Boston Pride Sold To Private Owner

Image result for boston pride nwhl(Photo Credits: CBS Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

In the wake of two huge announcements that the Boston Bruins signed both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, other news hit the organization-more importantly affecting their partnership with their female-counterparts The Boston Pride.

The National Women’s Hockey League announced today that a private investor purchased the female-led team, making it the only club with a private owner. Miles Arnone, along with a group of investors made the purchase. Prior to that, the Buffalo Beauts were the only team in the league with a private owner (until they were sold back to the league in May). The Commissioner of the NWHL Dani Rylan along with the NWHL  believe that private ownership will help  teams in bolstering local marketing and sales. The league even hired a firm that helped to find potential buyers/owner for all the teams.

In a statement given by the Commissioner Rylan, she congratulated Arnone:

“The NWHL congratulates Miles Arnone on his acquisition of the Boston Pride, and we thank Miles and his investors for their belief in our league and players. Miles has a love for the game and deep connections in the New England community.

The Pride’s new ownership is passionately committed to the team for the long haul, and we area confident that they will set a new standard for how professional women’s hockey teams are run in North America. Their dedication to investing in the Pride’s infrastructure, player development, and every aspect of the sport and business is a game changer.”

Last season the Boston Pride announced a partnership with the Boston Bruins, which remains intact, boding with the team as they continue to expand the sport of hockey. There are plans for the team to be have better travel and player accommodations as well as increased marketing. Hiring a team president and participating in youth hockey initiatives are also in the works for team. The Pride still remain as the only team in the league with a NHL partnership.

Image result for boston pride nwhl(Photo Credits: Andy Marlin/Getty Images for NWHL)

Mr. Arnone is a Long Island native and currently lives in Massachusetts. He was able to purchase the franchise though The Sports Advisory Group along with investment from the Chipwich company. Chipwich recently became a sponsor for the NWHL. Arnone, who is also the managing partner of Cannon Capital, stated his kids “…became fans, they have (Pride’s Captain Jillian) Dempsey jerseys from the Pride. I had a general awareness of the league and was impressed with the level of play.”

He also stated the big focus will be in promoting women’s and girls hockey:

“There’s underlying growth in the fan base and that’s at the (youth) player base which gives opportunity for the professional league to have a broader audience. I think that’s one of the most important aspects, to have a grassroots growth…it’s very synergistic in that way.”

The season is set to start October 5th when they head to New Jersey to face the Metropolitan Riveters. On October 12th at Warrior Ice Arena, the Pride will face the Buffalo Beauts. The league also recently announced a three-year exclusive partnership with Twitch, a streaming platform that will air all future NWHL games.

Bruins Jaroslav Halak: Staying Sharp Between The Pipes

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 14: Goaltender Jaroslav Halak #41 of ...(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

Training Camp has officially started and as the team comes together on the ice, the focus will turn to re-amping their efforts as the boys in Black and Gold look to once again reach the Stanley Cup Finals. As Butch Cassidy and his Sundance Kids look to shake off last season’s tough end, many of those players are ready to start fresh. While some are working to get a spot on the Varsity team, Bruins back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak is ready to continue his journey in between the pipes.

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE…

It’s something every professional NHL team wants and needs when it comes to having great goaltending: the perfect tandem. Last season, both Tuukka Rask and Halak acknowledged that their chemistry on and off the ice was the perfect combination of a winning duo. Halak’s calm demeanor in net allowed Cassidy more freedom in his choices, especially when it came time to give Rask much needed rest.

Image result for jaroslav halak(Photo Credits: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

When the 32-year-old Finnish native needed to time resolve a personal matter back in November, duties fell on Halak. Rask missed the games against the Toronto Maples Leafs and the Vegas Golden Knights. With Jaro in net, the Bruins won both match-ups. When Rask returned to the team, Boston, unfortunately, fell to the Vancouver Canucks 8-5 with Halak in net (Rask would come in as relief but the damage was already done).

