Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 4: Boston at Carolina

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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

A trip to the Stanley Cup Finals is on the line for the Boston Bruins tonight in Game Four of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Due in part to the terrific play of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins possess a 3-0 series lead on Carolina and look to close the show here tonight.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: PNC Arena – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Home: Carolina Hurricanes (8-6)

Away: Boston Bruins: (11-5)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 2-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara is not in the lineup for Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Matt Grzelcyk moves up to replace him alongside Charlie McAvoy and John Moore comes into the lineup beside Connor Clifton on the third pairing. Tuukka Rask will be, without previous doubt, the starting goalie for Boston. For the second consecutive game, Curtis McElhinney will start for the Canes.

First Period:

Starting off right away, just over a minute into the game, Matt Grzelcyk gets his stick caught in the skates of a Hurricane forward, resulting in a two-minute minor. Boston’s penalty-kill, even without Chara, did a great job preventing zone entries and even got a shorthanded bid with a Joakim Nordstrom partial breakaway that gets stopped by McElhinney. Penalty killed off successfully.

Early on, Carolina’s shot attempts came often from the point. The Bruins were being fearless on a lot of these shots, getting their bodies in front of the puck and making sure Rask didn’t have to see anything. Good start defensively by the Black and Gold here.

Just around 12 minutes to go, the Bruins get the best chance of the game so far. Brad Marchand’s missed pass goes right to Charlie McAvoy who blasts one to the net. The shot creates a large rebound that goes to Bergeron and then to Marchand again. Marchand’s quick wrister gets gloved by an extended McElhinney.

In a tightly-contested opening frame, the Hurricanes go the penalty box for the first time in Game Four, a slashing call against Nino Niederreiter on Brad Marchand. Marchand may have helped the call by dropping his stick, but there was a clear slash on his hands. Regardless, Boston off to power-play for the first time tonight.

Boston had some really great chances to bury one on the power-play. The best chance came with less than a minute remaining on the man-advantage. Somehow, Patrice Bergeron is wide open in the slot with the puck. Instead of shooting, he fakes the shot and feeds it to Pastrnak who tried to pass him the puck right back but McElhinney’s diving stop prevents it from entering a gaping net.

Charlie Coyle gets whistled down on a weak “interference” call, ending the power-play and forcing the game to briefly go to 4-on-4, followed by a shorter man-advantage for the Canes. Thanks to some solid saves from none other than Tuukka Rask, Boston kills off that call and we return to 5-on-5.

Boston’s top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak get many opportunities to strike in the opening frame but all too often make an extra, unnecessary pass and the play is dissolved from there. More shots on net and the Bruins could very well be up 2-0 here. Nonetheless, we are scoreless after the first twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 10 CAR: 13

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Five minutes into the middle period, the Hurricanes appear to be controlling the play more than Boston. The B’s failed to get the puck out of the zone on numerous attempts and the Canes returned with shots off the rush. However, the Hurricanes get caught with six skaters on the ice at the same time and now face a minor penalty for too-many-men.

On Boston’s second man-advantage of the night, Brad Marchand races into the zone with his head up the entire time, tossing a lead pass for a reaching David Pastrnak and the Bruins get on the board first. McElhinney was convinced that Marchand was going to rip the shot and that expectancy resulted in him being slightly out of position for Pastrnak’s deflection.

Carolina’s edge that they possessed early in the frame was not as evident after the Bruins tally. Boston has had a lot more zone entries and scoring threats on the ice compared to the Canes. The frustration of the Hurricanes may be rising too, as captain Justin Williams shows frustration on a close icing call that he lost. His frustration levels have been on display all series long and he has continually said that he needs to be better. That seems to still be a work in progress.

Late in the period, Carolina has the best zone control of the game by far, passing the puck around the offensive zone but not a single shot made it’s way to Tuukka Rask. The fourth line of Nordstrom, Kuraly and Acciari were on the ice for a really long time and Carolina had their best chance to equal the score. Torey Krug was on the ice for a remarkable 2:57 and Carlo for 2:48.

Greg McKegg takes a hard rush into the zone with the exhausted Krug still on the ice, but the mobile defenceman pokes the puck before it gets to Rask. The cut from McKegg leads to him colliding with Rask in the head and he gets penalized with goaltender interference. On the ensuing power-play, Pastrnak and Bergeron exchange a beautiful give-and-go passing play to strike again, 2-0 Boston. That goal is the 17th goal on the man-advantage throughout the 2018-19 postseason for the B’s.

With that, the second period ends and the Boston Bruins are twenty minutes away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 CAR: 18 (8-4 BOS in 2nd)

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (7) PPG Assists: Marchand (11), Krug (11); Bergeron (7) PPG Assist: Pastrnak (7)

Third Period:

It is quite clear that with a two-goal lead in a possible elimination game for Boston, they are willing to play a defensive final regulation period to close this thing out. Nearly eight minutes in, neither team had a single shot on net. Carolina has taken numerous shots, although, all of their shots are coming from the point and are getting blocked or deflected wide by the bodies in front of Rask.

The best defensive forward in the National Hockey League, Patrice Bergeron creates a scramble in front of McElhinney off of a brilliant forechecking effort, stealing it from the Hurricanes defender and tossing the puck into the slot where Pastrnak hung around. The shot didn’t reach the Carolina goalie, but definitely causes frustration for Carolina.

Just past the halfway mark of the period, the Bruins know that another goal could spell the end of Carolina. With that said, the Bruins stay ferocious on the forecheck, forcing a Carolina turnover in their defensive zone, passing the puck directly to David Pastrnak who makes a clean pass over to Patrice Bergeron for his second of the game, extending Boston’s lead to three.

Justin Williams was visibly upset at the goal, as he felt that the Bruins had iced the puck just seconds before the turnover. However, the replay shows that the puck bounced off of Pastrnak’s stick after he crossed the red line meaning no icing would have been called. In addition, the linesman was right by Pastrnak and he waived off the icing. Just another case of Williams showing frustration after the goal.

Carolina’s Head Coach, Rod Brind’Amour pulled McElhinney with over five minutes left to go and following too many whistles for many different reasons, Brad Marchand races down the ice to bury the empty-net goal, 4-0 Bruins. The Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2013.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 CAR: 24

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 21 Saves, Shutout

2nd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 6 Shots, 16:42 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots

For the 20th time in franchise history, the Boston Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins are Eastern Conference Champions.

Charlie McAvoy’s Game Three Is Exactly What He And The Bruins Want Moving Forward

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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

The Boston Bruins now trail their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series with the Columbus Blue Jackets two-games-to-one and there are many different theories and ideas as to why the Bruins have lost two of the three games to the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.

Some suggest that the lack of production from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is the reason while others may think that secret or unspecified injuries are the reason. After the loss in Game Three on the road, one player was one-hundred-percent not blamed (and he really shouldn’t be if he is), defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Before Game Three, McAvoy has had a pretty solid 2019 postseason for the Bruins and he is truly showing that he can handle the big minutes that top-two defencemen in the NHL need to be able to handle. In the opening best-of-seven series against the Maple Leafs, the 21-year-old averaged 24:04 of ice-time, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points in the seven games.

Between Games One and Two in the Second Round against Columbus, McAvoy averaged 27:33 minutes, highlighted by a 30:39-minute game in the double-overtime loss back in the second game. McAvoy trailed only Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo for the most minutes in that game, but his play was something to note heading into Tuesday’s contest in Columbus.

