Donato Looks To Play Big Role For The Bruins In 2018-19

470f75a62af4bc417a8a8987ab42a0ea(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

It’s a well-known fact that the Boston Bruins have an impressive slew of young players. Ranging from the dynamic and speedy Jake DeBrusk to the all-around outstanding defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Two prime examples of recent successes of young players that have helped the Bruins expedite their rebuild. This season will be no different as a few players including the talented Anders Bjork will be looking to put together an impressive campaign to continue the trend of young players having success in Boston. Perhaps the most important young player in 2018-19 is Ryan Donato, who if all goes well, could end the season bringing home the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

The Scituate, Massachusetts native was a 2014 draft choice of the Bruins(56th overall) and burst onto the scene late last season. Donato appeared in 12 regular season games, scoring five goals and adding four assists and also played three postseason games, going scoreless. His impressive debut on March 19th included a goal and two assists.

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It wasn’t just Boston where Donato impressed last year. As a member of Team USA in the Winter Olympics, Donato was tied for the tournament lead in goal scoring with five goals. Despite Team USA’s seventh-place finish, Donato was one of the top players in the tournament. Donato’s Olympic experience can only be a good thing for his development as he looks to build off of it for the upcoming season.

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This past season playing for Harvard University, Donato was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded to the top player in college hockey. Clearly, his talent is there, and the Bruins hope he can truly break out this season. Perhaps the biggest question for Donato is who will he play with. Seemingly every roster projection I’ve seen has him on a different line. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the top line with Patrice Bergeron or on the second line with David Krejci. It seems likely that he could even see time on the third line, but it remains to be seen who that line will be comprised of.

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Donato’s versatility is the best part of his game at the moment, and it gives the Bruins the opportunity to put him in a number of different situations to see where he’d be most useful. My best guess is he’ll be placed on the second line with Krejci and DeBrusk and look to make a formidable line to follow the top group. Donato will almost certainly see power play time and possibly with the top group. I would imagine that the Bruins will want him to shoot the puck as much as possible as they try to find another winger to match with Krejci. His shot is already a big weapon, and if you stayed up late to watch the first China game, you saw it firsthand.

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The Bruins will be looking for players to add secondary scoring this season to help out the top line and create a more balanced attack. If Donato can perform the way he’s capable of, this team will be even more dangerous than it already is and he may even take home some hardware as well. Playing only 15 games last season, Donato gave us all a glimpse of what could be the start of a great NHL career, and you can be sure this season he’ll try to prove he’s the real deal.

Bold Predictions For The Bruins In 2018-19

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

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

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

David Pastrnak will score at least 40 goals

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

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

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

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

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

Tuukka Rask will finish in the top 5 of Vezina voting

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

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

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

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

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

The Bruins will reach at least the Eastern Conference Final

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

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

Five Bruins To Watch In 2018-19

 

play_wip_14-1280x640(Getty Images Sport/Maddie Meyer)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

The Boston Bruins will be an interesting team to watch in 2018-19, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a team still adjusting to Bruce Cassidy’s system and a team that should contend for a championship. A team that has a quality starting goalie that drive some people insane and an influx of young talent that would make any opponents jealous. There are many questions facing this team as the season draws near such as how will it work with eight defensemen on a roster? Will David Pastrnak get moved to the second line? Can the young core repeat their stellar seasons? Like any team, there are going to be a ton of questions especially early in the year about how this particular group will come together. Let’s take a look at five players to watch in the upcoming 2018-19 hockey season.

David Krejci

The 32-year-old has been through it all with the Bruins organization and especially with fans who claim he’s overpaid and overrated. No matter what side you’re on, you have to admit he’s been an integral part of this team for 10+ years. Though his numbers have gone down slightly in recent years, but there’s no reason to believe he has nothing left in the tank.

Krejci put up only 44 points last season but only played in 64 games, his fewest since 2014-15. His 10 playoff points were fifth on the team last spring. Keeping Krejci healthy is important for the Bruins, who hope he can pick back up where he left off in the playoffs and be a consistent point producer. If Pastrnak does end up on Krejci’s line at any point this season, look out.