As the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time counting 2011, one of the biggest observations was just how well Coach Bruce Cassidy was able to manage both goaltenders during the regular season. As noted in past performances, Rask faltered a bit when having to play a heavier workload. However, when the 34-year-old Halak signed with the Bruins (replacing Anton Khudobin), things were looking to balance out in favor of Rask. During the 2018-2019 regular season, Tuukka played 46 games and went 27-13-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average, while Jaro appeared in 40 games going 20-11-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average.

Image result for jaroslav halak tuukka rask(Photo Credits:  Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

Having a successful back-up goaltender made it easier for Cassidy to shift responsibilities between the two, thus allowing Rask to stay fresh-something important especially when we’re talking Playoffs. It certainly allowed Tuukka to play phenomenal during Boston’s extended postseason run. As Bruins President Cam Neely noted:

“The way that Jaro played for us this year really helped Tuukka get some rest… We’ve seen when Tuukka’s workload gets too high he really starts to break down. I think the fact Jaro had such a great year and we were able to rely on him, and even (Anton Khudobin) had a great year the year before, that really allows us to maybe reduce Tuukka’s starts a little bit. We could keep him a little fresher this year and I think it made a really big difference in the playoffs.”

With the new season fast approaching, both Rask and Halak are poised to once again share the wealth. As Boston Globe’s Marisa Ingemi recently reported, Rask is feeling just as healthy now as he felt towards the end of the last season. For Jaro, he’s looking to move forward this upcoming year:

“I just want to help the team, any way I could , same thing this year…get the win, get the points..we still have the same goal..we wanna win the cup.”

NHL Player Media Tour: Bruins Edition

 

2015 NHL Player Media Tour(Photo Credits: Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The countdown is on, the new season is thisclose to starting and familiar faces that embody the Boston Bruins team are more than ready to hit the ice with fresh legs. With the NHL European Media Tour under their belt, a few of the Bruins players are currently in Chicago attending the 2019 NHL/NHLPA North American Player Media Tour. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Torey Krug are this year’s attendees where they partook in a day filled with photos, videos and interviews:

The annual event takes place before the start of each season and features many players that represent their respected teams. It’s also an opportunity for those participating to be exposed to the national media and offers a chance to meet other elite players. From past events, the best of the best are invited to the Media Tour and this year, two of the Bruins’ best were invited. Both  Krug and Rask are coming off a tough Stanley Cup Series that saw the team fall one-short shy of winning the cup. The loss still resonates with many on the team  and will undoubtedly serve as the push they’ll need this new season. For Torey Krug, (who will be one of the top defenseman in the  market when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer) this last season “was big for me and my development and my growth. I feel like I’m just hitting my prime.”

Krug ended his regular season with a career-high of 47 assists in 64 games played. He also garnered 53 points-his second best of his career. Last season he ended with 59 points. Last postseason, the 28-year-old had 18 points with 16 assists and netted two goals during the Playoff run.

32-year-old Tuukka Rask is coming off of having one of his best seasons, even earning top marks in the NHL Network’s Top Players list, coming in at number five on the top goalie rankings. Rask also landed on number 44 on the the top 50 players list. He ended his regular season with a 27-13-5 record with a 2.48 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage. Postseason, the Bruins goaltender was stellar, boasting an average of .934 saving-percentage with a 2.02 goals-against-average in 24 games.

As NHL Network analyst Darren Pang noted on Rask:

“I think every year he gets better…He seems to be under the heat so often and the criticism comes at him, but I watch Tuukka Rask and [he’s] fundamentally good, his demeanor is calm, he makes glove saves now where he just makes it look easy. Pucks coming into his body and he doesn’t even go down…He’s got really nice patience in the net.”

Much like Krug and the rest of the team, the Game Seven loss still stings a bit. In speaking with WEEI’s Matt Kalman, Rask reflected on last season and looking ahead :

“I don’t think you ever get over that, still getting flashbacks. But you know you got to realize it’s only sports, and it is what it is…I think the mental aspect is the biggest thing, especially if it’s a disappointing loss like that. You have to just kind of unwind and try to forget about hockey as much as you can. But then again you only have two ½, three months until the next season starts and you’ve got to take a month for your body to recover.”

