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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Kuraly Plays Key Role in Bruins’ Success

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Carrie Salls | Check me out on Twitter @nittgrl73

Sean Kuraly did not score in the Bruins’ 4-0 Eastern Conference Championship-clinching game on Thursday. In fact, he recorded just one shot.

Although the fourth-line center did lead all Boston centers in the game with 18:16 of time on ice, only four fewer seconds than top TOI forward Brad Marchand, one of Kuraly’s biggest contributions to Thursday night’s win may have actually come from his play in the first few games of the series against the Carolina Hurricanes, namely game three.

According to a Tweet from Brian Messenger of NBC 10 Boston, Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff used the play of Kuraly and the other fourth liners as a teaching tool for the team’s first line, frequently dubbed “The Perfection Line.”

The results of that coaching move were evident, as the first line returned to dominant form in the series clincher.

It’s not particularly surprising that Cassidy turned to the game tapes highlighting Kuraly and his linemates to provide some inspiration to first-line stars Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak. The coach has long sung the praises of the ability of 26-year-old Dublin, Ohio, native Kuraly’s speed and his ability to get the puck out of the defensive zone and maintain possession.

Cassidy has also turned to Kuraly’s line on numerous occasions to start games, relying on the line’s high-energy, physical nature.

Throughout what is to date the Bruins’ most successful campaign since 2013, Kuraly’s teammates have recognized his skill and importance to the team, as well.

Of course, Kuraly is no stranger to the playoffs and big-game success. Most Bruins fans got their first real look at just what the former Miami University captain can do in high-stakes games when he burst onto the scene to score the game-tying goal and game-winner in the second overtime period of the first-round playoff game against the Ottawa Senators in April 2017.

Kuraly’s playoff success continued with four points in the 2017-2018 postseason, which ended when the Bruins lost in the division finals round to the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far in the team’s 2018-2019 playoff run, Kuraly has amassed five points, including two goals and three assists, despite the fact that he missed the first four games of the Toronto series while recovering from a broken hand suffered blocking a shot late in the regular season.

Some of number 52’s big-game magic was evident during the regular season this year too, highlighted by the game-winning goal scored against the Buffalo Sabres in the final game in 2018, the eventual game-winner scored in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks and a memorable three-point night against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Jan. 12.

After coming back from the hand injury, it didn’t take long for Kuraly’s big-game presence to be felt in Game 7 against the Leafs, as he scored a crucial goal that gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead and seemed to turn the tide of momentum solidly in Boston’s favor.

In just his second full season as a Boston Bruin and still in the first year of a three-year contract signed in July 2018, Kuraly’s teammates and coaches, and Bruins fans, certainly have reason to be excited about Sean Kuraly’s non-stop energy and big-game prowess.

Star Power, Consistency Amongst Keys To Bruins Defeating Carolina

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(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Last time I wrote an article like this, it was about a more grueling type of series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although this wasn’t an easy series for the Bruins, despite winning it in a four-game sweep over the Carolina Hurricanes, this series had a different feel to it.

I won’t pinpoint every reason why they won the series because praise can go all around, but here are some of the main things that led to the team’s triumph as a whole, with a shot at the Stanley Cup on their minds.

Tuukka Rask is still really good

The list goes on for Rask. Bruce Cassidy even spoke to his focus and the zone he is in after last night’s series-clinching win in game four. The man is locked in. Letting up just five goals to the Canes all series, and stopping 109 of 114 shots had a massive influence on the team’s success. It’s comforting to play in front of a goalie that is playing out of his mind, and Rask surely is.

Team defense has been spectacular

The Bruins have won their last seven playoff games, and have outscored their opponents 29-8 in that span. Eight goals in seven games, that’s mind-boggling. I’m sure Rask would be the first one to tell you that the team defense in front of him as of late has been phenomenal.

Even in the absences of Charlie McAvoy in game one, and Zdeno Chara in game four, the overall defensive structure was pretty rock solid. That speaks to the depth and determination of this group. Rask provided a little more clarity from his perspective after the game last night, he gets into it around the 45-second mark of the video below.

Prowess and on the penalty kill and power play

Carolina’s power play was ineffective against the Bruins, and credit there goes back to Rask, again, and the penalty killing units in front of him. The Canes were 1/14 on the power play against the Bruins, with the lone goal coming three minutes and 42 seconds into the first period of game one.

On the other side of things, the Bruins were 7/15 (46.6%) on the power play. A huge reason as to why they were so successful on the man advantage was the simplicity of the puck movement and shot selection. They were calm and moved the puck efficiently. Their power play struggles when they are not doing those things, which we have seen previously in this playoff run.