David Backes

You might have guessed that I’m a fan of David Backes by now. I put him on this list because he still has plenty left to give and could be another potential point producer if he’s able to stay healthy. Ironically last season was the first time since 2007-08 that Backes missed more than 10 games in a year. The former Blues captain has looked like a more productive player since Cassidy took over, so there’s no reason to think this season will be any different.

Backes has been a popular name for the Bruins to trade or buyout but he still has value for a team that will undoubtedly bring on even more youth. Having another wily veteran is not a bad thing, and based on his play under Cassidy he should be back to being a reliable source of offense this season.

Brandon Carlo

Despite injuries toward the end of each of his first two seasons. Carlo has been one of the most durable players on the team. The 21-year-old played every single game his rookie year, followed by 76 games last year. He’s not Charlie McAvoy or Torey Krug, but Carlo has been a steady defensive player and is a guy you rarely worry about in his own end.

Carlo will most likely be paired with Krug to start the season, and they should be a solid pair together. Krug has improved his work in his own end, and Carlo looks to add some physicality to his game. Look for this pair to be rock solid in 2018-19.

John Moore

The Illinois native was the Bruins most pricey free agent this summer, joining the B’s on a five-year deal worth $2.75 million a season. Moore is just a season removed from a career-high in points, but don’t be surprised if it stays that way. Moore’s flexibility will be a boon for Boston as he can play in all kinds of situations.

He averaged 20 minutes of ice time last season, and at age 27 there’s little concern about his body breaking down. Moore will most likely play on the third pair with Kevan Miller when he’s in the lineup and should make for another rock solid pair. Look for Moore to build off of his successful recent seasons with another solid campaign this time with Boston.

Tuukka Rask

Rask started only 53 games last season, his fewest since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but he arguably had his best season since the year he brought home the Vezina trophy. The 31-year-old had a remarkable stretch of no regulation losses in 19 consecutive games. Incredibly, Rask had only six starts in which he saved fewer than 85 percent of shots in a single game, two fewer than he had in his Vezina year.

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Expect Rask to have a similar type season with a very capable backup in Jaroslav Halak. After a subpar postseason last year, expect the Finnish goaltender to be very hungry to prove the doubters wrong.

Bruins Start To The 2018-19 Season Won’t Be Easy

image(Photo Credit: Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

It could be a September to remember for the Boston Bruins — perhaps for all the wrong reasons. In addition to Rookie Camp and Training Camp, the Bruins will be making a trip to China for two exhibition games during the preseason. In total, the Bruins will play eight exhibition games, with the first coming September 15 in China against the Calgary Flames and concluding with a home game against the Philadelphia Flyers on September 29.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there as the B’s will face the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres on back-to-back nights to open the season. And finally, if that wasn’t enough, the Bruins will go on their annual Western Canada trip in just the third week of the season for games against Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa. It could be a trying first few weeks of the season for the boys in Black and Gold, but as we’ve seen in the past, this team can respond very well to adversity. Let’s take a look at some things to watch in those first few weeks.

ROOKIE CAMP

The Bruins rookie camp will open on Wednesday, September 5 at Warrior Ice Arena, and they will send a team to compete in Buffalo for the annual rookie tournament that starts the next day. It is the fourth consecutive season the Bruins have participated in this tournament and the B’s will send a stacked roster that will include Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and others.

The B’s will play three games against prospect teams from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey that will conclude September 10. Studnicka will be an important player to watch as some believe he has a decent chance to make the varsity roster. This tournament will be a showcase of sorts for a couple of key guys looking to impress the Bruins brass, so expect the players to really show up.

TRAINING CAMP

The Bruins main camp will get underway September 10 at Warrior as the B’s look to build off of last season’s success. With a team that has a chance to be among the best in the Eastern Conference, look for this camp to be highly competitive as there will be many guys fighting for open roster spots. One particular player to watch is Brandon Carlo, who is ready to go after breaking his ankle late in the regular season.

