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!!

NHL20 Predicts A Bruins Championship

Image result for nhl20 bruins(Photo Credit: EA Sports – NHL20)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It’s “game” time for hockey fans everywhere. And I’m not just talking about the NHL’s 2019-2020 season dropping the puck for Opening Night.

Rather, EA Sports’ NHL20 video game, which has made a Bruins prediction as bold as some of our recent BN’G blog posts: that the B’s will win it all this year. Huzzah!

Pretty impressive right? The B’s will beat the Leafs (no surprise there) in the opening round, then the Lightning in round two and then the Caps in the Eastern Conference Final before dethroning the Golden Knights in six games.

And, get this: everyone’s favorite productive pest Brad Marchand will win the Conn Smythe, con artists be damned, with a nearly point-plus per game proficiency. That’s a prediction that’s not only bold and gold, but truth be told, I’m sold on!

However, I know what some of your are already saying / thinking / posting / tweeting: “what a jinx!” Or, perhaps, “where was this last season?” Or, better yet, “the odds of that actually happening are absurd.”

Be it in real life or the gaming world, prognostications of simulations can lead to recreations of imaginations. Simply put: it ain’t easy to predict a Stanley Cup winner — on the ice with talent, or on the screen with cheat codes.

Yet, not cheating ourselves, how fun is it to speculate on the official eve of Bruins puck drop? I mean, now that you know the team’s Stanley Cup Runner-Up history, why not have a little fun playing a game about the B’s potential game play this season? So far, the social media world seems to be enjoying it… especially the fact that Boston takes down Toronto in yet another first round Game 7 match up (this alone makes the NHL20 Sim worth it).

What else is worth a lot? Hope. At least the hope of another entertaining hockey season in Boston. Sure, losing the Cup really sucked (and still hurts), but we sure as hell went along for the ride up until mid-June! Now, if we’re to put our fanatical faith, and perhaps even some frivolous finances, into another form of entertainment — NHL20 — it looks like we’ll experience a SIMilar Summer run of perspective Cup fun.

I’ll hit “PLAY” on that B’s button all day long!

 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Joe Chrzanowski: Bold Predictions For The Bruins 2019-20 Season

Bruins Bold Predictons

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

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

We are only “Eddie Shore” days (two for our younger fans) away from the start of the 2019-20 NHL regular season, so it’s time to make some big predictions for the year to come. I will be sure to remind everyone on a daily basis if any of these things do happen…and deny I ever said any of the stuff I am wrong about.

Coyle

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Charlie Coyle Will Sign An Extension With the Bruins

When the Bruins first traded for Coyle, I was cautiously optimistic. He filled a definite need for the team, had another year on his deal, and I had soured on Ryan Donato as a prospect when it became apparent he did not know where his own end of the ice was. Even though Coyle was playing well after the deal, he wasn’t putting up a ton of points and Donato went on a little mini-tear for the Wild. It was probably best for my sanity that Coyle lit it up during the playoffs and centered the Bruins most consistent line with Heinen and Johansson. It’s funny, I don’t seem to be hearing as much about that deal from Minny fans? Odd?

I’m not sure if anybody is aware of this, but Charlie Coyle is a local kid that was born and raised in Weymouth (lol). He appears to be relishing playing for the home town team (unlike some others before him). Because of this local connection and Don Sweeney’s mystical GM powers, I see Coyle signing a team-friendly extension with the Bruins with a term of five or six years and an AAV of around $5.25-5.50 million. When Krejci’s deal is up, Coyle will transition into the 2C role, with Studnicka sliding into the 3C spot. Remember, you heard it here first.

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(Photo Credit: Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

Matt Grzelcyk Will Be McAvoy’s D Partner Before The Season Ends

I know that it’s only preseason, but to these eyes, Chara looks a bit slower than he was last year. This could be due to lingering injury or he could be just pacing himself, but he definitely looks like he lost another step. I watched him get burned on a couple of plays last week versus Philly because of his lack of foot speed. Before anyone’s head explodes, I am not saying that Chara does not still have a valuable place on the team. What I AM saying is that the team and the player would be best served if he slotted in on the third pair. This would likely give Z more favorable matchups against bigger and slower Bottom Six players, while at the same time preserving him for a much-needed role on the penalty kill.

Someone is going to have to step up and play the left-side with Charlie McAvoy on the first pair. Enter Charlestown’s own, Matt Grzelcyk. The two were paired together at Boston University when Grizz was a senior and McAvoy was a freshman. They were great together that season and have looked good as a tandem during a few preseason games. They would not be the biggest defense pair in the league, but they would definitely be one of the most nimble. I could see the opposing forecheck being shredded with 48 and 73 as a duo again. When this happens in December, you will want to buy me a Christmas present. I am letting you know now…I am not too proud to accept cash.

Heinen

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Danton Heinen Will Have 60+ Points In 2019-20

Danton Heinen is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Boston Bruins. No matter how many different roles he fills, how many little things he does well, or how much the advanced stats point to his stellar play, the guy just can’t seem to get any respect from the average B’s fan. That is going to change this season in a big way, largely due to my daily letters and emails sent to Cassidy pleading with him to leave Heinen on one line for more than three consecutive shifts. While I am kidding (as far as you know), I am of the opinion that bouncing Heinen around from line to line is the primary reason for his lack of offensive consistency. As a rookie, he was somehow able to produce 47 points while playing with a variety of teammates. I suspect this was largely due to the veteran guys he was playing with (Nash, Schaller, Backes, etc.). This past season, Cassidy relied on Heinen to be the defensive conscience of several line combinations that included rookies Ryan Donato, Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Trent Frederic. I believe this led to a much more defensive mindset from Heinen that greatly affected his scoring.

