Bruins Prospect Studnicka Traded to Niagara Ice Dogs

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photo credit: NHL.com

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

The Ontario Hockey League trade that has been rumored for the past week or so has finally happened: Boston Bruins center prospect Jack Studnicka has been acquired from the Oshawa Generals by the Niagara IceDogs. Canucks prospect Matt Brassard is heading to Niagara with Studnicka, in exchange for defenseman Lleyton Moore and six draft picks, spanning from 2020 through 2024. This is an OHL trade only, and the Bruins still own the NHL rights to Studnicka.

Studnicka, one of the Bruins organization’s top prospects, was selected by the Boston Bruins 53rd overall in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He impressed during the Bruins’ training camp and preseason this year, but ultimately was returned to his OHL team at the time, the Oshawa Generals. Studnicka recently returned to Oshawa from a disappointing sixth place finish with Team Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver. Studnicka scored one goal and assisted on three, totaling four points in five games.

In 222 games over three and a half seasons in Oshawa, Studnicka tallied 184 points – 56 goals and 128 assists – while captaining the Generals squad since 2017-18. This season, Studnicka had scored 34 points in 30 games before being traded to the IceDogs, where he will undoubtedly continue the tear he’s been on lately.

In a press release, Generals Vice President and General Manager Roger Hunt said, “Jack came in following our Memorial Cup year and right away proved he was a leader and the exact guy we needed to build our team around. While playing with the Gens he has represented Canada at the Under-17, Under-18 and World Junior level. It was a no brainer for him to become our captain two years ago and he will always be remembered as one of the great captains of the Oshawa Generals.”

In a press release out of Niagara, IceDogs General Manager Joey Burke said, “This is a huge day in Niagara. In Jack and Matt we are adding the exact two players we targeted as a perfect fit for our roster. The skill set they will add to an already deep group could not be more exciting, and I can’t wait to watch how well they fit with our guys… To be able to add something of this caliber, something had to go out, and it was a very difficult decision to move Lleyton Moore. As we know, he will go on to become a star in this league. Lleyton is a great young man and athlete, and we wish him nothing but success.”

The IceDogs are currently holding onto second place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, and are four points above Studnicka’s former Oshawa Club, which is currently in third place. Oshawa got a solid return for Studnicka and Brassard in 16 year old defenseman Lleyton Moore, but Niagara made a fantastic addition to their roster as well, as Studnicka has proven to be one of the OHL’s best players over the last couple of seasons.

 

Bergeron Could Practice Wednesday, Imminent Return Possible

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photo credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said on Sunday that Patrice Bergeron could rejoin the rest of his Bruins teammates for a full practice this Wednesday. Bergeron returning to the lineup is a possibility after practicing with the team. Obviously, their star center returning to the lineup would be the ultimate Christmas gift for the injury-riddled Bruins.

Bergeron sustained a rib and sternoclavicular injury in Dallas during a 1-0 loss to the Stars when Dallas center Radek Faksa drove him into the boards while battling for the puck. Bergeron hit the boards awkwardly, went to the Bruins’ locker room, and returned to the game later. Upon returning, he was unable to take faceoffs and was nowhere near effective as usual. Four days later, the Bruins announced that Bergeron would be shelved for four weeks, and then re-evaluated. Tuesday, December 18 will be four weeks from the announcement, so things appear to be right on schedule.

Since losing Bergeron, the Bruins have gone 7-6-1 in fourteen games. During this period, the team has had continued problems creating offense, as Cassidy has jumbled the forward lines several times. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was centering the third line, then he was bumped up to play between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

That didn’t work out, so David Krejci was moved up to play with Marchand and Pastrnak, while JFK was moved back to his usual third line spot. Colby Cave has been centering the second line, which hasn’t been particularly productive since Jake DeBrusk was injured and Krejci was moved up. Krejci and his new linemates have been enjoying some chemistry, however.

Recently, there has been much debate about what Cassidy should do with the forward lines once Bergeron returns. Some say the best line in hockey should be reunited, others say Krejci should continue centering Marchand and Pastrnak, while others view Bergeron playing with anyone else as being a demotion. There has been speculation that Cassidy would keep Bergeron and Marchand together and have Krejci and Pastrnak play together, as well.

Since there are so many possible line combinations, there’s a chance more than one or two of them could work in the Bruins’ favor. Let’s start by saying that while Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes have been moved all over the lineup this season and have both done an adequate job in whatever role they’ve been asked to play, neither player belongs on either of the top two lines. Danton Heinen is another player who is a veritable Swiss  Army knife but is more of a third line type of guy. Colby Cave is another player who has done well in playing the cards he was dealt, but with Bergeron back, he should return to the bottom six, or more likely, Providence.

