Bruins Still In Hibernation

(Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston via Getty Images)

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

The Bruins playoff run to become 2020 Stanley Cup Champions has finally gotten underway. Just not off to the start everyone was expecting. Now I know that the game against Columbus on July 30th was only an exhibition game, but they looked very sloppy and out of sync with each other in that game. Not much changed when they had to play a game that actually mattered against Philadelphia on August 2nd. This game was their first of the Round-Robin to determine the top four seeds in the conference. Not a lot of good things came out of either of these games except the rising talent of Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork, but we will talk about that another time. For now, let’s get into the games. Shall we?

It didn’t take long for the Blue Jackets to get hot in the Bruins defensive zone. The Bruins also didn’t have their legs under them as much as they should have. That was made clear on the first goal scored by Columbus in the first period when Sean Kuraly Failed to backcheck and tie up Boone Jenner in front of the net who tapped it in to make it 1-0. Zack Werenski’s goal to make it 2-0 was just a beautiful shot. It could have been blocked by Par Lindholm if he had gotten over a little quicker but wasn’t able to. The third goal was a soft one given up by Rask. Yes, the defensemen should have gotten the puck out of the zone, but Rask was in a good position to make the save but slid too far over and went in five-hole to make it 3-0. The Bruins Lone goal of the game came from a broken play in front of the net and was picked up by David Pastrnak to make it 3-1. The last goal of the game was an empty netter to make it 4-1.

In conclusion, the Bruins really looked like they hadn’t played in five months. They were very sloppy in their defensive zone. They weren’t connecting with each other on simple passes. They were causing way too many turnovers. And they just weren’t in sync with each other at all. Now, again this was just an exhibition game and doesn’t mean anything but I think everyone expected the Bruins to come out a little better than they did.

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The game against the Flyers on August 2nd started off strange when it was announced shortly before that Tuukka Rask was “Unfit to Play,” and Jaroslav Halak would get the start in the first Round-Robin game for the Bruins and first meaningful hockey game they have played in over five months. Right from the puck drop in this one, you saw a little bit more intensity from the Bruins and a much better start. They came out with some fire in the offensive zone and in the physicality department as well. But, poor plays in the Defensive zone and turnovers would end up being the nail in the coffin for the Bruins in this one. All four goals scored by the Flyers were right after a turnover or just after what should have been a play where the puck should have been cleared.

The Bruins play their next Round-Robin game on Wednesday, August 5th, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, where it has been announced that Tampa will be without their captain Steven Stamkos. That is a break for the Bruins for sure, but they need more than that. They need to step up their play on both ends of the ice. They need to make better decisions coming out of their own zone while transitioning offensively. They need to shoot the puck when they are in a scoring position and not try to make the pretty/perfect pass. The two teams the Bruins have played so far were selfish instead of passive and shot the puck in scoring positions and it worked out pretty well for them. If the Bruins aren’t careful and come out of hibernation soon, they could find themselves in the 4th seed going into the first round of the playoffs after winning the Presidents Trophy in the same year. That is something that has never happened and probably never will again.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 that we recorded below on 8-2-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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The Best Bruin To Ever Wear The Number One

(Photo Credit: George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully become a long and very entertaining series of articles. I am going to look at the best Bruin’s player to wear each number throughout the organization’s long and storied history. I will be skipping the retired numbers because it’s pretty self-explanatory who the best Bruin to don each of those revered numbers was.

Just to get it out of the way, in case anyone has forgotten, these are the current retired numbers in Boston:

#2 – Eddie Shore, #3 – Lionel Hitchman, #4 – Bobby Orr, #5 – Dit Clapper, #7 – Phil Esposito, #8 – Cam Neely, #9 – John Bucyk, #15 – Milt Schmidt, #16 – Rick Middleton, #24 – Terry O’Reilly, #77 – Ray Bourque.

Eleven numbers may seem like a lot, but it still leaves us 88 more to contemplate.

The best place to start this series, numerically anyway, is pretty obvious, and that would be with the number one. Generally speaking, the number one is worn in the NHL by goaltenders, and the greatest players to ever sport that number in B’s history were no exception. In an organization that has been around as long as the Bruins have, you would think that the competition would be pretty fierce? Normally, that would be a safe assumption. Unfortunately, in the case of the number one, the competition IS fierce, but it’s not for first place, it’s for third. That said, there is still a worthy discussion to be had for the runner-ups.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins have two goalies that played their careers primarily in the 1930s and 1940s that have without question locked up the first and second spots as the greatest B’s players to ever wear the number One. Those two guys are Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek. While it is difficult to compare players across different eras, these two players were able to pile up more than enough wins and hardware to leave no doubt that they were the top dogs in this contest.

