nash gone to Columbus via free agency. The candidates are plentiful, 2017 2nd round pick Jack Studnicka, 2015 2nd round pick Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and 2016 1st round pick Trent Frederic are all prospects that will be vying for that spot. Studnicka has high aspirations for this season and plans to make the NHL squad, we’ll have to wait until camp begins to see how likely of a possibility that truly is. Regarding current roster players, Backes could slide back into the center position considering he’s played significant time as a center in his career. Sean Kuraly, coming off a new three-year deal could move up from the fourth line center position he played last year to the third line. This would leave his old spot available to Noel Acciari, or any of the prospects mentioned earlier.

After the center positions are cleared up, it’s just down to the wingers. Any combination of Bjork, Heinen, Donato, Backes, Acciari, and prospects such as Studnicka and Forsbacka-Karlsson (have fun fitting that on a jersey) could round out the bottom 6 wings. At the end of the day, the decision lies with Don Sweeney, Bruce Cassidy, and the players themselves because their performances in training camp and preseason will either earn them or lose them a roster spot.

Boston Bruins Depth Chart: Centers Throughout The System

David+Krejci+Patrice+Bergeron+Detroit+Red+ijj-cBjmUnLl

PHOTO CREDITS: (Elsa/Getty Images North America)

By: Max Mainville   |   Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Within the past decade or so, the Boston Bruins have been known throughout the National Hockey League as an organization with great depth at the center position, headlined mainly by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

However the depth of the Bruins down the middle goes way further than just Bergeron and Krejci and especially heading into the 2018-19 regular season, the depth is even greater with the likes of Ryan Donato, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner who are most likely getting NHL time once the season officially begins on October 3rd, 2018.

Even outside of the NHL, the Boston Bruins have an insane amount of players who are listed under the “center” position. All prospects in the system will be found from eliteprospects.com. As well, some players are listed as a center, but they play the majority of the time on the wing. For those players, Frozen Pool will determine their line usage and if they should be considered a true center on the Boston Bruins roster.

NHL Probables

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly

According to the line combinations courtesy of Frozen Pool, as previously mentioned, those are the top centers on the Bruins as of last season. Of course, Riley Nash was once apart of that group, but he did not re-sign with the Bruins this past offseason, instead signing a three-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

We all know how amazing Patrice Bergeron is and how important he really is to the Bruins organization entirely. He captures what it means to be a hockey player with great sportsmanship and class on and off the ice. His 963 career NHL games are thirty-seven shy of 1000, which would make him the fifth man in Bruins history to hit the games played milestone. Not to mention is four Frank J. Selke Trophies, tying him with Bob Gainey for most in NHL history, Patrice Bergeron is one of the best two-way forwards in the league, and it is well deserved.

Bergeron has always had great chemistry with wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and last season was another example of that. The line was used the most in Boston, 13.54% of the time. The trio scored 228 points during the season and another 53 in the playoffs.

David Krejci is one of the best second-line centers in the National Hockey League and on a team worse than the Bruins, he could very well be a top line center. A consistent 50-point scorer and a brilliant playmaker, Krejci’s only downfall at this point of his 769-game career are his injuries. Krejci has only played in two 82-game seasons since he started his career in 2006-2007, most recently in the 2016-17 campaign.

Last season, Krejci found his groove with Jake DeBrusk on his left side and Ryan Spooner on his right side, playing with those two for 5.85% of the entire season – the fourth-most commonly used line on the B’s. However, Spooner was traded to the New York Rangers around the Trade Deadline 2018 in exchange for Rick Nash. Nash became the right-winger for Krejci but heading into next season that most likely will not happen as Nash has not signed an extension with Boston.

A solid number two center with great passing, David Krejci could very well finish his career in Boston.

danton-heinen.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Danton Heinen had one of the best rookie performances on the Bruins last year, scoring forty-seven points in 77 games for Boston, the fifth-highest point total of all players. He managed to rebound off of a poor first eight NHL games back in the 2016-2017 season, to be one of the top point-producing players on the team.

Heinen often centered the third line, with David Backes and Riley Nash alongside him. That line was used the third-most on the team, behind only the first and fourth line. Even though he is listed on most websites as a center/left-wing, he proved last year that he deserves the third-line center position. On occasion, Danton did play some minutes on the left side of the fourth line, but again, he showed enough versatility to produce on the third line.

With one-year remaining on his entry-level contract, Heinen could be looking to have an even better campaign to secure a larger contract at the end of this upcoming season.

Sean Kuraly is in my opinion, the last of the guaranteed centers on the 2018-19 Bruins roster. Coming off of a fourteen-point season, playing the majority of his time on the fourth line, Kuraly did what he needed to earn a three-year deal that he signed back in March of 2018.

His name first became known by Bruins fans when he scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in double-overtime against the Ottawa Senators in Game Five of the 2017 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals. It was never certain that the Dublin, Ohio native would get NHL time in the 2017-2018 season and he would express that in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch.

“It starts all over again,” he said. “Did I help myself by scoring two goals in the playoffs and playing my role? Absolutely. But it really does start over. We have so many good, young players going to camp.”

Clearly, he would get the spot, playing in 75 games last year, accumulating 6-8-14 totals as well as 143 hits, third on the Bruins roster from last season.

