Bruins, Jacobs Announce Plan To Compensate TD Garden Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Photo: (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday morning, the Boston Bruins and the Jacobs Family announced a plan to compensate part-time gameday TD Garden employees due to the NHL’s current hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is based around a fund of $1.5 million, should the remaining six games on Boston’s schedule go unplayed.

The NHL announced 10 days ago on Thursday, March 12, that the 2019-20 season was  suspended until further notice to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), following the lead of the NBA. The suspension of the season left part-time arena employees, especially those who may depend on their hourly wages, in the dark.

Over the last week or so, the remaining 30 NHL franchises and other professional sports organizations announced plans to compensate employees who would be affected, or at least made statements regarding the situation, leaving the Bruins as the only organization to contribute their voice to the matter. The lack of action on the Jacobs’ part over the last 10 days led to backlash and pressure from Bruins fans and members of the media.

Jeremy Jacobs, 88, and his family, most notably his son Charlie, have owned the Bruins since purchasing the team for a mere $10 million (by today’s standards) in 1975. Since, under his control, the Bruins brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011, and made six other trips to the Stanley Cup Final (1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, and 2019). Jacobs, who is also the chairman of Delaware North, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 under the builder category. In September, prior to Boston’s season, Jacobs announced his plans to confer ownership of the franchise to his children.

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COVID-19: Bruins Games On Hold As NHL Suspends 2019-20 Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JOHN MINCHILLO/ASSOCIATED PRESS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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

On Thursday, March 12th, 2020, the National Hockey League officially announced that they have suspended the 2019-2020 regular-season for an indefinite amount of time due to the recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The news is not as much of a surprise as last night, March 11th, a National Basketball Association (NBA) game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Rudy Gobert was determined to have tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the game. A few days earlier, Gobert jokingly touched all of the reporter’s microphones and recorders following a press conference and as a result, the NBA made the decision to suspend their season as self-quarantines were recommended to numerous teams.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that they would suspend spring training and potentially the beginning of the regular-season. High-profile tournaments and other sporting leagues also followed the path of the NBA and MLB and suspended their operations, leaving the NHL with a big decision to make and to the eyes of many, they made the correct choice suspending the league.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear that the league plans to eventually continue with the season, stating “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”, in the official statement included above. Other reports earlier in the day suggested that arenas were asked to keep availability into July if the games are able to continue.

Due to this unique nature, the consequences are not yet known. At this point, the situation is ongoing and more details are being revealed to the public by the minute. Details on what this means for the salary cap, potential shortened season, or full-on cancellation is not yet known, but the hope is that the outbreak settles and comes to an eventual end.

For the Boston Bruins, a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup winning Bruins team that was scheduled for March 24th has been postponed until the 2020-21 season. An official new date will be updated at a later time.

As of March 12th at 2:17 EST, COVID-19 has infected over 133,086 people worldwide, taking the lives of 4,949. In the United States, there are 1,412 cases with 40 total deaths while Canada has 122 cases and one death, with numbers continuing to rise daily. As of now, the hardest hit nations are China, Italy and Iran who have a combined 105,984 cases and 4,614 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “pandemic” on March 11th.

Updates on the situation and the consequences are as mentioned, being updated daily. For up-to-the-minute news, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj), as well as on the blackngoldhockey.com website for anything Boston Bruins related. We at Black N’ Gold send our well wishes to those affected and remind everyone to stay safe during this pandemic.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 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’ Salary Cap Outlook: 2020 Off-Season

( Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the trade deadline in the past and the playoffs starting in a few weeks, everyone’s focus is in the moment, but it’s essential to look ahead and see what the future holds, starting with the 2020 off-season. The Bruins are known for their tight salary cap situation, but thanks to the Bruins’ GM, Don Sweeney’s most recent trade deadline deals open up a significant amount of cap space, but who will the Bruins re-sign?

Projected Cap Space

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have around $22.2M-$23.75M in cap space for the off-season, as it looks like there will be a bonus overage of $1.5M (TBD). At first glance, it seems like the Bruins have plenty in the bank to negotiate with, but players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Jaroslav Halak, may demand a pay rise that will put more than a dent into their salary cap for next season. With that being said, the Bruins will need to prioritize.

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Jaroslav Halak (UFA)

There is no doubt that the Bruins have one of the best goalie tandems in the league between Tuukka Rask and Halak. Both goalies sharing the starting duties have been a recipe for success starting in the 2018-2019 season, with Halak starting in 37 games, collecting 22 wins, and a .922% save percentage. Sharing starting positions allowed Rask to remain fresh entering the playoffs, where he had a historic playoff run leading the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Even though Halak didn’t start in a single game during the 2019 playoffs, if called upon, Halak would be the Bruins’ best option going forward in case of an injury to Rask. So far this season, Halak has started in 28 games, collecting 17 wins and a 0.917% save percentage. He will be a UFA at the end of this season, and will likely desire a pay raise worth $3M-$4M per season. Although Halak is 34 years old, he still has plenty of hockey left in the tank and will continue to be a valuable piece for the Bruins.