Asking Patrice Bergeron to skate with linemates other than the elite scoring machines that are Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak is not a demotion – not even close. If anything, it speaks to just how much Bruce Cassidy can trust Bergeron in any situation. Since Marchand and Pastrnak are gelling with David Krejci, there is no reason to split them up without giving a line consisting of Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk and one of the Bruins young goal-scoring prospects a look first. Anders Bjork can be electric at times and could be a good fit with Bergeron and DeBrusk – Cassidy won’t know unless he tries it for more than a shift or two. Bjork or Donato may be interchangeable in this role, as each of them has played well at times on both the second and third lines, and who better to show them the ropes than Mr. Perfect himself?

Nobody should be looking at Bergeron shepherding younger players as a demotion, especially since Bergeron undoubtedly sees it as his job. If the Bruins can get something other than the first and third lines going, then they could be dangerous. They’ll need all the points they can get, given the hyper-competitive Atlantic Division this season. It could be worth his while if Cassidy is willing to try something different.

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photo credit: Winslow Townson / AP Photo

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The Bruins Week Ahead: Wild Card Edition

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photo credit: Eric Canha/CSM/Cal Sports Media/AP Images

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

At the moment, the Boston Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. It may be too early to talk about the postseason, but they currently inhabit one of the Eastern Conference’s Wild Card slots right now. They are sandwiched between their rivals, as they currently sit two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.

Last week, the Bruins racked up an overtime loss in Detroit against the Red Wings, and a win at home on Black Friday against Pittsburgh, followed by one in Montreal on Saturday night. With Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara out of the lineup in addition to Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen, the Bruins have had a little bit of trouble finding chemistry with their lines so jumbled. Losing their best center, who is also their best player without the puck, has been a bit of an issue for the Bruins.

Luckily for the B’s, defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller, both of whom have been playing very well this season, returned from injury this week and have helped immensely. Tuukka Rask has also been fantastic in net since returning from his leave of absence.

There are three games coming up this week, and two are against teams in the super competitive Atlantic Division.

Monday, November 26: at Toronto

The Bruins and Maple Leafs have met once this season, with the Bruins winning 5-1. Monday night they will meet again at Scotiabank Arena. Naturally, the Leafs will want to come out flying as they would not be pleased to drop another contest to the B’s, after last season’s first round exit, and getting blown out in their first meeting with Boston this season.

Toronto is third in the Atlantic Division (and fourth in the NHL) with 32 points. The Bruins are fourth in the division (7th in the NHL) with 30 points. Their top center, Auston Matthews, is still out due to a shoulder injury, but has resumed skating and may be returning in the first week of December. The Leafs are still without William Nylander, as the two sides have yet to work out a deal (the Bruins should make Nylander an offer, but that’s a story for another day).

With Matthews out of the lineup, leading the way for the Maple Leafs is 2015 fourth overall draft pick Mitch Marner, who looks no older than your average eighth grader. Marner has scored 30 points in 24 games, with 6 goals, 24 assists. Superstar center John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly are tied for second in points with 27 apiece.

Toronto’s defense remains questionable, but the Leafs’ goaltending has been excellent so far this season. Frederik Andersen is 12-7 in 19 appearances, with a save percentage of .931 and a goals-against-average of 2.24. Backup Garret Sparks was between the pipes for the first game against the Bruins this season. He is 4-1 in 5 games and has put up a Save% of .925, and a GAA of 2.57 – pretty solid.

The Leafs’ power play is 9th in the NHL and is converting at 23.8% (Bruins are third at 28.4%). The penalty kill is 12th in the NHL at 81.3%, while the Bruins are 19th at 78.4% (ouch). Despite Toronto’s defense is their weakness, they don’t allow many goals. Currently, they’ve let in third fewest goals per game in the league, with only Nashville and the Bruins allowing fewer.

The Bruins are going to have to be particularly solid in their own end against Toronto, as the Leafs are a pretty fast team and are skilled offensively. Stretch passes could be an issue if Boston can’t hold onto the puck or handle passes – the Maple Leafs made it obvious last season that they could cause problems for the B’s this way.

Thursday, November 29: vs. New York Islanders

Former Bruins captain Rick Middleton’s number 16 will be retired in a ceremony before Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. Islanders fans are probably happy about this since Nifty enjoyed much more success for the Bruins than he did when he played for their crosstown rival, the New York Rangers.

Despite the loss of star center John Tavares, the Islanders have put together a decent first two months of the season, and are third in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points, good for fourteenth in the NHL. Thursday will be their first game against the Bruins this season.

The Isles have gone 3-2 in their last five games, which include a win and a loss against the rival New York Rangers, who are nipping at their heels in the standings at fourth in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are 12-8-2, while the Rangers are 12-10-2. They also beat the Devils 4-3 in overtime on November 23, with the game winner being scored by center Matt Barzal, who Bruins fans are either obsessed with or tired of hearing about – no in between.

