Bruins Still In Hibernation

(Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston via Getty Images)

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

The Bruins playoff run to become 2020 Stanley Cup Champions has finally gotten underway. Just not off to the start everyone was expecting. Now I know that the game against Columbus on July 30th was only an exhibition game, but they looked very sloppy and out of sync with each other in that game. Not much changed when they had to play a game that actually mattered against Philadelphia on August 2nd. This game was their first of the Round-Robin to determine the top four seeds in the conference. Not a lot of good things came out of either of these games except the rising talent of Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork, but we will talk about that another time. For now, let’s get into the games. Shall we?

It didn’t take long for the Blue Jackets to get hot in the Bruins defensive zone. The Bruins also didn’t have their legs under them as much as they should have. That was made clear on the first goal scored by Columbus in the first period when Sean Kuraly Failed to backcheck and tie up Boone Jenner in front of the net who tapped it in to make it 1-0. Zack Werenski’s goal to make it 2-0 was just a beautiful shot. It could have been blocked by Par Lindholm if he had gotten over a little quicker but wasn’t able to. The third goal was a soft one given up by Rask. Yes, the defensemen should have gotten the puck out of the zone, but Rask was in a good position to make the save but slid too far over and went in five-hole to make it 3-0. The Bruins Lone goal of the game came from a broken play in front of the net and was picked up by David Pastrnak to make it 3-1. The last goal of the game was an empty netter to make it 4-1.

In conclusion, the Bruins really looked like they hadn’t played in five months. They were very sloppy in their defensive zone. They weren’t connecting with each other on simple passes. They were causing way too many turnovers. And they just weren’t in sync with each other at all. Now, again this was just an exhibition game and doesn’t mean anything but I think everyone expected the Bruins to come out a little better than they did.

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The game against the Flyers on August 2nd started off strange when it was announced shortly before that Tuukka Rask was “Unfit to Play,” and Jaroslav Halak would get the start in the first Round-Robin game for the Bruins and first meaningful hockey game they have played in over five months. Right from the puck drop in this one, you saw a little bit more intensity from the Bruins and a much better start. They came out with some fire in the offensive zone and in the physicality department as well. But, poor plays in the Defensive zone and turnovers would end up being the nail in the coffin for the Bruins in this one. All four goals scored by the Flyers were right after a turnover or just after what should have been a play where the puck should have been cleared.

The Bruins play their next Round-Robin game on Wednesday, August 5th, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, where it has been announced that Tampa will be without their captain Steven Stamkos. That is a break for the Bruins for sure, but they need more than that. They need to step up their play on both ends of the ice. They need to make better decisions coming out of their own zone while transitioning offensively. They need to shoot the puck when they are in a scoring position and not try to make the pretty/perfect pass. The two teams the Bruins have played so far were selfish instead of passive and shot the puck in scoring positions and it worked out pretty well for them. If the Bruins aren’t careful and come out of hibernation soon, they could find themselves in the 4th seed going into the first round of the playoffs after winning the Presidents Trophy in the same year. That is something that has never happened and probably never will again.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 that we recorded below on 8-2-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Takeaways For Boston From Tampa Bay’s Win Over Washington

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

By Bryan Murphy | Follow me on Twitter @bryan_murphy10

The Bruins haven’t looked quite like themselves since arriving in the Toronto bubble as the NHL restarts with its 24-team playoff.

Boston looked sluggish and sloppy in its 4-1 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week. In its first game of the round robin, the Bruins played a back and forth game with the Philadelphia Flyers, an improvement from the poor showing against Columbus. However, the Bruins again fell 4-1 in a crucial game for seeding.

Now the Bruins are in a tough situation going into Wednesday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning took a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in their first round robin game and now the Bruins are at the bottom of the seeding rankings with no points. With a loss to the Lightning, the Bruins will no longer have a chance at the No. 1 seed.

The Lightning looked very solid in their first meaningful game, outside of a span of four minutes at the end of the second period where the Capitals scored two goals to tie the game.

Here are some of the takeaways for the Bruins from the Lightning’s win.

More Sandpaper In The Bay

Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois had plenty of time to mull over what happened to the Lightning last season when they were swept in the opening round by the Blue Jackets. He realized the Lightning needed to add physicality to their game and they did just that.

BriseBois and the Lightning signed Pat Maroon this offseason and brought in Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman at the trade deadline, in addition to signing Zach Bogosian in late February. With guys like Cedric Paquette, Yanni Gourde, and a boatload of big defensemen already on the roster, this is a dangerous group that may have just figure out the final piece of the puzzle.

The physicality was on full display against the Capitals, with the Lightning racking up a whopping 45 hits to the Capitals 44. They didn’t cave and get away from their game plan trying to take runs like we’ve seen in the past. They now have enough sandpaper guys that their skilled players don’t have to worry as much about playing that style.

“I thought we were in their face,” said Maroon after the game. “That’s the kind of team we need to be, just kind of have that mentality to push back. … I thought we did a really good job of just staying in it, not getting frustrated when they were throwing big hits and responding at the right time.”

It’s part of why the Bruins have had success in the playoffs. They have the skills, but it’s the in-your-face mentality that ultimately separates the men from the boys. The Bruins have seen the scrappiness from the Lightning in the regular season and should expect to see that ramped up on Wednesday.