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While not a high-scoring player by any means, Carlo has been a consistent player in his own zone and has been surprisingly durable despite injuries he’s suffered at the end of the season both last year and his rookie year. With the perceived eight defensemen the Bruins might carry, Carlo hopes to be a regular in the Boston lineup and not be consistently watching games from the ninth floor. In addition to Carlo, it will be interesting to see how the new players fit into their roles — especially John Moore and Jaroslav Halak.

CHINA TRIP

The B’s open their preseason in China on September 15th and will play there again on the 19th. The Bruins will send a group to play in both games against Calgary with a roster that according to NHL rules needs to contain at least eight veteran players. The definition of a veteran is a skater or goalie who has at least 100 games of experience, or skaters that had at least 30 games played the year before and goalies who either played in at least 30 games or dressed for at least 50 games.

In other words, the Bruins will need to send a few experienced players to China which could be an issue to start the season by playing on another continent. The good news is there are three days between the China games which should be ample rest time. It will be interesting to see how the players who go to China get reacquainted once they return and if they take any preseason games off to get ready for the upcoming season.

REGULAR SEASON

The B’s get right into it to open the season as they’ll travel to Washington D.C. and Buffalo the first two nights of the season. On Opening Night, the B’s will face off against the defending champs in a building that hasn’t been too kind to them in recent history. The Bruins are just 1-4-2 in their last seven games in D.C., and the Capitals will be going hard after raising their first-ever Stanley Cup banner before the game. The B’s then travel to Buffalo the next night to take on the new-look Sabres. The Bruins will get their first look at No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin in what should be an ultra-competitive game.

The B’s will get a few days off before their home opener on Columbus Day against Ottawa. Just one week later, the Bruins will embark on the Western Canada swing that usually takes place toward the end of the season. With a decent amount of roster changes, the Bruins could definitely experience some growing pains in the first few weeks of the season, but the good news is the team has a very healthy amount of off days in between games that should take the pressure off of certain guys. With an experienced backup goalie and eight playable defensemen, it could be a time for the depth players to show what they have.

Can Backes Still Be A Valuable Contributor For The Bruins?

david-backes-e1520460522906( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

Two years ago, the Bruins made an overpay in free agency. Frequently on the first day of free agency teams will pay too much for players that won’t ever live up to their contract. Overpaying happens all the time, very rarely is a player paid the right amount based on their skills. Often, a player will score a rich deal based on their past performance and won’t be able to be the same player. These are some of the risks teams take when making a decision to sign players in free agency. The Bruins made a decision to bring in David Backes two years ago on a five-year $30 million deal and this season will be a make or break year for the 34-year-old winger.

In two seasons in Boston, the former St. Louis Blues captain has recorded point totals of 38 and 33 respectively. He played in 74 games his first season and then just 57 games last season after dealing with injury issues early in the season. Obviously, the point production has gradually gone down for him the last three years, going from 45 his last year in St. Louis to 33 last season. Missing 17 games last season certainly put him behind the eight ball but he ended up finishing just five points behind his previous season total. To me, there are still positives to carry away from last season for Number 42. Playing with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash for most of the season, Backes looked comfortable in his role and provided some much-needed leadership for a team still adjusting to life with Bruce Cassidy. Backes has played in 84 regular season games under Cassidy, recording 49 points.

There have been trade rumors galore this offseason which have included Backes, and this is a popular idea because of his big contract. Backes was signed in 2016, a summer in which many players were given huge contracts but most of these players have failed to live up to these rich deals.

Now in no way, shape or form am I saying Backes isn’t overpaid because in retrospect a five-year deal to a 32-year-old player is very dicey, especially when currently he is the sixth-highest paid player on the roster according to Cap-Friendly. You certainly wouldn’t say he’s the sixth-best on the roster, but I still believe he can be a valuable piece for the team going forward. He was one of the main reasons the Bruins were able to regroup and make the playoffs two years ago as he demonstrated great leadership and solid play down the stretch. After recording just 22 points in his first 57 games that year, he put up 16 points in his final 27 games to help the B’s return to the postseason for the first time in three seasons.

