Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Calgary: 02/21/20

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

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

In tonight’s first game of a back-to-back, the Boston Bruins face the Calgary Flames in game three of their three-game road trip. On Wednesday, the Bruins defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in overtime to secure their fourth consecutive victory and improved their record to 9-1-0 since returning from their week-long break. The Bruins are first in the league standings with a 38-11-12 record, three points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

For Calgary, they come into tonight’s game following a 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on home-ice earlier in the week. The Flames are currently engaged in a tight battle in the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting only two points out of a potential playoff spot as of right now. However, a win over the Bruins tonight would put them in the second position in the competitive Pacific division.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Home: Calgary Flames (31-24-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (38-11-12)

Bruins Last Game: 2-1 OT win vs EDM

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Not much has changed from the Oilers game earlier this week, however, the roles of Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman have switched. Jaroslav Halak gets the start and Anton Blidh enters the lineup for Joakim Nordstrom.

Ondrej Kase, the acquisition of the Bruins today, will not play tonight or tomorrow against the Vancouver Canucks. The former Ducks forward will join the team back in Boston next week.

First Period:

Not a good start for the Bruins as only twenty seconds into the game, the Flames bring it into the zone and fire it at Halak. The opening shot missed the net wide, setting up a brilliant chance for Rasmus Andersson who’s in-tight shot gets stopped by Halak. However, the rebound goes right to Mikael Backlund who buries it past the Bruins goaltender to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

Only a few minutes later, the Flames do an excellent job turning a defensive stop into an offensive 2-on-1 that ends up leading to a blast of a shot from Backlund that beats Halak clean for his second of the game and the Flames explode for a two-goal lead in this game.

Only 24 seconds after that, however, a dump-in by the Bruins bounces right into the slot in front of Cam Talbot where Patrice Bergeron picks up the loose rubber and buries it past the former Oilers netminder to cut into Calgary’s early lead. Bergeron’s 28th of the season makes this a 2-1 hockey game.

Did you think the goal scoring was done there? Nope. Only seconds after Bergeron’s tally, Johnny Gaudreau enters the zone on a rush, tossing the puck towards the middle of the ice. The puck takes an odd bounce and confuses Halak, giving the Flames a two-goal lead almost immediately after the Bruins scored themselves.

The two teams play for another three minutes before the Bruins start to cycle the puck around the Calgary defensive zone. Marchand feeds the puck back to McAvoy on the point who makes a quick feed to Pastrnak in the high slot for a one-timer. Pastrnak’s shot was stopped, but the rebound went directly to Bergeron in front and he scores his second of the game to make this one a 3-2 game.

With a lot of these high-scoring games, the intensity of each and every play increase immensely. Flames forward Tobias Rieder skates through the neutral zone only to meet Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk who finishes his check. The on-ice officials didn’t like the collision and send Grzelcyk to the box for elbowing. Bruins successfully make the kill on the first penalty of the game.

Later in the frame, Anders Bjork blocks a shot in his own end, allowing Karson Kuhlman to make a great pass up the ice to Charlie Coyle who finds himself all alone on a breakaway. After a few nifty moves, Coyle roofs the forehand past Talbot for his 15th goal of the campaign and this crazy game is equal at three apiece.

Mere shifts after the tying goal, Charlie Coyle gets put on another partial breakaway but cannot bury the puck around Talbot and neither can Heinen on a pair of rebound chances. Bruins have taken the momentum of this game and are running with it through the ending minutes of the period.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 CGY: 7

Score: 3-3 – Goals: Backlund (11) Assists: Andersson (15), Hanifin (14); Backlund – 2 (12) Assists: Rieder (6), Tkachuk (31); Bergeron (28) Assists: Pastrnak (42), McAvoy (22); Gaudreau (15) Assists: Lindholm (22); Bergeron – 2 (29) Assists: Pastrnak (43), McAvoy (23); Coyle (15) Assists: Kuhlman (5), Bjork (10)

Second Period:

Less than a minute into the second period of play, the Bruins get early possession in the Flames’ zone leading to Brandon Carlo throwing a shot on goal. Brad Marchand managed to twist his body and deflect the puck past Talbot to give the Bruins their first lead of the game and it’s 4-3. The goal is Marchand’s 24th of the season, giving Carlo his 14th assist and Krug his 33rd assist of 2019-20.

