Bruins Patrice Bergeron Preparing For Another Career Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

In the future, the Boston Bruins will likely be raising the #37 banner into the TD Garden rafters and Patrice Bergeron will go down as one of the greatest players to play in the Spoked-B sweater and one of the greatest defensive forwards in the history of the National Hockey League.Thankfully for us, we are still in the midst of Bergeron’s career and the accolades and milestones will only continue to pile up.

Before we dive into Bergeron’s upcoming 2019-20 campaign, it helps to learn about the beginning stages of the beloved assistant captain. Bergeron was drafted 45th Overall (2nd Round) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Born in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada, Bergeron spent his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Bergeron played the full 2002-03 season with the Titan, putting up an impressive 23-50-73 stat sheet in 70 games including another 15 points in 11 playoff games. After being selected by the Bruins in the NHL Draft, he made his way to the big leagues, where he played in 71 games during the 2003-2004 regular season, scoring 16-23-39 numbers in that span. This was the same year that Bergeron won his World Championship Gold Medal with Canada.

Due to the lockout in the 2004-2005 NHL season, Bergeron played with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, scoring 61 points in 68 games. The center was also able to play in the Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship where he would once again win Gold with Canada while winning the MVP of the tournament and scoring the most points (13) out of any other player. Following his first 70-point season for Boston, Bergeron was named assistant captain of the Bruins to start the 2006-2007 campaign.

Patrice was forced to miss the entirety of the 2007-08 season due to a concussion suffered in October of ’07, but came back the following year with 8-31-39 totals in 64 games played. After winning his first of two Olympic Gold Medals with Canada in 2010, Bergeron scored 57 points in 80 games, but added another 20 points in 24 playoff games to win the Stanley Cup in 2011. This win stamped Patrice Bergeron’s name in the “Triple Gold Club” – World Championship Gold, Olympic Gold, and Stanley Cup.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/Boston Bruins)

In his 15-year career with the Boston Bruins to date, the now 34-year-old Bergeron has 321-492-813 numbers in 1028 career NHL games, winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward in the NHL four times (tied with Bob Gainey for most all-time), winning Olympic Gold twice, and having his #37 retired by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

In this past 2018-19 season, Bergeron dealt with some injuries throughout the year, keeping him to only 65 games played, but he managed to hit the 70-point mark for the first time since his concussion twelve seasons ago and he nearly hit 80 points for the first time in his career. According to Hockey Reference, Bergeron recorded 42 takeaways and only 27 giveaways, earning his eighth-straight Selke nomination.

With the official Bruins training camp beginning tomorrow, we turn to the upcoming 2019-2020 NHL season and this one, not anymore than the other years, can be and should be a career-setting season for one of the best. Below are some of the big milestones and accomplishments that can be reached by “Bergy” this year.

  • 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • 850 Career Points (Current: 813)
  • 3rd-Most Games Played as a Bruin (Don Sweeney: 1052) (Current: 1028)
  • 5th-Most Goals as a Bruin (Cam Neely: 344) (Current: 321)
  • 5th-Most Assists as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 516) (Current: 492)
  • 5th-Most Points as a Bruin (Bobby Orr: 888) (Current: 813)
  • 4th-Most Even-Strength Goals as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 218) (Current: 209)
  • 5th-Most Power-Play Goals as a Bruin (Rick Middleton: 102) (Current: 96)
  • 2nd-Most Shots as a Bruin (Phil Esposito: 3223) (Current: 3047)

From the statistics above, it is clear that for the remainder of history, Patrice Bergeron will be one of the greatest players to play for the Boston Bruins and as his career continues, he will only continue to rise through the rankings of some of the all-time greats.

However, recent news showed that Bergeron may still be dealing with some lingering injuries that have been bothering him for the past few seasons. During the Stanley Cup Finals, it was made clear that Bergeron was dealing with a groin injury that kept him from playing at a full 100-percent. Once the series concluded, the news came out that he would not require off-season surgery, but Bergeron said the pain has lingered during the summer.

“I feel better,” he said. “It’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer, so I got a PRP in July I think and I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice and … I think it’s what we’re trying shoot for is more October rather than this Thursday.” 

