Bruins Recall Maxime Lagace On Emergency Basis, Assign Dan Vladar

48997856213_634f10468e_o-8717136377.jpg

(Photo: Providence Bruins)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced on Friday that the team has assigned goaltender Dan Vladar to the Providence Bruins, and recalled goaltender Maxime Lagace on an emergency basis. Vladar was recalled earlier this week after goaltender Tuukka Rask went down with what head coach Bruce Cassidy labeled a concussion.

Vladar served as backup to Jaroslav Halak in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. The 22-year-old holds a 6-5-0 record with a 1.84 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage two shutouts in 12 AHL contests this season.

Lagace has been strong with the P-Bruins this season since signing a one-year, $700,000 contract over the offseason. Through 23 AHL appearances this season, the 27-year-old boasts a 14-6-2 record to go along with five shutouts, a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage. This is the first time the club has recalled him this season.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound netminder was with the Vegas Golden Knights organization over the course of the last two seasons, spending time with both the big club in Vegas and the team’s AHL-affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. In 17 career NHL appearances, Lagace holds a .868 save percentage and a 3.92 GAA. In 184 games in the AHL over his career, Lagace has a .904 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA.

The Bruins will return to action on Sunday as they will travel to Pittsburgh for a matinee rematch with the Penguins. Puck-drop is slated for 12:30 pm.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins Recall Vladar, Providence Gets Netminder On Loan

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Word through the pipeline late this evening is that the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins have recalled goaltender Dan Vladar from their top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. In 12 games this season with the American Hockey League club from Rhode Island, Vladar has a 2019-20 regular-season record of 6-5-0, a 1.84 goals-against-average, a .935 save percentage along with two shutouts. Since his return from a high ankle sprain in early December of 2019, the former 2015 third-round selection has been on top of his game after spending time rehabilitating with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham and many hours of video sessions.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

With the departure of Vladar to the higher NHL for coverage, the Providence Bruins have accepted a loan from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies for netminder Martin Ouellette. The 28-year-old Ouellette played for the Boston Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators this season but has most recently been playing with the Utah club. The journeyman goalkeeper was a 2010 Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick but has spent a majority of his minor-pro career in the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers organization.

In ten games with Atlanta, this season he’s posted a record of 4-6-0 with a GAA of 3.74 and .874 Save% in ten games to posting an 11-1-2 record with the Utah club contributing with a 2.11 GAA and .924 Save%. He had a pretty decent NCAA career at the University of Maine where he might’ve received positive praise from the aforementioned Mike Dunham who also spent time in a Black Bears Jersey back in the day.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins’ Rask Suffers Concussion In Loss At Columbus

EOSQ4w-VAAE377I.jpeg

(Photo: Jamie Sabeu / National Hockey League / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Just 1:12 into the first period of Boston’s 3-0 loss at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask took a punch to the side of the head from Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom, who did not receive a penalty on the play. Rask had to leave the game and did not return; following the contest, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Rask sustained a concussion from the play.

Rask has a history of dealing with concussions and migraine issues. This instance comes almost a year (360 days, to be exact) after the 32-year-old suffered a concussion after taking the worst of a hard collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil in a game at TD Garden last season.

This season, in 28 appearances, Rask has a 17-4-6 record to go along with a 2.27 goals-against average (fifth-best in the league) and a .925 save percentage (fifth-highest) en route to being selected to the Atlantic Division All-Star team. On Monday, the Finn announced that he would forgo All-Star Weekend in order to get some extra rest and time with his family.

While no announcement has been made as to who the Bruins might call up, Providence Bruins netminder Maxime Lagace, who has a record of 14-6-2, five shutouts, a 2.49 GAA, and .915 save percentage in the AHL this season, seems like the most likely option. Providence’s, Dan Vladar, who is 6-5-0 with two shutouts, a 1.94 GAA, and a .935 save percentage, is also an option. Goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser, who is with the Atlanta Gladiators Boston’s ECHL-affiliate, is out with a concussion.

