Boston Bruins: Cam Neely Hopes For Changes In Officiating Next Season

 

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President of the Boston Bruins Cam Neely speaks onstage during the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation hosts “A Magical Evening” at Cipriani Wall Street on November 17, 2016 in New York City.
(Nov. 16, 2016 – Source: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                   Twitter:  @godwentwhoops

 

Bruins President Cam Neely certainly wasn’t happy with the team’s early exit in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Neely felt that several calls severely hurt the team in their quest to get the Cup, and would like to see things change next season.

Neely certainly has cause to be angry.  While the B’s were eliminated by a faster team, the team lost momentum at key times due to bad calls, missed calls, or penalties that seemed to appear out of the aether.

“It does need to get addressed because the game has gotten faster,” said Neely at the end of the year media press conference. “There were a lot of great, exciting matchups in the playoffs, and a lot of the talk – not just in our series – was about the officiating.”

While the Bruins certainly weren’t the only team slighted by the refs, they seemed to take a healthy share of the abuse from the zebras. Even now, the hockey media around the US and Canada are asking for certain refs to be penalized for their actions or missteps.

“It is something the league has to look at,” said Neely on his thoughts regarding the poor state of officiating during this season’s playoffs. “They have to go back and look at all the games, and I know they do that after every game, but I think they really need to take a hard look at what’s happening with the refereeing because the game’s gotten that much faster. Are the referees keeping up with the pace of the game? It’s fast out there.”

“Replay is [a way to keep up with the speed]. I’ll give you an example: It would take two seconds for somebody to call downstairs and say it was [Victor Hedman] that got hit with his own stick, and it’s a non-call [on David Pastrnak]. Something like that would be easy. The puck off the glass [for delay of game] in the Toronto series would be an easy call. If you get too deep into the weeds you’re going to find yourself with delays as the calls are being debated, but I think there are some really easy ones where you could call down and say ‘that wasn’t a penalty.’ There’s a lot of technology that can help you, but you really don’t want to get bogged down in the weeds slowing the game down [with replays] too much.”

The 2017-18 Boston Bruins certainly exceeded expectations this year. After an abysmal start, a healthy majority of the Boston media had wrote the team off. The infamous ‘too young’ comments helped spur to the Black and Gold to finish second in the Atlantic. Perhaps Neely is disappointed because he believed the team would be even better than they ended up.

Hopefully, the league will take a look at how the refs have done this season, and try to implement a few changes for the 2018-19 season. Not just for the Black and Gold, but for the rest of the teams in the league as well.

 

 

A Look At The Boston Bruins Salary Cap

 

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David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 4, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(May 3, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                 Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins exceeded most fans expectations last season. The youth movement helped lead the team into a second-round run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While their early exit was disappointing, the B’s front office now have to turn the page and look to the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Moving forward, the Bruins have a few things going for them regarding the salary cap. The Las Vegas Golden Knights slightly magical (and sort of improbable) Stanley Cup Final appearance will certainly help propel the league’s overall financial performance. This will certainly add a few dollars to the salary cap next season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman claimed the salary cap would go up. He mentioned that it would at least $78 million. That figure could go up even more, perhaps as high as $82 million. If the salary cap goes that high, it would certainly help the B’s out now and down the road.

The Bruins currently have $65.3 million reserved for their current roster of players. That figure includes 10 forwards, six blueliners, and Tuukka Rask. With the projected minimal cap increase, the B’s will have $12.7 million to lock up the remainder of the squad. At the moment, it would be three forwards, one defenceman, and a backup goaltender for Rask.

The B’s are very likely going to keep Anton Khudobin on the roster. He was the better goaltender early in the season and was a dependable player for the Black and Gold last year. The B’s will likely sign him in the high-six, low-seven figures (Best guess would put the figure at a cool million).

This leaves $11.7 million.

