Potential Trade Targets For The Bruins This Offseason

(Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

By: Lucus Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With free agency just around the corner, the Bruins will continue to look for additions to their roster. While the cap is certainly still an issue, I thought up of a few players whose names have been around the news and could fit in well in black and gold.

Chris Kreider

The Boxford Massachusetts native Kreider has been linked to the Bruins for a while now and would certainly fit well with the Bruins. The biggest issue for the UFA to be is that neither he or Bruins current second line left winger Jake DeBrusk can really play on the right side. We saw Debrusk a few times at right wing and he didn’t look very comfortable there. With that being said, Kreider is still a bonafide top-six winger that the Bruins could really use. If the price is right (which is key because there will be multiple teams chomping at the bit for this forward) the Bruins should try to pull the trigger on Kreider.

(Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Jimmy Vesey

Yet another New York Ranger from Massachusetts. Boston was a major contender in the Vesey sweepstakes a few years ago, but he elected to sign in New York instead. Regardless, with the addition of youngsters Kappo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, the Rangers are looking to move a forward and Vesey seems to be one of the guys they’d like to move. He would be a relatively cheap asset to acquire that would fit into the Bruins middle-six very well. He’s a big body at 6’3, can play both wings, and has hit the 16 goal mark in each of his three seasons in the NHL. Maybe a couple mid-round draft picks, and a decent prospect like Peter Cehlarik could get a deal done.

Jason Zucker

Zucker sits at #2 on the TSN Trade Bait board at the moment, so it seems like there’s a very good chance he gets dealt and the Bruins look to be one of the teams going after him. Zucker has failed to hit 20 goals in a season just once since he became a full-time NHLer in 2014. After a breakout season in the 2017-18 where Zucker was able to light the lamp 33 times, Zucker had a bit of a down year, totaling just 42 points throughout the campaign. Unlike Kreider who will be a UFA at the end of the season, Zucker is locked up for another four years at a respectable $5.5 million per year. With the Wild looking to get younger, the Bruins 2020 1st round pick or some of the many NHL ready prospects the Bs boast could certainly be used to acquire Zucker.

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi wants to be traded, per a report from TSN.

(Photo Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports)

Jesse Puljujarvi

Darren Dreger has recently reported that the 21-year-old wants out of Edmonton and it seems like a perfect “buy low” opportunity for the Bruins. The 2016 4th overall pick hasn’t had much success with the Oilers, totaling just 37 points and a -10 rating in 139 games, but didn’t get a ton of ice time playing primarily 3rd line minutes with minimal use on the powerplay. It’s been rumored the Oilers could move him if they got a top nine forward back in return so whether the Bruins are willing to give up a solid roster player for a question mark like Puljujarvi is yet to be seen, but if they can turn around the young Fin’s career, he would be a perfect fit on David Krejci’s right with his 6’4 frame.

Nikolaj Ehlers

This last player hasn’t been linked to the Bruins at all, but man would he look good in black and gold. His name has been thrown around in a lot of rumors throughout the league. He was locked up long term in 2017 and is entering the second year of his seven-year, $42 million deal. He is still very young at 23 years old, and despite a down year this year, he looks to be a potential star in the making with two 60 point seasons already under his belt. Now Ehlers would cost more than the rest of the players on this list but is definitely the best fit long term. With the Jets trading Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers heading to free agency, Winnipeg would more than likely look for a right-handed defenseman in return. The only problem for the Bruins is that their two most attractive options (Charlie Mcavoy and Brandon Carlo) look to be major pieces for the Bruins future. Maybe the Bruins can figure out something, but it’s more than likely that the Jets will find a better fit than the Bruins, still an interesting thought though.

Everything You Need To Know About The Boston Bruins Break Up Day

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, lies on the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues Monday, June 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Zdeno Chara

This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.

Kevan Miller

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.

Dec 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) takes a knee on the ice during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

( Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/ USA TODAY Sports )

David Krejci

No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”

Jake Debrusk

He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.

Brad Marchand

It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.

David Pastrnak

Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.

John Moore

This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”

Charlie Mcavoy

Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.

Boston Bruins’ Marcus Johansson was hospitalized after an enormous hit by the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland sent him flying to the ice during Tuesday’s game.Â

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”

Noel Acciari

The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.

Steven Kampfer

The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”

David Backes

Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.

Torey Krug

One of the biggest question marks of this offseason is “definitely very aware of the situations and scenarios that can play out” but also “wants to be here forever.”

How College Hockey Has Impacted The Boston Bruins Roster

( Photo Credit: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

College hockey just continues to grow and grow. Not only the popularity, but the quality of play has been incredible as of late, and it’s really starting to show with more and more NCAA players entering the NHL. In 2003, the NHL was made up of 21% NCAA alumni. That number has risen considerably since then, reaching 33% this season.