If Patrice Bergeron does decide to participate in the Bruins training camp that begins tomorrow, expect him to be limited in what he can do. Regardless, the hope is for Bergeron to have a full season or at least one that does not see much time missed. Bergeron went on to say the following in the same NHL.com article by Matt Kalman.

“It’s been a short summer. I think the best way to go at it is to kind of take it slowly and kind of make sure you get ready for October instead of getting ready for the first day of camp,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s how you kind of build that up and how you’re able to be fully rested or feeling good in January and February and the long stretch. You know I think that’s what you’ve got to aim for.”

Do you think Patrice Bergeron hits any or all of the milestones above? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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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Mainville’s Full 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports Images)

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

September has always been one of my favorite months of the year. The summer is winding down, the students start heading back to school, the leaves begin to fall off the trees, the sweaters and pants come out of the drawers while the tank-tops and shorts go back until next year. However, best of all, the return of the NHL hockey season is right around the corner.

Before the season officially begins in October, the events that come before the first puck drop of the year fall one after another. Rookie camp, training camp, preseason games – all while management scrambles to find the players who have proven enough to make it to the big leagues, to earn a spot in the NHL, but also send the players who failed to reach those expectations to lower levels of hockey.

This time last season, I published my official 2018-19 in-depth predictions – going over my lineups, statistics, final standings, and of course, the success of the playoff season. Taking a glance back at that article showed that I was wrong about a few things, but regardless, it is fun to do just that and look back. So without further ado, here are my official 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions. 

Lineups

This season more than ever, predicting the lineup of the Boston Bruins is a difficult task. The Bruins still do not have a proven top-six right-winger to play alongside David Krejci on the second line and with the loss of Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari to free agency, the Bruins have some more holes to fill from their Stanley Cup Finals appearance this past June.

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

(Lindholm)

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

(Moore – IR, Miller – IR)

Goaltenders

Rask

Halak

Earlier this off-season, I published an entire article on Black N’ Gold Hockey regarding this dilemma and this was the lineup that I had settled on. For this current moment, I am going to leave it this way but let it be known, that I would without question, substitute a prospect from the system into Brett Ritchie’s third-line role. However, due to the fact that it will come down to performance in training camp, I will leave them off. I do see Anders Bjork making an entrance on that third line, so do not be too surprised if that comes to fruition as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

Individual Statistics

Without a single ounce of doubt, the Boston Bruins have a plethora of talent in the system that can not only hold their own, but can put up numbers over the course of the 82-game NHL season. When it comes to making predictions a month out, individual statistics of these players are always the most difficult for me. Last season, I had Brad Marchand leading the team with 85 points – yet he turned in a 100-point season. Regardless, here we go.

Note: For these predictions, I am going to assume that no injuries are going to play an impact on any player and that Charlie McAvoy agrees to a contract before the season begins. Of course, both are not certain but it would be impossible to predict otherwise.

Top Three Scorers (Forwards)

Brad Marchand – 38G – 57A – 95P

David Pastrnak – 42G – 50A – 92P

Patrice Bergeron – 28G – 45A – 73P

Top Three Scorers (Defense)

Torey Krug – 5G – 45A – 50P

Charlie McAvoy – 14G – 35A – 49P

Matt Grzelcyk – 4G – 20A – 24P

I simply cannot put any other forward than the three superstars on the Bruins forward core when it comes to the highest point totals at the year end. Marchand had a tremendous 100-point season in 2018-19, but I do not think he will meet that mark. Pastrnak, on the other hand, will see a large increase from his 81 points last season due to his chance to play more than 66 games this year. Patrice Bergeron will increase in points as well for the same reason.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy could very well surpass Torey Krug this season for point totals as he only skated in 54 games in ’18/’19 – ten less than the veteran Krug. McAvoy will find his game, but I think with the power-play time of Krug, he will remain ahead of the young blueliner.

Regular Season Standings

Even with the changes throughout the league in the off-season, not too much should change in April when the final league standings on NHL.com are published. In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division is one filled with three powerhouses in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Aside from them, the talent drops off but will be picking up this year.

