Bruins Halak Finishing up Elite First Half of Season

Jaroslav-Halak-Bruins(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara, USA Today Sports)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

When the Boston Bruins signed Jaroslav Halak as a free agent this offseason, he wasn’t really expected to be anything beyond a serviceable backup. He signed a two-year contract worth $5.5 million with the Bruins, while Anton Khudobin left to sign with the Dallas Stars for two-years and $5 million. The Bruins shelled out a bit more money for Tuukka Rask’s backup for this season, but Halak provided a nice veteran option to play whenever Rask needed a rest.

Halak has played some of the very best hockey of his career and been a pleasant surprise for a team that has suffered through a lot of bad luck with injuries. The official halfway point of the season is right around the corner, and Halak definitely needs to be discussed among the potential Vezina Trophy candidates. He leads the league with a .928 save percentage and is fifth with 2.28 goals against average, although his biggest impediment to being taken as seriously as possible for the award is his relative lack of playing time. Halak has played in 22 games this season while splitting time in net with Rask and has gone 12-6-2 in 21 starts.

His stats are impressive, but he hasn’t been leaned on as his squad’s workhouse this season due to the Bruins depth chart situation. It’s a luxury to have two very capable goaltending options, but it probably means that neither one would get the proper due in terms of that Vezina Trophy by the end of the season. A lot of his chances for the award are going to be based on whether the Bruins coaching staff begins giving him significantly more starts over Rask in the second half of the season. Even with the elite statistics in categories like save percentage and goals against average, it’s likely going to take Halak getting more starts to win the Vezina Trophy.

The last 10 Vezina winners in non-lockout shortened seasons illustrate a pretty clear picture of what Halak needs to get to. In terms of wins, the fewest amount by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is 35. The highest win total is 48. The average is about 41. The lowest goals against average by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is 1.96 goals against average. The highest is 2.31 goals against average, and the average is about 2.10 goals against average. The highest save percentage by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is a .938 save percentage. The lowest is a .920 save percentage, and the average is about a .929 save percentage.

Halak has a save percentage right now that is just about average for what a Vezina winner has put up recently. Even with the goals against average a bit on the high side, it’s still not the highest amongst the recent winners. The wins are the biggest problem for him right now, though, but that’s to be expected given that his goaltending partner is getting so many starts. Tim Thomas won the Vezina with 35 wins back in 2010-11, but he still ranked tied for ninth that season in that category. Halak is tied for 18th in wins right now, and there are currently four goaltenders who are tied for seventh with 15 wins. Halak is a few wins behind the top 10 in that category, which is around where he’d have to be if he wants any realistic chance to win the Vezina.

He’s in excellent shape with his save percentage, and even his goals against average as of now isn’t acting as a huge impediment for his odds. The real challenge for him is in the wins category, and that’s dependent on how many starts he gets in the second half of this season. He might ultimately not play in enough games to really generate sufficient buzz for the award. It would also be tough for him to keep the save percentage and goals against average where they are with more starts, but given how locked in Halak has been in the first half of the season, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to expect him to finish the season with stats worthy of securing the Vezina Trophy.

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Can Bruins David Pastrnak Win The Rocket Richard Trophy?



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

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, David Pastrnak is the best goal scorer on the Boston Bruins in 2018-19 and he will most likely retain that title for many years to come. With that in mind, how good of a goal scorer exactly is Pastrnak?

The National Hockey League has had the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy since 1999 and was first established at the end of the 1998-1999 season, where Teemu Selanne was awarded the trophy. The award was named after Richard, who spent the entirety of his eighteen-year NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens. “Rocket” was the first NHL player to reach the 500-goal milestone and was the first NHL player to hit 50 goals in a single season, doing so in only 50 games back in 1944-45.

For over a decade, the Rocket Richard Trophy has gone to one man seven times – Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. From the 2012-13 season to the 2015-16 season, Ovechkin won the trophy every single season, until Sidney Crosby broke that streak in 2016-17, only for Ovi to reclaim the trophy last season. Ovechkin’s best trophy-winning season was his 65 goals in 2007-08, the most by a winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy.



Since then, however, the winner of the trophy has scored less than fifty goals – Crosby with 44 and Ovechkin with 49 last year. In the history of the trophy, no Boston Bruin has ever won it. David Pastrnak is considered to be one of the best young scorers that the Bruins have had in recent memory, can he be the first Bruin to win the prestigious winner?

At the end of December 2018, Alex Ovechkin still leads the NHL in goals with 29 in 37 games played. Six goals behind him in seventh place, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. The 22-year-old winger is scoreless in his past three games (CAR, NJD, BUF) and if he scores a few times during that stretch, he could find himself within the top five for goals.

It is somewhat hard to look at the future of a hockey season when you are not even past the halfway point. In the past eighty-two regular season games dating back to the 2017-18 season, including Boston’s most recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, Pastrnak has scored 43 goals. In comparison to Ovechkin’s league-leading forty-nine tallies last season, Pastrnak would only be six goals away from leading the National Hockey League – the exact distance he is apart from the lead right now.

With that stat, it is fair to note that Pastrnak had some rough patches when it came to scoring goals last season. From December 14th, 2017 to January 2nd, 2018, Pastrnak failed to score a single goal in ten consecutive games. If only he scored on six of those, he would have tied Ovechkin’s tally from last year. Of course, that includes the 23 goals this year that Pasta has scored.



Already this season, the Bruins have struggled with injuries – including hard injuries to Pastrnak’s well-known linemates, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Although, when Marchand has been healthy, he has not been as effective at putting the puck in the back of the net, scoring only twelve times in thirty-eight games. On the flip side, Marchand leads the team for assists with twenty-nine helpers.

