Bruins Game 29 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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

The Boston Bruins are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League during this eight-game winning streak, putting them in the second-overall position in the league standings, only two points behind the Washington Capitals with a 20-3-5 record and two games in hand on the Caps. Boston is 9-0-1 in their last ten games and have still not lost in regulation on home ice.

After being one of the most dominate teams of the 2010s, the Chicago Blackhawks are now one of the bottom teams in the NHL with a sub-.500 record of 10-12-5, good for 27th in the league standings. Chicago has lost each of their last three games and are 4-5-1 in their last ten contests. The Blackhawks most-recently lost 4-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday in Chicago.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 13-2-2 2.04 GAA .933 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 3-1 win vs MTL

CHI: Robin Lehner (Not Confirmed) 5-5-3 2.69 GAA .929 SV% Last Game: 9 Saves in 7-3 loss vs COL

Who’s Hot:

Tuukka Rask is getting the starting job tonight against the Blackhawks and in the process, he will be putting his six-game winning streak and seven-game point streak as starting goaltender on the line. Rask has been one of the top goalies once again this season, sitting near the top of the league in nearly every category. Out of goaltenders with a minimum of 15 games played, Rask is third in save-percentage (.933%) and second in goals-against-average (2.04) with two shutouts (tied for 2nd).

Even though he was kept off of the scoring sheet for the first time in a remarkable 15 games, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is on fire this season, putting up 14-19-33 numbers in 27 games. Before the loss to the Blues, Kane scored 11 goals and 13 assists over the course of 15-consecutive games. Kane has 8-8-16 totals in 18 career regular-season games against the Bruins.

David Krejci has really come into his own with the absence of Patrice Bergeron in the Bruins lineup as he has been on the scoresheet in each of the last three games, including the insurance goal in the third-period that secured the Bruins a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Krejci has 6-15-21 totals in 22 games in ’19/’20 and will look to keep up that momentum against the Hawks.

Who’s Not:

Once known as one of the league’s best two-way forwards, Jonathon Toews has not had the best campaign so far into December, scoring only four goals and ten assists for 14 points in 27 games. Toews has only two points in his last five games and has been a minus rating in the last three. Toews has been averaging around 17-18 minutes per game on the ice and the Hawks need to see more production from the 31-year-old.

As of 11:00am EST, we do not know the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, but either option – Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner, are not having good seasons and have struggled to start the campaign. Crawford got the start against the Blues and proceeded to allow four goals on 30 shots against, bringing his season record to 5-7-2 with a GAA of 3.04 and a save-percentage of .909. Lehner’s last game resulted in him getting pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots in 25 minutes against the Avalanche, leading to a 7-3 loss.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Charlie Coyle is one goal away (99) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Jake DeBrusk is three points away (97) from 100 career NHL points
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (55) from tying Cam Neely (56) for 5th-most game-winning goals in Bruins history

Chicago Blackhawks:

  • G Corey Crawford is one win away (249) from 250 career NHL wins*
  • D Duncan Keith is one goal away (99) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Zack Smith is two points away (198) from 200 career NHL points
  • D Erik Gustafsson is one point away (99) from 100 career NHL points

*Only applicable if he gets the start in goal.

Bruins vs Blackhawks Outlook:

Two of the most historic franchises in NHL history get ready to lace up the skates against one another for the 591st time in the regular-season. Due to the reality that they are in opposing conferences, the Bruins and Blackhawks only play twice per season. Last year, the Bruins won both meetings including the 4-2 win in the 2019 Winter Classic. Brad Marchand scored two goals and three assists for five points in the two games last season against Chicago.

This year, the Bruins remain one of the best teams but not just in the standings. Boston has the second-best power-play in the NHL with a 30.9% success rate, trailing only the Edmonton Oilers (31%). At home, the Bruins have an even better power-play percentage at 32.7% and have scored 25 goals on the man-advantage – 3rd in the league. On the opposite scale, the Blackhawks have the 19th-best penalty-kill at 79.8% and the tenth-best PK on the road at 82.8%.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Chicago has the fifth-worst power-play in the league, scoring only 11 goals on 82 chances for a 13.4% success rate. Boston’s penalty-kill is the seventh-best in the entire NHL, killing off just under 85% of the penalties against. The B’s special teams have been a big reason to their dominate record as we begin the final calendar month of 2019.