The Bruins will return to action on Thursday, Jan. 16, as they will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Puck-drop is slated for 7:00 pm.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins’ Rask To Forgo 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend

ap-12-23-19-tuukka-rask-bruins-vs-washington-capitals-1577741231.jpg

(Photo: Winslow Townson / AP Photo)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will not participate in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, as announced by NHL Public Relations. Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevsky will replace Rask at the festivities on All-Star Weekend.

Rask spoke to the media on Monday evening before Boston’s visit with the Philadelphia Flyers, saying it was a tough decision that he put a lot of thought into. While the goaltender noted that it was an honor to be selected to the Atlantic Division All-Star team, he emphasized that he made his decision in order to get extra rest and time with his family.

“I had to be kind of selfish, thinking how much hockey we played last year, the short summer, wanting to play into June again, and [All-Star Weekend] falling right in the middle of our bye week.” Rask said to the media. “It was a selfish decision to go spend time with my family and get the mind and body rejuvenated.”

As is the case with players who decide to forgo All-Star Weekend after being voted in, Rask will be mandated by the NHL to serve a one-game suspension in the Bruins’ last game before the break or the first game following the break. Rask acknowledged the suspension during his media availability, saying it will probably be after the break.

The 32-year-old Finn also said that the organization supported his decision. In 27 appearances this season, Rask holds a 17-4-6 record to go along with a 2.27 goals-against average (fifth-best in the league) and a .925 save percentage (fifth-highest).

The Bruins will take on the Flyers on the road on Monday night at 7:00 pm before visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. Jaroslav Halak will get the nod in goal on Monday, while Rask is expected to start in Tuesday’s contest, per head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

AHL Bruins Goaltender Vladar Has Been Stellar Since Return To Providence

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season didn’t exactly get off on the right foot for Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar in his second full season with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins. After starting the campaign with a 1-1-0 record, a 2.99 goals-against-average, and .888 save percentage things would progressively get worse in his third appearance of the year.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

On October 16th, 2019, the Providence club was in Laval, Quebec to play in game one of a four-game road trip against the host Laval Rocket the minor-pro affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Veteran netminder Max Lagace got the start this night giving up four goals in the first period. To start the second frame, Providence Head Coach Jay Leach opted to take the struggling Lagace out of the game in favor of the fresh Vladar on the bench in hopes of an offensive spark. Netminder Vladar would go onto make eight saves in the second period but to end the middle frame the former 2015 third-round selection would need relief himself. Vladar went down with a lower-body injury and would need help off the ice from fellow teammates and Providence trainer prompting the AHL Bruins to back to Lagace to finish the game.

Further medical evaluations concluded that Vladar suffered a high ankle sprain and was listed as week-to-week. Dan would spend a better part of six weeks on the shelf recovering from his injury but used the downtime to his advantage working with training staff along with longtime Boston Bruins goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham who’s entering his third season with the B’s franchise.

( Photo Credit: Alan Sullivan Photography )

The Athletic Bruins beat writer Joe McDonald spent a day in Providence on December 15th, 2019, and unveiled some interesting information when he had the chance to interview Vladar. In the article from McDonald, aforementioned goalie coaches Essensa and Dunham spent a great deal of time with the 22-year-old as he recovered watching countless hours of video fine-tuning the netminders game ultimately finding that the Czech Republic native was too active in the crease and needed to minimize his movements to be better prepared. All quotes below from McDonald’s December 16th “Down On Th Farm” article can be found HERE or click the hyperlinked quotes below to direct you to the originator.

“I don’t think I had the greatest camp, so it was something I needed to work on,” Vladar said. “I felt good physically, but the pucks weren’t hitting me and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. (Spending time with Dunham) helped and so far it’s working really well. A lot of pucks can hit me and that’s what I’m trying to do more and more, and I feel comfortable every single game.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

On November 27th, 2019, The Boston Bruins sent Vladar to the organization’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators for a conditioning stint to test his return to professional hockey from an injury that commonly takes a while especially when it comes to goaltenders. Dan got the victory over the visiting Norfolk Admirals giving up two goals in a 4-2 Atlanta win. That was apparently enough for the Providence Bruins staff to see as the AHL club recalled Vladar to join them on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina to finish up a short three-game road trip against the Charlotte Checkers.

