Bruins Marchand Voted Best/Worst Trash Talker in NHL

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PHOTO CREDITS: (cbc.ca)

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

As announced today, March 20th, 2019, the NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA) voted Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand the best and somehow, worst trash talker in the National Hockey League. Over 500 current NHL players participated in the voting process and it is meant to add some fun awards to the league.

The NHLPA Player Poll has been in the running for the past two seasons and it covers a variety of different categories – all of which voted on by the player body. Below are some of the winners from the 2018-19 season.

  • Best Forward – EDM Connor McDavid
  • Best Defenceman – TBL Victor Hedman
  • Best Goalie – MTL Carey Price
  • Best Shot – WSH Alex Ovechkin
  • Best Female Player – CWHL Hilary Knight
  • Best Arena Atmosphere – T-Mobile Arena (Vegas Golden Knights)
  • Best Ice – Bell Centre (Montreal Canadiens)
  • Best Team Mascot – Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers)

And many more. For a full list of all the winners – CLICK HERE.

Back to Boston – Brad Marchand took home two winning awards from this voting event. Marchand won the best trash talker, earning 21.3% of the votes, beating out Drew Doughty (11.8%), Ryan Reaves (5.5%), Claude Giroux (4.8%) and Nick Cousins (3.3%). Somehow, Marchand also won the complete opposite of that award – the worst trash talker in the league, receiving 12.5% of the votes, ahead of Antoine Roussel (5.5%), P.K. Subban (5.1%), Nick Cousins (4.7%), and Brendan Lemieux (3.5%).

We all have a good idea on what exactly goes on the ice, even though we don’t get the mics on the players for every game. Although, that would be an interesting addition to the sport. Nonetheless, Marchand seems to be in the thick of things with words flying from his lips to the biggest or smallest of players in the league today. Brad has used this asset for exactly that – an asset.

In a meaningful game for a playoff position or a game against a heated rival like the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Flyers, etc., Marchand is able to stir the pot and get under the opposing team’s skin – hoping to get them off their game. In the past, Marchand has not been great with keeping this contained, as suspensions and fines, (with many, many warnings), have piled up. This season, however, the 30-year-old Marchand has not, (*knock on wood*), been handed a single suspension – not one and has gone on to set a new career-high in points.

Funny enough, Brad Marchand is not only good (or bad) at trash talking his opponents, but he has a fun time poking fun at fellow Bruin teammates. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is one of Marchand’s main guys to have a little fun with on social media, especially on Twitter. Brad likes to make fun of Krug’s height which ironically, is the same as Marchand according to Hockey Reference. Here are a few of those gems.

Don’t worry though, Krug has had his fair share to return to Marchand on Twitter.

The friendly fire between Krug and Marchand is just a testament to how close this team has become over the past few years of success and even failure. Just this little back and forth banter between two of the most important players on the team right now shows that this team is more like a family and that is crucial come playoff time.

Aside from Marchand’s dual awards, the Bruins were in the running for a couple other ones as well, but just fell short. Forward Patrice Bergeron received 9.2% of the votes for the most difficult player to play against, finishing third behind McDavid (30.9%) and Crosby (16.0%). That’s not it as Bergeron was also voted 4th in the “Player You Would Start a Franchise With”, getting 1.7% of the votes for him, behind McDavid (60%), Crosby (18.5%) and Matthews (4.3%).

With the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner, it is a nice little reminder that the players do enjoy their share of fun and games in these final few weeks of the regular season. Were these awards correct in your eyes or did the players get something wrong? Let me know on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!

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Bear Trap? The Bruins’ Schedule This Week Will Test Them In a Few Ways

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( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/ Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Up and Away

With the Bruins embarking on a four-game road trip on which they play four games in seven days between Tuesday and Saturday, they will be tested in more ways than one. While certainly, their playoff status is all but a foregone conclusion, the Bruins remaining ten games of the season will have an effect on whether or not they finish above Toronto and have home-ice for the first round of the postseason. As things stand, it is their advantage to lose.

Hurts so Good

In addition to the on-ice contests that see them face-off against the Islanders, Devils, Panthers, and Lightning, the Bruins will be tasked with playing consecutive road games with a lineup that is in flux. Bruins continue to come back from injury, which despite being a primarily positive thing, it does take away a level of consistency from the lineup.

 

Ambien Teams

To add another level of difficulty to the Bruins’ forthcoming stretch of hockey, their first and fourth games of the trip serve as the fancy playoff bread in a spam sandwich that features New Jersey and Florida as the middle (in that they are a substitute for playoff teams). That was not a good metaphor. But I have a tendency to write around lunchtime, my stomach is doing most of the talking here. The point is that the Bruins begin and end their stretch with games against strong, playoff-caliber teams, and in between these contests are slated to face off against two clubs whose playoff chances are six feet under.

While their game against the Islanders shouldn’t prove to be difficult to get excited for, their games against NJ and FLA are a bit more concerning. The Bruins have at times this season showed an inability to bring their best effort against lesser teams. Both New Jersey and Florida fall into this category that I’ll refer to as “Ambien Teams,” because they seem to have the effect of lulling the Bruins to sleep, and bringing them down to their level of play and intensity.

Rude Awakening

Should the Bruins play down to the level of the Devils and Panthers, then they will be passing up crucial opportunities to gain points and maintain their status as the two-seed in the Atlantic.