The first two goals of game four were on the power play, making it, so Carolina had to play from behind with their backs already up against the wall. Special teams were a serious difference maker.

The top line showed up big-time

Most recently, the top line showed up on each of the four goals in the Bruins’ game four win last night, as shown in the videos above. The top line took some criticism earlier in the playoffs, saw some line juggling take place, and then they responded in a big way.

Game four stats:

Patrice Bergeron: 2G, 1A

Brad Marchand: 1G, 1A

David Pastrnak: 1G, 2A

That helps. One cannot overstate their importance, because the Bruins literally wouldn’t have won the game without them and Rask last night. The top line combined for six goals and eight assists in four games against Carolina, bringing their combined playoff totals to 22 goals and 24 assists in 51 games. That’s really good, can confirm.

Players stepping up in the absences of teammates

First, it was McAvoy in game one. Steven Kampfer slotted in due to McAvoy’s one-game suspension, and even scored the first goal of the series, in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game — and he did it just 2:55 into the first period. What a way to insert yourself into the lineup to fill the shoes of a top line defender in McAvoy.

Chris Wagner and Zdeno Chara were out of the lineup last night, Wagner with a hand/wrist injury due to a blocked shot in game three, and Chara with an undisclosed injury. Noel Acciari and John Moore slotted in due to their absences, and both played solid games last night in one of the team’s better overall performances in the whole postseason, as said by Cassidy after the game.

Sometimes things like that happen, and you need guys to step up, and Kampfer, Acciari, and Moore did when their names were called. The team as a whole was consistently good throughout the majority of the series, and the ‘next man up’ mentality can be credited for that, in part.

Now, the Bruins await the fates of the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks, who square off in game four of the Western Conference Finals tonight. San Jose currently leads the series 2-1. Whoever the opponent is, the Bruins now have some time to decompress until the Stanley Cup Finals roll around.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 4: Boston at Carolina

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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

A trip to the Stanley Cup Finals is on the line for the Boston Bruins tonight in Game Four of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Due in part to the terrific play of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins possess a 3-0 series lead on Carolina and look to close the show here tonight.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: PNC Arena – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Home: Carolina Hurricanes (8-6)

Away: Boston Bruins: (11-5)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 2-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara is not in the lineup for Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Matt Grzelcyk moves up to replace him alongside Charlie McAvoy and John Moore comes into the lineup beside Connor Clifton on the third pairing. Tuukka Rask will be, without previous doubt, the starting goalie for Boston. For the second consecutive game, Curtis McElhinney will start for the Canes.

First Period:

Starting off right away, just over a minute into the game, Matt Grzelcyk gets his stick caught in the skates of a Hurricane forward, resulting in a two-minute minor. Boston’s penalty-kill, even without Chara, did a great job preventing zone entries and even got a shorthanded bid with a Joakim Nordstrom partial breakaway that gets stopped by McElhinney. Penalty killed off successfully.

Early on, Carolina’s shot attempts came often from the point. The Bruins were being fearless on a lot of these shots, getting their bodies in front of the puck and making sure Rask didn’t have to see anything. Good start defensively by the Black and Gold here.

Just around 12 minutes to go, the Bruins get the best chance of the game so far. Brad Marchand’s missed pass goes right to Charlie McAvoy who blasts one to the net. The shot creates a large rebound that goes to Bergeron and then to Marchand again. Marchand’s quick wrister gets gloved by an extended McElhinney.

In a tightly-contested opening frame, the Hurricanes go the penalty box for the first time in Game Four, a slashing call against Nino Niederreiter on Brad Marchand. Marchand may have helped the call by dropping his stick, but there was a clear slash on his hands. Regardless, Boston off to power-play for the first time tonight.

Boston had some really great chances to bury one on the power-play. The best chance came with less than a minute remaining on the man-advantage. Somehow, Patrice Bergeron is wide open in the slot with the puck. Instead of shooting, he fakes the shot and feeds it to Pastrnak who tried to pass him the puck right back but McElhinney’s diving stop prevents it from entering a gaping net.

Charlie Coyle gets whistled down on a weak “interference” call, ending the power-play and forcing the game to briefly go to 4-on-4, followed by a shorter man-advantage for the Canes. Thanks to some solid saves from none other than Tuukka Rask, Boston kills off that call and we return to 5-on-5.

