Mainville: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

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

Before I dive into this piece, I would like to credit fellow Black N’ Gold writers Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty on Twitter) for the idea and would also like to further you to take a look at both Mike’s and Garrett’s (@thesportsguy97 on Twitter) article on the same idea. Keep a lookout on the website for more opening-day article lineup ideas.

Click HERE for Mike’s article.

Click HERE for Garrett’s article.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Throughout the Bruins fan universe, the issues in the top-six typically fall on the right side. The duos of Marchand-Bergeron and DeBrusk-Krejci are near locks for opening night but the answers on the remaining pieces need to be found. Even though he showed struggles in the postseason at times, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to slot David Pastrnak on the right side of the first line.

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, Pastrnak will soon become the star of the Bruins’ offense for possibly the next decade and the more time he can play with Marchand and especially Bergeron, the more his value to the team and organization can skyrocket. That line, when hot, is one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League and the thought of having that consistently is intriguing.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins relied heavily on their depth scoring, goaltending, and defense to help them last to the final Game Seven. Boston’s top six forwards failed to score points on a night-to-night basis and the lack of scoring in the elimination game was the reason for the loss on home ice.

Down 3-2 in the series, Cassidy threw a curveball at the St. Louis Blues in Game Six by placing speedy forward Karson Kuhlman on the second line and he played great. Kuhlman scored the third goal of the game with a blistering wrist shot past Jordan Binnington that gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the game.

Kuhlman’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame finally brought some speed and finesse to a line that was lacking those attributes when David Backes was alongside DeBrusk and Krejci. Similar to Pastrnak, time with a veteran like Krejci mixed in with the big-time experience that he already has under his belt, Kuhlman can be a good player on that line.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

This line is such a massive question mark on the right side yet again. At this stage, I put free-agent signing Brett Ritchie on this line for one reason – size. The 26-year-old Ritchie stands at six-foot-four and weighs 220 pounds. Throughout the different lineup predictions on the internet, Ritchie is commonly considered to be a depth forward and while that remains a possibility, I believe he has a better shot at making the lineup over some of the younger wingers in the system.

Alongside Ritchie, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle had found some chemistry since Coyle’s entrance into the Boston Bruins roster around the trade deadline and that should continue. Heinen has proven to be a defensively responsible forward and with a consistent center that can play deep in the zone, it may only help the young forward more in the short and long run.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

If there was a line that was etched in stone – it’s this one. The fourth line of the Boston Bruins has been crucial for the better part of the last decade and in each of their Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019, the Bruins have had a strong line that rounds out the forward core.

With Noel Acciari departing Logan International in Boston to Florida during the Free Agency Frenzy, it will be without a doubt that these three players will man the pivotal bottom line for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm

Another one of the Bruins’ depth signings on July 1st, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Jet, Par Lindholm signed a two-year contract for $850,000 per season with Boston as a depth player. The Swedish forward adds versatile play with a penalty-killing ability that has value when injuries come along.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

Franchise defenceman with future franchise defenceman. Zdeno Chara might be 42 years of age but his game does not represent that number. While he does often get caught frozen in time by the faster forwards in the league, he brings a presence that strikes fear into players even today. Chara will continue to mentor McAvoy this season as it could very well be the last season where that is an option.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

The second pairing of Krug and Carlo is the type of combination teams dream of on their blueline. Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today, especially on the power-play. That said, Krug has had issues on the defensive side of the ice and even though he has improved recently, he is not fantastic in that role. Brandon Carlo, however, secures that pairing. Carlo was arguably the best d-man wearing the Spoked-B in the 2019 Playoffs and he is only 22 years old.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk scored the only goal in the Game Seven loss to the St. Louis Blues, but he brought more than just that lone tally in the postseason. Grzelcyk is a solid defenceman in almost all facets and Clifton has matched that as well. Both young blueliners have come out of seemingly nowhere over the course of the past few seasons – earning them a roster spot for the start of the ’19/’20 campaign.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Miller – Moore

Steven Kampfer recently extended his contract with the Bruins and rightly so – he adds good depth for when the inevitable injuries strike again, something every team requires to be successful. With no clear timeline on John Moore (shoulder surgery) and Kevan Miller (knee), we must assume that they are not ready for the opening night on October 3rd.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask carried Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals for much of the playoff run and that success could be attributed to the regular season play of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. With the two netminders nearly splitting the 82-game season in half, Rask was able to get needed rest and not overwork himself like he has when the team does not have an adequate backup behind him. If the two can avoid the haunted injury bug, I’d expect another stellar season from the two goaltenders.

