Boston Bruins Focus On Fixing Game After Rough Road Loss

 

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Patrice Bergeron #37 and David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrate after Bergeron’s goal put the Bruins up 3-1 against the New York Rangers in the second period at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 6, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

Well, that was an ugly one.  The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the National Hockey League this season.  As good as the B’s have been playing, we all sort of knew that one of those games was going to happen. The Black and Gold got mercilessly drubbed by the Vancouver Canucks 6-1 the other night.

While the Canucks and their fans celebrated like it was game eight of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals (It was seven years ago, and you lost, get over it.), the Bruins knew they’d have to take a step back and analyze exactly what went wrong on Saturday.

The answer was simple. The Bruins defensive game had gotten sloppy. The team had gaps in their coverage. The team seemed a little slow on the draw as well.  When those factors were added to Tuukka Rask having an off night, it led to the B’s giving up four first period goals against Vancouver.

The B’s knew that the team had lost a little polish off their game, but they usually relied on their offensive firepower to get themselves out of trouble.  That also seemed to let them down on Saturday (although not through lack of effort).  So, the Bruins will take this loss on the chin and get back to work.

“It’s been creeping into our game,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron about their lack of defensive effort. “We’ve been getting away from what’s been good to us.” Our defensive zone coverage has been lacking a little lately. We’ve got to tighten that up and yesterday was a perfect example…when you don’t start on time, and you have holes defensively that you don’t take care of, and don’t play the proper way and respect the game plan, that’s what happens.”

Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy knows his team will bounce back from this disappointment.  Still, he scheduled a Sunday practice that focused on the B’s remembering their strengths in the defensive zone. While the team didn’t need to go back to the drawing board, they did get a few touch-ups on their three-zone game.

“We built into practice. That’s generally what we do after a video session, where we try to teach or get better in an area, we’ll try to translate it into practice,” said Cassidy on the focus of the B’s Sunday practice. “We play tomorrow, we play Tuesday, so we’ve got to be careful. It was a workday.”

Even with the tough loss, the B’s are still in great shape. They’re one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic with five games in hand. The team will likely make life interesting for Dougie Hamilton and the rest of the Calgary squad as they fight to get themselves back in the win column.

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron And The Triple Fifty Line

 

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Patrice Bergeron #37 and Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins react in the first period against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 7, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins earned themselves another two points with a solid 5-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames Tuesday night.  Overall it was a great night for Bruins fans. The TD Garden hosted the legendary Don Cherry and members of the Bruins 1977-78 squad (the only team in NHL history to have 11 20-goal scorers).

The Bruins got on the board early, and they got on the board often. Once again, the Black and Gold came from behind to make life difficult for the opposing goalie. Riley Nash put in the first two goals of the night for the B’s, and B’s captain Zdeno Chara put in the empty-netter to seal the deal late for Boston.

But once again, the player of the game was B’s alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron scored the third and fourth goals of the game, putting the game out of reach and stealing the heat from the Flames.

Patrice Bergeron has been on fire these last few weeks. Since the start of 2018, the four-time Selke winner (and obvious first ballot into the Hockey Hall of Fame) has made NHL goalies his playthings by putting in 16 goals for the Black and Gold (including two hat tricks). Four of those goals were game-winners and he tallied an obscene 65 shots on goal.

So what does one of the hottest players currently in the National Hockey League think about being a one-man shooting gallery?

“I’m trying not to think about it,” said Bergeron with his usual honest humility. “I’m trying just to go out there, play, and stay focused…push myself to be better from one night to another and learn and watch video. Whenever it’s on the power play, [studying] my positioning and trying to find openings and things like that. To be honest with you, I’m trying to stay focused and be in the moment.”

Bergeron’s two goals helped him eclipse the 50-point plateau this season. Bergeron has hit this mark or higher every year for the last five seasons.  He’s the last of the Bruins top line to hit that mark. David Pastrnak crossed that line last week against the New York Rangers. Boston’s Little Ball of Hate Brad Marchand passed that mark in late January against the New Jersey Devils.

