Boston Bruins Vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 Preview

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Game 5, 7 PM ET. It’s do or die for the Bruins. Their season is on the line. After winning the first game of the series 3-2, the Bruins have dropped three games in a row and haven’t looked good. This Boston team has been as resilient as you can get since the start of the season and they need to show up and show up big time. “I think our core will,” Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They have to. Your best players need to be your best players. I think what I was getting at the other day was they’re going to have some nights where they need the secondary group to push up. Every team, if you’re going to advance in the playoffs, needs that.”

Obviously their stars need to show up, but if the Bruins want to win this game, the Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjorks of the team need to produce. Tampa Bay’s depth scoring from guys like Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde have been a massive advantage for the Lightning. The B’s defensive coverage has also been a question mark for the team, as apparent in the Lightning’s first goal in Game 4. The Bruins just need to play their game and start capitalized on the few errors the Lightning make.

Injury Update

Steven Stamkos will remain out for the Lightning. Ryan McDonagh will be game time decision after missing most of the series. Chris Wagner will be out for Game 5 and both Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie are questionable. 

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Lineups

Neither lineup has been confirmed, but I’d assume there will be a bit of a personnel change for the Bruins. Their grittier approach hasn’t worked and I’d be really interested to see a speed approach for the Bruins. Get some young, hungry, talented guys back into the lineup. I’d also entertain the option of moving Pastrnak to Krejci’s wing. For the Tampa side, I can’t really see any lineup changes with the recent success they’ve had. 

Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Jack Studnicka

Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Karson Kuhlman

If Kuraly is back, he’ll slide into the 4C. Also very possible to see Nick Ritchie remain in the lineup, likely taking out Studnicka and moving Bjork to the right.

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton

Jaroslav Halak

I’d like to see Krug and Carlo on separate pairs. After a great regular season, they’ve been a bit underwhelming. Maybe we see a jumbo pairing of Chara and Carlo and have Krug in an offensive pairing of Krug and McAvoy. We could also see Jeremy Lauzon or John Moore hop back in for Clifton. 

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Lightning

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov

Alex Kilhorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman

Patrick Maroon – Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk

Brayden Coburn – Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

It’s worth noting that if Ryan McDonagh enters back into the lineup, the Lightning may move back to six defensemen and slot Mitchell Stephens back one the fourth line.

Andrei Vasilevsky

My prediction is a 3-2 Bruins win. Goal scorers Krug, Coyle, Bergeron. Let’s hope this isn’t Krug’s final game in the spoked-B. Go Bs.

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How The Bruins Can Beat Tampa Bay

(Photo Credit: Cole Burston | AP)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

After as good of a first game you could wish for, this series has gone to shambles for the Bruins. They lost a hard fought, OT bout in Game 2 and since then, the series has been an absolute mess. Game 3 may have been the worst show I’ve seen the Bruins put on in years. To show zero effort when your goalie is making his NHL debut is pitiful. I expected a much better performance in Game 4 and while it was a better performance, it wasn’t enough. The physicality was kinda there, the intensity was kinda there, the offense was kinda there (might be being a bit generous) and the goaltending was kinda there. But it was not enough to beat a team as good as Tampa Bay. So what do the Bruins have to do to win this series?

Cut Down on the Penalties

Over the past two games, the Bruins have taken 11 penalties, four of which have been capitalized on by Tampa. That is not how you win hockey games. You win hockey games by having self control. With how many agitators the Lightning have, it’s incredibly important for the Bruins to be disciplined. If you’re going to lose to the Lightning, let them beat you with their speed and skill, not by them getting under your skin. 

Halak Needs to be Better

(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Halak has made a couple excellent saves this series, but he’s also been prone to give up some softies. When your goalie lets up a weak goal, it really deflates the team. That’s exactly what its done to the Bruins. The team’s usual resilience hasn’t been there to make up for Jaro’s mistakes. In their last three losses, the Slovakian has an .866 save percentage and has given up four goals twice.  It’ll be no easy task, but Halak is going to need to show up big time.

He’ll make a save like this

Then let in this.

Produce at Even Strength 

It’s been the Bruins biggest problem for an eternity. They have scored a grand total of four even strength goals in the four games and haven’t scored a single five on five goal since Game 2. They have way too much talent up and down the lineup to be hanging goose eggs at even strength. I’d expect Cassidy to play some of the young, hungry players in Game 5. I think we see Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka draw back into the lineup and someone like Trent Frederic could get a look too. David Pastrnak should get in some reps with David Krejci or Charlie Coyle to spread the wealth a little bit.

Shut Down Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Brayden Point has been a beast this series. He has a point in every game and is up to six in the series. Kucherov has a similar stat line with two goals and four assists. A big reason why the Blue Jackets were able to surprise the Lightning last season was because they were able to hold off Tampa’s stars. A goal and -5 rating for Point, two assists and -4 for Kucherov, and Stamkos (who the Bruins haven’t had to deal with) had two points and was a -8. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones put on a defensive clinic and suppressed all of Tampa’s star power. Charlie McAvoy and company need to be on their A-game and replicate CBJ’s success.

The Bs are too good of a team to drop four in a row to anyone. I’m expecting a great game from everyone in the lineup. 3-2 Bruins win, go Bs.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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How The Bruins And Lightning Forwards Match Up

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Well, that was a great game to start the series off. There’s no question it’ll continue to be an excellent series, featuring stars on both sides of the ice, but how do two of the best forward cores in the league match up? With Steven Stamkos’ health in question, that gives a huge advantage to the Bruins, but let’s take a look at how the two teams match upfront.