However, in the hopefully likely event that they do end up winning these two games, and even if they play well in those games, the Bruins are then thrust right back into a showdown with the President’s Trophy frontrunners in Tampa Bay.

While the Bruins are, in my opinion, the best matchup for Tampa in terms of skill (when healthy) and depth (when healthy), it is a daunting task to bring playoff-level intensity after playing in New Jersey and Florida. While the Black and Gold will have a day or two in Florida to relax and prepare for their contest against the Bolts, that does not negate the difficulty of playing on the road against the current Stanley Cup favorite.

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Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images

Perfect Storm

This road trip could be a huge positive to begin the last three weeks of the season for the Bruins, or it could turn out to be a setback and a reality check for an ailing squad. It’s my hope and my expectation that the B’s will play a strong style of hockey throughout the road trip, and that they will only improve as more of their injured compatriots return to the lineup.

But the combination of road games, lineup inconsistency, trap games, and stiff competition make this road trip one that will likely show what the Bruins are made of.

Let’s all make sure to overreact to every occurrence in the meantime.

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A Look At Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara On His 42nd Birthday

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

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

The Bruins team is full of wise, experienced veterans in their lineup and Zdeno Chara is probably the wisest and most experienced of them. On Monday, March 18, Chara turned 42 and continues to lead the Bruins with no end in sight to his outstanding career in the NHL.

At Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the team brought Chara a birthday cake and sang him Happy Birthday. Although he might not have eaten it, the gesture was fun and thoughtful of the Bruins coaches, players, and management for one of the greatest Bruin of all time.

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Zdeno Chara was born on March 18, 1977, in Trencin, Czechoslovakia. He was originally persuaded by many in his home country to play basketball because of his height. However, he continued playing hockey and was drafted in the third round 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis.

Chara spent his first year in North America in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars playing close to 50 games. The following season he split time between the Islanders squad and the then Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Then, ironically, before he came to the Bruins, he spent time in Lowell, Massachusetts playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters, who was the New York Islanders AHL affiliate at the time during the 1998-1999 season.

After 4 seasons on Long Island and 4 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bruins on July 1, 2006, and was also named the team captain.

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Standing at 6 foot 9 inches tall, Chara is the tallest player to ever play in the National Hockey League and has yet to give up that title. Much like his body type, his play on the ice is monstrous. Throughout his career with the Bruins, he has been a strong, shut-down defenseman that can occasionally put the puck in the net with his record-breaking 108.8 mph slap shot. His dominant play has always given his coaches the confidence to play him against the league’s top lines and top players. He averages 24:20 time-on-ice for his career and even this season, at age 42, he is averaging 21:02 time-on-ice for the Bruins defense. From his shutdown play to versatility on the ice, Chara achieved the leagues highest defenseman honor with the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best d-man in 2008-2009. Chara also was an integral part of the Bruins bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years when Chara lifted the Cup the highest it had ever been lifted in 2011.

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Zdeno Chara has just turned 42 years old, and many fans have criticized him for his play in the past three years or more. Although he will never be as dominant as he was earlier in his career, he is still a force on the Bruins blue-line. Just one part of his importance with the Bruins for the rest of his career will be his mentorship for young Bruins defenseman. When Brandon Carlo stepped into the league in the 2016-2017 season, he was paired up with Chara for most of his rookie year, and now we have seen Carlo be one of the Bruins best defenseman this year. We have also seen Chara paired up with Charlie McAvoy as he was transitioning from College hockey to the big leagues and both have learned valuable on and off ice lessons from Big Zee. He knows what it takes to win mentally and physically and how to keep his body healthy to continue to perform at a high-level night in night out in which he can teach young defenseman valuable lessons.

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No doubt that Chara is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he does decide to hang them up, and we could even see #33 hanging from the rafters at TD Garden. Chara is one of the most influential pieces for the Bruins this season and postseason both on and off the ice and has proven to be a fierce competitor who has put his blood, sweat, and tears into the spoked B for over a decade. Happy Birthday, Zdeno!

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Bruins DeBrusk Returns To Lineup As Club Gets Healthy For Playoff Run

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Jake DeBrusk made his return to the Bruins’ lineup on Saturday after missing five games due to a lower-body injury he sustained against Carolina. An injury that, after sustaining, DeBrusk played with en route to scoring a goal and setting up the overtime winner with an incredible pass to linemate David Krejci.

 

Until Saturday, the Bruins had gone 2-3-0 since DeBrusk’s injury and had lost three straight entering their tilt against Columbus. This was the second time that the Black and Gold squared off against the Jackets in less than a week, and Columbus had handled the B’s in their matchup on March 12th, with Boston reeling from injuries.

In their first meeting, the Bruins went down 5-1 fairly early in the contest and, despite a solid push to even the score, ended up falling 7-4. While the game displayed the amount of compete that lives within the walls of the Boston locker room, it unfortunately also showed how shorthanded they were. Their weakened offensive punch failed to measure up to a healthy Columbus team.

Saturday’s game was a different story. While it was certainly a game that featured many fewer goals and better team defense and goaltending, the impact that DeBrusk made on the game was palpable.

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

The Obvious Benefits

Quite frankly, Jake The Snake rejoining the lineup is a horrible sign for teams in the East. Not only because he alone makes the Bruins lineup more effective in myriad ways, but because his return is the first domino to fall (or stand up again) in a series of key players on the Bruins that are coming back from injury.