This year, if everyone stays relatively healthy, I expect Heinen to ride shotgun with Coyle for the majority of the season. I would have preferred Bjork play on the opposite wing, but it looks like it will be Backes, at least to start the season. If 42 can play the way he did in his last preseason game, it should help both Coyle and Heinen put up very solid numbers. The other thing I am banking on is that Heinen gets a little more time on the 2nd power-play unit this year than he did previously. This will give him about a ten-point boost, push him over the 60 point plateau, and allow Heinen to take over the title of the “best value contract in hockey” at a paltry $2.8 million per.

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(Photo Credit: CBS Sports)

Tuukka Rask Will Win the Vezina

Tuukka Rask is a lightning rod for Boston fans. People seem to either love him or hate him, and there does not appear to be a lot of middle ground. His regular-season stats last year (27 wins, 2.48 GAA, .912 Save %) were well below his career numbers, but in the playoffs Rask really shined. He played in 24 games, had a GAA of 2.02 and ridiculous Save % of .934. Boston fans have not seen those kinds of numbers since 2012-14 when Rask led the B’s to the Finals in 2013 and won the Vezina the following season in 2014.

The most impressive thing for me was his demeanor, which went well beyond the great numbers he put up. I have never seen Rask as calm as he was during the 2019 playoff run and it appears to have carried over into preseason. When he is playing like that, it has a soothing effect on the entire team. They play with more confidence and take more offensive chances knowing Tuukka has their backs. History is going to repeat itself this season with Rask taking home the Vezina the year after reaching the Finals and losing. The only difference is that the 2019-20 team will (fingers crossed) go much further than the 2013-14 squad did.

Steen

(Photo Courtesy of NHL.com)

Oskar Steen Will Outscore Every Bruins Draft Pick Since 2016 (Career)

This particular bold prediction will take some time to come to fruition, but what’re a few more seasons when I have had a man-crush on Oskar Steen since I first saw him doing the “rope drill” at Bruins Development Camp several years ago? I watched his career in the SHL with great interest and was very disappointed in his production during his first two seasons playing for Farjestads. He was not yet 20 years of age and playing on a good veteran team, so I should have expected a limited role to begin with I suppose. That changed in 2018-19, with Steen receiving a much larger role with the team. He took the opportunity and ran with it, finishing the season with 17g/20a and 49 PIM’s in 47 games. This was good for 10th in the SHL for scoring overall, but 1st for players 25 and under in the league.

After the SHL season ended, Steen signed his ELC with Boston in May and made plans to play in North America for the first time. Despite his relatively small stature (5’9″), Steen is a very solid 187 pounds. His low center of gravity, speed, and a bit of a nasty disposition should serve him well on the smaller ice surfaces. I believe he has the type of game that can translate even better in the NHL than it did in the SHL. Throughout the Prospects Challenge and the preseason games, he was easily one of the best players on the ice. If NHL roster spots were handed out based solely on merit, rather than age and waiver status, Steen would have been in Dallas on Thursday night. Given that he is new to the North American pro game, it should not hinder Steen’s development to play in Providence for a few months. I expect him to tear it up down there and make his NHL debut sometime after January 1st. He will be a regular in Boston next year at the latest, and you can take that to the bank.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Pearson: Bold Predictions For The 2019-2020 Bruins Season

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

After the shortest summer (albeit feeling like the longest) us Bruins’ fans have had in years, regular season hockey is just days away. The Boston Bruins had one of their most successful seasons in the last decade, coming just a game away from hoisting the cup. After a fairly quiet offseason of additions and subtractions, the Bruins are primed for another big year and here are a few of my big predictions.

Danton Heinen has a 55+ Point Season

Danton Heinen has his fair share of haters, and I still don’t understand why. Heinen flew under the radar in his rookie season with 16 goals and 31 assists (four more points than Jake Debrusk had in that same rookie season). The following year, Heinen had a bit of a sophomore-slump but still managed to have 34 points and a +13 rating. 

In the first half of the season, Heinen was predominantly paired with floundering players like Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork. The winger managed to pot just four goals and six assists in his first 40 games of the season.

The second half of the season was an entirely different story, however. Mostly paired with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Heinen found his game again. In his final 37 games, Heinen was able to score seven goals and add 17 assists, good for 24 points and if that pace was averaged for the full 82 game season, Heinen would end up having a 53 point season.

Danton Heinen Bruins

(Photo Credit: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Heinen’s play didn’t just stop at the regular season. He was 1/3 of arguably the Bruins’ best line in the entire playoffs. Partnering up with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, the line continued to score big goal after big goal and were a huge reason the Bruins were able to make the run they did.

It seems this season Heinen will begin on the third line with Charlie Coyle and David Backes (who also seems primed for a bit of a breakout season.) If Heinen was able to put up 47 points with Riley Nash and Backes before, I see no reason why he can’t have an even bigger season with an even better center. 