First Line: Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two
(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

No Stamkos, no problem for the Lightning. You could easily make the argument that Brayden Point is a better player than Stammer, and I wouldn’t argue against you. He is everything you want in a number one center, he plays a great 200-foot game, and his speed and skill are apparent all over the ice. When partnered up with the stud that is Nikita Kucherov, the duo are untouchable. The two have eleven and ten points respectively and were a huge reason why the Lightning were able to hold off Columbus. Despite having a solid two-way presence with Ondrej Palat to their left, you still have to give the edge to the Bruins top line. 

It’s just the best line in hockey. To have a Selke winner, Rocket Richard winner, and a 100 point player is something on one line is something no other team can boast. It’s truly the best line in hockey, and I don’t think many people will stand in the way of that claim. The trio has already combined for eight goals in the playoffs and have looked great since Pastrnak’s return. 

Second Line: Bruins

Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

Alex Kilhorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson

(Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the most excited I’ve been with the Bruins’ second line since Jarome Iginla. Ondrej Kase has made this line such a force in the offensive zone. His speed is an excellent complement to Krejci’s playmaking ability, and the two Czechmen have developed some sound chemistry early on. The duo, along with Jake Debrusk has a 60.1 Corsi so far in the playoffs and playoff David Krejci is in full force. The Bruins may end up living and dying by this line, and I’ve got faith that this line will show up in the second round. 

This Lightning trio is complete. They all work their asses off and can generate a lot of chances because of their speed. Kilhorn and Johnson have proven to be playoff performers in the past (45 and 55 career playoff points respectively), and Anthony Cirelli dazzles when he’s on the ice. He’s going to be a really good player for a long time. But with all that being said, I think this line doesn’t quite have as much firepower as the B’s. 

Third Line: Lightning

Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman

Yanni Gourde of the Tampa Bay Lightning exchanges words with Charlie Coyle of the Boston Bruins during the third period in an Eastern Conference Round Robin game during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff at Scotiabank Arena on August 5, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
(Photo Credit: Andre/Ringuette/Getty Images)

This line has a lot of potential for the Bruins. Bjork and Coyle have developed some really nice chemistry and are always great with the puck on their sticks. Ritchie hasn’t looked great since the return to play, but he has the ability to add another element to this line. His size could bode well against another big team like Tampa, and if he gets going, this 3rd line could be a weapon for the Bruins. 

I love the 3rd line of the Lightning. They throw their bodies everywhere, and despite their physicality, they can score. The two trade deadline acquisitions of Coleman and Goodrow look great to the sides of a speedy center like Yanni Gourde. All three have a goal (Gourde has two) and a plus rating since being put together these playoffs. This line could be a real problem for the Bruins when they get going.

Fourth Line: Wash

Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Patrick Maroon – Mitchell Stephens – Cedric Paquette

Chris Wagner (14) scored late in Boston's round-robin meeting with the Tampa Bay Lighting on Aug. 5 in Toronto, but Tampa still won, 3-2, on its way to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
(Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/ Getty Images)

I can’t really find an edge in this matchup. We saw how awful it was to play against Maroon in the Finals last season, and Paquette does that same job. It’s an old-style 4th line that will just batter you with hits and is incredibly tough to play against. Boston’s 4th line is no slouch, either. After an OK regular season, they have been on their A-game in the playoffs. Joakim Nordstrom is always the hardest working guy on the ice, putting his body on the line blocking shot after shot. Wagner has potted two goals, and we’ve already seen the Kuraleap in action. It’s going to be fun to watch when these two lines bruise it out. 

Game two is tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited. Stay tuned for how these two great defenses match up as well. Go Bs.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Game Four Preview | Boston Bruins Vs. Carolina Hurricanes 8/17/2020

Bruins vs. Hurricanes Game 3: Winners and losers from Bruins win
(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The shocking news that Boston Bruins top net-minder Tuukka Rask was opting out of the Playoffs this past Saturday certainly put the team in a interesting position. Understandably wild speculation bombarded social media with mixed reactions, but for the Bruins, there was still a game to win. And Boston did what Boston does best; they rallied and without their top goaltender and scorer, they won. The win over the Carolina Hurricanes has put the B’s ahead in the series 2-1. Tonight, the Bruins have a chance to widen the gap.

ADJUSTING ALONG THE WAY

So far this series, the Bruins lineup upfront has shifted, especially with the absence of David Pastrnak. With the team down their leading scorer, other players have stepped up to the plate. Perhaps the biggest (and most pleasant) surprise is the connection between David Krejci and fellow countryman Ondrej Kase. As evident in Game One, Krejci would set up plenty of plays for both Kase and DeBrusk.

As the  second line continues to dominate puck possession, the 24-year-old Kase is looking to nab his first goal as a Bruin, while DeBrusk has been itching to net one in.  Throughout the series, the veteran play coming way of Krejci has been the highlight so far and seems to have finally earn praise throughout the Boston sports media. If you don’t believe in just how important he’s been, his recent stats speak for itself. With the win this past Saturday, Krejci is now second behind Ray Bourque as the Bruins’ all-time player with the most postseason points. Patrice Bergeron is a close third while Phil Esposito is fourth on the list.

GAME PREVIEW

Tonight’s tilt against Carolina will not feature David Pastrnak for a pivotal Game Four. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy previously stated there was “50/50” chance that the 24-year-old Czech will return as he participated in an optional skate on Sunday. Skate rushes this morning featured Anders Bjork on the first line. Despite shifting players up front,  the Bruins power-play (especially with the addition of Krejci) has started to click and was three-for-eight in their last two games against the Hurricanes. The Bruins will need to continue to fight hard and outwork their opponent.