DeBrusk’s return to the first powerplay unit not only adds skill and finishing to said unit, but it also moves a skilled player in Heinen back to the second powerplay unit, improving PP2 as well.

DeBrusk’s return to the second line moves players that play a more natural bottom-six role down to the third line, which makes the Bruins deeper throughout their entire middle six.

DeBrusk’s presence on the forecheck puts significant pressure on defensemen and eliminates their ability to beat him with skating. He shuts down the opponent and has a knack to aggressively hunts down pucks.

DeBrusk’s ability to stretch the ice with his own speed opens up the neutral zone for the Bruins and facilitates offensive-zone entries with possession.

DeBrusk’s ability to handle the puck down low extends offensive zone possession time and wears down the opposition. This lightens the load of the makeshift third line that will then likely be playing against worn down opponents, thus mitigating the possible negatives of players that are unfamiliar with one another. More time in the O-zone means more rest for the Bruins’ defensemen. This means fresher legs and better d-zone coverage.

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( Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/ AP )

The Pending Danger

Yep. DeBrusk brings a ton to the Bruins’ lineup when he’s playing at full capacity. Look at the tear he was on before he got injured. Look at his playoff performance against the Leafs last year. The kid is an absolute gamer, and you can see the intensity with which he approaches each game in the celebrations that, without fail, follow all of his goals. I would say he is made of pure energy, but there’s quite a bit of skill thrown in there as well.

So the obvious benefits of him being back are beyond beneficial (great alliteration by me, don’t mention it). But the tacit implications of his return to the lineup stretch much farther than his own individual impact on hockey games.

As DeBrusk was one of 6 Bruins to be sidelined with injuries diagnosed with short-term recovery periods, his resurgence only indicates that there is more firepower making its way back to the Black and Gold lineup. Accompanying DeBrusk are 2 more top-six forwards, in David Pastrnak (PastrBack? I’ll see myself out) and Marcus Johansson. While admittedly these two don’t carry the same weight in their respective impact on the Bruins attack, when the Bruins’ top two lines are healthy they are among the most effective in the league. In my opinion, they are the deepest top-six in the league when fully healthy.

 

But also in the current short-term injury crew are Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, and Torey Krug. In other words, a tough and reliable yet strong skating stay at home defenseman in Miller; an expectation-exceeding, smooth skating puck mover (Grz); a powerplay quarterback who makes a strong first pass (Krug). These three defensemen are all entities that have proven just how effective they can be to a healthy Bruins lineup. DeBrusk’s return from injury only signals that they are all that much closer to coming back themselves.

When the Bruins’ forward unit is whole, and their D-core is similarly healthy, then they are deep enough up front to bring it to the best in the league, and solid enough on the back end to stifle explosive offenses. We were able to see glimpses of the team’s potential against San Jose and Tampa Bay before the B’s got bit by the injury bug.

With the return of DeBrusk, comes the depth that the Bruins’ roster has not benefitted from in many years. Opponents haven’t needed to ready themselves for a Bruins team so well-rounded, and it’s my expectation that few teams, if any, will be able to adequately match up.

 

Simply put, DeReturn of DeBrusk is a big one for DeBruins.

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UFC Fighter Conor McGregor To Drop Ceremonial Puck At Bruins Game Tonight

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Fox Sports)

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

A report earlier today by The Athletic writer, Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey), Former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor will be in TD Garden tonight to drop the ceremonial puck prior to the actual puck drop for the Bruins vs Blue Jackets game tonight.

While it may seem odd to have one of the top superstars in the entire Ultimate Fighting Championship today drop a puck for an NHL game, especially a Boston Bruins game, this all adds together and has some good meaning behind it. Tonight, the Bruins are going to be celebrating the Irish Heritage – with St. Patrick’s Day rolling through tomorrow.

Conor McGregor is, well of course, from the country of Ireland and he has often showcased his Irish pride in his UFC fights. Before his emergence under the bright lights, the fanbase of fighting in Ireland was not as prevalent as the United States, Canada, or Japan. Today, however, Ireland is home to one of the largest, (and loudest) groups of fans in the entire industry – a big reason for that is Conor McGregor.

In addition to that, the city of Boston, Massachusetts has Irish history that dates back a few hundred years. In fact, people of Irish descent are “the largest single ethnic group in Boston”.  According to the Boston Globe, 22.8% of residents in the Boston metropolitan area from 2014, said they were from Irish descent. As I personally am not from Boston, I had to do some Google searches on why the Irish force is so strong in Boston and the answer appears quite clear.

Between the years 1845 and 1855, over 1.5 million people fled the country of Ireland to the eastern shores of American due to the Potato Famine, a mass starvation period where disease negatively affected the potato farms across the country, resulting in millions of casualties in a very short amount of time. Frustrated with the lack of help from their British neighbours, the Irish people travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to cities such as Boston and New York. Times in the American cities were not easy, but as the years went on, the presence of the Irish faithful only grew in America – especially the Massachusetts and New England areas.

Moving away from the history aspect, this will not be the first time that McGregor is involved with the city of Boston personally. The 30-year-old Dublin, Ireland native fought Dennis Siver back in January of 2015 in the TD Garden, securing a second-round TKO stoppage.

Also, in the fall of this past year, McGregor made an appearance at the Boston Fire Department Engine 33 Ladder 15 on Boylston Street to hand over Boston Red Sox World Series tickets to the on-duty firefighters – a way to thank the everyday heroes for their acts of bravery on a day-to-day basis. McGregor seems to love the city of Boston and to have the chance to drop the ceremonial puck tonight, it’s an opportunity he just can’t pass up on.

