Next Man Up: Zdeno Chara Status Uncertain for Bruins in SCF Game 5

charainjury

( Photo Credit: wcvb.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

As the Bruins and Blues prepare for a pivotal game five in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins could be without their captain. In game four at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Zdeno Chara took a puck to the face in the second period that prevented him from returning to the game. Now, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins might have to adjust to missing their leader for a big game of a tied Stanley Cup Final series.

Just three minutes into the second period of game four, the Bruins lost their captain after Brayden Schenn rifled a shot that ramped off of Chara’s defending stick and into his mouth area. Chara would leave for the second period, and the Bruins were again down to five defensemen much like game two in which they lost in overtime. At the start of the third period, Chara was on the Bruins bench with a full shield on, leading many to believe that the monster defenseman would play. However, he did not touch the ice besides in between TV timeouts to rally up his troops. It was later revealed by Cassidy that Chara was advised not to play as he was “very uncomfortable” but wanted to sit on the bench to be there for his teammates.

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After Ryan O’Reilly buried a late third-period game-winning goal that would ultimately tie the Stanley Cup Finals series at two games apiece, worry crept into Bruins fans’ minds about the status of the Bruins captain. On Tuesday, it was reported that Zdeno Chara broke his jaw as a result and he ultimately missed practice on Wednesday at TD Garden. At the conclusion of Bruins practice, Cassidy spoke about Chara’s facial injury and that it was not a good sign that Zee was not on the ice on Wednesday.

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So, all signs are pointing to Big Zee potentially being out for at least game five in this series. That leaves Bruce Cassidy with some very tough decisions heading into arguably the biggest game of the series and the season for both the Bruins and the Blues. With Grzelcyk going down after a hard hit from Oskar Sundqvist in game two, John Moore was called on to step in and replace Grzelcyk on the blue line. The next man up that we have seen step up in these playoffs would be Steven Kampfer. However, Cassidy has second-guessed the insertion of Kampfer because he is a right-handed shot and would throw off the right-left balance between Kampfer and Connor Clifton – a balance that is consistent with the rest of the defense.

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Another option would be for Cassidy to insert Bruins rookie standout Urho Vaakanainen into the lineup. Urho would solve the right-left shot balance as he is a left-handed shooting defenseman. However, this could be a risky move as Vaakanainen has only played two regular season games in the NHL.

The third option for Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff is to roll eleven forwards and seven defensemen. This, of course, would mean that a forward would be scratched in order to make room for the seventh defenseman which would likely be David Backes as he was often the odd forward out in the earlier rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Karson Kuhlman was with Krejci and DeBrusk on the second line. The Blues have beaten the Bruins twice this series, and both times the Bruins have lost defenseman for a big chunk of the game when they lost Grzelcyk in the first period of game two and Chara at the beginning of the second period of game four.

On Wednesday, the practice lines looked like this:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes
Johansson – Coyle – Heinen
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari
Moore – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Kampfer – Clifton
Grzelcyk – Vaakanainen
Rask
Halak

As of Wednesday, Cassidy stated that Grzelcyk still needs to be cleared which he is possible to get cleared tomorrow. It appears that Kampfer would play with Clifton in game five, but that will ultimately depend on if Cassidy wants to remove a forward and go with the seven defensemen, if Grzelcyk is cleared, or if Vaakanainen gets the call over Kampfer. Good news is that Grzelcyk looked well on the ice and that he skated with the second powerplay unit indicating that he is close but still needs to be cleared.

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All in all, Cassidy is in for a series of crucial tough decisions for the all-important game five at TD Garden on Thursday night. If Chara is unable to go for game five, the Bruins will undoubtedly miss his leadership on and off the ice.

Bruins’ Grzelcyk Injured After Hard Hit In SCF Game Two

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: NESN.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

On Wednesday night the Boston Bruins looked to take a two-nothing series lead in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals after a comeback victory over the St. Louis Blues in game one. One of the bigger stories from game one was Torey Krug leveling Blues’ forward Robert Thomas. After game two, another big hit is in the headlines, and that is the hit that injured B’s d-man Matt Grzelcyk.

Nearing the end of a thrilling four-goal first period, the Blues dumped the puck into the left corner where Grzelcyk went to retrieve. As he gathered the puck and sent it around the boards behind Tuukka Rask, he was hit from behind and was sent into the glass hard by Blues’ forward Oskar Sundqvist.

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Grzelcyk was immediately down on the ice holding his head as Bruins trainer Don DelNegro made his way to check on the injured defenseman. Grzelcyk left the ice with help from teammates Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and did not return. It was later reported that he was sent to the hospital for further testing.