POSSIBLE NHL CENTERS

Ryan Donato, Trent Frederic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (boston.cbslocal.com)

Ryan Donato will play next year for the Boston Bruins, and the chances of him not playing are quite slim. The reason he is in this category is due to the fact that he may not play at the center position for the 2018-19 seasons. Instead, he will most likely play on the wing alongside one of the guaranteed centers of the Bruins as previously discussed.

In his rookie campaign last season, Donato won over the hearts of Boston fans by scoring nine points in only twelve games. The Boston, Massachusetts native scored five goals, including his first career NHL goal that finished a give-and-go play with Torey Krug.

With the impressive end of the season by Donato, he has made it clear that he deserves a shot in the National Hockey League after time in the NCAA with Boston University. Whether Ryan gets third line center time with Boston or plays on the wing of another center, he will get ice time for the majority of the season for Boston.

In my previous article, I talked about the future of Bruins prospect Trent Frederic. I mentioned in the piece that Frederic will most likely get second or first line ice minutes with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, but he is in this category because I see him joining the roster in replace of either Krejci or Bergeron should injuries take place.

Coming off of an eight-point, thirteen game season with Providence last season, Frederic is ready for an important role with the Baby Bruins this season, but if needed, I believe that he could add another element to the NHL roster if an injury does occur at some point of the year. Both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci played only 64 games last year, meaning the chance for another injury that sidelines either is fairly likely. If so, the former Wisconsin Badger should get that opportunity.

AHL Probables

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Colby Cave, Cameron Hughes

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson is one of the most highly-praised in Boston, and there may be a good reason for that. Drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, JFK now has one full American Hockey League season under his belt, playing fifty-eight games in the 2017-2018 campaign. During the time with Providence, Forsbacka-Karlsson scored fifteen goals and seventeen assists for 32 points.

Heading into the upcoming season, Forsbacka-Karlsson will be in a battle with Trent Frederic for the top line center role, and it could end up leading to often lineup changes as the season progresses. Curtis Joe of EliteProspects.com said the following about JFK before the 2015 NHL Draft.

“A player who has worked hard at his all-around game, but needs to gain more consistency. That being said, he can be an offensively effective center; possesses a high level of hockey intelligence and plays with intensity. A smooth, yet not dynamic skater. An excellent passer; can turn a “nothing doing” play into a scoring chance.”

Colby Cave can be considered a veteran of the Providence Bruins as he looks to lead the team into his fourth-straight year. Cave joined the Bruins organization back in 2014-15 after a five-year career with the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League where he posted 95-107-202 numbers in 287 career games.

Since he joined the P-Bruins, Cave has tallied thirty-seven goals, sixty assists, for ninety-seven career points in the 224 games thus far. Fellow Black N’ Gold Hockey writer, Jen Stasio mentioned the possibility of Cave becoming the next captain of the Providence Bruins in an article published back in July. The idea shows his leadership is valued and will be a great depth player in the Bruins organization.

Cameron Hughes may not be the most-known Bruins prospect, and he may not have the highest potential, but he does provide some solid depth for the Providence Bruins, and it is a good possibility that he becomes the fourth-line man in the middle for the AHL Bruins.

The Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native began his career with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League but found himself playing with the University of Wisconsin, where he played as the captain. Hughes has played previously with fellow Bruins prospect, Trent Frederic. After the 37 games in the 2017-18 season, he transitioned to Providence where he tallied three assists in fourteen games with the club.

The Rest Of The Prospects

Jack Studnicka, Oskar Steen, Cedric Pare, Curtis Hall, Jakub Lauko

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

Jack Studnicka is one of the top prospects for the Boston Bruins. In fact, Corey Pronman from The Athletic ranked Studnicka as the third best Bruin prospect, behind only Ryan Donato and Urho Vaakanainen. Here is an excerpt from the article talking about Studnicka.

“He is a very smart center who drove play anytime he was on the ice. Studnicka has the vision and tough to QB a power play well, while also having the work ethic to be one of his team’s better defensive forwards. The biggest thing for Studnicka is improving his strength and skating, but when I watched him in the summer, he looked noticeably quicker than during the summer.”

This past summer, Studnicka played for Canada in the World Junior Summer Showcase and he impressed the coaching staff and his teammates after his five-point performance in the exhibition tournament.

“He’s a hard worker. He grabs the puck and takes it to the net, makes plays in the O-zone,” said teammate Calen Addison. “That’s what they really like about guys is when they’re relentless, and they know they don’t quit working, and that’s the type of player he is.”

Oskar Steen was drafted back in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, in the sixth round. Steen is a smaller forward, but that doesn’t mean he won’t become anything later on in his professional hockey career. The five-foot-nine Swedish center has been playing with Färjestad BK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and looks to remain there for the upcoming 2018-2019 campaign. Steen recently scored four points in seven games at the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York.

Cédric Paré of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is another player drafted in the second-last round of the NHL Draft, but Pare may have the best chance on getting that entry-level contract out of all the sixth-round selections. After two full seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Pare was traded to the Rimouski Oceanic.

Bruins Assistant General Manager Scott Bradley said the following about the Quebec, Canada native back in June of 2017.