The Bruins will still have a lot of space available for their restricted free agents. Forward Sean Kuraly and middles Matt Grzelcyk will be retained for relatively low costs.  A realistic guess would have the B’s picked up both players for roughly three million. Those three purchases would lock up the team at the defencemen and goaltender positions and still give the B’s 8.7 million to sign the forwards.

The Bruins have a few less-than-ideal contracts on the books right now. The B’s are paying six million a year for David Backes. At 33, he’s one of the more expensive middle-six forwards in the NHL. There have been a lot of complaints on David Krejci’s seven-plus million as well.

The complaints about Tuukka Rask could fill a dozen articles. No matter what Rask does, there will always be arguments about him not being a Stanley Cup goaltender.

Unless something radically changes during the offseason, the Bruins organization are going to keep all three players. (Personally, I’d like to keep all three as well. My inner backseat GM would try to move Backes solely on the six million for a middle-six player.)

So, who are going to be the three players that the B’s should sign for next season? Riley Nash’s strong regular season performance should put him at the top of the list. The Bruins should be able to secure him for a high-two, low-three million dollar deal.

That gives the team roughly between $5.6 and $6 million left to play with.  The Bruins front office now have a more difficult choice to make among the remaining players. Do they retain veterans like Rick Nash, or do they fully embrace the youth movement?

Bruce Cassidy seems to be leaning towards doubling down on the youth movement. At the end of the year press conference, the Bruins bench boss expressed his excitement over the large pool of young talent that could earn themselves a position come October.

“So we have players that had positive years in Providence,” said Cassidy.  “Austin Czarnik had a really good year. He could come in and take somebody’s job. He’s a pending group six. Again, I can go through the whole list of players I’m sure you’re referencing, whether it’s Jakub Zboril, whether it’s [Zach] Senyshyn, whether it’s [Trent] Frederic coming out of school, we’re cognizant of every one of them and sort of where their potential trajectory is. Our exit meetings with [Jakob] Forsbacka-Karlsson, as an example, who had a tough injury and missed a stretch down there, they’ve all made good progress, but when the rubber hits the road in training camp, you’ve got to take someone’s job.

“That’s what we try to tell them. Prepare for what’s in front of you and your opportunity will be there. We’re excited about our young players. But, the player himself will dictate it. The opportunity will be there. Nobody is boxed out. We have depth. Hopefully, we’re going to continue to add to that in our organization, because you need it.”

If we are to take anything out of this, it seems that Rick Nash will not be re-signed by Boston. Tommy Wingels and Brion Gionta will also likely be thanked for their service and not re-signed. Tim Schaller seems the only one of the team’s current UFA forwards that will be retained, and his contract will likely be around Anton Khudobin’s price range.

The Bruins will likely comb through the talent pool of Providence and see if any of the young forwards are ready to make the big move to the NHL. Several of them have already shown flashes of brilliance, and that may make the choice easy for the organization come training camp in September.

While there are storm clouds on the horizon for the Bruins, those hard choices are two seasons away. At the moment, the B’s salary cap position looks relatively secure for the 2018-19 season.

Boston Bruins: Trading Torey Krug?

 

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Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Kevan Miller #86 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup play-offs at TD Garden on April 25, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 7-4.
(April 24, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

As fans of the Boston Bruins, we’re all disappointed at the end of the B’s 2017-18 season. This year’s squad had the potential of making it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended those dreams by taking out the Black and Gold in five games.

They’ll be no dirty water in the Stanley Cup this year. So what happens when the team doesn’t go all the way. As usual, the fans and the media resort to the annual round of recriminations against the players and the front office.

A fair amount of that rage has been put on two players. Torey Krug and Brad Marchand. The most recent grumblings around Causeway Street are to have one or both of these players moved in the offseason. While Marchand’s licking antics were certainly a distraction, he was one of the best players for the B’s in the regular season and the playoffs.

Marchand’s not going anywhere. Like Patrice Bergeron, he’s going to be in the Black and Gold until he retires.