Bruins Lineup News:

Defenceman John Moore is going to make his season debut for the Bruins tonight while Connor Clifton gets the scratch. Moore is likely going to play alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the defensive core. Moore underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season and after a brief conditioning stint in the American Hockey League, he plays in his first game tonight. Don’t expect any additional lineup changes, although, things could of course chance by puck drop.

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 156 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Leafs’ Firing of Mike Babcock Similar to Bruins’ 2017 Firing of Claude Julien

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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

When the news that Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock had been fired and that the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies, Sheldon Keefe, had been hired as the new Head Coach of the NHL club, the opinions throughout the entire NHL universe – especially on Twitter, filled everyone’s feed.

The release of Babcock from the organization is a surprise, considering the expectations placed on him when he was hired by the team in 2015, but at the very same moment, it was expected. As of November 20th, the Maple Leafs are 10th in the Eastern Conference with a sub-par record of 9-10-4 and they have lost six consecutive games dating back to November 9th. Toronto has the team to win games on paper, but when those victories fail to come to fruition, it eventually falls on the Head Coach and that is the case here.

Mike Babcock started his NHL coaching career with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2002-03, leading them to a 40-27-9-6 record and the Western Conference Championship, losing an eventual Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals to the New Jersey Devils. In 2003-2004, the Mighty Ducks missed the playoffs altogether and Babcock was subsequently fired in June of 2004.

A full season later, in July 2005, Mike Babcock was hired by the Detroit Red Wings who were coming off of a dominate 48-21-11-2 record but were eliminated in the second round. From 2005-06 to 2008-09, Babcock led the Red Wings to four-straight 50-plus-win seasons – culminating it all off with a Stanley Cup Championship in 2008 and a Western Conference Championship in 2009.

For the entire ten-year tenure that Mike Babcock spent in Detroit, the Red Wings made the playoffs – adding to their incredible streak of 25 playoff berths that began in the 1990-91 campaign, tied for the third-longest playoff appearance streak in NHL history, behind only the Boston Bruins (29 seasons from 1967-68 to 1995-96) and Chicago Blackhawks (28 seasons from 1969-70 to 1996-97) and equal to the St. Louis Blues (25 seasons from 1979-80 to 2003-04).

From July 15, 2005, to May 8th, 2015, Mike Babcock coached the Detroit Red Wings in 786 regular-season games with a combined record of 458-223-105 along with a 67-56 record in 123 postseason games with the franchise, solidifying himself as one of the best coaches in the NHL. Add that with his two Olympic Gold Medals (2010, 2014), IIHF World Championships Gold Medal (2004) and his World Cup of Hockey Championship win (2016), Babcock proved that he is one of the best bench bosses in the game.

However, after repeated first-round exits, the Red Wings organization relieved the Manitouwadge, Ontario native of his head coaching duties and only a few days later, the now 56-year-old agreed to an eight-year, $50 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in an intense bidding war. Babcock’s ’15/’16 campaign with Toronto was a dismal one, as the Maple Leafs finished last in the Atlantic Division with a 29-42-11 record. Immediately, however, Babcock coached Toronto to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season – losing to the Washington Capitals in six games.

In 2017-18, the Maple Leafs took even larger strides en route to a 49-win season but fell short in seven games to the Boston Bruins. Last season, the Leafs managed to win 46 games for another 3rd place finish in the Atlantic Division, setting them up for the rematch against Boston, but once again, they came up short losing in another Game Seven.

With a virtually similar roster, the Maple Leafs entered this season with even higher expectations and they have not met them whatsoever as mentioned at the beginning of the article. Toronto has struggled to score first in any game and they constantly find themselves chasing the game in almost all aspects. Their defensive game is extremely lacking and the goaltending after Frederik Andersen is almost non-existent. The Toronto Maple Leafs are not good right now and it all fell on Mike Babcock, resulting in his departure from the organization.

In response, the Toronto Maple Leafs also announced the hiring of Sheldon Keefe, the Head Coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies since the 2015-16 season, as the 31st Head Coach of the NHL franchise. Sounds oddly familiar to the Boston Bruins back in 2017.