Boston’s top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak get many opportunities to strike in the opening frame but all too often make an extra, unnecessary pass and the play is dissolved from there. More shots on net and the Bruins could very well be up 2-0 here. Nonetheless, we are scoreless after the first twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 10 CAR: 13

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Five minutes into the middle period, the Hurricanes appear to be controlling the play more than Boston. The B’s failed to get the puck out of the zone on numerous attempts and the Canes returned with shots off the rush. However, the Hurricanes get caught with six skaters on the ice at the same time and now face a minor penalty for too-many-men.

On Boston’s second man-advantage of the night, Brad Marchand races into the zone with his head up the entire time, tossing a lead pass for a reaching David Pastrnak and the Bruins get on the board first. McElhinney was convinced that Marchand was going to rip the shot and that expectancy resulted in him being slightly out of position for Pastrnak’s deflection.

Carolina’s edge that they possessed early in the frame was not as evident after the Bruins tally. Boston has had a lot more zone entries and scoring threats on the ice compared to the Canes. The frustration of the Hurricanes may be rising too, as captain Justin Williams shows frustration on a close icing call that he lost. His frustration levels have been on display all series long and he has continually said that he needs to be better. That seems to still be a work in progress.

Late in the period, Carolina has the best zone control of the game by far, passing the puck around the offensive zone but not a single shot made it’s way to Tuukka Rask. The fourth line of Nordstrom, Kuraly and Acciari were on the ice for a really long time and Carolina had their best chance to equal the score. Torey Krug was on the ice for a remarkable 2:57 and Carlo for 2:48.

Greg McKegg takes a hard rush into the zone with the exhausted Krug still on the ice, but the mobile defenceman pokes the puck before it gets to Rask. The cut from McKegg leads to him colliding with Rask in the head and he gets penalized with goaltender interference. On the ensuing power-play, Pastrnak and Bergeron exchange a beautiful give-and-go passing play to strike again, 2-0 Boston. That goal is the 17th goal on the man-advantage throughout the 2018-19 postseason for the B’s.

With that, the second period ends and the Boston Bruins are twenty minutes away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 CAR: 18 (8-4 BOS in 2nd)

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (7) PPG Assists: Marchand (11), Krug (11); Bergeron (7) PPG Assist: Pastrnak (7)

Third Period:

It is quite clear that with a two-goal lead in a possible elimination game for Boston, they are willing to play a defensive final regulation period to close this thing out. Nearly eight minutes in, neither team had a single shot on net. Carolina has taken numerous shots, although, all of their shots are coming from the point and are getting blocked or deflected wide by the bodies in front of Rask.

The best defensive forward in the National Hockey League, Patrice Bergeron creates a scramble in front of McElhinney off of a brilliant forechecking effort, stealing it from the Hurricanes defender and tossing the puck into the slot where Pastrnak hung around. The shot didn’t reach the Carolina goalie, but definitely causes frustration for Carolina.

Just past the halfway mark of the period, the Bruins know that another goal could spell the end of Carolina. With that said, the Bruins stay ferocious on the forecheck, forcing a Carolina turnover in their defensive zone, passing the puck directly to David Pastrnak who makes a clean pass over to Patrice Bergeron for his second of the game, extending Boston’s lead to three.

Justin Williams was visibly upset at the goal, as he felt that the Bruins had iced the puck just seconds before the turnover. However, the replay shows that the puck bounced off of Pastrnak’s stick after he crossed the red line meaning no icing would have been called. In addition, the linesman was right by Pastrnak and he waived off the icing. Just another case of Williams showing frustration after the goal.

Carolina’s Head Coach, Rod Brind’Amour pulled McElhinney with over five minutes left to go and following too many whistles for many different reasons, Brad Marchand races down the ice to bury the empty-net goal, 4-0 Bruins. The Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2013.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 CAR: 24

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 21 Saves, Shutout

2nd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 6 Shots, 16:42 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots

For the 20th time in franchise history, the Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins are Eastern Conference Champions.

Boston Bruins’ Chris Wagner Out

usatsi_12703775.jpg(Photo Credits: USA TODAY Sports photo)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Next man up: It’s a phrase that’s been thrown around the locker room and after last night, the Boston Bruins will once again be tested as they look to sweep the Carolina Hurricanes.  In an all-too familiar scenario, the boys in Black and Gold are down a fourth-line grinder. Bruins Head Coach issued an update this afternoon on Chris Wagner as further testing will be done in Boston.