“But I think mentally, it’s just such a grind, hockey season, you know you play 82 games plus 25 possibly, so mentally it’s very draining. And the fresher mentally you can be, the better off you are I think.”

September 12th marks the start of Training Camp and with Rask and Krug going through the media gauntlet  during the Player’s Tour, here’s hoping the trip to the windy city helps them unwind as they return to face the grueling 82-game schedule.

European Tour: Bruins Edition

Screenshot_20190817-175154-01 (1)(Photo Credits: NHL Twitter)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

As the NHL looks to expand its outreach to the European markets, many players were welcomed back to the third annual NHL/NHLPA European Player Media Tour. Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (Czech Republic) was invited once again to participate in the event. Bruins own Joakim Nordstrom (Sweden) also represented the Black and Gold during the Media Tour for another edition of Bruins #BearTracks.

SWEDEN

Since its inception in 2017, the tour is held in Stockholm, Sweden at the headquarters of Viasat- where the NHL’s international media rights are held. The tour features 23 European-born players being interviewed by dozens of media outlets as a means of promoting  NHL Games. To help the leagues effort to appeal to the growing European fanbase, the NHL purposely changed start times of many weekend games, so that fans will get to enjoy watching them at a more reasonable time (prior to the change, games with start times of 7:30 PM in the U.S. would be aired at 1:30 AM in Sweden). With new earlier start times in the U.S., games would fall into prime evening hours for Europe.

(Photo Credits: NHLPA)

With the NHL continuing to grow the game through Europe and in China, their efforts have garnered much buzz, especially if you consider that this year will the mark the third time professional teams will travel to Europe to play regular season games. On October 4th, the Chicago Blackhawks play the Philadelphia Flyers in the Czech Republic, while on November 9th,  the Buffalo Sabres face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm, Sweden.

Joakim Nordstrom served as “tour guide” as he hosted Pastrnak in his native Sweden. Both players participated in photo shoots and interviews for the event. Not one to shy away,  the 22-year-old Pastrnak was all smiles in front of the camera-there’s also that video showing off his “dance” skills… Please enjoy:

SLOVAKIA

In his hometown of Trencin, Slovakia Bruins Captain and age-less wonder Zdeno Chara continued with his charitable contributions. In a partnership with New Balance, the 42-year-old defenseman has collected and donated shoes that help benefit those in need throughout  Boston and Slovakia. Chara first partnered up with organization this past March along with Soles4Souls-a Nashville-based non-profit organization that aims to give those in need a pair of shoes. To date, Soles4Souls have donated over 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. Fans were able to donate new or used shoes to New Balance stores or at the Warrior Ice rink. The Bruins also held a shoe drive this past March at the Garden.

(Photo Credits: Sole4Souls.org)

The Bruins #BeartTracks followed Chara as he headed back to Slovakia, bringing a portion of the donated shoes that were collected at the TD Garden.  The 42-year-old Slovak-native was seen delivering shoes to many children in his hometown:

And while Bruins fans eagerly await for the puck to drop officially in October, rest assured the guys are gearing up and getting back into fighting shape. Not to be outdone from last year’s  insane workout session in Slovakia, this time Chara did not skip a beat while hanging out in his native country. In case you’re wondering, he’s still a beast:

Bruins Charitable Events: Patrice Bergeron Edition

See the source image(Photo Credits: Lapresse.Ca)

By Liz Rizzo| Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

To describe the perfect athlete that not only has the utmost respect from his entire team but an entire league, you won’t have to think too hard to search for words.  While you could write for days describing the many ways this player continues to be an example of what a leader should be,  it’s what he does off the ice that really shows you what kind of person Patrice Bergeron is.