Thompson was the preeminent goaltender of the 1930s. During that decade (and in 1928-29,) he played in 468 games for the Bruins, had a GAA of 1.99 (Save Percentage was not a stat yet), and a whopping 74 shutouts. He won 252 games for Boston, and both his games played and win totals are 2nd all-time for the B’s. They were 1st until recently being eclipsed by Tuukka Rask. In addition to those impressive numbers, Tiny won a Cup in 1929, had four All-Star game appearances, and four Vezina Trophies on his resume. In that era, the Vezina was given to the goalie whose team allowed the fewest amount of regular-season goals. This was no slight as Thompson was largely responsible for that. In 1936 he became the first goalie in NHL history to record an assist in a game. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959. For my money, he is the best player to wear number one for the Bruins.

Frank Brimsek played for the Bruins from 1938-1948. Somewhat ironically, it was Brimsek that forced out and took over for Thompson in 1938. Tiny suffered an eye injury, and Brimsek played so well in his stead that the Bruins dealt Thompson to Detroit in November of 1938. It would mark the beginning of an impressive nine-year run in the Boston goal. Brimsek would suit up for 444 games (tied for 3rd on the B’s all-time list), winning 230 with 35 shutouts. During that time, he would also win two Stanley Cups and two Vezina Trophies, along with being named to the All-Star team eight times.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Brimsek earned his famous “Mr. Zero” nickname after recording six shutouts in his first eight games and setting a league record for consecutive scoreless minutes in the process. Brimsek was born in Eveleth, Minnesota, which is notable because he was one of very few Americans in the NHL in the 1940s. The United States Hockey Hall of Fame was established in Brimsek’s hometown in 1973, and he was part of the original group of 25 to be inducted. In addition, an award given to the best senior high school goalie in the state of Minnesota is named after him. He joined Tiny Thompson in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and is a close second to him for best Bruin to ever wear the number one.

There are a number of other goalies that have worn the number one for the Bruins over the years. Some have been goalies that made their fame with other teams and wore it briefly for the Black and Gold. Guys like Terry Sawchuk, Rogie Vachon, and Marty Turco fall into this category. While they were great netminders, they were not in Boston long enough to warrant consideration.

The next trio of goalies I considered were all players that fell short of third place for one reason or another, whether it be lack of tenure or performance. Andrew Raycroft had good numbers with Boston (2.62 GAA, .908 Save %), but he only played 108 games and had a losing record before being traded to TOR for Tuukka Rask. Pete Peeters played 171 games in Boston and had 91 wins, but his stats were not great (3.00 GAA, .883 SP), and he had more games and years in a Flyers uniform than a B’s sweater. Last but not least was Reggie Lemelin, who, while he was in Boston, was beloved by the fans for his “fist pump” celebration after games. In six years in Boston, he played in 182 games, had 92 wins, but the numbers were average. His GAA was 3.09, and his save percentage came in at .884. All three of these players were good, but not good enough for the top three.

(Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Third place for the best to wear the number one in Boston came down to two goalies in my estimation, Eddie Johnston and Gilles Gilbert. Readers younger than myself are probably much more familiar with Gilbert than Johnston, who played primarily in the ’60s for the B’s. Gilbert was known for being on the losing end to Philly and later Montreal in the ’70s under Don Cherry.

While Johnston might be lesser-known to today’s Bruins fans, he has a very respectable resume. He played in Boston from 1962 thru 1973, amassing 444 games for the B’s (tied for 3rd all-time with Brimsek), winning 182, with a GAA of 3.22 and a .900 Save Percentage. He was the starter before Gerry Cheevers established himself and backed “Cheesy” up in the late 1960s and early ’70s. His numbers were very comparable to Cheevers,’ and he actually played in more games for the Bruins. He was also a key contributor on both Stanley Cup teams, playing 37 games in 1970 and 38 games in 1972. Despite these solid stats, Johnston may be more well-known as a successful coach and GM for the Penguins in the 1980’s and 90’s?

Last but not least, is Gilles Gilbert, the acrobatic French-Canadian goalie with the memorable flow. He played in Boston from 1974-1980, totaling 277 games for the B’s, winning 155 of them. His GAA was 2.95, and he had a save percentage of .890 over that time. I remember Gilbert as being a key component in net for the highly effective “Lunch Pail AC” teams. Despite their success in the regular season, those teams came up short in the playoffs. Unfortunately, my most lasting memory of Gilbert will be of him falling to the ice after he gave up Guy Lafleur’s game-tying goal as time was running out in Game Seven of the 1979 Stanley Cup Semifinals. That goal is not the reason I am going with Eddie Johnston as the third-best to wear number one for the Bruins…but it didn’t help either.

So, there you have it, the three best players to wear the number one for the Bruins are Tiny Thompson in first, followed by Frank Brimsek as a close second, and Eddie Johnston as a distant third. I hope you enjoyed this look back in B’s history. Next up on the agenda is the number six, where there should be a lot more debate for the title.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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.

