Boston Bruins’ Chris Wagner Out

usatsi_12703775.jpg(Photo Credits: USA TODAY Sports photo)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Next man up: It’s a phrase that’s been thrown around the locker room and after last night, the Boston Bruins will once again be tested as they look to sweep the Carolina Hurricanes.  In an all-too familiar scenario, the boys in Black and Gold are down a fourth-line grinder. Bruins Head Coach issued an update this afternoon on Chris Wagner as further testing will be done in Boston.

Late in the third period, as Carolina’s Justin Faulk attempted a slap shot towards a brick wall (aka Tuukka Rask), Wagner instinctively blocked the shot. Unfortunately the puck would end up hitting his exposed arm/wrist,  sending the 27-year-old down on the ice, writhing in pain. The injury sent the forward to the bench initially before heading back to the locker room. Wagner did not return to the game and was seen leaving the arena with an arm sling after the 2-1 win.

Boston Bruins' Chris Wagner (14) and Brandon Carlo (25) celebrate Wagner's goal against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney during the second period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final series in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)(Photo Credits: AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

As expected, the Walpole, MA native was not on the ice at this morning’s practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. Noel Acciari was slotted alongside Jaokim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly. Acciari, like Wagner, has had much success on the fourth-line, which has been a key component in the Bruins success post-season. The 27-year-old Rhode Island native has one goal and one assist this post-season and has not played in the last five playoff games. Prior to the announcement, Coach Cassidy spoke about Wagner:

“I thought he was terrific tonight… Right now I don’t have an update. Not good right now. He came off in a lot of pain”

With Acciari getting the nod to return to the lineup, the injury comes at pivotal time for the Bruins as they could potentially sweep the ‘Canes this coming Thursday at the PNC Arena.  Amidst all the  injuries that have plagued this team all season long, Boston’s resiliency is one of the many reasons why they are one game away from the Stanley Cup Final. Wagner, along with Kuraly, Acciari and Nordstrom have been somewhat the unsung heroes of this team. Unlike last season, where most of the reliance was on the first line, the Bruins have finally found the recipe for their recent success. As Hurricanes Coach Rod Brind’Amour noted:

“I kind of wish they were going off, to be honest with you. I wish we were sitting here going, ‘Man, how do we stop ‘em?’ Because you know eventually they’re going to get on the board and that is a little bit worrisome.

But that’s why they’re a good team. That’s why they’re still playing, that’s why they’re who they are because it’s not really about one line.

Even though they have a great line, they’ve got four good lines that they can roll out there and they’re not afraid to put anyone against anybody and that’s when you know you’ve got a team that’s cooking.”

With Thursday looming and a desperate Hurricanes team waiting in the wings, the Bruins will once again (as Coach Bruce Cassidy perfectly summed up) “need to create the storm”.

 

Bruins’ Miller Being Out Is A Bigger Loss Than You Think

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( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Most nights, when Kevan Miller is healthy and suited up for the Bruins, he’s the toughest guy in the rink. Unfortunately, Miller has been injured for the better part of the season. Having played in almost exactly half of the Bruins’ regular season games, naturally, the team was looking forward to having him back in the lineup for the playoffs.

I count myself among the many Bruins fans who were anticipating Miller’s return for playoff hockey, only to fall for the oldest trick in the book: Miller getting hurt. I got got. You got got. We all got got.

 

While Kevan “Not So Meek Mill” Miller (TM) again finds himself sidelined with important hockey to play (this time with a knee injury), the pain of his absence has been assuaged by the steadiness of replacement Connor Clifton’s play. With Miller again watching his teammates from the press box, the Black and Gold will turn to either Clifton or Steven Kampfer (which is a whole different story) to slot into the right spot on the B’s third defensive pairing.   I won’t address the possibility of Kampfer beginning the Toronto series ahead of Clifton right now, because it’s early and it will do nothing but ruin my day.

While Kampfer would not be my choice of replacement for Miller over Clifton, his presence likely won’t have enough of an impact on the series to make a sizeable difference. Quite simply, I don’t see Toronto stealing any wins because of Steven Kampfer and his (likely) 12 minutes a night.   But unlike many Bruins fans that have come out of the woodwork to voice their approval of Connor Clifton’s play, I am still less comfortable with “The Connor Clifton experience” than I am with what Miller would bring to the table. Clifton is a solid young defenseman, good even. But he doesn’t heal the wound that Kevan “Killer” Miller’s absence has created, and I personally think this will matter if Miller can’t return to the B’s within the next two weeks.

