Bruins Game 48 Preview: St. Louis Blues

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

The second game of a back-to-back is always more difficult than the first, even more so when you lose the first game. Last night, the Bruins took a hard 4-3 loss to one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins had a 2-0 at one point in the game but proceeded to allow four consecutive goals against on route to the defeat. Boston’s loss and Montreal’s win last night ties the two in the standings with 57 points, but the Bruins do have one more game in hand and an extra regulation plus overtime win.

The St. Louis Blues, on the other hand, have not had as good as a season as they may have expected, which has led to General Manager Doug Armstrong’s announcement earlier that essentially everyone on the roster, including possibly scoring winger Vladimir Tarasenko and forward Brayden Schenn. The Blues, however, were in the midst of a three-game winning streak recently, before losing their last game to the New York Islanders in overtime on Tuesday. St. Louis is twelfth in the Western Conference, currently four points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final Wild Card position.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 13-8-3 2.44 GAA .919 SV% Last Game: 19 Saves in 3-2 loss vs MTL

STL: Jake Allen 15-14-4 3.01 GAA .899 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-1 win vs WSH

Who’s Hot

Bruins forward David Krejci has been finding some success on the score sheet as of late, scoring a point in his last four consecutive games, including a three-game goal streak that came to an end last night against the Flyers. Krejci has only been a minus rating once in the past five games, a much better result for the Bruins centre. Krejci’s totals are now extended 10-27-37 totals in 47 points.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

Ryan O’Reilly has been the best point-producer on the Blues in 2018-19 and he has continued that pace in the last two games, scoring a combined three points, bringing his season numbers to 16-29-45 in 46 games. With Tarasenko struggling to score throughout the year so far, the Blues have valued the services of O’Reilly this season.

David Pastrnak has rebounded from a brief stretch of struggling to have points in the last three games, extending his point totals to fifty-five in forty-seven games. Even with that time of struggling, Pastrnak has been able to generate scoring opportunities but seemed to lack the ability to bury the puck past the red line.

At this point of the season, Vladimir Tarasenko should be near the top of the scoring race but instead, his twenty-nine points in 44 games this season ranks him with the average players in the NHL. With that said, Tarasenko has five points in his last four games, including a two-goal performance in the win over the Dallas Stars on January 12th.

Who’s Not

Patrick Maroon joined St. Louis after a time with the Edmonton Oilers, hoping to bring some additional bottom-six scoring to a Blues team that is supposed to have good top-six scoring. However, Maroon only has four goals and eight assists for twelve points in thirty-seven games this year and is a team-worst -13 rating in the plus/minus category. He only has one goal in his last eight games.

David Backes is coming back into the lineup after being scratched last night against Philadelphia. Backes has 4-8-12 numbers in thirty-eight games in 2018-19 and he has a -6 rating. Bruce Cassidy tried him for a few games alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on Boston’s second-line but did not pay off as he failed to produce enough like the team needs him to.

Jake Allen has not been good in the net for the Blues this season and part of the blame on the lack of success for the team this year can be put on his performance in between the posts. His 3.01 goals-against-average and his .899 save percentage are not even close to what his numbers should be. Allen is scheduled to get the start against Boston and the Blues organization is hoping he can turn things around.

Bruins vs Blues Outlook

This will be the first of two meetings against the Blues for the Bruins this season and they will be looking for a much-needed win, especially after the loss to the Flyers last night. The Bruins desperately need to gain points against weaker, non-playoff teams and that is including tonight’s game.

Boston went 1-0-1 against St. Louis last season, with four goals scored and three against. Also, David Pastrnak has never scored against St. Louis in his young NHL career, the only team other than Boston, of course, that he has not buried the puck past the goal line. The B’s will need to put pressure and if they get a lead such as they had against the Flyers, they need to hold onto it and aim to rack up more goals.

Boston is 10-12-2 this season when they fail to score first, so the mission tonight will be to score first and often. This is a crucial game in the standings for both franchises at this stage in January, setting up for a fun, entertaining game. Before the puck is dropped, take a look at the Bruins lineup as well as the roster changes.

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Bruins Game 46 Preview: Montreal Canadiens

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportsnet.ca)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Only two days removed from their 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the Boston Bruins are back on home ice for a game against longtime rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. In the win over Toronto, the Bruins were outshot in every period except the third period, where they outshot the Leafs 10-to-6. David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, and David Pastrnak scored the goals for Boston. The B’s sit third place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind Toronto.

Like the Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens are coming off of a Saturday night victory, shutting out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 for their second win in their last three games. Carey Price stopped all twenty-eight shots that faced him while Brett Kulak, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Jordie Benn scored the three goals for Montreal. The Habs have the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference, only one point behind the Islanders and only one point ahead of the Sabres who are currently out of the playoffs.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 13-8-2 2.41 GAA .921 SV% Last Game: 30 Saves in 3-2 win vs TOR

MTL: Carey Price 17-13-4 2.67 GAA .910 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 3-0 win vs COL

Who’s Hot

Sean Kuraly potted his fifth goal of the season and two primary assists for a three-point night against the Leafs on Saturday. The 25-year-old forward is one point shy of his career-high in points that he hit last season with fifteen. Kuraly’s three-point outing brought his 2018-19 totals to 5-8-13 and his role along with linemates Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari has increased in the past few games. Kuraly has become a big part to this Bruins roster in the early parts of 2019.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportsnet.ca)

Canadiens forward Phillip Danault helped directly on two Montreal goals on Saturday, bringing his assist total to twenty-three on the season. Danault now has three points in as many games and is fifth on the team’s scoring with 7-23-30 totals in 46 games.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has been on fire as of late, as he tends to be around this time of year. The Finnish net-minder has wins in his last five starts including a 1.40 goals-against-average and a save percentage of .956. Rask is the best goaltender in those stats with a minimum of four games in the 2019 calendar year and he will be striving to continue his hot play against the Canadiens.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi has not put up crazy numbers in his rookie season after going third overall to the Montreal Canadiens in last year’s NHL Entry Draft, but his 5-17-22 numbers in 46 games this year has brought some added scoring to a Canadiens roster that is in the middle of the NHL in goals scored.