Boston Bruins Déjà Vu?

Replace the names of “Mike Babcock” with “Claude Julien” and “Sheldon Keefe” with “Bruce Cassidy” and you essentially have near-identical stories, sort of. Rewinding to the 2016-17 regular-season, the Boston Bruins were in a similar situation to the Leafs of today. Prior to ’16/’17, the Bruins failed to clinch a berth in the playoffs for two straight seasons, even though they just narrowly missed by only a few points in both scenarios.

Boston started the new season off rough, failing to gain any momentum or put together any winning streak(s), accumulating a 26-23-3 record throughout the first 55 games of the year. The B’s were on a pace to miss the playoffs once again and for the Bruins ownership, that is not acceptable with the roster they have, so they fired the man who has control of the lineup – Claude Julien.

Rewinding the tape even further, Claude Julien had one of the most successful tenures of a Boston Bruins coach in the history of the franchise. In fact, Julien is the all-time most-winningest head coach in Bruins history, winning 419 games in 759 regular-season games played. In addition, Julien was the Head Coach for 98 playoff games – the most out of any other Bruins coach, winning 57 games – another franchise record. Wrap all of that in a pretty bow called the Stanley Cup because it was Claude Julien that ended the 39-year Stanley Cup drought in Boston.

However, the league was changing and Julien’s defensive-minded style was just not cutting it anymore so General Manager Don Sweeney made the decision to release CJ of his duties in February 2017. Instead of naming a new Head Coach immediately, the Bruins named Bruce Cassidy the Interim Head Coach as he was serving as Julien’s assistant coach for the first time after being the Head Coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins for the previous five seasons.

Cassidy brought in new ideas and upped the intensity during practices to get the guys to rally behind him. Cassidy came into the role as an almost exact opposite to Julien, coaching a more offensive game while staying defensively responsible. At the time, Cassidy also had experience and chemistry with a few of the younger players on the roster from his time with the P-Bruins, giving him additional advantages.

Backed by the veterans in the lineup, the Boston Bruins indeed rallied behind Bruce Cassidy, winning 18 of their final 27 games, earning a playoff spot against the Ottawa Senators. Even though the Bruins were eliminated in six games, it was a breath of fresh air to go 18-8-1 after Claude Julien was fired and to make an appearance in the postseason. On April 26th, 2017, Bruce Cassidy was officially promoted as the 28th Head Coach in franchise history.

Since then, he has brought the Bruins to a 50-win season in his first full year as coach followed by a 49-win campaign last year that ended up bringing the Black and Gold to a Stanley Cup Finals berth for the first time since 2013. Cassidy has done an excellent job adjusting and adapting to challenges in the lineups during the season and even mid-games. He has done a terrific job battling against injuries, slumps, and tough teams to earn the respect of being a top coach in the National Hockey League.

Will the Toronto Maple Leafs become a contending team, make the playoffs, and find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals in a few seasons under the guidance of Sheldon Keefe – possibly, but this could very well end up doing nothing or even doing more harm to this struggling team. Boston had a talented roster behind them and had heart – some may debate if those exist for the Maple Leafs.

Boston and Toronto have a lot in common. The method of relieving old-school coaches for younger, new-school coaches is proving to be yet another similarity. Only time will tell to see if the Toronto Maple Leafs can turn their season around and be a contender for the Boston Bruins.

To close out, here are a few statements from current Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and former Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien on the firing of Mike Babcock:

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 154 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Boston Bruins Announce More Cuts As Preseason Nears Conclusion

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

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

As the Boston Bruins prepare for their final preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, the management staff have officially announced another round of cuts from the training camp, leaving only a few “bubble” players remaining as the roster for opening day on October 3rd begins to take shape.

In addition to the already-released news about the one-year contract signing of defenceman Alex Petrovic, the Bruins have sent down the following players for purpose of assignment to the American Hockey League affiliate of Boston – the Providence Bruins.

  • F Ryan Fitzgerald
  • G Kyle Keyser
  • F Joona Koppanen
  • D Jeremy Lauzon
  • F Zach Senyshyn
  • F Pavel Shen
  • F Oskar Steen
  • D Urho Vaakanainen

As well, forward Robert Lantosi will report to the P-Bruins according to the Bruins’ press release today, September 26th. Along with Petrovic, forwards Paul Carey and Brendan Gaunce were placed on waivers for purpose of AHL assignment and will be likely that they do not get claimed and will join Providence shortly.