The hit by Sundqvist earned him a minor penalty for boarding and was a clear hit from behind. Although it looked like a nasty hit, Grzelcyk was in an awkward position and was warranted of only a two minute minor instead of a five-minute major penalty.

On Thursday morning, the National Hockey League Department of Player Safety announced that Sundqvist will have a hearing for the hit. It was not specified as a phone hearing or an in-person hearing for Sundqvist.

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Bruce Cassidy confirmed to the media Thursday that Grzelcyk did indeed leave the arena to go to the hospital for further testing after the hit and is now considered “day-to-day” as he is in the concussion protocol and will update on his condition as he receives more information. It was also noted that Grzelcyk will not make the flight to St. Louis with the team Thursday afternoon and that a decision on who will replace Matt Grzelyck in the lineup for game three will be made closer to game time.

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For the rest of the game, the Bruins were forced to use only five defensemen which certainly tired the defense core for the Bruins, and it was a factor in the 3-2 overtime loss as the Bruins failed to exit the zone numerous times before Carl Gunnarsson won the game for the Blues.

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When Charlie McAvoy was suspended for the first game of the Eastern Conference finals, Bruce Cassidy decided to pencil in Steven Kampfer in which he scored a goal in the 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. In Carolina for game four, Zdeno Chara missed the game, and John Moore drew into the lineup for the injured captain. It will be interesting to see who will step in for Grzelcyk at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis for game three on Saturday night.

Stay tuned to blackngoldhockey.com for more information when the NHL Player Safety’s decision is announced.

Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Having MVP Caliber Postseason

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes

( Photo Credit: CBSSports.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins are going on an absolute tear this postseason and are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. On Thursday night, the Bruins advanced to their third Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2011, and Tuukka Rask is a big reason why.

A lot has been said about Tuukka Rask and his inconsistency in the playoffs throughout his career in Boston (and I’ll admit, I was one of those people). It seemed as though he could not break through and become the performer that the Bruins needed to get past strong teams like the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. That perception has all been changed this season, and Tuukka Rask has emerged as the clear Conn Smyth trophy winner as the MVP of the playoffs.

The Bruins this offseason went out and signed Jaroslav Halak, a veteran starting goaltender to split the time in the regular season with Tuukka Rask. The two goaltenders split the regular season virtually equally with Halak getting 37 starts and Rask with 45 in order to keep Rask fresh for a deep playoff run – and boy has that worked out well. A lot of folks also think the signing was to have a solid Plan B if Tuukka struggled at all during the postseason.

In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson went head to head which was a great goaltending battle. Despite the Leafs taking the Bruins to a game seven again, Tuukka Rask stood on his head in the final game of the first round and defeated the Maple Leafs with 32 saves on 33 shots for a .970 save percentage and a 5-1 victory.

In the Eastern Conference second-round series, Tuukka and the Black ‘N Gold saw the Columbus Blue Jackets and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Another monster goaltending matchup and Tuukka stole the show. After game five, Blue Jackets coach stated that his team “dented” Tuukka Rask with three late third period goals. However, when game six came around, Tuukka Rask was clearly unfazed by the coaches comments and posted a 39 save shutout that propelled the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Finals.

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In Tuukka Rask’s career Conference Finals, he has not lost a single game in his career. In 2013, Rask and the Bruins swept Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Finals to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. On Thursday night, Rask would continue his Eastern Conference Finals dominance and remains a perfect 8-0 and becomes just the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win at least eight straight games in the conference finals.

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In Game three against Carolina in Raleigh, the Hurricanes came out buzzing, and Tuukka stood on his head once again for the Bruins as the Hurricanes peppered Rask with 20 shots in the first period but did not beat number 40 in Black ‘N Gold. Rask gave the Bruins a chance to take a three nothing series lead, and they might be playing a game five on Saturday night if it wasn’t for Tuukka’s performance in game three.

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In series-clinching games in these playoffs, Rask stopped 90 of 91 shots with a 5-1 win against Toronto in game seven, a 3-0 shutout against Columbus in game six, and a 4-0 shutout in game four against Carolina.

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Rask’s play has been nothing short of amazing this postseason and who better to compare this year’s Tuukka Rask to 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff MVP Tim Thomas.

Through the 2011 Conference Finals, Tim Thomas posted a 12-6 record with a 2.29 goals against average and a .929 save percentage along with two shutouts. Through the 2019 Conference Finals, Tuukka Rask has posted a 12-5 record with a 1.84 (!!) goals against average and a .942 save percentage with two shutouts. Rask also passed Gerry Cheevers and Tim Thomas with three series-clinching shutouts that are the most in Boston Bruins history.