Torey Krug (UFA)

Torey Krug, the quarterback of the Bruins’ central power-play unit, will be one of the Bruins’ main priorities in the off-season. Krug is a vital piece to the blue-line and activates an offensive spark, especially on the man-advantage, and so far this season has two power-play goals and 24 power-play points, only four short of his career-high of 28 from the 2018-2019 season. During the 2019 playoffs, he continued to be an absolute force on the power-play, tallying two goals and 10 points.

Krug’s current cap hit stands at $5.0M per season, and with him setting up to become a UFA in the off-season, the Bruins’ management should not be stingy with the defenceman’s asking price. The recent deals made before the deadline have made enough room in their cap space for the Bruins to re-sign Krug no matter the asking price. So far this season, Krug leads all Bruins’ defenders with eight goals and 45 points. It is a no-brainer that the Bruins need to re-sign Krug, but at what cost? I believe Krug’s price range for the Bruins will be between $7M-$8M per season.

 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, will be the most interesting contract negotiation this off-season. DeBrusk is known for his elite scoring ability and speed, but has shown to be inconsistent at times and is facing a regression this season.

Playing in 70 games his rookie season in 2017-2018, DeBrusk produced 16 goals and 43 points with a +16 rating. He carried that success over to the following 2018-2019 season, producing 27 goals and 42 points with a +2 rating in 68 games played. So far this season though, DeBrusk has suffered several cold-streaks off the score sheet, and currently has one goal, one assist and a -5 rating in the past 11 games.

Despite having only two points in his past 11 games, DeBrusk is only two goals away from having his second 20-goal campaign and is only nine points short of his career-high of 43. Because of his recent inconsistencies, Cassidy has moved DeBrusk down to the third-line with Charlie Coyle. DeBrusk can use this time to build chemistry with Coyle and regain his offensive touch again. His entry-level contract is about to expire, and I predict the price to re-sign DeBrusk will be between the $3M-$4M range.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

Yes, the 43-year old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara. Even though fans were very reluctant to bring the Bruins’ Captain back on board last season, Sweeney has made it very clear that Chara has the right to play in Boston. “I think he’s earned the right to determine [his future here] and when his career will end,” Sweeney said back on Bruins Media Day. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be an impactful player, registering five goals and 13 points with a +24 rating so far this season. He also provides a wealth of leadership and continues to build on the legacy he’s been building with Boston since 2006-2007. Chara also continues to be one of the Bruins’ most reliable players on the penalty-kill unit and maintains over 20 minutes of average time-on-ice per game. If Chara believes he is fit for another season, it would be in the Bruins’ best interest to re-sign him for another year between $1M-$2M.

Bold Predictions

Other Bruins players who will be looking to extend their contracts at the end of the season are; Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Joakim Nordstrom (UFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), and Kevan Miller (UFA). If the Bruins were to re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara at my predicted amount(s), they would have about $5M-$8M left in cap space. Does this leave room for Sweeney to make a trade, or sign other depth-players with expiring contracts?

I predict the Boston Bruins will re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara. I also believe the Bruins will look to come to terms with Grzelcyk, Bjork, and Kuhlman, but I believe they will let Nordstrom walk and because of injuries, will not re-sign Miller. If you were the GM of the Boston Bruins, what moves would you make this off-season?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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.

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How The Trade Deadline Affects The Bruins Offseason Plans

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s been a few days since the trade deadline and I still don’t quite know how to feel about it all. There’s no questioning if the Bruins improved, they did, but many (including myself) am still asking if Don Sweeney and co did enough for this season, but that’s not the point of this article. Regardless of what the Bruins did to affect the team for this year, the trades made certainly helped the team for years to come.

The Trades

To Boston: Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

To Anaheim: Danton Heinen, David Backes ($1.5 mill retained), Axel Andersson, 2020 1st round pick
Nick Ritchie

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

No Rentals

 

Unlike years in the past where we saw the Bruins’ management go after rentals like Marcus Johansson, Rick Nash (oof) and Lee Stepniak (even bigger oof), the Bruins acquired players with term. They saw how well it worked with last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle and looked to continue that success of grabbing players that won’t be gone at the season’s end. 

Both Ritchie and Kase have extra years on their contract and even more years of team control due to their RFA status. The duo are both young and have plenty of room to grow on their already solid NHL careers. Nick Ritchie is a hard-nosed player that fits the style of play the Bruins love. The former 10th overall pick is still young at 24 years-old and with his recent play (three goals and three assists in his last four game) has a chance to trump his career-high in goals of 14. 

If healthy, Ondrej Kase has a real chance to be a game-changer for the black and gold. Two seasons ago, the Czech Republic native hit the 20 goal mark in 66 games. The following season was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but Kase was well on his way to hit career highs in both points and goals with 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Now playing on a far better Bruins squad, we’d hope to see the improved play on his part.