As for the list of prospects that were sent back down to the minors, there are not any real surprises. In a few short years, players such as Kyle Keyser, Jeremy Lauzon, Oskar Steen, and Urho Vaakanainen are more likely to join the Boston Bruins as they all show promise to compete in the National Hockey League one day soon. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has said some good things over the course of the past week for Pavel Shen and others listed, but with an already log-jammed roster in Boston – it is not much of a shock to see these specific players sent down.

As many users on Twitter have already mentioned, some key names in the Boston Bruins organization were not included in this round of cuts – leading us to believe that there is a true chance that they may see some NHL time at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, or the Bruins want to see them play in the final preseason contest against Chicago.

Forward Jack Studnicka, forward Trent Frederic, forward Anders Bjork, forward David Backes, defenceman Jakub Zboril, and forward Karson Kuhlman have all survived the cuts, making for a very important game on Saturday. Look for any one of these players to play some of their best hockey to date to fight for one of those final spots on the roster or to, at the very least, impress the bosses to earn a shot at playing in Boston when the inevitable injuries come about.

For the latest on the Boston Bruins regarding injuries, news, and all of the most recent updates – make sure to give me a follow on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj ) and stay locked on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website for articles from all our staff writers.

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

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

Boston Bruins: Salary Cap Projections In Three Years

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

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

Defensemen:

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

Goaltenders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

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

Defensemen:

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

Goaltenders:

  • G Tuukka Rask (UFA)

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

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

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

2022 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

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

Defensemen:

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

Goaltenders:

  • G Kyle Keyser (RFA)

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

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

Players Extended Past 2022:

Forwards:

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

Defensemen:

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

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

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

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

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

Bruins Patrice Bergeron Preparing For Another Career Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

In the future, the Boston Bruins will likely be raising the #37 banner into the TD Garden rafters and Patrice Bergeron will go down as one of the greatest players to play in the Spoked-B sweater and one of the greatest defensive forwards in the history of the National Hockey League.Thankfully for us, we are still in the midst of Bergeron’s career and the accolades and milestones will only continue to pile up.

Before we dive into Bergeron’s upcoming 2019-20 campaign, it helps to learn about the beginning stages of the beloved assistant captain. Bergeron was drafted 45th Overall (2nd Round) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Born in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada, Bergeron spent his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Bergeron played the full 2002-03 season with the Titan, putting up an impressive 23-50-73 stat sheet in 70 games including another 15 points in 11 playoff games. After being selected by the Bruins in the NHL Draft, he made his way to the big leagues, where he played in 71 games during the 2003-2004 regular season, scoring 16-23-39 numbers in that span. This was the same year that Bergeron won his World Championship Gold Medal with Canada.

Due to the lockout in the 2004-2005 NHL season, Bergeron played with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, scoring 61 points in 68 games. The center was also able to play in the Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship where he would once again win Gold with Canada while winning the MVP of the tournament and scoring the most points (13) out of any other player. Following his first 70-point season for Boston, Bergeron was named assistant captain of the Bruins to start the 2006-2007 campaign.

Patrice was forced to miss the entirety of the 2007-08 season due to a concussion suffered in October of ’07, but came back the following year with 8-31-39 totals in 64 games played. After winning his first of two Olympic Gold Medals with Canada in 2010, Bergeron scored 57 points in 80 games, but added another 20 points in 24 playoff games to win the Stanley Cup in 2011. This win stamped Patrice Bergeron’s name in the “Triple Gold Club” – World Championship Gold, Olympic Gold, and Stanley Cup.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/Boston Bruins)

In his 15-year career with the Boston Bruins to date, the now 34-year-old Bergeron has 321-492-813 numbers in 1028 career NHL games, winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward in the NHL four times (tied with Bob Gainey for most all-time), winning Olympic Gold twice, and having his #37 retired by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

In this past 2018-19 season, Bergeron dealt with some injuries throughout the year, keeping him to only 65 games played, but he managed to hit the 70-point mark for the first time since his concussion twelve seasons ago and he nearly hit 80 points for the first time in his career. According to Hockey Reference, Bergeron recorded 42 takeaways and only 27 giveaways, earning his eighth-straight Selke nomination.