In Game Three, Charlie played in a team-high 24 minutes, led the team in recorded hits with five, and had the third-most shots on goal by defencemen on the Bruins roster. In addition to all of that, McAvoy’s skating and puck handling was on full display, often joining the rush as almost a fourth forward, setting up high-quality scoring chances because of it. During the third period of play with Boston down 2-1 on the scoreboard, McAvoy made a slick, no-look pass to Noel Acciari that beat Sergei Bobrovsky, but rang off of the post and went into the corner.

If Acciari buries that beautiful play, the game is tied and the two teams would have most likely made their way to a third-consecutive overtime session. It was a hard break for a Boston team that let the Blue Jackets come out on home ice with a two-goal lead, but made an effort near the end of the second period and the entirety of the third to even up the score and force that overtime period.

Regardless of the outcome of the game and regardless of how the series currently stands, Charlie McAvoy did everything in his power other than scoring goals to give Boston the lead in the series. Former Bruin Riley Nash has been on the wrong end of some heavy hits by the B’s and McAvoy was yet another contributor to that. In the dying seconds of the second period, not long after DeBrusk’s tally, the Long Beach, New York native sent Nash to ice in exploding fashion with a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder collision.

Charlie McAvoy was a crucial part to the small successes that Boston found in the Game Three defeat. As previously stated, McAvoy handled the puck with ease around oncoming defenders and managed to help the Bruins secure some offensive zone time – a feat that seemed difficult to accomplish at numerous times in not only this game, but the first two meetings as well. His zone entries were clean, feet were always moving, and his passes were clean – turning the puck over on only one occasion compared to the four turnovers he committed in Game Two.

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy praised the efforts of McAvoy in the post-game press conference as well, as this quote taken from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) suggests.

“Excellent. He was all over the ice. Dominant. He wanted to be a difference-maker without being reckless. Really, really good. Charlie was a big reason why we were in the game.”

A topic that was often included in these conversations about McAvoy’s stellar performance on Tuesday night was that McAvoy usually does not play like this consistently and if he does, could be a strong asset to Boston as this series progresses further and further. Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) included that perfectly in a Tweet below.

Similar to Acciari’s post shot, McAvoy ripped one off of the red iron as well in the game. His speed and skill with the puck allowed a clean entry into Columbus’ zone, but his solid wrist shot hit the post behind a standing Bobrovsky. Just another digressive attack that demonstrated his confidence that he possessed throughout the sixty-minute hockey game.

Even in a losing effort, the end result for Charlie McAvoy could be a winning one in the long run. On July 1st, the young defender’s contract officially expires and he will become an unrestricted free-agent. As of the end of the 2018-19 regular season, McAvoy has played in 117 career NHL regular season games, amassing 14-46-60 numbers within that time span as well as 13 points in 28 NHL playoff games.

Following a recent poll on my Twitter page, 51% of voters predict McAvoy’s contract to be anywhere from $4.1 to $6 million annually, with many people suggesting that the length of the deal plays a role in that annual salary as well. The next highest percentage, at 35%, suggested a $6.1 to $7 million price gap.

On CapFriendly’s “comparable” tool on their website, I took a look at players similar to McAvoy when he will sign his new contract. Such parameters included a 21-year-old, right-handed defenceman with 60 points in 117 games making $5.5 million on a six-year contract. Of course, those numbers are going off of the Twitter results and do not result in a definite, expected number.

The best match for McAvoy according to CapFriendly is Arizona Coyotes d-man, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson signed his deal back in March of 2013 when he was 21 years of age. At the time of signing, OEK had only 56 points in 157 games played. The website’s tool has both players matching at 97.1%.

Now, my first issue with this was the idea of the points scored. With the statistics provided above, Charlie McAvoy possesses a 0.51 points-per-game average while Ekman-Larsson had only averaged 0.35 points-per-game when he signed for $5.5 million for six seasons. In response, I re-adjusted my sliders for the attributes that I wanted to be considered the most, including career games played, points, and age. Below were my top 5 results. You can also CLICK HERE for the official CapFriendly table.

  • 98.1% – ARI D Jakub Chychrun – 21yrs – 118GP – 34pts – $4.6 million/6yrs in 2018
  • 97.1% – MIN D Jonas Brodin – 21yrs – 127GP – 31pts – $4.1 million/6yrs in 2014
  • 96.7% – NJD D Adam Larsson – 21yrs – 128GP – 27pts – $900,000/1yr in 2014
  • 96.6% – MIN D Brent Burns – 21yrs – 108GP – 22pts – $825,000/2yrs in 2006
  • 96.2% – ARI D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 21yrs – 157GP – 56pts – $5.5 million/6yrs in 2013

Taking a look at the annual salaries, clearly the contracts of both Adam Larsson and Brent Burns are highly unlikely for McAvoy at this point in his career, but they do have a strong resemblance to McAvoy’s current situation. Jakub Chychrun, to me, makes the most sense. However, due to McAvoy having a significantly higher career point total as well as having a larger role on the Bruins team than Chychrun did, I personally see his contract around Ekman-Larsson’s.

For Charlie McAvoy, if his Game Three performance can be continued out for the remainder of the postseason, he can truly have some bargaining power on General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins management. For the Boston Bruins, even if they have to pay more than possibly expected at the start of the season, it is a win for them because they will have another young, solid defenceman of the future to build around once the likes of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug move on.

Tonight, the Bruins are back on the ice against the Blue Jackets in Game Four. Puck drop is currently scheduled for 7:30pm EST. Can Charlie McAvoy play as dominantly as he did only two nights ago? Will the Bruins tie the series at two, heading back to Boston? They’re all just questions, but soon, they will become answers.

NHL Player Safety Suspends Leafs Nazem Kadri For Cross-Check on Bruins Jake DeBrusk

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Mary Schwalm/The Associated Press)

The National Hockey League’s Player Safety has officially suspended Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri for the remainder of the first-round series against the Bruins for a brutal cross-check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk in the third period of Saturday night’s Game Two win over the Maple Leafs.

“This is not a hockey play. Instead, this is a player retaliating against an opponent by using his stick as a weapon to make forceful and direct head contact.”

At the 14:03 minute of the final regulation period, already down 3-1 on the scoreboard, Kadri delivered the cross-check heard by everyone watching to an unsuspected Jake DeBrusk. Just seconds prior, DeBrusk laid a borderline dirty hit on Leafs forward Patrick Marleau, hitting him into the curved glass by the benches. Kadri was looking for retaliation but took his actions to another level.

It was not just that play from DeBrusk that drove Kadri to make that hit. All throughout Game Two, both DeBrusk and Kadri were involved in quite a bit of rough play with a lot of hits, battles, and pushing before, during, and after whistles. Part of the reason could be because of the style of game the Bruins came out playing.

For the first time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston was hitting everything in sight, making hard strides on the forecheck, and getting into numerous scuffles in front of both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen. Right in the middle of a lot of these war of pushing and shoving, was Jake DeBrusk and Nazem Kadri.

Later in the game, Kadri skates out of the box after receiving a two-minute minor late in the second-period for hooking Brad Marchand, stealing the puck from David Krejci who was about to shoot the puck towards the goal. As soon as Kadri pickpockets Krejci, he collides hard with DeBrusk. In full speed at that time, it appeared to be a clean body hit, but slowed down the knee of DeBrusk was the point of contact and sent Kadri flying in the air.