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Tuukka Rask has by far been nothing short of incredible this season and has shown up all the Rask haters and doubters in which I will admit, I had doubted him before. But, I am so proud to admit that I was wrong and happy for Tuukka and the Bruins. He is the clear-cut favorite for the Conn Smyth trophy thus far, and it really isn’t even close. Whoever the Bruins face in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, it will be a tough matchup for the Bruins, but if Tuukka Rask plays like he has been this postseason, the Bruins have a very good chance of hoisting Lord Stanley.

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Bruins McAvoy To Have Hearing With Department Of Player Safety

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six

( Photo Credit: CBS Boston )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

On Monday night, the Boston Bruins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in game six of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series by a score of 3-0 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013. However, the Black ‘N Gold might be without Charlie McAvoy to begin the series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

With 20 seconds to go in the second period, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy illegally laid out Blue Jackets’ forward Josh Anderson. McAvoy leaned into Anderson and finished the hit upwards in which McAvoy’s shoulder made contact with Anderson’s head and leaving the Columbus forward on the ice in pain.

After a lengthy discussion between the referees, McAvoy was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head. As a result, McAvoy will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety on Tuesday and could be suspended for the hit.

Fans and members of the media believed that the hit was worthy of a major penalty but instead was only called a minor. Many believe that because it was the playoffs and the recent controversial major penalty call on Cody Eakin in Game Seven between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights that the referees refrained from calling a five-minute major on Charlie McAvoy.

Stay tuned for the Department of Player Safety’s ruling on the Charlie McAvoy hit.

Bruins Should Not Overlook Series Against Columbus

bruins_blue_jackets

( Photo Credit: NECN.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins are set to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday night at TD Garden. After a thrilling game seven win over the Toronto Maple Leafs just two days ago, the Bruins hope the momentum will carry over into the second round against the Blue Jackets who stunned the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning with a first-round sweep.

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The road to the Stanley Cup Finals will go through Boston as the Black ‘N Gold are the highest remaining seed in the postseason. For the first time in NHL postseason history, all four division winners were eliminated in the first round with all four Wild Card teams advancing.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs in a stunning turn of events and similarly the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy and record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning out of the first round. On Wednesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in double-overtime to move on.

In the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks defeated the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of game seven to move onto face Colorado who also completed a stunning upset when they beat the Western Conference top seed Calgary Flames in only five games. In recent seasons, the Nashville Predators have been a large favorite to come out of the west. However, this season was different when the Dallas Stars defeated the Preds in six games to propel Dallas into the West Semifinals.

In January, the St. Louis Blues were dead last in the NHL but stormed back to make a playoff appearance in the Central Division. They handled the Winnipeg Jets in six games and have moved onto the second round to face the Dallas Stars.

The Stanley Cup Playoff first round has been incredibly fun to watch with the upsets and storylines in each series. With these upsets, the Bruins remain as the highest seed in the playoffs and means that they will have home-ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs. This bodes well for the Bruins as the B’s went 29-9-3 at the TD Garden in the regular season and won a pivotal game seven at home on Tuesday night 5-1 over the Maple Leafs.

With the results around the league, it can be easy for the Bruins to look ahead to the Conference Finals and even the Stanley Cup finals because of some of the favorites being out of the race in the first round. However, it is essential that the Bruins do not look past Columbus in the second round series.

The Blue Jackets finished as the second Wild Card team in the East and nearly missed the postseason after a fairly strong but inconsistent season. After making the dance, they faced the heavy cup favorite in Tampa who tied the single-season record for most wins with 62. A lot of people picked Tampa to sweep Columbus but instead, John Tortorella and his team shocked the sports world and swept them instead. With strong goaltending, team defense, and production from their superstar forwards including deadline acquisition Matt Duchene who leads the team with three goals and four assists for seven points, the Blue Jackets are a strong team that should not be overlooked just because of their seeding. Sergei Bobrovsky has played like his Vezina self posting a .932% save percentage this playoff and shut down the superstars for the Lightning in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

It was said by fans and some media members in Boston that after the slow start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, that the Bruins might have overlooked the Leafs and were already thinking about facing Tampa Bay in the second round. Both the team and the fans should not take Tortorella’s squad lightly. The Blue Jackets have proven to the hockey world that they belong in the playoffs and are a strong team and the Bruins should not take them lightly. The Bruins powerplay helped them out in their series against Toronto and went seven for sixteen on powerplay chances in the series which was second in powerplay percentage during the first round only behind the Blue Jackets who buried five PP goals on 10 opportunities against Tampa Bay. Alternatively, the Blue Jackets were tied for the top penalty kill percentage in the regular season and killed off 83% of the Lightning PP opportunities in round number one. 