With the official Bruins training camp beginning tomorrow, we turn to the upcoming 2019-2020 NHL season and this one, not anymore than the other years, can be and should be a career-setting season for one of the best. Below are some of the big milestones and accomplishments that can be reached by “Bergy” this year.

  • 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • 850 Career Points (Current: 813)
  • 3rd-Most Games Played as a Bruin (Don Sweeney: 1052) (Current: 1028)
  • 5th-Most Goals as a Bruin (Cam Neely: 344) (Current: 321)
  • 5th-Most Assists as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 516) (Current: 492)
  • 5th-Most Points as a Bruin (Bobby Orr: 888) (Current: 813)
  • 4th-Most Even-Strength Goals as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 218) (Current: 209)
  • 5th-Most Power-Play Goals as a Bruin (Rick Middleton: 102) (Current: 96)
  • 2nd-Most Shots as a Bruin (Phil Esposito: 3223) (Current: 3047)

From the statistics above, it is clear that for the remainder of history, Patrice Bergeron will be one of the greatest players to play for the Boston Bruins and as his career continues, he will only continue to rise through the rankings of some of the all-time greats.

However, recent news showed that Bergeron may still be dealing with some lingering injuries that have been bothering him for the past few seasons. During the Stanley Cup Finals, it was made clear that Bergeron was dealing with a groin injury that kept him from playing at a full 100-percent. Once the series concluded, the news came out that he would not require off-season surgery, but Bergeron said the pain has lingered during the summer.

“I feel better,” he said. “It’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer, so I got a PRP in July I think and I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice and … I think it’s what we’re trying shoot for is more October rather than this Thursday.” 

If Patrice Bergeron does decide to participate in the Bruins training camp that begins tomorrow, expect him to be limited in what he can do. Regardless, the hope is for Bergeron to have a full season or at least one that does not see much time missed. Bergeron went on to say the following in the same NHL.com article by Matt Kalman.

“It’s been a short summer. I think the best way to go at it is to kind of take it slowly and kind of make sure you get ready for October instead of getting ready for the first day of camp,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s how you kind of build that up and how you’re able to be fully rested or feeling good in January and February and the long stretch. You know I think that’s what you’ve got to aim for.”

Do you think Patrice Bergeron hits any or all of the milestones above? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Report: Bruins, Charlie McAvoy Contract Talks To “Heat Up” In Coming Days

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JANA CHYTILOVA/GETTY IMAGES AND BOSTON BRUINS)

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

Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free-agent defenceman Zach Werenski to a three-year contract worth $5 million per season.

Werenski was regarded as one of the top defensive RFAs on the available market and now that he has officially agreed to re-up his deal with the Blue Jackets, the other teams across the NHL with young blueliners on expiring contracts will be looking to compare their players to Werenski.

Not long after the news broke, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins will heat up talks with their RFA defenders – Ivan Provorov and Charlie McAvoy, even more so with training camp beginning later this week.

We are all aware of the current situation with Charlie McAvoy and the contract negotiations that have been going down this off-season. The problem is that the two parties have not engaged in as many talks as some wish. It has been made clear in several interviews and press releases that McAvoy loves it in Boston and truly wants it to be his home for the long-term future. Bruins management has made it quite clear that they ultimately share the same feelings and they feel a deal will happen eventually, even if talks are “stalled”.

The 22-year-old Werenski was the eighth-overall draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets and has since scored 38-90-128 numbers in 237 career NHL games with Columbus including six points (1 goal, 5 assists), in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2018-19, the Grosse Pointe, Michigan native scored 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points in 82 games played, but finished with his career-worst -12 plus/minus rating.

Charlie McAvoy has not played in nearly as many games as Werenski, even though the two players are less than five months apart in age. The reason – injuries has slowed down the production of McAvoy, but even still, has become a top-two defenseman for the Bruins and will likely hold that position for years to come. McAvoy scored 7-21-28 totals in only 54 games in ’18/’19, but averaged 22:10 of time-on-ice and a remarkable 24:30 TOI during the four-round playoff season.