Kadri stayed on the ice for a while, clearly shaken up by the collision, but also possibly looking for a penalty. Unfortunately for him and the Maple Leafs, no penalty was handed to DeBrusk whatsoever, ensuring some justifiable outrage by the Toronto fan base. Kadri ended up returning to the game for Toronto, scoring their only goal on a slick deflection off of a Travis Dermott point shot, beating Rask in the third period.

Being it 3-1 in the third period, the Leafs were putting on some great control on Boston, gaining some in-zone chances and looking the best they looked all night long. For a moment in time, Toronto had a true chance at making a push for a comeback. We all know that a three-goal lead is not 100% safe in today’s NHL, even more so in the playoffs.

With six minutes left in the third period, Leafs forward Patrick Marleau attempts to bring the puck into the Bruins defensive zone along the boards right beside the bench area. The veteran forward is met by DeBrusk who finishes his check into the stanchion, (where the boards become smaller for the benches). The hit had similarities to the infamous hit by Zdeno Chara to former Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.

Thankfully, Marleau was not injured on the play, but Kadri just happened to see the play from the view of the ice and quite possibly had the memories of seeing Pacioretty go down as did everyone else. Additionally, when Kadri saw the #74 on DeBrusk’s sweater, the anger of the missed knee-on-knee call as well as the frustration of the game could all have been motivating factors. However, NHL Player Safety said the following regarding the retaliation aspect, also noting the Marleau hit was legal:

“While we understand that Kadri took offense to DeBrusk’s hit against Marleau, players are simply not permitted to flagrantly violate league playing rules because they feel that retribution is justified.”

The Maple Leafs will be without Nazem Kadri for the remainder of the first round but will have his services back if they eliminate the Bruins in their best-of-seven series. Therefore, his suspension is a minimum of three games and a maximum of five games. Do you agree? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

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Boston Bruins Playoff Preview: Round 1 – Game 3

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

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

After a pair of games in Boston, the first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs officially makes its way to Toronto, Canada for Game Three. The Bruins tied the series on Saturday with a 4-1 victory after losing Game One by the same score on Thursday.

Game Three Information:

Arena: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Home: Toronto Maple Leafs

Away: Boston Bruins

Series: 1-1

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 1-1-0 .937 SV% 2.02 GAA Last Game: 30 Saves in 4-1 win vs TOR

TOR: Frederik Andersen 1-1-0 .937 SV% 2.50 GAA Last Game: 37 Saves in 4-1 loss vs TOR

Projected Bruins Lineup:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Backes

Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Kampfer

Per reports from Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, forward Jake DeBrusk and defenceman Torey Krug will be in the lineup for Game Three. DeBrusk took a cross-check to the head by Nazem Kadri, who is facing an in-person hearing today and left the game while Krug left Game Two after taking a massive hit from Jake Muzzin. Connor Clifton (upper-body) is out, Kampfer to replace him and Marcus Johansson remains out with an illness.

Who’s Hot

Charlie Coyle scored the game’s first goal on Saturday, ultimately giving the Bruins the confidence to continue out the game, but his play has been consistent throughout the series so far. Even in the loss in Game One, Coyle had numerous chances and opportunities to score but just could not bury one and he continued that in the second game. With the loss of Leafs’ third line centre, Nazem Kadri, Coyle’s role could be all the more important.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Frederik Andersen may have allowed four goals on Saturday night, but he was one of the only good things that came from Toronto in their Game Two loss. Andersen stopped 37 of the 41 shots Boston threw at him, making some big saves throughout the entire game in order to keep it within reach for the Maple Leafs. If Andersen can continue to be hot in the net at home in the Scotiabank Arena, then the Leafs could have the momentum moving forward.

Jake DeBrusk does not have a point in either of the two games, but his usual work-horse attitude and play were present in both games, but especially in Game Two. DeBrusk managed to get under the skin of Kadri, resulting in the terrible cross-check by the Leafs forward. Jake had four hits on the night and was a beast on the forecheck, as he often is during gametime. It is only a matter of time for when that first goal comes.

Mitch Marner was held to zero points in Game Two, but in Game One, it was all him, scoring a pair of goals including a short-handed penalty shot past Tuukka Rask. Marner played 20:28 on Saturday night with over six minutes of speciality team time as well. Mitch could arguably be the biggest threat for the Bruins defence for the entirety of the series.

Who’s Not

William Nylander has had a rough 2018-19 season in general, with all the contract issues and then the lack of production once he started to play again, but that was only amplified on Saturday night in Boston, as he found himself on the wrong end of too many negative plays, including a terrible mishap that led to Heinen’s 3-0 goal for the B’s. The young forward also had a team-high three giveaways during his 13:56 TOI. Nylander was skating down the middle on the Leafs’ third line, replacing Kadri.

For all of the players that were struggling on the Bruins after the first game, did much better for the second. Every single player on the Bruins roster played their part and did their job to ultimately get the win and tie the series at one apiece. Boston will look to continue that ideology moving forward into Game Three.

Jake Muzzin had a terrible night on the Leafs blue line and only had one good play – a huge hit that injured Torey Krug. Other than that, Muzzin turned the puck over twice (on the statsheet), and made a crucial error that led to Marchand’s first-period tally. When Torey Krug lofted a puck up the ice, Muzzin tried to grab it with his hand, missing, leading to a 2-on-1 for Pastrnak and Marchand, leading to one of the best goals so far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Muzzin is supposed to be the best defenceman on the roster for Toronto and he needs to be better.

Bruins vs Leafs – Game Three Outlook

The script was flipped on Saturday when the Bruins came back from a dismal Game One to dominate for a 4-1 final score. A change from Game One, the Bruins were aggressive on the forecheck and made a successful hit on every Leafs player that moved at any place on the ice. Even players like David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk were throwing the body.

The physical play of Boston kept the Leafs weary and afraid to push into the zone further, as a lot of their shots on goal came from the point and far along the boards. Their only goal came off of a deflection from one of these point shots and that strategy could be evident in Game Three.

Boston’s shots came right around the net of Frederik Andersen, mainly due to the turnovers on breakout passes by the Maple Leafs defenseman. One of the best chances that did not cross the red line came off of a turnover in the slot, leading to a David Krejci shot and a rebound from Heinen that was robbed by Andersen.

Regardless, the goaltenders of both teams will need to be on fire once again and the defence will need to prevent chances. No matter how far this series goes, that narrative will be the case for both franchises. Toronto will also have the home-ice for the first time this postseason, so expect an energetic Toronto crowd.

Game Three puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

—–> Click Here To Get Your Boston Bruins First Round Stanley Cup Playoff Tickets From The Great Folks at SeatGiant! <—-

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 2: Toronto at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

After losing the first game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins are back in the TD Garden on Saturday night for Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, down the series 1-0. On Thursday, Boston failed to generate good offensive opportunities and played poor on defence, allowing too many breakaways. Changes need to come in order to equalize this series.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (0-1)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (1-0)

Last Game Result: Maple Leafs won 4-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup

David Backes enters the lineup for the first time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and forward Marcus Johansson is out with an illness. Jake DeBrusk is, in fact, in the lineup after being a game-time decision earlier today.

