Bruins Select John Beecher 30th Overall In The 2019 NHL Entry Draft

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(Photo: Rena Laverty / USA Hockey)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The Boston Bruins have selected center John Beecher with the 30th-overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Elmira, New York native is a product of the United States National Development Team Program, where he spent the last two seasons.

Last season, the 18-year-old posted 43 points (15 goals and 28 assists) in 63 games for the U.S. National U18 team last season as well as 6-14-20 totals in 27 games for the USNTDP Juniors (USHL)–all the while playing behind the likes of guys like Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte. Beecher posted three goals and one assist for four points in seven games with Team USA at the World Junior Championships en route to a bronze medal.

In 2017-18 the 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward tallied 17 goals, 24 assists, and 41 points in 60 games while playing with the U.S. National U17 Team. Beecher also registered nine goals and 16 assists in 34 games for the USNTDP Juniors. While playing for Salisbury School (USHS-Prep) in Connecticut in 2016-17, Beecher racked up 24 points (12 goals and 12 assists), skating in 30 games.

A University of Michigan recruit for the 2019-20 season, Beecher is a very strong skater, especially considering his size, with a good shot and nice instincts. He has room to grow offensively, especially in terms of his creativity, but is a strong forechecker and penalty killer; playing in the NCAA at Michigan will serve him well.

Blues’ Barbashev To Have Hearing For Hit To Head Of Bruins’ Johansson

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(Photo: John Tlumacki / Boston Globe)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced this morning that St. Louis Blues winger Ivan Barbashev will have a hearing for an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins winger Marcus Johansson.

Officiating has been a hotly contested topic throughout the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Thursday night’s Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden was no different. While the game saw its fair share of controversy with officiating, Barbashev’s hit seemed to start it all early on in the first period.

Barbashev did not receive a penalty for the hit, and Johansson was not injured as a result of the play. The hit caused Johansson to spin around as a result of the extremely high contact and came after Johansson had already shot the puck on Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.

The announcement of Barbashev’s hearing comes after a game that saw plenty of contestable choices by officials, including a high hit on Torey Krug by Zach Sanford, a blatant hold on Torey Krug by Oskar Sundqvist, and a textbook, egregious slew-foot on Noel Acciari by Tyler Bozak, which led to David Perron’s game-winning goal.

The 2011 Boston Bruins: Where Are They Now?

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Photo: (Jeff Vinnick / NHL Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

No one will ever forget what the 2010-11 Boston Bruins did for the City of Boston, bringing the Stanley Cup back home for the first time in 39 years and keeping the city’s storied legacy alive. While roster turnover is certainly not unexpected, it is still amazing to see just how much the composition of the Bruins has changed in the eight years since June 15, 2011.

Currently, only six Bruins were on the roster in 2011: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Steven Kampfer (who was technically a “Black Ace” during the Cup run). So, what ever happened to the others, the guys who have since left one way or another?

Tyler Seguin

Getting this one out of the way early; you all know the story. Seguin went on to play two more seasons for the Bruins after winning Lord Stanley as a rookie. However, after some growing pains and a disappointing 2013 season, he was traded to the Dallas Stars along with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow, and Matt Fraser. Now 27 years-old, Seguin is still one of the key cogs for Dallas as the Stars’ top center.

Rich Peverley

One of the more important players for the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Peverley was shipped out with Seguin in the aforementioned deal above. The now 36-year-old would only play 62 games for the Stars before a scary incident on the bench in which he collapsed due to an irregular heartbeat during a game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets ended his season. The cardiac issue forced Peverley to hang up the skates, but he is still involved with the Stars as a player development coordinator.

Mark Recchi

Recchi went out on top with three Cups to his name between Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Boston as his final professional game came in that Game Seven in Vancouver. Now 51, Recchi spent a year with the Stars as a consultant in 2013, before returning to the Penguins as a player development coach; he was later named director of player development. He is now an assistant coach to Mike Sullivan. Recchi also co-owns the Kamloops Blazers along with Jarome Iginla, Darryl Sidor, Shane Doan, and Stars owner Tom Galgardi.