The Islanders are about as healthy as the Bruins, as they are currently without Casey Cizikas (lower body), Andrew Ladd (leg), Matthew Lorito (undisclosed), Matt Martin (upper body), and Linus Soderstrom (shoulder). There is a possibility Cizikas might be back for Thursday’s matchup, which would be huge for the Islanders. Matt Martin may be suiting up as well.

The Islanders are scoring 13th most goals per game with 3.18, while the Bruins are tied with Dallas for 21st in the league at 2.83 goals per game. The Isles are in the middle of the pack as far as goals allowed per game, with 2.86, good for 14th in the NHL.

Right wing Josh Bailey is leading the Isles in scoring with 7-14-21 totals, followed by Mat Barzal with 3-17-20 totals. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee have 18 points each, and Valtteri Filppula will be a player to watch on both sides of the puck, as he’s reliable defensively and can score as well.

Saturday, December 1st: vs. Detroit Red Wings

This will be the Bruins’ third meeting with Detroit this season. The absolutely routed the wings 8-2 in October, with David Pastrnak notching a hat-trick. Last week, the Bruins took on the Wings in Detroit and lost in miserable fashion during overtime. A key faceoff was lost, not one, but two Bruins were unable to strip Andreas Athanasiou of the puck, and of course, he scored a beauty of a gamer winner with a fancy spin move that would have been totally stoppable had anybody opted to play defense. Oy.

The Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five games. Three of those games have gone to overtime. The Wings won two of those games (Bruins and Devils) and lost to Buffalo in a shootout. Winning this one in regulation would be a good idea, as it’s very clear that the Red Wings are not to be underestimated. They still have speed and firepower in players such as Dylan Larkin, Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and UMaine alum Gustav Nyquist.

Jimmy Howard has been good in the crease, with a GAA of 2.55 and a Save% of .925. Their backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a rough start, as his stats are 3.54 and .897, respectively, but has been finding his game recently, and had a couple of very solid games last week. Bernier made 49 saves in a single game against Carolina. That statistic should make it pretty obvious that the Red Wings are among the NHL’s worst regarding shots allowed per game (29th in the NHL, at 38.4/game).

An important key to this game will be for the Bruins to get as much offensive zone time as possible and capitalize on the many opportunities the Red Wings are probably going to serve up for them. The Bruins should take as many shots as possible, and create traffic in front of the net if they want to be successful. It seems they’re finally starting to find a little bit of chemistry in the new lineup sans Bergeron. Hopefully, they can keep it up.

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Providence Bruins Sign D Kyle Cumiskey To PTO

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photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

Per Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, the Providence Bruins have signed defenseman Kyle Cumiskey to a PTO. Providence’s defense is depleted due to injuries to the Bruins’ NHL roster, as Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, and Urho Vaakanainen are all out of the lineup for various reasons. This ridiculous string of bad injury luck has caused Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, and Jakub Zboril to be called up to Boston to fill all of the holes left in the Bruins’ roster.

Yesterday, Kyle Cumiskey was loaned to Providence from the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, and Divver reported today that Providence has signed Cumiskey to a PTO. Selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the seventh round in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Cumiskey is a smooth-skating defenseman who has had trouble with hip injuries in the past.

Cumiskey has an interesting history as he has jumped continents several times and has been plagued by injury. His professional hockey career began in 2006-07 when he played most of the season for the Albany River Rats and appeared in nine games for Colorado. Over the next two seasons, Cumiskey was dogged by injuries but split time between the Avalanche and their AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, when healthy. He also missed considerable time the following two seasons: a groin injury took him out of the lineup for 17 games in 2007-08, and he missed the final 6 weeks of the season with a shoulder injury in 2008-09.

In 2009-10, he was on the opening night roster for the Avalanche. He spent the entire season with the Avs, playing 61 games that season, scoring 7 goals and assisting on 13, for a total of 20 points. The following season, he was limited to 18 games, due to concussion issues. Before the start of the 2011-12 season, the Avs and Cumiskey agreed to a contraction extension consisting of a one-year, two-way deal. Before the season began,  he was put on waivers and then traded to Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Jake Newton. This move definitely made sense for the Avalanche, as they already had Tyson Barrie, who could be a body double for Cumiskey, except that he’s better offensively and in his own end.

Cumiskey was called up to Anaheim a few times but never played an NHL game for the Ducks. He ended up spending the majority of the time skating for their AHL affiliate in Syracuse, the Crunch. Leading up to the 2012-13 lockout season, the Ducks still owned Cumiskey’s NHL rights, but Cumiskey decided to sign with MoDo in Sweden. In his first year skating for MoDo, he scored 32 points in 46 games and was fifth in league scoring among defensemen. At the end of the 2013 season, the Ducks came calling again, and the two parties agreed to Cumiskey making a return to Anaheim and North American hockey. After training camp, he was sent down to Norfolk in the AHL. Cumiskey and the Ducks then agreed to mutually terminate his contract so he could return to Sweden, where he scored 28 points in 45 games for MoDo the following season.