Bruins’ Rask Says He Sustained Fractured Finger A Few Weeks Ago

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask revealed that he suffered a fractured finger doing box jumps a few weeks ago, prior to the start of training camp. Rask was sporting a splint on a Zoom call with the media on Thursday.

“It’s getting better,” Rask said. “I’m not worried about it. It will be all set once we start playing.”

“I slammed my finger at the edge of the box, bent the ligament, kind of fractured the finger,” Rask went on to say. “So it’s a small fracture, nothing major, but you can probably imagine it’s not going to feel great to catch pucks with that.”

“I’m not worried about it. It’s just one of those things that’s going to linger a little bit. It’s been what, two-to-three weeks now, and it already feels a lot better. So I’m pretty optimistic that in a week I’ll have my normal glove on.”

Like Rask, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy does not seem too concerned about Rask’s current condition. Boston’s bench boss spoke with the media before Rask, saying he believes the splint to be precautionary.

“Too much drums, I think” Cassidy joked.

A few days ago, Rask was named as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, annually awarded to the league’s top goaltender, as voted on by the general managers. Winnipeg Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky are the other two finalists this season.

Rask concluded the 2019-20 regular season with a 28-5-6 record to go along with five shutouts, second in the league, a 2.12 goals-against average (GAA), first in the league, and a .929 save percentage, second in the league. The 33-year-old split the William M. Jennings Trophy with fellow Bruins netminder Jaroslav Halak as the two led the Bruins to the fewest goals-allowed among any team in the league.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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 Goaltender Tuukka Rask Named Vezina Finalist

Photo Credit: @NHLBruins/Twitter

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy. Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was named one of the three finalists, along with Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Winnipeg Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. According to NHL.com, “the Vezina Trophy is an annual award given “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position” as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.”

Rask Was Lights-Out This Season

It’s no surprise that Rask was named a Vezina finalist this season. In 41 games this season, he posted a record of 26-8-6 and held a 2.12 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage. Those are his best numbers by far since he won the Vezina back in 2014. They were also good for the best GAA in the league and the second-best SV%. At 33 years old, all of these are quite impressive feats.

The Stats Aren’t Wrong

There’s still a lot of “Tuukka haters” out there, despite there really being no evidence for them to support their claims. So, I know there’s plenty of people out there who will argue that the only reason Tuukka’s stats were as good as they were this season was that the team was outstanding. But, that is far from the truth. Rask kept the Bruins in a lot of games this season when they weren’t at their best. There were some you could even say he stole. He also made some truly jaw-dropping saves this season. I’m sure everybody remembers the awe-inspiring blocker save from the video above.

Rask, Hellebuyck Both Deserving

Not only is Tuukka more than deserving of the nomination, but he deserves to take home the trophy this season. He has the best stats of all the finalists, and typically that’s the goalie who goes home with the hardware, even though it shouldn’t always be that way. Plus, as I said above, stats aside, Rask truly was an incredible goalie this season. He was easily one of the best, and arguably the best, goalie in the league.

But, fellow finalist Connor Hellebuyck was also incredible and deserving of the award. He stole numerous games for the Jets this year, who did not have great defense. His stats were also outstanding considering who he had playing in front of him and the number of games he played. Frankly, he’s really the only reason the Jets were able to squeak into the playoffs under the new format. 

Vasilevskiy is the reigning Vezina winner, but he shouldn’t be much of a threat this season. His numbers were about average, yet he was playing on a superteam. That’s not good, and so frankly, he didn’t deserve the nomination. I don’t see any scenario in which he beats Rask or Hellebuyck for the trophy this season.

Hellebuyck and Rask were the best two goalies in the league in my opinion, and I think we’ll find the GMs agree. But, we’ll have to wait until the Conference Finals to see which order they come in at. Both are more than deserving of the award, and it’s far from surprising to see them both as finalists. It’s hard to say who’ll take it home, but I think I speak for all of us here at BNG when I say we hope it’s Tuukka. Thankfully, if history is any indication, it’s likely that it will be.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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 Prospect Season Review: Dan Vladar

Vladar

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my prospect season review is netminder Dan Vladar. The young goaltender was drafted in the third round, 75th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Coming into the season, some question marks surrounded Vladar. He had a less than stellar 2018-2019 season. He had gone 13-13-4, with a 2.73 GAA and a .898 save percentage in 31 games played (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The Prague native was looking to bounce back and prove his worth as a prospect.

The start of the 2019-2020 season saw the young netminder splitting time with veteran Max Lagace. Vladar’s first appearance of the season was stellar, stopping 21 of 22 shots in a 2-1 overtime win against Hershey (stats courtesy of the AHL). His next appearance wasn’t as fruitful, turning away 23 of 28 shots in a 5-2 thumping against Springfield (stats courtesy of the AHL). His third appearance started off great, but after just one period, he would leave with an injury. That injury would sideline Vladar from October 16th to December 1st. In his first game back, the young netminder looked like a new goalie. He stopped all 36 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout of Charlotte (stats courtesy of the AHL).