As a Bruins fan, the rise of the NCAA is incredibly evident when looking through this Bruins team. 12 out of 22 skaters for the Bruins have come out of college and played a game for the Bruins in these playoffs.

( Photo Credit: Jim Pierce )

The BU Boys

Charlie Mcavoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Charlie Coyle all played their college hockey at Boston University. While Grzelcyk was just a year away from playing with Coyle, he was able to pair with Mcavoy on BU’s top defensive pair when he was captain of the team in 2015, combining for 48 points and a +27 rating. While the two aren’t a pair anymore, they are still on the second powerplay unit, and it seems their chemistry hasn’t skipped a beat with each having two PP goals apiece to go along with nine combined assists. We all know

The Minnesotaians

The Bruins have a pair of players from Minnesota that played hockey in their home state in David Backes and Karson Kuhlman. The veteran Backes played three seasons at Minnesota State University, averaging above a point per game in all but one year (where he has 37 points in 39 games) and just as many other players you will see on this team, was team captain for his final year there. Moving on to the youngster in Kuhlman, he played four seasons at the rival Minnesota Duluth, captaining the team in his final year while leading the team to a national championship.

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( Photo Credit: Jack Fredricks )

The Bottom Six

The Bruins bottom six consists of four products of NCAA (including Coyle) and a healthy Chris Wagner would make that five. Danton Heinen is one of a handful of active NHL players that played for the University of Denver, where he was electric, averaging over a point per game in the two seasons he played there. That success has carried over to the NHL as we’ve seen Heinen pair up with Coyle and Marcus Johansson to form the best third line we’ve seen in years.

Sean Kuraly spent four years at Miami University (Ohio), right near where he grew up in Dublin, Ohio. The former captain at Miami has made a name for himself as a clutch performer throughout the three playoffs he’s been a part of. Another member of the 4th line, Noel Acciari spent four seasons at Providence College and served as the captain for a season just as Kuraly had. The hard-nosed Rhode Island native has made a name for himself these past few years as a dependable 4th liner. The last member of the former WAK 4th line, Chris Wagner, spent his college days at Colgate University, playing two seasons in upstate New York. He had an incredible second season for Colgate, scoring 17 goals with 51 points in just 38 games played for the club.

March 19, 2016: Quinnipiac Bobcats defenseman Connor Clifton (4) skates with the puck as Harvard Crimson forward Brayden Jaw (10) tries to defend during 2016 ECAC Tournament Championship game between Harvard University and Quinnipiac University at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY. (John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging)

( Photo Credits: John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging )

The Back End

The Bruins starting six (with a healthy Matt Grzelcyk) consists of four guys that played hockey in college. Torey Krug spent three years in his home state of Michigan at Michigan State University, captaining the team for two of the three. Steven Kampfer is yet another Michigan native that got to spend college in his home state however he played at the University of Michigan for four seasons before coming to the NHL. Connor Clifton has come onto the scene out of nowhere after four seasons at Quinnipiac University and is really making a name for himself with his play these playoffs. He’s yet another former captain on the Bruins, and it’s starting to really make sense how this team is doing so well.

Other Bruins that have contributed this season that played NCAA hockey were Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson (Boston University), Trent Frederic (University of Wisconsin), and Paul Carey (Boston College).

It’s clear to see just looking through these players college careers that there’s a big reason aside from skill that this Bruins team is doing so well. Their locker room is filled with tons of leaders and former captains of very successful college teams. I think this influx of college talent will only continue to grow not just for the Bruins, but for the entire league with highly touted prospects like Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte and many more high profile players committing to schools to play hockey. With all the success the Bruins have had with these players, let’s hope they draft another few this year.

How the Boston Bruins Constructed their Stanley Cup Roster

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Jake Debrusk puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

(Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

There’s no denying that this Bruins Stanley Cup roster is incredible, but how did they all get to the Bruins? Let’s take a look at their journeys to Boston.

Brad Marchand

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. The Bruins actually acquired this pick from the New York Islanders during the draft for their 4th and 5th round picks (who amounted to a whole lot of nothing).

Patrice Bergeron

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: David Pastrnak is selected twenty-fifth by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

David Pastrnak

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 25th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Jake DeBrusk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

David Krejci

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 63rd overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. Krejci was actually another player the Bruins traded up to the draft. They acquired this pick during the draft for a 3rd, 4th, and 9th round pick.

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(Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

David Backes

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues 62nd overall in the 2003, Backes left the Blues and signed with Boston July 1st, 2016, signing a five year, $30 million deal.

Marcus Johansson

Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals 24th overall in 2009, Johansson was traded to the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 offseason for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. He was then traded to the Bruins at this trade deadline in exchange for a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Charlie Coyle

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010. He was a key piece in bringing Brent Burns to San Jose, getting dealt to the Minnesota Wild with a 1st and Devon Setoguchi for Burns and a 2nd rounder. Right around the trade deadline this year he was dealt to the Bruins for Ryan Donato and a conditional 4th rounder.