In July of 2014, Cumiskey agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, returning to the NHL once more. He began the season with the Blackhawks but by mid-October, he was assigned to Rockford of the AHL. The following February, Cumiskey was recalled and played his first NHL game in four years. After seven scoreless games, he was sent back down to the AHL but was recalled once again, for Chicago’s playoff run, playing his first NHL postseason game against his former team, the Ducks. He was mainly used as a seventh defenseman, but dressed for three Stanley Cup Final games against Tampa Bay, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons.

After winning the Cup, Cumiskey had surgery in the offseason. His contract had expired and the Blackhawks invited him to camp on a PTO. That October, he signed a one-year contract with Chicago and was assigned to their AHL team in Rockford. He only played in 17 games that season, though, as he was bitten by the injury bug once again. Hitting free agency the next summer, Cumiskey opted to return to Sweden, and he signed with Skelleftea AIK, as MoDo had been demoted to Hockey Allsvenskan, a lower league than the SHL. Before the 2016-17 season, Cumiskey had offseason surgery again and only played a dozen games before he and Skelleftea mutually agreed to terminate his contract.

Cumiskey took the following season off and attended the Toronto Marlies’ training camp as a tryout in September of this year. He was signed to a PTO and only played in one game for the Marlies before being released due to a full roster, causing him to sign with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, where he played 11 games, notching nine assists before being loaned to Providence of the AHL.

The Week Ahead: Black Friday Madness

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photo credit: Joseph Prezioso

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

The Bruins have gone 1-1-1 so far on their four-game road trip, but their record doesn’t reflect just how well they’ve held things together despite icing a defensive corps containing two National Hockey League regulars, one seventh defenseman, and three rookies who were called up from the AHL. The Black and Gold have also been missing their best player at both ends of the ice, perennial Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, for most of the last two games.

Wednesday in Colorado, the Bruins were holding their own in a fun back-and-forth contest until captain Zdeno Chara left the game with a knee injury in the second period. Once Chara left the game, the wheels fell off, and the Bruins lost 6-3 after surrendering five unanswered goals. One plus from this game was that the secondary scoring was alive and well, with Jake DeBrusk potting two goals.

In Dallas on Friday,  John Moore was out of the lineup, on top of Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen. The Dallas game was poorly officiated, and on top of that, Patrice Bergeron was injured on an awkward hit by Radek Faksa. Tuukka Rask played a great game, but the Bruins couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket and lost 1-0 in overtime. The Stars got many opportunities to score, but between Rask and the patchwork defense, Dallas was unable to make it happen during regulation.

On Saturday night, the Bruins visited the Coyotes, who were quite fashionable in their 90s-chic Kachina jerseys (where were Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick, though?).  The B’s were able to net two goals in the first three minutes, most notably Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s first NHL goal. Jake DeBrusk scored within two minutes of JFK. It was nice to see someone score other than Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, or David Pastrnak, however, Bergeron being out of the lineup definitely had something to do with that. It was another game where the young defense helped hold it together, and the save of the game went to Jeremy Lauzon. Bruins won, 2-1.

Kevan Miller (hand) could be returning for the Detroit game on Wednesday night. We don’t have any news on John Moore or Patrice Bergeron yet, either.

Now, on to the next week of games…

November 21 @ Detroit:

The Detroit Red Wings are a shell of their former selves. They have a 9-9-2 record and a goal differential of -8. Currently, the Wings are in 7th place in our 8 team Atlantic Division and are 23rd in the National Hockey League, with 20 points on the season. Their special teams are better than their record would have one believing, as their power play is 11th in the league at 22.4%, and they have killed 81.3% of their penalties, good for 10th in the NHL.

Leading the way in scoring for the Red Wings is Dylan Larkin, with 8-11-19 totals in 20 games, followed by former Maine Black Bear Gustav Nyquist, who has scored two goals and assisted on 13, for 15 points on the season. Goaltending has been better than Detroit’s record would lead us to believe; Jimmy Howard has a save percentage of .922, with a GAA of 2.64. The Wings don’t take many shots – they are 27th in the league and are taking an average of 28.8 per game (just behind the Bruins at 26th, and 29.4 shots/game). However, they are allowing the third most shots per game, at 35.5.

The last time the two teams faced each other was October 13 at the Garden. David Pastrnak scored a hat trick, and the Bruins won 8-2. Detroit obviously wants that one back, and if they have any competitive spirit left in them, they will come out flying Wednesday night. Hopefully, all the Bruin cubs on defense will be ready for them.

November 23, vs. Pittsburgh:

The Bruins’ annual tradition of playing a matinee game on Black Friday while we all gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving leftovers has been squashed in favor of a more National TV-friendly schedule. For the second year in a row, they will face the Penguins at home that night.