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Obviously, yes there are concerns about his age and his style of play but looking at what he’s done under Cassidy, I’d say give him a chance to be a solid player this season. Backes’ style of play is definitely being fazed out in the current NHL, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t still be a physical force of a player. Backes can still be an effective player on the power play and can still be relatively solid in five on five play and if he can hit people and get to the front of the net than that’s a bonus. In my opinion, to win a Stanley Cup, you need players like Backes you will give it all for the team, mentor the younger players and give you solid performances when needed. Certainly, it’s very easy for players this day-in-age to be overpaid and it’s possible that the player won’t live up to the money but sometimes you make sacrifices in the name of salary to bring in players you believe can help win a championship.

How A Breakup Of The Top Line Could Benefit Bruins

r361216_2_608x342_16-9 ( Photo Credit: ESPN.com )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

There’s no question that the Boston Bruins are a top-heavy team and that can be a good thing. We saw the group of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron put together a combined 228 points this past season, an astounding 32 percent of the Bruins offense. That’s nearly a third of the Bruins points coming from just one line. Now one way to look at it is that the Bruins have an elite first line and one of the best first lines in the entire league. These three guys can play against any top defensive pairing in the league and can single-handedly take over games on any given night.

The team often went as the top line did especially in their first-round playoff series this past spring against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the three games the Bruins lost, the top line failed to score a point. However, in four Bruin victories, the trio combined for 30 points, scoring nine goals and totaling 21 assists. The first line especially stepped up in Game 7, putting up 3 goals and 4 assists in the 7-4 victory. There’s no denying that at their best, this line is one of the if not the best line in hockey. By no stretch of the imagination would one break up that line because they need to be better. Breaking up the first line could potentially make this Bruins team even more dangerous.

First off, let’s just say that there’s no chance that Marchand or Bergeron would be moved off the first line. The two of them play off each other so well, I’ve personally never seen anything like it. Any time that two-thirds of your top line plays on a line with Sidney Crosby, you know that’s a damn good line, and you’d be a moron to break those two up. They play together in nearly every situation, and there would be no reason to change that at this point. The duo of Marchand and Bergeron has helped the development of David Pastrnak who has recorded 70-plus points the last two seasons and has established himself as one of the elite point scorers in the league. With how well Pastrnak has done over the last two seasons it could be considered a demotion if he were to be taken off the top line. However, with Pastrnak being such an elite scorer, he should be able to produce like one no matter who his linemates are.

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Again, this article isn’t advocating that the trio should be broken up because of poor performance. It’s merely providing another option for the Bruins offense to possibly become even more of a deadly weapon by spreading out their scoring. By having one line that produces most of your offense, teams will focus to shut down that line because they’ll know that the other lines might not be as prolific. Rather than having one line that puts up most of your scoring, why not have two lines that can be equally strong so that teams can’t focus on just one group? Moving Pastrnak down to play with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci would make the second line exponentially more dangerous with an elite goal scorer such as “Pasta.” Giving Krejci the elite goal scorer he’s coveted would elevate his game and would allow the Bruins to have another playmaking center to take pressure off of the bottom two lines do not need to score as much. Instead of dealing for Artemi Panarin to play with Krejci which would most likely cost a fortune, why not give Krejci an elite goal scorer to play with that’s already on your roster?

If Pastrnak were to be moved down to the second line, a bevy of candidates could take his place to keep the first line as effective as possible. Let’s look at a few:

Danton Heinen: The 116th overall pick back in 2014 had a tremendous rookie season with 16 goals and 31 assists in 77 games last season. He also played in eight games in 2016-17 but failed to record a point. Heinen seemed to fit fairly well on a third line with Riley Nash and David Backes for most of the season and is a player you can rely on in the defensive zone. Scoring-wise he may not be an ideal fit on the first line, but in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, he could fit nicely with Marchand and Bergeron.