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

( Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports )

Offseason Plans

The Bruins have a lot on their plate this offseason. Powerplay QB Torey Krug is an upcoming UFA and will certainly get paid whether he stays or goes. Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman are among the slew of RFAs that will get a considerable bump in salary. There’s no guarantee if Zdeno Chara will call it quits after this season, but if he doesn’t, that’s another contract to add to the books. Fellow Slovakian and backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been huge for the Bruins over the past couple years and it would be a tough loss if the Bs weren’t able to resign him. 

The Bruins had about $17 million in projected cap space for next year before the deals. With the subtraction of Heinen and Backes’ combined $7.3 million and addition of Kase and Ritchie’s and additions of roughly $4.1 million, it gives the Bruins an extra $3.2 million worth of cap space to work with. If we loosely project what the Bruins UFA and RFAs we get contracts that look like this:

Torey Krug – 7.25m

Zdeno Chara – 1.5m

Jaroslav Halak – 3m

Joakim Nordstrom – 1.5m

Kevan Miller – Honestly no idea with all of his injuries, I think he’s a goner regardless. 1m

Jake Debrusk – This one really depends if it’s long-term or a bridge, I’d say 4-5m

Matt Grzelyck – 3m

Anders Bjork – 1.5m

Karson Kuhlman – 1m

Adding all these together gives the Bruins a rough estimate of $24 million worth of contracts to give. With Nordstrom and Miller likely gone, a number of $21.5 million seems doable with the amount of cap space the Bruins are projected to have. with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow. With the now over $20 million in space with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow, it seems more likely the Bruins will be able to keep most of the gang together. If the Bs fail to win the ultimate prize this season, Don Sweeney has set this Bruins team up for the future.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!

Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

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LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

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Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!

Grading the Bruins’ Deadline Deals

don-sweeney

(Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

This year’s NHL Trade Deadline was one for the record books.  32 trades were executed before the February 24, 2020, 3pm deadline, which broke 2010’s record of 31.  The Bruins accounted for two of the 32 trades, both of which were with the same team.

General Manager Don Sweeney executed two separate trades with the Anaheim Ducks.  The first sent the Bruins’ 2020 first-round draft pick, David Backes, and prospect Axel Andersson for right-winger Ondrej Kase.  The second was a rare one-for-one deal, sending Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Both trades were executed with a specific need in mind, as well as looking toward future cap space.

It’s no secret that the Bruins have been desperately searching for a right-winger to cement next to David Krejci.  He hasn’t had a formidable, long-standing right-winger since Nathan Horton.  The Bruins have a plethora of wingers in their organization, but none have been able to hold the second-line reigns for long stretches.  They had been scouring the trade market and free agency pools for years, but their cap space kept holding them back from over-extending themselves.

David Backes signed on July 1, 2016, to a 5-year, $30M deal.  His cap hit accounted for $6M each year, which grew increasingly difficult to stomach as a Bruins fan.  The 35-year old centerman grew slower each year and couldn’t keep up with the current NHL pace.  He was a fantastic presence in the room, but that didn’t outweigh his cap hit.  On January 17, 2020, the Bruins made a surprising move.

The move relieved $2M of Backes’ deal from their cap space, and both sides came to an understanding that he would not play in the American Hockey League to stay healthy.  This is known as asset management, which most assumed meant the Bruins were shopping him to other teams.  Executives around the league knew the Bruins would need to sweeten the pot in any trade to rid themselves of the Backes’ deal.

The NHL witnessed the Toronto Maple Leafs pull off a similar trade, sending Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2019 for a conditional first-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick.  This set the trade market for risky NHL contracts that a team would want to shed.

The trade also creates cap space next off-season to sign Torey Krug.  Krug is on the last of his 4-year, $21M deal and has been a remarkable offensive weapon for the Bruins.  He is their power-play quarterback and has posted over 50 points in three of the last four years.  Torey is currently on pace to post a career-high 63 points this year.  He will cost at least $6M per on his next deal, and the Bruins finally have some money to give.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-shot winger who is under contract through 2021.  He carries a $2.6M cap hit and will be a restricted free-agent after 2021.  The Czech Republic native is familiar with David Pastrnak in their Olympic hockey days and will play alongside another fellow Czech in David Krejci.  The move felt like Sweeney wanted to accomplish two things: get Krejci a winger who can contribute now and get younger.

Kase has underachieved in his three and a half years in Anaheim.  He’s reached the 20-goal plateau once and has been a versatile weapon.  He can play in all facets of the game, from power-play to penalty kill.  He stands at 6’0 183 pounds and is exceptionally shifty.

The one knock on his resume is his injury history.   He was traded from Anaheim on the Injured Reserve List, and the Bruins are going to be cautious with his return.  The Bruins sit atop the NHL, five points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, so they have the luxury of time to manage their assets.  Bruins fans would like to see Kase before the end of the season, which will likely happen.  