Imagine having a roster with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, and still being terrible? You don’t have to imagine it, though, because the Penguins have brought your imagination to life! Up to this point, Pittsburgh has been alarmingly bad, and have dropped 8 of their last 9 games. They are off to a 7-8-3 start and are 29th in the league in points. They are last in the Metropolitan Division, as well, but are only one point behind the struggling New Jersey Devils.

The Pens’ power play is converting at 25.7% and is seventh-best in the league. They’ve killed 80% of their penalties, which is 15th. Bruins are 29.8% (third), and 79.1% (18th), respectively. Evgeni Malkin is their scoring leader with 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 18 games, and former Bruin and hot dog enthusiast Phil Kessel has notched 9-14-23 totals in 18 games. Sidney Crosby has missed two outings but still has 19 points in the 16 games he has played. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s number one goaltender, has been terrible this season, with a sub-.900 save percentage (.877!), and goals against average of 4.08. Woof. They do have themselves a bit of a goaltending controversy, as many people are calling for backup Casey DeSmith (.903 SV%, 2.25 GAA) to play more games. Sounds familiar. doesn’t it?

November 24th, @ Montreal:

The best rivalry in sports has died down a little bit given roster moves both teams have made, and the difference in their records the last few seasons. Max Pacioretty was traded to Vegas for Tomas Tatar, Alex Galchenyuk was swapped for Max Domi, who is apparently a number one center (who knew?!). Andrei Markov was sent packing a year ago for some reason, and Shea Weber is still injured. Nobody expected the Canadiens to be able to do anything this year.

Surprisingly, though, the Habs’ record is exactly the same as the Bruins: 11-6-3 with 25 points. The Canadiens have won their last two games after dropping one to Edmonton earlier this week. Montreal’s power play is 29th in the league, as is somehow only scoring 13.5% of the time. These are not the same Habs who embellish and roll around on the ice anytime an opposing player skated within ten feet of them, as their power play will get them nowhere. Their PK is 13th in the league at 80.9%. These are not the numbers we are used to seeing with the Habs. This is a whole new team.

Max Domi has scored 10 goals and assisted on 14, good for 24 points in the first 20 games. This is a record for the Canadiens, which seems bizarre given their history. Tom Tatar and Jonathan Drouin are tied for second on the team with 17 points apiece. Defenseman Jeff Petry is having a solid offensive season, having scored 15 points already. – not too shabby.

In continuing with the theme of “Everything In Montreal Is Weird This Season”, the Habs’ goaltending has been terrible – really, really bad. Carey Price’s save percentage is only .904, and his goals-against average is 2.92. That’s pretty bad, but their backup, Antti Niemi, is even worse at .887 SV% and 3.74 GAA. Yikes! Price’s numbers may be on the upswing, though, as he’s stopped 79 of 83 shots in his last two starts, though that’s a lot of shots allowed over two games.

The answer for the Bruins will be to put as many pucks on net as possible and to create traffic in the crease. If the Bruins can do that while holding off Domi, Tatar, and Drouin, they can come out of Montreal on top.

Opponents like Detroit and especially Pittsburgh should not be overlooked, but there is no reason the Bruins can’t take at least four out of a possible six points in the next week. Not losing anyone else to injury, unfortunately, is probably the most important thing the Bruins can do this week.

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Injuries Pile Up During Bruins’ Road Trip

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photo credit: NHL.com

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

Zdeno Chara injured his left knee Wednesday night during the second period of a loss to the Avalanche in Colorado. Chara cut his road trip short, traveling back to Boston to be evaluated by team medical staff. When Chara was injured, the Bruins were already without Charlie McAvoy (concussion), Kevan Miller (hand), and Brandon Carlo (upper body).

The Bruins played in Dallas last night with three rookie defensemen in the lineup, two of whom were on emergency call-ups, making their National Hockey League debut. Boston lost 1-0 in overtime, in a back-and-forth, competitive game. While half of the Bruins defense consisted of players who were playing in the AHL last week, they were better defensively than most imagined that would have been.

That said, Zdeno Chara was sorely missed.  Chara was diagnosed on Friday, and today the Bruins announced that he sustained an injury to his left MCL and will miss 4-6 weeks of hockey. Surgery is a possibility, unfortunately. Chara is not the player he was when Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011, but he is still a very important part of the team, and remains an effective shutdown defenseman.

Defenseman John Moore missed Friday’s game in Dallas as well, with a lower-body injury purportedly sustained in Colorado, as he was unable to participate in Friday morning’s skate in Dallas. Moore cut his road trip short as well and returned to Boston for rest and evaluation. Moore’s absence on top of Chara’s, gave Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton the opportunity to debut for the Bruins last night. Moore is listed as day-to-day.