Carolina Hurricanes Lack Energy and Fall to Boston in Game Three
(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

With Rask out of the lineup, Jaroslav Halak now has reigns in between the pipes. Despite a rusty gaffe while trying to clear the puck (leading to Carolina’s only goal), Halak looked strong making 29 saves on 30 shots. Whether or not his workload includes an appearance by back-up goalies Dan Vlader and Max Lagace remains to be seen. That being said, its safe to assume that Halak will be the go-to choice:

“(Halak’s) our guy, he’s proven that right now, the other guys have not. Not saying they couldn’t handle it and we may have to look at the Game 5 and 6 back-to-back, but I don’t want to get that far ahead. Let’s get through [Monday] night’s game and let’s see where Jaro is at. He has played back-to-back for us. A couple of years ago we needed him to do that, so he’s a guy that we’ve seen do it and have success.”

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy

THE CANES

Carolina will be down a key player in their lineup after Andrei Svechnikov suffered a very scary looking injury when he got tangled with Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara. As both players battled up front, Svechnikov’s leg bent awkwardly as he fell (from video-it appears both his ankle and knee have been affected). With the young forward gone, expect Ryan Dzingel back in the lineup. Petr Mrazek was the losing goalie for Game Three and Game One so expect James Reimer in net as he was the goalie for Carolina’s win in Game Two. Sebastion Aho leads the team with 10 points and seven assists.

WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with a start time of 8:00 pm, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

WHERE TO WATCH: NBCSN, FS-CR, NESN

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 189 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Why The Bruins Landed The Fourth Seed

rask-1

Steve Babineau/Getty Images

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Well, Bruins fans, that is not the round-robin we all expected.  To be fair, most of the NHL did not expect the fourth-ranked Philadelphia Flyers to sweep the competition either.  But the Bruins disappointed its fans in a big way.  The Bruins were the top-ranked team in the entire NHL when the league suspended its season.  They were a lock to be the number one seed in the East and were feared by most.  Unfortunately, looks were deceiving, and they underperformed in every game, beginning with their exhibition with Columbus.  So why did the Bruins end up with the fourth-seed?

For starters, the Bruins did not once lead in any of their round-robin games.  In their first game against Philadelphia, Rask did not participate due to his “cough.”

Jaroslav Halak didn’t play tremendously in his absence, but neither did the Bruins.  The Flyer’s goalie, Carter Hart, stole the show by stopping 34 out of 35 shots.  Philadelphia scored three goals in the second period, two of which came before the Bruins’ first. Boston’s Chris Wagner scored after Philly’s second goal and seemed to alleviate some of the pressure felt by the players.  However, a mere eight seconds later, Philly potted their third goal, and the Bruins dropped to 0-1.

Three nights later, Tampa Bay scored the first two goals of the game, and once again, Boston had to play catch-up. Boston’s Torey Krug tried to rally the troops by dropping the gloves, which created some nastiness throughout the game, but it was not enough, and another loss ensued.

Finally, Boston outshot Washington 16-2 in the first period, but it was Washington who capitalized and ended the first up 1-0.  Boston never regained the lead and watched Washington end the round-robin with the third seed.

The common theme between all three nights was slow starts. It’s quite difficult to win one game, let alone three, down to teams with pedigrees that the Lightning, Capitals, and Flyers have.  The Bruins were the most feared team in the NHL because they had just been to game 7 of the Stanley Cup and were not suffering from a playoff hangover.

They essentially cruised to the President’s Trophy, best regular-season record, and their players were receiving accolades.  David Pastrnak won the Art Ross trophy with Alexander Ovechkin, most points in the NHL, Tuukka Rask is a finalist for the best goaltender award (Vezina), and Bergeron for the best defensive forward (Selke).  Their play in the round-robin was unexpected, to say the least.

The Bruins’ slow starts in all three games can be partially contributed to the roster’s age and the speed to get their legs under them.  James Mirtle of The Athletic wrote an article back in October analyzing the NHL team’s averages.  James referenced and compared teams’ average heights, weights, age, draft position, etc.  Interestingly enough, most of the organizations whose rosters came in older than the league average did not perform up to standards in the NHL’s Return to Play.

The Bruins’ average age when the season began was 28.5, while the league’s average was 27.3.  It is no secret the Bruins core is getting older.  To be frank, that’s all a Bruins fan hears any time they tune into sports talk radio.  Zdeno Chara has one to two years left, Bergeron and Krejci are not 26 anymore, and even Tuukka Rask has reached his 33rd birthday.  Their Stanley Cup-winning core is through their prime.

Bruins management has worked on acquiring and drafting younger players to support their core, but they lack the necessary experience.  Older teams usually need more than a three-game warmup to get back on track.  The Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals came in above the league’s average age, as well, and also suffered from a slow start.  The Philadelphia Flyers had an average age of 26.5, and they swept the top three Eastern Conference teams with ease.

Scientifically speaking, younger players have a quicker bounce back and recovery time than older players.  Zdeno Chara switched his diet entirely to plant-based foods a couple years back to keep up with the younger generation.  But it’s nearly impossible to restart his body in such a short period and get back to peak season performance.

The two and a half week training camp was designed to allow players to get back into game shape; however, nothing can genuinely get a player ready for the playoffs other than actual playoff gameplay.  The Bruins had three games to get their playoff legs under them, and if those games are any indication of their outlook, the Bruins are heading back to Boston early.