Size and Toughness

Clifton is sized at 5’11”, 175 lbs. That means he gives up three inches and 35 pounds to Kevan Miller. While I am very much a proponent of skating as an asset on the defensive side of the puck, Miller’s toughness is not going to be replaced by Clifton. Certainly, Clifton plays a tough game for a somewhat undersized first-year player, with a propensity to throw some solid hits.   Clifton’s hits are the types that are made through his skating ability.

He has smart gaps coming back on the defensive, and he is able to close these gaps with just a few strides. With that being said, it is the toughness that Miller brings in his own end that is not getting replaced by Clifton. And like it or not, the Bruins will be spending a decent amount of time in their own end, especially against the Toronto forward units. Miller’s strength and toughness is such that he can manhandle opposing forwards and move them off of pucks, creating turnovers and helping the Bruins relieve pressure.

Skating

Connor Clifton is a great skater. Better than Kevan Miller even. Guess what, though? Kevan Miller is also a strong skater. And Miller’s skating has improved in every single season he has played with the Bruins. Having worked on the skill side of his game with Adam Oates, there has been an improvement in just about every facet of Miller’s game since he joined the Black and Gold. These improvements are not at all limited to his skating, as his puck-moving abilities have gotten exponentially better, while he has become much more confident in all three zones (when healthy). This has, amazingly, happened without him abandoning the gritty, tough style of hockey that he came into the league with.

Protection

With Miller out of the lineup, the Bruins are much more vulnerable as a unit. That’s just a fact. Last year, the Bruins saw Nazem Kadri throw a cheap shot at forward Tommy Wingells, who missed time due to injury. Admittedly, there are probably better targets for Kadri’s attention, but Kadri’s presence remains, as does the presence of a quicker-paced, more physical brand of hockey that comes around each spring during the playoffs. Having Miller in the lineup is crucial for the protection of the Bruins’ lineup against incidents like the one above. His ability and willingness to drop the gloves to restore some order in the game and protect his teammates serve the Bruins well, especially with the star power in their first two forward lines, and how important they’ve been.

 

The fans that yell “shoot” when the Bruins cross the offensive blue-line will say that Miller’s absence is fine because Zdeno Chara will drop the gloves for the Bruins. To that, I say, “wake up.” Zdeno Chara does not best help the Bruins lineup by sitting in the box for five minutes. His playoff experience and defensive pedigree (while not what it used to be) needs to be utilized on the ice… you know… playing hockey. The Bruins can afford for Miller to sit for five minutes as a third-pairing defenseman because his toughness and the tone that he sets for the game more than makes up for his brief absence.

Overall

Should the Bruins use Steven Kampfer as Miller’s replacement, then they are giving up skill, skating ability, toughness, playoff experience, and veteran leadership. Should the Bruins use Connor Clifton as Miller’s replacement, then they are again giving up toughness, leadership, and experience, and Clifton’s skating is not enough of an asset to counterbalance those sacrifices. Kevan Miller’s brand of hockey is tailor-made for the playoffs, and the Bruins’ should be rubbing their rabbit’s feet in hopes of his return for the second round.

 

Either way, Kevan Miller being injured is a loss and a much bigger one than many of the fans who never played hockey will realize.

Fortunately, I don’t think it will matter in the first round. And it will only serve Connor Clifton well down the road to gain some playoff experience.

 

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Bruins Kuhlman Fits A Few Needs As Playoffs Approach

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( Photo Credit: Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Just to get it out of the way, Karson Kuhlman has one of the best names in professional hockey. You’ve got alliteration. You’ve got “K”s where you were expecting “C”s. The word “cool” fits in there somehow. Very impressive performance by his name, and big ups to his parents.

Somehow, Kuhlman’s contributions to the Bruins in the abbreviated time that he has been granted with the club have outshined the coolness/Kuhlness of his name. Just one season removed from an impressive collegiate career at Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman has shown that, as far as forward call-ups from Providence go, he might be as NHL-ready as any of them.

In his first stint with the Bruins in February, Kuhlman impressed as a relatively unheralded prospect. His solid, yet unflashy point totals in the AHL might be to blame for how deeply undersold he was as an effective contributor in the Bruins’ lineup. Kuhlman was able to grace the scoresheet in two of his first three games as a right-wing plug-in alongside David Krejci, providing points in two important games against formidable west coast opponents in Vegas and San Jose (both ended up being one-goal wins for Boston).