As for the Bruins, tonight is a big game in general. The B’s return home after losing their last three games in a row, just after an incredible 19-game point streak that lasted the majority of 2019. Boston faces a Columbus Blue Jackets team that beat them on Tuesday by a final score of 7-4 and the Bruins will be on the lookout to avenge that loss and start another streak.

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that goaltender Jaroslav Halak will start and forward Jake DeBrusk is expected to be back in the lineup after missing the last few games with a foot injury. Without question, the return of DeBrusk will be huge for a team that is still dealing with injuries to David Pastrnak (thumb), Torey Krug (concussion), Marcus Johansson (lung bruise), Kevan Miller (upper-body) and Matt Grzelcyk (arm). Cassidy also gave updates on all those players listed and returns of them seem to be right around the corner.

The Boston Bruins are only two points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division and a win would extend that to four points – a near must if the Bruins want to have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Official puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7pm EST at the TD Garden.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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 Game 71 Preview: Winnipeg Jets

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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

Following an incredible point streak, the Bruins are entering tonight’s game against the Jets with two straight regulation losses – to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. On Tuesday, March 12th, the Bruins fell to the Blue Jackets by a final score of 7-4. Boston was at one point, down 5-1, but made an effort to come back, making it 5-4 before Columbus added two more to seal the deal. The Bruins are four points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic with 12 games remaining.

The Winnipeg Jets are in a tight battle right now for the top spot in the Central Division. The Jets hold a mere one point advantage on the Nashville Predators with three games in hand, but Winnipeg does have three more regulation-plus-overtime wins already in the bank. Winnipeg is coming into the game losers of their last two and are 4-6-0 in their last ten games.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 24-9-5 2.41 GAA .918 SV% Last Game: 19 Saves in 7-4 Loss to CBJ

WPG: Connor Hellebuyck 28-20-2 3.01 GAA .909 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 5-4 Loss to SJS

Who’s Hot

Even if the Bruins are losing, Brad Marchand has been consistently dominating in 2018-19 and lately, that has been on display more than ever. Marchand is riding high on an eight-game point streak with three of them being three-point outings. Against Columbus, Marchand scored his 29th and 30th goal of the season, reaching the 30-goal mark for the fourth straight season. Marchand also matched his career-high in points (85) doing so in 69 games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Blake Wheeler has sixteen points in his last ten games. That usually means that you’re having yourself a solid stretch and an even more solid season – which he has. Wheeler has 19-65-84 numbers in 69 games for the Jets this season, only eight points away from breaking his career-high 91 points that he set in the 2017-18 season. Wheeler not only leads his team in points but is a crucial leader in the locker room for the younger players on the roster.

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are almost always together in something, and they are two of the hottest players right now for Boston. Bergeron has nine points in his last eight contests and at one stage, had three shorthanded goals in only five games played. Bergeron has continued to be one of the best, if not the best, two-way forward in the National Hockey League and is always a threat to any opposing line.

Who’s Not

Tuukka Rask had an unbelievable stretch from the end of December to the beginning of March, but the Bruins starting goaltender is entering the game in Winnipeg after being pulled from the crease after allowing five goals on 24 shots against. Of course, when that happens, usually the team around him is not great. Rask could have, however, played better and will be expected to do so tonight.

Mark Scheifele is second on the Jets for most points in the ’18/’19 season, but in the last four games, the 25-year-old has zero points and is a -2 rating during that period. Scheifele has been averaging around the 20-minute mark for each of the four games but has not been able to contribute as much offensively as his 75 points suggest he should. With that said, he can find his groove again at any time, and he remains a big threat to the Bruins defense.

Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defencemen in the entire NHL this season, but in the last two games against the Blue Jackets and Penguins combined, Krug has a -8 rating including a terrible -5 night against the Jackets. Krug also only has two assists in the last five, both coming against the Senators on March 9th. With the injuries to the backend, Boston needs him to be better on the defensive end of the puck.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Patrik Laine is supposed to be one of the top young goal scorers – one that can strike at any moment. While he has shown glimpses of that this year, the Finnish sniper has no goals in the last six games played, even though he has four assists in the same period. Laine has only 29 goals which are still impressive, but will most likely not match his 44 goals from last season and the goals that he has scored, have come in spread out games – proving this long stretch of no goals.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is one goal away (199) from 200 career NHL goals
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one point away (799) from 800 career NHL points
  • F Brad Marchand is one shorthanded goal away (25) from passing Rick Middleton (25) for sole possession of most SHG in Bruins history

Winnipeg Jets:

  • F Mark Scheifele is one goal away (145) from passing Vyacheslav Koslov (125) for sole possession of 4th most goals in Jets history
  • F Mark Scheifele is one power-play goal away (36) from passing Andrew Ladd (36) for sole possession of 7th most PPG in Jets history

Bruins vs. Jets Outlook

The Bruins and Jets will meet tonight for the second time this season, and because the two franchises are in opposite conferences, it will also be the final time that these two will play one another in the 2018-19 season. Back on January 29th, the Jets took a 4-3 shootout win over Boston in the TD Garden. Kyle Connor scored two regulation goals and the eventual shootout winner to help lead Winnipeg to the win.