Ryan Donato: The 22-year-old former second-round pick burst onto the scene in Boston last March with four points in his first two games and finished the season with nine points in 12 games. With his ability to shoot, he could be a force on the first line with Bergeron feeding him passes. However, he made need some seasoning in his own end which was somewhat of an issue for him last season. Playing with a four-time Selke winner though could be the perfect medicine for Donato to become more of an all-around player.

Anders Bjork: Another 2014 draft pick, Bjork had his season cut short after just 30 games in Boston due to shoulder surgery. The Notre Dame product seemed to be a forgotten man this summer with how all the young players did last season, but this guy is arguably the most talented out of all of them. Bjork actually began last season playing on the top line, but it didn’t last too long as he struggled quite a bit. With a good training camp and preseason, he could easily end up back on the top line ready to produce like a first line winger.

Boston Bruins 2018-19 Schedule Breakdown

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Photo Credit: John Wilcox

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

The Boston Bruins will get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup Champs as they will open the 2018-19 season in Washington to face the Capitals on October 3rd at 7:30 P.M. The Caps will hoist their first Stanley Cup banner in franchise history before puck drop. If that wasn’t enough the Bruins then will travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres the next night for their home opener against potential top pick Rasmus Dahlin.

The Bruins will open their home slate on October 8th with the annual Columbus Day matinee against the Ottawa Senators at 1 P.M. The season-opening homestand will continue with games against the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings.

The Bruins will go on three separate West Coast road trips in October, November, and February taking on the likes of the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars in November, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in October and the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights in February. At the tail end of the season the Bruins will be away from home for seven of their final ten games of the season.

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The Bruins won’t just be going on the road next season, they’ll be hosting four consecutive home games four separate times during the year. The first such stretch will occur at the beginning of November when the Bruins will take on Dallas, Vancouver, Stanley Cup finalist Vegas and Toronto, which will be their first matchup against the Leafs since Game 7 of their first round series.

One of the biggest storylines at the end of last season was the arduous stretch of 21 games in 39 days from March 1st onward. Fortunately, the Bruins will catch a break in 2018-19 with just 18 games in the final 37 days of the season. Look for the team to be a little more rested going into postseason play next season if they do indeed make it there.

The Bruins bye week will begin January 20th, the week before the All-Star break. The B’s will return to action on the 29th when they host the Winnipeg Jets at 7 P.M.

Other schedule highlights:

First matchup against the Montreal Canadiens on October 27th at 7 P.M. in Boston

Annual Black Friday matchup (11/23) at 7:30 P.M. in Boston which will be against the Pittsburgh Penguins

First matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 6th in Tampa at 7:30 P.M.

First matchup against Hart Trophy Winner Taylor Hall as the B’s take on the New Jersey Devils on December 27th in Boston at 7 P.M.

The Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks on New Years’ Day at 1 P.M.

All-Star Weekend in San Jose starting January 25th

Super Bowl Sunday matinee (2/3) in Washington against the Capitals at 12:30 P.M.

Season Finale on April 6th in Boston against the Lightning at 12:30 P.M.

Full Schedule

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Bruins Youth A Detriment In Postseason?

Patrik Laine, Sean Kuraly

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

The youth was served by the Boston Bruins in the 2017-18 season. Three players in their first season finished in the top ten in scoring on the team. Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen each scored 16 goals and finished their rookie seasons scoring 40 plus points. After a successful playoff debut last spring, Charlie McAvoy played in 63 games, scoring 32 points and playing virtually the entire season on the top defensive pairing with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The youth proved very successful for the team as they finished in second place in the Atlantic Division, just a single point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

11 different skaters made their NHL debuts during the season, and five of those players also made their playoff debuts, excluding McAvoy. By comparison, of the four teams that reached the conference final, eight players combined made their playoff debuts. These eight players made significant contributions to their team so the list may exclude some players who played a game or two. The point is the Bruins relied more heavily on rookie skaters than any other team that made a deep postseason run. The Bruins had players like Sean Kuraly and Matt Grzelcyk playing big roles, and at times they seemed to get overwhelmed with the rigors of postseason play. This article is by no means an indictment on the Bruins youth, but it’s pretty clear that teams like Tampa Bay, Vegas, and Washington had rosters that were more experienced to deal with how to play in the postseason.