After tallying a silky goal in another Black and Gold win over Florida on Saturday night, Kuhlman’s potential as a contributing forward in the offensive end has been made clear. In the individual effort displayed during this goal alone illuminates Kuhlman’s skating ability, hands, and finishing drive. Not to mention how he is able to use his body to shield the puck from the defenseman he just breezed in order to create further separation on his way to the net. A quick snap of the wrist (low glove, thanks for coming), and bingo was his name-oh.

Goals are good. Points are great. Offensive tools are at a premium come playoff time. But I wouldn’t be doing my duty as someone who self-proclaims his duty to be an explanation of young Bruins talent if I didn’t shed some light on the depth of his game.

Kuhlman, in what has been so far just a little more than a handful of games with the Black and Gold, has shown that he is playing a 200-foot game that many young Bruins prospects have left to be desired. In his own zone, Kuhlman’s positioning is superb for a young player. Undoubtedly, he plays like someone who was a lead-by-example captain at the college level.

Kuhlman’s work ethic shines in corner battles and on the forecheck, where his being a novice to the NHL has been drowned out by his skating, tenacity, and grit. His ability to hunt pucks without compromising his positioning and playmaking potential make him useful on any line.

 

Why Kuhlman is Playoff Material

Last year, the Bruins’ season came to an end with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo on the shelf, crippling a defensive unit that was searching for depth and struggling to maintain its health throughout the playoffs. David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash, and Zdeno Chara were also dealing with injuries during the playoffs and into the offseason.

Unfortunately, a depleted Bruins roster didn’t have the depth last year to make the “next man up” philosophy all that effective when tasked with taking on an opponent as formidable as Tampa. Certainly, there were players available to enter the lineup. But these players seemed to make more of a change on the lineup card then on the actual ice surface. And unfortunately, that’s where the games are played.

This is where Kuhlman makes a difference. As a versatile forward who can bring the skill to fill in as a top-six forward, and the discipline, grit, and skating to play among the bottom-six, he gives Bruce Cassidy significantly more leeway with his playoff roster than he had last year.

Currently, Kuhlman is holding Marcus Johansson’s place on the second line, but with MoJo’s return to the lineup closer every day, it’s quite possible that we see Kuhlman drop down to a bottom –six role while Sean Kuraly is injured. In all likelihood, this would mean Joakim Nordstrom gets removed from the lineup. Nordstrom seems like a great person, with a good work ethic, and a mediocre goatee. But if you object to his removal from the lineup, then we are no longer friends.

While Kuhlman’s short-term role might be more clear-cut, don’t be surprised if he sticks around to fill into spots that get vacated by ailing Bruins. I’d much rather see a healthy Karson Kuhlman than an injured forward not named Pastrnak, Bergeron, or Marchand. His presence alone allows Cassidy to give rest to players who might need it down the stretch without compromising the effectiveness of the lineup all that much.

And that’s pretty cool. Man.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Florida: 03/23/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: BB&T Center – Sunrise, Florida, USA

Home: Florida Panthers (33-29-12, 5th in Atlantic)

Away: Boston Bruins (45-20-9, 2nd in Atlantic)

The Boston Bruins are back at it following another dominating performance on Thursday night over the New Jersey Devils, winning the game by a final score of 5-1. The team has won three consecutive games and with a win in any fashion tonight, the Bruins can clinch a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins enter the game with 99 points, six ahead of the Maple Leafs for third in the division.

The Florida Panthers have not had as good of a year as expected as they sit seven points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida comes into tonight’s contest with a 5-4-1 record in their last ten games including a 4-2 victory on March 21st over the Arizona Coyotes.

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Forward Karson Kuhlman comes back into the lineup Saturday to replace Sean Kuraly. It was announced earlier today that Kuraly suffered a fracture in his hand, causing him to miss at least the next four weeks. The injury came from a blocked shot in Thursday’s 5-1 win over the Devils in New Jersey.

Marcus Johansson, Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller, and Torey Krug remain out of the Bruins lineup as well due to their respective injuries. Jaroslav Halak will start as the goaltender in between the pipes for Boston.