Dan was spectacular in his return stopping all 36 Checkers shots for his first shutout of the season and a game that would start a tremendous return with all accolades gravitating back to the tutelage and wisdom of Essensa and Dunham. Vladar would need just three more games to earn his second shutout of the season when he blanked cross border and Atlantic Division rival Springfield Thunderbirds in a 5-0 victory stopping all 42 shots he faced. Although the 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder looks to be completely healthy, he had this to say to McDonald after the game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island below.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

“I felt great,” Vladar said. “It’s always easier for a goalie when you face that many shots. I felt really good. It was one of those nights where I saw the puck really well and felt like everything was hitting me. It’s a long season though, it’s nice, but I’m not getting too high from it.”

“To be honest, I can still feel it a little bit,” Vladar said of his ankle. “I’m doing treatment every day and (trainers) are keeping an eye on it.”

Since Vladar’s return from injury at the beginning of December, the second-highest ranked goaltender in his draft year (European Netminders Only) of 2015, has posted a record of 3-2-0 and compiled impressive 0.99 GAA, and .954 Save% numbers in that timeframe. His overall record for this season is still a respectable 4-3-1 record with a 1.49 GAA and .945 Save%. Dan’s AHL career numbers of 23-18-6, a 2.48 GAA, a .911 Save% along with five career No-No tells me he’s certainly stepped up a level in maturity as he continues to develop and from this small sample size since his return from the said high ankle sprain, I’d expect him to have a stellar season in the remaining games working alongside Max Lagace.

( Photo Credit: Gregory Vasil / Getty Images )

Lagace who’s contributed his own stellar play in his first season with the Boston Bruins organization since signing a one-year, two-way free-agent contract in the early month of July 2019, has been a solid mentor for the younger members of the crease with of course Vladar being around along with appearances from Kyle Keyser and Sean Bonar who was up from Atlanta lightening the workload with so many injuries. While the Boston Bruins don’t exactly look like gangbusters when talking about ranking the NHL’s best goaltending depths, its good to know that the organization will be in good hands with Essensa and Dunham at the helm to offer advice with the proper tools for the continued development of future netminders.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Celebrating A Bruins’ 500th Career Game

( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Jaroslav Halak celebrated his 500th career NHL game on December 9, 2019, at the TD Garden. The Bruins hosted the stingy Carolina Hurricanes on a snowy night. The game featured a lackluster offensive showing on both sides. Neither team found a quality scoring chance until four minutes left in the third. The Bruins scored two goals in two minutes, one of which earned David Krejci his 200th career NHL goal. A shutout for a goalie in any game is satisfying, but earning his 49th career shutout in the 500th career game speaks volumes to Halak’s 14-year career.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The Slovakian was drafted 271st overall in the 2003 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Halak’s draft position is unique today because 2003 was the second to last year the draft featured nine rounds. In 2005, the NHL decreased the round total from nine to seven, which still reigns true today. The 2003 draft also featured a number of goaltenders who still play in today’s game. Marc-Andre Fleury (selected first overall), Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, and Brian Elliot. Jaroslav’s draft position warranted some time to play in the American Hockey League. Halak was called up for 16 games in 2006 to back up Montreal’s starter Cristobal Huet. Halak began appearing regularly in the NHL in 2008, where he and (current Montreal starter) Carey Price split time. Montreal drafted Carey Price fifth overall in the 2005 draft with the plan that he would be their long-time starter, which has come to fruition. This sealed Halak’s services in Montreal. A week before the 2010 NHL draft, the Canadiens traded Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

Before Halak, the St. Louis Blues’ goaltending situation was a constant merry-go-round of players. The Blues did not have a four-year tenured starter since Brent Johnson from 1999 to 2004. They desperately needed a goalie who could handle the workload of a starter. After trading for Halak in 2010, the Blues offered a four-year, $15 million deal. His first season with St. Louis yielded a fourth-place position in their division, missing the playoffs. The following year, Halak posted an exceptional 1.97 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, earning him and fellow teammate, Brian Elliot, the William M. Jennings Award (fewest goals against in 25 minimum games).

The two could not continue their fewest goals feat against the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings, in the 2012 semi-finals. Additionally, the following two years the Blues exited the playoffs in the first round. Suddenly, Halak’s days in St. Louis were dwindling.