Boston Bruins v Edmonton Oilers

(Photo Credit: Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

The Bruins Win the Presidents Trophy

I feel like people really didn’t talk about how good this Bruins team was in the regular season last year. Obviously, the Tampa Bay Lightning ran away with the Presidents Trophy last season with a staggering 128 point, but the Bruins ended up coming in 3rd with 107 points (the same amount as the 2nd place Calgary Flames but they had more ROW)

It’s remarkable the Bruins were able to do so well with all that happened throughout the year. We all know the injury train ran through the team, here’s a long list of key players that missed double-digit games due to injury: 

Brandon Carlo (10 games)

Jake Debrusk (14 games)

David Pastrnak (16 games)

Matt Grzelyck (16 games)

Patrice Bergeron (17 games)

Torey Krug (18 games)

Zdeno Chara (20 games)

Charlie Mcavoy (28 games)

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Boston’s problems didn’t stop at just injuries. The Bruins went into last season without a true 2nd line right-wing and a 3rd line center, with the thought that their youth would be able to take over. That plan, unfortunately, did not work out. The combination of Ryan Donato, Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson, Peter Cehlarik, Colby Cave, Anders Bjork, and Trent Frederic combined to play 137 games but totaled just 32 points and had a -13 rating. With the addition of Charlie Coyle, and seeing him at his best in the playoffs, the Bruins have one less big question mark regarding their lineup.

This season, there are far better options to shuffle around in the lineup compared to the last season. As I said before, I think David Backes can find his game again and have a successful season. After a handful of regular season and playoff games, Karson Kuhlman looks ready to take a full-time NHL role. We’ve already seen impressive growth from youngsters like Oskar Steen, Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jakub Lauko after their strong play in the pre-season and there is no doubt in my mind that at least one of them will get the call, and have success in whatever role they are placed in. With the addition of low-risk players with upside like Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm, there are endless amounts of players the Bruins can give shots to succeed in their lineup.

Their D-core will only improve this season with one more year under the belt of young guys like Charlie Mcavoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Gryzeck and Connor Clifton. If this Bruins team can stay healthy, and find a little more consistency in their middle-six forward group, a finish at the top of the NHL is certainly obtainable.

Image result for matt grzelcyk

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Matt Grzelcyk Becomes a Top Pairing Defenseman

Zdeno Chara and his incredible NHL career is nearing the end. While he is still certainly effective, it’s very clear that Chara has lost a few steps over these past couples of seasons. With the league getting faster and faster, that doesn’t equate to a lot of success. This seems like as good of a time as ever to make the switch from the top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie Mcavoy to Matt Grzelyck and Charlie Mcavoy.

Grzelcyk has developed into one of the most underrated defenseman in the entire league. If you aren’t a fan of the Bruins, you may have not even heard of the guy, but his importance to this club cannot be understated. He’s one of the smoothest skating defenseman out there and is incredible at breaking the puck out of the D-zone. 

The Charlestown native is very familiar playing with Charlie Mcavoy, after partnering up at Boston University to create one of the best pairings in the entire NCAA in 2015. The duo has already had success as a pairing in the NHL on the Bruins #2 powerplay and seems to be as natural of a defensive pairing as can be. Coach Bruce Cassidy has already given the pair a look in the pre-season, and the results just speak for themselves. The league is transitioning to quick, two-way defenders that move the puck incredibly well and this duo would certainly be one of the best.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-29-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Richardson: Bold Predictions For The 2019-2020 Bruins Season

bostonbruins

(Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

As the 2019-2020 season draws near, there is an excitement in the New England air amongst Bruins’ fans. This team a year ago was one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and expectations are sure to be high again. As you’ll see with my bold predictions, I too, have some lofty expectations of what this team can do. Without further ado, let’s dive right in and see what I believe we could be in store for this season.

David Pastrnak eclipses 50 goals and 100 points

David Pastrnak was excellent for the Bruins last season. In 66 games played he netted 38 goals and dished out 43 assists for 81 total points. Looking at those numbers a little deeper, you find out that 50 goals and 100 points may not be such a huge stretch. Scoring 38 goals in 66 games is a goal per game pace of roughly .575. That projected over an 82 games season works out to be roughly 47.15 goals.

That’s really not that far off from the 50 goal prediction I made. I think it’s feasible, if healthy that Pastrnak eclipses the 50 goal mark. Looking at the winger’s point total, he had 81 points in 66 games. That ends up being a point per game total of roughly 1.22. That over an 82 game span works out to be 100.04 points. As you can see, given his production last season, and the fact that he’s increased his production each year since being in the league we could be in for a big season from Pastrnak.

Oskar Steen will eventually lock down second-line right-wing

Oskar Steen has looked excellent so far during the pre-season. He’s been able to showcase his ability and prove that he may ready for the NHL quicker than previously anticipated. The young forward comes to the Bruins after having an excellent 2018-2019 season in the Swedish Hockey League where he netted 17 goals and dished out 20 assists for 37 points in 46 games.

Steen is a tenacious, hardworking forward with great offensive ability. He’s not afraid to battle to gain position on players. Many people actually believe that this style of play will be more suited for the North American game than it was in Sweden. Steen will likely start the year in Providence, but given his ability, style of play, and how well he has played in the pre-season, I firmly believe by the trade deadline that we will see Steen solidify the revolving door at the second-line right-wing position.

Charlie McAvoy will be a Norris Trophy Finalist

Charlie McAvoy is coming off a season where he was really good despite being injured for part of it. On top of that, he was excellent in the playoffs and showed a glimpse of what he can truly be. We all know that he is the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara as the team’s number one defenseman, but I think he takes a major step forward and solidifies that spot this season.

Not only do I believe that McAvoy will step up his defensive game even more, but I think his offensive game will also improve. His point per game total was up from his rookie year, and though he had 28 points in 54 games, that roughly translates to 42.82 points in 82 games. I think McAvoy will eclipse 55 points this season. Ultimately, McAvoy will fully grasp the title of best defenseman on the Bruins and it, in turn, will result in becoming one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

The 2019-2020 Boston Bruins will make it back to the Stanley Cup Final

The 2018-19 season left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Bruins’ players and fans alike. The team was devastated after losing game seven at home to St. Louis. This is going to motivate the team to be even better this season. The offseason brought a lot of change in the Eastern Conference. Teams got better, and familiar contenders are still going to be good. Despite this, and a few questions in the Bruins’ lineup, I think Boston will be left standing when all is said and down in the East.