Don Sweeney can be given an A-minus for this trade.  He was able to accomplish two areas of need: create long-term cap space for impending free-agents and add a non-rental to his top-six forward group.  Kase’s performance and potential on the Bruins remain to be seen, so of course, the grade can change.

The second trade occurred on Deadline Day, which was a one-for-one sending Boston’s Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Ritchie is the younger brother of recent free-agent signing Brett Ritchie.  Nick was selected tenth overall in the 2014 draft out of the Ontario Hockey League.  He’s played five years on the Anaheim Ducks totaling 109 points in 287 games.  He is a large bottom-six forward at 6’2, 234 pounds, which brings toughness to the Bruins.

Many fans have voiced that the Bruins lack toughness, whether it be not standing up for one another or getting pushed around on the ice without a true enforcer.  Ritchie seems to fit that mold.  He doesn’t fight much, only two fighting majors in five years, but he does throw his body around and sticks up for his teammates.

Ritchie has 763 career hits and 79 already this year, which is on pace for 158 this year.  His brother Brett plays a similar game, but what separates Nick from Brett is the point total.  Nick has 19 points this year, which will rank eleventh on the Bruins (tied with Anders Bjork).  He also led the Ducks in plus/minus at plus three and carries a $1.5M cap hit for this and next season.  He will also be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Though, Ritchie comes in with the most penalty minutes on the team.  He has amassed 78 penalty minutes this year, and none have been fighting majors.  The Bruins penalty kill is one of the best in the league, but he will have to eliminate the amount of time spent in the box when they face teams like the Washington Capitals.

Danton Heinen was sent to Anaheim in this deal, and it has been a bit of a mystery for most Bruins fans and NHL experts.  Heinen entered his rookie year, putting up 47 points, and his future was bright.  He hit a bit of a sophomore slump and seemed to focus more on his defense than his offense.  He was under-appreciated in Boston for the little things he did.

Heinen recently signed a 2-year, $5.6M deal this past off-season and will be a restricted free-agent again in 2021.  Sending Heinen saves the Bruins $1.3M in cap space, which will be helpful when Krug, Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake DeBrusk need new deals this upcoming off-season.

This particular trade will need to be re-evaluated in the playoffs and beyond.  Ritchie will likely replace Heinen on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Bjork.  He has a knack for standing in front of the net and battling for loose pucks.  The move seems to be more forward-looking than for immediate help, but his size could be beneficial when the Bruins face-off against bigger teams like the Lightning and Capitals.  For now, this trade receives a C.

Averaging the two grades together, the Bruins received a solid B for their deadline trades.  They addressed a few areas of need in acquiring a top-six forward and a bulky bottom-six winger.  Sweeney has a tendency to acquire players the Bruins aren’t linked to, and it works out.  Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle come to mind in this regard.  Though, Sweeney has signed and traded for a few bruisers who haven’t worked out: David Backes, Brett Ritchie, and Zac Rinaldo.  Hopefully, Ritchie can break his enforcer track record, and Kase can perform up to his potential, which would raise Sweeney’s 2020 deadline day grade.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!

The Arms Race In The East, And How It Affects The Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

With just days to go until the Trade Deadline, the dominos have already begun to fall. Teams have been gearing up for the great battle that is the Stanley Cups Playoffs. In the West, we’ve seen a few moves to bolster some already strong roster. The Canucks went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli, the Jets nabbed Dylan Demelo from Ottawa and Vegas added Alec Martinez. But the biggest story as of now has been the massive arms race that’s been shaping up the in the Bruins’ Conference.

On February 5th, the arms race began and has already paid dividends for the teams involved. The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it all off when they fixed two of their biggest issue, toughness and backup goaltending. They received that aid in the form of Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from LA. In doing so, they gave up young forward Trevor Moore and a pair of 3rd rounders (one of which has the chance to bump up to a 2nd if conditions are met). The two have fit right in, Jack Campbell is 3-0-1 between the pipes and Clifford has added nice grit in their bottom-six.

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) screens Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) on the power play during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild on November 23, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

A few days later, we saw the always active Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburg Penguins find a replacement for the injured Jake Guentzel when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild. Minnesota received a nice haul for the forward with a 2020 1st round pick, Calen Addison (a top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system) and the struggling Alex Galchenyuk. Zucker has been awesome since sporting the Penguins’ colors and has three goals and an assist in four games.

After losing Adam Pelech to injury, the New York Islanders shored up their defense and gave veteran Andy Greene a new home, sending a 2nd rounder and Dave Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Greene has helped off the bat, contributing an assist in his first game. The hottest team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, made a big splash with the aforementioned Devils when they acquired Blake Coleman for the big package of Nolan Foote and a 1st round pick. And just recently, the Capitals added the physical Brendon Dillon from the Sharks for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.