That game against Charlotte would launch Dan Vladar to an outstanding 2019-2020 campaign. In 25 games played, he would go 14-7-1, with an AHL leading 1.79 GAA and a .936 save percentage (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young goalie would also have three shutouts. Vladar elevated himself in a big way this season. He’s a big and tall netminder who moves well in the crease. He also proved to be very athletic. Vladar moves well, laterally, for his size. He also keeps rebounds to a minimum and shuts down loose pucks in the crease.

Something else that I believe helped Vladar this season was playing with veteran Max Lagace. Lagace helped the young goalies a lot in Providence, giving them advice on and off the ice. This mentorship and Vladar’s hard work contributed to his outstanding season. The potential with the young netminder is there. Vladar could potentially be a number one goalie in the NHL. With Tuukka Rask getting up there in age, we could be looking at the person who takes over the reins a few seasons from now. The one major question remaining is, where does Vladar end up next season?

I would expect Vladar to be the primary goaltender in Providence next season, while also serving as an injury or emergency back-up in Boston if needed. The Bruins re-signed Halak for another year, so Rask’s back-up spot is locked up. While Vladar will be the primary backstop in the AHL, I still expect him to split time. Former University of Maine Black Bear Jeremy Swayman signed his entry-level contract this off-season. The Bruins also have prospect Kyle Keyser still in the system. I would expect both Swayman and Keyser to rotate in Providence behind Vladar. When all is said and done, I think Vladar ends up being a solid professional goalie in Boston. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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 Announce Return To Play Roster; Kampfer Opts Out

Steven-Kampfer-Bruins.jpg

(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday evening, the Boston Bruins announced their training camp roster as the National Hockey League prepares to conclude the 2019-20 season. 29 skaters and four goaltenders comprise the 33-man squad.

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Karson Kuhlman, Par Lindholm, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Nick Ritchie, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Chris Wagner

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril

Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Max Lagace, Tuukka Rask, Dan Vladar

One notable absence is that of right-shot defenseman Steven Kampfer, who has opted out of the NHL’s Return to Play. In a post on Twitter, Kampfer, 31, explained that, while it was a difficult decision, he must put his family first as his wife and son have a congenital heart defect that can pose complications if infected with COVID-19.

Kampfer joins Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mike Green, Calgary Flames d-man Travis Hamonic, Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak, and Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi among players who have opted out. The deadline to opt out without penalty is Monday, which is when training camps officially begin.

Among call-ups from the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate are Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka,  Connor Cliffton, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakob Zboril, Max Lagace, and Dan Vladar. Blidh had been practicing with the barsity club in Boston, and Clifton had been injured throughout most of the season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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!

The Window To Win Another Cup Is Closing For Some Current Bruins Veterans

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

For a little over a decade now, we as Bruins fans have been blessed with playoff hockey almost every year since 2008. Sure, not all of them have ended the way we would have liked, but playoff hockey is better than no
playoff hockey. We are entering a time now where we have to start asking ourselves this question, “how much longer does Boston have to win a cup with its core group of players still together and in their primes?”

Let me be more specific. By core players, I mean the guys that have been here since the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. That involves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All of these guys are in their early 30’s except for Chara, who is 43. Chara is long past his prime. With that being said, he is still finding a way to be one of the most feared and lock-down defenders in the league. Let’s go more into depth on a few of these guys.

Patrice Bergeron

Other than being my personal favorite player for over a decade now, Patrice Bergeron is the perfect description of what it means to be a Boston Bruin. He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and leads by example. He does the difficult things that not a lot of guys would do. Simply because he wants to win, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates or the fans down. Bergeron has had his fair share of injuries. Some he has been able to play through, some he has not.

I don’t think anyone will forget back on October 27th, 2007 the scary scene of Bergeron laying flat on his back after being boarded by Flyers defensemen Randy Jones. He would be stretchered off the ice after a 12-minute delay to tend to the injured forward. he was diagnosed with a “Grade 3” Concussion and would miss 72 games during the regular season plus another seven in the playoffs that year.

It wasn’t until the following pre-season that Bergeron was cleared to fully participate once again. He would only score four goals and 14 assists in the first 31 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then he got hurt again. On December 20th, 2008, Bergeron collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and once again, sending Bruins fans to panic. Regardless of those fears, Bergeron was back in-game action a little over a month later.

Now, on the other side of this is the injuries he did play through. More specifically, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In the toughest event, and at the highest level of play, Bergeron suffered torn rib cartilage in Game-Four. Then a broken rib in Game-Five. And to put the icing on the cake, he suffered a separated right shoulder and punctured lung in Game-Six. The Puncture in that lung caused it to collapse. Despite all those injuries and all the pain that comes with them, Bergeron KEPT PLAYING! He would spend the next three days after Game-Six in the hospital.