“He’s got a lot of energy. I think it’s undervalued. His skating, I think over the course of the year he’s picked it up with his skating. His stride has lengthened a little bit. What we liked is his energy and he did score in the Memorial Cup. He didn’t have great numbers, but he had limited minutes playing on the fourth line and I think this year, he’ll be one of their top guys, one of their top-six forwards that will get a lot of ice time and, hopefully, get some good development.”

Boston Bruins: Sweeney Staying The Course

Sweeney

Photo Credit: Angela Rowlings

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

The Boston Bruins created quite the buzz this offseason. It started with reports indicating that General Manager Don Sweeney was looking to make a big addition. The Bruins were in the running to sign both Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares. Even though they went down swinging, it indicated that Boston was willing to pull the trigger on a potential home run.

But that didn’t discourage Sweeney. In fact, it allowed him to add a few minor pieces to the puzzle. In addition to re-signing restricted-free-agent (RFA) Sean Kuraly, the Bruins brought aboard Jaroslav Halak, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, and John Moore. They weren’t exactly blockbuster deals, but is a blockbuster really what the Bruins need right now?

Bruins’ Road Ahead

Tavares and Kovalchuk are stellar players. So are the Buffalo Sabres’ newest addition, Jeff Skinner, and the consistent subject of trade rumors, Artemi Panarin. They would be great Bruins for sure, but there is a plan that Sweeney must see through.

It should not be forgotten that the Bruins have a healthy pool of prospects. It’s almost as if Boston has found the Fountain of Youth. With this in mind, adding a big, long-term player is not a necessity. These young skaters need time before we can pinpoint exactly where they will land within the roster in their respective primes.

Sweeneymeister

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Adding a rental at some point may bode well, however. The Bruins, unfortunately, gave up a lot for Rick Nash who has turned out to be just that – a rental. If Boston finds that they need to bulk up heading into the playoffs, then giving up one of their prospects (which at this point could be considered to be a surplus) and a mid-to-late round pick may land a seasoned veteran with skill but also locker room presence. We’ve seen these types of deals across the league, often between a team in the running and a team looking to rebuild.

Outside of those circumstances, adding a big piece just doesn’t make much sense. Boston would likely have to give up quite a bit, and that is not something they need to do right now. They’ve successfully avoided a rebuild, and why risk that by trading a bunch of prospects and early picks in order to land a guy who they may not be able to afford to keep around? The Bruins must re-sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen next summer. It will be an expensive task, and handcuffing himself to a big contract isn’t something Sweeney ought to explore. It would force the Bruins to pursue bridging deals with some of those RFAs mentioned above when they should free themselves up to give them long-term deals.

Boston has mastered the transition game – one that doesn’t take place on the ice but in the office. By the time the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask are ready to retire, Boston’s wealth of prospects will be reaching their primes. This will keep the Bruins competitive for the long haul, and a Stanley Cup feels almost imminent within the next few years. There is no need to abandon that road. So be patient, and wait for this plan to fully unfold.

Kevan Millers Importance To The Bruins

Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins( Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd )

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

The 2018-2019 season will be Kevan Miller’s fifth year in the NHL. Miller has spent his entire career with the Bruins and had his fair share of up and downs. He has missed significant time due to injuries and struggled when matched up against other teams top lines. Last year he flourished as the Bruins gave him a steady spot on the third line defensive pairing. Miller showed his value when he was put in a position to succeed and was one of the Bruins most productive players. He began last season paired with Paul Postma and Rob O’Gara. It was not until the Bruins nineteenth game of the season that he found his permanent partner in Matt Grzelcyk. Along with Grzelcyk, Miller stabilized the Bruins 3rd defensive pairing.

One element that made the two so successful was that Grzelcyk allowed Miller to stay on the right side, his natural position. Before Miller had been switching between the left and right side. Miller does not make his impact offensively as in five seasons he only has 12 goals. He did have a career-high 15 assists last season including two short-handed points. Miller makes his impact with physicality and defensive play. He logged big minutes on the penalty kill last season and averaged 19.28 minutes of ice time a game. When paired with Grzelcyk the two were very good at recovering pucks and moving them up the ice.

Miller was more confident last season which showed in how he dealt with the younger Bruins defenseman. When David Backes was sidelined last November Miller, was named one of the alternate captains. Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, highlighted Miller’s importance in January when referring to Grzelyck’s growth. Cassidy said, ” I think his partner really helps, I think [he and Miller are] a good tandem, they make each other better. That’s what you want out of a line, out of a defense pair.” He credited Miller for Grzelcyk’s growth as the rookie improved. Miller is not afraid to stick up for his teammates who have been evident throughout his career. Miller’s value shows a dramatic change from where it stood two years ago.

The Bruins signed Miller to a four-year extension worth ten-million in the 2016 offseason. It was a move heavily criticized as it seemed like the Bruins had overpaid an average defender. Miller was coming off his third season in Boston and had the second-best plus/minus rating on the team the season before. The Bruins needed help on the blueline and Miller was not seen as the answer. He will never be a top defender or put up offensive numbers like his teammates Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy. He is a reliable stay-at-home defenseman which is what the Bruins need him to be. He affects the game in many ways that do not show up on a stat sheet.

The key for Miller is staying healthy and making sure he is not matched up against other teams top lines. He provides the Bruins with depth and like Chara has served as a mentor for the Bruins next wave of talent. Miller has two years left on a deal that was once heavily criticized. After last season his extension is not judged as harshly, and he will look to continue changing the narrative this upcoming season.