During Friday’s game in Dallas, Stars center Radek Faksa rode Patrice Bergeron into the boards awkwardly during the second period. Bergeron appeared to injure his shoulder and returned to the Bruins’ locker room. Eventually, he returned to the game but was not able to be as effective as he usually is, and he didn’t play a shift during overtime. Bergeron returned to Boston and will be evaluated by the team.

There hasn’t been any word from the Bruins about what kind of timeline to expect regarding Bergeron’s return to the lineup, as his injury only occurred last night, and there hasn’t been any communication as to how severe his injury is. Bergeron’s loss will be felt, as it was causing all sorts of upheaval in the Bruins’ forward lines, as well as on the power play and penalty kill.

Without team captain Zdeno Chara or alternate captain Patrice Bergeron in the lineup, the Bruins will be tolling with three alternate captains tonight in David Krejci, David Backes, and Brad Marchand.

The Bruins forward lines will be affected greatly: Krejci will be centering the top line, with Anders Bjork and David Pastrnak on his wings, while Joakim Nordstrom will be the second line pivot, skating with Marchand on his left and Jake DeBrusk on his right. The third line will consist of Danton Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Noel Acciari, while Sean Kuraly will play center for Chris Wagner and David Backes.

Regardless of what the results of Bergeron and Moore’s evaluations tell us, the Bruins are going to feel the loss of Chara through the end of the year (and hopefully that’s it). The Bruins really need  Bergeron and Moore to return to the lineup sooner, as icing three rookie defensemen cannot be ideal when a team is looking to win. It’s going to be a rough few weeks.

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Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGaint for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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Zdeno Chara Injured, Heading Back To Boston

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photo credit: Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

During Wednesday night’s tilt against the Colorado Avalanche, former Bruin Carl Soderberg had just dished out the puck at the Bruins’ blue line as Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was advancing toward him. Chara made the check and hit Soderberg square on the back. As he did, the resulting impact caused Chara’s left knee to cave inward. He left the game immediately following Jake DeBrusk’s second goal of the night, a little less than 30 seconds after the incident.

Chara traveled to Dallas with the team after Wednesday’s loss to the Avalanche in Colorado, but instead of staying for the remainder of the trip, he has returned to Boston to have his knee evaluated by team medical staff. Perhaps Bruins fans can take a little bit of comfort from the fact that Chara left the rink unaided and did not appear to be badly injured, but there’s no telling what an evaluation can reveal. Hopefully, it’s relatively minor, as injuries to the Bruins’ blue line are beginning to pile up.

Currently, the Bruins’ defense corps is decimated, with Kevan Miller out (hand), Charlie McAvoy sidelined with a concussion, and most recently, Brandon Carlo placed on injured reserve (upper body injury) and did not travel with the team. It was initially thought that Carlo’s injury was minor as he was questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Vegas Golden Knights, but it looks like it may be a little more significant than it seemed at first glance.

Injuries to these three defensemen have thrown the Bruins’ defensive pairings out of whack, and adding Chara to the list means the Bruins do not have either of their top pair available. They are also missing one from their second pair (Carlo), s well as one from the third pair (Miller). Jeremy Lauzon was called back up from Providence a week ago and played the last two games with Boston. 2015 first round pick Jakub Zboril was called up following Carlo’s injury. Should Zboril make it into the lineup (which is likely at this point), it will be his first rodeo, as he has yet to make an appearance in the National Hockey League.

The entire right side of the Bruins’ defense is injured in McAvoy, Carlo, and Miller, and with Chara out, now their top left defenseman is out as well. This leaves the Bruins with a defensive corps consisting of Torey Krug, John Moore, Matt Grzelcyk, seventh defenseman Steve Kampfer, and Providence Bruin callups Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril. After Chara left the game in the second period Wednesday, the wheels fell off, and the Bruins gave up five unanswered goals. Hopefully, with a little time to practice together and for coach Bruce Cassidy to figure out the pairings, things will come together and the defense will be less leaky than it was for the second half of Wednesday night’s game, as the Bruins will undoubtedly feel the loss of Chara.

Bruins Call Connor Clifton Up From AHL

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins )

By: Mandi Mahoney | Follow Me On Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins road trip is not going according to plan. During a loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center Wednesday night, captain Zdeno Chara injured his knee while checking former Bruin Carl Soderberg. Chara left in the second period, and the Bruins did not fare very well without him, dropping a two-goal lead and eventually losing 6-3 to the Avs.

As a result of Chara’s injury, the Bruins called up blueliner Connor Clifton from their AHL affiliate in Providence on an emergency basis. Clifton traveled to Dallas to meet with the team yesterday, in the midst of their road trip. It looks like the right-shot defenseman will make his NHL debut tonight, as John Moore, who has typically played on the Bruins’ second defensive pair, will not be in the lineup to play against the Stars in Dallas tonight.