Danton Heinen

Drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round, 116th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joakim Nordstrom

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd round, 90th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was later traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2015 season with Kris Versteeg and a 3rd rounder for a couple prospects and a 5th round pick. In 2018 he signed a two year, $2 million deal with the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Bruins before the 2016 season

Noel Acciari

Acciari was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Providence College in 2015.

Chris Wagner

Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round, 122nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. After a small trade to Toronto and a couple of waiver claims later, Wagner ended up back on the Ducks. At the trade deadline last year he was dealt to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera and after the season, he made his way to Boston, signing a two year, $2.5 million contract.

Karson Kuhlman

After four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman signed with the Bruins in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

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(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Zdeno Chara

Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round, 56th overall in the 1995 NHL Draft. He was traded with Bill Muckalt and the 1st round pick that became Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. As a UFA in 2006, he signed with the Boston Bruins and has been with them ever since.

Charlie McAvoy

Drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2016 NHL Draft.

Torey Krug

Another undrafted free agent signed by the Bruins in 2012 after three years at Michigan State.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brandon Carlo

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 37th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Matt Grzelcyk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 85th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft

Connor Clifton

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Clifton never signed a deal with the Coyotes and elected to sign with the Bruins in 2018.

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

John Moore

Originally a 21st overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009 NHL Draft. He was involved in a big trade when he went to the New York Rangers with Derick Brassard, Dereck Dorsett and a 6th rounder for Marian Gaborik. He was later dealt to the Arizona Coyotes with Anthony Duclair, a 1st and 2nd rounder for Keith Yandle and was signed by the New Jersey Devils in 2015. He finally made his way to Boston in 2015, signing a 5 year, $13.75 million contract.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer was actually drafted in the 4th round, 93rd overall in 2007 by the Anaheim Ducks and ended up being basically gifted to the Bruins in a trade in 2010 for future considerations. After a couple years (and a Stanley Cup win) Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon in 2012, and was signed by the New York Rangers in 2014. He was traded again later that year to the Florida Panthers for Joey Crabb and in 2016, was traded back to the Rangers for Dylan McIlrath. Kampfer was brought back to Boston before this season with a 4th and a 7th round pick for Adam Mcquiad.

(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask

We all know the story here. Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 21st overall in 2005, Rask was traded to Boston before playing a game with Toronto for Andrew Raycroft.

Jaroslav Halak

First drafted in 2003  in the 9th round, Halak spent a lot of time with Montreal until he was traded in 2010 to the St. Louis Blues for Ian Schultz and Lars Eller. He was then traded three times in 2014, the first being to the Buffalo Sabres along with William Carrier, Chris Stewart, a 1st and 3rd round pick for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller. Halak was then flipped to the Washington Capitals with a 3rd round pick for Michal Neauvirth and Rostislav Klesla. Finally, his FA rights were traded to the New York Islanders for a 4th round pick before free agency began. In 2018 he signed a two year, $5.5 million deal with the Bruins.

In all, this Bruins team is made up of 37% (nine) drafted players, 21% (five) acquired through trade, and 42% (10) free agency signings, although it is worth noting that four of the ten free agency signings were college free agents.

How The Boston Bruins And St. Louis Blues Matchup

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand defends against St. Louis Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko (91) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

(AP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With Game One just hours away, I thought it would be an intriguing idea to compare the lineups between the two teams in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues have been among the hottest teams in the NHL since the start of 2019 and play a similar physical style of hockey, so seeing how the lineups look against each other should be interesting.

1st Line Edge: Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz has been an animal all playoffs long. He’s second to just Logan Couture in playoff goals with 12. After a shaky start to the playoffs, Vladimir Tarasenko has really elevated his play as of late, scoring three goals and adding five assists in six games against the San Jose Sharks. Couple these two players with a formidable 200-foot player like Brayden Schenn makes this one of the better 1st lines in the league, but not the best.

That award may well go to the Bruins top line, who have combined for 46 points in 51 games these playoffs. Brad Marchand is second in playoff scoring with 18 points, and after a mediocre first round, just like Tarasenko, Pastrnak has elevated his play as these playoffs have gone on. Last but not least, we have Patrice Bergeron, who has been solid offensively, but just incredible defensively. The defensive capability just pushes this line over the Blues’.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

2nd Line Edge: Bruins

Jake Debrusk- David Krejci- David Backes

Sammy Blais- Ryan O’Reilly- David Perron

Getting Sammy Blais back from injury provided a jump this second line needed for the Blues. The 2014 6th rounder (who was the pick the Blues acquired from the Bruins for Wade Redden actually) has been a +5 in eight games since returning to the lineup. David Perron is following up on two great regular seasons with six goals and 13 points in these playoffs, and Ryan O’Reilly is St. Louis’ version of Patrice Bergeron.

