NHL20 Predicts A Bruins Championship

Image result for nhl20 bruins(Photo Credit: EA Sports – NHL20)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It’s “game” time for hockey fans everywhere. And I’m not just talking about the NHL’s 2019-2020 season dropping the puck for Opening Night.

Rather, EA Sports’ NHL20 video game, which has made a Bruins prediction as bold as some of our recent BN’G blog posts: that the B’s will win it all this year. Huzzah!

Pretty impressive right? The B’s will beat the Leafs (no surprise there) in the opening round, then the Lightning in round two and then the Caps in the Eastern Conference Final before dethroning the Golden Knights in six games.

And, get this: everyone’s favorite productive pest Brad Marchand will win the Conn Smythe, con artists be damned, with a nearly point-plus per game proficiency. That’s a prediction that’s not only bold and gold, but truth be told, I’m sold on!

However, I know what some of your are already saying / thinking / posting / tweeting: “what a jinx!” Or, perhaps, “where was this last season?” Or, better yet, “the odds of that actually happening are absurd.”

Be it in real life or the gaming world, prognostications of simulations can lead to recreations of imaginations. Simply put: it ain’t easy to predict a Stanley Cup winner — on the ice with talent, or on the screen with cheat codes.

Yet, not cheating ourselves, how fun is it to speculate on the official eve of Bruins puck drop? I mean, now that you know the team’s Stanley Cup Runner-Up history, why not have a little fun playing a game about the B’s potential game play this season? So far, the social media world seems to be enjoying it… especially the fact that Boston takes down Toronto in yet another first round Game 7 match up (this alone makes the NHL20 Sim worth it).

What else is worth a lot? Hope. At least the hope of another entertaining hockey season in Boston. Sure, losing the Cup really sucked (and still hurts), but we sure as hell went along for the ride up until mid-June! Now, if we’re to put our fanatical faith, and perhaps even some frivolous finances, into another form of entertainment — NHL20 — it looks like we’ll experience a SIMilar Summer run of perspective Cup fun.

I’ll hit “PLAY” on that B’s button all day long!

 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Boston Bruins: A Stanley Cup “Runner Up” History

Image result for bruins blues handshake line(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

When you look up and see the half-dozen Stanley Cup banners hanging high above the TD Garden ice, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride, admiration and accomplishment for the Boston Bruins. “An Original Six got six,” as my late grandfather belovedly bellowed after watching Zdeno Chara celebrate like a champion in 2011.

Image result for td garden banners bruins(Photo Credit: TD Garden)

But, there are some other banners that, if you pay them close attention, aren’t really as celebratory, or dare I say champion, as they seem. That’s because they reflect all the times the B’s have fallen short of hockey’s ultimate quest.

Some are marked by the Prince of Wales Trophy designation (for winning the Eastern Conference)… others the old Adams Division… even a few for the woefully unreliable Presidents’ Trophy acknowledgement.

What they all share in common is a familiar heartbreak for hockey fans in the Hub. One that began in 1927 at the hands of the original Ottawa Senators and was most recently relived courtesy of the cutthroat St. Louis Blues this past June of 2019.

In the 92 years in between, there were twelve other occasions where the B’s — from Brown N’ Gold to Black N’ Gold (with some honey and/or yellow mustards thrown in for forgettable measure) — played runners-up to the Cup.

That’s a lackluster record of six and fourteen. Or, typed out in a style that’s hard to miss, 6 – 14. That’s right, only 6 Ws compared to 14 Ls, all when competing for Lord Stanley’s coveted silver chalice.

And for some oddly annoying and historically humdrum reason, they seam to happen in spurts of two, all within a few short years of each other (or in modern-day terminology — during the same winning window). “Two” wit:

BOSTON BRUINS – STANLEY CUP LOSER STREAKS:

1927 & 1930 / Ottawa & Montreal

1943 & 1946 / Detroit & Montreal

*1957 & 1958 / Montreal & Montreal

*1977 & 1978 / Montreal & Montreal

1988 & 1990 / Edmonton & Edmonton

2013 & 2019 / Chicago & St. Louis

*Also lost in 1953 (Montreal) and 1974 (Philadelphia)

As you can see from above, even the outlier losing years were awfully close to the runners-up sequencing. Even hockey insiders like “Joey Mac” from The Athletic Boston have a hard time not noticing these unfortunate oh-so-close-to-glory trends.