But persistent rumors continue to swirl around Torey Krug. Could the Bruins organization be considering moving him in order to find the missing piece for next season? The B’s have several left-shooting d-men coming up through the ranks, and on some level, it might actually make sense?

But would the Bruins do it?

Absolutely not. Trading Torey Krug is asinine.

Krug is the kind of player who will kill himself in order to make the play. He broke his ankle in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and will be wearing a boot for the next two months. (Thankfully, the injury won’t require surgery.)

“To be honest, I was hoping I just had a sprained ankle or something and I’d be able to go off for a shift and come back out there, but it was pretty obvious that that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Krug about his broken ankle. “You just try to get up and get off the ice. My dad always told me, ‘Don’t lay on the ice and let people pick you up.’ So [I] just kept going.”

Krug should be fully healed in time for training camp in September.

The biggest reason the Bruins organization won’t move him is simple: Krug is too bloody valuable to Boston. Krug led all defencemen with 59 points this season. His 14 goals was also a personal best for the 26-year old Michigan native. Krug also led B’s defencemen in scoring during the postseason, notching up 12 points for the Black and Gold. (By comparison, Bruins wunderkind Charlie McAvoy only put up five.)

Krug is one of the more reliable blueliners the B’s have right now. That he is one of the better puck-moving d-men out there certainly increases his value. He’s dependable, reliable, and gives people six inches taller than him a serious run for their money.

The Bruins organization might move Krug, but the offer would have to been one of those Tuukka Rask for magic beans trades that Boston always finds a way to get the Toronto Maple Leafs to agree to.

Krug’s potential has yet to be fully realized. Krug has the ability to be a 60 or even 70 point player for Boston. That’s something Cam Neely and Don Sweeney won’t walk away from.

So, the next time some media outlet mentions a ‘hot take’ on moving Krug, you can toss that opinion into Boston Harbor.

 

Boston Bruins: Simple Mistakes, Simple Fixes

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins talks with Matt Grzelcyk #48 during the second period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(May 1, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                          Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins are proving to be their own worst enemy right now. The Black and Gold had a sold-out crowd backing them on Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The B’s looked poised to push the Tampa Bay Lightning into Boston Harbor with a resounding win.

Then the B’s started making simple mistakes. The Bolts easily capitalized on those simple errors, allowing Tampa forward Ondrej Palat to score twice within the first 3:19 of the game.

“[The] puck kind of felt like it back-spin on me on the ice,” said Matt Grzelcyk about his early error that led to the Bolt’s first goal of the night. “[I] thought maybe it went behind me, so [I] just took my eye off the puck, I guess. And they capitalized because they’re a good team. Obviously not the way you want to start a game. It was tough bouncing back after that.”

Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, those two goals were all Tampa needed to beat Boston. The B’s ended up falling to the Lightning 4-1.  The B’s get another chance of redemption against Tampa Bay on Friday.

“We made a few mistakes early that unfortunately, we couldn’t crawl our way back from,” shared Bruins forward Brad Marchand with the media postgame. “But we had some pushes during the game where their goalie made some big saves. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Can we blame some of this on shoddy officiating? Some, but not much. The Bruins certainly got no favors from the refs in that game. (If you take a look around the league, the refs have been maddeningly inconsistent across the board in the second round of the postseason.)

Thankfully, the B’s penalty kill did its job most of the night in Game 3.

Did the refs take away the momentum from the Bruins at times? Sure, but when the B’s seemed to have control of the ice, they were unable to find a way around Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Do the Bruins need to go back to the drawing board? Certainly not. The B’s are an elite team that earned their place in the playoffs. They’re just going to have to make a few tweaks and focus a little more on their puck management.

The B’s top-six forwards will remain the same. They’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting so far this series. While there are certainly no passengers on the team right now, there are players (especially among the bottom-six forwards) who need to hunker down and give everything they’ve got left to win this series.