The other Eastern division, the Metropolitan, is one giant question mark. Franchises such as the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes can see large jumps in the standings while the Columbus Blue Jackets and even the Pittsburgh Penguins can see a worse position for the playoffs. My predictions for the standings here may be a little crazy, but truthfully, anything can happen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Atlantic Division:

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Boston Bruins
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs
  4. Florida Panthers (1st WC)
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Buffalo Sabres
  7. Ottawa Senators
  8. Detroit Red Wings

Metropolitan Division:

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. New York Islanders
  3. New Jersey Devils
  4. Carolina Hurricanes (2nd WC)
  5. New York Rangers
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Philadelphia Flyers

Possible Milestones for the Boston Bruins

Milestones are all over the sports world. Players breaking records set decades prior, teams reaching new marks that have never been seen before, or a player setting a new career-high or finally reaching that career goal total. With aging veterans, the Boston Bruins have quite a few players that can reach large career milestones.

Skaters:

  • F David Krejci – 200 Career Goals (Current: 194)
  • F Charlie Coyle – 100 Career Goals (Current: 93)
  • F Patrice Bergeron – 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • F Brad Marchand – 300 Career Assists (Current: 297)

Goaltenders:

  • Tuukka Rask – 500 Career Games Played (Current: 495)
  • Jaroslav Halak – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 47)
  • Tuukka Rask – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 45)

Playoffs:

Not one person genuinely thought the Boston Bruins would finish 2018-19 as the NHL’s Eastern Conference Champion, let alone pushing the St. Louis Blues to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. With that said, it happened. The Boston Bruins are not favorites to win the Cup this season, but there is absolutely nothing that says that they cannot contend again.

Do not be surprised when the Bruins and Maple Leafs once again battle it out in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals and it will go seven games and yet again, Boston will pull through on top. Toronto’s defense did not drastically improve and they have some holes around the lineup as well. I imagine the Bruins taking the series until Toronto improves defensively.

Everyone and their mother expected the Lightning to be a Finals-guarantee, but the defending President’s Trophy winners failed to win a single game in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, getting swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Look for them to comeback with a vengeance this season and I see them defeating the Bruins in the second-round. When at the very top of their game, Tampa Bay has given the B’s trouble and unfortunately that will be showcased in their best-of-seven series.

There you have it, my full prediction article for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins season. Agree or disagree with any of it? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Bruins’ Bergeron Named Selke Trophy Finalist

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(Photo: Matt Stone / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

For the eighth-straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is annually awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game” as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association at the end of the regular season. Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights are the other two finalists for the award this year. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trophy was first presented by the NHL Board of Governors in 1977.

Bergeron has won the award four times in his career (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017), which is tied with Bob Gainey for the most all-time. As the only active player to win the Selke Trophy four times, if Bergeron were to take home his fifth this year he would undoubtedly solidify himself among the all-time great Bruins and two-way forwards.

The 33-year-old certainly has a strong case to take home another Selke this season. Although he missed 17 games in the regular season, the Bruins’ alternate captain had his best offensive season of his career, totaling 47 assists, matching his career-high of 32 goals, and setting a new career-high in points with 79 in 65 games.

On top of his strong offensive output, Bergeron was the same stalwart defensively that everyone knows and loves. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center was strong at the face-off dot once again, boasting a 56.6% success rate (sixth in the league); it was Bergeron’s tenth-straight season having a face-off win percentage of at least 56%. Bergeron also posted a Corsi rating of 56.77%, the eighth year in a row that he has posted at least 55% for a Corsi rating.

In his 13th season as an alternate captain for the B’s, Bergeron skated in his 1,000th NHL game versus the New York Islanders on February 5th. He finished the season with a plus-23 rating and 30 penalty minutes. The 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Bergeron finished with the second-best offensive-zone face-off win percentage in the league with a 59.7% success rate, the fifth-most total power play face-off wins with 162, and the 13th-most total face-off wins (786).

The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec native scored the most short-handed goals on the Bruins this season with four, and tied Brad Marchand for the most-shorthanded points on the team with seven. Bergeron ranked first overall in the league in SAT, a team puck possession metric, with a percentage of 56.73% (minimum of 30 games played).

Bergeron is certainly up against stiff competition this year as both Stone and O’Reilly have had phenomenal seasons at both ends of the ice for their respective clubs. However, the Bruins’ best player has as strong of a case as he ever has, and we could see him add yet another milestone to his lengthy resume by the time the NHL Awards roll around this summer.