Speaking of things not to glorify (a certain similar-sounding serendipitous song from St. Louis being one of them), McDonald’s article also points out the uphill battle the B’s now face in order to bounce back from a Stanley Cup-losing season.

As he mentions, no team in the modern-day NHL — a term we all keep going back to for six original reasons — has ever won the year after they’ve lost in a Game 7 final. Not even powerhouse teams of their respective eras like the Blackhawks, Devils & Red Wings.

Call it a hangover… call it depression… call it flat out not being as good (or as lucky) the following season, but history sure doesn’t seem to line up on the side of the B’s lineup in 2019-2020. But, maybe that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for Boston.

Maybe that’s exactly the kind of motivation this very talented team needs to get over the Cup hump one more time in the Chara/Bergeron Era. I know the aforementioned Mr. McDonald thinks so, and he isn’t even old and on the farm yet.

And considering the Bruins have one of the best farm systems in all of hockey, to steal a term made popular by their crosstown cohorts the Boston Red Sox, there’s a lot to be excited about both now and for future Cup runs in Boston.

Yet, if the Bruins really want their “Cup to runneth over”, especially during an upcoming season filled with plenty of historical harbingers and unsatisfactory stats as outlined above, then what they’ll need more than ever is the ability to forget — something history has made hard to do.

Thankfully (and regrettably at the same time) it’s history everyone wearing the spoked-B, or any “B” for that matter since 1927, has grown accustomed to — from Eddie Shore to Bobby Orr. From Cameron Neely to Donny Sweeney. From Uncle Milt to Tuukka’s guilt. The B’s know losing, especially in heartbreaking ways, whether we want to admit it or not.

So, how’s this for a banner statement: maybe NOT looking up to the TD Garden rafters this year will be what’s best for the B’s. Then, they can truly “look forward” to what every runner-up has ever wanted: an immediate next shot at the Cup!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Bruins New Rinkside Reporter, Sophia Jurksztowicz, Making “Name” For Herself

Image result for sophia jurksztowicz bruins(Photo Credit: NESN)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

“What’s in a name,” mused William Shakespeare while soliloquizing a certain Juliet in his very famous star-crossed story from yesteryear. Well, this year for the Boston Bruins, a new name is joining the broadcast team in the role of rinkside reporter.

And for Sophia Jurksztowicz, it’s one that the players have been talking about (and trying to pronounce) since her preseason debut in September:

It’s only fitting that nearly every Bruins player from Europe in the video above expertly nailed the pronunciation of Jurksztowicz’s Polish surname down to the syllable (Zdeno Chara, Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask… even David Pastrnak who “grew up 20 minutes from Poland”). Their American & Canadian counterparts & linemates, however, fared embarrassingly not as well. Specifically, Brad Marchand who campaigned for his 8th-try-at-pronouncing-her-name-correctly to be the official version: “I like the way I said it better.”

Here’s how Sophia, who’s had previous experience simplifying things for former Bruins coach (and one-time player) Don Cherry on Coach’s Cornerphonetically broke it down for the B’s, with the soft “j”, the hidden “v”, and the -ch-sounding “z”:

Yurk-shto-vitch!

Related image(Photo Credit: Hockey Night in Canada)

As the official press release from NESN stated earlier this Summer:

Since 2007, Sophia has worked with various sports broadcasting companies, including theScore, Rogers Sportsnet, CBC News Network and Hockey Night in Canada. She has served as a sports reporter and performed live updates in-studio and in-the-field reporting covering NHL, NBA and MLB stories.

Sophia was recently a host for the NHLPA’s special features with NHL players in collaboration with other NHLPA partner brands. As a broadcaster, journalist and producer at Rogers Sportsnet, Sophia was a social media expert for Hockey Night in Canada. Last month, she served as a reporter for CBC’s national coverage in Canada for the FINA World Aquatics Championships in South Korea.