While changes are going to be made among the forwards (and quite possibly a shuffling of the defensive pairs), Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is keeping any new configurations under his hat for the time being.

“I’m not going to tell you who’s going in or who’s going out now because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first and then go from there,” offered Cassidy. “Tuukka [Rask] will start, I’ll give you that.”

The Bruins seem ready for Game 4, and they’ll stand by whatever decisions Cassidy wants to make.

“He’s gonna make his decisions as a coach,” said B’s alternate captain David Backes. “We’re the players, if we’re in the lineup we’ve got to give everything we’ve got every time our name is called to get on the ice. If it’s not called, we need to be supportive of our teammates. The character in this room is something I’ve never been concerned about. We have guys that when they’re out there are working their butts off to try and stay ready if their name is called.”

 

Boston Bruins: Department Of Player Safety Will Suspend Nazem Kadri

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Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on November 10, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime.
(Nov. 9, 2017 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are some of the most intense two months you’ll see in all of the professional sports. Sixteen teams battle in four rounds of hockey. They all have one goal in mind. To bring the Stanley Cup home.

Hockey is a passionate sport. Sometimes players will go out there and do stupid things. As a member of the Boston Bruins fan base, many of us have had to defend the actions of our players during past playoffs.

Let’s face it, defending Brad Marchand can be a full-time job for many fans of the Black and Gold.  Marchand going ‘Fifty Shades of Bruin’ on Leo Komarov will certainly be generating some anti-rat buzz for Boston’s ‘Little Ball of Hate’ tomorrow.

I won’t be surprised at all if the home office in Toronto throws some kind of fine at him.

But for all of Marchand’s antics Thursday evening, Leafs forward Nazem Kadri’s dangerous play takes the cake.  Kadri made two separate hits on Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in the game.  He was penalized for both hits and was given a game misconduct for the second one.

Kadri will almost certainly be suspended for the hit. The Leafs will be down one of their best players, and Kadri could easily find himself watching the rest of the series from the ninth level.

This is what Kadri had to say in his defense of the (second) hit on Wingels.

“Well, initially I just thought (Wingels) made contact with (Mitch Marner’s) head to start,” said Kadri postgame, “and I didn’t see a call there. He was turning up the wall, so I was coming into the hit, and then he ended up falling. It happened pretty quick, and I think he was reaching for the puck. I haven’t really watched it yet, but I don’t think I stuck my leg out or my arm out. or whatever the case is, but it’s in the NHL’s hands at this point.”

Kadri (like Marchand) is considered a repeat offender. He has been suspended three times in his career.  He (like Marchand) has been fined in the past for various violations of league rules. The Department of Player Safety will (or at least should) take his past transgressions into account when the penalize him.

This looks like it should be a two or three-game suspension. Personally, I’d rather see three. It was a dangerous hit, and it wasn’t Kadri’s only attempt to injure another hockey player. One stupid hit in a game is being like Brad Marchand. Two or more and you start looking like Matt Cooke.

Hopefully, the Department of Player Safety gets this one right. Fingers crossed, but the DoPS have let us all down before.

Boston Bruins Say Farewell to Rene Rancourt

 

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Rene Rancourt sings the national anthem before the game between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on April 8, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(April 7, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

If you’ve ever been to the TD Garden for a Boston Bruins home game, you’ve heard his voice. Over the last 42 years, he’s been the artist who has sung the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘O, Canada’  before the start of a Bruins match. On Sunday night, Rene Rancourt sang his final regular season rendition of the American national anthem.

 

Love him or hate him, he was the voice of the Bruins for decades. Rancourt’s voice either raptured or repelled. The mid-anthem grumbling became one of the things you got used to hearing from fans as Rancourt belted out the American and Canadian anthems.

Rancourt was also accorded the honor of dropping the ceremonial puck before the start of the game. Sadly, the Boston Bruins couldn’t send Rancourt out on a high note. The Florida Panthers beat the Bruins 4-2 in the B’s final game of the 2017-18 season.