Bob McKenzie also mentioned how the current narrative is a long-term contract is likely for the 21-year-old McAvoy due to his praise for Boston and the Bruins organization – with the trip to the Stanley Cup Finals being a big reason for that. As of this moment, we have no word on annual salary or years, but expect news this week regarding the future franchise defenseman.

For all Boston Bruins reports, breaking news, and updates, make sure to check on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website where all of our brilliant writers aim to get the news out for your eyes as soon as we hear of it.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

2019-20 Is A Year Of Opportunity For Bruins F Karson Kuhlman

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

The 2019 Boston Bruins Rookie Camp begins on September 5th and a week later on September 12th, the official Bruins Training Camp begins. During these two main events of the offseason, players break-out and impress the likes of Don Sweeney and the other members of Boston’s management staff while others fail to meet the expectations and are cut from the camp or are sent down to the American Hockey League.

Lately, on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website, my fellow teammates have been listing their top-10 prospects within the organization and there are some great names to watch out for in the future. Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser, Oskar Steen, and John Beecher are in the minds of most Bruins fans while others such as Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn are the players just on the cusp of making it, with their fair share of doubters surrounding them. On my own personal list, forward Karson Kuhlman is always on the top, or close to it at the very least.

Karson Kuhlman first caught the eye of the Boston Bruins during his time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where he spent four seasons. After only one season with the Bulldogs, Kuhlman was handed the “A”, becoming assistant captain – a position he held for two seasons before being promoted to team captain in the 2017-18 season.

That campaign was a solid one for the Esko, Minnesota, USA native, as the forward scored 13-7-20 numbers in 44 games but it was during the NCAA Championship where he really had a successful run. Kuhlman was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament following a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Notre Dame to win the championship. The now 23-year-old center was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and also won the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

On April 10th, 2018, General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins had signed Kuhlman to a two-year NHL contract and that he would be sent to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, playing only two games, but did record an assist in the process.

In this past 2018-19 season, Kuhlman spent the majority of the hockey year with the P-Bruins, scoring 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points in 58 games played. At the same time, Karson scored an additional five points in eleven games up in the big leagues, scoring his first career goal in only his second NHL game.

Karson’s speed and dangerous shot earned him some playing time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in a combined eight games. Kuhlman recorded one assist in five games against the Maple Leafs in the opening round, scored another assist in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and would not play another postseason game for Boston until Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.

The Bruins were down the series three-games-to-two and the play of David Backes on the second line was not up to the standards required so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy went faster and put the youngster in with Krejci and DeBrusk and stepped up to the plate and put up Boston’s third goal of the game with a total of 13:07 of time on the ice. Kuhlman displayed his rocket of a wrist shot and showed his chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk as the line finished the do-or-die night with three points.

For a brief time, we saw that the trio of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman has the combination of speed and skill along hockey IQ that can bring some additional scoring to the line. It has been a long time since Krejci has had a legitimate offensive threat on the right-wing, some would argue that he never has had one, but Kuhlman could eventually grow into that player that is so desperately desired with that leadership and veteran experience of Krejci.

Earlier this offseason, I published an article that outlined by ideal opening night lineup for the Boston Bruins and I had Kuhlman in that competitive spot. This allows the Bruins to keep David Pastrnak on the first line in an effort to continue the dominance that was found with his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The fourth line can also stay the same, leaving the third line up for debate.

Having Kuhlman’s speed and skill on the second line would leave an opening for a young rookie on the third line alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. Whoever that ends up being will get the playing time but will not have the large responsibility as they would have in the top-six. Regardless, the upcoming Training Camp will be the time for these players to battle for their spot on the NHL roster. In my books, Kuhlman’s performance in the Finals was enough to earn him a little bit of an advantage over the other candidates listed above.