Late in the third period, as Carolina’s Justin Faulk attempted a slap shot towards a brick wall (aka Tuukka Rask), Wagner instinctively blocked the shot. Unfortunately the puck would end up hitting his exposed arm/wrist,  sending the 27-year-old down on the ice, writhing in pain. The injury sent the forward to the bench initially before heading back to the locker room. Wagner did not return to the game and was seen leaving the arena with an arm sling after the 2-1 win.

Boston Bruins' Chris Wagner (14) and Brandon Carlo (25) celebrate Wagner's goal against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney during the second period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final series in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)(Photo Credits: AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

As expected, the Walpole, MA native was not on the ice at this morning’s practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. Noel Acciari was slotted alongside Jaokim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly. Acciari, like Wagner, has had much success on the fourth-line, which has been a key component in the Bruins success post-season. The 27-year-old Rhode Island native has one goal and one assist this post-season and has not played in the last five playoff games. Prior to the announcement, Coach Cassidy spoke about Wagner:

“I thought he was terrific tonight… Right now I don’t have an update. Not good right now. He came off in a lot of pain”

With Acciari getting the nod to return to the lineup, the injury comes at pivotal time for the Bruins as they could potentially sweep the ‘Canes this coming Thursday at the PNC Arena.  Amidst all the  injuries that have plagued this team all season long, Boston’s resiliency is one of the many reasons why they are one game away from the Stanley Cup Final. Wagner, along with Kuraly, Acciari and Nordstrom have been somewhat the unsung heroes of this team. Unlike last season, where most of the reliance was on the first line, the Bruins have finally found the recipe for their recent success. As Hurricanes Coach Rod Brind’Amour noted:

“I kind of wish they were going off, to be honest with you. I wish we were sitting here going, ‘Man, how do we stop ‘em?’ Because you know eventually they’re going to get on the board and that is a little bit worrisome.

But that’s why they’re a good team. That’s why they’re still playing, that’s why they’re who they are because it’s not really about one line.

Even though they have a great line, they’ve got four good lines that they can roll out there and they’re not afraid to put anyone against anybody and that’s when you know you’ve got a team that’s cooking.”

With Thursday looming and a desperate Hurricanes team waiting in the wings, the Bruins will once again (as Coach Bruce Cassidy perfectly summed up) “need to create the storm”.

 

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 3: Boston at Carolina

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(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Carolina Hurricanes

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Svechnikov – Staal – Teravainen

Niederreiter – Aho – Williams

Foegele – McKegg – McGinn

Ferland – Wallmark – Maenalanen

Defense

Slavin – Hamilton

Pesce –  Faulk

Fleury –  de Haan

Goalies

McElhinney

Mrazek

First Period

Round one in PNC Arena came with high stakes for both teams. Would the Bruins go up 3-0, or would Carolina put the pressure on?

Things started off on a sour note for the Bruins, as the Canes established offensive pressure early, and Teuvo Teravainen somehow missed a wide-open Bruins net. Brandon Carlo then inadvertently gave them a power play as a result of a delay of game call. The power play came just 55 seconds into the period.

The first scrum of the game came after the first whistle on the power play as some real estate in the Bruins heads could be beneficial in making this series interesting. The Bruins killed off the power play in large part thanks to two huge saves by Tuukka Rask in front of the net at the end of the power play on Micheal Ferland and Justin Williams

Carolina’s power-play struggles continued, moving to 5 for 46 after the conclusion of their first man advantage of game three. But, the Canes definitely pushed the pace early on, and Rask stood tall.

The shots were 11-1 Canes through about six and a half minutes. That’s not what you want if you’re the Bruins. At this point, Torey Krug and Justin Williams went off on matching minor penalties, holding for Krug, roughing for Williams, 4-on-4 hockey commenced for two minutes.

The Bruins started to see some good chances come their way at the conclusion of the 4-on-4. The energy was high on both sides in the first period. The high-danger shots were there for Carolina, tasking the Bruins with limiting those going forward if they wanted any chance of winning.

A scoring chance from David Backes, a scrum, and a video review ensued around the halfway point of the period. The principal point of discussion was how the puck crossed the line, but the call stood in favor of the Canes. Shortly after, Williams ate another poop sandwich and was the only one in the penalty box after another altercation with Krug.

Just 45 seconds into the power play, Jake DeBrusk went off for slashing, creating a 4-on-4 for 1:15. That wasn’t all, as six seconds later, David Krejci made it 4-on-3 thanks to a high-sticking penalty. Even after the man advantage became a 5-on-3 for a little bit, the Canes failed to convert, and Rask looked solid again.