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Tampa Bay, in particular, was a team that gave the Bruins issues because they were filled with experienced players like Chris Kunitz, Brayden Coburn, and Ryan Callahan. Players like this may not be flashy, but they’ve been through the postseason battles and understand how to play in those intense battles. It’s not to say the Bruins were without experience because they arguably had some of the most experience going into the playoffs with the likes of Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Backes. But with younger players playing such big roles, it became an issue when they weren’t up to it. It’s not to say they won’t ever get there but it’s clear watching these later rounds of the playoffs, they might need to add a few players to give them the experience level of other teams.

Some may assume the Vegas Golden Knights are a team filled with young, inexperienced players because of the expansion draft, but you’d be wrong. Only one player on their playoff roster is considered a rookie, right winger Alex Tuch who has scored six goals in the postseason for the Western Conference Champs(crazy right?).

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Some of their biggest performers such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Erik Haula, and David Perron are seasoned veterans and guys who can be counted on in the postseason. Again this isn’t saying the Bruins youngsters aren’t up to the task, but sometimes it’s more pertinent to have experienced playoff performers on your team because you know exactly what you’re going to get from them. Maybe in the next few years, we’ll see this experience for the younger players pay off, but this postseason it was clear that the teams who went farther were filled with experienced NHL players who understood their role and were up to the task.

This past season for the Boston Bruins was nothing short of extraordinary, and the fact, so many younger players had large roles was an absolute revelation. It was important that so many players got good postseason experience so they can use that for future playoff runs and you can be sure they’ll be many more with the surplus of up and coming talent in this organization. The 2018 postseason may not have brought a cup to Boston like so many wanted, but watching the teams still in it filled with seasoned veterans should be a reminder of what it takes to win a championship.

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: ECSF Game 5: Boston at Tampa Bay

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: GREG M. COOPER/USA TODAY SPORTS

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

Home: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-2 in the postseason

Away: Boston Bruins, 5-6 in the postseason

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Miller-Stamkos-Kucherov

Palat-Point-Johnson

Killorn-Cirelli-Gourde

Kunitz-Paquette-Callahan

Defense

Hedman-Girardi

McDonagh-Stralman

Coburn-Sergachev

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

Domingue

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Donato-Krejci-Rick Nash

DeBrusk-Kuraly-Backes

Schaller-Riley Nash-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-Miller

Holden-McQuaid

Goalies

Rask

Khudobin

First Period

The Lightning had an early chance after a turnover by Tuukka Rask but the Bruin goalie stood tall on an attempt by Tyler Johnson. Rask was on it early making a couple of big saves to keep the game scoreless.

The Bruins would go on the penalty kill with 12:51 to play in the period as Charlie McAvoy took a cross-checking penalty. The Bruins killed off the penalty as the Lightning failed to gain any momentum.

The Bruins would go to the kill again as David Backes went off for interferences with 8:08 to go in the period. Thanks to a good play by Brad Marchand he forced a holding penalty on Victor Hedman. Unfortunately Marchand was called for embellishment, resulting in the Lightning staying on the power play.

The Bruins luckily killed the penalty with about six minutes to go in the period. The Bruins would go to the power play with 2:58 to play in the period as Dan Girardi took an interference penalty.

David Pastrnak had a great take into the offensive zone, resulting in a tripping penalty to Cedric Paquette that gave the Bruins a five on three power play. David Krejci drilled a one-timer on a pass from McAvoy to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead with 47 seconds to go in the period.

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Score: 1-0 Boston

Second Period

Again early in the period, Rask made a couple of key saves to keep the Bruins ahead. The Lightning had a difficult time utilizing their speed as the Bruins made a couple of nice defensive plays especially in the neutral zone.

After a bad turnover by Kevan Miller, Brayden Point tied the game after a tremendous forecheck with 9:17 to go in the period.