The Blues drafted Jake Allen 34th overall in the 2008 NHL draft. Within the organization, Allen was primed to guard the team’s blue paint for the foreseeable future, which made Halak expendable. In a mammoth deal during Halak’s final contract year, the Blues sent Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 1st-round pick, and 2016 3rd-round pick to Buffalo for 2009 Vezina Winner Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. Buffalo flipped Halak and a 2015 3rd-round pick to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Michal Neuvirth and forward Rostislav Klesla. Jaroslav only played 12 games with the Capitals before they shipped him to the New York Islanders for a 2014 4th-round pick.

Halak and the Islanders agreed on a 4-year, $18 million deal in 2014. He started in 59 games his first year with the Isles, leading the team to second place in their division. The Isles, unfortunately, experienced another first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In 2016, for the third time in his career, Halak split playing time with another goalie, Thomas Greiss. Neither could help the struggling Islanders, and they finished fifth in the Metropolitan Division in 2016. The 2017 season didn’t fare any better as the Islanders allowed the most shots and goals against. The Islanders finished with 2,918 shots against and 293 goals against for the year, which equates to 35.5 and 3.5 a game, respectively. Halak performed the best he could with what he had, once posting a 50-save shutout against the New York Rangers.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Unfortunately, Halak could not give these heroic performances all year and the team finished seventh in their division. Halak found himself looking for a new home after finishing the season with an abysmal 3.19 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

Don Sweeney, current Bruins General Manager, had been looking for a consistent and reliable back up for Tuukka Rask for a few years. Rask is at his best in the playoffs when his playing time is managed. The Bruins just came off of a second-round exit in the 2017 playoffs after running into a buzz saw in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their back up goalie, Anton Khudobin, received a sizable raise from the Dallas Stars that the Bruins were unwilling to match. Sweeney called Halak on the first day of free agency and struck a deal for 2-years, $5.5 million. Halak brought a starting goaltender resume and could relieve pressure from Rask. Halak appeared in 40 games in the 2018-2019 season posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Not only did he provide Rask much-needed rest, but he also added a little flair to his starts.

Fast-forward to the current season: Halak and Rask have split time almost evenly. Rask has appeared in 17 games thus far versus Halak’s 11. Halak still hovers in the 2.14 goals-against average and .934 save percentage range in these 11 games. The two have been a large reason why the Bruins are sitting atop the league’s standings.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The Bruins finally have two reliable goaltenders and can start either one with confidence. There is a thought around the league that goaltending tandems could become more common in the playoffs, and the Bruins would benefit immensely.

Halak is currently in his final contract year with the Bruins. The team has three goaltending prospects in the system that are working their way into NHL game-shape. None of the three are considered NHL-ready as of this season, so the Bruins could look to extend Halak. Those within the organization can estimate if a prospect is ready to take the leap, but Sweeney will be cautious. The Bruins have rarely benefited from employing a reliable back-up who could give Rask numerous games off. The two biggest obstacles in keeping Halak, however, are other NHL teams’ needs and Halak’s salary demands.

If Halak continues his strong play throughout the season and maybe the playoffs, he could be looking at a larger raise than Khudobin received from Dallas. Will Sweeney be willing to offer that, given the salary cap constraints if a prospect isn’t ready? NHL organizations are always looking for a formidable goaltender and Halak’s resume fits the mold. If he continues to post legitimate goalie stats, NHL teams will be calling on July 1. Bruins fans have come to love Halak with his acrobatic saves and reliability. Hopefully, Bruins fans see more of #41 and his play yields more than a playoff exit. Congratulations to an incredible feat of 500 games and here’s to many more

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 157 that we recorded on 12-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Prospect Swayman Named Hockey East Defensive Player Of The Week

Jeremy-Swayman-1

(Photo Credit: Peter Buehner)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week. This past weekend Swayman had two stellar performances, leading Maine to two wins. The junior from Anchorage, Alaska, and his fellow Black Bears faced off against Hockey East rival UNH twice at Alfond Arena in Orono.

Friday night Swayman stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced and led Maine to a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats. New Hampshire was coming off a big win over 2nd-ranked Massachusetts and they came out of the gate quickly, going on the PP at 5:20 of the first. Maine managed to kill the penalty off, but seven seconds after they were all square, Junior forward Kohei Sato put UNH up 1-0.