First Period:

It’s always important to take away any home advantage when you’re the road club and the Bruins did just that. Just over two-and-a-half minutes into the first, Connor Clifton dumps the puck in the zone where David Backes recovers down low. Backes makes it look like he is going around the net, but feeds it in front of the net for Noel Acciari who buries his 5th of the season.

Not very long following that, Panthers forward Mike Hoffman is sent to the penalty box for a two-minute roughing minor. Bruins are 1-for-10 on the power-play in their last ten attempts, looking to make it 2-0 early. Thirty seconds into the PP, Marchand to Bergeron leads to a ringer off the post, so close but no cigar. Florida kills off the penalty, back to even strength.

For the remainder of the opening period, both teams had some decent chances, but it could be argued that Boston had the best of them. Chances from Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, and others piled up around the halfway mark of the frame, but Panthers netminder Samuel Montembeault held his ground, stopping all of the shots against. Period ends with the lone goal by Accari, 1-0 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 16 FLA: 12

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Acciari (5) Assists: Backes (12), Clifton (1)

Second Period:

Do you think the Bruins like goals early in a period? I think so too. Almost immediately into the middle regulation frame, Mike Matheson makes a bad pass behind his own goaltender, passing it right to Bergeron who feeds it right to Brad Marchand, his 32nd of the season and the B’s extend their lead to two goals.

Still within the first minute of the second, Mike Hoffman drives in on the right side of the ice towards Halak, but makes a reacharound pass around John Moore, right to Jayce Hawryluk who beats Halak for his fifth goal of the 2018-19 campaign. Florida gets the game right back to a one-goal difference only a mere sub-30 seconds after Marchand’s goal.

Florida’s tally seemed to wake them up from a slower first twenty minutes, building some quality chances within the Bruins zone. Just a little bit under five minutes into the second frame, Boston has seen very little offensive zone time and they are in a way, relying on Halak to keep them in the lead.

As many have said, defence often leads to offence and once again, it comes true for the Bruins. Charlie Coyle does a solid job keeping the puck in the offensive zone and makes a quick pass to Danton Heinen. Heinen throws the puck back, where captain Zdeno Chara skates into a beautiful wrist shot, scoring his 200th career NHL goal, the same day that it was announced that he agreed to re-sign with Boston on a one-year contract.

Florida is having issues making clean breakout passes, an issue that once hurt the Bruins earlier on in the season themselves and for Florida, it is turning into goals against. MacKenzie Weegar’s pass out of his zone gets intercepted by Karson Kuhlman in the neutral zone. Kuhlman dances around the defender and snaps a slick shot past Montembeault for his second goal this year and the Bruins all of a sudden have a 4-1 lead. Great attack pressure by Boston.

Kuhlman is back in the NHL on the B’s roster after an injury to forward Sean Kuraly in the win over the Devils, an injury that will keep Kuraly sidelined for four weeks due to a fracture in his hand. Kuhlman has done well for a player who continually finds himself tossed around the AHL and NHL.

The Panthers are not out of this game just yet, however, as Mike Hoffman once again has some space on the off-wing and rips one of his dangerous shots clean past Jaroslav Halak. Hoffman’s goal brings him to the 35-goal mark for the first time in his National Hockey League career. Florida is still dangerous and they seem fully prepared for a goal-for-goal type of game.

11:09 into the period, the Bruins go back to the man-advantage as Mike Hoffman is whistled down on a slashing minor against Danton Heinen. Unfortunately, Boston really struggled to get any life on the power-play as the Panthers PK units did a great job clearing the puck on any chances. The best chance came in the dying seconds when a David Krejci shot led to a rebound that just skipped over the stick of John Moore, penalty killed off by Florida.

Less than three minutes later, Jayce Hawryluk gets a stick caught in Brandon Carlo’s skates and he goes to the sin bin for a tripping infraction. Needing a refresher on the power-play, the Bruins want to add another goal on the board with this man-advantage. John Moore to Danton Heinen to none other than Steven Kampfer who goes post and in for his third of the season and the Bruins score five goals in a game for the third straight, 5-2.

On the ensuing neutral zone faceoff, Noel Acciari and MacKenzie Weegar agree to drop the gloves and the two exchange in a great fight, with Noel Acciari landing the harder, more accurate punches straight to the face of Weegar. Weegar tried to bring some energy to his team and the fans but he may have done the opposite there.