The 78-year old Rancourt will continue to sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘O, Canada’ during the playoffs. So, at the very least, Bruins faithful will get to hear him sing two more times before he officially packs it in at the TD Garden.

Rancourt was a TD Garden legend. The Bruins organization will be hard pressed to find anyone who can fill the room with his level of charisma. So, Godspeed Rene, you gave three generations of Bruins fans incredible memories.

Boston Bruins: Thirst For First Runs Dry

 

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Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on November 10, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime.
(Nov. 9, 2017 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew E Thompson                                                                 Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins found themselves controlling their own destiny on Sunday night. The Black and Gold were playing for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference as they took on the Florida Panthers in the final game of the 2017-18 season. The B’s weren’t able to get it done, falling to the Cats 4-2.

 

Sure, the loss was disappointing. Had the Bruins won, they’d have had the top spot in the East and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs.  The loss put the B’s playoff plans into sharp focus. With their second place seed in the Atlantic secured, they now prepare to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins knew they let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers with their loss tonight.  “We’re not going to allow one game to define us, yet we understand the meaning,” said Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy over the loss after the game. “We let one get away, an opportunity lost to have home-ice advantage. And we’ll see if that haunts us down the road. I think it’s too early to tell that right now.”

The Bruins certainly struggled against the Leafs this season. Early on in the season, the Black and Gold were totally black and blue. Injuries to key players kept the B’s on the defensive in their first two games back in November of 2017.  The B’s dropped both of those games. The B’s looked better against the Leafs in February, beating them cleanly 4-1 in one match. In the other game, the team missed a few opportunities and fell to the Leafs 4-3.

So, how will the Black and Gold do against a team that they went 1-2-1 in the regular season?

Injuries will certainly play a factor in the series. The Bruins will be without the services of two players for the remainder of the playoffs. Anders Bjork is out with a shoulder injury sustained at the end of January.  Brandon Carlo is all out of action due to his ankle fracture sustained on March 31.  Rick Nash and Riley Nash are questionable for Thursday night, and their absence could be keenly felt during game one.

The Leafs are no slouch on offense.  Toronto is fourth in the league in goals scored (3.29/game).  Boston is sixth with 3.26 goals/game. They have seven 50-plus point players on their team (compared to four Bruins). Thankfully, no Leaf player can match the firepower of either Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak. The Leafs will also have to work hard to find a solution to Mr. Selke himself, Patrice Bergeron. (Bergeron’s 57.31% faceoff win percentage is (once again) among the best in the league.)

Special teams will certainly play a factor as well. The Leafs are second in the league on the power play (25%, the Bruins are fourth with 23.5%).  The Bruins have the edge on the penalty kill, being the third best team in the NHL while a man down (83.7%, the Leafs are 12th at 81.4%).

The Black and Gold could find themselves in a protracted goalie duel in the first round. While some fans would disagree with this, the Bruins have the advantage here. Frederik Andersen won four more games than Tuukka Rask but played 12 more games. Rask has also given up a full half goal less per game (2.36 to Andersen’s 2.81). As long as Rask has proper support, he’ll be able to get the team past the Leafs.

Rask feels like he’s ready for the challenge. “Prepare mentally and physically…we know it’s going to be Toronto in the first round, so we have to be ready because it’s going to be a tough matchup like they all are,” said Tuukka Rask. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me who you play because you’ve got to beat them all so you just have to prepare yourself and be ready when the puck drops on Thursday.”

The Leafs also have a tendency to give up more soft goals than Boston. (The Leafs are 12th in the league with 2.8 goals-against per game, while the B’s are fourth at 2.57.)

The Black and Gold begin their quest for the Stanley Cup, and they look like they’ve got the skills to make a solid run.

 

Boston Bruins: Finally First In The Atlantic

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at TD Garden on November 29, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Nov. 28, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins have had a very unusual season.