“We’re very excited to have Sophia join NESN,” said NESN vice president Rick Jaffe. “She brings a wealth of hockey knowledge and understanding of the game to our broadcasts.”

That’s someone who’s already made a name for herself, both on and off the ice. Now, that’s she’s joined the Black N’ Gold, she plans on keeping it up — and making sure all the “Romeos” on the team know exactly who they’re dealing with!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part VII

 Bruins vs. Senators(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

“And now, the end is near… And so I face the final curtain…”

Well, here’s hoping the end of March and the beginning of April for the Bruins resembles the exact opposite of the Frank Sinatra lyrics above. Because after what we all expect to be a season of successes over setbacks from the Black N’ Gold, this time of year should be yielding “a case… of which I’m certain!”

And that certainty is making the playoffs… and perhaps even winning the division for the B’s. Of course, the team will need to have followed suit (and jersey) over the past six months–and six parts of our epic Mark You Bruins Calendar series. But, based on the team’s 2019-2020 NHL calendar, that’ll be no easy task. Yet, for the remaining few games of the season that fortuitously line up in lineup favor for the Bruins, I’m more than confident of a winning and celebratory sendoff to capstone the B’s regular season.

March 31st & April 4th: A “Whale” Of A Series

Boston will end the month of March on the road in Carolina (aka Hartford South) playing a game that could have as much meaning as any ECF contest from yesteryear. Sure, I’m exaggerating the stakes but no one will look back defiantly if Game #80 on the season for the B’s in 2020 affords them a two-point boost in a playoff race that undoubtedly will be closer than a Bruins-Whalers alumni golf outing in Peabody.

 

And with the ‘Canes expected to be a playoff-contender yet again (after all, they did make it to the round before the Stanley Cup Final last season), this game could have even higher stakes for them than the B’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a back-and-forth tilt with both teams trading chances & goals all throughout. That’s end-of-the-season entertainment for ya!

Speaking of literally the season’s end, Carolina will then travel to Boston to close things out on April 4th at TD Garden. So, this kinda-sorta “home-and-home” series (sandwiched around a very high profile match-up I’ll be marking on the B’s calendar below) has the potential to be HUGE — in terms of points, in terms of divisional standings, in terms of playoff seeding and in terms of modern-day rematch rivalries that instantly form after two teams collide in the later rounds of hockey’s second season.

When you factor in the geographic history of the two franchises as well (and the fact Carolina likes to rock their retro Hartford Whalers look when they play the B’s), the end result is spirited & memorable play that could be as chippy & chirpy as it is entertaining & enjoyable — all things the fans will love to end what we expect to be another successful year for the Black N’ Gold.

Thursday, April 2nd: “Blues Clues”

The Bruins owe the city, their fans and themselves a barn-busting “W” over the St. Louis Blues, especially after what they put us through in the Stanley Cup Finals this past Summer (I may never get over that Game 7 as long as I live, to be perfectly honest… it’ll linger much longer than the losses in ’88, ’90 & ’13, that’s a guarantee). So, in the penultimate game of the regular season — that’s Game #81 for those keeping calendar track at home — why not give us what we all want, and perhaps even take out some frustration that’s been boiling over since June in the process.

 

Many hockey scribes are predicting the Blues to be back in the Finals again this season, defending their Cup with an equal chance to win it ala the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 & 2017. And we all know the B’s want another shot at Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice so maybe they should treat this game as a preview or measuring stick.

Either way, it’ll be as “must see” of a game as you’ll find on the docket in early 2020, one the B’s hope to take advantage of and use a momentum builder and solid reminder that they can be as good, if not better, than last season’s spirited bunch. If that can be accomplished, even with a few ups-and-downs along the Causeway byway, then we’ll all be glad the B’s “did it My Way” in ’19-’20!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part VI

Image result for boston bruins schedule 2020(Photo Credit: NESN.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

We’ve finally made the march to March in our Summer-long (and now Fall) scheduling series on upcoming Bruins games for the 2019-2020 season (hence the Part VI moniker). Now, here’s where you should make a March mark on that B’s calendar — be it online, on the wall or on your dolled up desk!