In the 2nd period, UNH outshot Maine 12-9, but Swayman stopped all 12 shots and the Black Bears were able to take the lead with two goals of their own. More of the same in the 3rd period with UNH putting 12 more on Swayman without denting the twine, and Maine getting one goal on nine shots to close it out. All-in-all, Swayman stopped 28 consecutive shots after giving up the only score on the 3rd shot of the game.

Saturday night figured to be a spirited contest with the Wildcats loaded for Bear (pun intended) after their loss the night before. Instead, Maine came out and had the better of the early play, aided by an early power play. Once UNH killed the penalty, they seemed to get their skating legs under them. They ripped off the next nine shots in a row (including a PP) with Swayman stopping them all.

Maine had the better of the play in the 2nd period, outshooting UNH 14-9, but the Wildcats had the only goal on the PP with Angus Crookshank tipping a Kalle Eriksson shot past Swayman about halfway through the session. The score after two periods was UNH 1-0, with Swayman stopping 19 out of 20 shots.

Just like the night before, Swayman would allow only the one goal. In the 3rd period, he blanked the Wildcats, stopping all ten shots he faced, keeping the Black Bears in the game. At the 17:23 mark, UNH took a roughing penalty and with less than a minute to go, Maine’s Tim Doherty evened the game at 1-1. In OT, Swayman stopped both UNH shots allowing teammate Ryan Smith to bury the game-winner at 2:11 of the extra period.

For the weekend, Swayman faced 63 shots altogether, allowing just the two goals, for an absolutely ridiculous .968 save percentage. This raised his percentage for the season to .946 through the first 12 games of the season. Because of Swayman’s stellar play early this year, the Black Bears have gotten off to a surprising 7-3-2 start, putting them near the top of the Hockey East standings. After carrying the team to a weekend sweep of one of their league rivals, it was no surprise that he was honored with the Defensive Player of the Week award, his first of the season.

By the time this is published, Maine will have lost to Northeastern 5-2 on Friday evening. A rough outing for Swayman, allowing five goals on twenty-two shots. By all accounts, he actually played well but was as they say, “hung out to dry” on multiple occasions. I have no doubt that Swayman will bounce back tonight when the two teams meet again at Matthews arena. The game will be televised on NESN Plus at 7pm. Bruins fans should do themselves a favor and check out a prospect that will hopefully form quite the tandem in Boston with Kyle Keyser a few years from now.

Check out our new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode 5 that we recorded on November 17th, 2019! Our BNG Prospects Pod can be found on the same RSS Feed as our original Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast, which can be found on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston’s Goaltending Strategy Extending Into The Playoffs

( Photo Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

 

After Tim Thomas solidified a championship-winning run for the Boston Bruins in 2011, he took a longer than expected sabbatical from the NHL leaving Tuukka Rask the keys to the kingdom. Rask has been the Bruins sole beneficiary to their successful season since 2012. A recent question to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy by The Athletics’s Fluto Shinzawa has made Bruins fans wonder, how long until teams are using the same goalie tandems they’re using in the regular season in the playoffs?

Fluto Shinzawa’s question to Cassidy centered around how goalie tandems are so heavily used in the regular season, but perish in the playoffs entirely. Fluto asked if and when we will see the same regular-season timeshare used in the playoffs. “I don’t know if it will be this year. But I think eventually, if they’re structured that way during the regular season, then why would you necessarily change it in the playoffs? So I could see it happening, definitely. Absolutely,” Cassidy said during one of his pressers. For years, the NHL has relied heavily on one goaltender to carry a team throughout a playoff run. Martin Brodeur led his New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cups; two of which he had played over 70 games in the regular season.

Dominik Hasek had played in 65 games before his first cup with Detroit. Jonathan Quick led his Los Angeles Kings to two cups, playing in 69 and 49 regular-season games in their respective years. Tim Thomas played in 57 regular-season games in 2011, before hoisting the cup in June 2012. Starting goaltenders have always been expected to play most of the regular season, and continue that regularity into the playoffs. Recently, the NHL has seen goalies’ workload split almost evenly between starter and backup in the regular season. Teams have been focusing on finding reliable backups who can give rest to their star keeper. It’s only a matter of time before we see this continue into the postseason.