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Bergeron has literally given his body and soul to this organization and the fan base. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching and learning from his style of play. That being said, Bergeron is now 34 years old. He is still in the prime of his career, but how much longer will that be true with the injury history he has? Eventually that will take a toll on his body and he wont be the same player. Hopefully, that happens later rather than sooner.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Bruins since the 2006-2007 season. He was the big piece the Bruins needed to turn its fortune around. Since joining the club, Chara has taken on the responsibility of being the captain of a team in a market that LOVES its hockey and knows the game. In Boston, if the fans are unhappy with the way you are performing, they are going to let you know! And Chara has been up to the task the whole time.

Now, Chara is well known for being the tallest person to ever be in the NHL coming at 6’9 and maybe a little more than that on skates. But, he is also known for his NHL record hardest shot at 108.8 MPH. That record has not been broken since and probably never will.

Chara has had his fair share of injury history as well. Like Bergeron, he is no stranger to toughing it out and playing through injuries. The most recent sign of this was in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. In Game-Four, Chara went to block a shot from Brayden Schenn that deflected of Chara’s stick and hit him directly in the mouth. He was spitting out blood and skating off the ice under his own power. He would return to the bench for the third period of the game with a bubble mask on his helmet but did not play. It was later revealed that Chara had broken his jaw.

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With two days off between Game-Four and Game-Five, all the talk around the city of Boston was, “Is Chara going to play, or is he done?” It wasn’t until hours before Game-Five that we found out he would play despite having a broken jaw. Once again, Chara showed his toughness by playing through a debilitating injury that most guys would even think of playing through. Chara came out for the start of Game-Five to a standing ovation that, to this day, still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

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Chara is 43 now. Seriously, how much longer can this man play? I don’t have an answer to that for you, but I think he could play for another two-three years, at least. We’ve already seen one Boston icon play well into his 40’s with Tom Brady. Is Big Z going to do the same if not longer?

Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand is the youngest out of the core players coming in at 32 years old. He is the kind of player that if he isn’t on your team, you love to hate him. But, if he is on your side, you absolutely love the guy! Early in his career, he got into some trouble with suspensions and fines from the league. Since then, he has learned how to toe the line without crossing it. He is an energetic player who, like Bergeron, plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. If there was anyone you wanted to get under the skin of the opponent, it was Brad Marchand.

He quickly became a fan favorite and an essential player in this team’s future. He has six years left on his deal, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but how long will the Bruins continue to be useful during those six years? Will they all be good years for the team? Will they still have a chance to win another cup?

In conclusion, the Bruins core players are still in a great position to win another cup in the next two, maybe three years. But, what about after that? How good is this team going to be by then? Hopefully, the kids that come up from Providence or players that they sign in the offseason come in and fit in seamlessly. This core group can get it together and be as good as we all know they are.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Is This The Year Tuukka Rask Breaks Free From Tim Thomas’ Shadow?

( Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

Ever since Tim Thomas’ miraculous playoff run back in 2011 that ended in the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, the questions started being asked. How much longer does Thomas last? How much longer will he be effective? How much longer will he be with the Bruins? That answer finally came to light not long after the Bruins fell to the Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round of the 2011-2012 NHL Playoffs. Thomas announced that he would sit out the 2012-2013 NHL Season. Opening the door for the Bruins to thrust Tuukka Rask back into the starting role for the first time since the 2009-2010 NHL Season.

Tuukka would have to wait a little longer to step back into the crease as the Bruins Starting goaltender. The reason being was because of a lockout at the start of the 2012-2013 NHL Season that began on September 15th, 2012. Finally, a new CBA was agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA on January 6th, 2013. The season was shortened down to just 48 games for the regular season. That year we saw Tuukka play 36 games posting a 19-10-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a Sv% of .929.

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Going into the playoffs that year, the Bruins were facing a young up and coming Toronto Maple Leafs team in the First-Round. The series was a back and forth battle most of the way. That was until the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 lead in game seven at TD Garden and seemed to have the series all but wrapped up. And then I think we all remember what happened next……

The Bruins went on to eliminate the New York Rangers in five games in the Second-Round and Swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were on their way to a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years. Unfortunately, the Bruins would lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in an infamous 17 seconds that Bruins fans will never forget.

Fast forward to the 2013-2014 season the Bruins would go on to win the President’s Trophy and Tuukka posted a 36-15-6 record in the regular season with a 2.04 GAA and a .930 Sv%. Tuukka was remarkable in his first full season as a starter for the Bruins since 2010. He led the Bruins to a series win over the Detroit Red Wings in five games. Then in the second round, the Bruins faced the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins would fall short against the Canadiens losing the series in seven games.

The next year in the 2014-2015 season Tuukka and the Bruins would not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. They would miss the playoffs again for the second straight year in the 2015-2016 season. The Bruins would make their way back to the playoffs in the 2016-2017 season and meet with the Ottawa Senators in the first-round but fall short once again, losing the series in six games.