Who’s Not

Max Domi is the leading scorer on the Montreal Canadiens, but he has only scored one point in the last five games and has failed to make it on the score-sheet in the last two games. The former 2013 1st Round Selection by the then-Phoenix Coyotes has 14-25-39 totals in forty-six games but his lack of consistency lately may be a cause of concern for the Habs.

David Backes had some time on the right side of David Krejci, but the 34-year old Minneapolis, Minnesota native has not played as well as hoped. Backes does have one point in the last three games, but he only saw 10:39 of ice-time against Toronto on Saturday night and it is fair to assume that he will not be seeing the second-line time for too much longer.

Carey Price is the number-one goaltender in Montreal, but in the last five games that he has played, he only has one win coming back in his last start on Saturday versus the Avalanche. Prior to that, Price lost four consecutive games including four goals allowed against the Blues on January 10th. Price is the backbone of the Canadiens and he needs to be on fire against a Bruins team that is rolling.

Milestone Watch

Boston Bruins:

  • BOS F David Pastrnak will be playing in his 300th career NHL regular season game
  • BOS G Tuukka Rask is one win away from tying Tiny Thompson (252) for most wins in Bruins history
  • BOS F David Krejci (604) is 2 points behind Terry O’Reilly (606) for ninth-most points in Bruins franchise history
  • BOS D Zdeno Chara (956) is three penalty minutes behind Lyndon Byers (959) for ninth-most penalty minutes in Bruins history
  • BOS F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away (60) from taking sole-possession of third-most in Bruins history
  • BOS F Brad Marchand is one shorthanded goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most in Bruins history
  • BOS D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career NHL goals
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PHOTO CREDITS: (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

Montreal Canadiens:

  • MTL D Jeff Petry is two points away from 200 career NHL points
  • MTL D Jordie Benn is one point away from 100 career NHL points

Bruins vs Canadiens Outlook

Montreal and Boston have already played in three games together this season, with the Bruins taking two of those meetings already. After Montreal won 3-0 on October 27th, the Bruins came back with a 3-2 win on November 24th and a 4-0 win on December 17th. The Bruins have scored a combine seven goals and allowed five against.

Tuukka Rask played in each of the first two games, while Halak was the goalie for the Bruins in the 4-0 victory. In each meeting, Carey Price was handed the role of starter like he has 34 times this season.

Boston is coming off of a win against Toronto where they arguably were out played for the majority of the sixty-minute game. There were some good moments were the Bruins capitalized on costly mistakes by the Leafs defense and that reality will need to stay true tonight against Montreal. The Bruins have to continue playing a good game on both ends of the ice and for all sixty minutes.

Montreal will be entering the game with some tenacity due to their position in the NHL standings. With only a one-point cushion on the Sabres for the last wild-card spot, the Habs have to play like their playoff hopes are on the line – because, well, it is. At the beginning of the season, not many individuals expected Montreal to be in contention for the post-season, but they are proving them wrong and they’ll look to continue proving them wrong against the Bruins.

This will be the final game between the two Original Six teams in the 2018-19 regular season. Will the season series end 3-1 Boston or at a 2-2 tie? Before we find out, take a look at the projected lines for the game.

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Bruins Game 45 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Boston Bruins were on a five-game winning streak until they took a tough 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Ryan Donato and David Krejci scored the only goals for the Bruins while Jaroslav Halak made eighteen saves on twenty-one shots. Boston still holds a two-point cushion on the Buffalo Sabres for third-place in the Atlantic division but sits four points behind the Maple Leafs for second in the division.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a back-and-forth start to their 2019 calendar year. After a 4-3 loss to the Wild to begin the year, the Leafs beat the Canucks 5-0, lost to the Predators 4-0, and most recently, defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday. Toronto currently has a four-point edge on the Bruins for second in the Atlantic division, but still sit twelve points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 12-8-2 2.43 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 4-0 win vs MIN

TOR: Michael Hutchinson 3-3-2 3.29 GAA .886 SV% Last Game: 27 Saves in 4-2 win vs NJD

Who’s Hot

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start in tonight’s game against the Leafs and it makes perfect sense. The 31-year-old goalie has won each of his last four starts including a 4-0 shutout (his 42nd of his career) against the Wild on January 8th. In 2019 so far, Rask’s .982 save percentage is the best in the NHL and he is tied with Jordan Binnigton for best goals-against-average (0.50) in the two games played.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Sports)

Free-agent acquisition John Tavares has been great for Toronto this season. In forty-three games played, the 28-year-old centre has twenty-nine goals and twenty-one assists for fifty points in that span. In the 4-2 win over New Jersey, Tavares scored two goals and added a helper for his fourth three-point game of the 2018-19 season.

Bruins defenceman Torey Krug is often in the middle of the Bruins trade rumours, but the 5-foot-9 defender is making a trade tough to deal with. Since coming back from injury, Krug has 4-25-29 totals in 33 games this season, including six points in his last five games. Krug also ranks third on the Bruins roster for most power-play points (18) behind Brad Marchand (19) and David Pastrnak (25).

After a brief two-game pointless streak, Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner came right back with a goal and an assist in the win over the Devils, bringing his season totals to 16-41-57 in 43 games. Marner leads the Leafs in points and is ninth in league scoring. His 41 assists so far tie him with Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames for fifth-most assists in the NHL.

Who’s Not

It may seem odd to say, but Bruins leading scorer David Pastrnak is on a little bit of a cold streak. In the past three games, Pastrnak has failed to score a single point and has been a minus rating in two of those games. The three-game pointless streak is minor for Pastrnak, who has 25-27-52 totals in 44 games this season, but the Bruins need him to start picking up the pace offensively.

Like every team in the National Hockey League, the Maple Leafs have had their fair share of injuries as well. Lately, starting goaltender Frederik Andersen and backup goaltender Garrett Sparks both went down to injuries, leaving Michael Hutchinson to man the crease. The 28-year-old goalie has gone 3-3-0 with the Leafs along with a .886 save percentage and 3.29 GAA. Not good numbers, especially heading into tonight’s game against the Bruins.