First Period:

The Bruins needed to come out with something to play for in the beginning stages of Game Two and they did exactly that. Only five minutes in the game, Boston is in full control. Hard aggressiveness on the dump-and-chase with some hard hits on anyone and everyone. As many other fans are saying on Twitter, the Bruins are playing the most physical hockey to begin any game in 2018-19. Great start to this big game.

Boston’s hard, physical play early paid off when David Backes found Charlie Coyle close in front of the net, burying it past Andersen to take a 1-0 lead early for Boston. Great forecheck by Backes to win the puck battle behind the Toronto net to find Coyle who shot before Andersen managed to locate the puck.

On the opposite side, the Leafs seemingly can’t get an early edge on the Bruins defence who is taking control on their individual man and shutting down the offence. The numbers just around halfway through the opening period were well in favour of Boston and the frustration level may have started to set in for Toronto.

Nazem Kadri and Jake DeBrusk got into a scuffle on the ice, resulting in offsetting 2-minute roughing minors. The intensity and tenacity of both Original Six rivals are growing by the second in this Game Two, making for a brilliant game thus far. On the 4-on-4, Auston Matthews drives hard around Rask, going for a wrap-around, but Rask keeps his pad tight to the post, keeping it out.

Surprisingly, David Krejci has been great at laying hits himself early on. On one rush by Gauthier, Krejci puts him to his back with a clean check along the boards. Not long after that, Travis Dermott holds DeBrusk on the boards, no holding penalty called, but DeBrusk answers the bell with some shoving back. Kadri in the middle of it again. DeBrusk is fiesty and aggressive tonight and it’s working so far.

With around four minutes left to trail in the first, Torey Krug fires a pass up the ice, a pass that is missed by Jake Muzzin, going right to David Pastrnak. Pastrnak makes a beautiful 180-pass to Brad Marchand who fakes the shot and buries it past a sprawling Frederik Andersen. That is how dangerous that duo and that line can be together. 2-0 Bruins.

Just as we approached the final minute of the period, David Pastrnak lays a hard, heavy hit on Jake Muzzin along the end boards, but the referees around the hit noticed it was a charge and Pastrnak is off to the box for two minutes. Toronto can’t build anything on the limited power-play and the energetic first period comes to a close there.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 TOR: 7

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Coyle (1) Assists: Backes (1); Marchand (1) Assists: Pastrnak (1), Krug (2)

Second Period:

Right away, the Bruins keep the hard play on Toronto, forcing mistakes including a Muzzin turnover that nearly leads to a Pastrnak to Marchand goal. Each and every time that Toronto tries to enter the zone, they are shut down and when they do get off a shot, it misses the net or is easily stopped by Rask.

Later in the frame, the hits keep on coming. Just as Pastrnak puts John Tavares to the ice, Jake Muzzin demolished Torey Krug into the sideboards as Krug’s helmet flew off. Krug’s head appeared to hit the boards and he stayed on all fours for an extended amount of time before needing help up to the dressing room. Krug tried to get up on his own, but he stumbles – does not look good at all.

Immediately after the TV timeout, William Nylander makes an atrocious error around his own net, leaving the puck right for Danton Heinen to tap it past a clueless Andersen. Nylander taps Andersen on the pads as he skates by as that is all his fault. Bruins make it 3-0.

The frustration of the Maple Leafs comes out, even more, when Freddy Gauthier goes to the box for roughing as some more pushing and shoving happens after the whistle. On the first power-play of the night for Boston, the B’s get many high-quality scoring chances on an exhausted Leafs penalty-kill unit. Right as the PP ended, David Krejci picks off a puck in the slot, but Heinen’s rebound on his shot is robbed by Andersen – huge save to keep it a three-goal game.

With less than five minutes to go in the second, captain Zdeno Chara flips the puck up and over the glass, causing the dreaded delay-of-game penalty and Toronto heads to a man-advantage of their own. Toronto only gets 1:20 of actual power-play time before Kadri gets called on a hooking minor and it will be 4-on-4 for 40 seconds before heading to a Bruins power-play.

Nothing happened on either opportunity, but when Kadri exits the box, he briefly strips Krejci of the puck before getting rocketed into the air by Jake DeBrusk. It looks like contact was to Kadri’s knee and he remains down on the ice before heading to the locker room. This game is getting uglier by the minute. With that, the period concludes – one more period to play.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 TOR: 16

Score: 3-0 Bruins – Goals: Heinen (1) Unassisted

Third Period:

Not letting off the gas, the top line of the Boston Bruins look to extend the lead to four early in the third, with Brad Marchand getting the best chance on the side of Andersen, but the Leafs goaltender sees him and makes a solid glove save to keep it 3-0.

Five minutes in, Krejci gets involved with some hard pushing after Tuukka makes a save, but he goes a bit too far in the eyes of the refs and the Bruins are going to the penalty box for two minutes. On the penalty-kill, the Bruins made some good plays and cleared the puck effectively, killing it off entirely.

Toronto had the pressure in the third, showing the desperate attitude they need and with 9:16 remaining, they finally strike. Kadri, who is back after his knee incident, perfectly deflects a Dermott point shot to score and make it a 3-1 game.

Another Bruin defenceman, Connor Clifton, leaves the ice and heads to the room after taking a shot from Kadri. Boston can’t afford to lose too many players on the blueline with Kevan Miller and John Moore already out of the lineup.

Later on in the frame, Kadri makes a dirty play, cross-checking DeBrusk square in the head, dropping Jake to the ice. A very dirty play from Kadri and like most agree, will be suspended for this. In response, Kadri is handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

On the long power-play, Bergeron finds a rebound, firing the puck past the red line, making it a 4-1 Boston lead with over four minutes remaining on that man-advantage.

Frederik Andersen is still playing hard in this game, regardless of the score late in the third, as he robs David Krejci cold in front of the net with a sprawling glove save. The team around him is failing to help him out and you know Mike Babcock doesn’t like that from his squad. But, the Boston Bruins win Game Two, 4-1 the final score.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 41 TOR: 31

Score: 4-1 Bruins – Series Tied 1-1

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 6 Shots, 20:00 TOI

2nd Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 30 Saves, .968 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Charlie Coyle – 1 Goal, +2 Rating, 3 Shots, 16:00 TOI

Game Three is Monday in Toronto.

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Boston Bruins Playoffs Preview: Round 1 – Game 1

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

It’s Stanley Cup Playoff time, baby.

For the 16th time in league history, the Boston Bruins will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six, best-of-seven series in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Coming into the postseason, the Bruins and the Leafs have been atop the regular season standings for much of the year, with the Bruins finishing second in the Atlantic division and third in the NHL. The Maple Leafs concluded the 2018-19 campaign third in the Atlantic but finished as the seventh-best team in the NHL’s league standings.

Game One Information:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (49-24-9)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8)

Series: 0-0

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 27-13-5 .912 SV% 2.48 GAA Last Game: 16 Saves in 6-3 loss to TBL

TOR: Frederik Andersen 36-16-7 .917 SV% 2.77 GAA Last Game: 44 Saves in 6-5 loss to MTL

Boston Bruins Starting Lineup:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman 

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton 

Who’s Hot

Brad Marchand has had an incredible 2018-19 season for not only the Bruins but himself as well. The Nova Scotia native hit the 100-point plateau to become the first player in a Bruins sweater since Joe Thornton to hit such mark. Dating back to March 1st, Marchand has 10-15-25 numbers within those sixteen games and he looks to continue that dominance against Toronto.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (tsn.ca)

In that same time span, it was offseason signing John Tavares that led the Maple Leafs in points since the beginning of March, scoring eleven goals, nine assists, for 20 points in 18 games played. Tavares finished the year with 47-41-88 numbers in a full 82-game season, the highest single-season point total in his entire NHL career that dates back to the 2009-10 season.