The other piece of the Bruins poor performance puzzle relates to their attitudes, or at least a few players.  Tuukka Rask has always had a very relaxed approach in post-game interviews, but his recent description of the round-robin has some fans ruffled.

It was understood that the top four teams were mostly playing round-robin games to stall while the other 12 teams compete for playoff spots.  But to give the allusion that these games “didn’t matter” is a bit concerning. It’s hard to believe players can have that mentality for games that don’t matter, and all of a sudden, switch it off for games that do.

Players also never want to take their opponents for granted.  Regardless of the three games not mattering, teams need to show up and keep a level mindset against powerhouses like Tampa and Washington.  The Bruins could very well see these opponents in the next round, and it would have been a smaller mental hurdle if the Bruins hadn’t coughed away their round-robin gameplay.

Seeding has never been as crucial in the NHL than other sports.  The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley cup in 2012, holding the eighth seed in the playoffs.  The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the third overall seed.

The Bruins fourth seed may not matter, but they’re clashing with a red-hot Carolina hurricane squad who swept the New York Rangers from playoff contention.  The Bruins know what the Canes are capable of because they defeated the Canes on their way to the Stanley Cup last season.  The Bruins and Canes begin their series at 11am today, and Bruins fans hope the round-robin performance has been put to rest.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 189 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.

User 568316199 · 189: The Bruins Winless In The Round-Robin Games And Get Set To Play Carolina In Round One

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Boston vs. Carolina Series Preview

( Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports )

By Leon Lifschutz  |  Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz 

The Boston Bruins dropped three straight in their round-robin matchups while the Carolina Hurricanes won three straight to easily sweep their play-in series versus the New York Rangers.  The ‘Canes will be anxious to avenge last year’s sweep at the hands of the Bs in the conference finals while Boston will be ready to show why they were this year’s best regular-season team.  Let’s get into the series preview!

Top 3 Storylines to Watch For

  1. “Real Games” – The Bruins never seemed to approach their round-robin games with a ton of urgency.  Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tinkered with the forward combos and made sure to work in their 7th defenseman much as one might expect from pre-season play.  Starting goalie Tuukka Rask stressed after the round-robin that the team was now ready to start playing “real games”.  Perhaps most telling, Brad Marchand has yet to lick anyone’s face or really get too engaged with opposing players.  Fans will be excited to see their beloved Bruins put the pedal down.  But will they be able to flip the switch against Carolina who has already played do-or-die games?
  2. The Bruins (lack of) Offense – The Bruins managed 4 goals in 3 games and were paced in goal scoring by 4th liner Chris Wagner.  The Bruins top line all shot 0% though they did have chances especially in game 3 against Washington.  Is the Bruins lack of production due to a lack of grit and desire, a streak of poor percentages, or a little bit of both?  And can they reverse the trends in time to win 4 out of 7?
  3. Carolina’s Injuries on DefenseCarolina is without the services of former Bruin Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, two key players at the top of their lineup.  Hamilton in particular drives plays at high rates and compliments the ‘Canes quick attack approach.  Carolina does have depth on D but missing stars is always a cause for concern.  To some degree, attrition can be the storyline of the playoffs. The Bruins seem relatively healthy going into this first-round matchup, a favorable edge they hope to maintain.

Lineups

Forwards

Forwards

Lineup Card Taken from dailyfaceoff.com

(ed. note – it is Nick Ritchie on 3rd line for the Bruins, not Brett)

The Bruins have an edge at the top of the lineup but the Hurricanes top line of Aho-Svechnikov-Terevainen is sublimely talented and comes into this series on fire.  The addition of Vincent Trochek into the top-6 was a big deadline day add for the Canes.  Carolina has a formidable bottom-6 with playoff experience and plays the game exactly how Coach Rod Brind’Amour likes it to be played, fast, and heavy.  The Bruins finally have their full lineup at hand and seem to have settled on their line combos.  They are deep at center ice and have hopefully found some chemistry on the wings for Krejci and Coyle.

Defense

Defense

Lineup Card Taken from dailyfaceoff.com

Minus Hamilton and Pesce, the ‘Canes still have a good D core.  GM Don Waddel looks brilliant, adding Vatanen and Skjei at the deadline, quality fill-ins, especially now healthy Vatanen.  Gardiner and Fleury, while occasionally mistake-prone, can be a dynamic bottom pair.  With Hamilton and Pesce missing, the Bs should have the edge from the back end.  McAvoy and Krug have increasingly looked comfortable on offense through each game of the restart.  Chara, the league’s oldest player, still is working on getting his legs under him but is coming along, assist on Washington’s first goal aside.  Grzelcyk, Lauzon, and Clifton solidify strong depth from top to bottom for the Bs.

Goalies

Goalies

Lineup Card Taken from dailyfaceoff.com

As we will see in the next section, the Canes don’t quite see the results their numbers suggest.  The goaltending of Mrazek and Reimer is league average at best with 1A starter Mrazek being a streaky one and contributes to the issue.  However, both played extremely well in the play-in round.  Rask looks ready to go after two strong starts after missing action early on due to a mangled finger and cough.  If Rask plays his game and Mrazek and Reimer don’t continue standing on their heads, the Bs have the marked advantage between the pipes.