Chris Kelly

A foot soldier for the Bruins, Kelly played five more seasons before both sides parted ways after he broke his femur. He signed with his former team, the Ottawa Senators and played one season for the club. After his second stint with the Sens, Kelly signed a professional tryout with the Edmonton Oilers, was not offered a deal, and joined the Belleville Senators, Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, on a PTO. Kelly represented Team Canada at the 2017 Spengler Cup, which they won, and rejoined Belleville before representing Canada as captain at the 2018 Winter Olympics. After the Olympics, the 38-year-old signed with the Anaheim Ducks for the remainder of the season. Now, he is with the Sens once again as a development coach.

Nathan Horton

One of the 2011 Cup run’s heroes, Horton opted to sign with Columbus after the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. Out until January of 2014 due to shoulder surgery, Horton only suited up in 36 games for the Blue Jackets before he was diagnosed with a degenerative back condition in the lumbar region in October 2014 that ended his season and his career, unofficially. On long-term injured reserve, he was traded to the Maple Leafs due to financial considerations for David Clarkson in 2015. The 33-year-old has yet to play a game for the Leafs and is not expected to play one, although he has taken his physical with the team before each season, failing it each time.

Milan Lucic

“Looch” was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in June of 2015 for Colin Miller, Martin Jones, and the 13th-overall pick (Jakob Zboril). In one season with LA, Lucic scored 20 goals and 55 points, which earned him a seven-year, $42-million deal with the Oilers in the summer of 2016.

Michael Ryder

The winger signed with Dallas in the summer of 2011 after his three-year stint with the Bruins ended with winning the Stanley Cup. During his second year in Dallas in 2013, Ryder was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where he began his career. After his second run in Montreal, the now 39-year-old signed a two-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, where he finished his career.

Dennis Seidenberg

Seidenberg was bought out by the Bruins at the end of the 2016 campaign after age and tearing both his ACL and MCL in 2013 showed their effects. Now 37 years-old, the German signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders for the 2016-17 season, and signed another one-year deal for the 2017-18 run. A free agent for most of the 2018-19 season, Seidenberg signed with the Isles in February for the remainder of the 2019 season, but didn’t suit up in a game.

Tomas Kaberle

After arriving to Boston via trade at the deadline in 2011, Kaberle signed for three years with the Hurricanes in the 2011 offseason. In December of 2011, Kaberle was traded to the Habs. In 2013, the Czech native only appeared in 10 games for the Habs and was released via compliance buyout in the off-season. Kaberle signed with his hometown club, HC Kladano–he played there during the 2013 lockout–in September 2013. He was invited to training camp with the Devils in September 2014, but was released before a cup of tea with the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL; he returned to HC Kladano that season as well. In 2016, Kaberle officially retired.

Andrew Ference

In July 2013, Ference signed with the Oilers, his hometown team, and was named the franchise’s 14th captain. Six games into the 2015-16 campaign, Ference was placed on injured reserve after season-ending hip surgery. In 2016, he announced his retirement before officially retiring in the 2017 offseason once his contract ran out. In 2018, the NHL named Ference its first director of social impact, growth, and fan development; he focuses on grass-roots growth, community development efforts, engaging minority fans and players, and facilitating relations between players and the league.

Johnny Boychuk

Boychuk remained with the Bruins until September 2014 when he became one of the first cap casualties of the Peter Chiarelli era as he was dealt to the New York Islanders for two second-round draft picks–one in 2015 (Brandon Carlo) and the other in 2016 (Ryan Lindgren). The 35-year-old signed a seven-year extension with the Isles in March 2015.

Daniel Paille

After he and the Bruins parted ways in the 2015 offseason, Paille was invited to training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks before joining their AHL-affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs on a PTO. One-third of Boston’s storied “Merlot Line,” Paille signed with the New York Rangers in the 2015-16 season and finished that year bouncing between the Blueshirts and AHL Hartford. Before retiring in 2017, Paille spent one season with Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League.

Gregory Campbell

Another third of the “Merlot Line,” Campbell signed with Columbus as a free agent in 2015 after five seasons with the Bruins. “Soupy” was placed on unconditional waivers by the Blue Jackets in December 2016, but was unwilling to play in the organizations minor league system. He officially retired in July 2017.