Patrice Bergeron has been quite hot for the Bruins all season – as usual. The 33-year-old Canadian set a new career-high with 79 points on the season. Bergeron has scored ten goals and helped out on eleven others for 21 totals points in the last 17 games since March 1st. Bergeron’s linemates David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have been reaping the benefits from Bergeron’s stellar season offensively and defensively.

Mitch Marner will be the next Maple Leaf to have some serious contract issues to sort out once the playoffs conclude but in the meantime, Marner will continue to be a serious threat to the opposing defence and goaltenders for years to come. Marner tallied 4-15-19 numbers in the last fifteen games he played in, extending his season totals to 26-68-94 in all of the 82 games. Along with Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, Hyman, and so on, the Leafs possess a dangerous offensive core for the Bruins.

Who’s Not

Frederik Andersen has been one of the biggest question marks for Toronto’s playoff run in 2018-19. Numerous analysts and broadcasters of the sport agree that Andersen needs to be the best player on not only the Maple Leafs but on both teams if Toronto wants to advance to Round Two. However, since March 1st, Andersen is 6-3-4 with a .898 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against-average. Those are well below the numbers required from him in this best-of-seven series against Boston.

The goalie on the opposite end of the arena tonight – Tuukka Rask – has not been fantastic either. Rask has a 6-5-0 record in his last eleven starts, possessing a .881 save percentage and a 2.89 GAA. Rask has had a good overall campaign for the B’s, but he too will need to be on the top of his game in order to win four games against the Leafs. Tuukka will be depended on in some of these upcoming games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Nazem Kadri has fallen down the depth charts in Toronto ever since John Tavares walked into the dressing room, but he is still depended on by the Leafs management in order to produce some depth scoring for the Maple Leafs. With that said, Kadri only has a single goal in the last 14 games played and has a -3 rating in that time as well.

Bruins vs Leafs – Game One Outlook

From the beginning of the season back in October, it was assumed that the Boston Bruins would once again battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. While both franchises made changes in the offseason, they still did not match up well on paper to overtake the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top divisional spot in the Atlantic and that is exactly what turned out to be the case.

The Bruins finished second in the Atlantic, with Toronto only seven points behind in the third position. As we prepare to go to war for what is likely to be another seven-game series, it is important to remember that you may not have any fingernails remaining when one team eventually gets eliminated – this series is going to be close.

The Bruins will look to score first and keep it going from there as they have found previous success during the regular season when doing so, finishing with a combined record of 34-7-5 when scoring the game’s first goal. However, Toronto will look to do the same thing and quiet down the roaring Bruins home crowd in the TD Garden.

Either way, it will all come down to the men in between the pipes. Whoever plays the best in the crease will come out victorious tonight and most likely in the series as that is how it has been over the course of their history as Original Six franchises.

Nonetheless, we are oh-so-close to the 7:10pm EST puck drop in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Get ready, it’s about to get fun.

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A Look Back On The Boston Bruins’ 2018-19 Regular Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press)

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

With the final game on April 6th, the Boston Bruins officially ended their 2018-19 regular season and now look ahead to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting Thursday, April 11th in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against none other than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The regular season was a long, winding roller-coaster for the Bruins. Injuries, droughts, streaks, and points were all in the recipe that created the story that was this season and somehow, the fans of the Black and Gold did not fall to the ground numerous times throughout this time due to the constant breath-taking events.

Standings & Team Statistics

Looking at face value, the Boston Bruins ended the 82-game season with 49 wins, 24 losses and nine more losses in post-regulation play. Their 107 points earned them the third spot in the entire league, behind the Tampa Bay Lightning who dominated with an incredible 62-16-4 record – winning the President’s Trophy and the Calgary Flames, who finished with same points as Boston, but managed to finish with three more regulation plus overtime wins (ROW).

The Bruins scored the 11th most goals in the league, tallying a total of 257 goals for an average of 3.13 goals-for-per-game. On the other side of the puck, the goaltenders of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak helped the Bruins finish in the top 3 for least number of goals allowed in the entire season, allowing just 212 goals against, an average of 2.59 goals-against-per-game. More specifically, the Bruins trailed only the New York Islanders for least even-strength goals against (148).

Specialty teams were one of the biggest strengths for Boston and they remain that way heading into the post-season. Boston concluded the ’18/’19 campaign with a 25.9% success rate on the power-play, the third best in the National Hockey League. However, the B’s did allow a league-leading 15 short-handed goals against, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The penalty kill was not terrific for a top-3 NHL team, but that could also be due to the large mass of injuries to the blue line that hindered the defensive consistency of Boston. The Bruins have the 16th-best PK percentage, killing off just under 80% of the penalties they took. Regarding on penalties, the Bruins took the second-highest penalties-per-game, averaging 9.7 penalty minutes during the course of the season, behind only the New York Rangers.

Player Statistics

Even with all of the injuries throughout the regular season, the Bruins still managed to do quite well on an individual basis as many skaters and goaltenders set new career-highs and played some of the best hockey of their NHL career. Players that are included within the following section are players that are likely to play in the first-round series or have had an impact on the team. AHL players and some rookies, as well as traded players, will not be included.

Forwards:

  • Brad Marchand – 79GP – 36-64-100
  • David Pastrnak – 66GP- 38-43-81
  • Patrice Bergeron – 65GP – 32-47-79
  • David Krejci – 81GP – 20-53-73
  • Jake DeBrusk – 68GP – 27-15-42
  • Danton Heinen – 77GP – 11-23-34
  • Sean Kuraly – 71GP – 8-13-21
  • David Backes – 70GP – 7-13-20
  • Chris Wagner – 76GP – 12-7-19
  • Noel Acciari – 72GP – 6-8-14
  • Joakim Nordstrom – 70GP – 7-5-12
  • Charlie Coyle – 21GP – 2-4-6
  • Karson Kuhlman – 11GP – 3-2-5
  • Marcus Johansson – 10GP – 1-2-3

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron all set new career-highs in almost every category and that line proved that even with the absence of some of them, can produce at a high-level and they are truly one of the best lines in all of hockey today. Below that, David Krejci assisted on 53 goals and Jake DeBrusk nearly hit the 30-goal mark. Both of those two can add some much-needed depth scoring in the playoffs.

Trade deadline acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson have not been as amazing as may be hoped, but both have had to deal with a brand new system and brand of hockey in addition to Johansson missing games due to a lung contusion. Forward Karson Kuhlman has been great, scoring five points in eleven games and has been reliable for replacing the injured forwards on the roster.

Defencemen:

The devastating injuries ran hard through the defensive core of the B’s, forcing the club to use twelve different defenders throughout the year, with only one of them playing more than 70 games (Brandon Carlo – 72GP). Even heading into the best-of-seven series against the Maple Leafs, the Bruins will be without John Moore and Kevan Miller for a good portion of the series.