The major reason that the Bruins will be in the Stanley Cup Final again is the defense. They will end up having the best defensive unit in the East and possibly the entire NHL. The young guys; Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton each took a huge step forward during the 2018-19 playoff run and will only continue to get better.

Veterans Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are still very good and will round out the defense. Not to mention you still have the excellent goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. This defense is going to be formidable and will be the biggest reason why they make it back to the Stanley Cup Final. I hope everyone enjoys this final stretch before the start of the season. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter and as always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Cratty: Bold Predictions For The 2019-2020 Bruins Season

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

There’s a lot to be excited when it comes to the Bruins this year, and I have high expectations, as you’ll soon find out. Some new faces will join the fold, while Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari went elsewhere within the division in unrestricted free agency. Luckily the Bruins are equipped internally within the organization and with new outside additions via free agency to soften the blow of losing Johansson and Acciari. I think it’s going to be a big year.

Jake DeBrusk scores 30 goals

He was close last year, but I think DeBrusk will hit 30 goals this season. Right on the dot. Potentially having a full year with David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman will increase his goal-scoring output.

If Kuhlman can seal the revolving door on Krejci’s right-wing shut, it will allow the line to establish their chemistry even further. Last year, they generated 7.00 GF/60 last season. Imagine what they could do in a full season versus the limited amount of time we saw them together last season? He hit 27 last season in just 68 games, mark DeBrusk down for the 30 this year.

Charlie Coyle hits the 20-goal mark

While we’re on the topic of goals, I think Charlie Coyle has a big year on the third line and eclipses the 20-goal mark. He has hit 21 and 18 goals respectively in a single season in the past, but in the past two years, he has scored 11 and 12 goals. This will be the second time he hits 20.

He established some serious chemistry with Danton Heinen last season and even looked good with him when the Bruins played the Flyers just last Thursday. Last season, after getting his feet wet for a few games, Coyle was a tank from after the trade deadline into the playoffs.

Add Anders Bjork to that line and you add a young, hungry player with really solid playmaking upside on a line that’s already set to be good. Whether Bjork plays on the third line in the regular season much remains to be seen, but he has seen time with Heinen and Coyle on that line throughout the past week or so.

Coyle looked extremely comfortable after coming over from Minnesota at the trade deadline. If he can pick up where he left off, I think there’s a really good chance he can score 20+ goals.

Patrice Bergeron has a career year

Bergeron had a great 2018-2019 season despite missing 17 regular-season games. This is contingent on him staying healthy, but I think Bergeron will hit a new career-high in points with 88 of them.

Age isn’t slowing him down. He tallied a career-high 79 points last season at 33-years-old in just 65 games. If good health is on his side and he can play a good bit more than 65 games, a fairly sizeable point jump isn’t out of the question. Marchand and Pastrnak are in the primes of their careers and Bergeron will continue to seem prime ice time on special teams as well as even strength. That combination of things sets up the potential for a huge year for Bergeron. Building on a milestone year last year would be awesome to see.

Torey Krug signs a contract extension during the season

No unrestricted free-agency for Torey Krug. From an undrafted former Michigan State Spartan now, Krug continues to improve and become a better leader by the day. His tenacity couple pure puck-moving and offensive excellence make him a vital piece on the back end.

Torey Krug’s don’t just fall from the sky. He is a unique defenseman in a lot of ways. Krug has hinted at him being interested in taking less money than he may be worth to stay in Boston, and that would just make things easier.

Krug and his wife Melanie just welcomed a baby girl to the world over the summer. He loves it here. Signing long-term to stay with a team in which he plays a big role and loves the city, as well as being able to raise his daughter makes a lot of sense. Having that burden off his back of having to deal with unrestricted free-agency makes sense for him, the team, and his family.

Boston Bruins: 2020 Stanley Cup Champions

The sour taste of defeat in the core from 2013 was already there, now everyone except for the free-agent additions essentially has that bad taste of defeat in their mouths from this past season. The team was devastated and is still set to be a cup contender, even after losing Johansson and Acciari to unrestricted free agency. They took the loss hard.

Teams in the East such as the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Florida Panthers definitely got better, plus prominent teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Washington Capitals are still in the mix. But, I trust that the Bruins are formidable enough to make a run to the Cup Final.

A chunk of young players gained very valuable experience from a long cup run, even in defeat, and the team as a whole is going to come out with redemption on their minds. I have them playing the Vegas Golden Knights in the finals, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will go the distance this before the regular season even starts.

October 3 isn’t far away, redemption isn’t far away. The sky is the limit for the Bruins this year. Nine years is a long time in between Stanley Cup Championships. The Bruins have what it takes to capture banner number seven.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins: Salary Cap Projections In Three Years

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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

It has been a successful week for General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston Bruins management staff. On Sunday, the Bruins re-signed RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract with an annual average salary (AAV) of $4.9 million and also managed to lock up the other RFA defender – Brandon Carlo – to a two-year contract worth $2.85 million per season.

Throughout the league, the Bruins are being praised for their “genius” work to re-sign both of these future franchise defensemen while keeping forward David Backes and not making any other trades to free up cap space and rightly so. I was one of the people who was convinced that Boston would be forced to ship out a body in order to make room for both players. Evidently, Sweeney knew he could sign both without making other adjustments and he proved it.