A big scrum ensued after another huge save from Rask, keeping with the trend, on Maenalanen. Former Minnesota Wild teammates Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter even went after it. Coyle, Krug, and Maenalanen went to the box following the scrum, Carolina came out with a 5-on-4. Stop if you’ve heard this before, Rask played awesome on the penalty kill and held the Canes scoreless.

The Krug and Williams fiasco extended into the final two minutes, as Williams intentionally went up high and Krug and sat for two as a result.

The Bruins failed to score on the man advantage before the end of the period, but had the 27 remaining seconds bled into the second period for the Bruins. Overall, it was an ugly period, with the final shots sitting at 20-6.

Here’s a visual:

Not great, despite the Bruins winning 61% of the faceoffs. I can’t imagine Bruce Cassidy was very happy with anyone in the locker room, besides Rask.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

The Bruins gave themselves and Rask a pick me up early in the second period. Joakim Nordstrom took a hit to make a play, leading to Sean Kuraly finding Chris Wagner out front to give the Bruins a one-goal lead. The goal made Wagner and Matt Grzelcyk the co-leaders in goals for the series, on both teams — just as everyone expected. Wagner’s second was assisted by Nordstrom (3) and Kuraly (2). What a shift from the fourth line.

Good fortune continued to come the Bruins’ way in the form of a Niederreiter high-sticking penalty on Krejci.

The Bruins made no mistake this time on the power play. Brad Marchand walked into the slot and backhanded on off of Calvin de Haan and in. Marchand’s sixth made it 2-0 Bruins, assisted by David Pastrnak (7) and Krejci (6). The effort level in the second period took a big leap for the Bruins. Krejci’s assist gave him his 100th career playoff point, tying him with Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk for third-most in Bruins history.

Just seven seconds before the halfway point, Backes was high-sticked by Ferland to give the Bruins another power play.

Don’t let de Haan’s goal distract you from the fact that Rask did this. But that’s one that Rask wants back. 2-1 Bruins with 6:12 to go.

This happened too.

Things went much better in more areas than not for the Bruins this time around. The final shots for the period were 18-6 Bruins in the second, moving the totals to 26-24 Carolina overall. A huge third period awaited both teams

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

This time, de Haan found his way into the spotlight for a tripping penalty 3:43 into the period. The Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into this one, with eight shots.

A point hammer from Krug found its way in, but DeBrusk made contact with McElhinney as a result of a collision with Jaccob Slavin as McElhinney was headed towards the outside of the crease. This had to have been a tough call for the officials, but they ruled in favor of the Canes. The score remained 2-1.

Make of that what you will.

The misfortune continued for the Bruins as Grzelcyk went off for interference with 14:22 to go in the period. Rask continued to make big saves and the Bruins killed off the penalty, making the Canes 0/5 on the power play.

Things were pretty back-and-forth for the rest of the period, at times. Wagner took a Justin Faulk slapshot off his hand and went to the locker room in the final three minutes of the period.

McElhinney was pulled for the extra attacker just around the two-minute mark. The final shots were 36-31 Canes, 10-7 in the period. The final tally was 35 saves for Rask in an epic showing from him, yet again. The Bruins take a three-game lead in the series in a hectic one. Next up is game four on the road again on Thursday at 8 PM ET.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

From Non-Factor to X-Factor: Bruins Third Line Coming Up Huge In Playoffs

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(Photo Courtesy of John Tlumacki / Boston Globe Staff)

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Boston Bruins find themselves in the middle of a long playoff run, and while there are many different factors that have led to this, one of the biggest x-factors that fueled this run is the play of the third line, and the players that make up that third-line. Going into the season, if someone told you the Bruins would make it at least to the Eastern Conference Final, and that third-line was going to be a big part of that, you would probably think that person was nuts, but here we are. Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen have played great hockey over the last few weeks, and they’ve really shown that they can hold the secondary scoring mantle. Secondary scoring was also a big problem for the boys in black and gold with many local and national media personalities telling us that while the first-line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is elite, the team needed more balance on all lines.

With that balance needed, and the younger internal options never fully emerging the Bruins turned to the trade market to fortify the third-line. The guy that Boston turned to was Charlie Coyle. They traded Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Coyle. Then a few days later, the Bs traded a second and fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Marcus Johansson. Now, Coyle looked strong, and the Bruins seemed to finally solve the third-line center position, but Johansson was initially tried out on the second-line. Then only a few games into his tenure with the spoked B he took a hard hit from Carolina Hurricanes’ winger Micheal Ferland, which bruised the New Jersey Devils’ lung. As a result, we never were able to fully see what Boston’s new additions could do.