Clifton was originally selected 133rd overall, in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. He and the Coyotes failed to reach an agreement in August 2017, and the Bruins signed him to a two-year entry-level deal this May. Prior to being drafted, the Long Branch, New Jersey native played for the USNTDP in juniors, and then for the U.S. National Under 18 Team, where he racked up 8 goals and 15 assists, totaling 23 points in 66 games. This put him second in scoring among defensemen on the team, only behind current New Jersey Devil Will Butcher. During that season, Clifton was a teammate of fellow Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald, and former Bruin Frank Vatrano.

In 156 games at Quinnipiac, Clifton scored 56 points and was +39 during his college career. He captained the Bobcats in 2016-17, which was his senior year. Skating at 5’11” and 174 pounds, Clifton isn’t the biggest player on the ice, but he is definitely not afraid to throw his body around and play a physical game, and he does not back down from that, no matter the opponent.

Clifton has been a noticeable presence on every team he has played for, as he’s known for work ethic and compete level, on top of his energy and enthusiasm for physical hockey. He can sometimes take risks in the offensive zone, which has come back to bite him from time to time, but Clifton has learned from those mistakes and is definitely getting the hang of playing in the AHL. This season, he has played in fourteen games for the Providence Bruins, has assisted on 4 goals, and has a plus/minus rating of +4.

For tonight’s game in Dallas, expect Clifton to be playing alongside the only established veteran left in the Bruins’ defensive corps, puck mover Torey Krug. This leaves Jeremy Lauzon and Matt Grzelcyk on the second pair, and Jakub Zboril, another Providence Bruin making his NHL debut, skating on the third pair with Steve Kampfer. Tonight’s game against the Stars will be interesting at the very least, with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn going up against Grzelcyk, Krug, and four AHL defensemen.

The Week Ahead: Bruins Go West

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

photo credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The last week was an eventful one for the Bruins, which included three wins (DAL, TOR, and VGK), a loss (VAN), some line shuffling, a leave of absence, and the fabled two home games on consecutive days. It was a crazy home stretch on Causeway Street.

There are three games this week. Hopefully, the Bruins are able to gain some more of the momentum they built with consecutive wins against Toronto and Vegas this weekend.

Defenseman Brandon Carlo will not return to the lineup Wednesday. Kevan Miller may be back by the end of the road trip. Tuukka Rask has rejoined the team after a quick personal leave. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is doing well centering the third line, and David Backes appears to be a decent fourth line right wing these days. Jakub Zboril has been called up from Providence. This just might be a fun trip for the Bruins.

 

Wednesday, November 14th: @ Colorado

The Colorado Avalanche have a record of 8-6-3 and are sitting in fifth place in the NHL’s strong Central Division. People are saying their top line, consisting of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen, is the best line in hockey, but those people would be wrong. They’re close, though: the three have combined for 69 points (nice) in 17 games, their other 9 forwards have combined for a total of 53 points. They’re a little top heavy, but they’re having an easier time with secondary scoring than the Bruins have been.

The Avs’ power play is seventh in the NHL, converting at 25.4%. Their top line of Landeskog, Rantanen, and MacKinnon has combined for 17 points on the man advantage. If the Bruins can neutralize this trio and puck moving defenseman Tyson Barrie, the Avs are not going to have a good night. The same can be said for the effect the Avalanche shutting down the actual best line in hockey would have on the Bruins, though. This is a game that can go either way, though the Avalanche should probably be forced to forfeit for thinking they had the right to retire Ray Bourque’s number.

BONUS FOOTAGE:

Old buddy Carl The Dread Pirate” Soderberg one times a beauty of a game-winner home to beat Edmonton Monday night The Quebec Nordiques Colorado Avalanche are 3-2-1 at home this season.

Friday, November 16th: @ Dallas Stars

On November 5th, the Bruins beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime when Brad Marchand beat old friend Anton Khudobin for the game-winner.  It was a relief as it has seemed like the Bruins have had a little trouble with Dallas since a player whose name shall not be spoken was sent to Dallas for pennies on the dollar. Quarters on the dollar, maybe? Perhaps a quarter, two dimes, and a nickel? Whatever that trade and its return added up to, it ruined a lot of people’s July 4th in 2013 – so much for celebrating America’s 237th birthday.

Anyway, Dallas lost its last game, 2-1 in Columbus. Their leading scorers are (you guessed it) Tyler Seguin with 17 points, Jamie Benn with 13, Swedish puck mover John Klingberg with 13, and Alexander Radulov with 12. Radulov is leading the way in Corsi, at 56.7% CF. Their goaltending duo is not as bad as expected as Bishop and Khudobin are having a decent start to the season – not telling how long either of those guys will hold up, though.

The Stars’ power play is 12th in the league at 22.4%, and they have killed 80.7% of their penalties, good for 17th in the NHL (Bruins are 18th at 80.3%). Dallas is currently holding fourth place in the Central Division, just ahead of Colorado with 20 points. The Bruins currently are at 22 points. This is likely to be another close one, as Dallas seems to rise to the occasion whenever they play the Bruins.