It is exciting to look at the remaining Eastern Conference teams and to realize that the road to the Finals goes through TD Garden, but the Bruins and the Bruins faithful must focus on the Blue Jackets should not think that this will be an easy series — because it wont. However, as it is encouraging and exciting to see an “easier” road to the finals but as we all know there is no easy route to the championship especially in hockey with every team deserving to be here.

This is another tough matchup for the Bruins who will be battling a very good team in a best of seven series and will be another fantastic coaching matchup between Bruce Cassidy and John Tortorella. The Bruins must come out strong against Columbus who haven’t played in nine days and set the tone for the series and continue their strong play that emerged in game six and seven against Toronto.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 6 Boston at Toronto

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( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

On Sunday afternoon, the Bruins and the Leafs battled in the first elimination game of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Boston Bruins forced a game seven back in Boston with the 4-2 victory and will face the Maple Leafs on TD Garden ice in a do-or-die game seven for the third straight time these two teams have met in the postseason. Here’s how it all went down:

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Home: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2)

Away: Boston Bruins (2-3)

Game 5 Result: Toronto Maple Leafs (2) – Boston Bruins (1)

Bruins Lineup:

Bruce Cassidy announced at his pre-game press conference that Joakim Nordstrom and Karson Kuhlman would draw back into the lineup and Chris Wagner and David Backes would be the scratches.

First Period:

The first period started off much quicker and with more energy than Game 5 in Boston. The first penalty call was a controversial one as it initially appeared Zdeno Chara sent the puck out of play. The on-ice referees conferenced and sent the Bruins captain to the penalty box but Marcus Johansson and Bruce Cassidy showed the referees the puck that had, in fact, landed in the Boston bench. Nonetheless, the Bruins went on the penalty kill and survived it.

With 10:18 left in the first, the Bruins failed to get the puck out of the zone a number of times and Morgan Reilly rifled a shot from the point that beat Rask, giving the Maple Leafs a quick 1-0 lead.

Right after Toronto struck first, Sean Kuraly drew a holding penalty and the Bruins had a chance to tie the game on their first powerplay of the game. Right off the face off to the right of Andersen and about halfway through the powerplay, Brad Marchand ripped a shot that deflected off a Toronto leg and through the five-hole of the Leafs netminder. The Bruins PP answer tied the game 1-1 — something the team failed to do three times in game five.

After the Bruins tied the game, Joakim Nordstrom was battling Travis Dermott in the Leafs corner but was called for high-sticking (another controversial call after replays showed Dermott slew-footing Nordstrom). The Leafs would go on their second powerplay of the game and the period but the Bruins would again make the kill.

Right after the successful PK, you guessed it, the Bruins went back to the powerplay when Dermott tripped Jake DeBrusk behind Frederick Andersen. The Bruins looked to take the lead in the game on their second PP of the period. After good zone time, David Pastrnak threw one off Andersen and Krug buried the rebound, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead late in the first. The B’s looked to be playing some of their best hockey in the series at this point after giving up the first goal early.

With just a minute left in the first, Andersen robbed Patrice Bergeron on the doorstep after Marchand wrapped the puck around the net. Bergeron did not get everything on the shot but Andersen nevertheless made the big glove stop.

Shots on Goal: Boston 14 – Toronto 6

Score: Bruins 2 – Toronto 1

Second Period:

The Bruins came out strong in the second period and were the faster, more physical team in the beginning of the middle period. At 7:53 of the second, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk brought the puck into the attacking zone and in a give and go play, Krejci found DeBrusk who deflected the pass past Andersen, extending the B’s lead with an insurance goal to make it 3-1.

Right after the Bruins goal, yet another questionable call sent the B’s to the penalty kill when Charlie Coyle was whistled for tripping. However, like the previous two times, the Bruins made the kill and kept the lead by two.

The Leafs responded (after coming up empty handed on the PP for the third time in a row) with a few strong shifts of their own. After getting some looks on Rask and a scramble in front, David Krejci gathered the puck and sent it down the ice for icing to alleviate some of the Toronto pressure. Auston Matthews won the ensuing draw and the Leafs hemmed the tired Bruins in their own zone. The puck was worked around to the right side to Morgan Reilly who sidestepped a Bruin defender and rifled a shot that was answered by the glove of Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins would respond after the good shift by Toronto with two strong, cycle-the-puck and physical shifts by the third and fourth lines – something that was much needed for Bruce Cassidy’s bench as it wore down the Maple Leafs’ defense.