Adam McQuaid

After nine seasons with the Bruins, McQuaid was traded to the Rangers in September 2018 for Steven Kampfer, a 2019 fourth-rounder, and a conditional seventh-round pick. After 36 games with the Rangers, McQuaid was traded to the Blue Jackets at the deadline as a rental to bolster their depth for the playoffs; he’ll be a free agent this summer.

Shawn Thornton

After the 2013-14 season, the Bruins did not re-sign Thornton, who signed with the Florida Panthers for two years. After his contract ran out in 2016, the third member of the “Merlot Line” signed for one more year. Thornton retired at the end of the 2017 season and joined the Panthers’ front office in a business-related position.

Tim Thomas

A member of Boston hockey lore, Thomas’ 2011 run was one for the ages. After the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, Thomas announced that he would be taking a break from hockey, sitting out the 2013 season. In February 2013, Thomas was traded to the Islanders for a conditional second-rounder after the Bruins suspended him for not reporting to training camp; he sat out the remainder of his contract. In September 2014, the Panthers invited Thomas to training camp and he signed a one-year deal with the club; he was later traded dealt to Dallas where he finished his career.

“Sheriff” Shane Hnidy

Although his name does not appear on Lord Stanley, Hnidy received a ring and a day with the Cup. His three games in the 2011 campaign were his last in the NHL. Now, he is the color commentator on the Vegas Golden Knights television broadcasts alongside former radio play-by-play man for the Bruins, Dave Goucher.

Bruins Prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson To Return To Sweden

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(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHL Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that forward prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (JFK) will return to Sweden next season, intending to sign a contract with Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League.

“Jakob will continue his professional hockey career and development in the SHL and we support his decision to be closer to his family at this time in his life,” Sweeney said as he addressed the media. Sweeney also noted that JFK has stated that he “fully intends to resume playing for the Bruins, but right now he feels playing at home in Sweden is what is best for him.”

JFK has suited up in 29 games for the Bruins, 28 of which came this season. During his time with the big club, the Stockholm native registered three goals and six assists for nine points. The 22-year-old’s NHL debut came during the season finale in 2016-17 versus the Washington Capitals.

The 45th-overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, JFK spent the majority of the last two seasons with Boston’s AHL-Affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In 86 total games, JFK notched 22-26-48 totals for the P-Bruins.

The 6-foot-1, 184-pound forward spent two seasons at Boston University before signing his entry-level deal with the Bruins, serving as an alternate captain during his sophomore season with 14-19-33 numbers and a plus-11 rating. As a freshman, the centerman was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after tallying 10 goals, 20 assists, and 30 points with a plus-four rating.

Bruins’ McAvoy Suspended One Game

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(Photo: CBS Boston)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy for one game for his illegal hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. It was reported earlier today that the 21-year-old would receive a hearing for the incident, which occurred in the second period of last night’s 3-0 Game Six victory to eliminate Columbus.

McAvoy was only given a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check to the head during the game. Anderson was injured on the play, but returned for the third period. The young defenseman has been among the best players for the Bruins through the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs.

In the video explanation of the suspension, which can be viewed by clicking this link, the DoPS cited Anderson’s head being the principle, yet avoidable, point of contact as the main reasoning behind the decision. The video also noted how the angle of approach that McAvoy took caused him to drive into and up through the front of Anderson’s body, rather than his core or shoulder. This comes as the first discipline that the Long Beach, New York native has received from the league through 117 career regular season games and 31 playoff games.

With last night’s win, the Bruins advance to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. McAvoy will miss Game One, which will take place in Boston on Thursday night at 8:00 pm, making an already intriguing series much more interesting.

Bruins Sign Oskar Steen To Entry-Level Contract

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( Photo Credit: BostonHerald.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the Bruins have inked forward prospect Oskar Steen to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal runs through the 2020-21 season, carrying an annual NHL cap hit of $809,167.