By the Numbers

Numbers final update

Stats and data courtesy of naturalstattrick.com

Carolina goes, goes, and goes some more.  They put up shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals.  That was equally true against the Rangers as it was in the regular season.  They have been Corsi darlings for several years with their high volume approach to offense.  With young talent blooming, they have finally started seeing positive results from this approach in the last couple of seasons.  The Bruins play a much more measured game and don’t trade chances like the ‘Canes do.  This will be a fascinating stylistic difference to watch for in seeing who can impose their style on the series.

The Bruins are the stronger of the two on special teams, though Carolina comes in the hotter of the two in this department.  One would expect the Bruins to snap out of their powerplay funk at some point though the team has not consistently produced chances they way they did in the regular season. Pastrnak, in particular, has not had his usual good looks at the net, and in turn, has tried to force passes through the seam instead of shooting.

Tactical Keys to the Series

Carolina is a team that relies on volume, as we saw in the numbers.  In order to do so, they constantly push the puck up ice.  This means quick outs from their own zone, pushing the puck ahead to the neutral zone, and little chips to space into the offensive zone for forwards to chase down.  It also means their defense getting engaged up the ice and putting lots of pucks to the net.  For an even more in-depth team and individual player explanation of this, I encourage you to check out the great work of Jack Han HERE, which is complemented by incomparable data from Cory Sznajder.  Both are must follow for the hockey nerd fan.  Below is an example of the Hurricanes mentality of getting the puck up to open space and get it back at all costs.

In doing some hot stove chatting at my most recent adult pick up game, Canes fan @BillKeryc hammered home these points.  In particular, he stressed the fact that all 5 on-ice Carolina players funnel the puck to the net at every opportunity.

So what are the keys for the Bruins?  For starters, they need to be aware the Hurricanes will constantly be trying to push them back on their heels. They need to respect that without giving Carolina’s offensive stars to much cushion to be creative.  Second, the Bs need to possess the puck.  The Bruins D will need to get back quickly on pucks to recover possession before the Hurricanes forwards force them into plays they don’t like.

That puts an emphasis on all 5 players on the ice supporting each other and creating simple outlets to advance the puck and maintain puck possession.  If the Bs can maintain possession and evade Carolina’s pressure, they will be able to neutralize Carolina’s desire to dictate play.  If they do get on their heels, which is bound to happen from time to time, the Bs will have to ensure they avoid crucial mistakes and defer to patient defending or simple outs when needed.  Expect Coach Cassidy to emphasize puck management even more than he already has in his round-robin pressers.

My Prediction:  Bruins in 7

#Letsgooo

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

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Takeaways For Boston From Tampa Bay’s Win Over Washington

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

By Bryan Murphy | Follow me on Twitter @bryan_murphy10

The Bruins haven’t looked quite like themselves since arriving in the Toronto bubble as the NHL restarts with its 24-team playoff.

Boston looked sluggish and sloppy in its 4-1 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week. In its first game of the round robin, the Bruins played a back and forth game with the Philadelphia Flyers, an improvement from the poor showing against Columbus. However, the Bruins again fell 4-1 in a crucial game for seeding.

Now the Bruins are in a tough situation going into Wednesday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning took a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in their first round robin game and now the Bruins are at the bottom of the seeding rankings with no points. With a loss to the Lightning, the Bruins will no longer have a chance at the No. 1 seed.

The Lightning looked very solid in their first meaningful game, outside of a span of four minutes at the end of the second period where the Capitals scored two goals to tie the game.

Here are some of the takeaways for the Bruins from the Lightning’s win.

More Sandpaper In The Bay

Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois had plenty of time to mull over what happened to the Lightning last season when they were swept in the opening round by the Blue Jackets. He realized the Lightning needed to add physicality to their game and they did just that.

BriseBois and the Lightning signed Pat Maroon this offseason and brought in Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman at the trade deadline, in addition to signing Zach Bogosian in late February. With guys like Cedric Paquette, Yanni Gourde, and a boatload of big defensemen already on the roster, this is a dangerous group that may have just figure out the final piece of the puzzle.

The physicality was on full display against the Capitals, with the Lightning racking up a whopping 45 hits to the Capitals 44. They didn’t cave and get away from their game plan trying to take runs like we’ve seen in the past. They now have enough sandpaper guys that their skilled players don’t have to worry as much about playing that style.

“I thought we were in their face,” said Maroon after the game. “That’s the kind of team we need to be, just kind of have that mentality to push back. … I thought we did a really good job of just staying in it, not getting frustrated when they were throwing big hits and responding at the right time.”

It’s part of why the Bruins have had success in the playoffs. They have the skills, but it’s the in-your-face mentality that ultimately separates the men from the boys. The Bruins have seen the scrappiness from the Lightning in the regular season and should expect to see that ramped up on Wednesday.

No Steven Stamkos

The Lightning were without their captain Steven Stamkos against the Capitals and appeared to not miss a beat.

Stamkos suffered a leg injury during voluntary workouts and while he’s expected to play at some point these playoffs, he isn’t quite ready yet. Brayden Point slid into the top line center position alongside Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

Mitchell Stephens was in the fourth line center role and looked very comfortable. The rookie put the Lightning ahead 2-0, getting in front of the net and deflecting a shot past Holtby. That started from a hard forecheck by Stephens that caused Capitals defensemen Jonas Siegenthaler to turn the puck over and Stephens outmuscled Siegenthaler again in front to get his stick on the puck and redirect it.

The Lightning went 3-3-1 in the regular season without Stamkos when he went down with his core muscle injury in February. Two of those games were against the Bruins, a 2-1 win for Boston and a 5-3 win for Tampa Bay.