The Black and Gold started out in a rough patch due to the loss of so many senior players. As the season progressed, the 2017-18 B’s had to overcome a serious boatload of injuries. The team roster often found itself inundated with AHL players in order to overcome their shortcomings on their current roster.

As the Bruins progressed, the team’s behavior certainly didn’t help.  The occasional suspension of key players (B’s forward Brad Marchand (who earned it) and David Backes (who only earned it because the Department of Player Safety lives in some damnable bizarre universe where only their interpretations of the rules make sense. (By the way, if Parros isn’t being set up by Bettman et al to take the fall when the NHLPA’s concussion case finally comes to court…well, that will certainly be a pleasant surprise.))) certainly didn’t help matters.

By actions that happened outside of their control, the 2017-18 Bruins were put in a very ugly situation.  It left them adrift in a no-mans-land.  This meant the local media (who act like ravenous piranhas on a good day) chose to have their way with a team that was trying to find its identity. It didn’t matter that several key players were hurt. It didn’t matter that the team was full of young talent. The local media smelled blood in the water, and like sharks in a feeding frenzy, they engaged without thought of the potential consequence of their actions.

This meant the Boston media wrote the team off way too early. Many of the pundits claimed that the Bruins organization had made too many unrecoverable mistakes. The team was too young. The team lacked a central core. The Bruins could not get behind a coach who was spending his first full season as an NHL bench boss.

Boy were the pundits (this means you Felger) wrong. Not just wrong, but humbly being served an order of crow tartar while apologizing for their errors in judgment wrong. That is the problem with mainstream Boston media these days. Once they think you’re done, they’ll press the point come hell-or-high-water and damn the facts if they disagree with the narrative.

The 2017-18 Bruins squad have done something that very few teams in NHL history have done. They have fought and scratched their way from a non-playoff position to the top of their division. As of March 30th, the Boston Bruins via a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning hold sole possession of the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

How did the B’s get to where they are now? By not listening to the media. By committing themselves to every practice they undertook. By recognizing that every shift had significance and those shifts were a building block for the shifts that followed them.

“I guess when you look at the importance of the game, they’ve been in first place pretty much as long as I can remember this year. So that’s nice, to pass them,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy of the Bruins passing the Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division.

The B’s 4-2 win proved to the league that they can take on the best in the Eastern Conference. When the Bruins head into the postseason, they’ll be in a prime position. While it might be a little too early to talk smack, the Bruins look like a team that could reach the Stanley Cup Finals this year.

 

Brad Marchand: Boston Bruins Overtime Machine

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Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins carries the puck against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on February 11, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Boston Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-3.
(Feb. 11, 2018 – Source: Steven Ryan/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

Brad Marchand may be the most polarizing player currently on the Boston Bruins roster. Bruins fans love him. When it comes to other teams, their fan base fans usually complain why a player like him is even allowed in the league.

The reason why Marchand is in the NHL is simple: He’s one of the best players on the ice at the moment. Once again, the 29-year old winger proved his mettle for the Black and Gold. His overtime goal against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night gave the B’s another two points as they start their final push to end the season atop the Atlantic.

Marchand’s game-winner was his fifth overtime goal this season and the 12th of his career. He’s the fourth player in NHL history to put up five overtime goals in a single season. Only Steven Stamkos (2011-12), Jonathan Toews (2015-16), and Alex Galchenyuk (2016-17) have been able to tally that many overtime goals, and it puts Boston’s Little Ball of Hate (or Great) in with some very elite company.

For all his recent success on the ice (22 points/ 9 goals in the last 13 games), Marchand doesn’t expect things to always go his way. Thankfully, he’s got the skill set to makes things happen for the Bruins.

“You get that confidence a bit, but it all has to go right,” said Marchand on how the Bruins react in overtime situations. “Guys have to make plays and you have to start with the puck a lot of times which we were able to get it back tonight. You need a lot of things to go right, but sometimes you benefit from certain plays, sometimes you don’t.