Later on in the period, the Bruins are getting the better of the offensive chances as Wagner takes a rocket of a shot towards the open cage off of a great pass from Charlie McAvoy but it bounces around off of the Flames in front of Talbot before hitting the outside of the net. Extremely close opportunity for the Bruins to take a two-goal lead in this now quite defensive game.

Just past the halfway mark of the game we see the intensity boil over between Jeremy Lauzon and Matthew Tkachuk. Throughout the game thus far, the two have been barking at each other until finally, off of a faceoff, they agree to drop the gloves. Lauzon managed decently to land a couple shots on the now-familiar NHL tough guy before getting taken down. Tkachuk was standing up for Mangiapane, but both Lauzon and Tkachuk get five minutes in the box for fighting.

A much, much better period for the Boston Bruins while the Calgary Flames looked behind the B’s for the majority of the frame. Bruce Cassidy must have calmed the players down following the first intermission because there were noticeable improvements on defense for Boston.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 17 CGY: 11

Score: 4-3 Bruins – Goals: Marchand (24) Assists: Carlo (14), Krug (33)

Third Period:

Boston came out with some good chances again to begin the final regulation period but all of a sudden, Cam Talbot is playing solid goaltending in between the pipes for the Flames. Just under six minutes into the frame, Derek Ryan carries the puck through the neutral zone, cutting aggressively towards the center of the ice.

Patrice Bergeron ends up getting his stick caught in his skates and Boston’s number-one penalty-killer will sit in the box for two minutes for tripping. Flames passed the pucked around the zone quite a lot but failed to get any real chances other than a bomb of a one-timer that was blocked by Lauzon. Back to even-strength.

Calgary’s urgency to tie this game as the minutes tick away has become more and more apparent. Gaudreau had a great chance on a speedy rush down along the boards but thanks to a combination of Jaroslav Halak and great backcheck from Charlie McAvoy, Gaudreau was never able to get the shot off and the Bruins hold onto the one-goal lead.

And that will do it, Bruins will a wild one, 4-3.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 CGY: 21

Final Score: 4-3 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 2 Goals, 3 Shots, 68% Faceoffs, 15:59 TOI

2nd Star: CGY F Mikael Backlund – 2 Goals, 3 Shots, 17:22 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 GWG, 1 Assist, 5 Shots, 18:36 TOI

Boston is right back at it tomorrow against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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!!

Boston Bruins Acquire F Ondrej Kase From Anaheim

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

PHOTO CREDITS: (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

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

With the NHL Trade Deadline only days away, the Boston Bruins have made their first deal, sending forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson and a 1st-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ondrej Kase.

In addition to the deal, the Bruins are also retaining twenty-five percent of Backes’ $6 million salary. Backes, 35, has only played in 16 games for the Bruins this season, scoring one goal and two assists. Backes was sent down to the Providence Bruins but failed to play a game for the AHL club. With other players on the roster performing better than the veteran, the Bruins organization felt it was time to move on from Backes and send him back to the Western Conference where he began his NHL career.

Boston is also sending defenseman Axel Andersson to the Ducks as a piece of this deal. Andersson, 20, was drafted 57th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has played the 2019-20 campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Moncton Wildcats where he has 2-20-22 numbers in 41 games.

So, what do the Bruins get in return? Ondrej Kase is a 24-year-old right-winger that was drafted in the seventh-round (207th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Since his draft, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward has played in 198 regular-season games, scoring 43 goals and 53 assists for 96 points.

This season, Kase has 7-16-23 numbers in 49 games with the struggling Ducks, averaging a career-high 16:47 of ice-time per game. Contract wise, Kase will save the Bruins a lot of money especially considering the departure of David Backes in the move. The Kadan, Czech Republic native has a cap hit of $2.6 million until the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. The newfound cap space may be used to reel in another trade target or opens up a window to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug as well as the other expiring contracts throughout the roster.

As of right now, Kase fits perfectly on Boston’s second-line alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and would likely be a solid upgrade from Karson Kuhlman who currently holds that position. The trade still leaves some opening for another acquisition before Monday’s deadline if General Manager Don Sweeney still has something under his sleeve, but regardless, it appears the Bruins are winners in this one.

As the days and the hours count down until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, make sure to stay locked on blackngoldhockey.com for the latest Boston Bruins news as the race for the postseason gets hotter and hotter. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) and everyone else on the site for up-to-date information and news.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

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

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

Why Not Have it All?

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

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

What Would the Prices Translate To?