On the other side, we have three players, all with playoff success. David Krejci is a bonafide star in the playoffs, leading the league twice in scoring.  As captain of the Blues, David Backes went through many playoff runs and always produced when needed, whether that was through his offense, through his physicality or through his leadership. Similar to Blais, since Backes has been in the lineup, it’s provided a real spark, adding five points in the 11 games he’s played.  Jake Debrusk had a great playoff run last season, and while he hasn’t been quite as good this year, he’s still playing really solid hockey. I’d say experience just barely gives the Bruins the advantage in this regard.

( Joe Puetz – USA TODAY Sports)

3rd Line Edge: Bruins

Marcus Johansson- Charlie Coyle- Danton Heinen

Patrick Maroon- Tyler Bozak- Robert Thomas

Both of these are exceptional 3rd lines and have striking similarities. The two have an influx of speed, size, and skill with all three players on each line having great two-way abilities. St. Louis’ trio has combined for 23 points and most importantly, four game-winning goals in 19 games. Despite how good that line has been, the Bruins’ third line has simply been better. Danton Heinen leads all forwards in +/- in the playoffs and Johansson, and Coyle have developed some great chemistry, combining for nine goals and 21 points in the 15 games they’ve played together.

Bruins and Blues share many qualities, which might make Stanley Cup Final epic

(Dilip Vishwanat / Associated Press)

4th Line Edge: Blues

Joakim Nordstrom- Sean Kuraly- Noel Acciari

Ivan Barbashev- Oskar Sundqvist- Alex Steen

I’m not sure two fourth lines in the NHL get more ice time than these two. The injury to Chris Wagner will certainly hurt the Bruins, but Noel Acciari has played well when he’s been in the lineup so the line shouldn’t fall off too much. Sean Kuraly is basically a playoff legend to Bruins fans at this point, and Joakim Nordstrom has proven to be worth every penny of his contract with his play in the playoffs. The Bruins may have the second best fourth line in the league, but it’s second to the Blues’.

To have a guy like Alex Steen on your fourth line shows that you have some serious depth. While age has caught up with the veteran a bit, he continues to be a force on both ends of the ice. He’s scored double-digit goals for ten straight seasons (aside from the lockout year) and continues to be a leader on and off the ice. Oskar Sundqvist has come out of nowhere and been a great depth piece for the Blues. He notched a career high in goals, assists, and points (with 14, 17, and 31 respectively) and has eight points in limited minutes in these playoffs. The last piece of that line is the youngster Ivan Barbashev, who similar to Sundqvist, has broken out this season, notching 14 goals and 26 points in the regular season and put up a respectable five points in these playoffs.

Nov 22, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) clears the puck away from St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

1st Pair Edge: Bruins

Zdeno Chara- Charlie Mcavoy

Joel Edmundson- Alex Pietrangelo

The Blues have a bit of a theme to their defense, and that theme would be the size. The shortest player on the Blues D is 6’2, and the average size is almost 6’4. This duo features the Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo (6’3) who has continued, year in and year out, to be a great leader and an even better player. He’s third in playoffs scoring from blue-liners and continues to eat up ice time, averaging almost 26 minutes a game. His partner is Joel Edmundson, who is another young player for the Blues that is blossoming in these playoffs.

The Bruins first pairing is basically take your son to work day with the age difference between Zdeno Chara (42) and Charlie Mcavoy (21). All jokes aside, this pairing has been excellent all season long for the Bruins. They continue to shut down stars every series they are in. Guys like John Tavares (two goals, -5 rating), Artemi Panarin (-3 against the Bruins) and Sebastian Aho (one goal, -1 rating) were all looking for more production after their series against the Bruins, largely in part to the job that Mcavoy and Chara were doing.

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 23: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins defends against Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on February 23, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

2nd Pair Edge: Bruins

Torey Krug- Brandon Carlo

Jay Bouwmeester- Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester still has it. Following a rough start to the regular season, becoming a healthy scratch for the first time in his 17 year career, the 6’5 defenseman has turned it up a notch, sporting a +5 rating and five assists throughout these playoffs. While his name may not ring much of a bell, Colton Parayko is turning into a stud. The 6’6 Alberta native is in his fourth year in the league and just continues to impress. As a defenseman, he already has a goal and ten assists to pair with a +6 rating in these playoffs. This massive pairing is a huge reason why St. Louis has been so successful.

It’s hard to have one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. It’s just as hard to have one of the best defensive blueliners in the league. The Bruins are lucky to have both on the same pairing. Similar to Parayko, people are starting to recognize how good Brandon Carlo really is. There isn’t much offense in his game, but he has been so good in his own end and just seems to never get beat when he’s on. Torey Krug has been in the top ten in points per game the past three seasons and with 12 points in 17 games, hasn’t skipped a beat in the playoffs.