No Steven Stamkos

The Lightning were without their captain Steven Stamkos against the Capitals and appeared to not miss a beat.

Stamkos suffered a leg injury during voluntary workouts and while he’s expected to play at some point these playoffs, he isn’t quite ready yet. Brayden Point slid into the top line center position alongside Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

Mitchell Stephens was in the fourth line center role and looked very comfortable. The rookie put the Lightning ahead 2-0, getting in front of the net and deflecting a shot past Holtby. That started from a hard forecheck by Stephens that caused Capitals defensemen Jonas Siegenthaler to turn the puck over and Stephens outmuscled Siegenthaler again in front to get his stick on the puck and redirect it.

The Lightning went 3-3-1 in the regular season without Stamkos when he went down with his core muscle injury in February. Two of those games were against the Bruins, a 2-1 win for Boston and a 5-3 win for Tampa Bay.

So the Bruins know what to expect from the Lightning even without Stamkos. They looked very good without him against the Capitals and will have to do so again on Wednesday against the Bruins. But it’s a chance for Boston to exploit the absence of their top center who was averaging over a point per game this season.

Vasilevskiy Is Still Really, Really Good

SPOILER ALERT – Quarantine did not seem to affect Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The “big cat” of Tampa made 31 saves and two of three saves in the shootout on Monday. The two goals he gave up came off of some bad bounces that the Capitals were able to just sneak by.

Vasilevskiy made some big time saves, including stopping a Jakub Vrana breakaway attempt in the overtime period.

The rebound control is what stood out the most. Vasilevskiy was calm in the net and either was able to swallow up everything or kick it to the corners. The Caps two goals came off of getting bodies and pucks to the net and the Bruins will have to do just that to disrupt Vasilevskiy.

The Vezina candidate compiled three wins and a loss against the Bruins in the regular season, giving up no more than three goals in a game. And after a rough postseason in 2019, Vasilevskiy, like the rest of the Lightning squad, will be coming back with vengeance this postseason.

The Bruins and Lightning will kick off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday with a lot more on the line for the boys in black and gold. It’s put up or shut up time for the Bruins, as they truly need to find their game before it’s too late.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Studnicka Impresses In Debut

(Photo Credit: NHL via Getty images)

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Jack Stunicka was impressive in his post COVID break debut. The game was a tryout of sorts for the 21-year-old natural center. However, he found himself in an unusual spot on the right side of David Krecji with Jake Debrusk on the left. After his performance you will likely see him there again when the Bruins take on the Flyers at 3PM. 

What we saw from Studnicka was good; what we didn’t see was even better. There were no glaring rookie mistakes and he played a solid game in his own end. The Ontario native got stronger from when we last saw him in camp at the beginning of the season. Things are going to get a lot more physical as this tournament proceeds, so we are going to see if the muscle Studnicka put on is going to make an impact in the dirty areas and along the boards.

With his first shift Studnicka was able to show off some of his skills when he intercepted a pass and had a great chance to take a shot on goal. The rookie passed it up and tried to feed a covered Krejci to the dismay of Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins faithful. However, he got more comfortable and confident with each shift and took some great shots. “Certainly [Studnicka] had some of our better chances,” said Cassidy in a post game interview. One that sticks out to me was his breakaway chance, where he showed off his electrifying speed when he received a pass from Krejci and put a nice move on the goalie. He also set up Debrusk for a scoring chance at the end of the second period.

He didn’t look out of place on the power-play either. He played in Patrice Bergeron’s famous bumper spot on the second power-play and was able to create some chances. He had a scoring chance but was unable to convert. 

Cassidy was critical of Studnicka, but said he played good. His decision making wasn’t quite where Cassidy would like it to be. “The shooting versus passing, I mean we’re gonna have to live with that for a while. Until he learns the league, what he can get away with,” Cassidy commented referring to the chance Studnicka had early in the game. He didn’t stop there saying “I liked his initiative. A couple of back soft backhand plays, again a lot of young guys, those aren’t gonna happen in this league. Sticks are too good. Certainly had some of our better chances, unfortunately didn’t finish but I thought he played well.” These are all things that are going to be fixed with time. Unfortunately, the Bruins don’t have time since the playoffs are here and he’s gonna need these improvements to come quickly. 

Ondrej Kase has now arrived in Toronto and will be eager to earn his spot back. I expect Studnicka, because of his lack of experience, to be on a short leash until he can earn the coaches’ trust. Studnicka could be a key player for the Bruins in these playoffs with his speed and his offensive abilities and it will be interesting to see if he has the physicality now to go along with those skills. He is a smart two-way hockey player and can play at the NHL level, but this is a team that won the President’s trophy in the regular season and he will have players pushing him for his spot in the lineup.

Studnick did not stick out the way he did versus the Flyers like he did against Columbus. You didn’t see too much of his speed or his offensive ability on display. He had a great back-check that really stood out to me at the end of the Bruins power play, but that was really his only highlight. I did like seeing him down low in front of the net on offense and after whistles. However, if he is going to keep a job through the playoffs, he needs to make an impact.

The line of DeBrusk-Krejci-Studnicka did not look good on Sunday but it was not all on Studnicka. The Bruins as a whole were trying to force extra passes and did not have a shoot-first mentality. With the ice in the playoffs seeing multiple games in a day we are gonna see a lot of bouncing pucks and passes are going to be harder to make and receive. Kase and Ritchie look like they should be ready to go when the Bruins face Tampa on Wednesday.