When the Bruins’ first line is fully healthy and they are clicking offensively, the numbers can truly skyrocket. Bergeron already has a passer’s touch and if Marchand continues to have the vision to send the rubber to the piece of tape on Pastrnak’s stick, Pastrnak can rake in the goal numbers.

Is it possible for David Pastrnak to score more goals than any other player in the entire National Hockey League? Of course, it is. The Bruins are finally going to have a healthy roster, *knocks on wood* and can have the opportunity to finally gain some ground on the NHL standings. However, goals have been an issue for the players further on down the lineup.

When Patrice Bergeron was out for multiple weeks with a sternoclavicular/rib injury earlier this season, centre David Krejci filled in on the top line. Pastrnak did not seem to have issues scoring alongside Krejci. Krejci, an above-average passer is able to find his fellow Czech on the ice and create scoring opportunities.

In fact, Pastrnak is in the middle of his best goal-scoring season, scoring an average of 0.59 goals-per-game. His next highest came in the 2016-17 campaign when he averaged 0.45 GPG. If he continues his current pace, Pastrnak has the chance to hit 48 goals this season and that very well could contend for the league-lead. This is barring no injuries and for Pastrnak to continue at this very same pace. It is very possible that David can score more or less than that average moving forward.

If I were a betting man, which I am most definitely not, I would not bet money on David Pastrnak winning the Rocket Richard Trophy THIS season. I do, however, think he can contend for the trophy and within the next five years, he will win the award. Since being drafted twenty-fifth overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by Boston, Pastrnak has done nothing but improve in nearly all assets of his hockey game.

If the trend continues, he will only score more goals. But with predictions and future events, the only true answer is in the hands of one thing – time.

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Bruins Pastrnak Remains On Pace For Best Season

David-Pastrnak-2(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

David Pastrnak burst out of the gate to begin the season for the Boston Bruins, and he immediately looked like a contender for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Given that Pastrnak was coming off consecutive 30-goal seasons, he looked like a prime candidate to top that leaderboard. In his 12 games in October, Pastrnak scored an incredible 11 goals. It was always extremely unlikely that Pastrnak was going to continue at a rate in which he would have eclipsed 70 goals by the time the season ended. Understandably, he has slowed off that pace a bit since then. In his 13 games in November, Pastrnak was still fantastic, but expectedly eased it back and scored a more realistic eight goals. In 14 December games, Pastrnak has four goals and 15 assists for 19 points. He had 10 assists combined for all of October and November.

Pastrnak is still generating scoring chances for his teammates, but he hasn’t personally been lighting the lamp with the same type of proficiency he showed earlier in the year. In his 25 games in October and November, Pastrnak had 19 goals on 101 shots on goal, registering an 18.8% shooting percentage. Pastrnak was averaging about 4.04 shots on goal per game in those first two months, and converting those shots on net into goals at a rate that was higher than his 13.3% career shooting percentage heading into this season. Pastrnak was also getting more pucks on goal than ever before, as he had averaged about 2.79 shots on goal throughout his career. His season-high in that category was 3.49 shots on goal per game in 2016-17, so his October and November total this season really represented a leap for him.

In the 14 games then, though, the stats have begun to come back down towards what his career totals had been before this season. He has 50 shots on goal in those 14 games, averaging 3.57 shots on goal per game. That is very close to his rate for the 2016-17 season. His December shooting percentage is what has caused the low output. Pastrnak is shooting just 8% in those 14 December games.

That December stretch has made Pastrnak fall behind in the chase for that Rocket Richard Trophy, as he is now tied for sixth in the league in goals. Alex Ovechkin is currently the league leader in with 29 goals in 37 games, and he is up by three over Jeff Skinner and John Tavares. Ovechkin has previously won the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career, including five times in the last six seasons. The award has basically become his to lose any season in which he doesn’t miss significant time due to injury, and he deserves to be the favorite as things look right now.

With how things are shaping up, the winner of the award this season is going to at least have 50 goals, so that’s where Pastrnak needs to get to have any type of realistic chance. That doesn’t look as safe of a bet anymore after these last 14 games, although it’s not out of the question that he can still get there. If Pastrnak plays in 79 games this season, he has 40 more games to score 27 goals. It’ll be hard, but he’s capable of that type of production. An extremely conservative estimate would have Pastrnak averaging 2.75 on goal in those remaining games and shooting 12%. Those totals are both lower than his career totals and represent a scenario in which Pastrnak underperforms from here on out relative to what he can do. In that hypothetical, the Czech native would still finish this season with 40 goals. That would be more goals than he has ever scored in a season.

There are definitely realistic paths for Pastrnak to get to 50 goals, though, assuming that he doesn’t miss extended time due to injury. If Pastrnak averages three shots on goal per game in 40 remaining games, he’d need to shoot about 18% to get to 50 goals, and that necessary percentage would decrease the more shots he gets on goal. If he averages four shots on goal per game in 40 remaining games, Pastrnak would need to shoot about 14.1% to get to 50 goals. That great stretch would also have to coincide with Ovechkin and the other guys ahead of Pastrnak slowing down enough for him to surpass them.

The odds of Pastrnak winning the Rocket Richard Trophy have certainly decreased, but he is still very much poised to have the best season of his career. He looks like he’s in the midst of his most impressive season, which is really saying something given how he has asserted himself these past couple years as one of the premier scorers in the league. Even if the Rockey Richard Trophy appears less likely after four goals in those 14 December games, he is going to be among the lead leaders in that category this second half of the season if he’s able to stay healthy.

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Mainville’s Full 2018-19 Boston Bruins Predictions

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

Predictions and sports pretty much go hand-in-hand in today’s world. Not only are predictions fun to make when the season is a little under a month away, but they are fun to look back on at the end of the season to see how accurate your predictions were.

Normally, I make my predictions in a Boston Bruins Facebook fan group, but since my arrival on the Black N’ Gold Podcast website in March of 2018, I am able to provide my predictions on the entire season from lineup predictions to statistics to standings to possible trades and playoffs. This will be a fun ride, let’s get into it.