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

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

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

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

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

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

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

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

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

Bruins Thin on the Wings

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

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

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

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

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

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

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

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

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

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

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Minnesota: 02/01/20

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

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

Pre-Game Notes:

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

Home: Minnesota Wild (23-21-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (30-10-12)

Bruins Last Game: 2-1 win vs WPG

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

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

First Period:

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

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

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

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

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 MIN: 11

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

Second Period:

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

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

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

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

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

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 MIN: 19

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

Third Period:

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

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

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

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

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

Shots on Goal: BOS: 34 MIN: 26

Final Score: 6-1 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

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

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

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

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Asselin Gets First Star Honors In Thrilling Victory For Bruins ECHL Affiliate

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / Atlanta Gladiators )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the Atlanta Gladiators beat the visiting Orlando Solar Bears 5-4 in overtime at the Infinite Energy Arena. The “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins are having an up and down 2019-20 regular season in the tough South Division. With this Friday night January 17th, 2020 win the Gladiators improve to a 17-20-0-0 record with 34 points and stuck in the middle of a tough division led by powerhouse South Carolina Stingrays who have a league-leading 29-5-3-1 record with 62 points in 38 games.

Regardless of the Gladiator’s struggles and 5-5-0 record in their last ten games as a team, there are certain individuals going above and beyond in an effort to get noticed by their parent American Hockey League team. One particular Gladiator player who’s having a good season in his first year of professional hockey lead his final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals during the 2018-19 season as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads with 48. After this tremendous season in the highly respected QMJHL, the Boston Bruins scouting staff were close by to pounce on this undrafted player as soon as his commitment was over in the Canadian Hockey League.

Samuel Asselin

( Photo Credit: OSC Our Sports Central / oursportscentral.com )

Samuel has been a welcome addition to the Boston Bruins organization with a low-risk “show me” first two-year AHL contract in early July of 2019 which gives him the flexibility to further his development either with the Providence Bruins or lower ECHL Atlanta team. In five games that Asselin has been recalled to Providence the undrafted free agent forward has three assists but in the coast, with Atlanta, he’s a point-per-game player with 15-14-29 numbers in 29 career games.

Last night the 21-year-old Asselin notched the second hat trick of his rookie season with two goals in regulation and a heroic ending to seal the deal for his Glads club. Samuel’s point production on this night started in the first period with the primary assist on teammate Tommy Marchin’s 13th goal of the season at the 14:12 mark of the opening frame as seen below.

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Asselin’s 13th goal and first in this game came at the 4:29 mark of the second period to give the Glads a 2-0 lead. The primary assist on this goal came from third-year Atlanta defenseman and Wilmington, Massachusetts native Zach Malatesta with the secondary helper going to Logan Nelson which can be seen below.

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The second goal of Asselin’s Trifecta came at the 5:18 mark of the third period and a 4-3 lead in the final frame. Samuel’s 14th goal of the season went unassisted when he comes in on the right side untouched for a snipe past visiting netminder and former highly regarded goalie Zach Fucale.

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Asselin’s final goal of the game and fourth point in the thrilling victory over the Solar Bears came in the extra frame as both clubs were deadlocked at four at the end of regulation. Samuel would only need 1:08 into overtime to send the Glads faithful home with a celebratory win over their South Division rival. Asselin received a behind the back pass on the cycle in the offensive zone from fellow teammate and Atlanta defenseman Joel Messner and protected the puck well working his way in-between the faceoff circles to snipe a wrister at the hash marks for the eventual game-winner and 15th goal of the season. The aforementioned Gladiators defenseman Malatesta his helper in the final Asselin goal was his second point of the night.

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Asselin is sure to garner some attention from the higher Providence Bruins club if they need some more scoring help or in case one of their AHL players come down with an injury. The 5′-9″ 181-pound forward is currently on a two-game point streak and has 3-4-7 numbers in his last five games. His longest point streak in this his ECHL rookie season came from the  October 18th, 2019, to the November 8th, 2019 timeframe where he contributed 7-7-14 numbers in his first eight games in the league.

Samuel and his Gladiators club are back on the ice tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum against the league-leading South Carolina Stingrays where the Glad could extend their winning streak to two games and Asselin could push for points in three straight games. After Asselin’s first career season-long point streak he was recalled to Providence so you never know when his talents are going to be needed with the higher parent Providence team.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospects Podcast episode 11 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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Boston Bruins Place Forward David Backes on Waivers

David Backes

PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.ca)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Game 49 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportsnet.ca)

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

With back-to-back losses against the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week, the Boston Bruins look to get right back to their winning ways against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins are still third in the National Hockey League with a 27-9-12 record, but have a 5-2-3 record in their last ten games played. Boston needs to start piecing together wins again in order to remain atop the standings.