I would not be surprised to see Studnicka in or out of the lineup. I would like to see the kid get another shot but it is playoff time and everyone needs to contribute every shift or find some pine. Nobody looked great out there besides Kuhlman and he has all the skills to play at this level. When the rookie’s decision making starts to click, Studnicka has the potential to be a star. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 7 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

(Photo Credit: NHL 20 Game Capture)

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

Another video has gone live on my YouTube channel and it is the second NHL 20 game simulation for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In today’s sim, the Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers ahead of their 3 PM meeting to open the round robin tournament for seeding among the top 4 Eastern Conference teams. Check out the game below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be informed when new videos are published.

  • First Period: 1:50
  • Second Period: 9:18
  • Third Period: 16:39

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Philadelphia Flyers

Boston’s Lineup

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Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Studnicka

Bjork – Coyle – Kuraly

Nordstrom – Lindholm – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Philadelphia’s Lineup

Forwards

Giroux – Couturier – Voracek

Farabee – Hayes – Konecny

van Riemsdyk – Laughton – Pitlick

Raffl – Grant – Aube-Kubel

Defense

Provorov – Niskanen

Sanheim – Myers

Gostisbehere – Friedman

Goalies

Hart

Elliott

The Bruins open play in the round robin portion of the 2020 NHL Playoffs against a Flyers team that was one of the hottest in the league prior to the break. Tuukka Rask gets the start for Boston against Carter Hart for the Flyers.

First Period

The game got off to a very quick start with Philadelphia scoring just 2:16 after the opening faceoff. Sean Couturier played a give-and-go with Ivan Provorov before getting a wrist shot past Tuukka Rask. Boston answered right back just 1:03 later with Brad Marchand spinning past defender at his own blue line and taking it all the way, finishing with a wrist shot past Carter Hart.

Philadelphia regained the lead with 5:22 remaining in the first with Michael Raffl using his backside to redirect a Matt Niskanen shot from the point. Boston was once again able to bounce back as Joakim Nordstrom hit a one timer on a pass from Par Lindholm with 4:07 to play in the first.

Neither team would be able to create much else for the remainder of the period, sending the game into intermission tied at 2. Shots were even at 6 apiece in the period.

End of the period score: 2-2

Second Period

Boston came out flying to begin the second period with 3 consecutive shots in the first minute of play, but Hart was able to keep them all out of the goal. The Flyers had some chances soon after, but their shots went right at Rask.

Philadelphia eventually broke the tie again, this time on a slap shot from James van Riemsdyk as he received a pass from Tyler Pitlick at 9:18 of the second period. Another goal was scored quickly after the Flyers took the lead, but it was the Flyers extending their lead this time with van Riemsdyk getting in front of and around Sean Kuraly to send his wrist shot past Rask for his second goal in 37 seconds.

Pitlick and van Riemsdyk nearly scored again within a minute of the second from van Riemsdyk, but Rask saved both low shots as the rest of the period saw few chances for either team. Philadelphia outshot Boston 14-8 in the second period, making it 20-14 Flyers in shots through 2 periods of play.

End of the period score: 4-2 Philadelphia

Third Period

The third period saw a lot of big hits on both sides and some stellar goaltending from Rask and Hart. Boston was getting plenty of chances, but had many blocked by Flyers and some even by their own teammates.

With 50 second to go, Boston pulled Rask for an extra skater. As Patrice Bergeron carried the puck into the attacking zone, he found David Pastrnak entering the right circle and Pastrnak scored with 47.2 seconds left to give the Bruins some hope of scoring the tying goal.

With Boston pressuring and several chances miss, Matt Grzelcyk found Jeremy Lauzon open at the point for a perfect chance to tie the game with just over 5 seconds remaining, but Lauzon’s stick broke as he shot the puck, letting Pitlick carry the puck up ice and firing it into the empty net just after time had expired.

Philadelphia ended the third period outshooting Boston 7-5 for a total of 27-19 for the game. Rask made 23 saves in the loss, but kept the Bruins in the game.

Final Score: 4-3 Philadelphia

The real life Bruins get their round robin play underway today at 3 PM against the Philadelphia Flyers on NBC. I will be back again on Wednesday to simulate Boston’s second round robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and subscribe to my YouTube Channel HERE

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Philadelphia: 8/2/20

Zdeno Chara, Jakub Voracek | | NESN.com

Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Philadelphia Flyers

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Studnicka

Bjork – Coyle – Kuhlman

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Goalies

Halak

Vladar

Philadelphia’s Lineup

Forwards

Giroux – Couturier – Voracek

Laughton – Hayes – Konecny

van Riemsdyk – Grant – Aube-Kubel

Raffl – Thompson – Pitlick

Defense

Provorov – Niskanen

Sanheim – Myers

Hagg – Braun

Goalies

Hart

Elliott

First Period

Things were much more cohesive to start this one in comparison to the exhibition game against Columbus, which was pretty sluggish. Through the first five minutes of the game, the Bruins outshot the Flyers six to one. The first penalty of the game came in the form of a slashing penalty against Michael Raffl at the 11:09 mark. The Flyers didn’t give much at all and killed the penalty as a result.