After a few more chances for both teams, the period ended with two “almosts” for the Bruins, but the Black N’ Gold still took a 3-1 lead to the dressing room heading into the last period of regulation.

Shots on Goal: Boston 30 – Toronto 15

Score: Boston 3 – Toronto 1

Third Period:

Clinging to a two-goal lead entering the third period of play north of the border in Toronto, the Bruins needed to keep their foot on the gas in order to force a game 7 back in Boston at the Garden.

After a slow start to the period for both teams, the Leafs began to put some pressure on the Bruins. John Tavares had a point-blank chance in front after a great pass from behind the cage and Rask pushed over to rob him. Right after the ensuing draw, a passing play for the Leafs found Auston Matthews wide open on the right wing side. He fired a wrist shot off the pipe and in that beat Tuukka Rask to the blocker side and the Leafs cut the deficit to one, 3-2.

The Leafs then continued the pressure all period long, hemming the Bruins in deep almost the whole period. The Bruins held on with Rask having his best game of the series. The defense also stood tall with Brandon Carlo in particular playing like he did in the regular season, shutting down the Leafs and making fantastic plays in his own zone. Charlie McAvoy also had an incredible game as he played 9:19 of the third period, with Zdeno Chara logging 8:49 of ice-time himself.

The Leafs pulled Andersen late in the third but Brad Marchand sealed the game for the Bruins with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the final frame, giving the B’s a 4-2 lead.

With the big win, the Bruins have now forced a game seven back at TD Garden on Tuesday night for the third straight time in the playoffs against Toronto.

Shots on Goal: Boston 41 – Toronto 24

Final Score: Boston Bruins 4 – Toronto Maple Leafs 2

 

Coyle Proving The Doubters Wrong In Bruins Postseason

Coyle

( Photo Credit: The Athletic )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins received a major piece to their forward lineup ahead of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Charlie Coyle. The centerman, who played 47 playoff games for the Wild brings playoff experience and depth to Cassidy’s forward group. Many fans and media had questioned his effectiveness and fit in a Bruins uniform but, in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto, he has raised some eyebrows.

The Weymouth, MA native was shipped up to Boston on February 20, 2019, in a trade that sent Ryan Donato and a fifth-round draft pick to the Minnesota Wild. Bruins fans and media were split in their reactions to the trade by Don Sweeney and did not know how well he would contribute to the Bruins offensive depth. In 21 games with his favorite childhood team, he put up two goals and 4 assists for six points along with a plus/minus rating of minus two.

Throughout the last few weeks of the regular season, Cassidy tried Coyle up and down the lineup on the center and the wing and was not able to really find a firm position in the lineup. In the playoffs, Cassidy started Coyle on the third line with Marcus Johansson and Danton Heinen on the wings in game one.

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After a disappointing loss in game one, Bruce Cassidy was looking to add more grit and intensity to the Bruins lineup. With Johansson out with an illness, David Backes drew back into the lineup and was slotted on the right wing of the Heinen and Coyle line. That line started off the game with intense hits and forechecking and began to go after the Leafs which the Bruins did not do much of in game one. At just about the five-minute mark of the first, David Backes finished a great forecheck behind the Toronto goal and knocked the puck loose and sent a pass in front to Coyle who buried his first of the playoffs and got the Bruins the much needed first goal of the game. Coyle logged 15:16 time on ice with a plus-two rating and had a strong performance.

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Similarly, on Monday night in game three North of the border, the Bruins found themselves in a 3-1 hole late in the second period. As the Bruins went on the powerplay, Coyle parked himself in front, and after a scramble from a Grzelcyk shot and a rebound from Heinen, Coyle rifled a shot past Andersen and got a huge goal for the Bruins heading into the dressing room. Along with that big goal, Coyle logged 17:17 time on ice and was named the games third star.

Coyle and Heinen have found great chemistry in this first-round series against Toronto. Charlie Coyle has arguably been the Bruins best player in this series which is both good and bad. Although consistency and scoring from Coyle on the third line are key for the Bruins, the team also needs its top two lines to get going and tie the series up in game 4 in Toronto. (Wednesday, April 17 7:00pm Scotiabank Arena on NBCSN and NESN)

Coyle’s size, strength, and skill fit right into the Bruins lineup, and it seems as though he has found his spot and confidence in a Bruins uniform. His chemistry with Heinen is developing before our eyes, and the veteran centerman has stepped up on the biggest stage for the Black and Gold. It is essential for the third line depth to contribute for Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins in this series against Toronto. With the matchup game for both coaches imminent in this series, Boston and Toronto’s top two lines are battling for every inch of ice which increases the need for bottom six contribution for both teams and especially Boston.