See the source image

(Photo Credits: Boston.com)

CHARITY STARTS AT HOME

Throughout his career here in Boston, the 34-year-old Center has been involved with many local charities that have brought awareness to causes that especially involve children. Since its development in 2005, “Patrice’s Pals” has hosted countless families and pediatric patients to a Bruins game at a luxury suite at the TD Garden, where they get to enjoy VIP treatment. Immediately following a game, Bergeron personally meets with every one of his guests, signing autographs and taking pictures. To date, children that have became “Patrice’s Pals” were from the Cam Neely Foundation, Children’s Hospital in Boston,  Franciscan Hospital for Children, Joslin Diabetes Center, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brother and Big Sister of Massachusetts Bay, Oak Square YMCA, Shriners Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

 

See the source image

(Photo Credits: NBC Boston.com)

For the past two seasons, Patrice Bergeron teamed up with radio sports personalities from the 98.5 Sports Hub for the “Pucks and Paddles” ping-pong tournament, in which fans bid to have a chance to play alongside their favorite Bruin. The event raises money for patients at the Floating Hospital for Children at the Tufts Medical Center and benefits the Boston Bruins Foundation  (which  partnered with the hospital).

This past Thursday and in it’s 11th year, Patrice Bergeron, along with Simon Gagné (who played for Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins) co-chair the annual Pro-Am Hockey Tournament held in Quebec City. The event features a match-up of professional and amateur hockey players from the area. To date, the charity tournament has raised over $1 million dollars which goes to organizations that help sick or disabled children. The fundraiser was held at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. Here listed are players that were slated to participate in the event:

GOALTENDERS

Louis Domingue, Tampa Bay Lightning

Jonathan Bernier, Detroit Red Wings

DEFENDERS

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

Samuel Girard, Colorado Avalanche

Mark Barberio, Colorado Avalanche

David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins

FORWARDS

Paul Stastny, Las Vegas Golden Knights

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Vincent Lecavalier, Former player Tampa Bay Lightning 

Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay Lightning

Cedric Paquette, Tampa Bay Lightning

Simon Gagné, Former player Philadelphia Flyers

Philippe Danault, Montreal Canadiens

Alex Chiasson, Edmonton Oilers

Anthony Mantha, Detroit Red Wings

Samuel Blais, Blues of St. Louis

Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg Jets

Maxime “Max” Talbot, former Boston Bruins member, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins

 

COACHES BRUINS

Joel Bouchard, Rocket of Laval

Philippe Boucher, general manager of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and former Remparts coach

Michel Picard (recruiter for the St. Louis Blues)

 

LIGHTNING COACHES

Benoît Groulx, Syracuse Crunch

Dave Morrissette, TVA Sports

Pierre Sevigny, former Montreal Canadiens player

FINAL THOUGHTS

2019 marked his 16th year playing for the Boston Bruins organization and Bergeron has distinguish himself amongst his peers as a role-model for professional-athletes in any sport, especially in the hockey community.  Hockey players are a different breed and giving back to the community has and will continue to be a vital part of the sport. And for any player, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your career, aspiring to be like Patrice Bergeron is well, pretty damn good.

Bruins O’Ree Being Lobbied For Medal

(Photo Credits: The Great Black Heroes)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to those that “have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” Only eight athletes have ever received that honor, and this year if the NHL has its way, former Bruins player Willie O’Ree will be bestowed the award. It’s been reported that several NHL execs flew into Washington to help garner support in getting O’Ree the consideration.

NHL lobbies for Willie O'Ree to get Congressional Gold Medal(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Along with the NHL, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) has been lobbying for O’Ree to be considered for the Medal. Scott introduced the legislation to get the former NHLer the recognition. The Senator met with O’Ree recently on Capital Hill and spoke very highly of the “Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey”:

You were the grandson of slaves from South Carolina…I would like to put the icing on the cake from my perspective that this country continues to evolve in the right direction.

That in a time and date when there’s so much incivility, so much division and polarization, the one thing you represent today is what you represented in 1958, is that in this country, all things are possible…Thank you for being a trailblazer in a sport that I would imagine, even today people are unaware of the significant role that you played in opening the door.”