In the final five minutes of the middle period, the Panthers make a mistake on the line change and both Halak and Chara recognize that. Halak feeds it to the captain who makes a perfect long pass to Pastrnak’s stick. Pastrnak walks in, makes some dangles and buries Boston’s sixth of the night, 6-2. That is David’s 33rd tally of the year. That’ll essentially do it for the second.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 FLA: 23

Score: 6-2 Bruins – Goals: Marchand (32) Assists: Bergeron (42); Hawryluk (5) Assists: Hoffman (32); Chara (5) Unassisted; Kuhlman (2) Unassisted; Hoffman (35) Assists: Weegar (11); Kampfer (3) PP Assists: Heinen (22), Moore (9); Pastrnak (33) Assists: Chara (8), Halak (4)

Third Period:

Early in the final regulation period, Connor Clifton takes the first penalty against the Bruins, an interference minor. First time tonight Boston goes on the penalty-kill. With only nine seconds to go on Clifton’s minor, Vincent Trocheck fires a shot past Halak, cutting the lead in half, 6-3. The goal is Trocheck’s eighth of the season.

The boys look a bit slow to begin the third period, allowing quite a few shots by the Florida opposition. Nearly eight minutes in, Charlie McAvoy (roughing) and Vincent Trocheck (cross-checking) go to the box each for two minutes, resulting in some 4-on-4 time. Not much came about from it and we go back 5-on-5.

Aside from that, it was somewhat a lacklustre period from both teams until the 3-minute mark of the third. Zdeno Chara grabbed Aleksander Barkov behind his head and brought his own body weight down onto Barkov’s head that landed right on the ice. The Panthers Head Coach screamed for a penalty, but nothing comes from it as Barkov stays on the bench for some small repairs.

In the final minute, with the Florida goaltender pulled from the crease, Trocheck dives across the crease to stop the shot from going in the empty-net, but only a few seconds later, David Pastrnak to Patrice Bergeron makes it a 7-3 game and the Boston Bruins have clinched the playoffs.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 39 FLA: 34

Final Score: 7-3 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS D Zdeno Chara – 200th Career NHL Goal, 1 Assist, +3 Rating, 25:07 TOI

2nd Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 31 Saves, .912 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Danton Heinen – 2 Assists, +1 Rating, 16:27 TOI

The Boston Bruins become the second team from the Eastern Conference to clinch a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have won their fourth straight game. Up next, off to Tampa Bay for a road game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm EST.

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Bruins Sean Kuraly Leaves Game With Apparent Hand Injury

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Yahoo Sports)

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

Boston Bruins forward Sean Kuraly left Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils and only returned for a brief time before leaving for the tunnel once again for the remainder of the third period.

Kuraly’s injury came almost immediately off of the opening faceoff to begin the third period of play. The Devils had early zone control to begin the frame, feeding the puck around the zone before defenseman Steven Santini bombs a one-timer slapshot towards Tuukka Rask, however, it rockets off of what looks to be Sean Kuraly’s right hand.

The puck bounced off of Kuraly and fell right to Danton Heinen’s stick. Heinen, catching the Devils off guard, bolted down the ice towards New Jersey goaltender Corey Schneider, ripping a clean wrist shot past the 33-year-old netminder for his tenth goal of the 2018-19 season. In the process, Kuraly picks up his 13th assist on the season, but not in the way he or management wants.

Sean Kuraly has been one of the most surprising players for the Boston Bruins this year, which is why I had him on my list for possible players to win the Bruins’ annual 7th Player Award for the 2018-2019 regular season. Him, alongside linemates Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner have come from being considered a normal fourth line to a threat for all opposing teams.

For more games than originally expected before the season started back in October, Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has started the line against the best lines that teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs have to offer. Kuraly, often in the middle of the best scoring chances and rushes, has the hard-working, never-give-up mentality that truly makes a player succeed when they don’t have the skill as a Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak may have.

Kuraly has eight goals and thirteen assists, breaking his previous career-high of six goals and eight assists that he hit in four more games in last season, the 2017-18 campaign. Within those eight goals scored, Kuraly has three game-winning goals including the winning goal late in the third period to secure a Winter Classic victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on January 1st, 2019.

The 26-year-old forward has been solid on the faceoff dot as well, winning 282 of the 524 faceoffs he took prior to tonight’s game versus the Devils, a 54% winning percentage. That alone is a big asset and value to a team. Winning faceoffs may not seem like a big deal, but Bergeron will be proof that it is needed for a good team.