The Bruins top line has been one of the strongest lines in the entire league this season. It’s impossible to find a line in the league that has let in as few goals as they have. In his long career, Bergeron has been a remarkable leader and teacher to the rest of his line. He’s helped turn Marchand from a fourth-line grinder to an All-Star, and Pastrnak from a raw rookie to a future All-Star.

There’s also that small matter of putting Bergy’s name in the conversation for the Hart Trophy.

Look at the numbers Marchand and Bergeron have put up in their respective careers in Boston.  43 goals in 2010-11. 50 in 2011-12. 28 in 2012-13(but that’s because the owners wanted to stick it to the players and thus gave up half the season). The numbers are high and they stay high.

Now add in David Pastrnak and the numbers just get silly. 69 goals (10 of them game-winners) between the three of them. 156 points. 440 shots on goal and nobody on that line hits less than 14% of the time.  It’s as close to Bruins hockey perfection without mentioning the name ‘Orr’.

Patrice Bergeron is only 32. He still has five-plus years in the league. Marchand’s just 29. This power trio will be one of the dominant lines in the NHL until the mid-2020s.  Guess Bruins Nation owes a big debt of gratitude for Claude Julien for putting them together.

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins Rookie Squad Continues To Impress and Improve

 

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Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins works against Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers in the third period during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 6, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins knew they would be going all-in on the youth movement when they replaced Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy had spent his time in Providence working with many of the young kids that were coming up through the ranks in Boston. The Bruins organization knew that there would be growing pains early on and the team certainly felt them that first month (Especially with the rough string of injuries that hampered the Black and Gold).

The young kids have come a long way in just a few short months. They’ve picked up the slack in Boston, and in some cases helped push the team from the near bottom of the pack to the second-best point total in the NHL (after tonight’s 6-1 drubbing of the New York Rangers).

Early on in the season, the Boston Bruins had to rely on the scoring prowess of the Bergeron line. At one point in the season, the B’s top line was responsible for over 45% of the scoring for the Black and Gold.

Thankfully for the Bruins and their fans, that situation has changed. The Bruins rookie squad has learned from the B’s rough start and have become the most prolific scorers among all NHL teams. The rookies have already put up 33 goals for the Black and Gold, good enough for nearly 20% (19.41) of the B’s total goal production this season.  The young guns are playing their part in the B’s 3.27 goals/game average (fourth in the league).

The rookies have been all over the ice this season, and it shows in the Bruins numbers when compared to the rest of the league. Charlie McAvoy has done an outstanding job on the blueline so far this year. He’s part of the reason why the B’s are number one in the league in goals-against per game (2.35). He’s also seeing a decent amount of time on the penalty kill, now rated sixth in the league (82.9%).

The young players rookie seasons are certainly impressive so far. Danton Heinen already has 38 points (12 goals) this year and is on track for a near 60 point season this year. Jake DeBrusk isn’t that far behind with his 28 point (11 goals) effort. McAvoy finishes out the top three with 25 points and 5 goals.  Heinen certainly the breakout rookie star this year after working his way up onto the team after being a fourth-round pick (116th overall) in the 2014 Entry Draft. He’s become the B’s diamond in the rough this season.

The lion’s share of credit has to go to Cassidy, who is earning more and more buzz as a solid contender for the Jack Adams Award. He’s really turned things around in Boston and has made the Bruins a team to be respected in the league.

Credit also needs to be given out to the veteran members of the team who have helped make the young players better. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has certainly taken McAvoy under his wing. Players like Patrice Bergeron (who may actually pull of the Selke and the Hart Trophy this year), Brad Marchand, and even David Pastrnak have made the rookie forwards more dangerous and aware on the ice.

It’s been an amazing run so far for the 2017-18 Bruins squad, and all Black and Gold fans can only be excited for the young guns of the team. They continue to impress and improve and they’ll be a terror for the other teams for the rest of the season.

 

 

Boston Bruins: At The Trade Deadline, No News Is Good News

 

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Boston Bruins General manager Don Sweeney speaks to the media during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.
(June 24, 2016 – Source: Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                    Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins seem to be in control of their own destiny at the moment.  From an ugly beginning, the Black and Gold have earned points in 30 of their last 34 games. With their most recent win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the B’s sit comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division.