Charlie Coyle is beginning to prove his worth to fans and media with his strong play of late, but it needs to continue in order for the Bruins to take this best of seven series from the rivals in Toronto. However, although it is a great sign that Coyle is beginning to find his game with Boston, the Bruins are seeking contributions from the other top players on the team in their effort to get back into this series.

David Krejci’s Success is Key for Bruins Stanley Cup Run

Krejci

( Photo Credit: BostonSportsExtra.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins are set to begin their quest for the team’s seventh Stanley Cup when they meet the Maple Leafs in round 1 for the second straight season. They have been one of the leagues best teams and a favorite of many to hoist Lord Stanley in June. In the middle of the Bruins’ success has been David Krejci – who had one of the most consistent and dominant seasons of his career.

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Since coming into the league in the 2007-08 season, Krejci has become an incredible offensive force and leader in the locker room for the Bruins. In his second season, Krejci put him 73 points in 82 games played. In his 12th year in the league this season, Krejci tied his career high with 73 points in 81 games played and has managed to stay healthy all year. And oh, by the way, he is about to turn 33 on April 28th.

Krejci has battled numerous injuries in the regular season and playoffs that have made fans overlook his contributions to the Bruins in the recent regular season and playoff campaigns. This season he has managed to stay healthy and only sat out one of the last regular season games to rest for the upcoming playoffs.

In 2011, Krejci began the playoffs having played 75 games that season and accumulating 62 points (13G 49A). He was healthy heading into the playoffs and was centering a line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. That line was killer to the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoff run. Krejci’s line scored huge goals in the playoffs that season including the game-winner in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the Conference Final. Nathan Horton scored the lone goal on a great feed from David Krejci that would ultimately send the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals with the 1-0 win.

Krejci led the entire playoffs that year in scoring with 12 goals (4 game-winning goals) 11 assists for 23 points in 25 games. Of course, the Bruins won the Stanely Cup against Vancouver that season and it’s no coincidence that David Krejci leading the playoffs in scoring was a huge part of that Stanley Cup.

In 2013, the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago. Again, David Krejci led the NHL in points during the playoffs by scoring 9 goals 17 assists for 26 points in 22 games. Along with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, the playmaking of Krejci was instrumental in bringing the Bruins back to the Cup Finals.

When it comes down to crunch time in the playoffs where big faceoffs in the offensive or defensive zones can be crucial ones, the Bruins have the luxury of throwing Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci out there just in case one of them gets thrown out of the draw. If Bergeron is waved out, Krejci can step in and be a reliable faceoff guy who has a 50.8% career faceoff percentage, which is a great luxury that often gets overlooked in the fan-base.

In the past few years, the Bruins have struggled to find winger’s for David Krejci after the departures of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Last year, Jake DeBrusk came into the league and put up impressive rookie numbers in the regular season and even came up huge in the playoffs for the Bruins. Much of that success has to do with Krejci taking DeBrusk under his wing. They have brewed up nice chemistry, and both are having career years. It looks as though Karson Kuhlman will step in on the other wing with Krejci and Debrusk for Game 1 against Toronto. Kuhlman has played well with Krejci and DeBrusk in 11 games this season and could be the recipe for success on the second line that the Bruins have been looking for since 2014.

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According to Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, #46 has been a quiet MVP for the Bruins: “I think David is an underlying MVP to our season, to be honest with you, really a catalyst for our group this year,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday. “Might not have gotten the prime attention that several other players deserved and merited, but it was a very consistent year for David, start-to-finish. You’re seeing the development of Jake DeBrusk, and the year that he had, and David, a lot can be attributed to that” (via Yahoo Sports).

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It is evident that if the Bruins want to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, David Krejci is an essential part of the team’s success. Krejci enters the 2019 playoffs with 87 points in 108 playoff games and has led the NHL in playoff scoring twice. Krejci is healthy and has an energetic Jake DeBrusk on his left along with a promising young Karson Kuhlman on his right and is gearing up for another successful playoff run. If Krejci stays healthy and continues his consistent play from the regular season, the Bruins will make some noise in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Bruins – Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Matchup

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin on Wednesday, April 10th with five games slated for the postseason to kick off. The Bruins and Leafs have to wait to get their series started on Thursday at TD Garden. This will be the second straight season that the Bruins will face Toronto in the first round series and it certainly will not disappoint.