As the weeks and days close in on the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins need guys like Sean Kuraly in the lineup for the often gruelling seven-game series against the Maple Leafs. He may not be a massive goal scorer or point producer, but his non-stop energy brings something to this Bruins roster, (yes, the one that now has 99 points on the season), that is different from anyone else.

At this current moment, no word has been made on Kuraly’s injury suffered tonight. For a brief time following the blocked shot, he returned to the ice but went back down the tunnel. Kuraly missed time earlier in the year due to concussion protocol and a nose procedure that caused him to wear his infamous “fishbowl”.

Stay locked on the blackngoldhockey.com for any updates and news on Sean Kuraly’s injury as we know more. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj for updates as well. We will most likely here of something once Bruce Cassidy has his post-game interviews.

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Bruins DeBrusk Returns To Lineup As Club Gets Healthy For Playoff Run

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Jake DeBrusk made his return to the Bruins’ lineup on Saturday after missing five games due to a lower-body injury he sustained against Carolina. An injury that, after sustaining, DeBrusk played with en route to scoring a goal and setting up the overtime winner with an incredible pass to linemate David Krejci.

 

Until Saturday, the Bruins had gone 2-3-0 since DeBrusk’s injury and had lost three straight entering their tilt against Columbus. This was the second time that the Black and Gold squared off against the Jackets in less than a week, and Columbus had handled the B’s in their matchup on March 12th, with Boston reeling from injuries.

In their first meeting, the Bruins went down 5-1 fairly early in the contest and, despite a solid push to even the score, ended up falling 7-4. While the game displayed the amount of compete that lives within the walls of the Boston locker room, it unfortunately also showed how shorthanded they were. Their weakened offensive punch failed to measure up to a healthy Columbus team.

Saturday’s game was a different story. While it was certainly a game that featured many fewer goals and better team defense and goaltending, the impact that DeBrusk made on the game was palpable.

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

The Obvious Benefits

Quite frankly, Jake The Snake rejoining the lineup is a horrible sign for teams in the East. Not only because he alone makes the Bruins lineup more effective in myriad ways, but because his return is the first domino to fall (or stand up again) in a series of key players on the Bruins that are coming back from injury.

DeBrusk’s return to the first powerplay unit not only adds skill and finishing to said unit, but it also moves a skilled player in Heinen back to the second powerplay unit, improving PP2 as well.

DeBrusk’s return to the second line moves players that play a more natural bottom-six role down to the third line, which makes the Bruins deeper throughout their entire middle six.

DeBrusk’s presence on the forecheck puts significant pressure on defensemen and eliminates their ability to beat him with skating. He shuts down the opponent and has a knack to aggressively hunts down pucks.

DeBrusk’s ability to stretch the ice with his own speed opens up the neutral zone for the Bruins and facilitates offensive-zone entries with possession.

DeBrusk’s ability to handle the puck down low extends offensive zone possession time and wears down the opposition. This lightens the load of the makeshift third line that will then likely be playing against worn down opponents, thus mitigating the possible negatives of players that are unfamiliar with one another. More time in the O-zone means more rest for the Bruins’ defensemen. This means fresher legs and better d-zone coverage.

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( Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/ AP )

The Pending Danger

Yep. DeBrusk brings a ton to the Bruins’ lineup when he’s playing at full capacity. Look at the tear he was on before he got injured. Look at his playoff performance against the Leafs last year. The kid is an absolute gamer, and you can see the intensity with which he approaches each game in the celebrations that, without fail, follow all of his goals. I would say he is made of pure energy, but there’s quite a bit of skill thrown in there as well.

So the obvious benefits of him being back are beyond beneficial (great alliteration by me, don’t mention it). But the tacit implications of his return to the lineup stretch much farther than his own individual impact on hockey games.

As DeBrusk was one of 6 Bruins to be sidelined with injuries diagnosed with short-term recovery periods, his resurgence only indicates that there is more firepower making its way back to the Black and Gold lineup. Accompanying DeBrusk are 2 more top-six forwards, in David Pastrnak (PastrBack? I’ll see myself out) and Marcus Johansson. While admittedly these two don’t carry the same weight in their respective impact on the Bruins attack, when the Bruins’ top two lines are healthy they are among the most effective in the league. In my opinion, they are the deepest top-six in the league when fully healthy.