The Boston Bruins seem to be in control of their own destiny at the moment.  From an ugly beginning, the Black and Gold have earned points in 30 of their last 34 games. With their most recent win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the B’s sit comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division.

The Bruins next big move (other than forward Brad Marchand’s return to the ice) is the trade deadline. Several teams have been sniffing around the TD Garden to see who could be made available for the right price. Several big named players have put up their trade lists as well. (To no surprise, Boston was on those lists.) Don Sweeney had mentioned that they could be looking for a top-six winger earlier in the season.

So, what should the Bruins do?

Answer: Absolutely nothing.

The 2017-18 Bruins roster have really put things together in the middle of the season. For the first time in a few years, the Black and Gold have four solid forward lines. (Including the Bergeron line which could be argued as being the best top line in the NHL at the moment.) The Bruins defensive pairs have done their job, and the goaltending duo of Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask are among the top in the league right now.

The B’s have always believed in the ‘next man up’ philosophy. With the loss of Brad Marchand to his suspension, the team just moved the best possible player up a line and brought home points in four of the five games. But the B’s are also totally committed to the team this season. There are no Black and Gold passengers this time around.

“It’s just another sign of what you’re seeing inside of our club, and in that particular case outside, but there’s a lot of that going on,” offered Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy (who should be seriously considered for the Jack Adams this year. “Guys are working hard for one another, have each other’s backs. I was asked a question a while ago about what came first, the chemistry or the winning? I think it was the chemistry.

“You could see it earlier in the year. It didn’t result automatically in wins, but you could see our guys pulling for one another, and when we got healthy and started playing the way we wanted to. You see that up and down the lineup. Guys are happy for each other.”

So, let’s wrap up the Bruins current assets. A great set of forward lines. Three defensive pairs that bring it every night. Outstanding goaltending (sorry Tuukka haters). A deep set of prospects from the AHL down. At the moment the B’s have everything they need to make a deep run in the playoffs or even another Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Why would the Bruins even contemplate fixing something that isn’t broken?

Unless I’m reading the terrain all wrong, they won’t. From Jeremy Jacobs on down, the front office has to be excited about this year’s team.  Unless the B’s suffer a string of serious injuries (or Brad Marchand hits a ref with his stick), the Boston Bruins will do absolutely nothing at the trade deadline.

Even if the B’s thought something was still missing, they really couldn’t go all in to get it. The B’s have just over $2 million in cap space, and that won’t be enough to grab a big name at the deadline, and it seems way too much to invest in a rental.

So we can all relax. Don Sweeney is too cagey to allow anything to disrupt the team he’s worked hard on putting together. The Boston Bruins will pass through the deadline unharmed and unchanged, and that’s how most of us want it.

Except for the Tuukka haters.

Boston Bruins: Is This Frank Vatrano’s Last Season With The B’s?

 

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Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins directs Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on November 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
(Nov. 15, 2017 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Frank Vatrano is currently the odd man out with the Boston Bruins. Vatrano hasn’t seen much action with the Black and Gold this season. He’s only played in 22 games, and he’s spent most of that time as a fourth line grinder for the B’s. In his last five appearances, he cracked the ten-minute ice time mark only once.

Vatrano’s limited action is due to the strength of the Bruins rookies. The B’s youth movement have earned themselves positions on the roster, and that forced players like Matt Beleskey (currently playing in Providence) and Vatrano on the sidelines. Vatrano is only seeing action due to the B’s injuries and the suspension of forward Brad Marchand.

Vatrano’s never really been a full time player for Boston. He’s played in 83 games in the last two seasons. He’s been moving up and down the lines as the situation (or the injuries) required. For his part, the 23-year old Mass native is trying to stay positive. He’s doing his best to be ready for whenever he gets to see action on the ice.

“It’s always difficult when you’re not playing, you’re always trying to get back into the lineup,” Vatrano said. “But when the team is as hot as it is right now you’ve got to tip your cap to everyone in the room, even if you’re not in the lineup you’re rooting for the guys.

“You want them to win, you always want to win. You’ve got to be a good teammate, whether you’re in the lineup or out of the lineup. For me, I just have to have the same mindset night in and night out.”