This one is a fun one considering the amount of young talent that the Boston Bruins have available and a good portion of that prospect pool could get a chance in the NHL this season. On the flip side, the Bruins still have a large number of veterans that deserve a spot on the lineup, some due to their experience and skill value to the team, others just because of their contract. So, here are my predictions for the Bruins opening day lineup as of September 1st.


Marchand  –  Bergeron  –  Bjork

DeBrusk  –  Krejci  –  Pastrnak

Donato  –  Frederic  –  Heinen

Nordstrom  –  Kuraly  –  Backes


Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Miller




As many people throughout the community have been saying, I see David Pastrnak getting second-line minutes to start the season. Although the line of him, Marchand and Bergeron are one of the best in the entire league, the Bruins showed in the regular season that they lack deep scoring depth. Placing Pastrnak on the second-line alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk could add some additional scoring threats to the Bruins offensive core.


PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Another key position the Bruins are undecided on is the third-line center position. Numerous player on the roster could indeed fill that spot, but no official player has been given that role. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said in an article published by the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter that the third-line center spot will have some competition come training camp.

“Studnicka, [Trent] Frederic, and JFK [Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson], our three center icemen. [Chris] Wagner played some center. Is it ideal for him? But that’s what he’d like. He wants to move up in the lineup. So you’re creating a bit of competition, but you’re also creating opportunity. I think if you go into the year and think, “We’re going to have five guys,” that’s a stretch. But what we’ve done, I think, and Donnie feels, it’s legit for us to stay more than competitive.”

Jack Studnicka seems to be one of the main guys that most fans and media members want on the third line, but I feel that Trent Frederic could get the job come October. I recently wrote an article about Frederic and you can check it out HERE. 

Individual Statistics

As mentioned previously, the Boston Bruins have many top players that can find ways to rack up the points and in turn, hopefully, help lead the B’s to some victories on the ice. In fact, in Sportsnet’s recent Top 100 NHL Players article that was released on August 31, there were six Bruins players, tied with the Nashville Predators for the most players in the list. Boston’s players that were on the list were Charlie McAvoy (96th), Zdeno Chara (92nd), Tuukka Rask (80th), David Pastrnak (36th), Patrice Bergeron (18th), and Brad Marchand (17th).

When a team has a lot of star talent that can put up some high numbers, it isn’t very often that you see above point-per-game totals once the season ends. Connor McDavid on the Oilers and Taylor Hall on the Devils show that when a team lacks depth, the superstar player gets high point totals.

Brad Marchand

PHOTO CREDIT: (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Top Three Scorers (Forwards)

Brad Marchand 40G – 45A – 85P

David Pastrnak 39G – 42A – 81P

Patrice Bergeron 27G – 41A – 68P

Top Three Scorers (Defense)

Torey Krug 18G – 43A – 61P

Charlie McAvoy 8G – 31A – 39P

Matt Grzelcyk 5G – 25A – 30P

Prior to writing this article, I figured making statistic predictions would be a piece of cake, but rather, it is quite difficult. I figured Pastrnak would have a lower assist total than last year because I have him playing with Krejci, meaning he would not be the one passing the puck the most.

However, I do think that the trio of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak will be one, two, and three in the Bruins scoring race at the end of the year, even if they are separated throughout the campaign.

For defensemen, I think Krug will continue to be the main offensive threat, but McAvoy and most of all, Matt Grzelcyk will gain great strides offensively while Chara and the rest of them will not be as productive offensively in my mind. Obviously, there is room for debate and I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Regular Season Standings

The Boston Bruins will not have an easy trip to the playoffs at all. With the already stacked Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tavares, I mean, Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins may have to settle for third in the Atlantic division.

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Aside from the Lightning and Maple Leafs being evident threats in the division, the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres could find themselves in the mix as well. The Panthers missed the playoffs by only a single point last year and with the addition of Mike Hoffman this offseason, they could have improved the roster enough to secure a position.

The Buffalo Sabres may have finished last in the NHL last season, but with the acquisition of Jeff Skinner and 2018 1st Overall Pick Rasmus Dahlin, the Sabres could find themselves higher in the division then they were last year.

Of course, the division does have the bottom-feeding teams such as the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, and Montreal Canadiens that the Bruins do not have to stress too much over but they will still need to pick up key victories against them in order to secure that divisional playoff spot.

The Metropolitan division is still one of the best in the league and could very well contend for the two Wild-Card positions in the Eastern Conference, leaving only the three division spots. If the Leafs and Bolts are already locked in that spot and the Panthers and Sabres are fighting their way into the postseason as well, then every single game could play out to mean a lot for the B’s.

Nonetheless, in my own personal opinion, the Boston Bruins will make the playoffs, finishing in the third seed behind Tampa Bay and Toronto. While Florida makes a strong case, I’m not sold on the fact that they will make it in the top three of the Atlantic division teams, but rather sneak into the postseason via a wild card.

Winter Classic vs Chicago

I’m making this prediction in a completely separate category because the 2019 Winter Classic between the Bruins and the Blackhawks may be a tad bit underrated. The Bruins did not have the success they were looking for back in the 2016 Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens, losing 5-1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Personally, I feel like there is a little bit of redemption wanted by the Bruins who were on that roster, especially Brad Marchand, who was suspended for three games for clipping Ottawa Senators player Mark Borowiecki. Many believe that the lack of Marchand at the January 1 outdoor game was the reason for the loss, as the locker room was left without one of their top players.

Not only will it be redemption for the Winter Classic, but this is arguably the biggest meeting between the Hawks and Bruins since the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, where Chicago won in six games. Of course, at the end of the day, it is only a normal regular season game with no added benefits from winning the contest, except for bragging rights — and Boston would love to have some bragging rights.