Tuukka would bring the Bruins back to the second round of the 2017-2018 playoffs. Once again, beating the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round and then losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in five games. And we all know what happened last year. The Bruins beat the Leafs in seven games for the second straight season, then beat the Blue Jackets in six games in the second round, and swept the Hurricanes in the Conference Finals. Still sour on the minds of all Bruins fans, they would go on to lose to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final in seven games.

Now being a Vezina Trophy winner, a two-time All-Star, and a Stanley Cup Champion as a backup in 2011, Tuukka has got to be thinking “what do I have to do to get over the hump?” Well, this might be the year he does it. With this unprecedented long break due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Tuukka has had plenty of time to rest up and get back to 100%. It’s no secret that Tuukka plays much better when he has had his rest, and I, for one, will be putting all my eggs into Tuukka’s basket once the playoffs start. I think he will have what it takes to get the Bruins their first Stanley Cup Championship since 2011 when the playoffs start up again for the 2020 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time: #10 – #6

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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

Today, July 1st, 2020 is Canada’s 153rd birthday – more commonly known as Canada Day. In celebration of this historical day, I decided to take a look back on some of the greatest players from the Great White North that dawned that infamous Spoked-B sweater of the Boston Bruins. This list was incredibly difficult to make, but it could make for some fun discussions. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time!

10 – Eddie Shore (1926 – 1940)

Born in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan on November 25th, 1902, Eddie Shore spent the early years of his life on a horse ranch working hard labor – breaking in ponies, herding stock and hauling grain on the daily. While that may seem like a useless piece of information, those early days helped pave the way for Shore who became known as one of the most physical players during his era.

Immediately at the beginning of his career, Shore’s bruising style controlled the game and in the 1928-29 season, he led the Bruins to first place in the American Division and helped them go undefeated in the playoffs en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1929. Shore continued his strong play throughout his career, winning the Hart Trophy in 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938 becoming the first defenceman in NHL history to win four Hart trophies and as of 2020, is still the only defenceman to have won that many times.

On December 22nd, 1933, one of Shore’s most infamous moments occurred. Eddie Shore hit Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Ace Bailey from behind, causing him to go headfirst into the ice. Bailey was knocked unconscious and his career was ultimately ended right then and there. In retaliation for the hit, Leafs player Red Homer punched Shore in the face, causing Shore to fall onto the ice as well, resulting in seven stitches. The first large-scale benefit game in NHL history took place for Bailey in 1934 which led to Shore and Bailey shaking hands, one of the best showcases of respect in hockey.

Later on in his career, Shore helped bring the Bruins back to championship glory, winning the franchise’s second Stanley Cup – ten years after the first one – in 1939. Shore’s tenacious style was a huge factor in the victory. Shore retired after the 1939-40 season. He played 14 seasons with Boston, scoring 284 points in 551 games and two Stanley Cups. Eddie Shore was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1947 and his #2 was retired by the Bruins that same year.

9 – Wayne Cashman (1964 – 1983)

Wayne Cashman, born in Kingston, Ontario on June 24th, 1945, played for the Black and Gold for 17 seasons, starting out in the 1964-65 campaign where he skated in one game. Cashman was a solid player for the Bruins, skating on a line with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge – the line that set an NHL record at the time with 336 points combined. During the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 1970, Cashman scored 9 points in 14 games.

During the 1970-71 campaign, Cashman scored 21-58-77 totals in 77 games played for the Bruins, setting a new career-high in points that would later be broken in 1974 when he posted an 84-point season. However, Cashman was never known for his personal statistics. “Cash” was the tough, physical player that battled hard in the boards for pucks and was there to stand up for his teammates – especially Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Teammate Derek Sanderson said the following about Cashman:

“You could see a guy go into a corner after the puck, and just before he got to it, he stopped and flinched a bit when he saw Cash. That’s when you knew you got him on the ropes,” – Derek Sanderson 

Cashman won a second Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1972 and went on to play over 1,000 games with the franchise, including the final six seasons as captain, before retiring from playing in 1983 – the final player from the Original Six to retire. Following his playing career, Cashman spent 16 years in various coaching positions throughout the NHL. He ended his coaching career as an assistant with the Bruins in 2006. Wayne Cashman scored 277-516-793 numbers in 1027 games – all for Boston.

8 – Cecil “Tiny” Thompson (1928 – 1940)

Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, born in Sandon, British Columbia, was another member of the early Boston Bruins and is known today as one of the best goaltenders to play for the organization. Throughout eleven seasons in Boston (and two in Detroit) Thompson accumulated 284 wins, 194 losses, 75 ties, and 84 shutouts throughout 553 career NHL games.