In addition, Chris Mazza from Dobber Prospects said the following about the center in April 2019 in a post on the site:

“Signed as a college free agent in 2018, Kuhlman enjoyed a successful first year of pro hockey, managing 30 points through 58 games with Providence in addition to five points in 11 NHL games while playing primarily on Boston’s second line. He captained the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2017-2018 National Championship, taking home tournament MVP honors in the process. Kuhlman’s offensive upside is limited, however, he has been touted as a strong leader everywhere he has played. He excels in board battles, has a decent shot and is seemingly always in position to make a play. Look for Kuhlman to push for a full-time role with the NHL Bruins next season.” – Chris Mazza

On my official Twitter page, (@tkdmaxbjj ), I posted a poll asking for your thoughts and opinions regarding the thought of throwing Kuhlman on the second line and the results were quite similar to mine. Either way, the efforts and production of the 2018-19 season for Kuhlman have created big opportunities – will he capitalize on them? Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 143 that we recorded on 9-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Bruins Report: Contract Discussions With Carlo, McAvoy Are “Stalled”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

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

According to an article by NHL.com writer Mike Battalingo, Boston’s contract discussions involving restricted free-agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo “remain stalled” in the latest update.

The two defensemen have been the biggest talking points of the Bruins offseason, especially in the fanbase as both play a crucial role on the blueline of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. In an interview with BostonBruins.com, General Manager Don Sweeney gave some light to a topic largely filled with darkness in terms of details released on contract negotiations.

“But that’s just the nature of the business, and every negotiation has its own timeline,” Sweeney told the Bruins website Thursday. “We’ll find a finish line at some point in time, Brandon and Charlie will be part of our organization for a long time. We think really highly of them as players on and off the ice, we just have to find a common ground and we’re working to get there.” (quote was taken from NHL.com)

Following their Stanley Cup Finals run that ended just one game short of winning it all, the Bruins knew that the offseason was going to be an important one regarding the extensions of key RFAs in the system. On July 9th, GM Don Sweeney managed to lock up forward Danton Heinen to a two-year, $5.6 million contract ($2.8 million AAV), leaving only Carlo and McAvoy left to prioritize.

Charlie McAvoy was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has since become a top-two defenceman alongside captain Zdeno Chara. McAvoy started his NHL career in the 2017-18 campaign, recording 7-25-32 numbers in 63 games played that season with another five points in 12 playoff games.

This past season, injuries kept McAvoy down to 54 regular-season games but the 21-year-old defender still managed to match a career-high in goals with seven to go along with his 21 assists to finish the season with 28 points. Charlie also led the entire Bruins roster in time on ice, averaging 22:10 over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. McAvoy added 2-6-8 totals in the 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games, playing a key role in the success the team found down the stretch.

Brandon Carlo is not as offensive as McAvoy, but he brings the type of defensive play that is needed in front of your goaltender. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Carlo had the most hits among defenceman in 2018-2019 and was fourth on the team with 134 recorded hits. According to Hockey Reference, Carlo ended the season with 42 takeaways and 41 giveaways, a large improvement from the year prior. Improvements like that will only continue year-to-year.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA native set a new career-high in minutes per game, averaging 20:55 on the ice in 72 games played. In addition, Carlo played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his young career due to untimely injuries that forced him out of the past two postseasons.

Sweeney went on to say that negotiations with both players are “not as fast as everybody would like”, but failed to provide any insight on the likelihood of the duo joining the rest of the roster for the official Boston Bruins Training Camp next month. Earlier in August, Boston offered a professional tryout contract to defenceman Alex Petrovic in the event that Carlo and McAvoy are absent from the camp.

Should fans of the Bruins be worried? Not yet. Sweeney made it clear that the organization wants the pair of blueliners to wear the Spoked-B on their chest for the long-term and he showed a level of confidence that the two will eventually be signed so there is no need to worry and stress, yet.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents

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(Photo Credit: Offical ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s Hockey Club)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

The Atlanta Gladiators have been quite busy with free-agent transactions, a few of which are big-ticket players. The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins opened up the league’s free agency period by hitting the market signing several players. From forwards to defense, the Gladiators made many moves to bolster their roster for the 2019-20 season.

To start, the Gladiators signed a pair of free-agent forwards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson. These two are no strangers to playing the Gladiators since last season they both played for their rivals the Indy Fuel. Collins, a 29-year-old forward out of Langley, British Columbia is about to play in his seventh season in the ECHL and first with Atlanta. Last season with the Fuel, Collins managed to score zero goals and record one point on one assist and 94 penalty minutes in thirty-one games played. He is being brought in to be a rotational forward who will serve as a bottom-six. Nelson, the 25-year-old gritty forward out of Rogers, Minnesota, spent the beginning of last year with the Orlando Solar Bears before being traded to the Indy Fuel. He recorded 16 goals, 25 assists for 41 points in 64 games during the 2018-19 season and was also a big factor in Indy’s Kelly Cup playoff push last spring.