Just about four minutes after the conclusion of the Raffl penalty, David Krejci went off for hooking with 5:19 remaining. Things got dicey early on as it seemed Claude Giroux had himself a sure goal off of a one-timer, but it rang the post. Brandon Carlo went off for tripping with 52 seconds left, but the Flyers couldn’t convert before the end of the period. The Bruins held a 12 to 6 advantage in shots on goal, and looked much better than they did against Columbus.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

To start the period, the Bruins killed the last minute and eight seconds of the Carlo penalty. Poor defensive zone coverage led to Raffl sneaking through the cracks and burying the game’s first goal with 14:27 to go. Carlo nearly evened things up very shortly after the fact, but rang the post.

Nate Thompson made it two for the Flyers at the 10:29 mark, and Robert Hagg took an interference penalty just eight seconds later. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they couldn’t convert on the golden opportunity.

Matt Grzelcyk went down the tunnel for repairs after taking a puck to the face along the boards. Chris Wagner got the Bruins on the board with 1:09 left, assisted by Joakim Nordstrom and Charlie McAvoy. Eight seconds later, Phillippe Myers capitalized on a neutral zone turnover by Zdeno Chara and made it three to one. Shots in the period were 11 to 8, bringing the game total to 20-17 in favor of the Bruins.

Score: 3-1 Philadelphia

Third Period

Scott Laughton made it four for the Flyers four minutes and seven seconds into the period, making the uphill climb for the Bruins even steeper. The Bruins didn’t see the effort they necessarily would have wanted being down by three. They were outshot nine to zero through the first nine minutes of the period.

Matt Niskanen’s high sticking penalty gave the Bruins a glimmer of hope just past the midway point of the period. No luck on the power play again. After a collision involving Lauzon and Raffl in which Raffl left injured, Lauzon and Laughton got tied up and received 10-minute misconducts. James van Riemsdyk and Jack Studnicka served the penalties and a 4-on-4 ensued.

Jaroslav Halak was pulled in order to mount a comeback with around four minutes left. In an effort to thwart an empty netter, Torey Krug and James van Riemsdyk got tied up and both went off for holding, creating a 4-on-4 before Halak was pulled again. The Bruins had some decent chances, but Carter Hart shut them down. Shots in the period were 15 to 12 in favor of the Bruins, and 35 to 29 overall. Halak stopped 24 of the 28 shots that he faced. Next up are the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday at 4 PM ET.

Final Score: 4-1 Philadelphia

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 188: Fun Boston Bruins Discussion As we Prepare For The 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

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

Get Hyped: The Boston Bruins Are Back!

Boston Bruins 2019-2020 Season Hype! - YouTube(Photo Credit: YouTube)

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

Get hyped, Bruins fans! Boston’s team is back TODAY.

Puck drop is at 3pm EST at the B’s kick off Round Robin play against the Flyers.

Or(r), as the organization’s recent official tweet announced: “The hunt resumes.”

Are you #StillHungry for hockey and for the B’s bringing home another Stanley Cup to Boston? Let us know here at the BN’G blog with your comments, likes and shares and tell us how you feel about the new Bruins hype video.

Because you best “B”-lieve… we’re buying into all the hype!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 187: We Honor The Loss Of An Amesbury, Mass. Legend & Give Updates On Recent Bruins News

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

 

Providence Bruins Could Get Back To Work In Early December 2020

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey announced on Thursday, July 30th, 2020, that a revised 2020-21 regular season start date has been approved after the league’s annual Board of Governors meeting that was done via video conferencing call. Per the new AHL President and CEO Scott Howson, the league’s Return To Play Task Force and members of the Board of Governors are looking at a tentative date of December 4th, 2020, for all 31 organizations to get back to work.

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Howson mentions the league will continue to monitor the Covid-19 pandemic and work with its members to get players back on the ice in safe environments. Howson took over the President and CEO duties in mid-February after former league commissioner David Andrews stepped down after a successful 26-year career.

Now, it remains to be seen how all this is going to work with continued concerns due to the Covid-19 crisis. The National Hockey League can recoup financial losses with television deals regardless of ticket purchasing fans in the stands. The AHL, on the other hand, relies on ticket sales for sustainability, especially for the 12 of 31 franchisees who aren’t owned by their parent NHL organization.

It should be interesting to see how everything unfolds until the “projected” early December start time because a COVID vaccine has been heavily rumored from national health experts to be available at the end of 2020 and other opinions in the first few months of 2021. For a league that relies on fans in the stands, it remains to be seen how organizations can operate in empty arenas.

Below is a list of the members that are involved in the AHL’s Return To Play Task Force. The info below was copied and pasted from a previous AHL article on June 15th, 2020, and can be seen in its entirety HERE.


• David Andrews, Chairman
• Mark Chipman – Chairman and Governor, Winnipeg Jets
• Kyle Dubas – General Manager, Toronto Maple Leafs
• Ken Holland – General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, Edmonton Oilers
• David Poile – General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, Nashville Predators
• Don Sweeney – General Manager, Boston Bruins
• Steve Yzerman – Executive Vice President and General Manager, Detroit Red Wings
• Jeff Barrett – Chief Executive Officer, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
• Tera Black – Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Checkers
• Jim Brooks – Co-Owner, Lehigh Valley Phantoms
• Todd Frederickson – President, Iowa Wild
• Mike Ostrowski – President and Chief Operating Officer, Cleveland Monsters
• Matt Savant – President, Business Operations, San Diego Gulls

The AHL’s 2020-21 schedule and details have yet to be determined, but if this is actually going to work for all moving forward, I’d expect a schedule release in late September or early October. Regardless this is a substantial update from a league that wants to get back to action and support the higher NHL clubs.