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The Lightning would go to the power play as Patrice Bergeron took a tripping penalty with 6:29 to play in the period. J.T. Miller took full advantage as he scored on a beautiful pass from Nikita Kucherov just 29 seconds into the man advantage to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead.

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Score: 2-1 Tampa Bay

Third Period

The Bruins did a good job coming out strong in the beginning of the period, pushing very hard for a tying goal. Thanks to good defending and solid goaltending by Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning maintained the one-goal lead.

The Bruins had a hard time getting speed going through the neutral zone as the game wound down. Despite this, Rask kept the Bruins in the game with some clutch saves down the stretch.

The Bruins would get a power play with about four minutes to go as Ryan McDonagh tripped down Pastrnak. The Lightning killed off the penalty as Vasilevskiy stood tall, making a couple of huge stops to keep his team ahead.

The Lightning iced it as Anton Stralman scored from his own defensive zone with 1:29 to go to make it 3-1.

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Final Score: 3-1 Tampa Bay

Final Series Score: 4-1 Tampa Bay

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: ECSF Game 1: Boston at Tampa Bay

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on twitter @thesportsguy97

Home: Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1 in the postseason

Away: Boston Bruins, 4-3 in the postseason

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

J.T. Miller-Stamkos-Kucherov

Palat-Point-Johnson

Killorn-Cirelli-Gourde

Kunitz-Paquette-Callahan

Defense

Hedman-Girardi

McDonagh-Stralman

Coburn-Sergachev

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

Domingue

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Rick Nash

Heinen-Riley Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Goalies

Rask

Khudobin

First Period

Both teams traded chances in the early going, but the game remained scoreless thanks to a couple strong saves by both goaltenders. Tuukka Rask looked exceptionally sharp early as the Lightning brought pressure early and often.

Both teams mixed it up physically, and it was clear that neither team wanted to give the other team an edge. The Lightning continued to get the better of the scoring chances but couldn’t solve Rask. The Bruins didn’t help themselves with a ton of turnovers in the defensive zone.

The Bruins would go to the powerplay with 2:57 to play in the period as Ryan Callahan tripped Kevan Miller in the offensive zone. Just eight seconds into the man advantage Rick Nash tipped a David Pastrnak wrist shot by Andre Vasilevskiy to give the Bruins a late first-period lead.

Score: 1-0 Boston

Second Period

After a strong shift by the first line, Patrice Bergeron drilled home a one-timer on a pass from Pastrnak to give the B’s a 2-0 lead just 42 seconds into the period.

The Lightning answered as a shot from the point by Dan Girardi got by Rask to cut the lead in half with 17:29 to go in the period.

An apparent goal by the Bruins was called back as Pastrnak was called for a cross-check and the Lightning went on the power play for the first time looking to tie the game. The Bruins killed off the penalty thanks a couple clutch saves by Rask. Shortly after the penalty expired, Nash fired an absolute snipe by Vasilevskiy on the rush for his second goal of the afternoon with 7:27 left to play in the period.

Eight seconds after the goal, Jake DeBrusk was called for interference which gave the Lightning another powerplay. The Lightning cut the lead back to one on a goal by Mikhail Sergachav who fired in a shot from the point with 6:38 to go after Rask had one of his skate blades come off.

Rask had a fantastic stop on Ondrej Palat with under a minute left in the period to keep it a one-goal game.

Score: 3-2 Boston

Third Period

The Bruins regained the two-goal lead as Brad Marchand deflected Charlie McAvoy’s shot past Vasilevskiy just 3:32 into the period.

The Bruins controlled the action for the majority of the first half of the third period with some good scoring opportunities and good shot blocking.

Bergeron buried his second goal of the game on a sweet feed from Marchand to extend the lead to three with 9:49 remaining in the game.

With 8:36 to go, the Lightning went to the power play for the third time in the game as DeBrusk was penalized again, this time for a cross check. The Bruins killed it off without many chances for the Lightning. In an interesting move, Lightning coach Jon Cooper pulled the goalie and DeBrusk empty-netter with 6:19 to go to make it 6-2 Bruins.

Final Score: 6-2 Boston