The Leafs come into the series with one of the league’s most potent offense. With former first overall picks Auston Matthews and John Tavares and a supporting cast of incredible young talent in Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Kasperi Kapanen, the Leafs were the second top scoring team in the league with 3.5 goals per game. The Bruins offense has been stellar this season as well led by the best line in the NHL with Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak but ranked 10th in the league with 3.1 goals per game.

Boston’s second line has seemed to find a jump this season compared to last year with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk putting up career numbers. Along with them, Karson Kuhlman will join them for at least game 1 and has earned his spot on that line putting up three goals and two assists for five points in 11 games this season.

On the back-end, the Bruins have arguably one of the best defensive cores in the postseason this year with a healthy Brandon Carlo at the forefront. Carlo is finally healthy to begin the playoffs after missing the past two post-seasons with late March and early April devastating injuries. Carlo has been one of the most consistent players this season and has really broken out to become a shut-down, high hockey IQ defenseman for the B’s. Along with Chara’s leadership, the quarterbacking of Torey Krug on the powerplay, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins are pretty deep in the defensive end.

Across the sheet, Toronto’s defense is not their strong suit. Last year’s playoffs were not good for Jake Gardiner who posted a -6 rating and got torched at times by the Bruins in the 2017-2018 first round seven-game series. With Ron Hainsey, Jake Muzzin, Travis Dermott, and Nikita Zaitsev, the defense should not scare the Bruins. However, Morgan Reilly has emerged as a Norris Trophy candidate this season thanks in part to his 20 goals 52 assists for 72 points in 82 games played, Reilly has become an incredible offensive defenseman but is really the only force on the blueline for the Leafs. The Bruins ranked third in goals against this year with 212 while Toronto ranked 20th with 249. For this series, I would give the defensive edge to Boston although they will have to be sharp against the Leafs offense.

In goal, the Bruins have arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league. Rask and Halak have helped the Bruins to the aforementioned third place in goals against and third in goals-against average. Rask has had a lesser workload thanks to Halak being able to step in and split time and do it well. Rask this season has posted a 27-13-5 record with a 2.48 goals against average and a .912 save percentage along with 4 shutouts. Rask had a rocky start to the year and even had to take a leave of absence but upon his return, has returned to form and even became the all-time Bruins winningest goalie after a 1-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Leafs goaltending is also a position that they have struggled with this season. Just last week, the Leafs sent backup Garrett Sparks down to the AHL and called up Michael Hutchinson because of Sparks’ recent struggling play. Frederik Anderson is the number one in Toronto and has posted a 36-16-7 record with a .917 save percentage, a 2.77 goals against average and one shutout. However, he is not the most consistent goalie and has struggled at times against Boston. In last years playoffs, he posted a 3.76 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. Leafs fans had a scare when in the final game of this season, Andrew Shaw of the Canadiens bumped into Anderson’s head and many Leafs fans feared that he was injured although he finished the game in Montreal. I would again give the edge to Boston in the goaltending department but Tuukka Rask has got to stay on top of his game against the Leafs offense and make the necessary saves that the Bruins need.

Home-ice advantage is big for Boston and they were rewarded with that luxury this season in the opening round against Toronto. The Bruins went 29-9-3 on TD Garden ice this season and have taken the two previous series from the Leafs in game seven on home ice. In 2013, the Bruins came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to win the game 5-4 in overtime in all-time great game Bruins and NHL game seven. Last spring, the Bruins came back again on home ice and eliminated Toronto 7-4 in another home game 7 for Boston.

This series is going to be yet another great matchup. The Bruins need to continue their season-long shutdown defense, strong goaltending, and creative offense in order to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the second straight year, this original six rivalry will heat up for a playoff series and it all starts April 11th at TD Garden.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Detroit 3/30/19

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Little Caesars Arena

Home: Detroit Red Wings (30-38-10)

Away: Boston Bruins (47-22-9)

Boston Starting Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Acciari – Backes

Defense

Krug – Carlo

Chara – McAvoy

Grzelcyk – Miller

Goaltenders

Halak

Rask

Detroit Starting Lineup

Forwards

Bertuzzi – Larkin – Mantha

Hirose – Athanasiou – Helm

Kuffner – Ehn – Frk

Puempel – Turgeon

Defense

Dekeyser – Bowey

Kronwall – Hronek

Chelios – McIlrath

Witkowski

Goaltenders

Howard

Fulcher

First Period

The Bruins were without Chris Wagner who did not take warmups. He was listed as out for the game with a lower-body injury and also listed as day-to-day. Karson Kuhlman stepped in and slotted on the right side with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the second line.