William Nylander was in all the big news talks from the offseason right until December 1st when he signed his new contract. But since then, the former 8th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has only scored three points (one goal, two assists) in fifteen games. Nylander is a -2 rating with 12 penalty minutes.

Milestone Watch

Boston Bruins:

  • BOS F David Krejci (604) is 2 points behind Terry O’Reilly (606) for ninth-most points in Bruins franchise history
  • BOS D Zdeno Chara (956) is three penalty minutes behind Lyndon Byers (959) for ninth-most penalty minutes in Bruins history
  • BOS F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away (60) from taking sole-possession of third-most in Bruins history
  • BOS F Brad Marchand is one shorthanded goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most in Bruins history
  • BOS D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career NHL goals

Toronto Maple Leafs:

  • No notable milestone that can be reached in tonight’s game

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Outlook

For the fourth and final time in the 2018-19 regular season, the Bruins and Leafs will meet on the ice for one of the best-renewed rivalries in the NHL today. To this date, Boston has taken 2-out-of-the-3 games, with the most recent win coming on December 8th – a 6-3 win.

Michael Hutchinson has not been too consistent in his recent time with the Maple Leafs. As with many other games, the Bruins need to bring down the confidence level of the opposing goaltender, in this case, former Bruin Hutchinson, in order to get a strong lead on the game.

In the two wins for Boston this season against Toronto, they have scored the first goal, in fact, they scored the first three goals in each of those two wins. The one time they lost – Toronto opened the scoring. It is a good chance that that trend continues in Toronto here tonight. Bruins also need the help of Leaf-killers, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand to lead the Boston offence early and often while Tuukka Rask needs to continue his recent solid play to keep the offence of Toronto quiet.

These two teams are closely matched and this will be the final time they get to play each other until the almost inevitable playoff series come April. Nonetheless, it is bound to be a great, competitive game of hockey. Below are most likely the lines of the Bruins heading into tonight’s game. Defenceman Charlie McAvoy returns to the lineup after missing time with a foot infection, while John Moore is scratched by Cassidy tonight.

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Bruins Trade D Goloubef To Senators For F Paul Carey

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PHOTO CREDITS: (bellevillesens.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

On Friday, January 11th, 2019, the Boston Bruins have traded defenceman Cody Goloubef to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Paul Carey, one-for-one.

Paul Carey is a 30-year-old center from Boston, Massachusetts who is coming into the Bruins organization in the midst of a fairly solid AHL season. Carey was drafted 135th overall (5th round) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, but only played a combined twenty-two games with the Avalanche in the National Hockey League.

The four-year Boston College veteran already played for the Providence Bruins for a brief time in 2014-15, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points in seventeen games. He also scored one goal in the playoffs with Providence that year. With little National Hockey League experience under his belt, Carey played in sixty games during the 2017-18 season with the New York Rangers, scoring 7-7-14 totals and a -13 rating with twenty penalty minutes.

This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward has spent the majority of the time with the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League, scoring 5-22-27 totals in twenty-nine games. Carey went pointless in five NHL games with the Ottawa Senators with an even rating as well. It is most likely that Carey joins the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.

So, who exactly is Boston trading away and why? Cody Goloubef is a 129-game NHL veteran, amassing a total of twenty-three points in that time. Goloubef has just joined the Providence Bruins after spending time with the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate team for only one season.

General Manager Don Sweeney signed the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Goloubef to a two-way, one-year contract to add depth to the P-Bruins blueline. The Bruins did use his services well, as he scored twelve points (3 goals, 9 assists), in sixteen games this season. The main reason for the trade is because of the return of Urho Vaakanainen from both the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – where he took home a gold medal with the Finland hockey team, as well as a concussion that sidelined him for numerous months.

The Bruins would rather get a scoring asset in return for Goloubef instead of just scratching him for the rest of the idea so Vaakanainen could play. Urho is one of the best prospects on the defensive core for the Bruins organization and it is without a doubt that he should play when given a chance.

Above all else, this is just a simple AHL transaction – no massive implements will come from it. Here is some insight from Providence Journal’s own, Mark Divver.

“Assuming he’s sent to Providence, Paul Carey should give P-Bruins a boost up front. With everyone healthy, they could afford to move a D.” – Mark Divver

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Bruins Game 44 Preview: Washington Capitals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Sports Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Bruins are rolling and tonight, the team will look to continue their hot streak against the Washington Capitals in Boston. With wins in five consecutive games for Boston, the Bruins have vaulted themselves to a divisional playoff spot, overtaking the Buffalo Sabres who the B’s have defeated two times in the last two weeks. Boston now enters this game with a 25-14-4 record (54 points) and have a two-point lead on Buffalo (52 points) and a three-point cushion on the Canadiens, who they meet on Monday.

The Washington Capitals are on a winning streak as well – winning their last two games against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Prior to that though, the Capitals lost three consecutive games to the Predators, Blues, and Stars. Heading into the game, the Caps lead the always-competitive Metropolitan division with a 26-14-2 record (56 points). The Penguins (54 points) and Blue Jackets (51 points) are on their tails and the Islanders (50 points) are out of a playoff spot, looking to get back in.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 13-6-2 2.36 GAA .926 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 6-4 win vs CGY

WSH: Braden Holtby 16-10-2 2.89 GAA .910 SV% Last Game: 23 Saves in 3-2 vs DET

Who’s Hot

Patrice Bergeron has always been a good player in the NHL, but lately, he has been a really great player. In the win over Minnesota, Bergeron scored a goal and added two assists for a three-point night, his third multi-point game in his last four outings. The 33-year-old centre now has 14-24-38 totals in only 27 games this season. His 1.41 points-per-game is the sixth best in the league.