Even after Johansson came back from injury, he still needed time to fully show what he could do. Heading into the playoffs, Charlie Coyle had fully stabilized the third-line center position, and Johansson was still working to find his niche on the team. Even after game one of the first round of the playoffs against Toronto, the Bruins sat the Sweden native for games two and three. Since then, however, both Coyle and Johansson have been a force to be reckoned with these playoffs. Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal even pointed out that Johansson and Coyle combined in the playoffs have netted nine goals and dished out 12 assists for 21 total points, and they’ve generated 25 individual high-danger scoring chances. Individually, Charlie Coyle has netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points, Marcus Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points, and the final member of the third-line Danton Heinen has netted two goals while dishing out five assists for seven total points.

To top all of that off, over the past five games that they’ve played together the three players have netted a combined four goals while dishing out a combined nine assists for 13 total points. To take it a step further, the 13 points in five games accounts for 21% of the points scored in those games. All five of those games have resulted in a Bruins victory.  Not only are these guys scoring, but they are also driving play when they are the ice which is one of the most important things, especially in the playoffs. A lot of fans were critical of Don Sweeney at the trade deadline stating that the trades getting Coyle and Johansson would not be enough to get past Tampa Bay and win a Stanley Cup. Luckily for Boston, Columbus took care of Tampa Bay for them, and their acquisitions are playing a large part in the Bruins being two wins away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

The Boston Bruins third-line has gone from a non-factor to an x-factor this long playoff run. They’ve become such a big strength that you have to consider re-signing Marcus Johansson in the off-season if the price is right. It seems like whenever he has the puck, he has a chance of making a big play. The play of the third line has been an absolute joy to watch, and Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson have become some of my favorite players to watch these playoffs. If Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson can keep up their high level of play, then the Bruins’ chances of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June are very good.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of this playoff run. Feel free to leave questions or comments on my Twitter and Go, Bs, Go!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 2: Carolina at Boston: 5/12/19

5SPR6NJXUZGTBA6SDF7ELNNFPAPhoto Courtesy Of MassLive.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (9-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-4)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The game got off to a hard hitting start as Micheal Ferland had a big hit on Matt Grzelcyk in the early going. The Hurricanes had a solid start to the game with a few chances against Tuukka Rask but the goaltender stood tall. The Bruins had trouble in the opening minutes with turnovers but the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage. The Bruins began to find a rhythm in the offensive zone after a flurry of chances by the Bergeron line. The Hurricanes continued to be physical from the start as it seemed to be their game plan for Game 2.

Carolina would pick up the first power play of the game as Zdeno Chara went to the box for tripping with about eight minutes remaining in the period. The Bruins killed off the penalty despite the Hurricanes solid puck movement on the man advantage. After a slick feed from Marcus Johansson, Grzelcyk slipped a wrist shot past Petr Mrazek to give the Bruins the late first period lead.

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The Bruins seemed to get a jolt from the goal as they looked to be a lot more comfortable especially in their own zone. Boston would pick up their first power play late in the period as Justin Williams went to the box. Jake DeBrusk made it 2-0 just six seconds into the man advantage as he buried a rebound in front.

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Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go back to the penalty kill just over a minute into the second period as Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping. The B’s would kill off the penalty as the Hurricanes failed to muster much offensive zone time on the man advantage. Connor Clifton made it 3-0 Boston after another outstanding setup by Johansson just under four minutes into the middle period.

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The Bruins continued to push incredibly hard after the goal as they looked to impose their will. The Bruins continued to be very solid defensively as they didn’t allow Carolina to maintain an offensive rhythm as they looked to get back into the game. The Hurricanes continued to try to be physical towards the end of the second period but didn’t seem to be making much of a difference.

Chris Wagner was called for holding with just over six minutes left in the period as the Hurricanes looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins killed it off as Rask continued to have another strong game with a couple big stops during the man advantage. Boston would then go to the power play shortly after the kill as Williams was called for roughing. Grzelcyk made it two goals on the afternoon with a sweet backhand shot past Mrazek to make it 4-0 on the power play with about two minutes left in the period.

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Score: 4-0 Bruins

Third Period

Mrazek stayed in the net to start the third period in a slightly puzzling move but it was clear the Hurricanes were willing to roll the dice. Just over a minute into the period, David Backes stashed in a loose puck to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.