As mentioned earlier, both Boston and Winnipeg are in tight battles for divisional spots as we head closer to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs later in April. This makes this game all-the-more meaningful as a win, or even just a point could be massive on either end of the ice tonight.

Boston has the 3rd-best power-play (26.2%) and the 9th-best penalty-kill (81.3%) while the Jets have the 4th-best power-play (25.3%) and the 24th-best penalty-kill (79.0%). The specialty teams will most likely be a deciding factor in who wins the game tonight. Below are the projected lines for the B’s. Puck drop is scheduled for 8pm EST from the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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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Four Boston Bruins Players That Could Win The 7th Player Award

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Every year, the New England Sports Network, better known as NESN, releases a fan vote where fans of the Boston Bruins can vote for who they think should be awarded with the annual 7th Player Award. The 7th Player Award is awarded to the Boston Bruin who “has performed above and beyond expectations”. In years past, the team honour is handed out at the end of March, so the countdown is on for the winner.

Before we get into who should win the award for the 2018-19 season, let’s take a quick look at the past winners of the last decade. Information regarding this is courtesy of Ice Hockey Fandom.com. 

  • 2008-09 David Krejci
  • 2009-10 Tuukka Rask
  • 2010-11 Brad Marchand
  • 2011-12 Tyler Seguin
  • 2012-13 Dougie Hamilton
  • 2013-14 Reilly Smith
  • 2014-15 David Pastrnak
  • 2015-16 Brad Marchand
  • 2016-17 David Pastrnak
  • 2017-18 Charlie McAvoy

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Charlie McAvoy are the most recent winners of the award and for good reason. Marchand exploded three years ago with a 37 goals and a new career-high in points with 61. David Pastrnak also had a great year when he won it back in 2016-17, scoring 34-36-70 numbers from his 26 the year prior. Finally, last year, Charlie McAvoy scored 32 points in his debut NHL season and truly came out as one of the best young offensive d-men in the league.

In the past, the award has been handed out at the end of March, just ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. We are already over a week into the third month of the new calendar year, so now is the perfect time to take a look at some of the players who can with the 2018-19 7th Player Award.

Jaroslav Halak -> 18-10-4, 2.33 GAA, .924 SV%, 4 Shutouts

When Anton Khudobin did not agree to a new contract with the Boston Bruins following the 2017-18 season, the concern came as to who the Bruins were going to fall on for the role of the backup goaltender position. Ideas of younger, prospect goaltenders from either the Providence Bruins or other affiliate teams were thrown around, but it was the free-agent market that would provide the solution for this new-found problem.

Boston signed journeyman goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $2.75 million. Last season, Halak finished up his fourth season with the New York Islanders, the fourth NHL team of his 13-year career. Halak finished last season with a 20-26-6 record, a 3.19 GAA, and a .908 save percentage – not great numbers.

Lucky for Bruins fans and himself, Halak turned a new leaf while wearing the Spoked-B sweater and is showing glimpses of top-level play, the type of play that we saw from him during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Early on this season, starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was not on his game. He was struggling in net and was losing more often than he was winning. However, Jaro Halak made an appearance and took over the show in the meantime, keeping the Bruins afloat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

jaroslav-halak

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may look to split the number of games that Rask and Halak play down the final stretch and that shows that Halak has done enough to earn starts when it matters. When the original signing was made, many people, including myself was not a fan mainly due to his performance in the previous season but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and should be a favourite for the 7th Player Award because, without him, Boston may not be second in the Atlantic division.

Chris Wagner -> 66GP, 12G – 6A – 18P, 4th Liner

Chris Wagner never once scored ten goals in his five-year NHL career. In fact, he never scored more than 15 points in a single season, a mark he once hit in 64 games with the Anaheim Ducks last year in 2017-18.

When the Bruins signed Wagner, the Walpole, Massachusetts native to a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency, the signing of Joakim Nordstrom and the hope that the young, up-and-coming players within the Bruins organization will get more NHL minutes, it seemed like Wagner was going to be a spare tire – a depth piece for injuries or for a replacement for a player who is struggling but no, Wagner has become a near-permanent member of the 2018-19 Bruins.

Part of the reason for his success is the help of his linemates, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari, who have helped bolster the game of Wagner to a level never seen before in the NHL. The trio has brought a high level of intensity and energy to the bottom-six while being able to add in a few goals here and there. Additionally, Wagner leads the Bruins with 226 hits, a stat that ties him for 6th most in the National Hockey League.

In today’s NHL, all four lines of any team need to have the ability to score goals when they are so required to do so, yet provide a level of physicality and defence that can keep them in the thick of things. Chris Wagner has been a big reason for the success of that line and he deserves to be in the conversation for the 7th Player Award. No one expected the performance of Wagner to be this solid and a brief stroll in past Twitter comments will highlight that.

David Krejci -> 69GP, 19G – 41A – 60P, +3 Rating

Without a doubt, David Krejci is one of the best second-line centres in the NHL and is one of the best playmakers in the league for the past few seasons. It may seem hard for a player of that stature to win an award that presents the player that has exceeded expectations, but he needs to be in the conversation.

Since putting up 17-46-63 numbers in the 2015-2016 campaign, Krejci seemed to be on a decline for point production. In 2016-17, Krejci scored 54 points in a full 82-game season followed by a 44-point year last year in only 64 games played. However, with the growing chemistry with left-winger Jake DeBrusk, Krejci is on pace for just over 71 points this season. That total would be the second-highest single-season point total for Krejci since his 22-51-73 effort back in 2008-09 – ten seasons ago.