Rene Rancourt: Bruins Legend

Rene Rancourt Bruins Bear(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

Oh, say can you sing like Rene Rancourt?

Well, for those who thought his mellifluous mic could soon be theirs, the search was recently on (and now narrowing according to our friends at 98.5 The Sports Hub) for the B’s next anthem singer. But oh what Star-Spangled shoes you’d have to fill! After an impressive 42 years belting both the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems on original Boston Garden ice, FleetCenter ice, TD Banknorth Garden ice and lastly TD Garden ice, the inimitable Rancourt has hung up his trademark tuxedo for retirement.

Let’s take a look back at some of the lyrical love, memorable moments and fired-up fist pumps Rancourt left us that will not be soon forgotten in Boston or anywhere throughout the world of hockey for that matter!

Show Me The (Fen)Way to “Oh, Say”

Just minutes before Louis Tiant took the mound at Fenway Park in the above 1975 World Series Game 6 clip, bringing every fan to their feet, another then-Bostonian did the same with a rousing rendition of the American National Anthem. That man was Rene Rancourt.

“One of the greatest thrills of my life was to sing in the World Series because they generally hire very famous singers at the World Series,” he told Vice Sports during an interview in 2016. And that famous singer he was referring to? None other than the Songbird of the South Kate Smith herself (click the link to hear her timeless take on “God Bless America” at a Bruins/Flyers game from 1974), who had fallen ill only hours before the first pitch. Thankfully, Rancourt’s pitch was first up for backup after he had impressed venerable Red Sox organist John Kiley with his vocal prowess on the radio. After all, Rousing Rene was a product of the Boston Conservatory opera program and had come from a choir background, so he obviously had the pipes to produce a patriotic performance. And just like Carlton Fisk’s unforgettable homerun during that game, Rancourt’s anthem was equally unforgettable; Kiley, also the Bruins organist at the Old Garden, soon recommended he go from Yawkey Way to Causeway Street to continue his respectful rendition of American tradition honoring our Red, White & Blue for the Black N’ Gold. The rest, as they say in opera, is la historia.

Rene Rancourt 1976Rene Rancourt in 1976 – his first year singing the National Anthem at the Boston Garden (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(Fist)Pump It Up!

You can thank Randy “Stump Pump” Burridge, the feisty B’s forward from the mid to late 1980’s, for giving Rene Rancourt his signature move after performing the anthem. Rancourt, as he described to the Boston Globe (and in other recent interviews), got the idea after seeing Burridge pump his fists in the air whenever he scored a goal.

And in 1988-89, Burridge scored a lot of goals–31 to be exact–so Rancourt had plenty of time to practice and perfect the pump, as well as his unmistakable “salute” upon conclusion of the anthem:

What a tradition both of those gestures became for Boston fans on home ice. You knew exactly what to expect when the red carpet rolled out for Rene–perfect diction and enunciation, resonating-to-the-rafters vocals and a salute-to-fist-pump finish that truly got you pumped up to watch the game. He became as iconic as the spoked-B emblazoned on the team’s jersey; when you thought of playing Boston in Boston, you also thought of Rene Rancourt. And how could you not when every home game–and I mean EVERY home game (he once said he only missed one performance in his 40+ years of singing because he was sick)–started like this:

A True RENEaissance Man

So we all know Rene Rancourt can sing the anthem and with plenty of puck panache and acoustic aplomb. But did you also know he’s an accomplished wedding singer? Eat your heart out, Adam Sandler, because Mr. Rancourt’s been doing it since the 60’s when his then-girlfriend, now-wife Maria helped him start a wedding band. “A society orchestra,” he called it during his Globe interview.

In fact, Rancourt joked that singing in a wedding band with Maria and performing at weddings “paid the bills” in-between his anthem stints for the B’s. But what he truly enjoyed, especially later in his career, was paying it back to the Boston fans. And there was no better time for a generous gift from Rene than to hear him sing your favorite Christmas carols and holiday hits at intermission of the Bruins home game closest to the 25th of December:

I remember him belting out all of the above tunes year after year to non-stop festive fanfare and sporting spirit. This was the only home game I could ever make it to for years because my professional work life in broadcasting rarely afforded me time off. But around Christmas, the schedule was always a little lighter, so it made coming back to Boston for a few days all the more doable and all the more memorable. And you better believe I’d time it to not miss the “Rene Caroling Game.” No such game for me was more memorable than in 2010 when the first few thousand fans in attendance went home with a coveted Rene Rancourt ornament and also had the chance to meet him during the second-period intermission. Needless to say, or better yet like he did sing, “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” Thanks, Rene!

During the 2nd Intermission of the Bruins’ Pre-Christmas home game on Dec. 23rd, 2010, Rancourt rolled out the red carpet for “pump pics” with fans. (Photo Credit: Evan Michael)

Holding (Ran)Court When It Counts

There are moments in sports that are more groundbreaking, more unifying, more emblematic of the goodness of people than anywhere else, including politics. And Rene Rancourt was at the center, or should I say center ice, of one of those indelible moments. It was only 48 hours after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing in April of 2013 that the Bruins were scheduled to play the Sabres at home. The city, still in a state of shock, disbelief, and recovery, was in need of a sign of hope, togetherness, strength. And it goes without saying how BOSTON STRONG everyone in attendance at this game became once Rancourt started singing. Only two lines into the anthem, right after he uttered proudly the word “proudly,” he let his voice trail off so the crowd could be heard. In unison, 17,565 hearts and voices seamlessly took over and sent a message to the rest of the nation and the world that Boston was stronger than ever, with a resolve more fervent and passionate for its citizens and its country than anywhere else at that time.