Steen, who was drafted in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has spent the last three seasons playing for Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League. This season, the 21-year-old had a career year, tallying 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 47 games to go along with a plus-17 rating. His 37 points were good enough for second on his team and 10th in the SHL. In 14 playoff games this year, Steen recored 2-5-7 numbers.

Last season, Steen registered four goals and two assists for a total of six points through 45 games. In 2016-17, the 5-foot-9, 186-pound forward recorded five goals and six assists (11 points) in eighteen games for Sweden Junior’s Farjestad Jr. in addition to four games for Sweden 2’s MoDo. Also, Steen had a goal and an assist in one game for Sweden 3’s Forshaga in the ’16-17 season.

The Karlstad, Sweden native represented his country at the 2018 World Junior Championships, where he won a silver medal after registering two goals (both coming as game-winners), two assists, and a plus-five rating in seven games. In 2016, Steen won a silver medal at the U18 World Junior Championships as he notched 1-1-3 in seven games.

It is not yet confirmed whether or not Steen will make the jump to North American hockey next season, although it would make sense for him to join the Providence Bruins to become acclimated to the smaller ice and different style of play.

Bruins’ Bergeron Named Selke Trophy Finalist

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(Photo: Matt Stone / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

For the eighth-straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is annually awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game” as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association at the end of the regular season. Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights are the other two finalists for the award this year. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trophy was first presented by the NHL Board of Governors in 1977.

Bergeron has won the award four times in his career (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017), which is tied with Bob Gainey for the most all-time. As the only active player to win the Selke Trophy four times, if Bergeron were to take home his fifth this year he would undoubtedly solidify himself among the all-time great Bruins and two-way forwards.

The 33-year-old certainly has a strong case to take home another Selke this season. Although he missed 17 games in the regular season, the Bruins’ alternate captain had his best offensive season of his career, totaling 47 assists, matching his career-high of 32 goals, and setting a new career-high in points with 79 in 65 games.

On top of his strong offensive output, Bergeron was the same stalwart defensively that everyone knows and loves. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center was strong at the face-off dot once again, boasting a 56.6% success rate (sixth in the league); it was Bergeron’s tenth-straight season having a face-off win percentage of at least 56%. Bergeron also posted a Corsi rating of 56.77%, the eighth year in a row that he has posted at least 55% for a Corsi rating.

In his 13th season as an alternate captain for the B’s, Bergeron skated in his 1,000th NHL game versus the New York Islanders on February 5th. He finished the season with a plus-23 rating and 30 penalty minutes. The 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Bergeron finished with the second-best offensive-zone face-off win percentage in the league with a 59.7% success rate, the fifth-most total power play face-off wins with 162, and the 13th-most total face-off wins (786).

The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec native scored the most short-handed goals on the Bruins this season with four, and tied Brad Marchand for the most-shorthanded points on the team with seven. Bergeron ranked first overall in the league in SAT, a team puck possession metric, with a percentage of 56.73% (minimum of 30 games played).

Bergeron is certainly up against stiff competition this year as both Stone and O’Reilly have had phenomenal seasons at both ends of the ice for their respective clubs. However, the Bruins’ best player has as strong of a case as he ever has, and we could see him add yet another milestone to his lengthy resume by the time the NHL Awards roll around this summer.

 

 

 

 

Bruins Need The Same Intensity And Execution As Game Two For Success

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(Photo: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Like my article on the Bruins needing to stay healthy in order to meet expectations in the playoffs this year, this title may seem pretty obvious to some. However, as obvious as it may be, it is true, after all. Just take a look at the footage from Games One and Three, the games that the Bruins have dropped in the series so far.

Game One saw the Bruins come out thinking it was going to be easy. Brad Marchand confirmed that after the game that this group thought it was going to be “easier than it was out there.” In that game, the Bruins came out of the gate buzzing, jumping out to an early lead on the power play.

Not long after, the game quickly shifted as the Bruins settled in and turned on cruise control far too early. Opportunities came and went on the heels of one or two passes too many rather than quality shots on Freddy Andersen. Lackadaisical effort and puck-management led to Tuukka Rask being hung out to dry on more than one occasion. Bruce Cassidy’s game plan of trying to slow down the Leafs, either through matching their speed with the Bruins’ legs or physicality, went completely out the window as Mike Babcock’s team was able to get through the neutral zone with complete ease and get behind the Bruins in several instances.