The high honor comes on the heels  after O’Ree was inducted into the NHL Hall Of Fame for breaking the color barrier in 1958 when he suited up for the Boston Bruins. As chronicled earlier this year, O’Ree has been a prominent figure in the Ice Hockey Community  where he has worked hard to bring the sport to minority and undeserved children. In 1996, O’Ree became the NHL’s first-ever Diversity Ambassador and helped develop the Hockey is for Everyone youth organization.

O’Ree was playing with the Quebec Senior Hockey League with the Quebec Aces when he was called by the Bruins to replace an injured player. Little did he realize that he would be crossing the color-lines when he played the against the Montreal Canadiens on January 18th, 1958.  

“To me, I didn’t know I was breaking the color barrier until the next morning when I read it in the paper.”

(Photo Credits: Postmedia Network)

And to add more to this significant moment, O’Ree lost 95 percent of his vision in his right eye due being hit in eye by a puck and had the Boston Bruins known this, there might have been a chance he never would’ve gotten the call:

“I didn’t let that stop me. Back then, they didn’t have physicals like the ones given today. I could still see out of my left eye. I wanted to play and I did what I had to do to compensate for the injury…Being a left-handed shot and playing left wing to compensate, I had to turn my head all the way around to the right and look over my right shoulder to pick the puck up.”

O’Ree has received many awards in his time including being inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (given annually for hockey service in the Unites States)  and was honored in 2008 with the naming of the Willie O’Ree Place at the Fredericton Arena in New Brunswick.

Little did he know the impact he would have for future black players in the NHL and the path he laid down.  In a touching tribute,  former Flyers now Devils player Wayne Simmonds wrote of the impact O’Ree had on him as a child and credits him with achieving his dreams of playing in the NHL:

“…none of it ever would’ve happened without Mr O’Ree opening the door-not just for me, but for every black hockey player with a dream…For every single kid who was ever told to ‘stick to basketball’, Willie was like the first man on the moon.”

And despite enduring the racial insults, threats and fights, O’Ree kept going:

“I’m not going to leave the league because there’s somebody there that feels that he wants to agitate me and get me out of the game”

(Photo Credits: Stephen MacGillivray / The Canadian Press)

The young 83-year-old NHL legend has a good chance at winning one of the highest honors given to a civilian and O’Ree could be none the happier:

“It would rank right at the top, the highest award probably that I’ve ever get as far as my lifetime. I’m thrilled and if it happens, I’d be very honored to come back and receive this award.”

Catching Up With The Bruins: Summer Edition

Related image(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

In what seems like a lifetime ago since the boys in Black and Gold skated in front of the Garden faithful, we’ve reached the very dreaded summer lull. With the NHL Free Agency gone and some new signings coming the way of Sweeney and Co., there have been other little sneaky things happening for the team. If you missed it, fret not as we have a quick low down of all things Bruins:

SOME FAMILIAR FACES

With fresh new faces joining the ranks of the prestigious club, the team will be welcoming back a few that have made their mark during the Bruins run for the 2019 Stanley Cup. This past June, Steven Kampfer agreed upon a two-year contract for $1.6 million dollars and will play through the 2020-2021 season. The blue-liner was brought in by the Bruins last September in exchange for defenseman Adam McQuaid. And when Boston was down a few defenseman, Kampfer was more than happy to step in and even more grateful to continue to don Boston’s jersey:

“It’s an honor and privilege to wear the Spoked-B. I’m really excited to be here and get this journey started again.”

Related image(Photo Credits: NBC Sports)

With the Playoffs on the horizon for the Bruins, injury once again plagued the team. Enter Connor Clifton, who was playing his second season down in Providence. After a quick stint in December when Clifton played for nine games with Boston, he was recalled once again and never returned to Providence, earning a spot on the NHL roster during the post-season run. The Quinnipiac alum played 18 games for the Bruins during the Playoffs were he netted two goals and three assists. His efforts were rewarded as both parties agreed to a contract extension of three years for $3 million.