So the Bruins know what to expect from the Lightning even without Stamkos. They looked very good without him against the Capitals and will have to do so again on Wednesday against the Bruins. But it’s a chance for Boston to exploit the absence of their top center who was averaging over a point per game this season.

Vasilevskiy Is Still Really, Really Good

SPOILER ALERT – Quarantine did not seem to affect Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The “big cat” of Tampa made 31 saves and two of three saves in the shootout on Monday. The two goals he gave up came off of some bad bounces that the Capitals were able to just sneak by.

Vasilevskiy made some big time saves, including stopping a Jakub Vrana breakaway attempt in the overtime period.

The rebound control is what stood out the most. Vasilevskiy was calm in the net and either was able to swallow up everything or kick it to the corners. The Caps two goals came off of getting bodies and pucks to the net and the Bruins will have to do just that to disrupt Vasilevskiy.

The Vezina candidate compiled three wins and a loss against the Bruins in the regular season, giving up no more than three goals in a game. And after a rough postseason in 2019, Vasilevskiy, like the rest of the Lightning squad, will be coming back with vengeance this postseason.

The Bruins and Lightning will kick off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday with a lot more on the line for the boys in black and gold. It’s put up or shut up time for the Bruins, as they truly need to find their game before it’s too late.

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

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Biggest Questions Facing The Bruins As They Enter The 2020 Playoffs

Notes, Thoughts And Observations From Ondrej Kase's Bruins Debut ...
( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images )

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

What is up with Kase and Ritchie?

There is a lot up in the air with the Bruin’s two most recent acquisitions. We know Ondrej Kase was the only player to not travel to Toronto with the team. It’s been said that the Czech Republic native will meet the team later, but if he’s healthy, what role will he have? He’s only played six games with Boston, and with younger guys (that will be mentioned later) getting more chemistry with the team, it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll have when he’s with the team.

That same story remains true with Nick Ritchie. Despite traveling to Toronto with the team, Ritchie has just now made his first on ice appearance in Ontario’s capital, in an optional skate this morning. He wasn’t featured Bruin’s lineup in the exhibition game and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll join the Bs for a game. The physical forward would be a really nice addition to the lineup, and his presence would be a welcome addition to the forward group.

How will the kids play?

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Studnicka #68 of the Boston Bruins warms up prior to the game against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 26, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins seem to have three players penciled into their lineup that have yet to play a playoff game in their NHL career. The trio of players are Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon. I recently wrote an article about how I believe Bjork has a good chance to break out in the playoffs. He’s an incredibly skilled player that has had success in every league he’s been in. The Notre Dame alum has developed into a really good 200-foot player and is a guy I can totally see having a Marcus Johansson like run in the playoffs. 

As for Studnicka, it appears that he will get the start to the right of David Krejci on the second line and I love it. He’s done everything you want in a young player making the jump to the pros. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals and was within the top 15 in both total goals and points. Getting the chance to play in the top six in the NHL playoffs as a 21-year-old is not something many can do, especially for a President’s Trophy winning team. It’s been all praise from teammates and I’m really excited to see how he does after his promising showing in the exhibition game. 

We saw Connor Clifton take big steps in his NHL career last year as a rookie in the playoffs, and now Jeremy Lauzon is looking to do the same. The French-Canadian plays the perfect playoff style of hockey. The adjective I would use to describe him certainly wouldn’t be shy as he already has 10 fights in his short NHL career. He’s added a nice physical presence next to Matt Grzelcyk and that bottom pair has been a big part of the B’s success. Since joining the big club, the Bruins have had a 15-3-1 record in games Lauzon has played in.

Can Rask replicate last year’s playoff success?

Bruins' Tuukka Rask Reveals Item He Brought To Toronto, Game Plan ...
(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Rask was excellent in the 2018-19 Playoffs. Saying anything but that would be idiotic.  Outside of the final game of the Cup, Rask was absolutely dominant in elimination and series clinching games. In five elimination games, the Finnish tender allowed just four goals to go with a .973 save percentage. And as crazy as it may sound, he was even better in series clinching games. He allowed ONE goal in the three games, good for a .990 save percentage and if you picked this up, well done, had more shutouts than goals allowed. Those are elite numbers. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the time off will affect the B’s starter coming off of his best regular season since winning the Vezina in 2014. Luckily if Rask falters for any reason, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jaroslav Halak. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Will the formatting of the playoffs hurt the Bruins?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 16: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight during the second period at TD Garden on January 16, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Well the immediate answer is yes. As they were six points up on the second place team in the league, Bs were poised to finish the regular season as the number one seed. They would’ve had home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs but are now forced to play in a round robin to determine where they finish. If the Bs fail to maintain the top spot in the East they would end up playing a better team than they would have normally faced. Can you believe if they end up playing the Penguins in the first round instead of a team around the 7-9 seed? No disrespect to any of those teams, but that would be incredibly tough on the Presidents Trophy winning team. 

If there’s any pro out of this, it would be the fact that the Bruins now play high intensity games that matter, but without a lose or go home stipulation. Maybe if they don’t show up in the three round robin games it sends a message. Maybe if they DO show up it will give the team confidence and add a little swagger to their play. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Can the veterans succeed after so much time off?