Saturday, November 17: @ Arizona

The three best things about the Arizona Coyotes are, in this order: Peyote Coyote, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Clayton Keller. That said, they’ve had a better start than expected this season, and are holding onto fifth in the Pacific Division with 17 points. It’s a tight race out West, as the division-leading Vancouver Canucks are only five points ahead, with 22.

The best thing happening in the Arizona hockey world:

The Coyotes’ scoring leader is Boston University alum and top ten pick Clayton Keller, who has scored five goals and assisted on 7, totaling 12 points so far this season. Second on the list is their best player, Swedish defenseman Ekman-Larsson with 2-9-11 totals. In the offseason, the Coyotes traded Max Domi for Montreal pariah Alex Galchenyuk, who has managed to score 8 points in 9 games with the Coyotes.

Fashionable Finnish goalie Antti Raanta has been solid in net, with a save percentage of .929, and surprisingly enough, the Coyotes have allowed the second fewest goals in the NHL, with 39. Nashville has been the stingiest, allowing only 36. On that note, Arizona’s penalty kill is tops – they are killing a ridiculous 91.8% of their penalties. No other is within 4% of them at the moment. Their power play cannot hold a candle to the Bruins’, and they’re at 19%/18th in the NHL, while the Bruins’ have been unstoppable on the man advantage at 30%, good for third in the league.

An important question for the Bruins in this game is going to be whether their secondary scoring can contribute, as Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have been doing a ton of their damage on the power play. If the third line of Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Anders Bjork can keep coming up with the golden opportunities they’ve created for themselves during the last couple of games, the floodgates are going to open one of these days.

If you’re going to be in the Colorado, Dallas, or Arizona areas, check out SeatGiant.com and use discount code BNGP to save a little money! Click the appropriate links below to get the best seats available!

Colorado Area:   Boston Bruins vs. Colorado Avalanche 11-14-18 Pepsi Center Denver

Texas Area: Boston Bruins vs, Dallas Stars 11-16-18 American Airlines Center Dallas

Arizona Area: Boston Bruins vs. Arizona Coyotes 11-17-18 Gila River Arena Glendale

Bruins Recall Lauzon From The AHL On Emergency Basis

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photo credit: providencebruins.com

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Follow Me On Twitter @phoneymahoney

This morning, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has recalled 21-year-old defenseman Jeremy Lauzon up from their AHL affiliate in Providence on an emergency basis, as blueliner Brandon Carlo is questionable for tonight’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Lauzon, a left-shot defenseman, was chosen by the Bruins in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, he was skating in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He played there for a total of four seasons and captained them in 2016-17. In 200 games in the Q, Lauzon totaled 130 points, with 35 goals and 95 assists. The 2017-18 season was his first in the AHL, where he played 52 games and served as an alternate captain for Providence. In those 52 games, he notched seven points, having scored one goal and assisting on six others.

The 6’3″ defenseman has the ability to play a two-way game and is currently at 4 points (one goal, three assists) in 8 AHL games this season, and he scored a goal against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 5-4 overtime loss. Lauzon was called up earlier in the season, making his NHL debut on October 25th against the Philadelphia Flyers. In his four games, Lauzon played well but was sent back down to Providence once Matt Grzelcyk and Torey Krug were both ready to go back in the Bruins’ lineup.

During his previous call-up, Jeremy Lauzon played four games for the Bruins: one win each over Philadelphia and Carolina, and a loss against both Montreal and Nashville. He played well positionally but was not able to get on the scoreboard while playing 48 minutes across four NHL games. He took two shots, both of which were blocked, but he blocked one himself. Lauzon also had zero giveaways, and two takeaways in those four outings. It’s a small sample size, but these are not bad numbers for a rookie defenseman in his first call-up from the minor leagues to the big show.

It is not guaranteed that Lauzon will be in the Bruins’ lineup against Vegas tonight, as Brandon Carlo may or may not be ready to go. Since Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, and Urho Vaakanainen are all still injured, if Carlo cannot go tonight, it is possible that Matt Gzelcyk will be moving up to play alongside captain Zdeno Chara on the Bruins top pair, as the two played well together Saturday night against the Maple Leafs. If this is indeed the case, expect Lauzon to play on the third pair with usual seventh defenseman Steve Kampfer. This will leave the second pairing of Torey Krug and John Moore intact.

If Carlo’s injury is not long-term, and it doesn’t like it will be, Lauzon’s call-up probably won’t be very long. Charlie McAvoy has already resumed skating, and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy says third pair defenseman Kevan Miller may be back in the lineup by the end of the Bruins’ upcoming road trip, which begins in Colorado this Wednesday, and will end November 21 in Detroit.