Danton Heinen Photos - 28 of 78(Photo Credits: Steven Ryan/Getty Images North America)

Bruins forward Danton Heinen recently re-signed with the Boston Bruins for two more years with an annual cap of $2.8 million. The chippy forward had two goals and six assists during the Playoffs. Say what you want about Heino, but his ability to play both wings saw him garner a significant amount of time on ice while being shuffled amongst the top three lines. While not flashy, he certainly was dependable and played a key role alongside Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johannson.

O’ CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!

There’s a lot to say about the indomitable force that is Zdeno Chara who has been enjoying summer back in Slovakia with his family. And at age 42, he is now the oldest active player in the NHL and is there is no slowing down his regimen.  Recently Chara has once again been named Slovakia’s Best Hockey Player, making it the sixth time he has won.  Also in the mix was Jaroslav Halak, who won Slovakia’s Best Goaltender.  Both players were not able to make the awards and had their respected family members there to receive the honors. Halak had a tremendous year with the Bruins, ending the season with a .922 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.34 in 40 games.

Image result for zdeno chara slovakia award(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins/NHL.com)

ON THE MEND

After the loss of the Stanley Cup Finals in Game Seven, many of the Bruins were revealed to have suffered many injuries. As those players take time off to heal from those ailments, their head coach revealed that he too needed this summer to heal up. Cassidy suffered a recurring injury that stemmed from a decades-long problem: a torn ACL that was never dealt with properly. After being selected in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983, Cassidy injured his knee after playing ball hockey. Team doctors went against surgery opting instead for rehab, a decision that affected the young 18-year-old’s career.

Image result for bruce cassidy surgery(Photo Credits: Boston Informer)

After dealing with a recent re-injury to his knee during the Playoffs, the swelling proved too much and after a few aspirations (fluid being drained), the decision was made to have surgery:

“All of a sudden it just sort of gave out, maybe I lost my footing or whatever…I don’t know if it was in the gym, maybe, but it got puffy all of a sudden. They kept draining it through the Carolina series and some of the St. Louis series. I got X-rays and they said ‘you have to get it done.’

It is also worth noting that after many years of ligament damage from not having his ACL reconstructed, this led to Cassidy having a total hip replacement. Luckily the timing was just right and the Bruins coach continues to rehab the knee and regain his range of motion and mobility prior to the start of the new season.

THIS, THAT AND OTHER BITS

It was just recently announced that the Boston Bruins organization has hired former player Chris Kelly as Player Development Coordinator and Andrew Dickson as an Amateur Scout. Kelly is a former member of the 2011 Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup.

Image result for former bruin chris kelly(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins/NHL.com)

Some members of the Boston Bruins will once again be traveling to Beijing as the sport of Hockey continues to grow globally. Last year many of the veterans played and participated in youth clinics in China. This year, Providence players Anton Blidh and Wiley Sherman will be heading up the clinics. The Bruins have had very strong ties with China since partnering up with O.R.G. Packaging, becoming the first NHL franchise team to do so.

STAYING COOL

With the blistering heat here to stay for the next few months,  things tend to be quiet on the hockey front, but luckily fans have been treated to some online banter. And in case you were wondering if the team lost any of its “family” connection, you’ll be happy to know that the camaraderie has not faltered.  Most recently Bruins Twitter debuted a special installment of a segment called “Staying Connected” featuring Sean Kuraly video chatting with Jake DeBrusk (and with some added insight from Torey Krug). Enjoy below and hockey can’t come soon enough!

 

Bruins David Pastrnak Wins Award

Image result for david pastrnak golden stick award 2018(Photo Credits: Tech2.go)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

For the third time in three years in a row, Czech-native David Pastrnak has won the Golden Hockey Stick ( Zlatá hokejka)). The award is given annually to the top-performing Czech ice hockey player. This year, Pastrnak beat Tomas Hertl, forward for the San Jose Shark and fellow Czech Jakub Voracek-who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Pastrnak led the poll with 59 points ahead of Hertle to win the top prize.