  • Torey Krug – 64GP – 6-47-53
  • Charlie McAvoy – 54GP – 7-21-28
  • Matt Grzelcyk – 66GP – 3-15-18
  • Zdeno Chara – 62GP – 5-9-14
  • John Moore – 61GP – 4-9-13
  • Brandon Carlo – 72GP – 2-8-10
  • Kevan Miller – 39GP – 0-7-7
  • Steven Kampfer – 35GP – 3-3-6
  • Jeremy Lauzon – 16GP – 1-0-1
  • Connor Clifton – 19GP – 0-1-1
  • Urho Vaakanainen – 2GP – 0-0-0
  • Jakub Zboril – 2GP – 0-0-0

Torey Krug has been what he has been for the last few years – a good offensive defenseman that is deadly on the power-play. Krug is the quarterback of the Bruins man-advantage and he knows how to feed the forwards on the ice, a characteristic represented by his 47 assists on the season.

Other than that, when the players have been healthy and on the ice, they have been pretty good for the most part. It seems that health will be the biggest deciding factor for the Bruins’ defense versus Toronto.

Goaltenders:

I recently wrote an article on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website about the work of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak and how the combination of the two could be the biggest advantage that the Bruins have against the Leafs for the postseason series. You can check out that piece HERE.

  • Tuukka Rask – 45GS – 27-13-5 .912 SV% 2.48 GAA 4 Shutouts
  • Jaroslav Halak – 37GS – 22-11-4 .922 SV% 2.34 GAA 5 Shutouts

Both Rask and Halak have statistics in the top ten of the league in all of the main goaltending categories including goals-against-average and save percentage. While Tuukka is the deserving starting man in between the pipes, Halak is a great second option if the play of Rask falters at all throughout the series.

Boston Bruins vs. NHL

With one win shy of 50 wins on the season, the Boston Bruins picked up victories over every single team in the NHL except for two – the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks. Other than that, the Bruins had at least one victory over everyone, with some of them being clean season series sweeps.

Boston won the season series over the Ottawa Senators (4 games), New York Islanders (3 games), Vegas Golden Knights (2 games), San Jose Sharks (2 games), Minnesota Wild (2 games), Los Angeles Kings (2 games), Chicago Blackhawks (2 games), Arizona Coyotes (2 games), and the Anaheim Ducks (2 games).

Boston found success over the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs, sealing 75% of the possible points in the season series when it was all said and done. In fact, Boston ended the season matchups with four of the five other Original Six franchises with an above .500 point percentage, with only the Detroit Red Wings beating Boston in the four-game series in 2018-19.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins scored the majority of their goals in the second period, tallying 93 total goals in the middle twenty minutes. Aside from that, they allowed the most goals in the third period (79).

When the B’s managed to score the game’s first goal, they found great success, finishing the season with a 34-7-5 record. Looking at the other side of the coin, Boston had a 15-17-4 record when the opposing team scored the first tally of the contest, something to be noted heading into the playoffs.

Injury Report (April 10th)

  • F Sean Kuraly – Hand – Will not play Game 1, could return later in series
  • D John Moore – Upper-Body – Will not play Game 1, could return later in series
  • D Kevan Miller – Lower-Body – Unlikely to miss the start of the postseason
  • F Chris Wagner – Lower-Body – Cleared for Game 1

Without further ado, that is the entire 2018-19 NHL regular season all wrapped up and finished. The Boston Bruins begin their road to their first Stanley Cup since 2011 Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. For a full preview on the best-of-seven series, check out fellow BNG Site writer, Yanni Latzanakis’ article HERE.

May the best team win.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Rask & Halak Combination Biggest Advantage For Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Globe)

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

In the sport of ice hockey, goaltending is one of the most important aspects of the game. Quite often, in the National Hockey League, games are won specifically because of a solid performance in net by the goalie. This season, we have seen that numerous times throughout the league for many different teams.

In Boston, Tuukka Rask has been the number one goalie for the majority of the past decade and he has, for the most part, been a solid goalie, earning that spot over many solid seasons. Following the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup run that resulted in them winning the prestigious trophy, Tuukka Rask took over from Tim Thomas – the Conn Smythe winner.

Rask has played in 494 games in the Boston Bruins sweater after being traded to Boston in 2006 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs that sent Andrew Raycroft to the capital city of Ontario. Rask made his NHL debut against the franchise that drafted him in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced that night.

Since that initial taste of NHL experience, the 32-year-old Finnish goaltender now has 265 wins, 150 losses, 58 ties/shootout/overtime losses, and 45 shutouts. Among that, Rask holds numerous franchise records including most career wins (265), most career saves (12,591), and save percentage (.922). Tuukka is also in the top ten for the majority of the major statistical categories that are being tracked.

In the 2018-19 season, Rask has a 27-13-5 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against-average in 46 games started. Tuukka has only one game played against the Maple Leafs this season – stopping 30 of the 32 shots against him in a 3-2 win over Toronto on January 12th. While Rask has had a solid season, he has had a few games, like every goaltender, that are below average.

On five occasions, Rask allowed five goals in a single game and was pulled from the net in two of them. On the flip side, Rask has four shutouts and an impressive eleven games allowing only one goal. In each of those games, the Bruins won or lost in overtime or a shootout.

Early on, Rask failed to find his consistent game that we are used to seeing, but thankfully, the Bruins had some serious help behind him – Jaroslav Halak.

Halak joined the Bruins on the first day of free agency in this past offseason, signing a two-year deal worth $2.75 million annually. It confirmed that Halak will play in his 13th NHL season – the first in Boston. Within the 40 games he’s played in, Jaroslav has helped the Bruins earn 46 points in his 22 wins and four post-regulation losses in addition to his 11 regulation losses that he amounted to this year.

At 33 years of age, Halak is having his best season in the net since the 2009-10 season when he finished the year with a 26-13-5 record, a .924 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA with the Montreal Canadiens. The Bratislava, Czechoslovakia native is top ten in both of the main goalie stats in the entire league and he is continuing to play at that level, picking up his fifth shutout of the season in Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Wild.

With a quick trip over to Toronto, their goaltending situation right now is not nearly as sturdy as the Bruins appear to be. That fact only got more interesting on Friday when news that backup goaltender Garret Sparks’ equipment is no longer in the Leafs’ dressing room and Toronto Marlies goalie, Michael Hutchinson was recalled by the organization to play in the big leagues.

Put all of that into the same idea that starting netminder Frederik Andersen has not been consistently good for the past couple months and the worry can begin to form for the Maple Leafs with the playoffs only about a week away. Frederik Andersen is expected to get every single one of the starts in-goal if it goes seven games, that could be an issue if say, injuries or poor play take control.

Andersen started in sixty games in 2018-19, the eight most of all goaltenders in the National Hockey League. Andersen did win 36 games this season with 16 regulation losses and seven shootout or overtime losses. The Herning, Denmark native played in the least amount of games in a single season for the Leafs after two consecutive seasons with 66 games in the crease.

With that, Andersen finished the year with the worst save percentage (.917) of his three-year career in Toronto along with a 2.77 GAA and only one shutout on the campaign. In the last ten games, however, has been where Maple Leafs fans have been in a little doubt. Andersen has a 3-3-3 record with a .881 save percentage and allowed 35 goals, an average of 3.50 goals against per game. In three of those games, ‘Freddy’ allowed five or more goals and only allowed two or less goals four times in those ten games.