Putting injuries, (and suspensions) aside, the Bruins are in the lead to win the game. Chicago finished last in the Central division last season and failed to make any big offseason moves. Jonathan Toews only scored 52 points in the 74 games he played in last season while goaltender Corey Crawford dealt with a suspected head injury that forced him to miss the final 47 games of the 2017-18 season.

If the Bruins can have a strong start to the season, I believe they will win the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic held at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana, improving their Winter Classic record to 2-1.


After making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins will return to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in a rematch against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. The only difference is that Toronto will have the home-ice advantage.

As good as Toronto may have become with the acquisition of John Tavares, they are not quite as experienced defensively compared to the Lightning, who will win the division once again this season.

So, we have Toronto vs Boston for the second consecutive year. Unfortunately, I see the Maple Leafs winning this series, advancing to the second round against Tampa in seven games. The series will be another close battle but with the newly improved offense of Toronto, they will come through and Boston will enter the offseason after a first-round exit.

Well, that does it for this prediction article. Once again, these are all my predictions and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on every category listed. Make sure to check out the Bruins Pump-Up video made by myself and follow me on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!


Bruins Players Set Example On The Ice & In The Community

Patrice's Pals3(“Patrice’s Pals” – Photo Credit:

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

If you’re a professional athlete, there’s a level of expectation from fans, media, and management to “give back.” After all, you’re playing sports for a living and making large sums of money for it. Life can be a whole heckuva lot harder. Yet, for players on the Boston Bruins — both past and present — giving back has never been an issue. In fact, it’s been as consistent as a Zdeno Chara slapshot, Patrice Bergeron assist, Brad Marchand breakaway, or Tuukka two-pad stacker. You can count on all of the above just like you can count on anyone wearing a B’s sweater to do their part in the community.

It’s setting this example both on and off the ice where the best Bruins players have excelled most recently. And it’s the reason why some of our favorites from yesteryear continue to be talked about and admired today. Here are just some of the ways generous gents wearing the Black N’ Gold have shown the best kind of charity to local New England charities over the years, and why we think the world of them for it (I’m sure I’ll miss mentioning some of the charitable ways the B’s have bettered their community, but that’s a nice problem to have I think)!

Bruins Wives’ Charity Carnival

Bruins Charity Carnival Shirt(“Charity Carnival” – Photo Credit: Etsy)

This was my first introduction to generosity with a capital ‘G’ for players wearing the spoked capital ‘B.’ As you can see from the vintage shirt pictured above, the slogan B’cause we care, were ‘Bruin’ up a better Boston, fit the team, city, and organization to a ‘T’ (another Boston wink & nod). While no longer in existence, the Bruins Wives’ Charity Carnival raised money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and featured the most popular B’s roster players of the era — along with their spouses — playing hockey games, holding competitions, fielding Q&A’s, signing autographs, and plenty more, all in the heart of “The Garden,” old and new. If I still lived in Western Massachusetts, I’d have driven to my parents’ home and raided the basement to find all my old Charity Carnival programs, pictures, pins and the like. It was an eye-opening experience for any young B’s fan not only because you got to meet your favorite players, but also because you met many kids your age benefiting from the CFF. To see first-hand what “giving back” looks like had a profound effect and I’ll forever be grateful to the B’s for instilling that commitment to community within me.

The Cam Neely Foundation

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins(“The Neely House” – Photo Credit:

No. 8 was my favorite player growing up, and as soon as I was a grown-up working in local media and often partnering with area children’s hospitals and clinics, Cam Neely became even more of a favorite of mine. That’s because in 1995 he started the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care in honor of his parents, both of whom passed away due to cancer. Since then, the former B’s All-Star and current team president has worked alongside a dedicated foundation team to “donate over $30 million to Tufts Medical Center to design, fund and complete projects with immediate tangible results that have had a positive impact on thousands of families” dealing with cancer treatment, care and hospitalization, according to its website. We always knew Neely to be quite the prolific goal scorer, but these goals are achievements with life-changing results that have positively impacted countless Boston-area children and their families. Maybe we need a new hockey nickname for the B’s boss: “the Gr8 one!”

The Boston Bruins Foundation

Bruins Foundation.jpg(“The Boston Bruins Foundation” – Photo Credit:

This summer, Bruins owner Charlie Jacobs made a big announcement: the Boston Bruins Foundation, which started in 2003 as a way for the team to give back to the organizations that matter most to the fans in Boston, successfully raised more than $3 million to 150 area non-profit charities. Among them, “the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Operation Hat Trick, local Boys & Girls Clubs, Franciscan Children’s Adaptive Skating Program, and Massachusetts Hockey,” to quote but a few from the celebratory press release. One of the most notable beneficiaries of the Foundation and one that B’s legend Bobby Orr was integral in helping was the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey league team. The Bruins largest 50/50 raffle of the 2017-18 season donated a total of $200,000 to the team’s community relief efforts in the wake of the tragic bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 players and team personnel in April.

Bruins Broncos(Photo Credit:

Other noteworthy sponsorships, partnerships, and collaborations from the Boston Bruins Foundation (with photo credits courtesy of all the respective events) feature both current B’s players and respected alumni all working together to improve, enhance, enlighten, and entertain the hard-working people and families who cheer on the Bruins:

  • The 15th Annual Boston Bruins Golf Tournament
  • The 3rd Annual Bowl with a Bruin Fundraiser (and yes, that’s candlepin bowling pictured for all you non-New Englanders out there)

Bourque Foundation

  • The 2018 Pan-Mass Challenge

Bruins Pan Mass Challenge

Patrice’s Pals

Pictured at the top of this article is Patrice Bergeron with kids from the Children’s Hospital, Boston as well as area youth hockey players. They are all Patrice’s Pals, which brings patients from local hospitals and other children’s organizations to the TD Garden to experience a Bruins home game where these deserving children are able to feel the excitement of a professional hockey game as VIP guests,” as the Bruins official website states.