In that 2008-09 season, Krejci averaged 0.89 points-per-game. In comparison, Krejci is averaging 0.87 points-per-game, the third-highest PPG average in his 13-year NHL career. Krejci has found 15 of his points on the man-advantage, meaning the bulk of his numbers have come from five-on-five play, a huge attribute to take into consideration.

Throughout the past few seasons, the Sternberk, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) native has been on the receiving end of hard criticism but quite clearly, he has used that as motivation for his success this season. The 32-year-old has three game-winning goals this season, including the overtime goal in the 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 5th. Linemate Jake DeBrusk said the following about his chemistry with Krejci right after the game versus Carolina.

“I think when you play with a guy for almost 2 years now, you generate that w just games played & different things like that. He’s been playing great all year. He’s the biggest reason why I’ve had success personally as well. To have a guy like that in my corner is something that I don’t take for granted.” – Quote from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon on Twitter)

David Krejci exceeded the expectations that were placed on him back in September before the puck dropped to begin the regular season. His name is back in the minds of teams across the league if they so happened to forget about him and he has been a factor for the success of the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly -> 66GP, 6G – 11A – 17P, 4th Liner

Sean Kuraly joins linemate Chris Wagner on this four-player list because, in a way, they have to be. Kuraly and Wagner, with the inclusion of Acciari, have surprised most Bruins fans and hockey fans throughout the league with their energy, tenacity, and offensive capabilities while throwing in the occasional hit or fight.

Sean Kuraly came to Boston on June 30th, 2015 in a trade with the San Jose Sharks that sent goaltender Martin Jones off to California and Kuraly with a 2016 1st Rounder (Trent Frederic) to Boston. Martin Jones was acquired by the B’s from the L.A. Kings in exchange for beloved Bruin, Milan Lucic only a few days prior.

Kuraly didn’t play with Boston until 2016-17, skating in eight games, scoring a single point. Kuraly was given an opportunity in the 2017 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Ottawa Senators and he earned his way into the hearts of Bruins fans all over with two massive goals, one of which in the second overtime session in Game 5 of that series, forcing a Game 6.

After that remarkable game for Kuraly, he ended up playing 75 games during the 2017-18 season, scoring six goals and eight assists for a total of 14 points. In the offseason of this past year, Kuraly signed on the dotted line to a three-year, $3,825,000 contract extension, securing himself a position on the NHL roster for the time being.

Kuraly has done that and more. The Dublin, Ohio, USA native has matched his career-high in goals (6) and set a new career-high in points (17) and has played in twelve less games than in last year’s season. The threat of the fourth-line could be courtesy of the always hard-working Sean Kuraly. Kuraly still possesses that clutch goal-scoring talent, scoring two game-winning goals so far in 2018-19 – both coming in back-to-back games against the Sabres on December 29th and the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on January 1st.

Kuraly has been one of those quite but deadly pieces to the puzzle that is the 2018-19 Boston Bruins – which can come across as a pleasant surprise for him, the management, and the fanbase.

My Winner: Chris Wagner

It seems like when the Bruins are down a goal late in the hockey game, scrambling to find their legs and score the tying goal or even the winning goal, Chris Wagner is inadvertently in the thick of things when the goal eventually crosses the red line. Wagner has scored the game-tying goal on three different occasions, two of which in the third and final period. Also, in each of those games where he scored the tying marker, the Bruins went on to either win the game or lose in a shootout.

I’ll be 110% honest here – I was fully anticipating Chris Wagner to be scratched for more games than he played and to see limited ice time when he is indeed in the lineup. Losing out on Tavares and Kovalchuk in free agency, at the time, it appeared as though Sweeney and the rest of the B’s management staff had no one else and wanted to go for depth. Tim Schaller, the now Vancouver Canuck, did not re-sign, but it looked like Nordstrom would replace him. Instead, the Bruins have a physical, gritty fourth-liner that has been big when scoring meaningful goals this season.

Chris Wagner is my personal pick to win this year’s 7th Player Award, who do you think wins the annual accolade? Was it one of the players I listed or does another player come to mind? Let me know via Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) or on FaceBook comments!

Side Note: In the poll above, I listed D Brandon Carlo as an option, yet he is not on my list. I personally expected Carlo to be good this year, so he did not necessarily ‘exceed’ my expectations, but he has been great.

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Spin Zone: The Bruins’ Injuries Might Be The Best Thing For Them

( Photo Credit: Winslow Towson/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

 

There are no typos in that title. I typed all of those words on purpose.

David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Kevan Miller, Marcus Johansson, and most recently Matt Grzelcyk have been sidelined with injuries during the Bruins’ impressive stretch of hockey over the last month and a half. While thankfully none of these injuries are all that severe, they did leave the Bruins shorthanded.

Certainly, many human beings with brains will look at the short term impacts that these injuries have on the roster and say it made the Black and Gold a weaker team. To those people, I offer this: Duh. But as a Bruins homer and a semi-rationally-thinking hockey fan, these injuries have been a blessing. They are perfect injuries, and I love them.

“But Cam, tell us why! We want to know!”

Relax. I’m getting to that. Don’t interrupt me.

As I was saying, I am truly proud of the Bruins’ ability to get injured in just the right ways. When compared to the severity of injuries that Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug underwent in the tail end of last season, the Bruins’ have learned from their mistakes and are getting injured in a much smarter way.