As of July 1st, 2020, Thompson is all over the Boston Bruins record books. He ranks second in games played (behind Tuukka Rask), second in wins (behind Tuukka Rask), first in career goals-against-average (1.99), and first in shutouts (74). Thompson’s overall 81 shutouts (7 with Detroit) rank 6th in NHL history. Thompson was apart of Boston’s first Stanley Cup back in 1929 and won a total of four Vezina trophies as the best goaltender in the NHL. He was also named as an All-Star on four occasions as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Cecil is also known for being one of the first netminders to perfect and popularize the technique of catching the puck in his glove – known today as a glove save. Before then, it was not common for goalies to grab the puck, but his skill allowed him to do so, paving the way for future players. Also, he was the first NHL goaltender to record an assist back in the 1935-36 season.

Tiny Thompson retired from the National Hockey League after the 1939-40 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1959.

Note: It was a true toss-up for me to put either Thompson or Gerry Cheevers. Due to the statistics being slightly in favor of Thompson, I decided to put him instead. However, there is a true argument for Cheevers due to his impact on the Bruins winning the Cup in 1970 and 1972 as well as the sentimental value he holds with Boston Bruins fans. 

7 – Rick Middleton (1974 – 1988)

Rick “Nifty” Middleton was born in Toronto, Ontario back on December 4th, 1953, and is the most recent player to have their number retired by the Boston Bruins as his #16 went into the TD Garden rafters in November 2018. During his 1005-game NHL career (881 with the Bruins), Middleton was one of the better scorers of his generation. As of July 1st, 2020, Middleton is fourth in Bruins all-time points and 3rd all-time in Bruins goals.

From 1978 to 1982, Middleton led the Bruins in points and also led the Bruins in goals for six consecutive seasons. To this day, Middleton’s 19 points in a single playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres still holds as an NHL record and has helped contribute to him being 5th in the Boston Bruins organization for playoff scoring. The reason for “Nifty” being so dangerous? He was one of the best one-on-one players in the league during his career and former teammate Wayne Cashman confirmed that:

“He was the most exciting one-on-one player in hockey when he was in his prime”- former teammate Wayne Cashman 

In 1005 career regular-season games, Rick Middleton scored 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points in addition to his 100 points in 111 career playoff games. While the prestigious Stanley Cup managed to stay out of his grasps in his 14-year career, Middleton goes down as one of the best Bruins of his generation and in my opinion, deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame.

6 – Cam Neely – (1983 – 1996)

A native of Comox, Britsh Columbia, Cam Neely is widely regarded as one of the greatest “power-forwards” in NHL history. In fact, Neely was essentially the first player to be referred to as a power forward in the league and it is genuinely the only proper description of his playstyle. Neely began his NHL career with his home province team of the Vancouver Canucks but only played three seasons before being traded to the Bruins in 1986.

From then, Neely went on to play 525 regular-season games across ten seasons with the Boston Bruins scoring a total of 344 goals and 246 assists for 590 points in the Spoked-B sweater. Neely led the Bruins in goals for seven of those ten campaigns with the help of three 50-goal years (1989-90, 1990-91, 1993-94). Cam’s 55 goals in the ’93/’94 season is still the Bruins’ record for most goals by a winger in a single season and he is the leading playoff goal-scorer in franchise history with 55 goals in 86 postseason contests.

Cam Neely was named an All-Star on four occasions and won the Masterton Trophy in 1993-94 for dedication to the sport of hockey after he scored an incredible 50 goals in only 44 games played after missing a large majority of the previous two seasons due to hip, knee, and thigh injuries. Only Wayne Gretzky has scored 50 goals in fewer games in a single season – showing how dangerous of a threat Cam Neely was offensively.

Unfortunately, injuries forced Neely to retire from playing in 1996 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2005 – one year after his #8 was retired by the Boston Bruins franchise. Cam Neely ended his career with 395 goals, 299 assists, and 694 points in 726 games along with 55-32-87 numbers in 86 playoff games. Today, Cam is the President of the Boston Bruins.

That does it for players ten through six on my list of the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time! For the remaining players on this list, make sure to check out blackngoldhockey.com as it will be released on July 1st as well.

Information and Statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com, nhl.com Bruins honored numbers, quanthockey.com, originalhockeyhalloffame.com, and the hhof.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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 Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year the Providence Bruins (AHL) hosts their awards for their players who exemplified excellence and leadership throughout the season. If you followed Providence in any way this season, then you’ll recognize a few of these names and might have predicted who would win a particular award. Some players won more than one award and blew away people’s expectations. There is a good chance some of the players you see here today might crack the Bruins roster for the 2020-2021 campaign. Here are the winners of Providences’ awards!

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award presented by Cross Insurance goes to the one obvious choice, Jack Studnicka. Since graduating from juniors and getting the promotion to Providence, the 21-year-old forward has showcased his talents at the AHL level and even at the NHL level when called upon for two games where he also collected his first career NHL point.