( Photo Credit: Youtube )

3rd Pair Edge: Wash

Matt Grzelcyk- Connor Clifton

Carl Gunnarsson- Robert Bortuzzo

This matchup was honestly the hardest to decide. They are two very good, but very different types of third pairings. The Bruins have a young and mobile pairing. Matt Grzelcyk is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, and Connor Clifton can mix his speed with his physicality and looks nothing like a rookie in these playoffs.

On the other side, the Blues have a pair of veterans. Again, it’s a big pairing with Gunnarsson being 6’2 and Bortuzzo being 6’4. Neither of the two has all too much offense in their game, (although Bortuzzo had a gem of a goal in the series against the San Jose Sharks) but the pair is as good as you can get from a shutdown third pair.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a save against

(AP/Dilip Vishwanat)

Goaltending: Bruins

Tuukka Rask

Jordan Binnington

Here are Rask’s numbers thus far in these postseason games 12-5, 1.84 GAA, .942 Sv%.

Binnington has been an incredible story and has played great the entire season and throughout the playoffs but man, you just can’t beat what Tuukka Rask has done, the numbers just speak for themselves.

So I have the Bruins winning all but two of these “matchups,” but that doesn’t give the Blues even close to enough credit. Aside from the first forward line and maybe goaltending, every other matchup could’ve honestly gone either way. Both of these teams have incredible depth up front, and on the back end. I think the Bruins are a better team but by just a hair. It’s going to be an awesome series to watch, I’m picking the Bruins in seven.

What The Bruins Need To Do To Get Back In This Series

Columbus Blue Jackets' Matt Duchene, top right, scores a goal against Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, of Finland, during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Nationwide Arena.

(JAY LAPRETE / AP)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins have done a lot of what needs to be done to win a series. They’ve gotten really good goaltending from Tuukka Rask, they’ve gotten a lot of really important depth goals out of their bottom six, and overall, they’ve played pretty damn good defense. But clearly, they aren’t playing perfect hockey as they’re down 2-1 in the series. Here are a few important things the Bruins will need to do to come back in this series against Columbus.

Figure Out Bobrovsky

Captain obvious here but the Bruins need to find a way to get a couple past the Blue Jackets’ goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky has been incredible this entire playoff run, but his playoff struggles of the past can’t be forgotten. Even with his outstanding numbers this season (.937 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA) he has a measly .902 save % and a 3.08 GAA. If the Bruins can put up four or five on him in a game, then the nerves may start to kick in, and Bobrovsky could start to falter.

 

Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, right, of the Czech Republic, controls the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. The Bruins won 6-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Fix the Powerplay

To say it has been bad would be an understatement. The Bruins are just 1/10 on the PP this series, and it seems that every time they get on the man advantage, it just kills their momentum. The first powerplay unit HAS to change. I think Marcus Johansson is incredible at gaining the zone which is very important to a powerplay, but he just isn’t the right guy to be in front of the net. I would rather see him on the second unit either in the bumper position (where Bergeron plays) or on the right side half-wall (where Marchand plays).

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It seems Jake Debrusk will move back up to the number one unit and take Johansson’s place, but I think a guy like David Backes, who looks to be entering the lineup next game, would be the best fit there. While age has been getting the better of him as of late, he still has a nose for the net and sees the puck really well. He’s got very good hand-eye coordination and could really be a nuisance for Bobrovsky and the Columbus defense to handle in front of the net.

 

Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

Have the First Line do… Something

Yikes. The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have one point this entire series, and that one point was a goal off of Pastrnak’s skate. The worst of the bunch has been the goal scorer Pastrnak. Maybe he’s playing through an injury, but everything, his skating, his shooting, his decision making, all of it has been off. Coach Cassidy tried to jump-start the struggling Pastrnak by putting him on the third line with the best two Bruins this series, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, and it just ruined what the two had going before Game Three. Towards the tail-end of Game Three, the Czechman was reunited with his former linemates and had a few solid shifts to end off the game. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come.

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Brad Marchand should try to stick to scoring goals and not his old devilish ways, or we might not see Marchy too much more this series. Patrice Bergeron hasn’t been bad. He’s had a lot of quality scoring chances and has done a good job neutralizing the Blue Jacket’s top line, but just like the rest of his linemates, he just looks off. Bruce Cassidy will stick with his guns and keep the “perfection” line together going into Game Four, hopefully, this major slump can only last so long

Stop Giving the Puck Away

Plain and simple, way too many costly turnovers.

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7 Factors That Will Decide Game 7 Between the Bruins and Maple Leafs

Illustration for article titled Tuukka Rask Ruined The Maple Leafs' Best And Maybe Last Chance

(Claus Andersen-Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Goaltending

I mean, of course this was going to be on the list. We’ve seen really strong, and really weak goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson over the past two series. Outside of a softy or two from both guys, the two have been really solid throughout the first six games of this series. Rask has a .921 save percentage with a 2.54 GAA and Anderson has a .925 SV% and a 2.70 GAA. With the potency of both offenses and some questionable defense by both teams, I can’t see this being a 1-0 game. There will be goals, it’s just a matter of who can make the saves when it matters.