All of the Bruins that have been injured in the last month or so have done so in a way that only sidelines them for at most a month. The use of the expression “at most” is misplaced here, but I really enjoy the expression. Obviously, David Pastrnak has been out for a month already so he might have singlehandedly (nice) voided the credibility of my use of the expression. But he’ll be back soon, so I’ll allow it.

Here are the three reasons why these injuries, to important pieces of the Bruins lineup, are crucial to the team’s playoff success.

1. Secondary Scoring/Depth

David Pastrnak’s injury in the second week of February effectively removed the Bruins’ leading scorer at the time. For a team that had been plagued by a lack of depth until recently, this loss might have seemed more grave at the time than it ended up being. Pastrnak’s absence (his Pastrnabsence, if you will) thrust the responsibility of scoring onto the rest of the lineup. And the rest of the B’s, since his injury, has not only added key deadline pieces to address their secondary scoring but have answered the bell and then some (see: ridiculous point streak). A team that can survive, and even thrive without debatably their most lethal offensive threat, will only be that much stronger when they get him back. Very nice (Borat voice).

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

2. Saving Legs

While the injuries come to key cogs in the machine that is the Bruins’ lineup, their ability to keep the machine running effectively in the absence of these cogs has been impressive. The aspect of so many key players being out for brief hiatuses is that despite being injured, they are also saving their legs for the playoff stretch. While some rust can certainly be expected from each Bruin upon their respective returns, they will have just enough time to dust off the cobwebs and get back to midseason form come postseason time.

The timing of this “rest” is auspicious given that it is coming in the dog days of the season when the Bruins begin a stretch where they essentially play every other day for a month. If the team can keep winning while some of your top dogs lick their wounds, then expect to win more when they rejoin the pack (I got really into dog metaphors for a minute).

3. Accountability

Undoubtedly, injuries bring added pressure to the regulars in the lineup, as they are subsequently tasked with shouldering the load that their fallen comrade might have been expected to carry. This is true of any team. But what Bruce Cassidy has done in the absence of Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Johansson, Miller, and now Grzelcyk has been interesting—he’s shortened the bench even more.

While the injuries to the aforementioned Bruins already shorten what would be a healthy bench, Cassidy went even further in a few games by sitting players like Peter Cehlarik, Charlie Coyle, and John Moore.  While none of them had been playing all that poorly, Cassidy sent a clear message that if players weren’t putting their best effort or product on the ice, then they were no longer going to see the ice. Fortunately, it seemed like these instances of Cassidy sitting guys down paid off, and the Bruins found ways to win with their shortened bench.

While there is certainly a school of thought that might scrutinize players having too short of a leash, Cassidy has proven time and again that he knows how to get the best out of his players. The heightened responsibility created by the Bruins injuries has placed many of the remaining healthy B’s under the microscope. The focus on their play in the absence of important players has only worked to make them more accountable as a unit and as individuals.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

So there’s your spin zone. Obviously, most players will play better in the short term if their lungs aren’t bruised, or their hands aren’t broken, blah blah blah. And a healthy team will be better in the short term with healthier players. But in the case of the Bruins, I think it’s reasonable to expect that this most recent period of success combined with adversity will be looked back on as a turning point in the season.

All the teams in movies have one.

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Providence Bruins Weekend Recap: 3/9 and 3/10

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

Check out my Friday night March 8th Providence Bruins Vs Hershey Bears game recap from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center by CLICKING HERE

Bruins vs Bears, 3/9/19

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

A shootout was needed to decide the first game of the weekend between Providence and Hershey, and the Saturday sequel would not disappoint. Both teams have been swinging back and forth in the Atlantic Division standings over the last few weeks and the weekend was a prime opportunity for one team to gain a solid amount of distance on the other.

First Period:

The defense showed up first and foremost, holding Hershey to just 4 shots through the first twenty minutes and killing off an early power play. Trent Frederic got the scoring started for Providence at the 9:51 mark. After keeping in a clearing attempt on the half wall, Frederic fired a slap shot that Ilya Samsonov was unable to get out of the air. It was Frederic’s eleventh goal of the season.

Score: Providence 1-0

Second Period:

Just like the Friday contest Hershey always seemed to linger, tying the game up just 1:30 into the second period with Riley Barber beating Dan Vladar on a delayed penalty call.

Providence got to show off the special teams to get right back in the game courtesy of Uhro Vaakanainen. It would be the first goal on what ended up being six power plays in the game for the Bruins. Barber would score his second goal of the evening on a breakaway to tie the game again for Hershey 2-2 late in the second period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period:

Jayson Megna gave Hershey their first lead of the night just about halfway through the third period.

A few minutes later, the Bruins were given a good break when Beck Malenstyn was called for tripping. That power play allowed Paul Carey to lift a puck from right in front of the net to tie the game back up for Providence. Connor Clifton also continued to dish out the assists, notching his fourth in the last two games.

Score: 3-3

Overtime:

As fate would have it, Carey’s night was destined to end more dramatically. After a Bruins faceoff win to begin the overtime period, Carey streaked into the offensive zone and ended the game earlier than expected for the crowd at Dunkin Donuts Center. The Bruins would finish the weekend with a contest against the Springfield Thunderbirds, once again in front of a home crowd.