On defense, the Gladiators locked up a pair of their in-house free agents by re-signing Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to new contracts. Malatesta might sound familiar as he is a Boston native and played Junior Hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins and is now playing for Atlanta. As he begins his third season with the club, he has six goals, 27 assists for 33 points in 108 games. He was very durable last season in which he played all 72 games of the ECHL season. Stander, the 24-year-old out of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, played hockey at Canisius College in New York before transferring to Atlanta. Last season he scored three goals, with 12 assists totaling 15 points. Both of them are key members of the Gladiators defense, and it was imperative they get them locked up early as soon as possible.

A couple of big pieces were also added to the roster by signing defenseman Jake Flegel and forward Thomas Frazee. While Flegel returns from last year’s roster, Frazee is a big addition to the team. Flegel, the 27-year-old defenseman from Ajax in Ontario, Canada played at Adrien College in Michigan before he transferred to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and then the ECHL. After one game last season in the SPHL, he joined the Gladiators where he recorded three goals and added three assists for six points. Frazee, the 29-year-old forward from Vancouver, British Columbia is considered one of the bigger names on the market in ECHL free-agency this season. He was on the Gladiators during the 2015-16 season tallying 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 71 games.

The following year he recorded a career-high 19 goals, with 20 assists totaling 39 points in 60 games before he went on loan to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. He entered the last offseason as a free agent and decided to sign back with Atlanta after fielding many offers from other teams. He put up 15 points in 12 games on 5 goals and 10 assists. Because of his dynamic ability to play as a team supporter, the Gladiators re-signed him this offseason after he tested free agency. Expect Frazee to get top-six minutes going forward in 2019-20.

The Gladiators were busy in free agency, and we will see how these players this upcoming season as the Gladiators hope to make a long postseason run after falling short of the playoffs last year.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Report: Bruins, Cassidy Begin Contract Extension Talks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

According to Joe McDonald of The Athletic, the Boston Bruins have started to talk to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy regarding an extension on his contract that expires at the end of this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

Bruce Cassidy has been in the Bruins organization since 2008-09 when he was the assistant coach for the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins. Cassidy, who turned 54 on May 20th, was the assistant in Providence for three seasons before being named Head Coach in the 2011-12 season, operating in that role up until the 2015-16 campaign. With the P-Bruins, Bruce led his team to the playoffs in four of the five seasons, only missing the postseason in his first year.

To begin the 2016-17 season, the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada native was the assistant coach to then-Head Coach Claude Julien. However, the Bruins would announce that they had fired Julien after the team boasted a 26-23-6 record. From February 7th on, Cassidy was the Interim Head Coach, leading Boston to an 18-8-1 record with him and managed to make it to the postseason in a losing effort to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

On April 26th, 2017, General Manager Don Sweeney formally announced that Bruce Cassidy would become the 28th Head Coach of the Boston Bruins, starting his Head Coach role in the 2017-18 season. Once again, the B’s were a dominant team in the Eastern Conference, finishing the regular season with a 50-20-12 record, earning a berth in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, the Bruins lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round Two.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steve Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty)

With the success of his first full season behind him, Bruce Cassidy still had a few doubters on his case, but yet again, he proved them all wrong, leading the club to a 49-24-9 record at the end of the regular season and helped keep the Bruins fighting strong all the way through to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he and his team fell one game short to the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven.

As of right now, Cassidy has a 117-52-22 record in the three regular seasons that he has coached in – a .612 winning percentage as the Head Coach. As Joe McDonald states, the organization does not release the salary of the bench boss but without a doubt in anyone’s mind, he will receive a raise in comparison to his previous contracts.

Keeping Cassidy is the best decision for the Bruins. Bruce has shown confidence in his players and has no problems benching players or moving players up and down the lineup when they are in a slump scoring-wise. In 2018-19, Boston dealt with injuries upon injuries to almost every single player on the NHL roster. However, Bruce managed to keep the wins coming, leading Boston to the Eastern Conference Championship.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.