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
(Photo Credit: Minas Panaglotakis/ Getty Images)

There’s no questioning if the leadership of the Bruin’s veterans will be there when the playoffs begin, it will. But will their usual great play be there as well? Zdeno Chara (42), Patrice Bergeon (34), David Krejci (33) and Brad Marchand (31) have all had amazing NHL careers, but without a proper training camp and so much time off, it may be tough to get back into the swing of things with the intensity of playoff hockey. Brad Marchand said earlier in quarantine that he thinks younger teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning will have the advantage over teams with an older core. With that being said, you know Bruce Cassidy and co will have the Bruins ready to play when the time comes. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 24 Preview

ProBru11

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week 24 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 32-18-3-3 (82 points) and 10-0 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and first in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a stellar week that saw them push their win streak to 12 games. Our boys in black and gold were able to beat Springfield twice before beating Hershey and Hartford. This weekend will have exciting hockey that you do not want to miss.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday, March 14, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Charlotte, North Carolina, to take on the Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The weekend action wraps up on Sunday, March 15, 2020, when the Providence Bruins take on the Charlotte Checkers at The Biscuit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 14, 2020, and Sunday, March 15, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (AWAY)

The weekend series between the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers will be the fifth and sixth of eight meetings the two teams will have. In the first battle, the Providence Bruins would win 4-1. Brendan Woods (2), Scott Conway, and Robert Lantosi scored goals for the Bruins. Max Lagace was excellent in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Bruins shutout the Checkers 4-0. Brendan Woods, Urho Vaakanainen, Pavel Shen, and Jack Studnicka found the back of the net. Dan Vladar was a wall, stopping all 36 shots he faced. The third game saw the Bruins fall 4-0. Max Lagace would go on top stop 39 of the 42 shots he faced. The most recent matchup wasn’t much better. The Bruins would be beaten 4-1. Robert Lantosi scored the lone goal for Providence.

Last season, the Charlotte Checkers were dominant. They would beat the Bruins in four games in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first Calder Cup Championship. This season has been a bit of a different story. The Hurricanes’ affiliate skate into the match up 34-22-5 (73 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Something that led to their dominant season last year was their defense. Their defense only surrendered 189 goals, while they scored 255. That’s a +66 goal differential. This season has been a little different. The Charlotte club on the year has scored 202 goals while giving up 172. That’s a +30 goal differential. That means they’re scoring 3.31 goals a game while giving up 2.81.

To put those numbers into perspective, the Providence Bruins have played in one more game than Charlotte. They’ve scored 197 goals while giving up 154. That’s a +43 goal differential. This means they’re scoring 3.17 goals a game while giving up only 2.48. The Providence Bruins are 8-7-1 against Charlotte over the past five seasons. This includes 5-3 at the Checkers.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka finds himself in the hot category once again. The young forward is having a stellar season. In 60 games, he’s netted 23 goals while dishing out 26 assists for 49 total points. This includes netting nine goals while dishing out 14 assists for 23 total points over his last 18 games. Studnicka also finds himself registering a point in six of his last seven games. He’s netted three goals and dished out 5 assists for eight total points during that time. Studnicka is also becoming an elite penalty kill weapon. He’s registered seven shorthanded goals on the year. This is the most in the AHL.

Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik has fallen out of favor with the Boston Bruins in recent years. He’s had a few players jump ahead of him on the depth chart when it comes to callups. Despite this, the veteran forward has played well this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 16 goals while dishing 21 assists for 37 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out six assists for nine total points in his last nine games. Cehlarik has been a large part of the Bruins’ win streak.

Not

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, it’s been a successful first season. In 50 games, he’s netted 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out two assists in his last six games. The young forward came to Providence after spending the previous season in his native Slovakia.

Brendan Woods: Brendan Woods came to Providence after spending the last two seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In 49 games this season, he’s netted eight goals while dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points. This includes dishing out two assists in his last 10 games. Despite this, the 20 points did eclipse his total of 17 from last season. Hopefully, the veteran forward’s offense game is back soon.

My Player To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jakub Lauko: Jakub Lauko came into this season with a lot of publicity. The young forward came to Providence after having a stellar season in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. This season was derailed because of injuries before and during the World Junior Championships. In 22 games this season, he’s netted five goals while dishing out four assists for nine total points. He’s played in four games since returning from injury, netting a goal. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had an up and down season with Providence. He’s also a player that has caused many different arguments amongst Bruins’ fans. In 58 games this season, he’s netted three goals and dished out 16 assists for 19total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out four assists for five total points in his last four games. The young defenseman has also been playing better defense recently. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has had a superb season for the Providence Bruins. On the year, he’s 14-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a .936 save percentage. The young netminder has also registered three shutouts on the year. Vladar is also 1-1 with 1.51 GAA and a .956 save percentage against Charlotte this season.

The Providence Bruins are playing excellent hockey right now. Earlier in the year, I hammered home the point that this team was one of the most talented teams in the league. We are seeing that tenfold right now. The Providence club looks primed to make a deep run in the playoffs. I hope you enjoy the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Preview

ProBru10

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week 23 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 34-18-3-3 (74 points) and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and Third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is going off a week that saw them push their winning streak to eight games, with wins over Springfield and Hartford. The Bruins are playing excellent hockey. You won’t want to miss this weekend.

The hockey action starts out on Friday, March 6, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Saturday, March 7, 2020, when the Providence Bruins return the favor and take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then on Sunday, March 8, 2020, the Hershey Bears come to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.

Friday, March 6, 2020 (HOME) and Saturday, March 7, 2020 (AWAY), Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend series will be the 11 and 12th of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The seventh matchup would also be a good one.

The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net. The eighth battle saw the Bruins lose 6-5 in OT. Paul Carey (2), Brendan Gaunce (2), and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Martin Ouellette stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.