As an avid Providence Bruins fan and credentialed media member through the organization, I’m looking forward to seeing the team back on the ice regardless if I’m allowed in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island or not. If fans and media aren’t allowed in AHL arenas for at least the start if not the complete 2020-21 campaign, The new AHLTV could benefit significantly with increased streaming subscriptions of the home and away action across the league. AHLTV was introduced to hockey fans to start last season and has been a considerably better service than the Neulion company, who had previously had the streaming rights for years. AHLTV offers an outstanding service to see tomorrow’s stars today with affordable league viewing or just your favorite home team at home or on the road. To see AHLTV package deals or to get an idea of the affordable prices, please CLICK HERE.

Before the AHL shut down the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs, the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins started the season off in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division and would abruptly end as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Providence club finished the season with a record of 38-18-3-3 in 62 games played and ended as the top team in the Atlantic and Eastern Conference.

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I thought for sure the club from Rhode Island had an excellent chance to make a run for their second Calder Cup Championship, by the way, they were playing in the second half of the season going on a 12-0-1 winning streak before the Covid-19 pandemic ruined the remaining regular-season games and long postseason run. Leading the way offensively was AHL rookie Jack Studnicka and AHL veteran Paul Carey. Studnicka had a fantastic season leading the team with 23-26-49 numbers in 60 games played along with AHL leading seven shorthanded goals. Carey, on the other hand, was a trustworthy leader as team captain posting 22-17-39 numbers also in 60 games played.

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The season story, in my opinion, has to go to how the Providence team played in goal last season. Newcomer and AHL veteran Max Lagace came to the Boston organization with something to prove and did very well, posting a regular-season record of 22-7-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.37 and save percentage of .920. Lagace’s’ partner in crime when it comes to crease duties was third-year pro and Boston Bruins prospect Dan Vladar who basically stole the show when he returned from a high ankle sprain on December 1st, 2019. Dan would go onto lead the AHL in goals-against-average with a stingy 1.79 and also league-leading .936 save percentage. Vladar had a regular-season record of 14-7-1 accompanied by three shutouts with one of those coming in his first game back after injury in early December 2019.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Hope To Make More Than Just A “Cameo” In Stanley Cup Playoffs

Charlie Coyle Cameo

(Photo Credit: Cameo)

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

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here. Finally (and hopefully safely).

And if your Boston Bruins want to make anything more than a “Cameo” in their pandemically-delayed second season, then perhaps they need to take a virtual page from their recent online success stories!

While we all waited for hockey with bated breath — and at many times even held our breath under the literal and figurative mask of COVID-19 — the B’s made the most of their time away from TD Garden and connected with fans in the most clever, creative and community-oriented of ways.

Those connections resonated with people across not only Boston and New England, but also the U.S.A, Canada and the world thanks to Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and most recently the social media site Cameo, which sets up virtual “shout outs” from celebrities and sports stars to anyone willing to make the required financial contribution.

The B’s offered (and still offer) an assortment of opportunities — everyone from awesome alumni like Andrew Raycroft and Chris Nilan to Boston broadcasters like Billy Jaffe and Dale Arnold to current pro players like Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle (as seen in my tweet above).

The messages can be anything from birthday wishes to wedding congratulations to happy anniversary cheersing to Stanley Cup predictions from some of the actual players themselves! Speaking of which… how are we feeling about the B’s chances heading into the most unusual playoff scenario in the history of the sport?

If we throw out the recent exhibition game against Columbus (which we 100% should), then I’d like to think the B’s have one of the best chances to non only contend again for the Cup, but also to win it. And here’s my reasoning why — to go along with NESN’s “five reasons” as tweeted above:

Stanley Cup runner-ups have a taste for revenge victory that’s as insatiable as an over-hibernating bear finally waking up in the winter woods. Hockey metaphors and random mascot coincidences aside, the B’s are exactly both. And as proven recently by the Pittsburgh Penguins, a hungry number two can easily become a fulfilled number one the following season if they make the most of the opportunities and circumstances given to them. The B’s know how to do this. It’s practically in their DNA (and hype video for that matter)!

Which brings me to my next rather fitting and timely reason: when was the last time hockey took a “pause” in play? If you guessed 2013, you’d be correct. The strike-shortened NHL season allowed for quite the Original Six SCF match-up between the Chicago Blackhawks and — guess again — the Boston Bruins, who like last year, came within some puck-luck and a solid save or two from winning Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice yet again this decade (thank goodness for memories of 2011).

So, why not start the next decade with a little history re-writing of their own? If any team in hockey should be feeling NOW is the time to make their mark, and make a winning move, it’s the Bruins. If any team should realize that the MOMENT to rise to championship glory may not be as close as this one, it’s the Bruins. And if any team’s WINDOW could stave off cracking, shattering or breaking for even the slightest bit longer (cheers to you, Zdeno Chara), it’s the Bruins.