Vatrano was a point-a-game player during his AHL time. (A situation he may find himself in again come next season.) Now he’s a penalty minute a game player.  He’s now in the situation that Ryan Spooner found himself in last year.  It’s not that he’s a terrible player, but the current roster have been firing on all cylinders.

For Vatrano, it’s about staying positive and waiting for the next opportunity to show he can still be an effective player in the Boston organization.

“I actually felt pretty good,” offered Vatrano on his current condition. “I’ve been trying to stay on top of my conditioning, on and off the ice. I felt good, felt like I really didn’t miss a beat out there. My timing was good, so hopefully I can add some more finishing to it. Obviously in a different role right now, so trying to be reliable.”

Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy has been satisfied with Vatrano’s reliability. Cassidy has been trying to find a use for Vatrano in the wake of the B’s youth movement. So far, Vatrano has adapted to his current role.

“With Frank, we’re going to continue to make sure that in those close games he does his part away from the puck, keep getting better defensively and hopefully the puck falls a little bit and he creates a little more on his own on that line,” said Cassidy of Vatrano’s current performance.

“He’s been good, he’s worked hard the last six weeks without playing. I give him credit for that, it’s not easy when you’re young.”

While Vatrano is trying hard to make a difference with Boston, it may be a case of too little, too late for him. The Bruins have too many prospects coming up. The B’s current roster is (for the most part) injury free, and it’s a case of too many players and not enough spots on the roster.

This will likely be the last season for Vatrano in the spoked ‘B’. Vatrano may end up back in Providence, but its more than likely that’ll end up in another organization.

Boston Bruins: Will Brad Marchand Ever Learn?

 

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Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on January 18, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Bruins defeated the Islanders 5-2.
(Jan. 17, 2018 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Brad Marchand is in trouble with the Department of Player Safety again. Marchand was given a five-game suspension by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for elbowing New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson during Boston’s 3-2 win on Tuesday.

Some fans will consider this a BS call. Marchand is trying to maneuver through two Devils players without running over the goaltender. Others will see it as Marchy being Marchy.  (And then there are the Canadiens fans who will want him banned from the league forever because of this.) Unfortunately for Marchand, he’s considered a repeat offender by the league.  Call it a reputation suspension or call it just desserts, Marchand will be out of action for the next two weeks.

The suspension will take him out of the line up until February 7 when he can play in New York against the Rangers.  “I let my teammates down. I know that,” said a dispirited Marchand to the media. “I let my organization down. I have to be better. There’s no question.”

There was a word missing in Marchand’s speech. The word is again.  He let his teammates down again. He let the organization down again. If the Bruins aren’t able to defeat Ottawa tonight, the Boston media (and a fair part of the fan base) will crucify him for being the reason why the Bruins point-streak ended.

This is Brad Marchand’s eighth run-in with the Department of Player Safety in his career.  This is his sixth suspension.  He has a lost of total of 19 games over the course of his suspensions. While he’s not Marty McSorley bad,  Marchand is entering Matt Cooke territory when it comes to being taken off the ice for bad hits.

Marchand will be participating in this weekend’s All-Star tournament. That’ll surely ruffle a few feathers. If he’s not careful, Marchand could find himself becoming the reason for a ‘Marchand rule’ about suspended players attending All-Star tournaments. (It’s bad enough he’s comparable to Matt Cooke [in the number of suspensions, NOT willfully engaging other players with a serious intent to injure], but he could end up joining John Scott.  The NHL made a rule to prevent another John Scott making the All-Star roster after he was traded and demoted to the AHL.)

“The last thing I want to do is anything to hurt the team,” said Boston’s Little Ball of Hate. “That’s obviously what I’ve done here. It wasn’t what I was trying to do.  We have a great team. They’re going to battle hard and do everything they can to win the games. I’ll be rooting them on. I put my team at a disadvantage again. I feel very bad about it.”

Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy still supports his top scoring forward.

“I don’t believe there was any intent to injure Johansson,” said Cassidy to the media on Thursday. “But at the end of the day, Brad’s responsible for his actions on the ice. The league dealt with it.