Looking at Game Three, the Bruins’ intensity was clearly there, for the most part–the B’s once again allowed Toronto to get in behind the defense too many times as a result of being caught flat-footed on the back-check–but the execution was lacking. Turnover after turnover and an inability to execute a clean breakout numerous times killed the Bruins, especially on the penalty kill.

Once again, the first line was a complete zero at even strength as Charlie Coyle was the best forward for the B’s once again, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good since Coyle is producing and playing well; bad because Charlie Coyle of all people should NOT be the Bruins’ best forward. David Pastrnak is yet to establish himself in this series aside from a wonderful assist on Brad Marchand’s goal in Game Two.

The top trio of Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Pastrnak has combined for only two points at even-strength and four on the power play. They need to break through for the Bruins; their ability to contribute is far too important for the Bruins. Cassidy said it best: the top line is far to talented, far too talented to not be able to break through at some point this series.

Now take a look at Game Two at TD Garden on Saturday. The Bruins were a completely different team compared to Game One; Cassidy’s game plan was executed to perfection as the Bruins came out and absolutely manhandled the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The insertion of David Backes into the lineup and a Boston team that was playing angry after getting its lunch fed to it in Game One created the perfect storm for the Bruins to be able to dominate the Leafs. The B’s stifled the Toronto breakout and attack right off the bat and maintained strong layers of defensive support in front of Rask.

The Bruins flipped the script on the Leafs and played the way they knew how to, matching the expectations that the fans had of the team leading into the series, as well as the expectations they had of themselves. Boston’s effort and execution in Game Two should stand as the blueprint for the remainder of the series, especially tonight in Game Four.

The B’s have their backs against the wall big-time; as cliche, as it may seem, tonight’s game is a must-win. Well isn’t every game in the playoffs technically a must-win if you want to make it to the big dance? That may be so, but this team cannot afford to bring the series back to Boston in a 3-1 hole. The Bruins best chances of coming out on top like we know they can is to bring the same combination of intensity and execution that we saw in Game Two for the rest of the series, take tonight’s Game Four to tie things at 2-2 and go to war in a de facto best-of-three series.

Health Will Be A Key Attribute For Bruins Playoff Success

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(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The Bruins’ struggles to stay healthy as a team for extended periods of time this season have been well-documented. However, as luck may have it, the Bruins are entering the playoffs with a relatively clean bill of health–the exceptions being Sean Kuraly (fractured hand), Kevan Miller (lower-body), and John Moore (upper-body). Not having Miller in the lineup could still prove to be a huge loss, but things certainly look better compared to what else the Bruins dealt with this season.

After dealing with a lower-body issue in the final week of the regular season, it looks like Chris Wagner will be ready to go for Game One. Also, after missing the last two playoff runs with injuries sustained in the final games of the regular season, Brandon Carlo will finally get the chance to suit up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Sure, one might read the title of this piece and chuckle, saying “anyone could tell me that,” but staying healthy has nagged the Bruins all year long; it may just prove to be their Achilles heel in the playoffs. Just look at the last two years the Bruins were in the playoffs: in 2017 versus Ottawa, the B’s were forced to lean on guys like Joe Morrow, John-Michael Liles, and Tommy Cross because of a depleted defense; in 2018, Brandon Carlo was missing again, while Rick Nash was clearly not 100% on the ice, among others.

Luck has not always been on the Bruins side this season; that’s for sure. Below you can find some examples of the injuries to key players that the Bruins have dealt with this season–just a few instances, of course:

Considering the frustrations between losing multiple big-time players coupled with the Bruins’ offensive struggles earlier this season, what the team was able to do this season is nothing short of spectacular. While it is no secret that the roster has been extremely depleted at times, the depth within the system has been able to step up and hold the fort when regulars have been out of the lineup for extended periods of time–from Karson Kuhlman to Jeremy Lauzon to Connor Clifton and so on.