Pastrnak became the youngest Cezch player to win the award in 2017. Winning for the third time in consecutive years has not been done since Jaromir Jagr did it from 2005-2008. The 47-year-old Jagr has won the award 12 times while legendary goaltender Dominik Hasek won five times. Fellow Bruins and Czech player David Krejci finished fourth behind Voracek in the poll. Pastrnak and Krejci did not attend the ceremony. In a recent interview with Czech media, Pastrnak had a few words to say about the recent loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals:

“The last defeat, even after the few days, still hurts a lot. It’s a memory of the end of life and a big disappointment.”

The 23-year-old native of Havirov had 19 points during the post-season run in the 24 games played. Pastrnak enjoyed one of his best performances during the regular season as being part of Boston’s top line. He had accumulated 81 points with 38 goals and 43 assists in 66 games. David Krejci was voted sixth place last year and jumped to fourth this year.

For the final poll, Pastrnak had 464 points with Hertl at 405 points. The final top players were determined in two rounds and were voted by representatives of hockey associations, coaches and top competitive clubs along with journalists. Here are the top five NHL Czech Players that made the final cut:

  1. David Pastrnak-Boston Bruins
  2. Tomas Hertl-San Jose Sharks
  3. Jakub Voracek-Philadelphia Flyers
  4. David Krejci-Boston Bruins
  5. Michael Frolick-Calgary Flames

IN OTHER NEWS

Pastrnak had a tough end to the post-season and much like the rest of team had been dealing with an injury reaggravated during a game in the Playoffs.  Aside from physical injury, many players had to overcome mental hurdles as well. At the end of the season media presser, Coach Bruce Cassidy did touch upon the possibility of moving Pastrnak and stated the conversation would continue next season.

For his part, the young winger (who reaggravated his thumb in the Columbus series) was quick to say the injury was not the sole reason when it came to the lack of production. A lot of it came the way of criticism and the grind of the Playoff that affected the young Czech winger:

“It was defiantly tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were picking each other up…I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite. It was mental stuff…In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff…it’s tough.

I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. So it was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience…The mental stuff is what I learned the most…It’s the Playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you…Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

With the season down and Pastrnak joining some Czech legendary company, here’s to the young winger and may he reach his 100 point season next year!

The Disappearance of the Boston Bruins First Line

brad_marchand_patrice_bergeron_david_pastrnak.jpg(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports Photo)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

It’s been a few days since the Boston Bruins suffered a tough end to a well-hard played season and as many weigh in on exactly what went wrong, it’s hard not to discuss one glaring issue: the production of the first line.

NHL Insider for NBC Sports Joe Haggerty dubbed the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak “The Perfection Line.”  Throughout the regular season, the Bruins top line combined for many of the games top points and Brad Marchand hit 100 career points. At the end of the postseason, they combined for 59 points but despite that, the struggles of the first line had become a hot topic.

(Photo Credits: Harry How/Getty Images)

Last season saw the first line leading in team production, however, it was evident that the Bruins wouldn’t be able to survive on one line alone. This season Boston’s story turned around and as the team fought through injuries, the “next man up” mantra came into fruition. The Bruins kept winning despite all the line juggling and soon saw themselves punching their way into the Playoffs. The fourth line went full-steam ahead and with the addition of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, Boston found their missing pieces.

As the Bruins trailed the series 3-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the top line exploded with Marchand tallying up two goals and an assist, Bergeron with an assist and Pastrnak had two assists, forcing a Game Seven. But when it came time for Round Two and Round Three, things started to dry up a bit. Early on, Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the concern in regards to the lack of  production from the top line-most notably Marchand:

“We asked him to attack a little more. What happens with Brad is if the puck’s not going in, he wants to make plays for Pasta, because Pasta can score, Berg, they’re all 30-goal scorers, so [Brad] defers a little bit. If the pass is there, obviously make it, but don’t be afraid to shoot. You saw it the other night, he rang one off the post, had one cross screen and nice blocker save, [Sean] Kuraly almost got the rebound, so there was some stuff going on there for him. I thought Pastrnak was closer than that, had a block on a wraparound, so he’s getting inside. That encourages me. So I feel they’re close, but St. Louis is tough. It’s tough to get inside, they defend well, goaltender’s playing well. So it’s a good battle right now.”