“We’ll talk to him about it. Hopefully going forward, there’s no more incidents. Because I think Brad’s really earned respect around the league for how he plays the game. He plays hard every night. For the most part, I think he’s kept his nose clean.”

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Brad Marchand ‘tries’ to keep his nose clean. In his NHL career, he’s progressed from part-time agitator to an elite level player. He crossed the 50-point mark in just 38 games this season. (It’s Marchand’s third straight 50-point season.)  He’s currently tied for tenth place in points and is near the top of the list in almost every category.

For all his improvement, he always seems to play a little too over the edge. Tuesday night was just another example. Marchand wants to wear an ‘A’ on his chest. The only way he’s going to get that letter is if he stops making bad calls at inopportune times.  As fans, we want him to constantly get better and learn from his mistakes. I just wish Marchand would try a little harder to remember that.

What’s Next For Former Boston Bruin Marc Savard

 

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Marc Savard reacts to scoring the winning overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 1, 2010. (Photo Credit: Chris Barelos)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                               Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Last Tuesday was a big day in Boston Bruins news. B’s defenceman Charlie McAvoy underwent a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. While this was big news, something nearly flew under the radar. Former Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard officially hung up the skates after a 13 season, 807 game career.

(That Marc Savard responded to the Tweet was the highlight of my day.)

During his career, Savard played 304 games in the Black and Gold. In his first season with Boston, the Ottawa native put up 96 points (22 goals). He led all Bruins in scoring for the first three years of his career in Boston. During his time in spoked ‘B’, Savard suffered multiple concussions, the last occurring on January 22, 2011, which effectively ended his career.

It was an unfortunate end to what looked liked a Hall of Fame career. Savard’s contract expired at the end of last season, and that was the impetus for him to hang up the skates for good.  Savard put up nearly a point a game for the Black and Gold, earning 302 points (74 goals) as a member of the Bruins.

His Bruins teammates (and the organization itself) fought to have Savard’s name put on the Stanley Cup after the B’s won it all in 2011.

While he played on four different teams, he still seems to have a special place in his heart for the TD Garden and the people of Boston.

“A lot of mixed emotions, but really proud,” offered Savard. “Obviously, I didn’t play in any playoff games that year, but it was a nice gesture [by the Bruins to include Savard’s name on the Cup] and something I’ll never forget. That’s why I still hold Boston near and dear to my heart. My kids and their kids will be able to see it and that means a lot to me.”

Savard was extremely thankful for the 13 years he was in the league.  As he said goodbye to this part of his hockey career, he thanked Boston Bruins fans again for their part in his incredible journey.

“I did have a lot of believers along the way, which helped me believe,” said Savard. “That’s always been my quote to myself, ‘If you believe, you can achieve.’ That’s what I lived and died on. I’m proud to have played that long, seeing your name on the Stanley Cup and having your dreams come true.

“Thank you for supporting me all those years, being there after the games were over and asking for an autograph. I was always happy to do that. Thanks for giving me a tap or chanting my name at the (Boston) Garden when I came back from injury. Just always being there, whether I had a good or bad night. For that, I am grateful.”

So, what’s the next step for Marc Savard?  The former NHL player is now exploring the possibility of coaching at the OHL level, and perhaps even higher.

“I’d like to coach in the [Ontario Hockey League] or maybe move up at some point,” shared Savard with NBC Sports. “My real focus is the younger generation. Been doing a lot of AAA hockey here in Peterborough. We have the OHL Petes. I played for the [Oshawa] Generals. I would look into doing something like that to move my career forward. Right now, I’ve been doing the kids hockey and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a lot of fun. I love giving back and it’s been great.”

He already has some triple-A coaching experience teaching his two sons the game of hockey. The 40-year old Savard has the right name and skill set to pass on what he’s learned, and it just seems that it’s just a matter of time until one organization or another snaps him up.

“We’ll see where this road takes me, but right now I’m really focused on the OHL or doing something with the younger age just to get some reps in and get used to being behind the bench a little more,” said Savard.

“I’m not going to put any limits on anything as I did as a player, so we’ll see what’s down the road.”

While Savard is content to start in the OHL, there is plenty of room in the NHL for a man of his talent. While it may take a few years, the idea of Coach Savard suiting up in the Black and Gold sounds like a great idea to this Bruins fan.