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

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with three of the four top teams in the East (as well as two contenders) all making moves, it’s crucial the Bruins don’t fall behind. The acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last season proved that when moves are made right, they have huge pay-offs. The Bruins yet again need to make a move to keep up, and that move needs to be for some help upfront.

With Tyler Toffoli recently dealt to the Canucks, that leaves one less option for Boston to add, so what’s left? For guys that can play in the top-six, we have Chris Kreider, Mike Hoffman, and my personal favorite, Kyle Palmieri. As we’ve seen from the trades already made, the prices for impact players are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to think that the three listed would go for a 1st rounder, plus a variety of players, prospects, and picks.

If the Bruins choose to balk at those prices, some second-tier options would be the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson, Ondrej Kase a the duo of Predators in Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. I’d assume the baseline for these players would be similar to the price the Bruins paid for Marcus Johansson at last year’s deadline, a 2nd rounder plus a sweetener. Some help in the bottom-six (which really shouldn’t be a priority) could have options like Vladislav Namestnikov, Derek Grant, Barclay Goodrow, Wayne Simmonds or maybe even Joe Thornton. Much of the East has already made improvements so Boston, you’re up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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.

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Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

The Boston Bruins fancy themselves contenders for a National Hockey League title which would see them the first group to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup for the decade. Most of the hockey world would agree with their position seeing that as of their February 16th, 2020 win against the New York Rangers, they sit atop of their division and the League’s standings with 84 points on the back of a 36-11-12 record. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rebounded after a brutal start and sit only 3 points behind and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be finding their groove. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals most likely features one of the star-studded teams in blue and white so the Bruins may as well swing for the fences before the Trade Deadline on February 24, 2020.

The Bruins lay claim to the Leagues 5th worst Expected Goals For (xGF) in the league. While this is partially offset by a stellar 3rd place position in Expected Goals Against (xGA) the fact of the matter is that both of their division rivals sport more potent offenses, especially the deep forward corps of the Lightning. More notably, the Lighting feature a similar defensive profile and it’s reflected in their numbers. This means the B’s will be in it for a forward, as so many are predicting. Why stop there though? The Bruins should buck expectation and bolster their top-nine by being aggressive and grabbing two… at least.

Why Not Have it All?

In upgrading their forward group, the consensus is that the B’s are gunning for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. If they miss out on the deadline prize, the pundits proclaim, then they will settle for secondary rental options like, Kyle Palmieri on the New Jersey Devils, Ondrej Kase in Anaheim, or Ilya Kovalchuck who they could have had for the cost of a roster spot and .0002% of Charlie Jacobs net worth (read: essentially free). Candidates are becoming fewer and farther between as Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Jason Zucker have all found new homes in the past week. The trade price of Kreider has been previously been reported as a first-round round pick and a top prospect and may have increased since, per Pierre Lebrun.

That’s a nice chunk of change, no doubt in a draft year that scouts are proclaiming will yield a deep crop of young talent, per the contributors at The Hockey News. The market on the other forwards has likely been set by the Toffoli deal that saw the Kings bring in Tim Schaller on an expiring contract, a good prospect’s signing rights in Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-rounder contingent on the Vancouver Canucks signing the 28-year-old right-wing. If those prices hold and the teams are still looking to sell, the B’s may possess the currency to deal for Kreider and one of the “second-tier” options, specifically Kyle Palmieri.

What Would the Prices Translate To?

Consider a total trade package consisting of the Bruins’ 2020 first-round pick, a roster player such as Danton Heinen and prospects such as Urho Vaakenainen or Trent Frederic for the Blueshirt’s Chris Kreider. Is that a palatable rental arrangement if you’re Don Sweeny? Alternatively, you have a package similar to a 2020 second-round pick and Jakob Zboril, Jakub Louko or possibly even Zach Senyshyn for one of the second-tier options. Which would you pick? Again, the answer is both. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

On the Bruins’ current roster, eight players will need new deals or replacements.  This figure does not include Kevan Miller’s expiring contract, as he seems destined to spend the entirety of this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, taking him to free agency.  This situation leaves approximately $18M to distribute over 8 players, two spots of which represent the player with the second-highest Time on Ice on the Penalty Kill and a back-up goaltending position that has become of increasingly more important to the B’s, if not to all teams across the league. Obvious new deals include the resigning of Torey Krug and Jake Debrusk, which will most likely eat $11 – $12 million of that for at least the next few years.  With only six million in cap space, the Bruins will have to, most likely, replace Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Jaroslav Halak, potentially Matt Grzelyck and almost certainly one of Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. 

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None of this considers a David Backes buyout or retained salary trade, which is to say one way or another, the Bruins will be carrying dead cap space immediately after the Matt Belesky and Dennis Seidenberg money was to come off the books. With so many question marks in the future, why not take stock of what’s important to the organization (also known as Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman and potentially John Beecher), identify your roster’s weaknesses today and deal from a position of strength to address them for a long run? The deals on the highest-profile trade targets are expiring after the season allowing for cap flexibility to either resign home-grown players, re-sign the acquired players or dip into the free-agent market.