As with the Toronto series, the Bruins found themselves with their back against the wall, but were able to push back and force Game Seven on home ice.  But when the time was needed for Boston’s once-feared first line to explode again, the trio garnered little to no points and missed many scoring chances in the final Game Seven. If you look strictly at the plus/minus, all three had a -3 or -4  at one point in the series.

Related image(Photo Credits: NBC Sports)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Game Seven was arguably the most important game for the Bruins and it was a quite…lackluster. And while you can’t place blame on just one line nor should you expect just one to produce all the goals, the drought was ill-timed. The final game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is one of sports biggest stage and there were many mistakes made. For Marchand, that badly timed line-change is something he will always “live with.” And when asked about the line’s struggles,  Marchand stated:

“I mean, that’s playoff hockey. You’re not going to dominate every game, you’re not going to score every goal. It is what it is. Obviously, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we would’ve liked to be better. That’s hockey.”

For as tough as this loss was, the focus will now turn to the buyout period and free agency. Changes are inevitable and many of the young players have expressed their strong desire to stay right here in Boston. In a few months, the team will once again come together and whether or not Coach Bruce Cassidy keeps the top line together remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure… the Bruins will use this loss as a lesson and raise the Cup sooner than you think.

Relishing The Moment: Boston Bruins Brandon Carlo

Image result for brandon carlo(Photo Credits: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

For the last two years, bad luck has struck a certain 6-foot-5 Boston Bruins defenseman and as 2018-1019 regular season drew to a close, the reaction was to wrap him up in bubble wrap.  This time around though, Lady Luck has FINALLY come knocking (with fingers and toes crossed) and Brandon Carlo is more than ready to hit the ice as he plays in his first Stanley Cup Finals.

For Carlo, this season has been his best so far and he has become one of the most reliable defensemen on the roster. In this post-season run, the 22-year-old has averaged 20:00 minutes of ice time and so far has two points in 17 games. As a first-year player, Carlo had to work in finding out exactly what type of NHLer he would become and had a pretty promising good season. However, his pairing with Torey Krug late in the second season led to less than favorable results and Carlo seemed unable to make the right adjustments. This time around though, the Bruins are seeing a more physical and mentally prepared defenseman:

“Once I got more of my mental game under me throughout this year, I started taking strides forward. When I make a mistake, I don’t really think about it anymore. I brush it off and move on to the next play. That’s a big thing the coaches have talked to me about, the staff as well at the end of last season. Just learning from that experience has been really big for me. And watching other players in the league do it as well.”

Aside from developing his mental game, Carlo has had the advantage of being on a team steeped with a veteran core that boasts the likes of  Chara, Bergeron, and Backes. And as the team gears up for tonight’s Game One against St. Louis, he recently touched on the subject of chemistry and how it has affected this team:

“Everybody loves one another. I think that’s a strong word, but overall it’s true. This group is all about playing for each other. Hanging out off the ice, doing everything. From top to bottom, whether you’re 42-years-old…to 20-years-old, just the chemistry between this group mixes really well and it correlates onto the ice as well.”

Image result for brandon carlo(Photo Credits: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

The time is here and Carlo (along with many that are playing in their first Playoffs) is soaking up the excitement as well as heeding advice from those core veterans. As the Colorado Springs-native explained about the mindset going into tonight:

“Just not to overthink things. You can get ahead of yourself and start to think about all the possibilities and whatnot. But they’ve done a really good job of letting us take some time away from hockey as well, and regroup as individuals mentally.”

Things have certainly changed for the Krug-Carlo pairing and both have been steady as a defensive duo, as the Bruins have been dealing with an injured Kevan Miller. Even Coach Bruce Cassidy has found ways to not break up the pair when Boston saw McAvoy suspended for a game and Chara dealing with an injury.

When it comes down to it, no one can predict the outcome of this series, which will undoubtedly be physical, but one thing’s for sure: this team will be putting everything on the line.