Like Bergeron, the rest of the Bruins top line has had a great last few games. Brad Marchand also had three points over the Wild, scoring once and adding a pair of assists as well. Marchand had a two-goal night against the Flames on January 3rd as well. Marchand is catching up to Pastrnak for the team’s lead in points as he now possesses 16-31-47 totals in 42 contests this year.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has had a slow season as we pass over the halfway mark of the 2018-19 campaign, but his tides may be changing. In the 5-3 victory over the Flyers, Vrana scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in the second period. Jakub’s primary assist helped open the scoring on Tom Wilson’s goal in the first frame.

NHL bad-guy Tom Wilson has thirteen goals, eight assists and twenty-one points in only 23 games this season and has scored goals in each of his last two games. Expected to get first line time with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, the Capitals would like another solid game with some scoring from Wilson tonight against a tough Bruins team.

Michal Kempny at 28-years-old has become one of the top defensemen on Washington’s active roster and he is scheduled to get another game on the top pairing alongside of John Carlson. Kempny has 5-10-25 totals along with an outstanding +25 rating – a statistic that he ranks fifth in the entire league on. He is currently averaging a career-high 19:21 minutes per game this season.

Who’s Not

Bruins forward Ryan Donato has not been good this year – a disappointing reality for many Bruins fans hoping for a solid campaign after he put up nine points in twelve games at the tail end of last season. In twenty-nine games with Boston in 2018-19, Donato has only five goals and eight points with a -10 rating – the worst +/- rating on the team.

Nicklas Backstrom is still over a point-per-game on the season so far, but with zero points in the last three games and a -2 rating, he needs to be better. In order for Washington to hold that top spot in the Metro, they need him to be the play-making star that the league knows him as.

Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson has been skating with Heinen and Donato on the Bruins third-line, but with the success of Kuraly-Acciari-Wagner line, that youngsters line has been demoted to the fourth line when it comes to high-pressure situations. Forsbacka Karlsson has not helped that this season. In twenty-two games, he has three goals, three assists for six points and a -2 rating.

Bruins vs Capitals Outlook

The Bruins get yet another chance at the defending Stanley Cup Champions after that blowout 7-0 loss to the Capitals on opening night back in October. Without a doubt, Boston needs to be on top of their game defensively to win this game. The Bruins have not beat Washington since March 29th, 2014 (thirteen games). Boston has struggled with the goal-scoring capabilities of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom alike.

For Washington – put pucks on the net – simple. Jaroslav Halak will be starting in goal for Boston and he is coming off of a win over the Flames, where he allowed four goals on thirty-seven shots. A few of the goals scored against him were questionable and you have to wonder if that remains on his mind heading into tonight’s game. The Caps need to build up the offence and fire shots on Halak to score a few goals early and often. Worked back in October, may work again now.

Another interesting story-line for the game is the speciality teams. The Bruins are near the top of the league in power-play success rate (3rd best with 28.5% success) and penalty-kill (11th best with 81.1% success). Boston has been perfect while short-handed in 2019, killing off all twelve penalties in the four games.

Washington, on the other hand, is above average on the man-advantage (10th best with 21.5% success), but the penalty-kill is sub-par (23rd worst with 78% success).

Boston is only one of four teams with zero losses in the 2019 calendar year and will look to extend their winning streak to six games. Right now, their five-straight are tied for second-longest active winning streaks, tied with the Hurricanes and behind the Vegas Golden Knights (7 wins). Below are the Boston Bruins practice lines for yesterday (Jan. 9th).

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Boston Bruins: Halfway Point Of 2018-19 Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Careful, did you miss it? If you blinked, you may have missed the first half of the 2018-19 NHL season for the Boston Bruins. No, it was not that fast, but it sure went by quickly. Without a doubt, this season has been an interesting one and it is only going to get more interesting from here on out. With Thursday’s win over the Calgary Flames, the Bruins have passed the halfway point of the season – that being their 41st game of 82 on the year.

Individual Statistics

The Boston Bruins have some great players on the roster, but also some players that have been slacking off on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Below are the player totals for nearly every player that has played a single game on the Bruins roster before the Sabres game on Saturday.

Forwards:

  • David Pastrnak – 41GP – 25-27-52 +3 Rating – Leads team in Goals & Points 
  • Brad Marchand – 40GP – 15-29-44 +6 Rating – Leads team in Assists 
  • Patrice Bergeron – 25GP – 13-22-35 +7 Rating – Leads Forwards in +/-
  • David Krejci – 41GP – 7-26-33 -2 Rating
  • Jake DeBrusk – 32GP – 13-3-36 -6 Rating
  • Sean Kuraly – 40GP – 4-6-10 +3 Rating
  • Danton Heinen – 39GP – 4-6-10 +2 Rating
  • David Backes – 33GP – 3-7-10 -5 Rating
  • Ryan Donato – 27GP – 5-3-8 -11 Rating
  • Joakim Nordstrom – 39GP – 5-2-7 -4 Rating
  • Chris Wagner – 38GP – 4-3-7 -2 Rating
  • Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson – 20GP – 3-3-6 -3 Rating
  • Colby Cave – 20GP – 1-4-5 -1 Rating
  • Noel Acciari – 34GP – 1-1-2 -7 Rating
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PHOTO CREDITS: (tsn.ca)

Defence:

  • Torey Krug – 30GP – 4-22-26 -9 Rating
  • Matt Grzelcyk – 39GP – 1-11-12 +5 Rating
  • Charlie McAvoy – 17GP – 1-10-11 +4 Rating
  • John Moore – 38GP – 2-5-7 -3 Rating
  • Zdeno Chara – 22GP – 3-1-4 +3 Rating
  • Steven Kampfer – 25GP – 2-1-3 -6 Rating
  • Brandon Carlo – 32GP – 1-2-3 +1 Rating
  • Kevan Miller – 15GP 0-3-3 +8 Rating
  • Jeremy Lauzon – 15GP – 1-0-0 -1 Rating

These are extremely basic when it comes to statistics but they do provide some facts as to how the Bruins have been doing when it comes to individual scoring. With only twenty-five games played, Patrice Bergeron is still over a point-per-game by a considerable amount and he is currently on pace for ninety-two points (if my math is indeed correct), which will clearly drop. The always-Selke candidate leads the forward group in the +/- rating and has a 14-10 takeaway-to-giveaway ratio, keeping up that defensive play.