The ninth matchup saw the Bruins win 7-4. Brendan Gaunce (2), Paul Carey (2), Jack Studnicka, Peter Cehlarik, and Robert Lantosi scored goals. Dan Vladar went on to stop 19 of the 24 shots fired his way. The most recent chapter saw the Bruins win 3-1. Peter Cehlarik, Jack Studnicka, and Urho Vaakanainen netted goals. Dan Vladar stopped 31 of the 32 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 30-26-2 (62 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 30-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with inconsistent play. They’ve given up 179 goals in 58 games while scoring 183. This is a plus-four goal differential. This also means they are giving up 3.08 goals a game while scoring 3.15. The Springfield club is 8-4 when leading after the first period. They are also 20-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 6-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 2-19-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 148 goals in 58 games while scoring 185. That is a +37 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.55 goals a game while scoring 3.18. The Providence club is 19-0 when leading after one period and 27-0 when leading after two. However, they are 3-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-2 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Sunday, March 8, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (HOME)

The Sunday battle will mark the sixth and final matchup, the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would win 2-1 in overtime. They had goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Gaunce (OT). Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 21 of 22 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Providence club fall 5-3. They received goals from Brendan Woods, Paul Carey, and Jakub Zboril. Kyle Keyser was okay in net stopping 28 of 33 shots he faced. The third meeting saw the Bruins win 6-3. Ryan Fitzgerald, Paul Carey, Urho Vaakanainen (2), Jack Studnicka, and Trent Frederic scored goals. Sean Bonar, who has since been sent to the ECHL, stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins win 7-6 in a shootout. Brendan Woods, Joona Koppanen, Urho Vaakanainen, Paul Carey, Jakub Lauko, and Oskar Steen had goals. Max Lagace stopped 17 of the 23 shots that were fired his way. The netminder would also contribute with an assist on the scoresheet. The most recent chapter saw Bruins 3-2 in a shootout. Peter Cehlarik would score both goals. Max Lagace would stop 30 of the 32 shots he faced.

The Hershey Bears come into the game 35-18-3-3 (55 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Providence has had success against the Washington affiliate going 17-9-1-2 over the five seasons. Including 7-7-1 on the road. Hershey comes into the game with the second-best defense in the Eastern Conference just behind Providence. They’ve given up 153 goals in 59 games. That’s only giving up 2.59 goals a game.

The Hershey Bears are 28-8-1-1 when they outshoot their opponents. They are also 9-10-2-2 when they are being outshot by their opponents. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 18-13-3-2 when they outshoot opponents and 12-5-0-1 when being outshot by opponents. The Washington affiliate is 12-3-1-1 when leading after the first period and 22-0-1-1 when leading after the second. However, they are just 6-8-2-1 when trailing after the first and 3-13-0-1 when down after two.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Wednesday matchup will mark the ninth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced.

The fifth matchup was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced. The sixth game saw the Providence Bruins lose 4-1. They got their lone goal from Joona Koppanen. Max Lagace had a rough night in net stopping 26 of 30 shots fired his way.

The seventh matchup saw the Bruins lose 3-1. Paul Carey had the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 3-2. Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, and Brendan Gaunce would have goals. Max Lagace stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 31-16-6-5 (73 points), including 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.

Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 23-17-4-2, including 9-10-3-1 on the road. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 161 goals in 58 games. That means they are only giving up 2.77 goals a game. This is the third-ranked defense in the Atlantic Division behind Providence and Hershey. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 185 goals in 58 games. That’s 3.18 goals a game. It’ll be a tough battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: New week, same Studnicka. Jack Studnicka has been on fire over the last month of the season. The young forward continues to get better day in and day out. In 56 games, he’s netted 22 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 46 total points. This includes netting eight goals and dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points in his last 16 games. Studnicka has also registered a point in 12 of his last 16 games. If he keeps up his play, we will see Studnicka in Boston for good very soon.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has been a force for a few weeks now. He’s been an excellent addition to the Providence club this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 17 goals and dished out 18 assists for 35 total points. The veteran forward is riding a nine-game point streak. In that time, he’s netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points. He’s played a major part in the Bruins’ current eight-game winning streak.

Not

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, he’s been successful. In 50 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 18 assists for 20 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out one assist for one total point in his last 21 games. That’s an extreme cold streak. Let’s hope that Petrovic can put that behind him.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had an up and down season. The veteran forward has seen his stock fall over the last few seasons. In 57 games this season, he’s netted 12 goals and dished out 13 assists for 25 total points. This includes not registering a point over his past five games. Despite the cold streak, the Bruins as a whole are playing well. Other players have been able to take up the slack. Let’s hope that Fitzgerald finds his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent second full season in Providence. The young center has rounded out his game in all areas of the ice. In 55 games this season, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 24 assists for 31 total points. This includes registering a point in four of his last five games. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has also played well against Springfield registering 10 points in 10 games.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is another guy that’s had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins. In 50 games, he’s netted five goals while dishing out nine assists for 14 total points. The young defenseman has played well defensively, but his offensive game has been sporadic. Last weekend, he was able to break a four-game pointless streak with a goal. Look for him to come up big this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran goalie spent the last few seasons in the Vegas organization. Lagace is 21-7-3 this season, with a 2.38 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He’s also registered five shutouts. That ranks second in the AHL.

The Providence Bruins are riding an eight-game winning streak. They’ve played well against both teams they should beat, and teams ahead of them in the standings. The games this weekend will be important when it comes to playoff seeding. Hartford and Hershey are top teams in the East. Those two games will not be easy. I believe Providence can come out of the weekend with six of eight points. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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!