After all, cameos are defined as “a brief appearance or role” in a theatrical medium. Well, there’s no bigger theatre in all of sports than the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And you can best “B”-lieve, the Boston Bruins plan to be in it for the long haul!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 187: We Honor The Loss Of An Amesbury, Mass. Legend & Give Updates On Recent Bruins News

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Looking Ahead to the Playoffs, Where Were the Bruins’ Strengths and Weaknesses Defensively in the Regular Season?

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me On Twitter @lydia_murray12

Earlier today, I published an article using an offensive shot heatmap from on the Bruins’ 2019-20 season to analyze their shot patterns and identify areas for them to work on in the playoffs. You can check that out here. Now, let’s take a look at how they were defensively in the 2019-20 season, and what areas they need to work on in the playoffs. Keep an eye out for another article coming later some heatmaps of power play and penalty kill. Also, be on the look for a deep dive one using skater good/bad/fun/dull graphs!

A Short Introduction to Shot Heatmaps

Before I begin, here’s a short overview of how to read these heatmaps for those of you who don’t know or need a refresher. This is the exact same intro I did on my first article, as is the “defining areas” of the ice section. So, if you’ve already read that one, you can probably skip right over this. But, if you didn’t, or just want another refresher, read on.

This is just a basic overview of how these heatmaps work. If you want to see a really in-depth analysis, you can check one out (albeit of the San Jose Sharks) here. But anyway, these maps illustrate the number of unblocked shots (not necessarily on goal) for or against a team compared to the league average, and where those shots are coming from. Blue means that fewer unblocked shots are generated from a given spot than the league average, whereas red means more are generated than the league average. The deeper the color, the further away from the league average a team is from that spot. White means that shots are being generated at the league average from that particular spot. 

With this in mind, on offensive graphs, blue is good, and red is bad. Obviously, you want your team to be generating a ton of shots, and ideally, they’ll be producing more than most other teams. On the other hand, for defensive graphs, the opposite is true. When an area is blue, it means that team is letting less unblocked shots through than the league average. It goes without saying that’s a great thing. The fewer shots that get through unblocked, the fewer chances an opponent gets to score. 

Defining Areas of the Ice

Heatmap Taken From HockeyViz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

Before I get started with the actual heatmaps, there’s just a few more things I want to go over. Pictured above is an example of the heatmaps you’ll see in this article as it was directly on the website. This is great on its own, but I decided to add a few more things to aid in my analysis. 

Original Heatmap Taken From HockeyViz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

As you’ll see, I’ve added a box and a trapezoid to the above graph (as well as made the crease more obvious). My apologies for the subpar photo editing job, I don’t have access to the best software and I’m not too skilled at it either. But, it’s good enough for the purposes of this article. Please note, these outlines may be off a little bit, but if they are, it’s not by much as I was as exact as possible with the tools I had. 

I’ve added these areas to aid in my analysis of these graphs. The box area I have outlined is known as the “slot”, and shots from this area are considered “high danger”. The trapezoid is known as just that, and shots from that area are considered “medium danger”. Shots from anywhere else on the ice are considered “low danger.” According to this article, in the high danger area, shots have at least a 10% chance of going in. The article also says that shots from the medium danger area have a 3-10% chance of going in, while low danger shots have at most a 3% chance of going in. 

To be clear, those percentages are averages, as some shots obviously stand a better chance of going in than others, even from within those areas. For example, a shot from the backdoor of the net that’s wide open has a much better shot than one that’s coming from right out front with the goalie square to it. But anyway, with all of that out of the way now, let’s get into the actual analysis these things.

Now, Onto the Actual Analysis

Original Heatmap Taken From HockeyViz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

Outstanding Defense in the Slot

The first thing that sticks out to me here is the same thing that stuck out to me on the offensive map, except this time, it’s good. The Bruins do an incredible job of suppressing or blocking shots throughout the entire slot. In most of the slot, the excess shots per hour rate is -0.5. That’s 5 fewer shots that get through per hour from those spots than the league average. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s actually incredible. Think about it, teams usually average 30-40 shots a game. So, to have, on average, five fewer shots than the league average getting through from one particular area of the ice, is outstanding.

The slot is the area the “high danger” shots come from. That means statistically, it’s the most dangerous area of the ice for goals off the initial shot. So, for the Bruins to be defending it that well is an excellent sign. Between that and how good their goalies are, it’s no surprise the Bruins let up as few goals as they do.

Excellent in the Left Circle Too

Another area the Bruins are excellent at defending according to this map is the left circle. There’s a red spot in the left of the circle, but it’s in the “low danger” scoring chance area and at a bad angle to the net, so it’s really not a concern. They can’t defend everywhere on the ice above league average, and if there’s a good spot to defend a little below the league average, that’s it.  

Other than that spot, the Bruins do an excellent job of defending the left circle. They’re not as good there as they are in the slot, but it’s close. They also don’t have to be as good defending there, as it’s statistically a less dangerous area of the ice for initial shots. They let about two or three less unblocked shots get through from that spot in an average game, and that’s great. It means they don’t let a lot of one-timers through on the left side, as the circles are really popular places for them, which is good news. One-timers are the initial shots that beat goalies the most because they have way less time to react and then get their feet set before the puck is there. So, the less of them they let through, the better.