Pastrnak and Marchand have continued to dominate, even with a slow spell from Marchand earlier in the season. The first line always seems to fall back together, even when Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tries to mix up the lines to spread out the scoring. Speaking about scoring depth, the Bruins have three players with ten points, all of which have played in over thirty games this season.

The Bruins need help from the bottom three lines, even DeBrusk and Krejci need to be more consistent when scoring goals. DeBrusk has gone on cold stretches, but he can bounce back with a two-goal game like he did against Calgary. With another top-six winger, Boston can become a true threat offensively in the Eastern Conference.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES)

On the defensive core, the Bruins should not have that many players with a game played. That list would also include Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton, but they all played less than ten games so far. Twelve defencemen from October to January and yet the Bruins have still been decent on the backend.

Goaltending:

  • Tuukka Rask – 20GP – 19GS – 10-8-2 – 2.63 GAA – .914 SV%
  • Jaroslav Halak – 23GP – 22GS – 13-6-2 – 2.36 GAA – .926 SV%

There have been some bad games, but overall, the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been solid this season. Halak is fourth in the NHL for best save percentage among goalies with a minimum of fourteen games played and his role as a backup has led to a new tandem in the Bruins crease. Cassidy has gone back-and-forth with who gets the starting job and that is great, but he is most likely looking for one of them to step out and claim the starting job heading into the postseason.

Team Statistics

As of January 4th, 2019, the Bruins are the eleventh best team in the National Hockey League with fifty points on the season. Prior to the game against the Sabres, Boston is only four points away from being tied with the Calgary Flames for second-best in the entire NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning are several strides ahead of the pack, leading the NHL with a 32-7-2 record, good for 66 points so far. Coincidentally, the Bruins are also the eleventh-oldest team in the league, with an average team age of 28.2. The 11th youngest team? The Tampa Bay Lightning.

As mentioned already, the Boston Bruins’ depth scoring has almost been non-existent for the majority of the season and that is on display when you take a browse on the team stats. The Bruins have scored the fifth-least amount of even-strength goals in the league, scoring only 81 times 5-on-5. On the flip side, the Bruins have allowed the second-least amount of 5-on-5 goals, only 76. That makes for a +5 goal differential while at even-strength.

The speciality teams have been possibly the best strength for Boston and may just be the main reason as to why Boston is in the position they are in within the league standings. Boston has thirty-seven goals on the power-play, fourth-most in the NHL, scoring those goals on a 27.82% efficiency. Bruins’ David Pastrnak leads the league for most goals on the PP with twelve so far this year. He is able to use the extra man brilliantly and use it to score goals. On the power-play, however, the B’s are not the best defensively, allowing a league-high nine shorthanded goals.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Boston’s penalty-kill is within the top half of the league, currently sitting at just over an 80% success rate. Unfortunately, the shorthanded goals have not come for the Bruins, only scoring one SH goal that came back on October 4th by Patrice Bergeron. Obviously, shorthanded tallies are not expected nor necessarily required but when you allow the most goals in that category in the entire league, you would like a few in return on other teams.

Standings Race

Following a brief time in the second Wild Card position, the Bruins have battled back to take sole possession of third place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. At the current moment, the Bruins are in a game against the Buffalo Sabres and that game will decide who holds on to that spot for the time being.

A 23-14-4 record in January is not fantastic but for an injury-riddled team like the Bruins, it is very much acceptable. Boston will need to step up their game and that may end up including a trade for another scoring forward. For more on the Standings Race in the Atlantic Division for the Bruins, make sure to stay tuned for an article by Black N’ Gold writer, Evan Michael (@00EvanMichael on Twitter).

In response to this article, I asked my friends on Twitter about their opinions regarding the Bruins 2018-19 season so far.

Do you agree with the poll results? What was good/bad about the first half of the season for the Boston Bruins and what needs to change as the race for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs truly begin? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant 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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Bruins Prospect Ryan Fitzgerald Named To AHL All-Star Classic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ahl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Providence Bruins announced today, January 3rd, 2018, that forward Ryan Fitzgerald has been named to the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic on January 27-28, 2019 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Ryan Fitzgerald is in the middle of arguably his best season while in the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old North Reading, Massachusetts native has 7-19-26 totals in thirty-four games this season, leading all Providence Bruins players in assists and points. His seven goals on the year rank him fourth on the team for goals as well.

Before Fitzgerald joined Providence in the 2016-17 season, he played in four consecutive seasons in the NCAA with Boston College. In his 152 career NCAA contests, Ryan tallied 66 goals, 66 assists for 132 points. Fitzgerald’s best season came back in 2015-2016 where he scored forty-seven points (24 goals, 23 assists) in only 40 games played.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)

Fitzgerald was drafted by the Bruins in the 4th Round (120th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and was signed to a two-year entry-level contract in the Spring of 2017. The Bruins management liked his play with Boston College, deciding to sign him to that deal that allowed him to play in the AHL, where he has been for the past two seasons.

As fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Tim Richardson said in his Prospect Profile on Fitzgerald, the 5-foot-9 forward was expected to go in the second-round in 2013. Heading into his draft, Fitzgerald was that two-way player that almost every team would like to have in their centre core. He possessed good hockey IQ and defensive awareness on the ice but could also pitch in offensive such as he has done with Providence this season.

Entering his first All-Star game, Fitzgerald has an entire family of hockey players. Father Tom Fitzgerald played in 1097 career National Hockey League games, seventy-one of which with the Boston Bruins back in 2005-06. NHL forwards Jimmy and Kevin Kayes as well as Matthew and ex-NHLer Keith Tkachuk are Fitzgerald’s cousins according to Elite Prospects.

Many people in the Boston Bruins fanbase have urged management to try Fitzgerald in the NHL if (when) another injury hits the Bruins forward core. Fitzgerald seems to be more responsible defensively compared to some of the Bruins already on the roster and yet, he can still score goals and make plays as mentioned already.