(Photo Credits:

Ever since No. 37 first took the ice for the B’s back in 2003 (FIFTEEN YEARS AGO…THAT’S INSANE), he’s been an integral, essential part of the team’s success. Bergy is a leader who sets an example through his dedication, hard work, and perseverance, Bergeron does the same when it comes to his community work. You could argue he puts the puck in the net just as frequently as he puts smiles on the faces of countless kids and families across New England. I’d say he does that even more! It’s hard to imagine where the Boston Bruins would be right now, both as a hockey franchise and as a charitable pillar in the region, without Patrice Bergeron. We could all be so fortunate to call him “Pal!”

Chara’s PJ Drive

Chara Cradles to Crayons(Photo Credit: Cradles to Crayons)

For the past 3 years, B’s Captain Zdeno Chara, whom everyone loves to call “Big Z,” has truly made a big difference around Greater Boston by leading the charge for the team’s annual “PJ Drive.” Like Bergeron, Big Z is as integral to the team’s success off the ice as he is on it, working as a mentor, leader, volunteer, and spokesman for numerous charitable causes & organizations, none-so more endearing than the PJ Drive, which benefits area youth in need. “Over 100,000 Massachusetts children have received PJ’s through the Bruins PJ Drive over the past ten years,” according to a team press release. The only other “PJ” with this much success in Boston is Mr. Axelsson (who I featured in a blog post about the B’s best scouts earlier this summer — you always “feel the need for Swede” when Per-Johan is around)!

Cuts For A Cause

This upcoming season will be the Bruins’ 11th season participating in the “Cuts For A Cause” program that benefits children’s cancer research at the Tufts Medical Center. As you can see in the video above, and as #BehindTheB has chronicled over the past few seasons, this event is a fan and player favorite. It’s also an incredible bonding experience for the boys in Black N’ Gold and is often referenced throughout the year as the time many players became even closer to one another and the Boston community at large.

Our friends at Bruins Daily on Twitter shared a few years ago just how positive and difference-making this event can be for the city. “Well done,” indeed!

Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s

Thornton Golf(Photo Credit: Twitter)

You’d be hard pressed to find any person around the city of Boston who didn’t/doesn’t love what Shawn Thornton brings/brought to the table for the team and the community. Just take a look at the homepage for “The Shawn Thornton 22 Foundation,” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It’s one thing to be a Stanley Cup champion in town, and it’s something even more impressive to be a champion of the people. And that’s exactly who Thornton was, is and will continue to be in retirement. From his aforementioned Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s golf outing to his road & marathon races to his everyday volunteerism, he and his foundation are all about raising awareness, funding innovative research, and helping to relieve the burden and improve the quality of life for patients and their families, as his website illustrates. But here’s the paragraph that brings a smile to people’s faces:

Image result for shaun thornton bucyk award

“While in Boston, Shawn took on a very active role in the community, becoming a fan favorite of many local residents. He is no stranger to public or media appearances and is extremely involved in the charitable world. He regularly visited local hospitals, sat on the board for a variety of charity events, and was a spokesperson for Athletes for Heroes, a program that supports the children of fallen or severely injured soldiers. In 2009 Shawn received the John P. Bucyk Award which honors the Bruins player who has contributed the most to charitable and community endeavors.”

“The Chief” himself would be proud of all the recent and current Bruins players who go above and beyond the “B” to set an example on the ice and in the community. And good news for Boston fans all over New England — I don’t think this admirable trend is going away anytime soon!

One Time Bruin Jarome Iginla Hangs Up His Skates

Screen Shot 2018-07-28 at 6.03.43 PM(Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

By Jacob Albrecht | Follow me on Twitter @bruinsfan3725

Jarome Iginla will be announcing his retirement from the NHL this coming Monday on July 30th, 2018. In his 20 NHL seasons, he played 16 of them with the Calgary Flames after being drafted 11th overall in 1995 by the Dallas Stars who then traded him to the Flames. Of the remaining 4 seasons, he’s played, one was with the Boston Bruins. Iginla was originally a trade target of the Bruins at the trade deadline in the lockout-shortened 2013 season but ended up in Pittsburgh instead. That summer he signed a one-year deal to wear the black and gold during 2013-2014.

The 6’1″, 210-pound winger was a perfect fit on David Krejci right side, with Milan Lucic riding the opposite side. As it was when Nathan Horton occupied that spot, having two big wingers flanking Krejci proved to be very effective, and Iginla did not disappoint. He lived up to his knack for putting up 30-goal seasons, totaling 30 goals and 31 assists for an impressive 61 points in his 17th NHL season. He continued his strong play into the playoffs, tallying 5 goals and 2 assists for 7 points in 12 games. Iginla quickly endeared himself in the hearts of Bruins fans with his gritty, physical play, starting off the season by dropping the gloves in the opener:

Not long after did he score his first goal wearing the Spoked-B, a few weeks later against the San Jose Sharks. A typical goal of Iginla; driving hard to the net, getting to the dirty areas, fighting for pucks and ultimately giving whatever it takes to light the lamp when the Bruins need it:

While Iginla’s stint with the Bruins may have been only a single season and fell short of the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup, it was without a doubt a great season and one that a lot of Bruins fans won’t soon forget. Jarome Iginla certainly showed himself worthy of the “once a Bruin, always a Bruin” moniker.