 

 

 

 

Bruins Marchand Closing In On 100-Point Season

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

With three assists in Boston’s 6-3 defeat of the New York Rangers at TD Garden on Wednesday night, Bruins winger Brad Marchand has moved to 97 points on the season and now has his sights firmly set on becoming the first Bruins player to hit that milestone since Joe Thornton had 101 points in the 2002-03 season.

With five games remaining it remains to be seen if Marchand will join Joe Thornton as the only 100-point Bruins in the last quarter century.  Prior to Thornton, the last Bruin to eclipse the century mark was Adam Oates in the 1993-94 season with a 112 point effort.

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It would be in Marchand’s best interest to bank the remaining three points he needs as quickly as possible as Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will likely be looking to rest many of his star players in the regular season’s final couple of games.  A look ahead to the Bruins final game of the season, at home against the President Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning on April 6th is one that could see both teams sit a number of regulars in preparation for their respective first-round playoff matchups.   The Bruins are closing in on 2nd place in the Atlantic Division (and home ice advantage in the first round) with a 6-point lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs with only 5 games to play for each club.

The evolution of Brad Marchand has been an amazing ride for the Boston Bruins and their fans over the past decade.  A third round (71st overall) draft pick in 2006, Marchand has evolved into one of the elite players in the game.  It hasn’t always been easy, his agitating style and propensity for playing on the edge has meant that it has taken a long time for Marchand to earn the respect of officials, opposing players and coaches, hockey media, and opposition fan bases, the latter of which remains in question.  There is no doubt, however, that his game has reached a level that warrants mention among the elite players in the game today.

( Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images )

As he puts the finishing touches on leading his club in scoring for the third consecutive season and fourth time in his career, the focus will be on continuing to play the game right, remaining fresh and healthy, and avoiding any run-ins with the NHL Department of Player Safety that could de-rail his opportunity to become a 100-point player in the league.  Bruins fans will recall that two seasons ago, Marchand was on the cusp of achieving a significant personal milestone and becoming a 40-goal scorer in the NHL when he speared Tampa Bay’s Jake Dotchin in game 80 of the regular season.  Marchand was suspended for the final two games of the regular season and finished on 39 goals for the campaign.  If anything good has come out of past indiscretions, it may be that Marchand has finally matured into an elite NHL winger who can play on the edge when needed but increasingly has the ability to skate away from the trouble that dogged him so much earlier in his career.

Whether Marchand reaches the 100-point mark or not remains to be seen over the next five games, but there is no question about how valuable a player Marchand has become for the Boston Bruins.   Fans will be cheering hard for one of their favorites to achieve this milestone but at the same time realize that preservation and preparation for the playoffs is going to be paramount over the final week and a half of the regular season.

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Entering the 2018-19 NHL season, just 109 players in league history had scored 100 or more points in a season, and only 9 members of the Bruins had achieved the feat.  Brad Marchand will have the opportunity to join those exclusive lists while eyeing a more significant goal, a deep playoff run and a march toward his second Stanley Cup championship.

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Bruins Marchand Continues Dominant Season With ‘Devilish’ Game vs. Devils

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Brad Marchand has been with the Bruins organization since the 2009-2010 season, following being drafted 71st overall (3rd round) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In that time, Marchand has not always been the point-producing scorer that we happen to know him as today.

Marchand started his career in the National Hockey League with only one point in twenty games during the ’09/’10 campaign but returned the following season with twenty-one goals and forty-one points in 77 regular season games. In his first six seasons, Marchand never amassed more than fifty-five points in a season, a mark that he reached back in 2011-12.

Within the 377 regular season games from 2009 to the end of the 2014-15 season, Marchand scored 116 goals and 112 assists for 228 points – not bad, but something that seems odd considering what Marchand has been doing for Boston in the past four seasons. Even at the time, it seemed like Marchand was capable of more because of his performance in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping the B’s hoist the Stanley Cup with 11-9-19 numbers – including two goals in Game 7 of the Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

For Brad Marchand, the offence truly started to click 2015-16. The Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada native scored thirty-seven goals that season and a lot of that could be attributed to his chemistry with Patrice Bergeron that had been growing strong over the previous seasons. Bergeron, even to this day, is one of the biggest reasons for the success of Brad Marchand.