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About a minute after the goal, Bergeron was called again for tripping as the Hurricanes tried to desperately stay in the game. The Bruins killed off the penalty once again with almost no resistance and on the ensuing rush, Danton Heinen scored off of a great feed from Bergeron to make it 6-0.

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Williams made it a five goal game with a nice deflection on a shot by Justin Faulk with under nine minutes to go.

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After a bad misplay by Rask, Teuvo Teravainen buried the loose puck to give Carolina something to be happy about going into Game 3.

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Final Score: 6-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Grzelcyk. Perhaps the best player on the ice in this game, the young defenseman was everywhere and even took advantage of some scoring chances as he scored twice.

Second Star: Johansson. Another great game for the winger from Sweden who continues to potentially play his way into a new contract with the Bruins.

Third Star: Rask. While not incredibly busy, Tuukka was very solid especially when the game was still in the balance.

Bruins Prospect Lauko Helps Huskies Win Second League Title

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues Rouyn-Noranda captured the second league championship in the clubs existence with a victory last night over the Halifax Mooseheads from the Scotiabank Center in front of 9,602 hockey fans. The Huskies capped off a tremendous record-breaking 2018-19 campaign bringing the Dogs to a regular season record of 59-8-0-1 and 119 points. This year’s QMJHL postseason had the Huskies on a mission beating Shawinigan in the first-round 4-2, back-to-back sweeps in the second and third round of Victoriaville and Rimouski respectfully, to raising the teams second champion in four years with a 4-2 final round series victory over Halifax.

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Boston Bruins prospect and Huskies forward Jakub Lauko played very well in the 2019 playoffs posting 6-7-13 numbers in 19 games played. Although he was a key member of the Huskies success in the regular season posting 21-20-41 numbers in 44 games in his rookie season right into the postseason, he was unable to participate in last night game due to injury.  After scoring a goal in the first period of game five, the 19-year-old Czech Republic native sustained an injury later in that game which had both sides very cautious moving onto game six. The third-round selection of the NHL Bruins gave a solid effort in last night’s pregame skate but was unable to make the gameday lineup. He was in fact on the ice afterward for the championship festivities to celebrate with ownership and fellow teammates.

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Next stop for Lauko (health permitted) and his Rouyn-Noranda club is the annual Memorial Cup tournament this year held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The round-robin festivities get started on Friday, May 17th, 2019, and end on May 26th. All tournament games will be played at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax a place the Huskies know quite well. The four-team tournament is compiled of league champions from the Canadian Hockey Leagues top major junior clubs in the Ontario Hockey League, QMHL, and the Western Hockey League. The Host city who wins the bid always gets a free pass into these games regardless of where they sit after the regular season or postseason success.

It remains to be seen what kind of injury the young Bruins prospect sustained and whether he’ll be able to participate in the popular tournament starting this weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of getting locker room interviews with him at last summers Bruins Development Camp which was held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts for the second straight year after leaving the Rissutcia Memorial facilities a place the B’s practiced and trained for over 30 years.

In my opinion, Lauko is a very skilled player with tremendous upside and glad he and the Bruins organization agreed on a three-year entry-level contract shortly after the B’s drafting him and seeing what kind of player they have on their hands a Dev Camp. Another great decision was to place him in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda club, a place Lauko was selected in the 2017 CHL import draft where he went 107th overall in the second-round. Not saying a return to his home country for further development would be a bad idea or hurt his development, but rather placing him in North America to get used to the smaller ice surface before making the jump up to the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins or even if he’s lucky enough to secure a spot on the National Hockey League Boston Bruins roster in the next year or two.

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I know many fans and followers of Jakub want to see him rise to the highest level in the world, but after contacting local scouts in the area, many have said he has NHL speed but he’s a work-in-progress and his development shouldn’t be rushed.  One a May 4th,2019 episode of The Pipeline Show Podcast ( Highly Recommended Follow/Subscribe ) hosted by Guy Flaming the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies broadcast voice Jean-Paul Charlesbois mentioned in the show below that Lauko has NHL speed with great hands and an accompanying shot but there are areas that he needs to work on respectfully before making the jump to the NHL that so many want to see sooner than later.

A few evaluations that caught my attention in this interview with Jean-Paul was the mention of defensive skills improvement and the fact that he wasn’t “keen” on the idea of being taught a two-way North American style game which he has since accepted and adjusted over his rookie season into this year’s playoffs. He may have NHL speed and good hands but the mention of better puck handling skills to me at least screams he’s not ready for the NHL quite yet. The interview with Huskies broadcaster starts at the 16:24 mark and ends at the 32:00 minutes of the show below if you want to hear for yourselves.