However, things might not seem so perfect after taking a further glance. In the lead-up to the signings, it was made clear that Charlie McAvoy wanted to stay in Boston for the long-term and it was clear that the organization felt the same way. In that case, many imagined that when the details of the contract would be released, it would lock up the 21-year-old for the next seven or even eight years.

Due to the fact that people assumed the length of McAvoy’s deal, it was expected for Carlo to have a shorter, bridge-type deal because of the lack of cap space available to spend on Carlo. In a perfect world, Boston would have traded David Backes and signed both Carlo and McAvoy to contracts with long terms to solidify the defensive core for years to come.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and in some cases, we have to be thankful and settle for what we do have. As we look ahead for the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Boston Bruins have a true chance to contend again for the Stanley Cup or at the very least, contend in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, it is good to keep an open mind on the future and the next half-decade for Boston could be a stressful one.

2020 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Charlie Coyle (UFA)
  • F Jake DeBrusk (RFA)
  • F Karson Kuhlman (RFA)
  • F Chris Wagner (UFA)
  • F Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)
  • F Brett Ritchie (RFA)
  • F Anders Bjork (RFA)
  • F Zach Senyshyn (RFA)
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald (RFA)
  • F Brendan Gaunce (RFA)
  • F Peter Cehlarik (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Torey Krug (UFA)
  • D Kevan Miller (UFA)
  • D Zdeno Chara (UFA)
  • D Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)
  • D Jakub Zboril (RFA)
  • D Wiley Sherman (RFA)
  • D Jeremy Lauzon (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Jaroslav Halak (UFA)
  • G Daniel Vladar (RFA)
  • G Maxime Legacé (UFA)

If you thought that this past off-season was hectic and stressful, just wait for the stress a year from now. The Bruins will have big-name players such as Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Jaroslav Halak, and Charlie Coyle that will have an expiring contract. According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have $25,158,334 in available cap space for the 2020 offseason, so it is inevitable that players will have to be let go – whether it is in a trade or just leaving on July 1st.

However, there are a few players that I’d imagine are guaranteed to return to Boston – forward Jake DeBrusk, defenceman Matt Grzelcyk, forward Karson Kuhlman, forward Anders Bjork, defenceman Jeremy Lauzon, and forward Zach Senyshyn. The remaining players are up in the air and their performance and/or development in the 2019-20 campaign will prove their worth.

Sticking to NHL roster, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara, Charlie Coyle, and Jaroslav Halak are the biggest pieces that are question marks for me. In regards to the captain, Zdeno Chara, his decision on whether or not he wants to continue playing hockey is still up in the air. When his current deal expires this July, he will be 43 years of age.

Kevan Miller has dealt with numerous injuries and with the rising defensive prospects, I don’t see him returning. Charlie Coyle was great in the playoffs last season, but a full year wearing the Spoked-B sweater will really show what he is worth contract-wise. Jaroslav Halak is a big piece, but same thing with Coyle, this season will show what he can demand in the negotiations. Finally, Torey Krug could be a player for trade bait, but he brings a high-level of play to Boston’s defense and it is likely that he returns.

For Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, and Brett Ritchie – I personally don’t see them re-signing with the organization mainly due to the plethora of talent in the AHL that Boston can use to fill those bottom-six roles.

2021 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F David Krejci (UFA)
  • F David Backes (UFA)
  • F Danton Heinen (RFA)
  • F Sean Kuraly (UFA)
  • F Par Lindholm (UFA)
  • F Trent Frederic (RFA)
  • F Cameron Hughes (RFA)
  • F Anton Blidh (RFA)
  • F Paul Carey (UFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Brandon Carlo (RFA)
  • D Steven Kampfer (UFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Tuukka Rask (UFA)

After the Bruins make some difficult decisions in the 2020 offseason, the 2021 offseason proves to be one of the biggest in a long time for the organization. Core players such as David Krejci, Brandon Carlo, and superstar goaltender Tuukka Rask have expiring deals. However, the Bruins will be free of $6 million due to David Backes’ contract and the likely departure of Steven Kampfer, Paul Carey, and Par Lindholm.

I’d imagine that Krejci and Rask take a decrease in pay when they negotiate a new deal, as both will be in their mid-30s at the end of the 2020-2021 season, (Krejci – 35, Rask – 34). That saved salary will likely be thrown right back into Brandon Carlo’s deal which will hopefully be a longer contract in comparison to the two-year deal that he recently agreed to.

It’ll also depend largely on the success of the young players like Danton Heinen, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, and Cameron Hughes – but I don’t see any of them earning a large deal with only Heinen in my eyes making more than $1.5 million.

2022 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Patrice Bergeron (UFA)
  • F Pavel Shen (RFA)
  • F Oskar Steen (RFA)
  • F Jakub Lauko (RFA)
  • F Jack Studnicka (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Charlie McAvoy (RFA)
  • D Urho Vaakanainen (RFA)
  • D Axel Andersson (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Kyle Keyser (RFA)

The list takes a dramatic decrease in the number of players and that is a result of all the short-term deals or the longer deals that are nearing the conclusion. At this point, it is nearly impossible to predict the numbers and the results, especially because of all the restricted free-agents in this class. Everyone but Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy have something big to prove if they want that NHL contract. I expect everyone to sign in this free-agent class, but who really knows.

Another thing to note is that at this point, previous players on the list could be expiring this year too due to the possibility of one or two-year deals signed as well as free-agents and acquisitions in trades.