Andrei Vasilvesky is Tampa Bay’s young promising goaltender, who has already won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender in the regular season) at the age of 24. He was part of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s historic run last year when Tampa roared through the entire NHL racking up 128 points. The 2018-2019 Lightning won 76% of their games, in large part due to their lethal offense and stingy defense and goaltending. Vasilevsky played in 53 games last season. The Lightning were not only heavy favorites to sweep the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, but was predicted to walk into the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning (and the rest of the NHL) were stunned to see the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the series four games to none. Vasilevsky’s regular-season timeshare was questioned and many wondered if he was overused.

The 2019 Stanley Cup Final was represented by two goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington. Binnington at one time played for the Bruins’ farm system as an emergency loan before ultimately starting for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were at the bottom of the standings by Christmas and were viewed as heading for a rebuilding year and sellers at the upcoming trade deadline. Jordan Binnington received the call-up because their current goalie, Jake Allen, sported a 2.83 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Binnington sparked a winning streak in the Blues and appeared in 32 regular-season games and eventually carried his team to the Final. Binnington’s usage during the regular season had been a unique situation, but the message stays the same: goalies who have more rest during the regular season enter the playoffs fresh. They fare extremely well the deeper the playoff run extends.

Tuukka’s situation was more common. He had never had a strong backup who could handle a larger workload. They swung and missed on numerous back-ups including Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, and Nicklas Svedberg. Anton Khudobin seemed to handle the backup role quite well, but was given a two year, $5 million raise from the Dallas Stars and the Bruins were unwilling to match for a perennial backup. In the 2018 off-season Don Sweeney, current General Manager of the Boston Bruins, signed former New York Islander starter Jaroslav Halak to take on Rask’s backup duties. He was signed to a $5.5 million deal over two years, which exceeds Khudobin’s raise.

The difference here is that Halak was a long-time starter for the Canadiens, Blues, and Islanders. He had the resume that could withstand a long season with dependable starting opportunities, which is something the previous backups lacked. Halak most recently guarded the Islanders’ goal from the 2014-2017 seasons. The Islanders had a strenuous 2017-2018 season allowing the most shots on goal in the entire NHL, making Halak’s job harder than it already was. He posted a weak 2.80 goals-against average on Long Island. Halak came into Boston giving Rask something he wasn’t used to a reliable backup who can handle a substantial amount of starts appearing in 40 games in the 2018-2019 season. Halak was back to his old form in the black and gold posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Halak’s reliable play put Tuukka in a fantastic situation to tend the twine deep into the playoffs. It, unfortunately, did not gain the Bruins a championship, but Rask was often the best player on the ice throughout the playoffs, which can be attributed to his regular-season rest. The closest we’ve seen to a team using a goalie tandem in the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Penguins during their historic run winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Marc-Andre Fleury was one of the team’s biggest stars, which is a high accolade playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang. Fleury played in 58 games in the regular season, with a promising young goalie prospect, Matt Murray, only providing rest for 13 games.

Jeff Zatkoff played in the remaining 11 games. Fleury, a three-time Cup winner, was injured in the second game of the playoffs, ceding the crease to Murray. Behind some impeccable offensive firepower, Murray and the Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup championship. The following season the two net-minders split time almost evenly. The Penguins gave Fleury the starting nod come playoff time. Fleury was a force in the first two playoff series, ensuring his team won both. He was eventually pulled in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals after allowing four goals on nine shots. Murray started the rest of the way, earning the franchise’s fifth championship.

The goalie tandem is not unheard of in the NHL but has not been viewed as best practice. Certain circumstances have shown that it is necessary. If a goalie in the regular season benefits from a reliable backup, what’s stopping that same philosophy in the playoffs? The Bruins are set up to be one of the best teams to test this theory, given they essentially have two starting-caliber goalies and a coach who is not afraid to play the hot hand, regardless of a player’s salary. These upcoming playoffs could come with an interesting twist if Cassidy decides that Halak and Rask can co-exist in the sport’s most crucial time of the year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Providence Bruins Recall Goalie Prospect Kyle Keyser

kyle-keyser.jpg

(Photo: Michael Penhollow / Boston Bruins)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Providence Bruins general manager John Ferguson Jr. announced Thursday afternoon that the team has recalled goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser from the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL-affiliate. Providence recalling Keyser comes after Dan Vladar needed to be helped off the ice during the second period of the P-Bruins’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Laval Rocket on Wednesday night.