Can the Offensive Stars Produce?

The superstars on both sides have been very on and off all series. Austin Matthews has lead the way for Toronto, scoring five goals in the six games (but in all honesty, hasn’t really dominated at any point). The Bruins top defensive pair of Charlie Mcavoy and Zdeno Chara have done an excellent job shutting down the John Tavares and Mitch Marner line, but with all of that talent, how long can that last?

The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been very streaky throughout the series for the Bruins. We all know how dangerous they can be when they’re on their game (they all absolutely torched the Leafs last series) but something has been off with them this series and for the Bruins sake, that better change.

Leafs vs Bruins

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Special Teams

We’ve seen how important special teams have been in this series and throughout the entire playoffs. The Nashville Predators just fell to the Dallas Stars, largely in part to their horrendous powerplay (going 0-15 in the series). Boston and Toronto both have very good powerplays, with Toronto converting on 21.4% of their PP chances and the Bruins scoring on a staggering 43.8% of their chances. There’s no question the game will be a chippy one and I’d assume the referees arms will stay down for most of the game, but when a penalty is called, converting on that opportunity will be huge.

Forechecking

In Game 7 last year, the Bruins hard-nosed forechecking was a big reason why they were able to come back and take the lead late. In the games the Bruins have lost this series, they haven’t been able to maintain consistent pressure in the Leafs zone. The Maple Leafs defense is very susceptible to making mistakes with the puck when pressured so that needs to be the Bruins #1 priority throughout this game.

Forechecking obviously isn’t just a component of the Bruins game, it’s just as important for the Leafs to keep the pressure on the Bs. Putting pressure on smaller guys like Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk will be huge for the Maple Leafs, they’re easier to out-muscle compared to the rest of the d-core and getting them to cough up the puck will lead to big-time chances for Toronto. Isolating Zdeno Chara is also just as key, as he certainly doesn’t have the legs to keep up with Toronto’s speedy forwards.

Depth Scoring

Depth scoring is a key component of every single game and it’s just magnified in the playoffs. Guys like Charlie Coyle and Andreas Johnsson (who both have had very strong series) have key roles with their respective clubs. If the big names aren’t able to step up, look for these middle-six guys to pick up the slack.

(Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Maintaining a Lead

Scoring the first goal is massive, but keeping that lead is even more important. The team that has been ahead going into the third period has won every game this series and with every player fighting for their playoff lives, there’s sure to be a lot of pressure on both sides of the bench. Looking at the history between these two teams, the Maple Leafs have held the lead going in to the 3rd period in the past two game 7s, but have lost both after outstanding comebacks by the Bruins. If the Maple Leafs or the Bruins want to get to the next round, maintaining a lead will be the reason they get there.

Matchups

Despite having a combined -10 rating in the series, Nikita Zaitzev and Jake Muzzin have done a pretty good job at keeping the Bruins top line in check. Unlike last series, the Bruins top line hasn’t been nearly as good. They haven’t been able to maintain possession of the puck quite as much and their cycling game, which leads to the majority of their chances, is nothing like it has been all season long. If Toronto wants to keep this line at bay, trying to keep this matchup will be their best bet.

As I said before, Mcavoy and Chara have done an excellent job holding Tavares and Marner to minimal offense in this series. With last change and home ice advantage, coach Bruce Cassidy will have to be on his game to keep the matchups in he wants throughout his lineup.

Regardless of the outcome, this should be a great game as it always is. I’ve had Bruins in seven from the start and I’m sticking with that pick. Go Bs.

Bruins’ First Line Is Pivotal To The Bruins’ Success

 

(Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The narrative for the Bruins over the past few seasons has been a significant lack of depth scoring. In last years playoffs, the Bs were lead by the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak who combined for a staggering 16 goals and 53 points throughout the Bruins first two rounds. Following the first line, David Krejci (10 points) and Jake Debrusk (eight points) both had solid playoffs but after those five forwards, the next highest scorer was Rick Nash who had a measly five points and a -7 rating. The lack of depth was the downfall of the Bruins in last years playoffs.

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In last year’s first round, the Bruins top line was incredibly dominant and the graph above shows just that. For reference, anything over 50% was in the Bs favor so yea, the line was incredible all series (Bergeron was hurt game four). In game five (which the Bruins actually lost) the Bergeron line outshot Toronto 31-6 (84%) and out-chanced them 18-3 (86%). That dominance was the main reason the Bruins were able to make it past the Maple Leafs last season.

This is a new year, and a new Bruins team. The Bruins AREN’T relying solely on their top line. Their third unit has arguably been their best line this entire series. Charlie Coyle has shown why he was so popular in Minnesota and has impressed all of Boston with his strong play the series. Danton Heinen hasn’t slumped as he did last playoffs with a goal and two assists in five games and Both David Backes and Karson Kuhlman have played pretty well, giving the Bruins a legitimate 3rd line unlike last playoffs.