Watching this clip, even all these years later, still gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes. And it couldn’t have happened without Rancourt truly feeling the significance of the moment and truly being IN the moment. This wasn’t just another regular rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was a cathartic experience of joy and togetherness, of indomitable strength and unflinching spirit, of the courage and will of a people to not be defeated, even in the aftermath of tragedy and terror.

In his own words, when interviewed by our friends at NESN just before his retirement, here’s how Rancourt described that day, that anthem and that moment: “Nothing comes close to that… The marathon bombing game, where the Bruins just happened to be the only professional sports team playing right after it. I think it was two days after. I was petrified to get out there. I planned, of course, to stop singing in the middle of it, but I was very, very afraid of doing that. The reaction was something I will never, ever forget. That’s my proudest memory.”

Naturally, fans, media personalities, and Bruins bloggers across social media agree:

As Animated As They Come

To say Rene Rancourt was an animated character, what with his salutes, fist pumps and overall energetic performances, would be an accurate statement. Turns out, it’s also quite the understatement since he literally became animated for the short-lived, but loved, Bruins YouTube series “The Bear and The Gang.”

(Photo Credits: BearShorts.com)

It was at times “out of this world” but certainly didn’t make you feel “deserted” when it came to entertainment value. There was also a sitcom-style pilot that featured Rancourt’s rather spot-on acting chops parodying his own anthem ending in what looked to be Brad Marchand’s basement. I tell you what… if he sang before every hockey video game I played, I’d play a lot more hockey video games (my favorite will always be NHL ’94 which rather fittingly featured Bruins goalie Andy Moog on the cover).

Banner Yet Waving Goodbye

As we say goodbye and give a grateful fond farewell to the institution that was Rene Rancourt, we should all remember that sometimes the most inspirational people in our lives can be the ones who we aren’t necessarily close to, but who make us feel close to each other–who bring us closer together just by being who they are and doing what they do. Rene was just that kind of person. And we only need to look back on his long career and legacy to be reminded of it.

(Photo Credits: Twitter)

Thankfully, the Boston Bruins organization and the city of Boston as a whole will always help us do that with tributes like this:

Interviews like this:

And celebrations like this:

Not one, not two, not even three… but FOUR 👊👊👊👊  fist pumps to you, Mr. Rancourt, for an incredible career in Boston — one that forever shaped B’s fandom and will continue to do so even after a new voice takes over. Because some voices will always ring, and sing, loudly and proudly in our minds no matter how much time passes.

Oh, say it isn’t so? Thankfully, this time it is!

Bruins Prospects: Trent Frederic Preparing For 2018-19 Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

As the Boston Bruins prepare for the final offseason events and get ready for the upcoming 2018-2019 NHL regular season, the team’s AHL affiliate franchise, the Providence Bruins, are also getting ready for another season – especially some key young players. One of those young players is St. Louis, Missouri native, Trent Frederic.

Frederic was drafted twenty-ninth overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, but it was not just a simple draft pick for the B’s. On June 26th, 2015, the Boston Bruins traded long-time forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones, defenceman Colin Miller, and the pick thirteen in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (Jakub Zboril).

However, it would not end there. Four days later after acquiring Martin Jones, the Bruins would trade the goalie to the San Jose Sharks, deciding on running with Tuukka Rask instead of Jones. Coming back to the Bruins from San Jose, forward Sean Kuraly and the Sharks’ first-round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Sharks would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016 but would fall short of the ultimate hockey trophy in a series loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This would give the Bruins the 29th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, their second one of the opening round. Boston would select defenceman Charlie McAvoy with their first pick, so a forward near the end of the round would seem to be a solid draft for the Black and Gold. As we now know, Trent Frederic would be that 29th selection. But two years after the draft, is Frederic close to making the National Hockey League?

trent-frederic

PHOTO CREDITS: (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

In the 2016 NHL Final Central Scouting Rankings for North American Skaters and Goaltenders, Frederic was ranked down at the 49th overall pick, but the Bruins did not have a selection until pick forty-nine and did not want to risk losing out on the 6’3″ forward.

“We really needed a big centerman,” head of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky said. “At 29, we just said, ‘Hey, this is a guy that we really wanted,’ and we didn’t want to risk waiting until 49. It’s a need and we believe he’s going to play. Yeah, it’s high, but you take a chance. We believe in his ability. He’s going to a good school and a good program and he’s going to take some time.” Frederic will play for the University of Wisconsin in 2016-17. (Quote found from Boston Herald)

And just as the head of amateur scouting, Keith Gretzky stated, Frederic would indeed play the 2016-2017 campaign for the University of Wisconsin. In 30 games with the U of W, Frederic amounted fifteen goals and eighteen assists for thirty-three points. At season’s end, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the first Wisconsin Badger to earn the honors since Dany Heatley in 1999-2000. Frederic also finished fourth among all college freshman in points-per-game, (1.18) and was second for most shorthanded goals on the season with five.