Following that 37-24-61 year, Marchand entered the contract negotiation phase of career. Back in September of 2012, Marchand signed a four-year, $18 million contract worth $4,500,000 per season. With one year remaining, Marchand agreed to an eight-year, $49 million deal worth $6,125,000 every season until 2024-2025. Taking a look back on that deal, I and many other hockey fans feel that he could have very well demanded into the eight million range on the skill alone, but the age factor and the love of Boston persuaded him to take a little bit of a pay cut.

Right after signing the contract, Marchand went on to explode for eighty-five points on the final year of the previous contract, proving to all the naysayers that he deserves that long-term commitment. The 2016-17 season was so good for him, that he made it into his first career NHL All-Star Game. The question came up of course though, could he continue that success into the future years or was it a one-time sort of event to hit that point mark?

Well last season, Marchand answered that question by matching that exact point total. While he failed to meet the goal total, Marchand tallied six more assists than the year prior, mainly due to the emergence of young superstar David Pastrnak on the Bruins first-line. It is also fair to note, however, that Marchand scored 34-51-85 numbers in only 68 games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images)

That takes us to this season – the 2018-19 season. Brad Marchand started off the year on a slower pace than in the years prior but that could largely be because of the skill increase of Czech forward David Pastrnak. Pastrnak took the league by storm with his shooting capabilities and the scoring of Marchand kind of went under the radar by other NHL franchises, at least, the fanbases forgot about him.

With that said, Marchand is currently on pace for another career season. After sixty-four games, Marchy is averaging 1.19 points-per-game, currently the second-highest average of his career, behind last year’s effort. Marchand has only missed one game, leaving him the chance to hit 81 games played and with that 1.19 PPG average, Marchand can reach the 94-point mark and become the first Bruin since Marc Savard in 2006-07 (96) to hit ninety points in a single season.

Of course, Brad would have to finish off the season on this pace and avoid missing anymore time from injuries or suspensions. Even then, for him to hit a new career-high of 86 points, he would have to score ten points in the next eighteen games – very possible for Marchand.

He’s on pace to set a new career-high in points, so how exactly is Brad Marchand falling out of the mouths of opposing teams and fanbases, especially on social media platforms? Suspensions, or lack thereof rather. Over the past number of years, Marchand’s name has been on the news headlines for his in-game antics. The dirty hits, the spearing to the groin, and don’t remind me of the whole licking events. However this season, knowing that he may have received his final warning, Marchand has not yet been handed a suspension in the 2018-19 season. *knocks on wood*

Even if he fails to break or even match his personal point record, the fact that he has been able to consistently help the Boston Bruins win games and play well, then that is a win in my books and I’m sure, in a lot of your books as well.

On Saturday, Marchand played in his 666th career NHL regular season game, entering the contest with a combined total of 666 penalty minutes. Who did he happen to be playing against – the New Jersey Devils. I’ll let you put the pieces together from there. Regardless, Brad Marchand is on pace for a career season and without that, the Bruins may not be on a sixteen-game point streak and ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. From here on out to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we can only hope that Marchand’s season continues to build steam.

Marchand and the Bruins look to extend the point streak to seventeen games Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Bruins’ Keys To Success Coming Out Of The All-Star Break

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(Image: Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

After nine days off, the Bruins will return to action on Tuesday, January 29th, as the Winnipeg Jets come to town. While it is just one game, the way the Bruins play on Tuesday night can set the tone for the remaining 33 games of the regular season.

As things currently stand the day after the All-Star game, the Bruins hold the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference — two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for third in the Atlantic Division (the Bruins have two games in hand on the Habs) and three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic.

While those deficits don’t seem like too much to overcome, the Bruins cannot afford to fall into an extended rut as Montreal has been hot lately and Toronto seems to be coming out of a slump, which could result in their cushions on the Bruins growing.