Sixty Years Later, The Legend Of Willie O’ Ree And The Boston Bruins Still Endures.

 

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Boston Bruins legend Willie O’Ree watches the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Bruins in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final at the TD Garden on June 17, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(June 16, 2013 – Source: Gail Oskin/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

Today is the 60th anniversary of Willie O’ Ree playing in the NHL. He was the first African-American player to suit up in the league, and he did it while wearing the Black and Gold of the Boston Bruins.  O’ Ree ended up playing against the Montreal Canadiens that night (another page in the glorious history of the rivalry between those two teams).

Willie O’ Ree set a standard for the NHL. He integrated into the league in a time where integration wasn’t considered to be a good idea. He gave everything he had. Every night. (Looking at other people who were blessed enough to have the privilege to wear the Black and Gold, that should be enough). O’Ree ended up playing only 45 games in the NHL, but all of them were for the Boston Bruins.

O’Ree’s career is extensive. During his 28 season career (1950-1979), O’ Ree played in ten different leagues. He played at the NHL level despite being nearly blind in his right eye (a fact he kept hidden in order to play in Boston).

O’ Ree still checks in on the Bruins from time to time, when he isn’t helping grow the sport of hockey around the world.

For the last 20 years O’ Ree has been the diversity ambassador to the NHL. He tirelessly strives for the day where any kid can learn the game of hockey.

The Boston sports fan community hasn’t always been painted in the best light over the years. There have been a tiny minority of fans who have said and done stupid things in the name of the fandom (and bigotry). While some people still believe that Boston should still be painted with a racist brush, O’Ree disagrees.

He even regards Boston as his second home.

“You’re going to have racism, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance all over. I had it when I played. The one thing I did was I just ignored it. I just told myself ‘I’m a black player playing hockey. If people can’t accept me for the individual that I am — because I had the skills and the ability to play hockey at that time — then that’s their problem, not mine,’ ” said O’Ree about his confronting bigotry while playing pro hockey.

Willie O’ Ree was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2008.

A case should be made about inducting him in the NHL Hall of Fame. Granted 45 games isn’t enough to be considered to make that much of an impact as a player. But there is a category that fits O’Ree to a tee.

O’Ree should be inducted into the Hall of Fame under the ‘builder’ category. As diversity ambassador, he has brought hockey to all parts of the world. He has spent the last two decades expanding the fan base. (Besides, if Jeremy Jacobs (the guy that held the reins for two lockouts and was the silent voice behind a third) can qualify as a builder, then O’Ree certain deserves the nod.)

Happy Anniversary to one of Boston’s living legends. He made the game of hockey a better place to play in.

Claude Julien And His Legacy With The Boston Bruins

 

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Head Coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins helps Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins adjust the chin strap on his helmet during a second period time out against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 5, 2011, at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

By Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, Claude Julien will always have a warm spot in their hearts. He was the coach that helped the Black and Gold get back to the Stanley Cup.  He was one of the key figures in the B’s bringing the Cup back to Boston in 2011.  With 419 wins under his belt, it will be quite some time till another head coach takes that benchmark away from him.

Julien’s return earned him a tribute video during Wednesday’s nights game.

The B’s family came to their feet to give Julien a standing ovation. It was well deserved in this fan’s opinion.

On the other side of the coin, there are Bruins fans who don’t have such a soft spot for Claude. He didn’t seem to connect well with the young players. He kept engaging in a defensive-minded hockey system that alienated the more aggressive players on the squad.

Love him or hate him, the former Bruins bench boss came to town tonight. It’s the first time he’s been here as a member of the visiting team since he was dismissed by Cam Neely last season after spending nearly a decade with the B’s. Julien returned to Boston at the head of the infamous Montreal Canadiens, the B’s most loathed rivals.

(At this moment, you can hear your average Montreal fan muttering something about “24 cups”. It’s a pity they haven’t won any since the start of the salary cap era.)

Boston Bruins fans owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Claude. If it wasn’t for him, the Bruins roster would be missing an integral component of their current roster. If it wasn’t for Julien, it’s likely we wouldn’t have the ‘Little Ball of Hate’ in Boston.