Andersen has had some rough games in the postseason as well, but still has a winning 22-16-0 record combined over five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs. In the Blue and White, Andersen has lost eight games, winning four. Three of those wins came against the Bruins last year, the other against Washington in the 2016-17 first round.

On five different occasions, Andersen allowed five or more goals against in the playoffs, three of which coming with the Maple Leafs – two against Boston. Andersen can be very hot too as he remains one of the better goaltenders overall in the NHL, but his consistency causes some concern for management and the fans alike. The Bruins cannot take him lightly as he can very well steal a few games at any point in the series.

In the past, Tuukka Rask has had some questionable games and has needed to be better in times as well. All goalies in the NHL must deal with having a rough outing, but need to have the adversity to bounce back the very next game and win it for the himself and more importantly, the team.

In Boston, however, if Rask fails to meet the standards that will need to bet met against Toronto, then the hope is that Halak can come in and “save the day”. While it would be preferred that Rask does not falter, it is always great to have a Plan B. There could also be the reality that Rask plays all seven games (if needed), even if he does have a few stinkers. That was the case last season, but it seems like Bruce Cassidy has higher trust in Halak than he did with Anton Khudobin last season.

The Maple Leafs are solely relying on Frederik Andersen. With the not-so-distant memories somewhere in his head, the pressure is clearly on him. He needs to be on his very best game and then some and everyone knows it. The same goes for Tuukka and Jaroslav. The two, three, or even four goaltenders in this series need to have the right frame of mind to come out victorious and get into the second round against either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Columbus Blue Jackets. Whoever is on the winning side of the handshake line, will have won because of the man in between the posts.

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How Will The Bruins Fare In Round One Of The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

With an overall record of 46-21-9, the Boston Bruins’ 101-point season thus far puts them in a tie with the Calgary Flames for the second-best franchise in the entire National Hockey League. An unexpected feat when the season began back in October, but this group of hard-working, tenacious players have battled through injuries, losses, and setbacks to be one of the best in the league today. If you were to track the Bruins’ progress throughout the season, you can see that they are now in the top three contenders for the Stanley Cup. They weren’t always in the top three so to see them where they are at now, it’s incredible.

On Saturday, the Bruins officially clinched a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 7-3 crushing of the Florida Panthers. With that said, it only further confirms that the Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet in the opening round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Do these two match up the same or will new history be created this time around?

Scoring

On paper, both teams have the skill to not only score a few goals but to score a lot of goals. On the Bruins, the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak have such amazing chemistry together that it almost seems that they know the exact position of each other on the ice at all times. All three of them reached the 30-goal plateau this season, and all three of them are having some of the best seasons of their NHL careers.

Following behind them, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk also have chemistry together – to the point where they thrive off of each other, even though they are different players. Krejci tends to slow down the game and make smart, tape-to-tape passes to his teammate to set up a slick goal. To his left, Jake DeBrusk possesses a great shot with blazing speed and aggressiveness on the puck. Their two styles blend perfectly on most nights, and it has paid off.

Although the Bruins have and continue to have issues with consistent scoring from their entire bottom-six forwards, they do have one of the best fourth-lines in the league today. So much so, that the Acciari, Kuraly, Wagner line has seen third-line minutes quite often during the year so far. The three members of that line drive on rushes, make aggressive plays on the forecheck and even lay a few hits on the opposing team as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Statistically, the Bruins are in the top half in the league for most goals for, but if the injuries were not a factor throughout the year, that number would be a lot higher.

With the offseason addition of John Tavares, the Maple Leafs are still a threat offensively as well. They are top five in the NHL for most goals for scored and they have depth scoring throughout all four lines. Mitch Marner leads the teams in points with 25-65-90 numbers in 76 games this season.

The biggest threat may be the center position with Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Nazem Kadri all down the middle. You have to expect that Tavares will try to be more dominant because it is his first playoff series with his new team and the playoffs are without a doubt the most important time to shine. Toronto has more depth and more consistent scoring the further down you go.

Both Boston and Toronto have the power to score five or more goals in a single 60-minute game, and it creates a true challenge for the opposing defense and goaltending. However, on paper and statistically speaking, Toronto takes this category, but it is a very close one.

Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs

Defense

The Boston Bruins have used an incredible twelve defencemen throughout the season thus far, compared to Toronto’s nine. Boston’s defense, when healthy, looks like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, and either Matt Grzelcyk or John Moore. More often than not, however, we have not seen this blue line core 100% healthy.

Out of those seven players listed for the Bruins, only one of them has a minus rating, (Torey Krug, -3), but Krug does have a team-high 48 points on the year from the back-end, and he is always a threat on the power-play. He is arguably one of the reasons why Boston currently has the third-best man-advantage success rate in the entire league and has been within the top five for the majority of the season.

The B’s d-men possess some solid offensive talents with Krug, McAvoy, Grzelcyk, and Moore, but they also bring a solid toughness and physicality with 6-foot-9, 250-pound captain Zdeno Chara and 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kevan Miller. Between those two men alone, fear can be set among other teams in the NHL and has done so when they are together on the ice. Brandon Carlo can fit into the physical spectrum as well, but can also add some extra points when needed to.

For Toronto, the defensive side of the puck has been a weakness for some time now, mainly due to the stacked offensive core that we have previously discussed. Morgan Rielly leads the defencemen with 20-48-68 numbers in 75 games played, followed by Jake Gardiner (29 points) and Ron Hainsey (22 points).

That is great, and all, but the blueliners on the Maple Leafs have been a liability as some of the Bruins have as well. Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and Jake Gardiner have had their questionable moments in a game before, some of which Bruins fans will remember as well, (Gardiner’s mistake led to DeBrusk’s game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2018 Playoffs). That was and continues to be a concern for the Blue and White.

In January, General Manager Kyle Dubas traded for a d-man Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings, a move that made Toronto’s depth on defense a lot better. Muzzin has 5-11-16 numbers in 27 contests with the Leafs, averaging just over twenty minutes on ice per game.

The Bruins allow an average of 2.48 goals-against-per-game, third in the league while the Leafs allow an average of 2.97 goals-against-per-game, 16th in the league. For that and the depth that Boston has shown with the injuries faced, the defensive side of the equation goes to Boston.

Winner: Boston Bruins

Goaltending

The last of the three categories is the most crucial of them all. When all of the offense fails, and the two defenders on the ice cannot prevent the puck from advancing, there is only one man who can make a last effort to stop the puck from crossing the goal line – the goaltender.

Last season, during the 2018 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, it was an intense battle between Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen. Although this season, times may be different. Boston has seen success with both Rask and offseason acquisition Jaroslav Halak, who could be a possible winner for the annual 7th Player Award.

Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has nearly split the games started between the two netminders with Rask starting 42 games and Halak starting 37 games before Monday’s game against the Lightning. Jaroslav Halak is fifth in the league for best goals-against-average (2.31 GAA) while Rask is 7th with a 2.35 GAA. The two are the second-highest ranked duo in the league, behind only Lehner and Griess on the Islanders. Rask and Halak are both also top fifteen in save percentage.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Global News)

Frederik Andersen has played 55 games this year and is 24th in the NHL for GAA (2.72), and 13th for save percentage (.918). Garret Sparks most likely will not get any starts in the playoffs as he boasts an 8-7-0 record with a 3.16 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 15 games started.