Final: Providence Wins 4-3 

Bruins vs. Thunderbirds, 3/10F

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

After picking up two wins in post-regulation against their division rivals Hershey, the Providence Bruins looked to make it a clean sweep of the weekend against the Springfield Thunderbirds, a team that is a lowly 9-14-5 on the road this season. Paul Carey came into Sunday’s contest with 6 points in his last 4 games, and with a few additions back on the Providence, roster looked to keep it intact.

First Period:

With Providence getting their first power play opportunity in the first period, Trent Frederic came off from the bench and made a beautiful two on one pass to defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, his third goal in the last four games.

Springfield looked to get the momentum back in their favor when Jacob McDonald went after Michael Doherty just about halfway through the period, with both receiving matching fighting penalties. The bad blood continued to the very last seconds of the period when all players on both teams gathered in the near side corner of the ice to apply some shoves.

Score: 1-0 Providence

Second Period:

Joel Lowry tied the game for Springfield just 2:17 into the second. After a shorthanded chance by Trent Frederic went off of the post, Lowry went right back the other way with Sebastian Repo and beat Zane McIntyre cleanly. Just a minute and a half later, Anthony Greco continued his goal-scoring streak to give the Thunderbirds took a 2-1 lead. Springfield continues to be ranked in the top ten of the AHL in second period scoring with 73 goals for.

Providence took the deficit and started to fire a flurry of shots towards the Springfield cage. Turnovers lead to great chances by the Bruins forwards but they were all stopped, including an incredibly athletic save by Chris Driedger with just over seven minutes to go.

Score: 2-1 Thunderbirds

Third Period:

With 7:39 to go in the third period, Vincent Praplan scored his first goal as a Springfield Thunderbird after the penalty kill had come up large for most of the period. The forward also had his family in attendance after making a late surprise trip from his native Switzerland. That would be all as far as the Bruins efforts would go as they could not get any more shots past goaltender Chris Driedger. Still, the Bruins managed to get four of a possible six points on the weekend to keep themselves in a playoff position. Providence will rest for the week then be back in action against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who currently sit just outside of a playoff spot.

Final: 3-1 Springfield 

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Bruins Prospect Steen Is Having Career Year In SHL

( Photo Credit: BostonHerald.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins could add one of their better European prospects to the developmental levels as soon as next season. 2016 sixth-round selection Oskar Steen who plays overseas with the Farjestad BK club in the Swedish Hockey League is having a big year and getting heavy praise. Providence Journal Bruins beat writer Mark Divver tweeted out that Steen is heavily considered to represent Team Sweden for this year’s World Championships being played in the cities of Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia which would be a fantastic experience for the developing forward.

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The 20-year-old Karlstad, Sweden native is currently having a career season thus far with 17-20-37 numbers in 44 games and is playing in the last year of his contract with the SHL’s Farjestad club. As Divver mentioned in his above tweet, the 5′-9″ 187-pound forward could sign an entry-level deal during the offseason and place him in the American Hockey League as soon as the 2019-20 season to get him acclimated to the North American game and tighter playing surface.

Steen had seven points in his last three games including a 2-1-3 offensive effort in an 8-3 win on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, 8-3 win against the visiting Mora IK club and contributed two assists today in a Farjestad 4-1 victory over Brynas. To begin the 2018-19 campaign, Oskar had 6-5-11 totals in the first 22 games and after a five-game absence from December 6th, 2018 to December 26th, 2018, the speedy forward has 11-15-26 numbers in his last 20 games.

Below, thedraftanalyst.com’s website founder Steve Kournianos had these words to say about Bruins prospect Oskar Steen in his 2016 Pre NHL Draft Rankings Top 500 Final Rankings article where Steve had him at #80. Check out The Draft Analysts other rankings from the same year in these monthly rankings –> December 2015 Top 250 Steen Ranked #74,  January 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #96, February 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #84, March 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #86, April 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #80 Not bad numbers in my opinion for a sixth rounder.

Steady climber who exploded at the most recent U18 Five Nations in Switzerland. The book is still out on him, but the more he out-produces his peers in best-on-best competitions, the more visible he’ll appear on the draft radar. Steen isn’t a gazelle, but he’s hard to handle during zone entries and cycles. He can also bring a quick and accurate shot.

Now I’m no expert when it comes to evaluating players, but if my opinion is wanted here, we go. Fast forward that protects the puck well in stride which makes him effective all over the ice even in the dirty areas for the undersized player. His speed alone is something to watch especially on the forecheck with his puck tracking capabilities.  If Steen can translate the difference in game style from across the pond, he’ll be a solid addition to an already fast developing core down in Providence under the tutelage of Head Coach Jay Leach.

Oskar is the type of player that I can easily see moving up and down the top nine of the AHL Bruins lineup or at the NHL level a solid fourth liner that not only has speed but adds a little bit of grit and in-your-face forechecking. He has a decent pair of hands that have been on display thus far this season but also has an insanely accurate shot either a quick snapshot or winding up in stride blasting one home.  His creativity in tight spaces I hear was a big reason former NHL Boston player, and now B’s European amateur scout PJ Axelsson was his selling point to B’s management in several pre-draft meetings.

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Steen is ranked 7th in the SHL is overall points and has four remaining games in this regular season before playoffs. The Farjastads BK team has a record of 27-13-6-4 and currently sit second in the league as the 50 game SHL regular season has come to an end. Oskar’s arrival in North America is currently on hold at this point and all going to depend on his efforts and teams success in the attempt to capture a league championship with the playoffs starting shortly.

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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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