Do you think that Ryan Fitzgerald should get a shot with the NHL Bruins at some point this season if an injury comes up again?

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant 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 & Happy New Year!

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World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck.” – Futureconsiderations.ca 2017

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence.” – Hockeyprospect.com 2017

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Winter Classic: Boston vs Chicago: 01/01/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (@nhlbruins on Twitter)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, Indiana, USA

Home: Chicago Blackhawks (15-20-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (21-14-4)

The 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic is finally upon us. The Bruins are coming into the New Year’s Day outdoor game after a 2-1 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Bruins and a win over Chicago in the Notre Dame Stadium would help Boston continue that momentum.

Boston’s opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks have been on fire as of late, winning five of their last six games and have recorded a point in seven of their last nine. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is riding a seven-game point streak and was recently awarded the NHL’s First Star of the Week.

Bruins Gameday Lineup

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced earlier today that forward Ryan Donato and defenseman Steven Kampfer are the scratches for the Bruins in today’s game. Defenceman Charlie McAvoy is also out of the lineup with a lower-body injury that is believed to have been suffered against the Carolina Hurricanes on December 23rd. Forward Brad Marchand returns to the lineup as well.

First Period:

Bruins started the pressure immediately with several really good attacks that were initiated by Bruins defencemen. Kevan Miller stole the puck in the neutral zone off of a poor breakout pass by the Blackhawks then found Krejci alone on a partial breakaway. Krejci went forehand-backhand but stopped by Cam Ward. Torey Krug also had a good chance, good start for Boston.

Early on, the ice seems to be in great condition. For outdoor games, it is always a concern that the ice may be rough, making it harder to control the puck and make good passes. It is quite possible that the ice crews are getting better at the ice-making due to the number of Winter Classics and outdoor games in recent years.

On the NHL on NBC broadcast, it is confirmed that today’s attendance marks the second-largest crowd in Winter Classic history, behind only the 105,000+ people that attended the 2014 Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.

On a delayed penalty call on Brandon Carlo just nearly six minutes into the game, Jonathan Toews makes a nice spin pass, creating a chance that Rask makes a big pad save. Bruins to the penalty-kill for a holding call on Carlo. Boston’s penalty-kill ranks seventeenth in the NHL before the game, with a 79.1% success rate. Bruins only allow one shot against and the penalty is killed off.

The first goal came with 11:30 left in the first. A David Krejci turnover turns into a goal for Brandon Perlini. Torey Krug’s stick was lifted behind Tuukka Rask and no one was on Perlini who had an open shot on Rask. Bruins need better coverage as that was hard to watch. Blackhawks make it one-to-nothing at Notre Dame.

Blackhawks continued to get good opportunities in the second half of the opening period. On a nice breakout play, the Bruins left d-man Connor Murphy all alone by the top of the faceoff circle, but Murphy’s wrist-shot rings off the pipe. Bruins were that close to being down two goals. On the turnaround, Joakim Nordstrom is tripped up by Artem Anisimov and the B’s are to the power-play 7:55 in.

On the man-advantage, David Pastrnak picks up the puck from Patrice Bergeron in the slot, waits, then fires it past Cam Ward to tie the game at one apiece with about seven minutes left to trail. Bergeron with the primary assist on Pastrnak’s twenty-fourth goal of the season.

Bruins top line seems to be thriving as usual as Brad Marchand has several good shots on Ward off of the rush. This is Marchand’s first career Winter Classic as he was in the middle of a three-game suspension back in the 2016 Winter Classic against the Canadiens. It is evident that he wants a goal today.

With 2:57 left to tick away in the first, Matt Grzelcyk is called on a high-sticking minor and the Bruins go to their second penalty-kill of the day. First one was successful and this second one was solid as well, killing it off successfully. Alex DeBrincat had the best chance on the Hawks’ man-advantage as he hit the back of Brandon Carlo’s leg.

David Pastrnak is on fire today. With less than one minute to go, Krejci, Pastrnak, and DeBrusk worked together for a great pair of chances, including a great opportunity for Pasta all alone, but is stopped from a massive save by Ward. Off the ensuing faceoff, Patrick Kane is found alone on a breakaway, tried to go five-hole past Rask, but is shut down. Period ends there.

It was an entertaining period for both teams. Brad Marchand had two good shots, Pastrnak and DeBrusk each have three shots. Patrick Kane has four shots on Rask, including that final breakaway chance. The Bruins are playing decent hockey but a few defensive mistakes have either turned into a goal or came close.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 CHI: 12

Score: 1-1

Second Period

Chicago started off the second period with some good chances, the best of which was blocked by John Moore. While on defence, Sean Kuraly takes a hooking penalty on Chicago’s only goal scorer so far, Brandon Perlini and he goes to the box for two minutes. DeBrincat again has the best chance on Chicago’s power-play, a quick shot on Rask, but it’s stopped and the Bruins go 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill four minutes into the second period.

The physicality of the hockey game is increasing as Carlo and Chara each take shoves at Perlini. The Chicago forward is having a good game and seems to be everywhere on the ice so far today.

One of the biggest reoccurring errors of the Bruins so far has been the turnovers – especially off of the breakout passes by the blueliners. Boston has simply passed the puck to a player in the black Chicago sweater, giving them an in-tight chance on Rask. Tuukka has looked solid thus far, but Bruins need to help him out more with better, smarter passes.

With 8:36 left, the Blackhawks break the tie once again. Erik Gustafsson fires a shot for a deflection as he has done numerous times already today and it gets deflected by Dominik Kahun, beating Rask. Bruins have not had the best period, not getting many chances offensively and they have not seemed all there defensively either.

Bruins get a bit of zone time in the Blackhawks end, but no real good chances come about from it. The majority of the shots Boston took on the shift were point shots that either were blocked or partially blocked before they reached Cam Ward. Cassidy has been trying Pastrnak with DeBrusk and Krejci in this game as well, but Boston is still struggling to get truly good offence.