Pittsburgh has been one of the best teams in the league for well over the past decade and somehow, they have quietly done the same in 2019-20, winning four-straight games and having an 8-1-1 record in their last ten games to boost themselves to fourth in the overall standings. The Penguins have a 29-12-5 record and trail the Bruins by only three points with two games in hand.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 10-6-5 2.49 GAA .919 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 3-0 loss vs CBJ

PIT: Matt Murray (Not Confirmed) 13-6-4 2.91 GAA .896 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-3 OT win vs COL

Who’s Hot:

Sidney Crosby had not played a game of hockey since November 9th, so the doubts of him playing at the same elite level were there, but he quieted all of them down. The 32-year-old superstar proved why he will go down as one of the greatest of all-time after scoring a goal and three assists for his first four-point night since March 2nd, 2019 against the Canadiens. Crosby now has 6-15-21 numbers in 18 games played this season.

Whenever David Pastrnak steps on the ice, especially when the Bruins are on the power-play, he is a threat to score. Even though he was held scoreless in the shutout loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, he has five goals in his last five games including a hat-trick four games ago against the Winnipeg Jets. Pastrnak still leads the NHL in goals and has 36-33-66 numbers in 48 games this year.

Evgeni Malkin is commonly thought of as the wing man to Sidney Crosby, but in Crosby’s absence, he was deemed the leader of the team and he stepped up. Malkin leads the Penguins with 15-32-47 totals in 33 games played in ’19/’20 and is in the midst of a four-game point streak where he has accumulated 4-4-8 numbers. In Pittsburgh’s 7-3 win over the Wild, Malkin scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point night of his own.

Who’s Not:

In a league where depth scoring seemingly rules, the Boston Bruins need all four lines to produce consistently and for Sean Kuraly, consistency has been one of the biggest problems. Even with his sixteen points on the campaign thus far, he has only one point in his last seven games and has not scored a goal in sixteen consecutive games (Dec. 11 vs WSH). Bruins need more from Kuraly, even if he is a fourth-liner.

Matt Murray is likely getting the start in goal after back-to-back starts for Tristan Jarry early in the week and if he does, it might be a better chance for the Bruins to pick up the win. Even though he has three wins in each of his last three starts, he has allowed three, two, and four goals respectively in those starts. With a .896 save-percentage and a 2.91 goals-against-average, Murray has strides to improve his game this season.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F David Krejci will play his 892nd career regular-season game, passing Terry O’Reilly (891) for 7th-most games played in Bruins history*
  • D Zdeno Chara is two penalty minutes away (1038) from passing Wayne Cashman (1039) for 6th-most PIM in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (55) from tying Cam Neely (56) for 5th-most GWG in Bruins history
  • F David Pastrnak is one hat-trick away (7) from tying Bill Cowley (8) for 5th-most hat-tricks in Bruins history

*F David Krejci (upper-body) is a game-time decision for tonight’s game vs PIT.

Pittsburgh Penguins:

  • D Jack Johnson is one point away (299) from 300 career NHL points
  • G Matt Murray is three saves away (5036) from passing Les Binkley (5038) for 5th-most saves in Penguins history
  • G Matt Murray is one shutout away (11) from passing Les Binkley (11) for sole possession of 3rd-most shutouts in Penguins history

Bruins vs Penguins Outlook:

Boston and Pittsburgh meet one another for three games a year and with Boston taking a 6-4 back on November 4th, the Penguins will look to even up the season series tonight before their final meeting of 2019-2020 this Sunday in Pittsburgh. The Bruins survived a strong four-goal second-period from the Pens in that first game to score three goals in the final period to pick up the win.

Taking a look at the speciality team battle, the Bruins on-paper take the win there. Boston has the third-best power-play percentage (27.3%) and the 7th-best penalty-kill percentage (83%) while the Penguins have the 17th-best man-advantage in the NHL (19.9%) and the 14th-best penalty-killing percentage at 81%.

Boston remains as the best team at home in the National Hockey League with a 15-2-9 record while inside the TD Garden. On the other side of it, the Penguins are a pretty decent road team – having a record of 12-7-2 during the season so far.