Halfway through the first period, the play is beginning to pick up as the B’s and Wings traded chances. Detroit would take a 1-0 lead at the 10:26 mark when Dylan Larkin completed a perfect behind the back pass to wide-open Anthony Mantha who buried a top-shelf shot past Jaroslav Halak.

The Bruins headed to the power play when Andreas Athanasiou slashed David Krejci with 6:22 to go in the first. The Bruins third-ranked powerplay got to work with the top line, but the Bruins could not get anything going on the man advantage as the Red Wings killed it off.

After a commercial break, the Bruins had a little puck luck in the neutral zone. As Acciari carried the puck in the zone, he slid it over to David Backes who got slashed as he fired a shot wide to the glove side of Jimmy Howard. Chelios would head off for the Bruins second power play of the period with just under three minutes to play.

As the power play was expiring, Marchand tries to keep a bouncing puck in the zone, but it got by him. Darren Helm had a partial breakaway which was stopped by Halak, but Matt Grzelcyk was called for a slash. With one second to go, Anthony Mantha buried a slapper to the glove side of Halak, and the Red Wings took a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Score: 2-0 Detroit

Shots: Detroit-9 Boston-8

Second Period

Justs 2:01 into the period, David Krejci finds a streaking Jake DeBrusk down the slot in the Red Wings zone and wristed it over the blocker of Jimmy Howard for his 25th of the season and to get the Black and Gold on the board.

The Bruins began tilting the ice a little as they started connecting on some of their passes and creating chances in the offensive zone.

Anthony Mantha got a breakaway at the 8:12 mark looking for the hat-trick but Halak stood tall and made the save. Soon after, the Bruins were whistled for delay of game when Charlie McAvoy flipped the puck over the low glass. On the penalty, Bergeron and Marchand come in two-on-one. Bergeron sidesteps the sliding Mantha and slips a backhand feed to Marchand who one-timed it over the outstretched Jimmy Howard for the game-tying goal. With the goal, Brad Marchand became the Bruins all-time leading shorthanded goal scorer with 26.

The Bruins continued finding open space as Johansson and Marchand both had opportunities in down the left wing side with shots that were denied by Howard. However, Bertuzzi got a good chance in front of the Bruins net that Halak made a good pad save on.

Just seconds later, Luke Witkowski laid out Joakim Nordstrom at the Bruins blue line. The clean hard hit sent Nordstrom awkwardly into the boards after the nasty-looking, but clean body check. Noel Acciari came to the aid of his teammate and engaged with Witkowski in a fight. Acciari was assessed the instigator penalty which granted him 17 minutes in penalties with a two-minute penalty for instigating, five minutes for fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct.

In the final two minutes, David Krejci streaking up the left wing side gets a shot on Howard that ends up behind the net, Krejci then pokes the puck up to Kevan Miller at the point who wrists it and gets the deflection from David Backes for the Bruins lead with exactly one minute remaining.

The Bruins woke up in the second and began playing for one another again and took a 3-2 lead over Detroit into the second intermission

Score: Bruins 3 Detroit 2

Shots: Boston 17 Detroit 17

Third Period

As Jake DeBrusk sat for interference just a minute into the third, the Wings tied it up with a goal from you guessed it: Anthony Mantha. His first career hat-trick evened the game with 18:43 to go in the third.

Then, eight seconds later, Taro Hirose scored his first NHL goal as he snapped a one-timer after a fantastic feed by Andreas Athanasiou past Halak and just like that, the Bruins were playing from behind again.

The top line for Detroit continues to give the Bruins trouble in the defensive zone as another close call in front when Dylan Larkin tipped a shot that was handled by Halak. Bruins still trailing by one with half of the third period gone.

With 7:57 to go in the period, the Red Wings again hammered a one-timer by Halak. This time Filip Hronek buried one and Detroit took a two-goal lead with time dwindling for the Bruins.

Bruce Cassidy pulls Jaroslav Halak with four minutes remaining in the third as the Bruins need a pair to tie the game.

With 58 seconds left, Dylan Larkin virtually ends the game for the Red Wings with the empty-netter to make it 6-3 Detroit.

Final Score: Detroit 6 Boston 3

The Bruins will be in action next on Tuesday, April 2 in Columbus as they take on the Blue Jackets.

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