Brad Marchand is the best example of what Claude Julien did for the Bruins. Marchand started in the NHL as a young player with a lot of talent, but absolutely no discipline. Marchand started his career in Boston as a fourth-line grinder, playing minimal minutes due to his unpredictable style of hockey.

Julien believed in Marchand’s potential. He pushed an undisciplined pest to become a more complete player. His lessons didn’t just cover what to do on the ice. Julien helped Marchand (who currently leads the team in goals and assists) temper his demeanor and make him a better professional player overall.

Had Brad Marchand not came to Boston during the Julien era, it is very possible that Marchand would have become one of those bottom-six pests that would have been bounced around the league, never finding a home in his career.

“He gave me an opportunity to play, dealt with me more than I think a lot of coaches would have, worked with me tirelessly,” said an appreciative Marchand of his former coach. “Had plenty of conversations about how to act and how to be a good player, a good pro, how to learn the game and become a better player.

“He definitely gave me a huge opportunity and allowed me to grow into a better player.”

“You could go through a lot of different things, but the biggest thing he preached to me was how to be a good pro and how to be consistent,” continued Marchand. “That’s one thing we talked about is consistency. And if you want to be in this league for a long time you have to be able to bring your best game every night or close to it. That was probably one of the biggest things I took away.”

Marchand has become an All-Star in the league. He has become less known for his agitations, and more for his skill. He’s advanced from a part-time grinder to an elite player that causes most teams fits on any given night. He’s #63 on the roster and #1 in the hearts of many fans (and a #2 to those who love Patrice Bergeron more).

Brad Marchand is part of the legacy of Claude Julien.  Love him or hate him, Julien’s place in the history of the Boston Bruins is secure.

Boston Bruins Goaltenders Continue Winning Ways

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Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins and Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens look on during the DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting event during the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition as part of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend at STAPLES Center on January 28, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
(Jan. 27, 2017 – Source: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                 Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins came off their bye week by beating the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout on Saturday night. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask shook off some early rust to shut down the Habs offense and helped secure two points for the Black and Gold.

Tuukka Rask has been an exemplary player for the last month and a half.  Rask was named the NHL’s First Star of the Month for December for his strong play in front of the crease.  The 30-year old Finnish netminder has not lost a game in regulation since November 26 when the B’s fell to the Edmonton Oilers. Since that loss, Rask has gone 12-0-2, with an outstanding 1.69 goals against average and a Vezina-worthy .938 save percentage.

Rask’s overall numbers look much better as well. Rask is currently 15-8-4, putting up a 2.25 goals against average and a respectable .919 save percentage (705 saves).  Since 2012, no NHL goalie has seen more ice-time than Rask. He has bounced back from an ugly to start to the season, and he’s starting to enter the Vezina conversation for the first time this season.

Rask has always been one of those players that have been exceptionally candid with the media.

Rask has always been honest about his game play. It’s one of the things that has resonated with most of the Bruins fan base.

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Goalie Anton Khudobin #35 of the Boston Bruins looks on against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Capital One Arena on December 28, 2017, in Washington, DC.
(Dec. 27, 2017 – Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

Anton Khudobin has been bringing home the bacon for Boston as well. His strong play at the start of the season kept the Black and the Gold above water as they team floundered through a tough string of injuries. Those injuries often placed Bruins rookies against some of the best in the NHL, and it was Dobby who kept the team standing.

Khudobin will be in the crease for Boston as they take on the Dallas Stars this afternoon. It will be his first start since he shutdown the Carolina Hurricanes in a 7-1 shellacking of his former team.

Khudobin’s recent numbers are also quite strong. In his last three starts, Khudobin is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals against average and a .959 save percentage. For the season, Dobby is 9-2-3, with a respectable 2.37 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage.

The Boston Bruins have risen like a phoenix from the ashes this season. After months of solid play, the Black and Gold find themselves second in the Atlantic Division. At the moment, they have a 99.9% chance of making the postseason (it was under 40% in the middle of November). The B’s got where they are through perseverance, determination, and the strength of two amazing goaltenders.