“This year I’ve played with a lot guys that can make plays and I’ve benefitted from that.”

Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy (who should be in serious consideration for the Jack Adams Award) had nothing but positive things to say about the B’s top winger.

“At some point, when he’s out there and you get puck possession, he’ll probably generate something. He’s really been able to finish,” said Cassidy on Marchand’s performance. “Overtime specifically and especially this month, he’s sure come through for us. He’s an elite player. We expect him to get his looks every night because he’s hard on the puck and a competitor.

“Doesn’t surprise me. Again, he was hard on it tonight…their line was very good again tonight.”

His teammates were also not shy on heaping on the praise. “He wants to be the guy, he’s got that edge to him,” said Bruins defenceman Torey Krug of Marchand. “He wins a lot of 50-50 pucks. When you’re 3-on-3 on the ice and he’s winning those battles it’s gonna lead to a chance for your team.

“We expect him to come out on the right side of the puck most of the time and that’s what good players and leaders on our team do.”

If it wasn’t for his suspension earlier in the season, Marchand should have been part of the discussion for this year’s Hart Trophy.

The B’s latest win gives the 104 points for the season. Now their just two points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with a single game in hand.  The Bruins can easily end up as the best team in the Atlantic by the end of the season.  The B’s are currently enjoying their 22nd 100+ point season and a healthy part of the team’s success has been Brad Marchand.

Ryan Donato Cuts His Teeth on TD Garden Ice

 

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Ryan Donato meets his team after being drafted #56 by the Boston Bruins on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(June 27, 2014 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @godwentwhoops      The Boston Bruins found themselves in a pickle last Monday night. They were taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets who were fighting to hold on to their wild-card playoff slot. The Bruins were down no less than seven players and had to dig deep in order to earn points against the Jackets.

This led to the saw debut of Ryan Donato. Donato is a junior at Harvard. Once Harvard was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs,  the 21-year old Donato junior made the decision to waive his fourth year of NCAA eligibility.  (Donato had been drafted in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was a second-round pick (like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand) and was the 56th pick overall.) He then signed with the Black and Gold the very next day.

 

This was a big opportunity for the Mass native to showcase some of his skills. By and large, he succeeded. Donato earned his first NHL goal, and his first assist as well.

In the end, Donato ended up with a three-point night and found himself all over the ice. Coach Bruce Cassidy had Donato on the power play and even gave him some ice time during the overtime period.

Current members of the team were certainly pleased with Donato’s debut in Boston. “Ryan played a good game,” said Bruins forward David Krejci on Donato’s first game in the spoked ‘B’.  Donato’s third point of the season came from Krejci’s goal in the middle of the third period. That goal opened the way up for the B’s to take the see-saw game to overtime.  “Good for his confidence to get the first one. That is always the hardest, but he’s got to keep playing the way he played today. I thought he played well and he made some good plays. He easily could have got a couple of more, but that’s a good start for him.”

This was a fantastic debut for the Scituate native.  Even in the loss, Donato was excited to don the spoked ‘B’ and carry on another father-son tradition in Boston. The Donatos are the sixth family in Bruins history to carry on the Black and Gold legacy from father to son.

“I mean, it was fun,” said Donato of his first game for Boston. “Obviously it ended tough, but at the end of the day I was excited and I think it all went well personally, but I’d say it’s still bitter because of the loss.”

Donato’s arrival is certainly a good sign for Boston. Even with some of their best players out of action, the depth of this team is incredible. They’re competitive with other playoff teams and are even capable of shutting out some of the best teams in the NHL. Donato’s strong play once again validates Boston’s “next man up” philosophy.

In the end, Donato and the B’s weren’t able to pull off the win, but they did get that important OT point. This gives the Bruins 99 points for the season. The Black and Gold should find themselves holding onto an automatic playoff spot the next time they earn any kind of point in their next eleven games.