Lauko who signed a three-year, entry-level on September 28th, 2019, is eligible for a return to Rouyn-Noranda to continue his development and work on those attributes mentioned in the podcast above. or he has the potential to possibly be moved up to the AHL to play in Providence. Regardless of his placement next season, I’d like to see one more year of him in the QMJHL, then a full season in the AHL before full-time NHL duties. B’s forward Jake DeBrusk is a perfect example that I gravitate to when thinking about the importance of taking your time with the developing youth and give them a season in Providence.  I’m no expert or fortune teller but it’s hard for me to think that Jake DeBrusk would go onto have a successful rookie season without the experience and guidance of his time with the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL B’s.

The Quiet MVP: Bruins David Krejci

Screenshot_20190508-091222-01(Photo Credits: Causeway Crowd/Twitter)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Ask any Bruins player and they will tell you that this team plays for each other- a key factor for their continued success in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Throughout the regular season, some have set benchmarks in Bruins history, whether it be Marchand’s 100-point season, to Tuukka Rask’s surpassing Tiny Thompson’s record of all-time wins by a Bruins goaltender. But there’s one player that has low-key been having one of his best seasons wearing a spoked-B jersey, so much so that Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney has called him the “underlying MVP to our season.”

Image result for david Krejci(Photo Credits: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

IT’S ALWAYS THE QUIET ONES

He may not be flashy on the ice, but David Krejci plays where it’s needed and with a gritty performance in Game Six against Columbus, the 33-year-old Czech native has accumulated 16 points in series-clinching games (second in Bruins history). And luckily for Boston, he has managed to play the entire season healthy and because of that, the team is able to get some great offensive play from the center-forward.  Whether it be a snipe pass to his ever-changing linemates, to setting up one-timers, Krejci is there. Quietly calculating his next move.

And let’s talk about the revolving door on that second line. Just who would be playing alongside his wing? Would it fellow Czech David Pastrnak? How about Danton Heinen or would it be Jake DeBrusk that’s slotted next to the veteran? Different line combinations were thrown Krejci’s way and he simply rolled with it. He scored, he set up plays, and did exactly what any good player would do in his situation: he adapted and it worked to the benefit of his teammates.

Image result for david KrejciKim Klement/USA Today Sports

Prior to this post-season run, Krejci tied a career-high with 73 points in 81 games. If you look back to 2011 and 2013, he led in scoring during the post-season (and as we all know the Bruins won the Cup in 2011). Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney offered some key observations about Krejci:

“He was healthy this year…working on his nutrition, working on his training and evolving as a player as you get older and that’s something you have to do…He deserves a lot of credit for where we are as an organization, and he’s generally played his best hockey in the playoffs, so that’s exciting for our group a well.”

Scoring depth has been a residual issue, particularly from last year’s post-season run that saw the Bruins exit the second round of the Playoffs. The Bergeron line led most of the team’s production, but as with many things, you need other lines producing in order to compete at a high level, especially when you’re talking Playoffs. With a healthy Krejci down the middle on the second line and coupled with the emergence of the fourth line, the Bruins are looking good. Really good.

MAKING SOME HISTORY

In the series-clinching Game Six against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Krejci got the Bruins on board, netting his 97th career post-season point. With that stat, he is now fifth in Bruins history to reach that marker and joins an elite group:

Ray Bourque (161)

Phil Esposito (102)

Rick Middleton (100)

Johnny Bucyk (100)

The Czech native now has 10 points in his last 11 games and as the Bruins continue to play further deep into the Playoffs, Krejci’s stats should only get better. Aside from his playmaking decisions, the 13-year veteran also has another special quality that the younger players can look up to. Offering more insight into Krejci’s mindset going into these games,  Head Coach Bruce Cassidy had this to say:

“I think it’s his composure. Guys are playing at a higher pace out there so its a higher physicality so everything is ratcheted up, there’s noise all night. He’s got that ability to block that stuff out…he can slow the game down. At this time of the year, it’s even that much more important to stay within yourself, stay composed and make the plays in front of you. He’s just real good at it.”

Image result for david Krejci(Photo Credits: Jay LaPrete, AP)

The Bruins have their eyes on the prize and as the pressure continues to mount, this team will need to play with a higher level of discipline and Krejci is that guy to deliver it:

“I just want to go out there and help the team whatever way it is to help the team win…we don’t need any heroes, we just want to do it as a team.”

Go B’s.