The performance impressed the Bruins management, as Gretzky would once again say in an article by the Boston Herald back in the Summer of 2017. 

“He plays top line at Wisconsin. … Obviously, time will tell what he’ll be in pro hockey but there’s more skill to his game than people thought coming out of the draft,” Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. The Bruins went off the board when they took Frederic but it looks like that might pay off for them in the end.

For the second-straight season, Frederic would play with the University of Wisconsin, scoring another thirty-two points in 36 games. Once his time with Wisconsin came to a close, the Bruins offered Trent a three-year, entry-level contract – allowing him to play with the Providence Bruins or the Boston Bruins. In addition, Frederic would join Providence for the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign on an amateur tryout agreement.

Frederic played in only thirteen games with Boston’s AHL affiliate team, scoring five goals and eight points. However, his highlight performance of 2018 was during the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. Although the United States lost the opportunity to play in the Gold Medal game following a 4-2 loss to Sweden in the Semi-Finals.

In the Bronze Medal game against the Czech Republic, the United States scored nine goals, four of which came off of Trent Frederic’s stick. His four goals in one game nearly set a new record for most goals by an American in a single World Junior Championships game. Wally Chapman (vs Switzerland 1984) and Chris Bourque (vs Norway in 2005) are the only Americans with more goals in a single game, scoring five.

Trent+Frederic+Team3+v+Team4+Bronze+Medal+AySyN5AiP0Vl.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images North America)

With the international success and the brief experience in the American Hockey League under his belt, Frederic could very well contend with a bigger role in Providence for the upcoming 2018-19 regular season. In an article published by Black N’ Gold Founder Mark Allred, Mark and Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast co-host, Josh Bemis discussed their Providence Bruins lineup predictions. It should be noted that Josh covers the Baby B’s on thesinbin.net website, a great site for minor-pro hockey news.

Bemis’s Roster Projections

Forwards

Cehlarik  –  Frederic  –   Szwarz

 Koppanen  –  Forsbacka-Karlsson  –  Bakos  /  Kuhlman

Gabrielle  –  Cave  –  Senyshyn

Blidh  –  Hughes  –  McNeil

Defense

Zboril  –  Goloubef

Lauzon  –  Clifton

Breen  –  Vaakanainen  /  Johansson

Goaltenders

Vladar

McIntyre

Allred’s Roster Projections

Forwards

Cehlarik  –  Forsbacka-Karlsson  –  Bakos / Szwarz

Koppanen  –  Frederic  –  Senyshyn

Gabrielle  –  Cave / Kuhlman  –  Fitzgerald

Blidh  –  Hughes  –  McNeil

Defense

Zboril  –  Clifton

Lauzon  –  Andersson /Johansson

Sherman  /  Vaakanainen  –  Goloubef  /  Breen

In both predictions, Frederic makes the top-six and while nothing is final of course, the thought of Frederic getting the ice-time going forward makes a lot of sense for not only him but the P-Bruins franchise. Providence is also looking to rebound after a tough first-round loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

At the current moment in time, the Boston Bruins have a solid amount of depth at the center position with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Donato, David Backes, and Sean Kuraly who already have spots on the NHL roster, as well as players like Jack Studnicka, Jakub Forsbacka-Karlsson, Oskar Steen, and Ryan Fitzgerald who are already in the system.

There is a chance that if Trent Frederic impresses this season, he could make the final cut in the years to come when it comes to the big show in Boston. Until then, he will look to have another solid season to add onto the already promising future.

Getting To Know The 2018 Bruins Prospect Challenge Invitees

Image result for Dawson Weatherill

(Photo Credit – Larry Brunt – Spokane Chiefs Photographer)

Earlier today, the Boston Bruins released their 2018 Prospect Challenge roster with some additional information about the event. Amongst the many familiar faces at the event will be four camp invitees –– Carson Focht, John Ludvig, Justin Bergeron, and Dawson Weatherill.

Carson Focht – C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Carson Focht had some WHL experience under his belt coming into this past season with the Tri-City Americans, 64 games of experience to be exact. Fast forward to a little less a month before his 18th birthday, he was traded to the Calgary Hitmen on January 6, 2018. This deal involved highly-touted Carolina Hurricanes prospect defenseman Jake Bean going to play for Tri-City, along with other pieces being exchanged. A pretty interesting year for such a young player.

The Regina, Saskatchewan native went undrafted in June after scoring 13 goals and adding 20 assists, good for 33 points in 69 split between the Tri-City Americans and Calgary Hitmen. Before heading back to Calgary for what is set to be his first full season as a member of the Hitmen, Carson will head to Buffalo, New York for the Bruins Prospect Challenge to make an impression after going undrafted.

As you’ll see in his draft reel below, Carson has some silky mitts and a nice shot to go with it. He is listed with the same height, and nearly the same weight as Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk on eliteprospects.com. He operates like DeBrusk as well in some of these clips and wears the same number that Jake did with Swift Current and Red Deer in the WHL.