17:57 into the period, Erik Gustafsson is called on a roughing penalty and the Bruins go to their second power-play of the game. Boston allowed a shorthanded breakaway but was shut down by Patrice Bergeron. Right back in Chicago’s end, Patrice Bergeron gets the backhand right in front of Ward and ties the game at two. Assists go to Pastrnak (26) and Krug (20).

Then with only 9.5 seconds remaining, Matt Grzelcyk takes his second penalty of the game – a hooking minor on Patrick Kane. Period ends, but Boston needs to come out with more aggression offensively in the third. They will be on the penalty-kill for the first 1:50 of the final regulation period.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 24 CHI: 28

Score: 2-2

Third Period

During the penalty-kill to begin the period, Patrick Kane gets his stick up high on Kevan Miller, sending the game to 4-on-4 for thirty seconds, followed by a 1:30 Bruins power-play. On the 4-on-4, Kevan Miller once again draws a penalty, a tripping minor against Anisimov. Bruins have 1:12 of 5-on-3 time.

The Bruins failed to score on either one of the penalties and the game returns 5-on-5. Boston could not make tape-to-tape passes and the Hawks cleared when able to. Bruins are now 2-for-4 on the man-advantage today. About five minutes into the period, Bruins draw another play, a hooking call on Gustav Forsling. B’s are moving their feet and it’s drawing penalties against Chicago.

Chicago’s penalty-kill has improved, clearly, since the second intermission as they kill off another Bruins power-play in this third period. Some decent chances but Cam Ward has been great between the posts for Chicago.

Boston is in the midst of their best period of the game in my opinion. Great control in the Blackhawks’ zone, creating chances while shutting down any really good chances against. The Bruins have been quite close to scoring, but at times, so have the Hawks. 2-2 with 11:19 to go.

Call him clutch because Sean Kuraly scores with 9:40 left in the third off a rebound shot. The Blackhawks lost all coverage on the Bruins players, allowing Grzelcyk to fire a shot towards Ward. The puck bounces off of Chris Wagner in front and goes right on the stick of Kuraly and he buries it. Kuraly scored the game-winning goal against Buffalo on Saturday.

Between Kuraly’s goal and the next six minutes, the Bruins have done a great job keeping Chicago to the outside, forcing turnovers, then getting the puck out of the zone. A couple of nice opportunities for the Bruins to score again, including a 2-on-1 by DeBrusk and Krejci that was stopped by the Blackhawks lone d-man. Just over three minutes remaining in this Winter Classic.

Kuraly had a chance with 2:30 left on a breakaway bid, but Ward remains solid in the crease and stops the possible insurance marker. It has been a great game for the fourth line of Boston. With the empty-net for Chicago, Tuukka Rask has to make a big blocker stop while changing directions on a dime to keep the B’s ahead.

Bruins have tried to clear, but Chicago continues the pressure. Brandon Saad to Patrick Kane in front but Rask comes up huge with a big save. 39.2 seconds remain and every single fan is on the edge of their feet. On the delayed penalty against Chicago, Brad Marchand buries the empty-net goal, making it 4-2 Boston.

With that, the Bruins win their second Winter Classic 4-2, Hawks lose their fourth.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 36 CHI: 38

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 36 Saves, .947 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1 Rating, Key Faceoffs

3rd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – Game-Winning Goal, 5 Shots, +1 Rating

With the victory, the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 22-14-4. They are tied in points with the Sabres, who they overtake in standings only due to the Regulation plus Overtime Wins (ROW), in which Boston has three more. Up next, Bruins face the Calgary Flames (24-12-4) in Boston on Thursday. Scheduled puck drop for that game is 7pm EST.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant 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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Bruins Monthly Recap: December 2018

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Another month down, another month to look ahead to. In this, the final month of 2018, the Boston Bruins performed without key players such as Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Jake DeBrusk to still remain in a playoff position as of their most recent win over the Buffalo Sabres on the 29th of December.

In this third instalment of Bruins Monthly Recap, we will take a closer look at the surprises, disappointments, and positives of the eleventh calendar month including the best performances, worst games, injury report, and finally, a prediction of the month to follow. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

The Good Games

In fourteen games this month, the Bruins finished with a record of 7-7-0, with two of those wins coming in the overtime session. Within the seven victories, the Bruins had some really solid outings and in this section, I’ll briefly highlight those victorious moments for the Bruins in the twelfth month of the year.

December 8th/18 – vs Toronto Maple Leafs

For the third time in two months, the two Original Six franchises whose rivalry has blossomed over the course of the past half-decade or so. In this Saturday night game vs the Maple Leafs in Boston, the Bruins walked away with a 6-3 win against a Leafs team that had Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Andersen in net, well for a time at least.

Boston scored four straight goals from the first period to the third from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, David Backes, Torey Krug, and Danton Heinen. Boston outshot Toronto 15-9 in the second period alone and seemed to have all control. After Travis Dermott’s goal made it 4-1, the B’s answered with goals from Krejci and Donato to extend the lead to 6-1. The Leafs added two more late but that would be it.

Brad Marchand and Torey Krug had three points, David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, and David Krejci all had two points and Jaroslav Halak made twenty-nine saves in the win. All around great performance for the Bruins without key players like Bergeron, DeBrusk, and Chara in the lineup.

December 17th/18 – vs Montreal Canadiens

Ah, the good old Montreal/Boston rivalry. It is rare to have a more successful night then when you defeat Montreal in the Bell Centre while scoring four goals and allowing none against. That’s what happened on December 17th in a 4-0 Bruins win over the Habs.

Joakim Nordstrom scored his fifth of the season, Colby Cave scored his first career NHL goal, David Krejci added his sixth of 2018-19, and Brad Marchand scored number eleven for four unanswered tallies past goaltender Carey Price. McAvoy and Pastrnak each had two-point nights while Jaroslav Halak stopped all twenty-two shots that faced him during the sixty regulation minutes.

The Bruins needed this win after two losses beforehand, making this one even sweeter, ending the losing streak and starting a new one that would last for the next two games.