Florida Face-Offs: March 3rd – 7th

The B’s open up hockey’s penultimate month of regular season play (yes, there are a few games in April before the playoffs start) on the road in Florida with their annual consecutive-game schedule versus the Lightning and then the Panthers. This year, however, there’s an added bonus — or challenge to be more accurate: Boston returns home to face Tampa Bay for a second game within five days time. That’s right, the Bruins will go Bolts, Cats, Bolts between March 3rd and March 7th before bolting back to the road in week two.

Now, it doesn’t take an Original six seer, Cup crystal baller, skilled skate psychic or puck luck prognosticator to predict just how tough this three-game stretch will be for the B’s… especially considering where Tampa Bay will most likely be in the standings at this time of year: the top, with ideally Boston just a few points behind making every game a potential four-point swing.

As a result, the Black N’ Gold will have to bring their A++ game to take multiple points and multiple games against two annoyingly talented teams (sorry, I feel that way for all Florida sports–yet not theme parks, surprisingly) who always play them tough — even when the backup goalies start like two times last season.

That being said, count on some very entertaining and meaningful hockey, which we all hope looks very similar to the clip below (from almost the same time of year last season), to kick off a month that could be a make-it or break-it one for the B’s with 14 games scheduled, eight of them on the road, and no layoffs longer than two days.

 

California Crosschecks: March 18th – 21st

For week three in March, the B’s will travel across the country to California where they’ll (cross)check in for their yearly West Coast Kick, even if it takes them off Route 66 and up & down the 5 North for a few days (I hope to cover these games live for our BN’G brethren back home).

Day one starts in Anaheim on the 18th at The Pond versus the once-Mighty Ducks of orange (and Orange County). It’s immediately followed by a next-night affair versus the Kings in LA, confidential as that may be. Keeping with consistency and Pacific specifics, Boston will then cruise past Santa Cruz on the way to San Jose for a Shark Tank visit that’s always worth wading into (especially for JAWS fans who love hockey & Jumbo Joe fans who love big jaws).

This three-game, four-night stretch is always one of my favorites… not just because of WHERE & WHO the B’s play, but for what it could potentially mean in the standings and for team morale. Boston will only have six games remaining on the schedule before playoff hockey commences by the time they finish these games.

We’d all like to think the B’s will be snug safely into a playoff spot by this time, which means a six-point sweep in California could be the difference between home ice and road ice or a division crown versus a runner’s up match up. The B’s play will be important because their positioning will be important (just like the post’s position in the clip below). And as we all know and have come to expect in Boston, there’s nothing more important than playoff hockey!

 

Hometown Heroics: March 24th – 28th

Hopefully. Hopefully there will be some “hometown heroics” at the end of March in Boston. Maybe the kind where divisional banners are raised? That’s definitely putting the Zamboni before the horse. But, with three consecutive games at TD Garden against divisional opponents who should be on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in, I’d like to think the B’s will take care of business at a time they know they should (and need to).

Speaking of needs, Detroit, Ottawa and Florida (on the 24th, 26th and 28th, respectively) will have plenty of them. Mostly on offense and defense, but you can best believe they’ll each be looking to burst Boston’s bubble before the season ends and steal a few precious points in the process.

The B’s, simply put, can’t let that happen. As Andy “Brick” Brickley likes to remind the Bruins from the broadcast booth every season, you’ve got to beat the teams you’re supposed to. There’ll be no better time than late March to do just that for the Black N’ Gold!

 

To recap our other Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar feature pieces, click on the links below:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

00Evan: Bold Predictions For The 2019-2020 Bruins Season

Image result for boston bruins celebration(Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

Bold is defined as being courageous and taking risks, but it also describes a color with a strong or vivid appearance. As a result, I’ll be making a few “Bold Gold predictions for the upcoming B’s season that are most likely way out there on the risk spectrum and definitely glaring on the brightness spectrum — potential new third jerseys aside that resemble an all too unBEARable one from yesteryear. Here we go:

Tuukka Rask & Jaro Halak Win “William Jennings Trophy”

Image result for tuukka rask jaroslav halak(Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

I predict handshakes like the one above will be few and far between for Tuukka Rask & Jaroslav Halak this season — just like their Goals Against Average. As a result, I’m pulling for a “William M. Jennings Trophy” award for Boston’s creased cohorts in ’19-’20. To remind the supporting-Vezina-only crowd, the William M. Jennings Trophy goes to “the goaltender(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it … based on regular-season play.”