After the way the last few games went for the Bruins going into the bye week and the All-Star break, it’s no secret that the team needs to be better, collectively. With that being said, let’s get into keys for success for the Bruins coming out of All-Star Weekend:

Staying Healthy: 

The injury bug that walloped the Bruins through the first half of the season has been well-documented, and while injuries are mainly out of human control, the Bruins absolutely cannot afford to lose a key player or a few for an extended period of time. The team was able to weather the storm just fine without Chara, Bergeron, etc. but the remaining schedule appears to be much tougher than the first leg of the season. So, if another key cog to the Bruins’ lineup goes down, it may not be as easy for the team to get by as it was the first go around.

Quality Goaltending (from BOTH goaltenders):

Speaking of health, Tuukka Rask gave us all quite a scare after the hit he took in the collision with Filip Chytil in the last game before the break. For those of you who haven’t seen it, please direct your attention here:

Woof, Tuukka fan or not, you have to feel for the guy, he got DEMOLISHED, but it seems like he’s going to be alright, after all, after exiting the game with a concussion, at least according to David Pastrnak and Rask’s agent:

Before his injury, Rask had been playing some incredible hockey, working his way up to tied-eighth in the NHL in save percentage with colleague Jaroslav Halak at .919. Since getting off to a rocky start, Rask has been much improved, especially after returning from his leave of absence — he’s also one win away from becoming the Bruins’ all-time leader in wins.

In terms of Halak, his performance has regressed steadily by the month since his gaudy start. Halak had a 4-0-2 record and a .947 save percentage in October, a 4-3-0 record and .928 save percentage after in November, a 4-3-0 record and .910 save percentage in December, and now a 1-3-0 record and .846 save percentage through January so far. Now, every goalie has slumps, but the play of late has been alarming for Jaro.

Rask’s ability to keep up his strong play in spite of his injury and Halak being able to pull himself out of his slump is going to be imperative for the Bruins to have success going forward.

Playing with intensity each night for the full 60:

The Bruins made a habit of scoring, then allowing their opponent to answer almost right away in the games leading into the break (most notably in the most recent loss to Washington, see video below), which is simply unacceptable.

This team needs to be able to take the lead and protect it because goal-scoring won’t always be there to bail the team out like it did in the game against St. Louis. The Bruins cannot afford to sit back on their heels and get too comfortable if they want to be able to go on a run, rack up points, and catch/surpass Toronto and Montreal.

Contributions from up and down the lineup in all situations, not just the top line:

Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic to see the top line rip teams apart, but it is not going to translate into playoff success, just look at last year’s second round. Secondary production has been better of late, especially with the addition of Peter Cehlarik on the second line, but Jake DeBrusk has gone cold recently, which doesn’t help. The power play has also looked anemic, too.

When the top line goes quiet, which can happen, it will be up to DeBrusk to find his stride again, Krejci and Cehlarik to continue their production, and for the youngsters on the third line (Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson) to keep building confidence and bury more of their chances.

The top line isn’t off the hook, either. Brad Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak’s importance to the offensive output cannot be understated, and they’ll need to continue what they’ve been doing all-season-long.

Consistency on the backend:

Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzlecyk have been the Bruins’ two best defensemen, overall, to this point in the season, considering every other member of the defense corps has missed time in one instance or another. Both will need to continue their strong development and play as we creep closer to April.

As for two other key d-men, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara, they need to be able to find their games as the latter portion of the schedule begins. McAvoy has shown flashes of brilliance (like the game at Montreal) along with some clunkers. An extended bill of health should allow him to stay on the right track.

As for Chara, still, the team’s best shut-down defender, the level the 41-year-old was playing at before his knee injury had flashes of vintage Zdeno Chara. After taking a few weeks to get back up to speed, hopefully, Chara can hit the ground running and regain that form.

Looking ahead:

A lot of the Bruins’ future success seems to depend on health, and for a good reason, too. If key players can stay in the lineup, and if the team plays to its full potential (like in the five-game win streak from the end of December through the beginning of January), the Bruins should like their chances throughout the remainder of the schedule.

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Bruins Game 49 Preview: New York Rangers

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett)

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

A quick one day break and the Bruins are right back at it for a battle with the New York Rangers. After losing 4-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Bruins came right back on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins are in the middle of an extremely close Eastern Conference playoff race. Boston holds the third Atlantic division position by the skin of their teeth, with a one-point lead on the Canadiens.