Rask and Andersen have had issues in playoff scenarios before, but the hope for Boston is that if Rask does struggle, Halak can keep the team going, as he has done in the 2018-19 regular season. That in addition to the on-paper statistics being in favor of the Bruins, this category goes to Boston.

Winner: Boston Bruins

2018-19 Season Series

Game 1: November 10th, 2018 – Bruins def. Maple Leafs 5-1 (BOS: Pastrnak x3, Bergeron, Nordstrom – Halak 41 Saves; TOR: Tavares – Sparks 29 Saves)

Game 2: November 26th, 2018 – Maple Leafs def Bruins 4-2 (BOS: Pastrnak x2 – Halak 27 Saves; TOR: Dermott, Hyman, Leivo, Ozhiganov – Andersen 38 Saves)

Game 3: December 8th, 2018 – Bruins def Maple Leafs 6-3 (BOS: Backes, Donato, Krug, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Krejci, Heinen – Halak 29 Saves; TOR: Dermott, Johnsson, Matthews – Andersen 6 GA, 22 Saves, Sparks 4 Saves)

Game 4: January 12th, 2019 – Bruins def Maple Leafs 3-2 (BOS: Krejci, Kuraly, Pastrnak – Rask 32 Saves; TOR: Marner, Johnsson – Hutchinson 26 Saves)

In the four games against the Maple Leafs this season, the Black and Gold won three of them and lost only one game. The Bruins outscored the Leafs 16-10 within those games, including a six-goal performance on December 8th. David Pastrnak scored six goals in four games versus Toronto by himself.

Boston failed to score more than two goals in that series only one time, and it was the sole game that they lost. In that loss, Frederik Andersen stopped 38 of 40 shots against to seal the deal for Toronto.

Each and every one of those games had a type of intensity and energy that is not as present when either team plays another team. The Bruins did take the season series this year, three games to one, but the Leafs can very well perform better or worse come playoff time, and the same can be said for the B’s.

Winner: Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins, on paper, win three of the four categories that I have listed here today. With that said, that can all essentially be thrown out the window once the puck drops to signify the start to Game One as both teams will gain a brand new intensity and momentum that the playoffs bring.

If you are planning on making a wager on this series, I would recommend a prediction of seven games, at least. Either one of them can take the series at any given time, but with the experience of the past games dating back to 2017-18, these two Original Six franchises have so many glaring similarities and yet, differences. The question is, is will those differences be enough to win four games? That is the main goal for either club.

It doesn’t stop there either. The Bruins have a tougher roster mentally, at least what has been shown this season and that will most definitely play a factor in who advances to the second round. Whether you are a Boston Bruins fan or a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, prepare for yet another nail-biting, entertaining, exciting matchup between the team we love to cheer for and the team we love to cheer against.

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Bruins Game 77 Preview: New York Rangers

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Globe)

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

The Boston Bruins’ 2018-19 regular season is just about over and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are around the corner, but the eyes need to stay in the present as the Bruins can still lose home-ice advantage against the Maple Leafs for the opening round of the post-season. The Bruins are reeling after a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, but still have a five-point lead on Toronto for second in the Atlantic.

The New York Rangers are twelfth in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 29-33-13. The Rangers are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this season, marking the second consecutive season they will miss the post-season after clinching the previous seven seasons. The Rangers are 2-6-2 in their last ten games with a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins being their most recent game on March 25th.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 20-10-4 2.31 GAA .924 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 7-3 win vs FLA

NYR: Henrik Lundqvist (Likely) 18-20-10 2.99 GAA .909 SV% Last Game: 27 Saves in 3-2 loss to DET

Who’s Hot

Brad Marchand is closing out his best season of his NHL career to date the way he has been all season, on fire. Marchand has seven points in just his last three games for the Bruins, including a two-goal performance in the loss to Tampa Bay. The recent success brings Marchand’s season totals to 34 goals, 60 assists for 94 points. With six games left to go, Marchand needs to average a point-per-game to reach the 100-point plateau and it is very well reachable.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

Kevin Shattenkirk was brought onto the Rangers a few seasons ago to strengthen their back-end and to make a push for a long post-season. Well in 2018-19 the Rangers are not a playoff team, but Shattenkirk is still having a decent season. The 30-year-old defenceman has twenty-seven points on the year, three of which coming in the last four games. 

David Backes has been struggling for the Bruins for the good majority of the season, but on this final push to the post-season, the 34-year-old forward has been doing quite well. Backes has 1-2-3 numbers in the last three games and has been one of the hardest working forwards on the bottom-six. I personally have been impressed with his play and I truly hope he can continue that heading into the first round.

Who’s Not

Jimmy Vesey was once a highly-touted forward that many teams wanted their hands on. However, in August of 2016 he signed with the New York Rangers. In 2018-19, Vesey has 16-18-34 numbers in 76 games but more recently, is on a terrible 12-game pointless streak and boasts a -5 rating in the last five games combined.

Not many Bruins are struggling or having poor performances as of late, but the entire team fell off in the final period against the Lightning. Almost every player on the ice made some error that led to Tampa erasing Boston’s two-goal lead to win the game in regulation time. The Bruins looked unenthusiastic and absolutely drained. If there is one thing to work on from that game heading into tonight’s, it is playing a full 60-minute hockey game.

Chris Kreider has been one of those players that teams are well aware of when you play the New York Rangers but like everyone in New York this season, he is struggling to play at a high level. The Boxford, Massachusetts native has 26-23-49 totals in 73 games played and has not found his name on the score-sheet in five straight. On March 13th, Kreider had 15 penalty minutes and against a dangerous Bruins power-play, he cannot do the same tonight.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (25) from passing Rick Middleton (25) for sole possession of most SHG in Bruins history

New York Rangers:

  • F Pavel Buchnevich is four points away (96) from 100 career NHL points

Bruins vs Rangers Outlook

The New York Rangers are one of only six teams in the NHL that Boston currently has a below-.500 point percentage against. The two Original Six teams have played twice before this season, both times going to the team from the Big Apple. On January 19th, the Rangers won 3-2 in regulation and won again a month later on February 6th in a 4-3 shootout. In that game last month, the two teams had a 3-on-3 overtime session that you just had to see.

Once again heading into tonight’s game, the specialty teams of the Bruins will most likely play a large role in the outcome. The Bruins have the third-best power-play at just over a 26 percent success rate, scoring 61 goals on the man-advantage this year. The Bruins penalty-kill has been solid as well. In the third against Tampa Bay, the B’s killed off a four-minute penalty brilliantly and was quite impressive. It is sitting at 81.5%, 10th-best in the league.

The Rangers aren’t as good, clearly. They have the 17th-best power-play, scoring 41 goals at just over 19% accuracy. On the penalty-kill, New York is the sixth-worst while short-handed, killing off only 78% of their league-high 10.1 penalty minutes-per-game.

Puck drop from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts is scheduled for 7pm EST. Below were the line rushes from morning practice for your Boston Bruins.

Forward Marcus Johansson and defenceman Torey Krug are likely to return to the lineup for the Bruins, some big pieces to get back for this contest. John Moore, injured in the last game against the Lightning, is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while D Matt Grzelcyk and D Kevan Miller are “probable for the weekend” according to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!  

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