Left Point Good and Bad

The Bruins defend the lower right portion of the left point about as well as they defend most of the left circle. That’s great news because it means they’re getting in the primary lane to the net from the point. That means a lot less unblocked shots are getting through from the point than would otherwise, which means fewer chances for players to pounce on the big, juicy rebounds those shots often produce. That’s always a good thing.

That being said, the lower left side of the left point could use some work. But, I am far less concerned about this spot than the right point (more on that later). Most of the red area over there is at a weird angle to the net. While that could make it more likely to sneak past the goalie on the first shot than one that’s straight on, not a lot of goals are scored on initial point shots. It’s statistically a “low danger” area of the ice, so it isn’t a huge concern. Point shots are really only dangerous because of the great (for the attacking team) rebounds they often produce. But, shots from that particular spot on the point will most likely produce a weird rebound or one that’s easily cleared away by defenders due to the bad angle it’s at to the net. So, while it’s a bit of a concern and should be worked on a little bit, it shouldn’t be as high of a priority as some of the other spots.

Right Circle Could Be Better, Could Be Worse

As for the right circle on the ice, the Bruins defend at about the league average for most of it. That’s not bad, but it could always be better. Who wants to be average when you can be above average? Thankfully, there are also a few random blue spots (albeit light ones) in the “medium danger” trapezoid. This likely means that they’re right at the top of the league average, right on the edge of being slightly above average. That’s obviously a good thing.

However, in the “low danger” portion of it, there’s a sizeable red spot. But, it’s a light red, meaning they aren’t too much worse than the league average from there. Plus, it’s statistically a “low danger” area for initial shots, so it’s not that big of a deal. Plus, it’s at a weird angle to the net, which means there won’t be good rebounds from it. So, it’s really not that big of a deal. Obviously, it’d be nice if they’d work on it a bit, as you can never defend too well. But, they can’t possibly defend at or above the league average all over the ice. If there’s such a thing as a good spot to defend worse than league average, that’d be one of the big ones (same would be true of the left side, but the Bruins are good there).

Right Point Needs Work

The Bruins are significantly below average in shot suppression or blocking shots coming from the right point. That’s not good. While point shots on their own are not particularly dangerous, they often produce big rebounds that are. Shots from that far away are extremely hard for a goalie to control. So, they often pop out in what end up being perfect spots for an opponent to pounce on and bury before the goalie has a chance to reset. Rebounds are the most common way goals are scored, so gifting them to the other team is not a good idea. 

If the Bruins are going to pick any particular area to work on defending better, it needs to be the right point. It apparently didn’t hurt them that much in the regular season, as they had the fewest goals against in the entire league for the entire season. But, in the playoffs, that could get exposed, as teams have more time to figure out their opponent’s weaknesses, and they’ll surely notice it and take advantage of it. So, it’s something that should really be worked on before it starts to cost them.

Summary

In short, the Bruins did a lot good defensively this season. That’s not surprising given they led the league in the fewest goals against for the entire season. They deny the shots at a rate of five fewer a game (on average) for much of the slot, which is absolutely incredible. ’re They’re also strong in the left circle, as well as parts of the left point, albeit at not quite as strong as they are in the slot. But, it’s not quite as big of a deal there, as it’s statistically a lower danger area of the ice.

On the other hand, the right side of the ice could use some work, most notably the right point. If they don’t improve the right point at least, it will most likely be exposed in the playoffs, and they’ll end up paying for it. So, hopefully they work on it. As for the rest of the right side, even though they’re largely league average there, it would benefit them to improve. You can never defend too well. Although that being said, it’s impossible for them to defend above league average (or even at the league average) all over the ice. So, it’s expected that they have some spots where they aren’t as good.

But, overall, the Bruins were excellent defensively this season. They did a great job of defending the most dangerous areas of the ice with the exception of the right point. If they can improve that, they’ll be even harder to score on these playoffs than they were in the regular season. That should seriously scare any team who may have to play. But, for us as Bruins fans, it’s certainly a wonderful thing.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

The Best Bruin To Ever Wear The Number One

(Photo Credit: George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully become a long and very entertaining series of articles. I am going to look at the best Bruin’s player to wear each number throughout the organization’s long and storied history. I will be skipping the retired numbers because it’s pretty self-explanatory who the best Bruin to don each of those revered numbers was.

Just to get it out of the way, in case anyone has forgotten, these are the current retired numbers in Boston:

#2 – Eddie Shore, #3 – Lionel Hitchman, #4 – Bobby Orr, #5 – Dit Clapper, #7 – Phil Esposito, #8 – Cam Neely, #9 – John Bucyk, #15 – Milt Schmidt, #16 – Rick Middleton, #24 – Terry O’Reilly, #77 – Ray Bourque.

Eleven numbers may seem like a lot, but it still leaves us 88 more to contemplate.

The best place to start this series, numerically anyway, is pretty obvious, and that would be with the number one. Generally speaking, the number one is worn in the NHL by goaltenders, and the greatest players to ever sport that number in B’s history were no exception. In an organization that has been around as long as the Bruins have, you would think that the competition would be pretty fierce? Normally, that would be a safe assumption. Unfortunately, in the case of the number one, the competition IS fierce, but it’s not for first place, it’s for third. That said, there is still a worthy discussion to be had for the runner-ups.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins have two goalies that played their careers primarily in the 1930s and 1940s that have without question locked up the first and second spots as the greatest B’s players to ever wear the number One. Those two guys are Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek. While it is difficult to compare players across different eras, these two players were able to pile up more than enough wins and hardware to leave no doubt that they were the top dogs in this contest.