Players Extended Past 2022:

Forwards:

  • F Brad Marchand (2025-26)
  • F David Pastrnak (2023-24)

Defensemen:

  • D John Moore (2023-24)
  • D Connor Clifton (2023-24)

With only four players signed past 2022, the Boston Bruins franchise as we know it will be completely different. Retirements, departures and arrivals are going to be surrounding the management team and for Don Sweeney, his job will be the most difficult as it ever has been. These next three years will prove how good of a General Manager he is.

A lot of this will also come down to the players. Now is the time to prove yourself for that contract – big or small. If you want to remain a member of the Boston Bruins and skate on that TD Garden ice with the historic Spoked-B on your chest, this is your moment. No pressure.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part V

Picture 1 of 12(Photo Credit: Bruins Pinterest)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

Since we just celebrated Friday the 13th on the calendar here in the States, it’s only fitting to remind everyone what “Part V” of that seminal series was called: A New Beginning. Well, that’s exactly what the month of February could be for the Boston Bruins depending on how the team handles a January against some quality dual opponents (as I outlined in the previous installment of our Black N’ Gold Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar series).

Also, like the hockey-masked killer character in the aforementioned film franchise, the B’s hockey franchise won’t be able to mask any of their faults in February–especially on every weekend–because of the 14-game workload lined up for them, including a historic five Saturday games. They even get to play on LEAP YEAR day! How’s that for superstitious scheduling since Friday the 13th references will be a recurring theme throughout this piece. So, let’s drop the puck (and perhaps the machete) on what specific games are worthy of highlighting on your B’s calendar this fabulously frightening & frozen February!

 

Weekend One: Crystal Lake, Minnesota

Okay, okay. We all know that Camp Crystal Lake is not in Minnesota, but rather in New Jersey (as far as fake movie location names go). But, if the B’s can open the month of February with a “road W” over former friend Ryan Donato at the Xcel Energy Center on the 1st, then they can celebrate its first Sunday by visiting a famous underwater Jason Voorhees statue just up the road. In fact, the Wild will be a fitting first opponent to begin a busy hockey stretch at an important time of the year for the Bruins. Since 2015, the B’s have won four of their last five road games in Minny, including the last two, so keeping that streak alive would be advantageous considering the former city of North Stars always plays spirited hockey against Boston.

Weekend Two: Jason Takes Boston

The B’s will be lucky it’s only Jason Demers coming to town with the Coyotes on February 8th and not that other titular Jason from the woods. Then again, if the team doesn’t want to end up out in the woods, the players should take care of business against an Arizona squad that will most likely be out of the playoff race by then. Also, they’ll need to get on a plane to fly off to Detroit for a Motor City matinee on the 9th immediately following their howling hockey versus the Coyotes. I would call this back-to-back home/road split versus two beatable teams a must-win weekend for the B’s if they want to build momentum during a month where all eyes will be on playoff positioning.

Weekend Three: Origin(al Six) Stories

More matinee marquee match-ups are in store for February 15th & 16th against Original Six rivals the Red Wings again, followed by the New York Rangers (and all of this coming hot on the heels/skates of the B’s having recently played the Blackhawks & Canadiens a few games earlier). And like any good horror movie’s origin story, the B’s will need to look to their successful history against these teams in order to “make them history” at a time when both the division & conference races will be tightening up. All of these contests offer national audience eyes as well, so you can best “B”-lieve the hockey world will be talking them up since many broadcasters, like fans from these cities, champion themselves as Original Six supporters & supposed soothsayers (this is also similar for Friday film fanatics).

Speaking of making bold predictions, if the B’s aren’t careful — i.e. they let the Wings take them to a shootout then get gassed at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours later — then they could end up looking just like this upon leaving New York… an expression well-known to a familiar-faced character who enjoyed romping around Manhattan back in his heyday. (Eastern Hockey League be damned!)

 

Weekend Four: Canadien Cutthroats

When it comes to the Bruins traveling across country for their annual “West Coast Canadien Kick,” the schedule always seems to fall in February for these three games — two of which will be back-to-backers on February 21st (Calgary) and 22nd (Vancouver), respectively. One needn’t guess which other city the B’s will be visiting just days prior unless you’ve been living under Plymouth Rock for the past decade and not paying attention to this always-highlighted stretch of hockey (it’s Edmonton in case you have been and my apologies).

And if previous seasons are any indicator, then we all know just how important taking AT LEAST four out of six points will be for the B’s against the Oilers, Flames & Canucks. This will be cutthroat hockey at its finest–with no machete needed–proving just how fun, competitive & memorable these games can be. The B’s also like to use this road trip as a memory-making team bonding experience so let’s hope they make the most of what the calendar has lined up for them yet again this upcoming season.

Weekend Five: The Final Chapter

This weekend, or to be more specific this Saturday matinee, only comes around once in a blue–strike that, Black N’ Gold, moon; definitely once every four years, but rarely does that infamous day fall on a game day. That’s right, I’m talking about February 29th — LEAP DAY! And the Bruins throughout their 23-Leap-Year history (sorry, the franchise Inaugural Year of 1924 doesn’t count on the Leap-season statistics since it began in December long after February celebrated an additional day of aging) have had nine games on that calendar extension mark, if you will.