 

But also in the current short-term injury crew are Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, and Torey Krug. In other words, a tough and reliable yet strong skating stay at home defenseman in Miller; an expectation-exceeding, smooth skating puck mover (Grz); a powerplay quarterback who makes a strong first pass (Krug). These three defensemen are all entities that have proven just how effective they can be to a healthy Bruins lineup. DeBrusk’s return from injury only signals that they are all that much closer to coming back themselves.

When the Bruins’ forward unit is whole, and their D-core is similarly healthy, then they are deep enough up front to bring it to the best in the league, and solid enough on the back end to stifle explosive offenses. We were able to see glimpses of the team’s potential against San Jose and Tampa Bay before the B’s got bit by the injury bug.

With the return of DeBrusk, comes the depth that the Bruins’ roster has not benefitted from in many years. Opponents haven’t needed to ready themselves for a Bruins team so well-rounded, and it’s my expectation that few teams, if any, will be able to adequately match up.

 

Simply put, DeReturn of DeBrusk is a big one for DeBruins.

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Pastrnak, Grzelcyk Among Other Returnees To Bruins Practice

david-pastrnak-010118-getty-ftrjpg_d8sgjt3htlw016pc8gyan44q9Photo Courtesy Of Sporting News

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced a bevy of updates at practice this morning, including the possible return of David Pastrnak who has been out since February 10th due to surgery on his injured thumb. The B’s have posted a record of 12-3-1 in his absence.

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Cassidy also announced that defenseman Torey Krug will travel with the team on their upcoming four game road trip after suffering an upper body injury during the B’s last road trip. Marcus Johansson and Matt Grzelcyk could potentially play on the road trip as well. Grzelcyk has been out for the last week after suffering an arm injury against the Penguins last Sunday night. Johansson has been out for the last two weeks since suffering a lung contusion against the Hurricanes on March 5th.

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Kevan Miller is unlikely to travel with the team this week and remains out since February 23rd. Tuukka Rask will start tomorrow night in New York when the Bruins face the Islanders. Cassidy expects Pastrnak to return to the first line when he comes back to the lineup. The B’s have been waiting to get healthy for nearly the entire season and today looked like a good sign that the team is getting close to being fully healthy.

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Spin Zone: The Bruins’ Injuries Might Be The Best Thing For Them

( Photo Credit: Winslow Towson/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

 

There are no typos in that title. I typed all of those words on purpose.

David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Kevan Miller, Marcus Johansson, and most recently Matt Grzelcyk have been sidelined with injuries during the Bruins’ impressive stretch of hockey over the last month and a half. While thankfully none of these injuries are all that severe, they did leave the Bruins shorthanded.

Certainly, many human beings with brains will look at the short term impacts that these injuries have on the roster and say it made the Black and Gold a weaker team. To those people, I offer this: Duh. But as a Bruins homer and a semi-rationally-thinking hockey fan, these injuries have been a blessing. They are perfect injuries, and I love them.

“But Cam, tell us why! We want to know!”

Relax. I’m getting to that. Don’t interrupt me.

As I was saying, I am truly proud of the Bruins’ ability to get injured in just the right ways. When compared to the severity of injuries that Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug underwent in the tail end of last season, the Bruins’ have learned from their mistakes and are getting injured in a much smarter way.

All of the Bruins that have been injured in the last month or so have done so in a way that only sidelines them for at most a month. The use of the expression “at most” is misplaced here, but I really enjoy the expression. Obviously, David Pastrnak has been out for a month already so he might have singlehandedly (nice) voided the credibility of my use of the expression. But he’ll be back soon, so I’ll allow it.

Here are the three reasons why these injuries, to important pieces of the Bruins lineup, are crucial to the team’s playoff success.

1. Secondary Scoring/Depth

David Pastrnak’s injury in the second week of February effectively removed the Bruins’ leading scorer at the time. For a team that had been plagued by a lack of depth until recently, this loss might have seemed more grave at the time than it ended up being. Pastrnak’s absence (his Pastrnabsence, if you will) thrust the responsibility of scoring onto the rest of the lineup. And the rest of the B’s, since his injury, has not only added key deadline pieces to address their secondary scoring but have answered the bell and then some (see: ridiculous point streak). A team that can survive, and even thrive without debatably their most lethal offensive threat, will only be that much stronger when they get him back. Very nice (Borat voice).