Keyser was slated to start the year in Atlanta, whose season opens up on October 18th. However, Vladar’s week-to-week status caused a change of plans. Keyser signed his entry-level contract with Boston on October 3, 2017, as an undrafted free agent.

The Oshawa Generals product is entering his first full season of professional hockey after four seasons in the OHL, one with the Flint Firebirds and three with Oshawa. Last season, the 20-year-old suited up in 47 games for the Generals, posting a .915 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average (GAA). In 15 Memorial Cup playoff games for Oshawa, Keyser registered a .925 save percentage and 2.83 GAA.

After Oshawa was eliminated from the Memorial Cup, Keyser joined Providence leading up to the team’s playoff run. In one AHL playoff start the Coral Springs, Florida, native made 25 saves.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound netminder also represented the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he recorded a .872 save percentage and 2.95 GAA. Once he joins the team in Providence, Keyser is expected to split time with 26-year-old Maxime Lagace, who Boston signed as a free agent during the offseason.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 149 that we recorded on 10-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Bruins Prospect Keyser Reassigned To ECHL Atlanta

( Photo Credit: Michael Penhollow / Boston Bruins )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

When the Boston Bruins signed free agent goaltender Maxime Lagace in early July of 2019, the speculation immediately gained traction on what the netminding tandem will look like in Providence for the 2019-20 American Hockey League campaign.  Many thought it was a good idea to roll with a three-headed monster in goal, but honestly, when it comes to development in the crease, playing time is of the utmost importance.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As seen above from a tweet I sent out two days ago after hearing this Bruins related news come across my desk from a very trusted source, the National Hockey League Bruins have in fact reassigned netminder Kyle Keyser to the B’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate wth the Atlanta Gladiators per the official AHL websites leagues transactions page and below tweet from longtime Providence Bruins writer Mark Divver who also shared the news this morning.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

While Keyser is a fantastic goaltending prospect and seems to be highly regarded as the NHL Bruins next one in the near future, this demotion to Atlanta is not a knock on his talent and skills but a path that might be commonly used especially with the bottleneck in the AHL. As many of you know, goaltender Dan Vladar was selected in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and after playing a full season in the United States Hockey League with the Chicago Steel, the Bruins had him start his pro career in Atlanta.

At least to start the 2019-20 AHL Providence year, the netminding tandem will be Maxime Lagace and Dan Vladar. The 26-year-old Lagace takes over for the departed Zane McIntyre, who signed a deal to join the Vancouver Canucks organization over the 2019 summer offseason. Lagace will provide veteran leadership to the younger Vladar, who’s currently in year three and last of his entry-level contract. Vladar is set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming hockey season.

This is a solid move for the Bruins moving forward. All goaltenders will get their share of time in the crease, and who knows if Keyser actually stays in Atlanta for the whole season. From the trusted source that I mentioned above, the Bruins are going to give the ball to Vladar and let him run with it at the AHL level. I’m hearing that leash is short as he didn’t exactly have the greatest rookies season with Providence last year but did show signs that he’s getting it. I was told that placing Vladar in the ECHL where he started his pro career could mess with his head when it comes to confidence, and if he proves he can handle splitting duties with Lagace, then the B’s will keep the same tandem at the AHL level.

If, by any chance Vladar slips and cannot get a handle of his duties in his sophomore year in the AHL, he could lose that position and be demoted to Atlanta to figure out his game and give the call to Keyser who could be ready for his first AHL regular-season action. Regardless of who plays where and at what level of developmental hockey, the NHL Boston Bruins are prepared to act on any scenario when needed. If something happens up at the NHL level in the crease, Lagace will most likely get that call, and the shift upward in the goaltending system will happen and the same when all are healthy and returned to their respected teams and minor-pro systems.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 1 that we recorded on 10-3-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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