The ageing New York Rangers are at the .500 mark so far this season, boasting a record of 20-20-7, good for 47 points on the year. The Rangers have won their last two games, including a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes and a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. The Rangers are the 11th best team in the Eastern Conference, eleven points behind a playoff spot.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 14-8-3 2.42 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 5-2 win vs STL

NYR: Henrik Lundqvist (Likely) 14-12-7 3.04 GAA .908 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 4-3 win vs CHI

Who’s Hot

David Krejci has been on fire for the Bruins as of late and it is coming at a time where the Bruins need it most. The 32-year-old Krejci has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the last five games including a three-assist night in the win over the St. Louis Blues. David Krejci is now tied with Patrice Bergeron for the third-most points on the team with 10-30-40 totals in 48 games.

Mika Zibanejad has taken the reigns of top scorer on the Rangers and in his last five games, the Swedish forward has been on fire. Such as Krejci, Zibanejad has seven points in his last five games, including an impressive two goal, two assist night against the Hurricanes on January 15th. The 25-year-old is a minus rating on the entire season but has a +5 rating in those five games. He now has 15-27-42 numbers 47 games.

Torey Krug has continued firing at a solid pace this season. Following his two assists against the Flyers, Krug scored this goal against the Blues, giving him twenty points in his last twenty games. Krug has shown his puck handling and stick-handling at a top level, making a possible trade hard to conceive. His thirty-two points in thirty-seven games put him as the 13th best defenceman in the NHL when it comes to point production.

Over the years, forward Chris Kreider has been at the centre of Rangers trade rumours at the franchise looks to “rebuild” their organization, but he has continued to produce for the team, making a trade hard for management to want to make. Kreider has five points in his last three games with two consecutive games with two points. The 6-foot-3 Boxford, Massachusetts native has 22-15-37 totals in 47 games this year.

Who’s Not

Brett Howden was the 27th Overall Pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, but he has not been great this season. The 6-foot-3 centre has only four goals in 2018-19 and has failed to put the puck in the back of the net in his last twenty-nine games, dating back to November 12th, 2018. Howden has the second-worst plus/minus rating among Rangers players with a -12 rating, behind only Mats Zuccarello (-15).

Quite frankly, the Bruins have not been terrible in the past few games and I wouldn’t go ahead to say that anyone is “cold”. Some players on the current roster may be capable of producing at a higher level, but they are still producing nonetheless. If there is one thing that is not certain, is the bottom-six. It seems like the like of DeBrusk-Krejci-Cehlarik will remain intact, but questions regarding the third-line may need some answers still.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career goals
  • G Tuukka Rask is one win away (252) from passing Tiny Thompson (252) for most wins in Bruins history
  • G Tuukka Rask can also pass Frank Brimsek for sole possession of 52nd-most wins in NHL history
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most SHG in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (47) from passing Ken Hodge (47) for sole-possession of 7th most GWG in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away (60) from passing Ray Bourque (60) for 3rd most GWG in Bruins history
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PHOTO CREDITS: (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

New York Rangers:

  • G Henrik Lundqvist is one win away (445) from passing Terry Sawchuk (445) for sole possession of sixth-most wins in NHL history

Bruins vs Rangers Outlook

This is the first of three meetings between the Rangers and the Bruins this season, with the next one coming in only two-and-a-half weeks time on February 6th. The two teams will be looking to add another win in the storied chapter between these historic franchises.

The speciality teams will be an interesting factor to this game. The Bruins have the second-most efficient power-play percentage (28.1%) while the Rangers have a 20.3% success rate with the extra man, the 14th highest in the league. On the flip side, the Rangers have the fifth-worst penalty-kill percentage in the NHL, at 76.3%. Boston has the 13th-best penalty-kill, killing of 81% of the penalties they face.

Boston should be able to score a lot on the Rangers, who have allowed the fifth-worst goals-per-game in the entire league. New York needs to play solid defence to try and get their goaltender Lundqvist that historic 446th career win against another Original Six team like the Bruins.

Here are the morning rushes for the Bruins ahead of tonight’s game at the TD Garden. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that D Matt Grzelcyk and F Noel Acciari are back in the lineup while D John Moore and F Ryan Donato are the scratches for Boston.

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