Plainly, to put a mark on it, the B’s are a mediocre 4-4-1 on LEAP DAY dating back to the Roosevelt administration (that’s FDR not TR for you Presidential historians out there). To get even more detailed, the team’s 4-1-1 at home in Boston and 0-3 on the road in Toronto, Chicago and New York. If you’d like to see it in list form, look no further than below:

BOSTON BRUINS LEAP YEAR HISTORY:

1940 – W, 4-2 over Montreal

1944 – L, 7-3 @ Toronto

1948 – L, 5-1 @ Chicago

1956 – L, 4-2 @ New York

1964 – W, 2-1 over Detroit

1968 – W, 4-1 over Toronto

1976 – W, 5-3 over Vancouver

1992 – T, 5-5 with Washington

2000 – L, 5-1 to Ottawa

If the Bruins would like to win their first ever LEAP DAY tilt on the road and, dare I type, tilt the ice in their favor, they’ll have the perfectly slanted opportunity to do so against the insalubrious Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in 2020. Now, that’s a game I’d like to see — be it in person, on television or on the NHL-TV recap ap! It’s obviously the final day of February (and for those celebrating an “Over The Hill” occasion, their 10th official Birthday), but I’m rooting for the B’s franchise to be exactly like the Friday the 13th franchise on this day — not only will it NOT be the final chapter, but many successful sequels will follow!

Image result for boston bruins season schedule 2020(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

With the month of March looking scarily similar to February — both in terms of the number of games and number of tough teams to play against for Boston — the B’s could find themselves successfully skating towards the playoffs or falling through the ice and flailing for help just like that poor young boy whom the camp counselors ignored much to his maligned mother’s chagrin & sharp knives. Thankfully, there’s no Friday the 13th in February of 2020… and now you don’t have to mark your calendar to know it!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

BNG First Annual Bruins Season Predictions

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

Well, folks. Here we are. The 2019-20 season is just around the corner and camps are underway. And here we are to meet your Bruins needs with the First Annual BNG Season Predictions! We throw some guesses out there, some educated and some not, on predicting the unpredictable. All questions based on regular-season unless otherwise stated. Assembled here for this is our five-person panel from http://www.blackngoldhockey.com, and without further ado, let’s get this underway and hope you enjoy!

On Twitter, they are as follows!

Michael: @b_blackngold
Joe: @jchrz19
Lucas: @LucasPearson_
Garrett: @thesportsguy97
Mike: @Mike_Cratty

Will Pastrnak hit 40 goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Pastrnak put up 100 points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will Marchand top the 100 point mark?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

How many goals will Marchand score?

Michael: 40
Joe: 37
Lucas: 38
Garrett: 38
Mike: 33

Can Bergeron stay healthy for the full season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Bergeron this season?

Michael: 82
Joe: 77
Lucas: 92
Garrett: 72
Mike: 88

Will the Bruins keep the top line together or look to spread the wealth?

Michael: Let them continue to dominate.
Joe: Keep them together.
Lucas: Stay together.
Garrett: Keep them together.
Mike: Stay together.

Will DeBrusk score 30+ goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will DeBrusk post 70+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Who will lead the team in points and with how many?

Michael: Brad Marchand. 104.
Joe: Brad Marchand. 94.
Lucas: Brad Marchand. 101.
Garrett: Brad Marchand. 106.
Mike: Brad Marchand. 98.

Will Krejci be able to match his 2018-19 season in terms of overall play?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Krejci?

Michael: 70
Joe: 69
Lucas: 68
Garrett: 71
Mike: 71

Is there a chance Grzelcyk could be moved up to lessen the load on Chara?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Not likely

Will Chara see less ice time this season? If so, what will his average TOI be?

Michael: Yes. 19:00.
Joe: Yes. 20:50.
Lucas: Yes. 19:20.
Garrett: Yes. 20:30.
Mike: No, the same as last season.

Will Big Z retire after this season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will McAvoy see over or under 23 mins average TOI?

Michael: Over
Joe: Under
Lucas: Over
Garrett: Over
Mike: Under

How many points will McAvoy produce?

Michael: 55
Joe: 43
Lucas: 39
Garrett: 43
Mike: 47

Will Torey Krug still be a Bruin by the trade deadline?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Heinen have a back bounce season and contribute more offensively with 50+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Can Coyle bring his 2018-19 playoff success into the regular season consistently?

Michael: Definitely
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

With Brett Ritchie being added to the bottom 6 group of forwards, can he come in and make an impact?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

How will the addition of Ritchie and Lindholm affect the lineup?

Michael: Bolster the bottom 6 depth.
Joe: Won’t affect it.
Lucas: If they get in the lineup, they will
contribute.
Garrett: Won’t change much, as they
won’t get much ice time.
Mike: Depth, but no real playing time.

How many starts will Rask get? Halak?

Michael: Rask 44. Halak 38.
Joe: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Lucas: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Garrett: Rask 46. Halak 36.
Mike: Rask 48. Halak 34.

How many wins for Rask? Halak?

Michael: Rask 28. Halak 22.
Joe: Rask 30. Halak 19.
Lucas: Rask 30. Halak 20.
Garrett: Rask 29. Halak 23
Mike: Rask 29. Halak 21

What will be Rask’s Sv% on the season be?

Michael: .912
Joe: .920
Lucas: .918
Garrett: .914
Mike: .921

Can the Bruins find a trade partner for Backes or will they eat his contract until it runs out?

Michael: Yes.
Joe: Yes, next offseason.
Lucas: After this season.
Garrett: They are stuck with it.
Mike: Yes, next summer.

Could Vaakanainen earn himself a spot in the top 6 by seasons end?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

What prospects will get a look in some NHL games this year?

Michael: Studnicka, Senyshyn, Vaak, Lauko, Steen, Frederic
Joe: Vaak, Studnicka, Lauzon, Frederic, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.
Lucas: Studnicka and Bjork.
Garrett: Studnicka, Vaak, Lauzon
Mike: Vaak, Lauko, Lauzon, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.