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

The remnants of the 2011 Cup-winning team are all into their 30’s. Brad Marchand, the youngest of the bunch, is 31 and will be 36 when his deal expires. Chara will most likely not be resigned, whether he wants to hang ‘em up or not, and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the ripe age of 43. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask round out the veteran leaders. All of these players still fill irreplaceable roles on the squad, no matter how much flak Krejci and Rask take from the local supporters. If management wants to give their team the best chance to win, it’s today because tomorrow doesn’t look great according to statistics.

Below, one can inspect the average values of players’ Expected Goals For +/-, which is an aggregate number of Expected Goals-For and -Against – a stat based on comparing shots generated or yielded in specific locations with league-wide shooting percentages from those locations at even strength –  for the seasons including and between 2014 – 2015 and 2019 – 2020. Included were only those players who played in 25 or more games in each of those seasons and the data was split between forwards and defense. The trend is quite clear. (All Stats aggregated from Hockey Reference and manipulated by the author as described above).

Along with the bulk of the line, one can clearly identify the downward trend for both groups of skaters. Anomalies occur on the two extremes of age where we see individual performances from the likes of Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, indicating well-above-average skill, at ages with few samples dominate the averages. That the B’s core skaters are still on the good side of this curve is a testament to their quality. Even the oft-maligned Krejci has proven to be the team’s best option on the 2nd line in the 1b role. As seen below, however, their implied effectiveness is slowing down.

Everyone understands the physical beating that Chara, Krejci, and Bergeron have taken in support of the organization’s success. Brad Marchand will only follow that script as he accumulates more years, games and negative attention from opposing defenses. Expected goals for is not an end-all, be-all number, there are other reasons Jagr is no longer in the League, but it is a solid indicator of a player’s contribution to the team. This regressive trend punctuates the point that if the team is going to win with these players, this year might as well be their year.

Bruins Thin on the Wings

Beyond players named David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand who comprise 66% of the highly touted top line, the team’s biggest weakness it on the wing. This weakness is of the physical variety and in terms of their underlying performance. Much has been made about the Bruins’ apparent lack of size against opponents like the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. The places where that differential is most important though is exactly where you need your wingers to spend most of their time: the corners of the offensive zone and around the opposing netminder’s crease. Heinen isn’t terrible at controlling the puck in those tight spaces and Bjork’s board play has improved by leaps and bounds, but in reality, physical size is still a variable that needs to be considered in a high octane contact sport. Here we see how the Bruins’ wingers compare to the teams of the Eastern Conference that are either in or in striking distance from a playoff position by team average (excluding goaltenders) and then the average of their defensive players.

No question, the Bruins wingers are at a size disadvantage, particularly when considering the opposing teams’ defensive players. Boston’s presented figure is actually lifted by the inclusion of Sean Kuraly who ordinarily plays center but his found himself on the wing for parts of this season. It isn’t enough to have a willingness to go to the net or engage in battles; one must possess that tenacity but also the physical traits that will prevent the player from being shucked off of the puck or out of inside position. The big prize of the deadline, Kreider will add physical size and not sacrifice much if not anything in regards to foot speed. Palmieri might not swing the numbers on size but he provides excellent offensive prowess and aside from the top line wingers, the Bruins lack impact forwards that don’t man the middle of the ice.

Boston’s wingers, broadly sport poor possession metrics, indicated by their Fenwick-For Relative, which is a measure of how a player impacts unblocked shots. Outside of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, only three wingers that have played at least 25 games (outside of Karson Kuhlman who was on the shelf for most of the first half of the season) are influencing the flow of play in a positive manner and all of those forwards have a metric below one suggesting they do not have much of an impact. The average for that group in the 2019 – 2020 season is -1.9 against the average for all forwards on those same playoff teams of .3. Against wingers on that group of teams over the same time period, the average Fenwick-For Relative is .1. Less to be sure, but by and large, all of the forwards on teams in the East expected to make noise are having a positive impact on possession or at least, not a negative one.

Here again, the addition of both Kreider and Palmieri immediately addresses the need for wingers that help control play. They sport sterling possession metrics across the board and would lift the team’s ability to control play on both wings. If management is going to subject poor David Krejci to a revolving door of line-mates, they might as well keep that portal twirling and stick these two above average, in-their-prime players in there and hope for some magic. Don’t care for “fancy stats?” Well, Kreider would immediately rank 4th in points on the team while Palmieri would be 5th. They would bring a collective 45 goals on the season with little to suggest their production will slow down on a superior team headed to the playoffs.