December 22nd/18 – vs Nashville Predators

At the time, the Predators were near the top of the National Hockey League standings and were building momentum as they attempt to have another successful season. When the two teams met on the twenty-second of December, it was not supposed to be an easy game for either team, especially the Bruins.

However, off of the hands of four points (two goals, two assists) by Patrice Bergeron who returned to the lineup after a sternoclavicular/rib injury that kept him out of action for an extended amount of time. Bergeron’s linemates, Marchand and Pastrnak had three points of their own – leading the Bruins to a 5-2 win over Nashville in the TD Garden. In addition, Halak made twenty-eight saves, including fourteen in the second frame alone.

The Not-So-Good Games

It is expected that when you finish a calendar month with a .500 win percentage, you’re going to have some rough outings. Like other teams in that scenario, the Bruins had some rough games that they themselves may want to forget about. No real blowouts, but some poor overall team performances.

December 27th/18 – vs New Jersey Devils

Only two games ago, the Bruins had one of their worst games so far in the 2018-19 campaign. The Devils beat Boston by a final score of 5-2, which is not too bad all things considered, but the whole group seemed disoriented and failed to generate many offensive opportunities throughout the entirety of the three-period hockey game.

The opening Devils goal only twenty-five seconds into the game brought the momentum down immediately for Boston as both teams played their first game after the Holiday Break. New Jersey added another before the first intermission and scored three times in the final regulation frame to put out Boston.

Chris Wagner’s second-period goal and Patrice Bergeron’s third-period marker were the only two goals from Boston, but other than that, it was a lacklustre outing for the men in Black n Gold. Halak allowed four goals on thirty-two shots, not a terrible night for him, but could have been better most definitely.

December 4th/18 – vs Florida Panthers

The only thing worse than allowing five goals in a hockey game is when you allow five goals and score none for yourself. In only the second game of the month, the Bruins laid an egg against the divisional opponent, allowing four goals in the middle period and letting the Panthers win 5-0.

Mike Hoffman scored twice for Florida while Mike Matheson, Jonathon Huberdeau, and Evgenii Dadonov added the other three. Goalie Roberto Luongo stopped every single one of the thirty-three shots that the Bruins offence piled on him, making him look way younger than 39 years of age.

Individual Performances

Good: David Pastrnak – 4 Goals, 15 Assists, 19 Points in 14 Games

Nevermind good, this is great. Pastrnak once again took ahold of the Bruins offence and ran with it. Even zero points in four of the fourteen games this month did not slow down his production. Pastrnak was without Bergeron for the majority of the month but still managed to rack up the points with fellow countryman, David Krejci.

David is twelfth in the NHL for points and eighth in the NHL for most goals scored, six behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

Bad: Joakim Nordstrom – 14 Games Played, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, -7 Rating

Brought onto the Bruins in the 2018 offseason on a two-year contract worth $1 million per season, Joakim Nordstrom was supposed to add additional scoring to the offensive depth charts, but in December especially, Nordstrom has failed to do that. After a seven-game pointless streak to start the month, he scored in two consecutive games and has not scored for the last five games.

Somehow, Nordstrom has met his totals for last season, 5-2-7, in 37 fewer games. Joakim has three more goals than he had last year but with his lack of production lately, it is hard to understand why he remains in the lineup over some of the Providence Bruins players that are doing well this year.

Good: Patrice Bergeron – 4 Games Played, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 5 Points, +2 Rating

Bergeron only played four times in December, but his return from injury made a large impact on the Bruins roster. His four-point night against the Predators proved he was still in prime form and his linemates of Pastrnak and Marchand have benefited from his reemergence on the offensive core.

Patrice continues to be one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL today, even with his increasing age and the reoccurring injuries over the past few seasons. Hopefully, a healthy Bergeron can lead the Bruins once again to a successful second-half of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Bergeron_McAvoy_Bruins_Predators.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Bad: Jaroslav Halak – 4-3-0 Record, 0.916 SV%, 2.71 GAA

Those numbers are not terrible, but they are not at the same level as the Jaroslav Halak that played in November and October. Halak allowed three or more goals in a single game on four different occasions this month, including five goals against the Panthers. Halak did, however, record a shutout against the Canadiens on the 17th.

The not-great play of Halak could have been the main reason for Cassidy’s decision to start Tuukka Rask over him for the 2019 Winter Classic. Although Rask has a worse record with numbers slightly worse than Halak, with the win over Buffalo for Rask, Cassidy went with Tuukka.

Honourable Mentions:

Good: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk

Bad: David Backes, Noel Acciari, Tuukka Rask

Injury Report (As of December 31st)

D Charlie McAvoy – Lower-body – IR

The Bruins are healthy again, for now anyway. Only Charlie McAvoy is injured currently due to a blocked shot that isn’t healing the best. He will miss the Winter Classic. Brad Marchand has been day-to-day for the Bruins but is deemed good-to-go for the Bruins against Chicago. The injuries have been a huge blow for the team this year and to have some of these key players slowly return to the lineup, it is great to see.

January Games

Tuesday, Jan. 1st – vs Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic)

Thursday, Jan. 3rd – vs Calgary Flames

Saturday, Jan. 5th – vs Buffalo Sabres

Tuesday, Jan. 8th – vs Minnesota Wild

Thursday, Jan. 10th – vs Washington Capitals

Saturday, Jan. 12th-  at Toronto Maple Leafs

Monday, Jan. 14th – vs Montreal Canadiens

Wednesday, Jan. 16th – at Philadelphia Flyers

Thursday, Jan. 17th – vs St. Louis Blues

Saturday, Jan. 19th vs New York Rangers

Tuesday, Jan. 29th vs Winnipeg Jets

Thursday, Jan. 31st vs Philadelphia Flyers

The Boston Bruins have twelve games on the upcoming schedule to start of 2019, including nine games in the TD Garden. Boston’s week-long break takes place from January 20th to January 26th. With some big games against Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and of course, the Winter Classic game against Chicago, the Bruins will have their work cut out for them but it will make for some fun games for us fans to enjoy.

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