When it comes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, not many are as much of a sure-fire first-ballot inductee as Iginla. Throughout his 20 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings, Iginla scored a whopping 625 goals and racked up 675 total assists for an even 1,300 points in 1,554 games played. He impressively scored 30 or more goals in 12 of his 20 NHL seasons, only 5 short of all-time leader Mike Gartner. His 625 goals tie him with Joe Sakic for 15th all-time and comes in at 13th all-time in games played. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals in the NHL both in 2002 and 2004 with 52 and 44 goals, respectively. He also took home the Ted Lindsay Award for the best player as voted by members of the NHLPA in 2002 after a career-high, Art Ross-winning 96-point season. With those numbers and that amount of hardware, Jarome Iginla will undoubtedly be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame very shortly. Here’s the ultimate Calgary Flame’s 500th NHL goal;

In terms of his career specifically with the Flames, Iginla served as captain from 2003 to 2013 and led them to their strongest finish during his career, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 games in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. His totals with the Flames are very impressive; 525 goals, 570 assists, and 1,095 points in 1,219 games played. He leads the franchise in goals, points, games played and sits behind Al MacInnis in assists.

It won’t be long before Jarome Iginla’s number 12 will be raised to the rafters in Calgary and he becomes immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Iginla will always be known as a great goal-scorer who played the game the right way, played it physically, and was one of the better leaders the NHL has ever known. Congratulations to Jarome Iginla on an absolutely fantastic and prolific 20-year NHL career, it was a privilege to have you wearing the Spoked-B even for just a single season.

Evaluating Boston’s O’Fer at the 2018 NHL Awards


Photo Credit:

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

OK, in all fairness, I don’t think Patrice Bergeron was this year’s Selke winner. It really should’ve been Sean Couturier. Bergeron is the best defensive forward of this generation, and has a legitimate argument for the best of all time – but that’s not what this article is about. Instead, I want to discuss why the way the PHWA votes for these awards is increasingly concerning.

Let’s start with the Selke because it is the most logical entry point. Here is the breakdown of what each player who received a vote received:

Selke Voting Distribution.png


Let’s analyze this starting at the bottom. I was unaware that Vladimir Tarasenko killed penalties. He must have to get a vote – oh, wait. He averaged a whole 8 seconds of shorthanded time on ice this season. That was – wait for it – good for the 21st most on his own team. He had the same number of giveaways as takeaways (32) and was 9th on his own team in takeaways. But yes, 5th best defensive forward in the league.

Hyman Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

Some of the more unheralded players here did get some love. Toronto’s Zach Hyman actually lead the entire league in shorthanded time on ice by a forward. He had a 5v5 goal differential of +23, despite a zone start ratio below 50%. He averaged a .11 takeaway to giveaway per hour ratio, and drew the same number of penalties that he took. Hyman is one of those players that gets a bad rap because he is a winger, but he clearly is one of the better defensive forwards in the league.

Backlund Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Colton Sissons and Mikael Backlund were also in the Top 10 of shorthanded time on ice by a forward. What is interesting though is Sissons has a negative 5v5 goal differential, a negative 5v5 penalties drawn to taken ratio, and averages more giveaways than takeaways per hour. He DOES, however, start a significant percentage of his shifts in his own end, so take that as you will. Backlund is a different animal, averaging over 3 takeaways per hour while averaging under 2 giveaways per hour this season. He had a very low 5v5 PDO this year, sitting at 94.79, so his lack of counting stats probably hurt him in this vote.

Stone Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

What about Mark Stone? A personal favorite, Stone is far and away the best defensive winger in the league. He drew 10 penalties this season and took only 3. When killing penalties, only 7 goals were scored against the Senators with Stone on the ice, only 1/8th of the total given up by the Sens all year. While Stone does tend to give the puck away a lot (3.03 per hour), he also averages 3.3 takeaways per hour, and it is important to note that the giveaways could, in part, be attributed to being an outstanding player on an inferior team.

Guys that really shouldn’t have gotten as much love? For all of his strengths, Sidney Crosby averaged twice as many giveaways than takeaways per hour and had a negative 5v5 penalty differential. He only played a total of 18 minutes and 13 seconds on the penalty kill all season. Yet, he appeared on 12 ballots, with Don Brennan of The Ottawa Sun believing him to be the 3rd best defensive forward in the league. Dustin Brown appeared on two ballots despite averaging more giveaways than takeaways per hour this season and playing on a line with the eventual winner in Anze Kopitar.

Bergeron Maddie Meyer Getty Images

Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

So, Couturier, Bergeron, Kopitar. Let’s start with good old Bergy. He took 7 penalties at 5v5 this year and drew 5. Not ideal, but not overly detrimental. He averaged 1.67 giveaways per hour, but nearly twice as many (2.92) takeaways per hour. He had a 5v5 goal differential of +15 and had a goals for percentage of 60.87%. On the PK, he generated 3 shorthanded goals, and allowed 10, while playing nearly 40% of the shorthanded time on ice for the Bruins this year. He did miss 18 games due to injury, which undoubtedly had an adverse impact on his resume.

Couturier Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

Couturier played nearly 45% of the Flyers’ shorthanded minutes this year, an absolutely ludicrous number. He also allowed 24 goals against in that timeframe, but that could very easily be attributed to the shaky goaltending situation in Philly. He had a 5v5 goal differential of +30, which is absolutely absurd, leading to a 62.3% goals for percentage. He drew 18 penalties, taking only 8 all season. His giveaway to takeaway ratio is much smaller (1.47 per hour versus 1.66 per hour), but still favors more takeaways than giveaways.

Anze Kopitar Sergei Belski USA Today Sports

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Kopitar averaged more giveaways (2.21) per hour than takeaways (2.06) per hour at 5 on 5. He drew 11 penalties and took 7 (+4 penalty differential). His 5v5 goal differential was +13, much closer to Bergeron’s +15 mark, and his goals for percentage, 56.31%, was by far the lowest of the 3 finalists. He played around 40% of the Kings’ shorthanded time on ice, allowing 9 goals against while generating 3 shorthanded markers.