The young guys and the depth players proved that they could step in and excel as needed, or in a pinch, during the regular season, but the playoffs a different animal where experience usually matters. Any team is able to handle some inexperienced guys in the lineup during the playoffs, but if Boston’s bottom-six or defense looks like the Providence Bruins like they did at one point or another this season, the team could be in big trouble.

So, for the Bruins to be successful and meet the expectations that the team not only has of itself but also the fans’ expectations, the team must find a way to stay healthy for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Just look at the 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning two weeks ago as proof–check out Mike Cratty’s recap of that game to get the rundown on everything that happened. Up front, the Bruins were without Kuraly and Marcus Johansson; however, things were a lot worse on defense as the B’s were without Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and Miller. The effects of a depleted defense, along with a lackluster effort in the third period, were what led to the Bruins’ third-period collapse on March 25th.

Considering the attack that the Toronto Maple Leafs boast–the three-headed monster in Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner (let’s not forget Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau)–the Bruins would certainly be in for a tough matchup if they were to lose a few guys to injury, especially on the backend. Should the Bruins end up in a meeting with Tampa Bay in the second round, the odds would be stacked against Boston even more if the team is down several players due to injury as the Bolts showcase guys like Art Ross-winner Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Tyler Johnson, to name a few.

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The playoffs will certainly be exciting in Boston; fans and the Bruins themselves should like the team’s chances this year. However, health could prove to be a deciding factor in how deep the Bruins can take this playoff run.

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What Needs To Happen For The Bruins To Clinch Home Ice In The First Round

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(Photo Credit: Elsa / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

With the Bruins’ 6-3 loss at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, all eyes turn to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their matchup against the New York Islanders on Monday night. While the Bruins have officially held a playoff spot for a little over a week now, Boston is yet to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs with the Leafs still looming a few points behind the Bruins in the playoff picture. Here’s how things currently stand in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as of Monday afternoon:

Atlantic Division:

  1. p – Tampa Bay Lightning – 122 points
  2. x – Boston Bruins – 103 points
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs – 97 points

Metropolitan Division:

  1. x – Washington Capitals – 102 points
  2. x – New York Islanders – 99 points
  3. Pittsburgh Penguins – 97 points

Wild Card

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets – 94 points
  2. Carolina Hurricanes – 93 points

(x = clinched playoff spot; p = Presidents’ Trophy)

For what it’s worth, the Montreal Canadiens sit just outside the last wild card spot with 92 points of their own. Right now the Leafs, have a game in hand on the Bruins, with four remaining on their schedule before playing the Islanders on Monday night; the Bruins play their third-to-last game tomorrow night versus the Blue Jackets.

Had the Bruins won on Sunday night in Detroit, all that would have needed to happen for the Bruins to lock up home ice advantage in the first round would have been a Leafs’ loss to the Islanders in any fashion (regulation, overtime, or shootout). Now, for the Bruins to clinch home ice as soon as tomorrow night, the Leafs need to lose to the Islanders on Monday in any fashion, and the Bruins need to beat the Blue Jackets in any manner tomorrow night. However, if the Leafs simply lose in regulation to the Isles, then the Bruins have a little more wiggle room, meaning they can clinch home ice Tuesday night in Columbus either through a win, an overtime loss, or a shootout loss.

While what was an extremely disappointing and frustrating weekend on the ice for the Bruins certainly didn’t simplify the scenarios in which Boston can clinch home ice, the Bruins still have plenty of opportunities to do so in the final games of the regular season, considering the Leafs have a gauntlet of a schedule to close their season–games versus the rolling Islanders, the league-best Lightning, and matchups against the Habs and the Hurricanes, who are desperately fighting for playoff berths.

In any world, the Bruce Cassidy, Don Sweeney, and every playing member of the Bruins should absolutely want and crave home-ice advantage for any playoff matchup that comes their way; in this instance, the Bruins are in control of where their first-round series goes through–Boston or Toronto (a meeting with the Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals is a foregone conclusion at this point in the season, barring any miracles for the Canadiens). TD Garden’s energy in the playoffs is unmatched, and the Bruins have shown in recent playoff appearances that they are able to use their home ice to their advantage, feeding off the raucous energy of the Garden faithful.

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