(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the strong play of the 3rd line the Bruins are still down 3-2 in the series. What was most apparent after their 2-1 loss to the Leafs on Friday was the lack of dominance, or dare I say it, poor play shown by the 1st line. Playing primarily against the line centered by John Tavares and the pair of Jake Muzzin and Nikita Zaitzev, the “perfection line” has been far from perfect. The trio has scored just three even strength goals this series and, especially in game five, have really struggled to generate offense.

After the line was stymied again in game three, Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy said “they’re having a tougher time getting to the net, and as a result I think they’re trying really hard one-on-one to get there. I think they need to use each other a little bit more to get there. [Maybe] get an old-fashioned goal whether it’s a center lane drive, a puck to the net or a second chance. They’re pretty determined guys.” While the line bounced back to have a solid Game Four, it clearly didn’t carry into Game Five.

Like Cassidy said, the line just needs to simplify their play. I’ve seen Marchand and Pastrnak carry the puck into the zone and attempt to finesse through three Toronto players too many times. The line is just too good to continue to get stifled by the Leafs D.

Brad Marchand David Pastrnak Patrice Bergeron Bruins

(Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers)

In the three Bruins losses this series, the Bergy line has scored once, which was a powerplay goal in game one. Maybe Bergeron is playing through an injury and Pasta’s hand is still not fully recovered but a line consisting of an 100 point player, a four time Selke winner, and a guy that was on pace for 45 goals this season shouldn’t be struggling this much, especially against a team that they have all had incredible success against in the past.

Now it’s do or die for the Bruins and their 1st line. The Bergy line MUST come out strong and replicate the success they were able to sustain in last years matchup. If they continue to play poorly in the 1st period, Cassidy needs to do his job and break them up, there’s no more time to wait for them to produce, it’s now or never. Maybe Danton Heinen or Marcus Johansson find their way to the first line or maybe David Krejci, who played incredible with Marchand and Pasta when Bergeron went down with an injury, slides up in the lineup. It’s time to see why this has been the best line in hockey over the past two years.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Part 3: How These Two Combatants Are Different

( Photo Credit: JEFF CHEVRIER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Boston Bruins

In: Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, Joakim Nordstrom, Karson Kuhlman, Chris Wagner, Jaroslav Halak, Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer, John Moore, Brandon Carlo (injury)

Out: Rick Nash, Adam Mcquaid, Tim Schaller, Tommy Wingles, Ryan Donato, Nick Holden, Brian Gionta, Anton Khudobin

Injuries: Sean Kuraly, Kevan Miller, John Moore

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Just looking at who the Bruins have added and subtracted from their roster since last season’s matchup, it’s clear that this is a better roster than last year. Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle have both been very solid pickups at the deadline. While they haven’t been lighting up the scoresheet, they have provided much-needed stability to the middle-six group of forwards both offensively and defensively. Neither has had incredible playoff success (Johansson with 30 points in 72 games and Coyle with 15 points in 44 games), but the experience is almost just as important as success in the playoffs.

One major addition (which isn’t technically an addition) is Brandon Carlo. Injured the last two post-seasons, this will actually be the first playoff action Carlo will play in his career. Last season, Charlie Mcavoy and Zdeno Chara shut down Auston Matthews, and the Leafs first line but other players like Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau were still able to have very successful series matched up against guys like Adam Mcquaid and Kevan Miller, who were better suited for a 3rd pairing role.

(Photo Credit: Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)

Karson Kuhlman and Connor Clifton have both had very successful rookie stints with Boston and will look to continue that in the playoffs. Kuhlman’s speed should fit well when playing against the high-flying Maple Leafs squad and Clifton’s physicality is a perfect fit for the playoffs. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have both been pleasant surprises and have improved the Bs’ depth considerably.

In all honesty, the Bruins didn’t lose too much. Rick Nash had just five points in 12 playoff games last season. Wagner and Nordstrom have filled the roles of Tim Schaller and the rest of the depth the Bruins lost admirably and with the depth at D, Mcquaid and Nick Holden won’t be missed too much.

Toronto Maple Leafs

In: John Tavares, Jake Muzzin, Trevor Moore, Frederic Gauthier, Michael Hutchinson, Tyler Ennis, Igor Ozhiganov

Out: Tyler Bozak, James Van Riemsdyk, Thomas Plekanec, Roman Polak, Leo Komarov, Dominic Moore

Injuries: None

John Tavares led the Maple Leafs with 47 goals this season.