Say what you want about their stats from last year, but Rask & Halak were definitely an elite tandem in net for Boston. Not only did they split time pretty evenly, but they bailed each other out when the other was in a slump (early for Rask) or hurting a bit (later for Halak).

 

With the B’s D-core all coming back–and I’d say even stronger after a long playoff run which saw both Carlo & Clifton log solid playing time–you can best believe they’ll be even tougher to play against in front of the fighting Fin and steely Slovak. That can only benefit both Boston goalies and perhaps pad their padding even more to the tune of some hefty hardware that hasn’t been lifted in town since 2008-’09 when Tim Thomas & Manny Fernandez stole the regular-season show between the pipes!

Brad Marchand Scores 40+ Goals, 100+ Points & Gets “Hart Trophy” Accolades

Image result for brad marchand scores

(Photo Credit: SB Nation)

After a career year for points (100) and a near career year for goals (36) in ’18-’19, this will be the season Brad Marchand puts up more point production than pest protocols. He’s almost dented the 40-goal plateau once with 39 three seasons ago so I don’t think it’s beyond expectation to have him net anywhere between 44-46 this season… especially if Boston keeps the top line together (even if they don’t, his skill with Bergeron will accrue plenty of points if he stays healthy and plays 90% of his games). Heck, how’s this for a Bold Gold prediction: he’ll net 50!

Either way, that means he’ll also break the 100-point barrier for the second consecutive season.  And since he was a Top-5 finalist last year for the NHL’s MVP Award, “The Hart Memorial Trophy,” it’s a good bet he’ll be back in consideration — perhaps even ahead of perennial candidates like Crosby & McDavid. Like a fine red wine, Marchand seems to only get better with age and if he stays surrounded by talented linemates with a penchant for finding him the puck in the scoring areas, then next year could very well be his BEST year yet (which the B’s will need to stay in contention in a loaded Eastern Conference).

 

Bruce Cassidy Wins “Jack Adams Award”

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

If there’s ever such a thing as trending in the right direction when it comes to coaching accomplishments, then beloved B’s bench boss Bruce Cassidy is not only on the right track, but perhaps the conductor of this crazy train. A “Jack Adams Award” finalist for the NHL’s Coach of the Year recognition just two seasons ago (and a snub if you ask me last year), Cassidy can take home the trophy this upcoming season by merely repeating what he did in ’18-’19.

That is: successfully juggle injuries, find production from unexpected sources, expertly manage his goaltenders time and keep the team positively motivated. To say he’s been one of the best B’s coaches would be an understatement… he’s been one of the best coaches in the NHL since he took over from Claude Julien in 2016.  So, why not pull that successful coaching train right into Vegas at the conclusion of the ’20 campaign to take home what he undoubtedly deserves (we just hope he avoids any further collisions like below lol).

 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part V

Picture 1 of 12(Photo Credit: Bruins Pinterest)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

Since we just celebrated Friday the 13th on the calendar here in the States, it’s only fitting to remind everyone what “Part V” of that seminal series was called: A New Beginning. Well, that’s exactly what the month of February could be for the Boston Bruins depending on how the team handles a January against some quality dual opponents (as I outlined in the previous installment of our Black N’ Gold Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar series).

Also, like the hockey-masked killer character in the aforementioned film franchise, the B’s hockey franchise won’t be able to mask any of their faults in February–especially on every weekend–because of the 14-game workload lined up for them, including a historic five Saturday games. They even get to play on LEAP YEAR day! How’s that for superstitious scheduling since Friday the 13th references will be a recurring theme throughout this piece. So, let’s drop the puck (and perhaps the machete) on what specific games are worthy of highlighting on your B’s calendar this fabulously frightening & frozen February!