(Via Western Hockey League on YouTube)

John Ludvig – F/D – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

With the 2017-2018 season came John Ludvig’s first WHL season with the Portland Winterhawks. A Native of Kamloops, British Columbia, John took his talents to Portland, Ontario in his first season as a Winterhawk, scoring two goals and adding five assists, good for seven points in 51 games. He added a goal and two assists in 11 playoff games on top of his regular season stat line. A quandary on defense in Portland forced Ludvig to play forward a bit for part of last season.

The left-handed Winterhawks forward/defenseman went undrafted and stands at 6-foot-1, 187 pounds and just turned 18 on August 2, so happy belated birthday, John. He clearly likes to fight, as the clip below shows, so add a guy who can scrap to the talented bunch that will be in attendance at the Bruins Prospect Challenge. There are more where this clip came from, but this one, in particular, is a scrap-and-a-half.

(Via hockeyfightsplus on YouTube)

Justin Bergeron – D – Rouyn Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

Image result for Justin Bergeron

(Photo Credit – Marco Bergeron)

Another Canadian on the list is Justin Bergeron. Cool last name, Justin. That one holds some ground here in Boston. Justin is still 17-years-old and won’t turn 18 until four days after the conclusion of camp, as his birthday is on September 14.

The Magog, Quebec native, stands at 6-feet, 181 pounds and played 67 games with the Rouyn Noranda Huskies this past season. Bergeron, a left-handed defenseman, scored nine goals and added 21 assists, good for 30 points in the regular season, plus an assist in seven playoff games. He also played in eight games with the Huskies the year before and tallied one assist. Justin Bergeron looks to be an intriguing addition to the group at the prospect challenge.

Dawson Weatherill – G – Spokane Chiefs (WJHL)

The oldest of the camp invitees is 19-year-old and Red Deer, Alberta native, goaltender Dawson Weatherill. To this point in his WHL career, Weatherill has seen action in 87 games. His numbers have steadily improved over the course of his career as his workload has increased. Most recently, Weatherill appeared in 46 games and finished with an impressive 26-12-3 record, a 3.09 goals against average, a .893 save percentage, and two shutouts to boot. He also managed to obtain two penalty minutes as a goalie, so that’s interesting.

Back in mid-to-late October of 2017, Weatherill was named WHL goaltender of the week. Not a bad title to hold in the best season of your WHL career to this date. The towering tendy will look to make some noise amongst fellow goaltenders Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser.

(Via Western Hockey League on YouTube)

These four CHLers and Canadian natives will be interesting additions to the talented bunch of young players at the Bruins Prospect Challenge. The event as a whole is set to be another exciting opportunity to watch some great young talent for whoever chooses to do so.

Mark Your Bruins Calendar: Part II

Bruins Season Tix

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

With a new hockey year comes a renewal of hope (and season tickets courtesy of Tuukka Rask & Patrice Bergeron) for Bruins fans, players, and management. And after recently writing about key games to start the upcoming NHL season for the B’s (2018), it’s now time to highlight the actual new year (2019) and what it has to offer, schedule-wise, for Boston. So let’s get ready to mark your Bruins calendar, part deux edition!

JANUARY GAMES:

It goes without saying that the always enjoyable “Winter Classic” contest should be on this list, especially with the B’s “fighting on” the Blackhawks at historic Notre Dame Stadium. But do these outdoor games really change the way a team is shaped, or how its identity is formed? Or are they mostly entertaining affairs where the only elements that matter are the ones Mother Nature controls not Coach Cassidy?

Notre Dame Winter Classic

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

As a result, let’s focus on the games played in an environment truly under B’s control: the TD Garden. And in January, the B’s practically live there all month. With 7 home games out of the 9 they play before their mandatory “off week” / All-Star weekend, including 4 in a row after the big Winter Classic tilt, it’ll be like an Air BNB for the BNG in Boston (and the team then returns from the break with an additional two home games making it their busiest month on Garden ice). It doesn’t take a hockey expert or Corsi analytics nerd to understand that if you take care of business in Beantown during this stretch, you either maintain momentum / build momentum or close the gap / stretch the gap in the Atlantic Division race.

IMG_7862

(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

The two most highlight-worthy at-home match-ups, in my humble opinion, over these three weeks happen to be versus the Capitals on the 10th and then the Rangers on the 19th (with a shoutout, and perhaps a shootout, to the Canadiens on the 14th just because it’s Montreal and those games are always an entertaining hoot with hootenanny potential). So there you have it: mark January 3rd – 19th on your Bruins calendar!

FEBRUARY GAMES:

Conversely, in fabulous February the B’s embark on a lengthy two-week road trip thru California, the Vegas desert and “Bluesy” Missouri — similar to the way they started the season with their west coast Canadian kick. As Brick & Jack always like to point out (as did other great Bruins broadcasters mentioned right here on the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog), “if the B’s can take at least 6 out of these 10 points, it’ll be a successful trip.” And that’s easier said than done, especially since this trip is front-loaded with back-to-backs against the always competitive and pesky Ducks and Kings followed by the always Cup-contending Sharks only one break day later.

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(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

This stretch away from the comforts of home (and through multiple time zones mind you) will undoubtedly stretch the Bruins talent thin and offer a challenge that if met, could bolster the team’s confidence, core and camaraderie — something always welcomed with only a third of the schedule left in play!

(Photo Credits: Evan Michael)

Additionally, with Los Angeles being my current home base, I always try to make a few of these road trip games (rocking classics from my B’s goalie jersey collection to boot — Lord Byron and the Mooger pictured above). I look forward to offering my in-the-arena insight when this part of the schedule skates around next year. So there you have it: mark February 15th – 23rd on your Bruins calendar!