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

The Bruin’s defense has been one of the most under-sung successes of the year. In some ways, like goals-against average, defensive metrics can be a team stat incorporating efforts from the forwards and goalies in addition to the blue-liners. Regardless, the Bruins sport one of the best-expected goals-against metrics in the League and the 3rd best actual vs expected goals against differential, behind Colorado and Tampa Bay. Torey Krug is still one of the premier power-play quarterbacks, Charlie McAvoy has started to find twine, Brandon Carlo is reminding all who really follow the team that he isn’t some 3rd rate talent behind the B’s 14th overall pick in 2016 and the rest of the cast is providing great support both on five on five and on special teams. Furthermore, options on the trade market are dwindling as Marco Scandella and Brenden Dillion have both moved from selling teams to contenders.

In an ideal world, the Bruins would acquire a depth option to add to the top-6 defenders that would address some size concerns and perhaps take some pressure off of Chara and Carlo on the PK. This is not an ideal world however and there are other teams seeking to do the same. In such a case the Bruins management ought to focus on the primary roster weaknesses addressed above

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

Gone are the days when B’s fans could tout that their team was “built for the playoffs.” This current roster relies far too heavily on the power-play to get into the win column and love it or hate it, the way that referees interpret the rules in the playoffs changes. Fewer penalties are called, period. One only needs to look at the Bruins’ game seven defeat in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The only penalty called was a mandatory puck-over-glass delay of game against Colton Parayko. Although there was plenty of physicality, clutching and grabbing the rest of the game, only the Blues managed to score the meaningful even-strength goals.

In order to accomplish that, you need a top-six set of forwards that will force opposing teams to make choices instead of shutting down one troika for the duration of even-strength play in the playoffs. Providing Krejci not one, but two, real offensive threats that will get to the danger areas and use speed and tenacity to provide him time and space is imperative to forcing hard decisions on even strength coverage. The positive impact on Krejci’s line alone would sure up the third line that has been relatively weak when compared to seasons between 2010 and 2013 where versatile options like Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, among others, combined to create fantastic checking lines with the ability to chip in on the score sheet. One of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron may win the Conn Smythe, but one player (or even all three) will not win the Stanley Cup.

If the Bruins are to return to the Cup Final for a second consecutive year, they must realize that they will face tougher competition than the year prior and ensure that they add reinforcements that will truly address their roster weaknesses. With salary cap uncertainty, flexibility will remain of the utmost importance so a rental option is likely to be considered. The core of the group is certainly deep into their back nine in terms of both time under contract and ineffectiveness. Their defense, while flawed in some ways, is the envy of all but perhaps 5 teams in the entire league and they are bolstered by proven, above-average goaltending. With all of these things considered, the B’s should go all-in on Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri (or someone who is available and similar) to address their weaknesses with conviction.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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 Post-Game Recap: Boston at Minnesota: 02/01/20

cut (52)

PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

Immediately after the NHL All-Star break and Boston’s week-long break, the Bruins are right back at it with their second game in as many nights since they returned. Last night, the B’s edged out a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets in one of the most physical games of the season to date. A win over the Wild tonight in Minnesota would only continue that momentum.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Home: Minnesota Wild (23-21-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (30-10-12)

Bruins Last Game: 2-1 win vs WPG

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Forwards Sean Kuraly (healthy scratch) and Danton Heinen (minor injury) are out while Anton Blidh and Par Lindholm enter the lineup.

First Period:

Boston looking physical to start the period with some good board play and hits from the opening faceoff. However, the first real chance to score came from Minnesota when defenceman Matt Dumba takes a shot to Jaroslav Halak, ringing it off of the bar.

In the second half of the first, the Bruins strike first. Torey Krug makes a brilliant move to get past the defenders and bury it past goalie Devan Dubnyk to score his sixth of the season. The tenacity to drive to the net and make the effort to score is what the Bruins need for a full 60 minutes tonight.

The Bruins were forced to go shorthanded late in the period when McAvoy was sent to the box for hooking Zach Parise, but a solid penalty-killing effort brings this game back to 5-on-5.

Aside from the goal, it was a solid period for the Bruins. There weren’t too many high-quality chances for Minnesota to equalize the score and the B’s generated some chances of their own. Good start on the second game of a back-to-back.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 MIN: 11

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Krug (6) Assists: Lindholm (2), Krejci (23)

Second Period:

Looking to continue a strong start to this game, the Bruins play well in the opening minutes of the second period. 3:49 into the frame, the Bruins draw an interference penalty, giving them their first power-play chance of the night. Following some good puck movement around the offensive zone, Brad Marchand finds Torey Krug on a cross-ice feed, allowing Krug to get control of the puck and fire it off the post and off the back of Dubnyk, going into the net. Krug’s second of the night makes it 2-0 Boston.

On the very next shift after the tally, Eric Staal takes another interference penalty for the Wild, giving the dangerous Bruins man-advantage a second consecutive chance to score. Only 33 seconds into the power-play, Krug returns the favor to Marchand, making a solid pass that allowed Marchand to blast a one-timer past Dubnyk and just like that – the Bruins have a 3-0 lead in this game.