Based on all of this information, I think it is very clear that not only should Kopitar not have been the winner of this award, but he probably shouldn’t have been in the Top 2, and there’s an argument that he shouldn’t have even been a finalist. Couturier is the clear winner for me, despite the obvious Boston bias.

So, why did Kopitar win? Well, the Kings weren’t expected to make the playoffs this year, Kopitar had a subpar offensive season last season, and rebounded to score 35 goals and 91 points. Couturier had a career year offensively, but he “only” had 31 goals and 75 points. Bergeron had 30 goals and 63 points in 64 games. The other two both played all 82. So, this looks to be a bias towards “a defensively minded forward who scores a lot of points” which is not the point of the award in the first place.

Karlsson Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

That’s not the only example of voters skewing a vote based on misinterpreting the meaning of an award. What about the Norris? This is turning into the award given to a defenseman who has been good for a while, hasn’t won one, and voters decide that it is “his year.” Last year, Brent Burns won his first Norris, after tallying 75 points, but doing most of his damage during a hot start, and falling off a bit later in the year. That one, I didn’t mind a ton, despite Erik Karlsson almost singlehandedly willing the Senators into the playoffs literally one foot (he scored 71 points in 77 games in case anyone was wondering). The year before was Drew Doughty’s “year” – he scored 51 points that year, whereas Karlsson lead his team (again) with 82, leading the league in assists with 66. The biggest difference between the two? Karlsson was a -2, Doughty was a +24. Plus-minus is such a flawed stat, but voters still seem to cling to it.

Norris Voting Distribution


This year, the three finalists were Victor Hedman, PK Subban, and Drew Doughty. They finished 4th, 7th, and 9th in scoring respectively. When we look at 5v5 scoring, the only one in the Top 5 of goal differential was Victor Hedman (T-3rd) at a +25. PK Subban was a +18, and Doughty was a measly +10. For context, Anaheim’s Josh Manson led the league in 5v5 goal differential by a defenseman at +30 and received one 4th and one 5th place vote. Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk (+26) was 2nd, Hedman’s Tampa Bay teammate in Anton Stralman (+25) tied with him for 3rd, and Nashville’s Roman Josi (+20) was 5th.

Manson Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Point totals at 5v5 are also interesting, as Hedman put up 29 (tied for 6th), Subban tallied 25 (15th), and Doughty scored 24 (tied for 16th). The top 5 in this category? Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (35), Dallas’ John Klingberg (34), Toronto’s Jake Gardiner (31) and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba tied with Manson at 30. Based on this analysis, Hedman had an argument for being a finalist, but Drew Doughty finishing so close to him? Asinine.

Barzal Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

What about the Calder? I think we can all accept that Matt Barzal scoring 85 points in 82 games is immensely difficult to ignore, and this award was probably his. That went unquestioned, with him winning in a landslide. I DO take issue, however, how the rest of the finalists ended up.

Calder Voting Distribution


Brock Boeser was practically the only offensive threat in Vancouver and had a chance at scoring 40 goals (which won Auston Matthews the Calder last year) were it not for a ghastly injury that cost him 20 games. Clayton Keller was good, but ended up being very streaky, and scored around the same number of points as Boeser did in 62 games in the full 82 game season. Kyle Connor scored 31 goals, but scored only 57 points, and, again, was really streaky. He came on strong as the year progressed. Yanni Gourde was OK but probably should not have garnered a 1st place vote.

McAvoy Angela Spagna

Photo Credit: Angela Spagna

Then we get to our favorite Bruin, Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy, as a defenseman, had 32 points in 63 games, averaging over 22 minutes a night. He lead the Bruins in 5v5 time on ice and lead all rookies by an absurd margin.  He consistently was asked to play against the opposition’s top players and was very successful. He was tied for 7th in the entire league in 5v5 goal differential at +19 for defensemen, an awe-inspiring feat. As mentioned in the Norris discussion, Matt Grzelcyk was 2nd in this category, but played slightly lesser competition, and played fewer games. If he had played the entire season, he would’ve gotten a lot more attention for this award. (If you don’t know already, I am a huge Matt Grzelcyk guy, so I don’t apologize for constantly pushing him).

This appears to largely be a positional bias, as defensemen very rarely win the Calder, and only do so when they either have a weak rookie class to compete against or tally ludicrous, offensive numbers. McAvoy should’ve at the very least been a finalist for this award. Instead, he finished 5th.

Cassidy Arthur Pollock

Photo Credit: Arthur Pollock

I won’t discuss the Jack Adams a lot, other than congratulating Bruce Cassidy on winning the award in any other season that the Vegas Golden Knights did not exist. What I find interesting is that there was someone who left Gerard Gallant completely off their ballot, which I find ridiculous to a degree I’m not sure can be expressed properly in words.

So, what’s the point of all of this? Well, I don’t think the B’s really had any legit shot at winning any of these awards. But the fact they finished so low shows a real lack of homework done by some of these voters. That is amplified when you dig deeper into the numbers for the finalists and show that we as a sport need to strive to be smarter and demand more of our coverage. We wonder why commentary such as Marc Bergevin referencing “intangibles” numerous times when defending the recent Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi deal continues to perpetuate itself. Hockey needs to evolve. I want to help. Let me know how you think I can do that in the comments below!

All statistics courtesy of and

Bruins’ Bergeron Nominated For 2018 Selke Trophy

NHL: Preseason-New York Rangers at Boston Bruins


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

To no surprise, the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) have nominated Boston Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron for the Frank J. Selke Trophy along with Philadelphia Flyers forward, Sean Couturier, and Los Angeles Kings forward, Anze Kopitar.

The Frank J. Selke Trophy was brought into the National Hockey League back in 1977-78 regular season, when Montreal Canadiens forward, Bob Gainey won the very first award. The award was named after nine-time Stanley Cup winner and former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, Frank J. Selke.