Bruins Roster Moves:

  • G Tuukka Rask (concussion) placed on injured-reserve, no timetable on return
  • G Dan Vladar recalled from Providence (AHL) on emergency basis
  • F David Krejci (upper-body) is a game-time decision
  • F Karson Kuhlman recalled from Providence (AHL)
  • F Brett Ritchie cleared waivers; will report to Providence (AHL)
  • D Matt Grzelcyk back in lineup, D Steven Kampfer is a healthy scratch
  • F David Backes had a maintenance day today

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Place Forward Brett Ritchie on Waivers

brett_ritchie_100319.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

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

According to insider Elliotte Friedman, the Boston Bruins have placed forward Brett Ritchie on waivers with purpose of assignment to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. This comes one day after Ritchie played 10:27 over 14 shifts in Boston’s 3-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road.

Last offseason, the Boston Bruins signed Ritchie to a one-year contract that will pay him $1 million for the 2019-2020 campaign. Prior to signing with the Bruins, the 26-year-old forward played 241 career regular-season games with the Dallas Stars. Highlighted by his 2016-17 season where he put up 16-8-24 numbers in 78 games played, Ritchie finished his five-year tenure in Dallas with 33-21-54 totals.

The Orangeville, Ontario, Canada native scored four goals and two assists for six points in 53 games during the 2018-19 season, but when his contract expired, the Stars opted to let him walk, allowing the Bruins to sign him in free agency. Boston did not have the available cap space to sign some of the more well-known free agents, so the organization settled on depth players with Ritchie being one of those players.

Ritchie scored the first goal of the 2019-2020 season for the Boston Bruins, half of his entire goal output in 27 games skated for the Black and Gold. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has tried Ritchie all over the place, seeing minutes with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the second-line, to minutes on the third and fourth lines as well. Unfortunately for him and the Bruins organization, he has not been able to find his game offensively whatsoever.

Now, if Ritchie does indeed clear waivers, he will report to the AHL’s Providence Bruins, who are third in the Atlantic Division with a 22-15-1 record through the first 40 games of the season. In the case that Ritchie joins Providence, his $1 million salary will still be on the bill for the Boston Bruins, where as if he is claimed, he is off the books and no longer apart of the B’s at all.

The big question with this transaction is what it means for a possible future transaction. With the injury of goaltender Tuukka Rask last night in Columbus and the recent losses on their record, changes were expected and predicted – this just brings up that question about what exactly this new change will be. Within the next 24 hours, we will know the next stages of Brett Ritchie’s future with the Boston Bruins.

For the latest breaking news, updates, and injury reports – make sure to check back to blackngoldhockey.com and give all of the excellent writers a follow on Twitter including myself (@tkdmaxbjj).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Columbus: 01/14/20

boston-bruins-tuukka-rask-blue-jackets-31219.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (USA TODAY Sports Photo)

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

The Boston Bruins did have a three-game winning streak, but following a disappointing 6-5 shootout loss to the Philidelphia Flyers last night, the B’s will be on the lookout to get back into the win column tonight against the Blue Jackets. Boston had a three-goal lead on the Flyers, before allowing a Philly comeback, leading into one of the most embarrassing shootout attempts by Brad Marchand to give the Broadstreet Bullies the win.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins are third in the National Hockey League, trailing the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals by only a single point. With St. Louis and Washington not on the schedule for tonight, the Bruins have a chance to take the small lead in the overall league standings.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio, USA

Home: Columbus Blue Jackets (22-16-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (27-8-12)

Last Bruins Result: 6-5 SO loss vs PHI

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was not pleased with the Bruins after last night’s three-goal collapse so expect a Boston group that is trying to make a statement tonight.

First Period:

Just over a minute into the hockey game, Blue Jackets forward Emil Bemstrom skates directly across the crease of Tuukka Rask, but clips Rask with a jab and Rask goes down to the ice. After a brief time of stoppage, Rask skates off down the tunnel and Jaroslav Halak comes into the game after playing just last night. No penalty called on the play.

Just about six minutes in, the game gets its first penalty. Behind the play, Pierre-Luc Dubois goes off for two minutes on a cross-checking minor. Boston goes to their first power-play of the night, looking to make it fifteen straight games with a goal on the PP. The top unit for Boston had some good puck movement and nearly buried the go-ahead tally, but the puck stayed out and we return to even-strength.

Immediately after Dubois’ penalty, the Blue Jackets jam away at the puck right in front of Halak, forcing it past the red line. The nearby Columbus players celebrate, but a whistle heard make it clear that it would be no goal and after a very quick deliberation between the on-ice officials, it was determined a no-goal due to goaltender interference, the game remains scoreless.