 

Weekend One: Crystal Lake, Minnesota

Okay, okay. We all know that Camp Crystal Lake is not in Minnesota, but rather in New Jersey (as far as fake movie location names go). But, if the B’s can open the month of February with a “road W” over former friend Ryan Donato at the Xcel Energy Center on the 1st, then they can celebrate its first Sunday by visiting a famous underwater Jason Voorhees statue just up the road. In fact, the Wild will be a fitting first opponent to begin a busy hockey stretch at an important time of the year for the Bruins. Since 2015, the B’s have won four of their last five road games in Minny, including the last two, so keeping that streak alive would be advantageous considering the former city of North Stars always plays spirited hockey against Boston.

Weekend Two: Jason Takes Boston

The B’s will be lucky it’s only Jason Demers coming to town with the Coyotes on February 8th and not that other titular Jason from the woods. Then again, if the team doesn’t want to end up out in the woods, the players should take care of business against an Arizona squad that will most likely be out of the playoff race by then. Also, they’ll need to get on a plane to fly off to Detroit for a Motor City matinee on the 9th immediately following their howling hockey versus the Coyotes. I would call this back-to-back home/road split versus two beatable teams a must-win weekend for the B’s if they want to build momentum during a month where all eyes will be on playoff positioning.

Weekend Three: Origin(al Six) Stories

More matinee marquee match-ups are in store for February 15th & 16th against Original Six rivals the Red Wings again, followed by the New York Rangers (and all of this coming hot on the heels/skates of the B’s having recently played the Blackhawks & Canadiens a few games earlier). And like any good horror movie’s origin story, the B’s will need to look to their successful history against these teams in order to “make them history” at a time when both the division & conference races will be tightening up. All of these contests offer national audience eyes as well, so you can best “B”-lieve the hockey world will be talking them up since many broadcasters, like fans from these cities, champion themselves as Original Six supporters & supposed soothsayers (this is also similar for Friday film fanatics).

Speaking of making bold predictions, if the B’s aren’t careful — i.e. they let the Wings take them to a shootout then get gassed at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours later — then they could end up looking just like this upon leaving New York… an expression well-known to a familiar-faced character who enjoyed romping around Manhattan back in his heyday. (Eastern Hockey League be damned!)

 

Weekend Four: Canadien Cutthroats

When it comes to the Bruins traveling across country for their annual “West Coast Canadien Kick,” the schedule always seems to fall in February for these three games — two of which will be back-to-backers on February 21st (Calgary) and 22nd (Vancouver), respectively. One needn’t guess which other city the B’s will be visiting just days prior unless you’ve been living under Plymouth Rock for the past decade and not paying attention to this always-highlighted stretch of hockey (it’s Edmonton in case you have been and my apologies).

And if previous seasons are any indicator, then we all know just how important taking AT LEAST four out of six points will be for the B’s against the Oilers, Flames & Canucks. This will be cutthroat hockey at its finest–with no machete needed–proving just how fun, competitive & memorable these games can be. The B’s also like to use this road trip as a memory-making team bonding experience so let’s hope they make the most of what the calendar has lined up for them yet again this upcoming season.

Weekend Five: The Final Chapter

This weekend, or to be more specific this Saturday matinee, only comes around once in a blue–strike that, Black N’ Gold, moon; definitely once every four years, but rarely does that infamous day fall on a game day. That’s right, I’m talking about February 29th — LEAP DAY! And the Bruins throughout their 23-Leap-Year history (sorry, the franchise Inaugural Year of 1924 doesn’t count on the Leap-season statistics since it began in December long after February celebrated an additional day of aging) have had nine games on that calendar extension mark, if you will.

Plainly, to put a mark on it, the B’s are a mediocre 4-4-1 on LEAP DAY dating back to the Roosevelt administration (that’s FDR not TR for you Presidential historians out there). To get even more detailed, the team’s 4-1-1 at home in Boston and 0-3 on the road in Toronto, Chicago and New York. If you’d like to see it in list form, look no further than below:

BOSTON BRUINS LEAP YEAR HISTORY:

1940 – W, 4-2 over Montreal

1944 – L, 7-3 @ Toronto

1948 – L, 5-1 @ Chicago

1956 – L, 4-2 @ New York

1964 – W, 2-1 over Detroit

1968 – W, 4-1 over Toronto

1976 – W, 5-3 over Vancouver

1992 – T, 5-5 with Washington

2000 – L, 5-1 to Ottawa

If the Bruins would like to win their first ever LEAP DAY tilt on the road and, dare I type, tilt the ice in their favor, they’ll have the perfectly slanted opportunity to do so against the insalubrious Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in 2020. Now, that’s a game I’d like to see — be it in person, on television or on the NHL-TV recap ap! It’s obviously the final day of February (and for those celebrating an “Over The Hill” occasion, their 10th official Birthday), but I’m rooting for the B’s franchise to be exactly like the Friday the 13th franchise on this day — not only will it NOT be the final chapter, but many successful sequels will follow!