Ever since the trophy’s creation, it has been awarded to the best defensive forward throughout the course of the regular season. For Bergeron, it is an opportnunity to break the NHL record for most Frank J. Selke Trophies, tied with Gainey. Patrice has won the award on four previous occasions, (2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2016/17).

This past season has been one of the best for the 32-year old Bergeron, who scored 30 goals along with 33 assists, good for 63 points on the year in only 64 games played, his second-highest point total in his last five seasons. Along with the points, Bergeron finished the campagin with a +21 rating, his third-highest of his career.

Bergeron is commonly known throughout the league for his domination on the faceoff dot. During the 2017-18 season, ‘Bergy’ had a 57.3% average on the dot, winning 784 of his 1368 faceoffs taken. Bergeron had 55 takeaways during the season as well, his third-highest number of takeaways, with 12 less than his 2015-16 season and he played 16 less games this season than the ’15/’16 campaign.

The other nominees, Sean Couturier and Anze Kopitar also had great seasons. Couturier had 31-45-76 totals with a +34 rating while Kopitar finished with 35-57-92 totals and a +21 rating. However, it is worth noting that Couturier and Kopitar each played a full, 82-game season.

This is the first time that Couturier has been nominated for the award while Kopitar already has experience in winning the trophy, back in 2015-16, his first and only one to date.

The 2018 NHL Awards will take place on June 20th, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.



NHL To Honor Former Bruin O’Ree With League Award

Photo Credit:  In Play Magazine / Windsor, Ontario

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Yesterday, the National Hockey League announced there will be a new piece of hardware being presented at this year’s awards ceremony held once again in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s festivities from Sin City will feature former Boston Bruins player Willie O’Ree and acknowledge his pursuit to promote the game through racial diversity with an award in his honor.

As Mr. Shannon mentioned in his above Tweet the new Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award will recognize the commitment of those who are improving lives and strengthening their communities through the game of hockey as Mr. O’Ree has done for so many years. O’Ree who’ss been the NHL’s League Diversity Ambasodor since 1998 was a member of the Boston Bruins when he played his first career game as a black player ever in the league when he broke the race barrier playing his first game in January of 1958. Even though O’Ree’s NHL career consisted of 45 games all with the Boston team, he had a tremendous hockey career in general playing from the 1950-51 season to the 1978-79 campaign playing until he was 43-years-old.

When it comes to stats, Willie had his best career in the now-defunct Western Hockey League playing 13 seasons starting with the Los Angels Blades and San Diego Gulls where he amassed 328-311-639 numbers in 785 games of minor league hockey.  In the mentioned 45 NHL games played O’Ree registered 4-10-14 totals and those numbers and minimal experience at the top level of the world is one of the most significant issues why he shouldn’t be considered to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.

We can all agree that his numbers are not worthy of HHoF consideration as a player but how about in the builder categories that was received from the unpopular Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs in November of 2017. In my opinion, I believe he should get his call to the Hall as a character builder of the league with the way he’s inspired so many young children to choose hockey with the right-to-play mentality,. Many of those he touched have spent some time in the NHL having successful careers such as goaltender Kevin Weekes, forward Jarome Iginla, and defenseman PK Subban.

It should be very interesting to see who this year’s first-time recipient will be with so many valid candidates. I believe that we’ll always have ambassadors of the game but with the way NHL franchise’s work with the surrounding communities where the teams are based out of, and increased numbers of youth interest in the game these days, it’s not going to be easy to select a winner.

O’Ree has this to say below from his interview that can also be seen from the originator the NHL Public Relations article published yesterday here at

“I believe in our youth, and in the power of the game of hockey to unlock the on- and off-ice potential of boys and girls around the world,” said O’Ree. “I am honored to be chosen as the namesake for this award, which will shine a light on many others within the hockey community who share a similar belief, passion and vision of the future of this game.”

Also, mentioned in the article was what league Commissioner Gary Bettman had to say.

“We are privileged to honor Willie with the creation of this new community award,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “He has dedicated his life to equality and inclusion; to supporting young people of all backgrounds who are following their dreams; and to using hockey as a platform to build character and teach life skills.”

Bruins David Backes Nominated For 2018 Masterton Trophy

(Photo: Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Today the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s Boston Chapter announced that they’ve selected Boston Bruins forward David Backes as this year’s Masterton Trophy nominee. The 12 -year National Hockey League pro who spent a majority of his career with the St. Louis Blues organization has never won the prestigious award which is handed out annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.

The 6′-3″ 221-pound Backes has appeared in 124 games for the Bruins in two seasons with the club posting 29-37-66 numbers. In his 12-year career in total, the power forward Minnesota native has amassed 526 points (235-291-526) in 851 NHL contests. Per Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia the Masterton Trophy is named in honor of the late Bill Masterton, a Minnesota North Stars player who died on January 15, 1968, after sustaining an injury during a hockey game. During his playing career, Masterton exhibited “to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”. It was first awarded following the 1967–68 regular season. As of the end of the 2013–14 NHL season, players for the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have won the trophy five times; players for the Boston Bruins have won the trophy four times, and players for the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings have won the trophy three times.

Also, Per Wikipedia It is named after Bill Masterton, the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game. The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association after each team nominates one player in the competition. It is often awarded to a player who has come back from career– or even life-threatening illness or injury.

Below are previous winners of the Masterton Trophy that played for the Boston Bruins organization.

Charlie Simmer 1985-86 – Overcame serious ligament damage to his knee to score 60 points

Gord Kluzak 1989-90 – Tried to overcome severe knee injuries, but after playing two games after his tenth knee operation, he retired.

Cam Neely 1993-94 – Awarded “to recognize his valiant efforts to return to NHL action after suffering career-threatening injuries”; however, those injuries caused his retirement after the 1995–96 NHL season.

Phil Kessel 2006-07 – Missed 12 games because of testicular cancer mid-season.