Thompson was the preeminent goaltender of the 1930s. During that decade (and in 1928-29,) he played in 468 games for the Bruins, had a GAA of 1.99 (Save Percentage was not a stat yet), and a whopping 74 shutouts. He won 252 games for Boston, and both his games played and win totals are 2nd all-time for the B’s. They were 1st until recently being eclipsed by Tuukka Rask. In addition to those impressive numbers, Tiny won a Cup in 1929, had four All-Star game appearances, and four Vezina Trophies on his resume. In that era, the Vezina was given to the goalie whose team allowed the fewest amount of regular-season goals. This was no slight as Thompson was largely responsible for that. In 1936 he became the first goalie in NHL history to record an assist in a game. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959. For my money, he is the best player to wear number one for the Bruins.

Frank Brimsek played for the Bruins from 1938-1948. Somewhat ironically, it was Brimsek that forced out and took over for Thompson in 1938. Tiny suffered an eye injury, and Brimsek played so well in his stead that the Bruins dealt Thompson to Detroit in November of 1938. It would mark the beginning of an impressive nine-year run in the Boston goal. Brimsek would suit up for 444 games (tied for 3rd on the B’s all-time list), winning 230 with 35 shutouts. During that time, he would also win two Stanley Cups and two Vezina Trophies, along with being named to the All-Star team eight times.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Brimsek earned his famous “Mr. Zero” nickname after recording six shutouts in his first eight games and setting a league record for consecutive scoreless minutes in the process. Brimsek was born in Eveleth, Minnesota, which is notable because he was one of very few Americans in the NHL in the 1940s. The United States Hockey Hall of Fame was established in Brimsek’s hometown in 1973, and he was part of the original group of 25 to be inducted. In addition, an award given to the best senior high school goalie in the state of Minnesota is named after him. He joined Tiny Thompson in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and is a close second to him for best Bruin to ever wear the number one.

There are a number of other goalies that have worn the number one for the Bruins over the years. Some have been goalies that made their fame with other teams and wore it briefly for the Black and Gold. Guys like Terry Sawchuk, Rogie Vachon, and Marty Turco fall into this category. While they were great netminders, they were not in Boston long enough to warrant consideration.

The next trio of goalies I considered were all players that fell short of third place for one reason or another, whether it be lack of tenure or performance. Andrew Raycroft had good numbers with Boston (2.62 GAA, .908 Save %), but he only played 108 games and had a losing record before being traded to TOR for Tuukka Rask. Pete Peeters played 171 games in Boston and had 91 wins, but his stats were not great (3.00 GAA, .883 SP), and he had more games and years in a Flyers uniform than a B’s sweater. Last but not least was Reggie Lemelin, who, while he was in Boston, was beloved by the fans for his “fist pump” celebration after games. In six years in Boston, he played in 182 games, had 92 wins, but the numbers were average. His GAA was 3.09, and his save percentage came in at .884. All three of these players were good, but not good enough for the top three.

(Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Third place for the best to wear the number one in Boston came down to two goalies in my estimation, Eddie Johnston and Gilles Gilbert. Readers younger than myself are probably much more familiar with Gilbert than Johnston, who played primarily in the ’60s for the B’s. Gilbert was known for being on the losing end to Philly and later Montreal in the ’70s under Don Cherry.

While Johnston might be lesser-known to today’s Bruins fans, he has a very respectable resume. He played in Boston from 1962 thru 1973, amassing 444 games for the B’s (tied for 3rd all-time with Brimsek), winning 182, with a GAA of 3.22 and a .900 Save Percentage. He was the starter before Gerry Cheevers established himself and backed “Cheesy” up in the late 1960s and early ’70s. His numbers were very comparable to Cheevers,’ and he actually played in more games for the Bruins. He was also a key contributor on both Stanley Cup teams, playing 37 games in 1970 and 38 games in 1972. Despite these solid stats, Johnston may be more well-known as a successful coach and GM for the Penguins in the 1980’s and 90’s?

Last but not least, is Gilles Gilbert, the acrobatic French-Canadian goalie with the memorable flow. He played in Boston from 1974-1980, totaling 277 games for the B’s, winning 155 of them. His GAA was 2.95, and he had a save percentage of .890 over that time. I remember Gilbert as being a key component in net for the highly effective “Lunch Pail AC” teams. Despite their success in the regular season, those teams came up short in the playoffs. Unfortunately, my most lasting memory of Gilbert will be of him falling to the ice after he gave up Guy Lafleur’s game-tying goal as time was running out in Game Seven of the 1979 Stanley Cup Semifinals. That goal is not the reason I am going with Eddie Johnston as the third-best to wear number one for the Bruins…but it didn’t help either.

So, there you have it, the three best players to wear the number one for the Bruins are Tiny Thompson in first, followed by Frank Brimsek as a close second, and Eddie Johnston as a distant third. I hope you enjoyed this look back in B’s history. Next up on the agenda is the number six, where there should be a lot more debate for the title.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.