Image result for boston bruins season schedule 2020(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

With the month of March looking scarily similar to February — both in terms of the number of games and number of tough teams to play against for Boston — the B’s could find themselves successfully skating towards the playoffs or falling through the ice and flailing for help just like that poor young boy whom the camp counselors ignored much to his maligned mother’s chagrin & sharp knives. Thankfully, there’s no Friday the 13th in February of 2020… and now you don’t have to mark your calendar to know it!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Coach’s Corner Squared: Bruins, Celts, Pats, Sox Edition!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins via 13 Photography)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

I think Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy is living his Boston Wonder Years right now.

And it doesn’t take a wunderkind to realize he enjoys “getting by with a little help” from his friends! Just two weeks after visiting legendary Patriots coach Bill Belichick and striking up quite the bond (as this Black N’ Gold blogger noticed), Cassidy was at it again. This time talking shop — and Jimmy Fund philanthropy — with not only a phoned-in Belichick of the Pats (that’s a literal meaning as it could never happen figuratively to the GOAT of the sidelines) but also fellow NESN studio guests Alex Cora & Brad Stevens of the Red Sox and Celtics, respectively.

Sure, this was a brilliant way to raise awareness and money for a cause as connected to Boston sports and New England charity as clam chowder and candlepin bowling. But it was also a once-in-a-blue-moon glimpse into the minds of perhaps the best known (and respected) foursome of coaching talent this city by the Charles has ever seen — no disrespect to the Auerbach/Holovak/Sinden/Williams years of the 60’s and early 70’s! And to quote the man who represents the B’s with plenty of aplomb and on-air honesty:

“It’s great to have some banter [between the coaches, media & fanbase]. Let’s just keep it to the performance on the ice.”

That certainly sounds a bit Belichick-ian don’t you think!? And with on-ice performance for the B’s only a month away now, Cassidy was sure to make the most of this opportunity and lean on both Cora & Stevens for further insight into how the Bruins can best bounce back in ’19-’20:

“You coach discipline, you can hold people accountable with their discipline. Talent levels change from team to team…(but) we’re very lucky. I’m one of the most fortunate guys in the National Hockey League to coach true pros like [Patrice] Bergeron and [Zdeno] Chara.”

I’m confident they’d echo those same sentiments back on “Butch”… the coach who took them from a playoff outsider just two-and-a-half years ago all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals this past Spring and who plans to take it even further (JUST ONE MORE WIN), ideally as soon as this upcoming season:

We learned a lot going into our playoffs last year from all three coaches in town. Hopefully down the road as the Bruins we can pay them back.”

Boston Coaches(Photo Credit: NESN)

Payback would certainly be sweet for the B’s, there’s no doubt about that. And as a certain TV theme song laments, “do you need anybody” for that to happen? Well, I think Bruce Cassidy now has the answer in a familiar Boston Coach’s Corner that certainly doesn’t lack expert insight, advice… or wonder.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 8-25-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

 

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part IV

Image result for bruins 2020 season(Photo Credit: Calendars.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

Happy New Year, Bruins fans!  Well, not yet. But it COULD be a “Happy New Year” in 2020 if the B’s take advantage of their lightest load of games on the season in a month’s time — 11 in total, six on the road and five at home (sorry, April, your two contests in week one don’t count as a “month”).