Easily the best offensive stretch of the game for either team with roughly eight minutes to go in the period came from Boston’s dangerous first-line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak with some good short-side shots and wrap-around attempts but Merzlikins stands strong. Bruins looking good in this opening frame so far.

There goes that – with 6:33 left, the Columbus Blue Jackets strike first on what seemed like a simple breakout play. Alexander Wennberg took a cut into the center of the Bruins’ zone and fired it on the net, beating a falling Halak five-hole. Wennberg’s fourth goal of the season opens the scoring, 1-0 Blue Jackets.

In the final minute of the frame, still down by a single goal, Charlie McAvoy gets whistled down for holding and he’ll go to the box for the remainder of the first and for just over a minute into the second period. Bruins need to kill this off to head into the first intermission. The period ends there.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 7 CBJ: 9

Score: 1-0 Blue Jackets – Goals: Wennberg (4) Assists: Gavrikov (5), Gerbe (4)

Second Period:

Between periods, the Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask will miss the remainder of this game due to an upper-body injury. It is also likely that the B’s saw the replay of the elbow on Rask during the intermission because, in the opening minutes of the middle frame, Bemstrom has a Bruin in his face at all times as soon as a whistle is blown and it is quite clear that he has a target on his head.

The first half of the second period was mainly Columbus in Boston’s zone, but the Bruins, roughly at the midway point of the frame, gets some good zone time including Andres Bjork who draws a holding penalty and the Bruins go to the power-play for the second time tonight, looking to equalize the score. Brad Marchand set up the best chance, throwing the puck through the slot, looking for a possible redirection, but the deflection just went above the crossbar. The Blue Jackets kill it off and this game returns to five-on-five.

During the TV timeout, both Joakim Nordstrom and Pierre-Luc Dubois head to the box for off-setting minors because Nordstrom tried to get in the face of Bemstrom but the rookie was far from interested, so Dubois came to his aid and got into a pushing match with Nordstrom, leading to an unsportsmanlike conduct for Nordstrom and a roughing minor for Dubois. Nothing happens on the 4-on-4, penalties end.

Boston has been getting more and more chances to tie the game up, but they either miss the net or find Merzlikins, who has been solid in between the pipes for Columbus tonight. With only a few minutes left in the second, you have to assume that eventually, a bounce will go Boston’s way.

Boston ends the period with some great chances and puck possession but somehow, the puck stayed out. They need to continue this pressure in the final regulation period to tie this game if they want to squeak out a point.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 21 CBJ: 22

Score: 1-0 Blue Jackets

Third Period:

The Bruins did indeed that. After a set play that nearly set up David Pastrnak on the rush, the Bruins make some nice passing plays off of a Columbus turnover that sets up Charlie Coyle on a partial breakaway. He gets stopped, but drew a slashing penalty from Sonny Milano, giving Boston their third man-advantage of the night. Unfortunately, no goals came from it and with five minutes gone, it remains 1-0 Columbus.

At the 15:13 mark, Brad Marchand gets his stick caught up in Gavrikov’s face and he will be forced to sit in the penalty box for two minutes due to the high-sticking. Columbus heads to the power-play without having to face one of Boston’s top penalty-killers. With some brilliant cycling around the entire zone, Foligno makes a nice saucer pass from behind the net right to Stenlund. 2-0 Blue Jackets.

Off the center-ice faceoff, the Blue Jackets are called on an interference penalty and Boston has a chance to get that insurance tally right back and bring it back to a one-goal game in the third. Essentially nothing at all comes from the man-advantage, the game returns to 5-on-5, and Boston is still down by two goals with 11:50 to go in regulation.

As the period goes on, the Bruins get a couple nice opportunities to final score their first of the contest, but the Blue Jackets end up on a 2-on-1 rush going back the other way and Riley Nash elects to shoot the puck – beating Jaroslav Halak short side and extending Columbus’ lead to three goals with just over six minutes left to play. Just a bad night of hockey for the Black and Gold.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 CBJ: 27

Final Score: 3-0 Blue Jackets

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: CBJ G Elvis Merzlikins – 34 Saves, 2nd-straight shutout

2nd Star: CBJ F Alexander Wennberg – 1 Goal (GWG), 2 Shots, 13:54 TOI

3rd Star: CBJ D Seth Jones – 4 Blocks, 3 Shots, +1 Rating, 27:00 TOI

Boston’s next game is Thursday at home against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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