Studnicka not only produced offensively 5-on-5 and on the power-play but was an absolute brute on the penalty-kill unit and led the AHL in shorthanded goals this season (seven). He also led Providence in goals, assists and points this season. He took the professional hockey world by storm this year, and I believe if anybody deserves a chance in the Boston Bruins lineup this upcoming season, it is Studnicka. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

The ‘Fan Favorite’ Award presented by Electrical Wholesalers goes to goaltender Dan Vladar. He has been apart of the organization since being drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He has split his time between the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) and Providence since his career in the organization but had his most stellar campaign in 2019-2020.

The 6’0, 185-pound goalie led the AHL in goals-against average (GAA) with 1.79 and in save percentage with a whopping .939%. Vladar also set a career-high 14 wins at the AHL level while collecting three shutouts. He has seemed to find his game this past season. With Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask holding down the goalie tandem for 2020-2021, Vladar will be looking to spend another year in Providence, given he re-signs his soon-to-be expired contract after the NHL season. Congratulations, Vladar!

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

The ‘Three Stars’ Award presented by AAA Insurance is an award for the player with the most ‘Three Stars’ nominations this season, and it goes to Brendan Gaunce. He led the team in first star, second star, and overall nominations this season. The 6’2, 207-pound forward was a spark plug for his team all season long and placed third in points with Providence (18-19-37 numbers). Gaunce has been very reliable for Providence, and when he was called up to the Bruins for a game and was able to produce a point.

Gaunces’ contract expires at the end of the NHL season and will be a restricted free-agent (FA). I believe another one-year deal will get done, and they will be able to rely on Gaunce to help with the development of their younger prospects and serve as a depth piece for the Bruins. Congratulations, Gaunce!

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Leading Scorer’ Award presented by National Grid is awarded to Jack Studnicka. As mentioned above, Studnicka led Providence in goals (23), assists (26), and points (49) this season. Averaging 0.81 Pt/G with three power-play goals and seven shorthanded goals, there is no doubt Studnicka will be the offensive spark the Bruins have been looking for within their young pool of prospects.

If Studnicka doesn’t crack the Bruins lineup the next campaign, then expect for him to be putting up even more points than this past year with Providence. At this rate, he will be a point-per-game player at the AHL level and can produce 40-50 points within his rookie year in the NHL, in my opinion. The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this rising star. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Plus/Minus’ Award presented by RI Medical Imaging goes to the player who led the team in plus/minus, Josiah Didier. New defensive addition, Didier, has done a tremendous job of holding down the blue-line for Providence this season and has earned this reward for finishing with an impressive +32 rating. The 6’3, 207-pound defender has been consistent throughout his first campaign with Providence and is a solid depth piece for the Bruins blue-line.

Didier also re-signed with Providence on a two-year deal before the season ended and will be looking to repeat that same success in the next two seasons. Players like Didier exemplifies leadership in the locker room, and that presence alone can help take Providence to the next level, especially during the playoffs. Congratulations on your hard work, Didier!

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

(Photo Credit: The American Hockey League | theahl.com)

The Hendricks Memorial ‘Fan Appreciation’ Award goes to the player who shows exemplary leadership & on-ice performance, and this award goes to Providence captain, Paul Carey. There is no doubt, returning captain Carey deserves this award. He plays a significant role in molding and teaching the younger prospects in the organization and remains productive as a forward as well, finishing second on the team with points.

The 6’1, 196-pound forward appeared in 60 games this season while racking up 22 goals and 39 points with a +9 rating. Carey also played in 30 games with Providence in 2018-2019 and produced 33 points during that time. Carey serves as a leadership role for the young prospects as well as an offensive plug for Providence. The 31-year-old has one more year left on his contract and will most likely serve that time with Providence unless he is called upon by the Bruins. Congratulations, Carey!

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Best Defenseman’ Award presented by Dunkin’ Donuts goes to Didier, who collects his second award. Along with being team-best in plus/minus, he also led the AHL in that same category. Didier played in 61 games this season and contributed 3-12-15 numbers with 79 PIM.

Didier will be a crucial piece to Providence, especially during the playoffs next season because of his experience after winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-2019. He collected four assists in 19 playoff games during that championship year. With his defensive skills, leadership, and physicality, he will be able to help Providence to their first Calder Cup Championship since 1999. Congratulations, Didier!

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Team MVP Award’ presented by Metlife is awarded to Jack Studnicka. The 21-year-old forward walks away with three team awards from the 2019-2020 campaign and rightfully so. In his first year in the AHL, he led his team in goals (23), assists (26) and points (49), while leading the entire league with shorthanded goals (7) and setting a new team record in that category.

If Studnicka remains healthy and performs well at camp this year, I expect him to be slotted into the Boston Bruins lineup almost immediately. I don’t think his rookie year was a fluke, and his hard-work ethic is going to reward him soon. There is no question Studnicka deserves this award. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!