As we pass the halfway mark of the game, the Bruins go to the penalty kill once again as Charlie McAvoy is sent to the box for roughing as a Wild player entered the defensive zone. During the penalty, both Marchand and Mikko Koivu get into a tussle together in front of the benches and the officials decide to send both to the box simultaneously. Not long after, McAvoy exits the box.

With 5:28 to go in the period, Torey Krug draws a holding minor sending Boston right back to the power-play. Following a few shots that created net-front battles, David Pastrnak ended up locating the loose puck and ripping it into the open net, scoring his 38th goal of the campaign and it’s 4-0 Bruins. The goal matches Pastrnak’s previous career-high in goals and it is only February 1st.

Jake DeBrusk took a penalty later in the frame, but the Bruins did a great job killing it off again, entering the second intermission with a four-goal lead.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 MIN: 19

Score: 4-0 Bruins – Goals: Krug (7) PPG Assists: Marchand (46), Pastrnak (36); Marchand (22) PPG Assists: Krug (29), Pastrnak (37); Pastrnak (38) PPG Assists: Krejci (24), DeBrusk (15)

Third Period:

Having lost large leads in the third period of play earlier this year, the Bruins need to keep the pressure coming and keep playing the same hockey they have been over the last five periods since the break. David Pastrnak nearly buries his second of the game off of a bomb of a shot courtesy of a Marchand pass, but the shot rings off the post and stays out.

Roughly seven minutes into the final regulation period, the Bruins go back to the penalty kill as captain Zdeno Chara was whistled down on a hooking minor. Boston successfully killed it off, thanks to a few big blocked shots by forward Anton Blidh, who entered the lineup for Danton Heinen tonight. He is making the most of this opportunity and he’s doing a great job. Back to even-strength.

Just around the ten-minute mark of the frame, the Bruins drive to the net, giving the puck to Torey Krug who nearly sneaks the puck short-side past the Wild goaltender for the hat-trick, but the defenceman in the crease stops the bid.

With 8:43 remaining, the Wild take yet another penalty and the Bruins have a golden chance to score their fifth of the game. Boston fails to score, back to even-strength.  Just over four minutes left to tick away, Mats Zuccarello spins and shoots the puck off of Halak’s shoulder and into the net, ending Halak’s shutout and making it a three-goal game once again.

Playing until the final horn is the key for the Bruins and they proved that. Andres Bjork does a fantastic job on the forecheck to get the puck loose for Joakim Nordstrom who feeds it right back to Bjork, burying it past Dubnyk to make it 5-1. Only a few shifts afterwards, Karson Kuhlman fakes a brilliant pass to Jake DeBrusk for the sixth goal, Bruins win 6-1 the final score.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 34 MIN: 26

Final Score: 6-1 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 2 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 19:09 TOI

2nd Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 15:27 TOI

3rd Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 25 Saves, .962 SV%

Boston will have the rest of the weekend off, preparing for Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks in Boston.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 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 Place Forward David Backes on Waivers

David Backes

PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.ca)

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

As per numerous reports on social media, including from The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey on Twitter) and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC on Twitter), the Boston Bruins have placed forward David Backes for assignment to the Providence Bruins.

David Backes, 35, has played in 16 games this season for the Bruins, scoring one goal and two assists for three points and a -2 rating. Backes has not played a game since Boston’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets on January 9th where he skated for eleven shifts totalling 8:35 of ice-time. He has not scored a point since December 5th against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Boston signed the Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA native to a five-year, $30,000,000 contract ($6 million AAV) on the opening day of free agency back in the 2016 off-season. Prior to the signing, Backes had been the captain of the St. Louis Blues, totalling 727 career regular-season games with the Blues, scoring 206-254-460 numbers in that span. It was a tough move for him to make, but he felt he had a better shot to hoist the Stanley Cup if he signs with the Bruins.

Since the signing, Backes has not turned out to be what Boston expected. In 217 regular-season games for the Black and Gold, Backes scored 29-55-94 numbers along with 12 points in 39 playoff games dating back to the 2016-17 campaign. Backes scored two goals and three assists during Boston’s 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run as well.

The move to send Backes down is an interesting one, considering the move to put Brett Ritchie on waivers earlier in the week (he cleared). With players such as Karson Kuhlman and even Anton Blidh pushing for more consistent spots on the roster, older veterans like Backes simply don’t have the space on the team anymore. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy re-iterated that in a much simpler way.

The likelihood of Backes getting claimed by one of the other 31 NHL franchises is slim, but there is a benefit to him going to the Providence Bruins as well. As Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork on Twitter) stated, if the 35-year-old clears waivers, the Bruins will free up $1 million in salary. With the trade deadline looming around the corner, every dollar counts and Backes’ $6 million cap hit right now is a lot to continue paying if he continues to be in the press box.

For the latest breaking news, updates, and injury reports, make sure to check back on blackngoldhockey.com and follow on Twitter (@BlackNGoldPod). The Boston Bruins play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, January 19th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30pm EST.

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!!