And there’s considerably less fanfare for the B’s to start the “hindsight year” (2020 aka 20/20… get it?) compared to playing in the historic Winter Classic at Notre Dame against their Original Six rivals the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019. Now, that was a memorable game:

 

Speaking of hindsight, a laid-back January may be EXACTLY what next season’s Bruins need in order to set themselves up for a Spring playoff push. As you may recall from Parts I, II & III of this spirited Black N’ Gold series, the B’s begin 2019 with three months of heavy hockey that will almost feel like an entire season in and of itself — multiple home stretches followed by road trips, back-to-backs against Stanley Cup contenders (perhaps even favorites for ’19-’20) and few “rest weeks.” In fact, three days off is the LONGEST amount of downtime the team will have until this early Winter stretch. They’ll also, “ain’t no lie,” have their Bye Bye Bye! week and All-Star break vacation to add to this less busy bundle of games.

So, let’s take a look at the key match-ups in January that deserve a mark on your Bruins calendar. To make it easy for you, it’s three spread out home-and-home contests versus tough teams the B’s could very well see come April, May and hopefully even June:

January 2nd & 14th: Columbus Connections

Unless the B’s want to end up cannon fodder, it would behoove them to silence Columbus first at TD Garden on the 2nd and then take the sting out of the Blue Jackets on the road on the 14th, just like their riveting Game 6 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series which featured a Tuukka Rask shutout (oh, the memories) and timely goals from the non top-liners (perhaps we should’ve seen this coming).  Either way, the BOS & CBJ head-to-head battle has truly been abuzz for the past year+ so it will undoubtedly make for some entertaining early ’20 hockey!

Image result for bruins blue jackets(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

January 9th & 31st: Winnipegged

If only this Manitoban team played like the New York JETS, then you could already chalk up two easy wins for the B’s (actually… maybe not as Bruce Cassidy could’ve found out from Bill Belichick recently)! All similar sporting names aside, the 99-point Western Conference pucksters from the ‘PEG have been used to WINNIng lately — and in ’18-’19 they beat the Bruins both times they faced off, fittingly once at home and once on the road. So, the 9th (TD Garden) & 31st (Bell MTS Place) would be the perfect time for the B’s to take off with a few victories against a talented team that will once again contend in the opposing conference.

Image result for bruins jets(Photo Credit: WBUR)

January 16th & 19th: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Hey, at least these two games against Pittsburgh will be more entertaining than that truly flightless movie (still love ya Jim Carrey — not to be confused with your once Bruin’ netminding namesake…yes, I know he spelled it differently)! However, if the B’s don’t want to end up face-planting on the ice against a team that can skate & score circles around most opponents, then they best lace up their HAPPY FEET and come ready to play next level hockey versus Pittsburgh. Going all the way back to the “Super Mario” years where the B’s got bested by the Pens almost every regular season and playoff series (2011 exceptions to be celebrated), this true-to-form home-and-home series will be a back-to-back must-watch and perhaps even a playoff preview if both teams are lucky…and healthy…and consistent(ly lucky and healthy)!

Image result for bruins penguins(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

AND…

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

 

Providence Bruins AHLTV Home Broadcasts To Feature New Voice

Image result for dunkin donuts center providence bruins(Photo Credit: Dunkin’ Donuts Center)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It appears the Providence Bruins may have a new voice for their home game broadcasts on AHLTV for the 2019-2020 season. According to RinkSide Rhode Island correspondent and regular P-Bruins insider/Twitter reporter Mark Divver, Austin Rooke will soon be the man behind the mic at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center:

As Divver mentions, Rooke is the son of long-time Providence College basketball broadcaster John Rooke, something the Providence Journal proudly points out in this featured story about both talented announcers.

The younger Rooke, 24, is a communications graduate of Marquette and previously worked as the public address announcer for the New England Patriots and Revolution at Gillette Stadium, according to the ProJo. He will now have the chance to sit in the same broadcast booth as his Dad, a seat filled by many great announcer voices over the years — some of whom even went on to do play-by-play in Boston for the Bruins (as featured here on the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog last Summer).

This is not only a win for Rooke, his family and the entire Providence Bruins family, but also AHLTV fans & aficionados who have been clamoring for more access to their local teams via streaming or internet platforms.

Make sure to stay updated on all your P-Bruins news, prospects and developments right here with the talented BNG writing team, and also check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 140 that we recorded on 8-11-19 below!

You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

AND…

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!