Who is your candidate for the player that “comes out of nowhere?”

Michael: Zachary Senyshyn
Joe: Zachary Senyshyn
Lucas: Anders Bjork
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who is your player pick for “comeback of the year” player?

Michael: Anders Bjork
Joe: Danton Heinen
Lucas: Danton Heinen
Garrett: Danton Heinen
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who will be the offensive team MVP? Defensive MVP?

Michael: Marchand and McAvoy.
Joe: Marchand and Carlo.
Lucas: Marchand and Krug.
Garrett: Marchand and Carlo.
Mike: Marchand and McAvoy.

What player will win the Seventh Player award this season?

Michael: Matt Grzelcyk
Joe: Anders Bjork
Lucas: Matt Grzelcyk
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Connor Clifton

How many points in the regular season will the Bruins get?

Michael: 102
Joe: 105
Lucas: 109
Garrett: 111
Mike: 108

Will the Bruins make it back to the playoffs? Finals?

Michael: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Joe: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Lucas: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.
Garrett: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Mike: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.

If no, what round will they get beat out in and to who?

Michael: Conference finals loss to
New York Rangers
Joe: Second round exit to Tampa Bay.
Lucas: They’re winning the cup.
Garrett: Conference finals loss to
Washington
Mike: All the way for the cup win.

LEAGUE PICK EMS

Top 3 finishers in each division, in order.

Atlantic Division

Michael: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Joe: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Lucas: Tampa, Boston, Florida
Garrett: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Mike: Boston, Tampa, Toronto

Metro Division

Michael: New York Rangers, Washington
Philadelphia
Joe: Washington, Pittsburgh, New York
Islanders
Lucas: Carolina, Washington,
Philadelphia
Garrett: Washington, Pittsburgh, New
York Islanders
Mike: New York Rangers, Washington,
Carolina

Central Division

Michael: Nashville, Colorado, Dallas
Joe: Nashville, Dallas, Colorado
Lucas: Colorado, Nashville, St. Louis
Garrett: Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg
Mike: Nashville, St. Louis, Colorado

Pacific Division

Michael: Vegas, Calgary, San Jose
Joe: Calgary, Vegas, San Jose
Lucas: Calgary, San Jose, Arizona
Garrett: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary
Mike: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary

Eastern Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Boston v New York Rangers
New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay v Washington
Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston v Toronto (WC)
Boston in 7
Garrett: Boston v Washington
Washington in 7
Mike: Boston v New York Rangers
Boston in 6

Western Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Nashville v Vegas
Vegas in 6
Joe: Dallas v Vegas
Dallas in 7
Lucas: Nashville v San Jose
Nashville in 6
Garrett: Colorado v San Jose
San Jose in 6
Mike: Vegas v Colorado
Vegas in 7

Stanley Cup finals winner? How many games?

Michael: New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston in 7
Garrett: San Jose in 6
Mike: Boston in 7

Most likely exceed expectations?

Michael: New York Rangers
Joe: Arizona
Lucas: Arizona
Garrett: New York Rangers
Mike: New York Rangers

Most likely to underachieve?

Michael: St. Louis
Joe: Columbus
Lucas: Winnipeg
Garrett: Carolina
Mike: Dallas

Canadian team with the highest points?

Michael: Toronto
Joe: Calgary
Lucas: Calgary
Garrett: Toronto
Mike: Toronto

How many teams north of the border will make the playoffs?

Michael: 3
Joe: 4
Lucas: 2
Garrett: 3
Mike: 3

AWARD WINNERS

Hart Trophy

Michael: Connor McDavid
Joe: Nathan MacKinnon
Lucas: Connor McDavid
Garrett: Nathan MacKinnon
Mike: Connor McDavid

Art Ross Trophy

Michael: Nathan MacKinnon
Joe: Connor McDavid
Lucas: Nikita Kucherov
Garrett: Nikita Kucherov
Mike: Connor McDavid

Calder Trophy

Michael: Kappo Kakko
Joe: Kappo Kakko
Lucas: Jack Hughes
Garrett: Jack Hughes
Mike: Kappo Kakko

Selke Trophy

Michael: Patrice Bergeron
Joe: Aleksander Barkov
Lucas: Patrice Bergeron
Garrett: Patrice Bergeron
Mike: Patrice Bergeron

Norris Trophy

Michael: Victor Hedman
Joe: Roman Josi
Lucas: Seth Jones
Garrett: Victor Hedman
Mike: Victor Hedman

Vezina Trophy

Michael: Henrik Lundqvist
Joe: Ben Bishop
Lucas: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Garrett: Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jack Adams Award

Michael: Jared Bednar
Joe: Jim Montgomery
Lucas: Rick Tocchet
Garrett: Jared Bednar
Mike: Bruce Cassidy

Coach on the bubble?

Michael: Mike Babcock
Joe: Bruce Boudreau
Lucas: Bruce Boudreau
Garrett: Mike Babcock
Mike: Mike Babcock

GM on the bubble?

Michael: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Joe: Brad Treliving
Lucas: Pierre Dorion
Garrett: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Mike: Kevin Cheveldayoff

Player drafted 1 to 3 at the 2020 draft?

Michael: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Joe: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas Raymond,
Quinton Byfield.

Lucas: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas
Raymond, Quinton Byfield

Garrett: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Mike: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton Byfield,
Lucas Raymond

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 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!

Mainville’s Full 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions

boston_bruins.jpg

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.

061319.N.PJ.KARSONKUHLMAN goal hugs cmyk .jpg

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!