(Photo Credit: BRIAN BABINEAU / NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES)

So obviously the Maple Leafs won the John Tavares sweepstakes. With JT, Austin Matthews, and Nazim Kadri, the Leafs now boast arguably the best 1-2-3 center punch in the league. Along with improving their center core, the growth and success of the Leafs’ youth can really be seen as a major addition. The last series, we saw glimpses of the skill that youngsters Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen possess but throughout this regular season, they took major strides. They both had career years, boasting almost identical stat-lines with Johnsson notching 20 goals and 43 points in 73 games and Kapanen scoring 20 goals and 44 points.

Arguably more game-changing than the Tavares addition was the addition of Jake Muzzin. The Leafs traded for the former Kings defenseman at the end of January and has really solidified the Maple Leafs D-core. In 30 games in Toronto, Muzzin has scored five goals, adding 11 assists with a plus-11 rating.

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Four

( Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images )

These additions didn’t come without a cost. The Leafs lost a lot of really good pieces that hurt their depth, but more importantly, it hurt their special teams. Losing guys like James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak has hurt their powerplay considerably. JVR’s 11 goals and 20 points, as well as Tyler Bozak’s 13 points, left considerable holes on their PP, dropping to 21.8% from their previous 25% success rate.

Along with that, the Leafs lost many of their best face-off men, which is crucial in the playoffs. Dominic Moore (54.3), Tyler Bozak (53.6) and Tomas Plekanec (57.9) all proved to be very valuable on the face-off dot and again will leave big shoes to fill. With this, the team’s penalty kill has also slipped from 81.4% to 79.9 and losing the veteran leadership from these guys, and Leo Komarov will certainly hurt come when they meet.

So have both teams improved since last year? Yea. Will the results change? Only time will tell. I still got Bruins in 7.

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The Anomaly Of Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The NHL is getting faster and younger. Long gone are the days of Joe Sakic, Nicklas Lindstrom and Marty St. Louis continuing to dominate the league in their mid-30s. The league is now driven by youth, guys like Connor Mcdavid (22), Nikita Kucherov (25) and Nathan MacKinnon (23) have taken the league by force with their speed and skill. The infusion of young talent has transcended the NHL from a league that favored bigger, stronger players into a league that benefits the speed of the youth.

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In an incredibly well-done article on the aging curves in the NHL, we see that the average NHL player peaks around the age of 24 and continues to decline into their 30s. To back this up, let’s take a look at the 2003 draft class (where the majority of draftees are 33 years old as of now). Former Bruin Loui Eriksson, once a great two-way forward with three 70+ point seasons, has floundered these past few years and is on pace for just about 30 points this season. Corey Perry scored 50 goals in his age 25 season but like others has regressed to just ten points and a minus-14 rating in an injury-filled 29 games. Ryan Kesler, who Bruins fans know all too well, has fallen off the face of the earth after many seasons of incredible two-way, hard-nosed play. There are so many other players from that draft that have followed in very similar footsteps, David Backes, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, and Brent Seabrook among others.

And then we get to the anomaly of the bunch, the man, the myth, the absolute legend that is Patrice Bergeron. Despite the majority of his draft class falling off a cliff in these past few years and the league being as fast as ever, Bergy has done everything but decline. He’s actually having the best year (offensively at least) of his career.

Patrice Bergeron at practice in his rookie season.

( Photo Credit: BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF FILE )

Patrice Bergeron has always gone above and beyond what was expected of him. The 45th overall pick in the 2003 draft surprised all when he immediately jumped into the NHL, and at the ripe age of 18, was the youngest player in the league at the time. He had a great rookie season, scoring 16 goals, 39 points and finished 9th in the Calder Memorial Trophy voting.

The next season, even amidst the lockout, held even more achievements for Bergeron. He led the Canadian World Juniors team to a gold medal with a staggering 13 points in just six games. The following year, still at just 20 years old, led the Bruins in scoring with 73 points and set a career high that wasn’t matched for 12 seasons. But for whatever reason, after 12 years of great season after great season, after four Selke trophies, after battling injury after injury in the regular season and the playoffs, this was the year Bergeron has turned into overdrive.

Boston MA 02/03/18 Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during first period action at TD Garden. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:

(Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe staff)

The 33-year-old has exploded this year, lighting the lamp 32 times and adding 45 helpers to set a new career high in 77 points in just 62 games. Without his injuries, he could’ve reached the 100 point plateau and would certainly be in the heat of the MVP race.

Oh, and don’t act like this season has put a damper on his incredible two-way prowess. He continues to be one of the top faceoff men in the league, winning 56.5% of draws this year. His Corsi sits at 57.5, good enough for 11th in the NHL (for players with over 30 games played) and continues to marvel day in and day out with the way he sees the ice both with and without the puck. I’d say what he did in the Winter Classic in a span of 30 seconds or so sums up his season pretty well.

Whether his incredible season is due to an increase in scoring throughout the league, his amazing line-mates, or he just found a new pasta recipe, this may be the best we’ve ever seen Bergy. Well, I guess until the playoffs, where we all know that #37 turns into another animal.

I’m excited.

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