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

2. Saving Legs

While the injuries come to key cogs in the machine that is the Bruins’ lineup, their ability to keep the machine running effectively in the absence of these cogs has been impressive. The aspect of so many key players being out for brief hiatuses is that despite being injured, they are also saving their legs for the playoff stretch. While some rust can certainly be expected from each Bruin upon their respective returns, they will have just enough time to dust off the cobwebs and get back to midseason form come postseason time.

The timing of this “rest” is auspicious given that it is coming in the dog days of the season when the Bruins begin a stretch where they essentially play every other day for a month. If the team can keep winning while some of your top dogs lick their wounds, then expect to win more when they rejoin the pack (I got really into dog metaphors for a minute).

3. Accountability

Undoubtedly, injuries bring added pressure to the regulars in the lineup, as they are subsequently tasked with shouldering the load that their fallen comrade might have been expected to carry. This is true of any team. But what Bruce Cassidy has done in the absence of Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Johansson, Miller, and now Grzelcyk has been interesting—he’s shortened the bench even more.

While the injuries to the aforementioned Bruins already shorten what would be a healthy bench, Cassidy went even further in a few games by sitting players like Peter Cehlarik, Charlie Coyle, and John Moore.  While none of them had been playing all that poorly, Cassidy sent a clear message that if players weren’t putting their best effort or product on the ice, then they were no longer going to see the ice. Fortunately, it seemed like these instances of Cassidy sitting guys down paid off, and the Bruins found ways to win with their shortened bench.

While there is certainly a school of thought that might scrutinize players having too short of a leash, Cassidy has proven time and again that he knows how to get the best out of his players. The heightened responsibility created by the Bruins injuries has placed many of the remaining healthy B’s under the microscope. The focus on their play in the absence of important players has only worked to make them more accountable as a unit and as individuals.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images )

So there’s your spin zone. Obviously, most players will play better in the short term if their lungs aren’t bruised, or their hands aren’t broken, blah blah blah. And a healthy team will be better in the short term with healthier players. But in the case of the Bruins, I think it’s reasonable to expect that this most recent period of success combined with adversity will be looked back on as a turning point in the season.

All the teams in movies have one.

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Bruins Recall Lee Stempniak On Emergency Basis

photo credit: SI.com

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has called wing Lee Stempniak up from their AHL affiliate in Providence. Stempniak has practiced with the NHL squad all season, earned himself a PTO (professional tryout) with Providence, and officially began his second tour of duty with the Bruins when they signed him on February 24.

Presumably, the 36-year-old Stempniak has been called up due to injuries to wings Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body). Johansson will be re-evaluated next week, and DeBrusk is reportedly nursing a very minor injury, but now it looks like he may be missing his second consecutive game.

Since playing in the AHL for Providence, Stempniak has scored two goals and notched three assists for a total of five points in seven AHL contests since re-signing. The Seneca, NY native has thirteen NHL seasons seasons under his belt, and is known as a journeyman, as he has played for ten teams, which is tied for second most in league history.

The versatile forward has played 909 NHL games, had scored 203 goals, and has assisted on 266, for a total of 469 points. If inserted into the Bruins’ lineup, Stempniak will likely be skating alongside David Krejci and Slovak rookie Peter Cehlarik. The veteran wing can still be an effective player in the National Hockey League, and will be able to help the Black and Gold if he is in the lineup. Judging from his time in Providence, Stempniak has not lost his scoring touch, and is eager to return to NHL action.

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Bruins DeBrusk Out With Undisclosed Injury

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins

( Photo: Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images )

By: Thomas Nyström | Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom

Boston Bruins F Jake DeBrusk was seen wearing a walking boot on his left foot after yesterday’s practice and was also noticeably uncomfortable while running drills with the team Wednesday. It is unclear at this point what exactly DeBrusk may be battling but this is obviously a concern to the red-hot Bruins who are currently on a 17-game point streak.

The injury has yet to be announced and would appear that DeBrusk would be considered day-to-day at this point. We last saw DeBrusk with his brilliant steal and assist on the David Krejci game winner in OT on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Unless he was injured in that sequence it would be logical to assume that whatever is hampering him either happened or was aggravated in an off-ice incident.

As for tonight’s game with the Florida Panthers, DeBrusk was not on the ice for warm-ups and the Providence call up Karson Kuhlman will get the nod.

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