MARCH & APRIL GAMES:

The 2018-2019 Bruins season could come to a climactic Columbus close with Boston battling the Blue Jackets three times in the final three weeks, along with two tilts each against the Florida teams (as I like to deride). That’s 7 of the final 13 games–more than half for those math whizzes out there–versus teams that are not only playoff caliber (Tampa) but also playoff hungry (the Jackets and Panthers). You could even argue the games against Tampa may be Atlantic Division-altering games — Florida too for that matter since they’re a much-improved hockey club — and depending on how the B’s play, their season could be on the line.

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(Photo Credit: ESPNBoston.com)

Hopefully, it’s only “playoff positioning” the Bruins are playing for during this torridly tough stretch, but there are no guarantees in this league. Especially, not with all of the aforementioned clubs eager to prove they’re legit squads that can hold their own in the East. So hold that highlighter close and mark March 12th – April 6th on your Bruins calendar!

MAY & JUNE GAMES (BOLD PREDICTION):

If the Bruins are to be playing hockey during my birth month and beyond, then here’s how I think it’ll shake out. And I’m basing this prediction/assumption/foreshadowing only on gut instinct and lessons learned from last season. I think the B’s will qualify for the postseason as the 3rd seed out of the Atlantic (a few points higher than Florida and a few points lower than Toronto and Tampa but all clumped between 100-110 points). I think they’ll win their first round match-up against the Flyers — how they end up facing the Flyers what with all the funky end-of-season math involved I don’t know — but my seer self says it’ll be a take-down of Philly that propels them to the second round versus Tampa for a rematch. They will successfully win this rematch when solid trade deadline acquisitions [that bolstered both the blue-line and scoring wing categories a few weeks earlier] help bolt them past the Bolts in seven games. As late May approaches, not to be confused with Bruins-killer Brad May, the B’s will then face off against the defending Cup champs and will “Capitalize” on their newfound success, propelling them to an early June date with Jumbo Joe and the Sharks for the ultimate B’s past-versus-present contest.

Ah, who am I kidding, it’s early August on the calendar, and I’m just dreaming of a hockey storyline well worth renewing!

What Remains In Bergeron’s Tank For The Bruins?

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings(Photo Credit: Sam Minton)

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

From the moment he stepped on the garden ice as an 18-year-old rookie, fans of the Bruins knew they were going to love their new young center, Patrice Bergeron. Scoring 39 points in 71 games during his rookie season, Bergeron proved that he knew how too play “Bruin’s Hockey.” The love the fans had for him continued to grow with every goal, every win, and every time he stepped onto the ice. The Stanley Cup victory in 2011 showed just how much love the city has for Bergeron and him for the city that took him in. It took until 2010 for the rest of the league to realize the special player that was in Boston, but since 2010 he has been nominated for the Selke Award eight straight seasons and has brought the hardware home in four of those.  

It is now up to Bruce Cassidy and Don Sweeney to step up and protect their top center from himself. He is now 33 years of age and still has 4 years remaining on his current contract -during which they are looking to remain in playoff contention probably each of those four seasons. After being on one of the leagues top scoring lines, it is hard to imagine pulling the reigns back on playing him so much. What makes it even tougher to cut a guy like Bergeron’s minutes is the fact that he has proved, like many others in the league, that he will do anything to step out on the ice for his city unless he is dead, dying, or in a coma. Many point to guys like Zdeno Chara and Jaromir Jagr as evidence that Bergeron still has a good 8-10 years left to his career and that resigning the forward is a huge part to this teams future. Unlike his current and former teammate, Bergeron has a long history with both injuries and concussions. 

Almost everyone is aware of the major concussion that Bergeron suffered early on in his career when he was just 22-years-old. Suffered at the hands of Randy Jones, and shown in the above video, first of Bergeron’s major concussions occurred on October 27th, 2007. This one hit put the rest of his career in jeopardy, and it almost never happened. If this was Bergeron’s only concussion, then slowing him down wouldn’t be as much of a priority and seasons beyond this contract wouldn’t be in question. However, Bergeron went on to suffer three more major concussions on December 20, 2008, May 6, 2011, and April 2nd, 2013. He also has a laundry list of other injuries that he has sustained over the course of his career as well. 

  • Broken Ribs
  • Separated Shoulder
  • Groin Surgery
  • Fractured Foot
  • Fractured Thumb
  • Broken Nose
  • Sports Hernia
  • Punctured Lung
  • Multiple Concussions

It seems that coming out of every season, number 37 is lined up for recovering from something serious. Now that he is 33-years-old, the question remains just how much more his body can take. With this team clearly prepared to be in playoff contention for the remainder of his current contract, Bergeron will play one of the most vital roles in this organizations success in the playoffs, and they need him to be healthy. It is clear that Sweeney and Cassidy will need to be the ones to keep Bergeron from overexposing himself and making his own body shut down. With the increase we are seeing in early retirement one has to also wonder if Bergeron will give any thought to hanging up his skates when his current contract runs out. If the Bruins are looking to retain him longer and want to have him healthy for a deep playoff run, they need to start monitoring his time on ice going into this season.