As the offseason continues to progress with more and more news as well as the upcoming NHL Training Camp, these lines could very well take a turn before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 7: St. Louis at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Pool via AP)

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

All of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been poured into the 2018-19 NHL season have come down to this – Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Both the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues have three wins each in this best-of-seven series and now, tonight, the winner will be crowned Stanley Cup Champions.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (15-8)

Away: St. Louis Blues (15-10)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 5-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is indeed back in the lineup after missing two weeks following concussion protocol. Due to that, defenceman Connor Clifton will be a healthy scratch as well as forward David Backes who was scratched for Game Six.

First Period:

For the early stages of the first period, the St. Louis Blues accomplished what the majority of people expected – hard zone pressure and zone control. The Blues get a couple shots towards the net, nothing too harmful though. The Bruins get a couple of their own, however, as John Moore came in on the rush with a shot that had a rebound for Acciari who failed to shoot the puck.

Within the first five minutes of game action, Jordan Binnington has allowed two rebounds that nearly converted. Sean Kuraly, Marcus Johansson and Patrice Bergeron all had in-tight scoring opportunities that came off of point shots. Boston started off somewhat slow, but have come back strong with aggressive chances that have been a result of turnovers by St. Louis.

With 12:03 remaining in the opening frame, Blues defenceman Colton Parayko, with little pressure against him, clears the puck high over the glass in his own zone and the Bruins are off to their first power-play of the hockey game. Boston had some excellent chances to bury the game’s first goal including a brilliant saucer pass from Heinen to Krejci that Binnington robs with the split-save. Blues kill off the penalty.

The Bruins controlled the play for all of the first period. St. Louis went over 15 minutes without a shot on Tuukka Rask while the Bruins earned chances to score on the other end of the ice. However, with less than five minutes to go in the period, the Bruins get caught in their own zone with St. Louis cycling the puck around the zone. That creates a point shot from Bouwmeester that gets deflected by Ryan O’Reilly in front of Rask, beating him five-hole and the Blues have a 1-0 lead.

Boston continues the effort later in the period after the goal with some shots on and a good sequence of passes and zone control in St. Louis’ end but none of the shots passes Binnington. As the Blues recover and bring the puck out of the zone, the Bruins for some reason, attempt a horrendous line change that leaves Jaden Schwartz able to feed Pietrangelo who backhands one over Tuukka Rask – 2-0 Blues at the end of the first.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 4

Score: 2-0 Blues – Goals: O’Reilly (8) Assists: Bouwmeester (7), Pietrangelo (16); Pietrangelo (3) Assists: Schwartz (7)

Second Period:

Without a single sliver of doubt, the Bruins need to put up one or two goals in the second period in order to still have a chance at winning tonight. Early in the middle regulation frame, Boston gets more zone control – not as much as points in the first – and get a couple shots on Binnington, all being saved by the rookie netminder.

The second period, as of 5:58 remaining, has not been very opportunity-filled. The Bruins do not get many chances whatsoever on Binnington, nothing even close to the brilliant chances that they had in the first period. St. Louis has played a perfect road game that includes a systematic shut down of the Bruins forwards and any zone time Boston gets.

In the opening period, the Blues made the bad turnovers that nearly caused Bruin goals but in the second, the tides regarding turnovers have changed. Boston has been turning the puck over more than they make clean, tape-to-tape passes and that has prevented them from getting into the zone. It seems although they are feeling the pressure of being down 2-0 and it is affecting their game.

The best chance to score for Boston was at the very end of the frame by the line of Heinen, Coyle, and Johansson – seemingly the best line in the Black n Gold jersey once again who get some shots on Binnington but come up short. 2-0 Blues after two.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 STL: 10

Score: 2-0 Blues

Third Period:

The beginning of the third period is not too much different from the second period. The Blues are doing a purely excellent job tonight preventing any rushes, passes, opportunities or simple shots. In the first five minutes, Boston needed Tuukka Rask to bail them out twice – a poor method for winning any hockey game that you trail.

After a slot shot that Rask stopped as well as the two rebound attempts, the B’s turn the puck over in the neutral zone to sniper Vladimir Tarasenko who turns and gets a seemingly free shot at Rask. Rask faces him the entire way and makes the chest save.

Another interesting storyline in this game has been the failed shot attempts by Boston. Many of the top players, especially David Pastrnak have whiffed on the shot or even the pass. To add to the frustrating game, the ice has been quite poor as the puck can often be seen bouncing everywhere. It is expected when you play a game in mid-June.

Finally, with just around eleven minutes to go in the final period of regulation time, Boston gets a beautiful chance to bury one past the red-hot Jordan Binnington. A strong forecheck leads to Joakim Nordstrom all alone, makes a move to get Binnington on his stomach, but Nordstrom’s shot gets robbed by the right pad of the rookie goaltender, Boston remains off the scoresheet.

Mere minutes after that highway robbery, Vladimir Tarasenko makes a beautiful pass to the slot while he’s along the boards to Brayden Schenn who one-times it off the post and past Tuukka Rask. St. Louis takes a commanding 3-0 lead in this final game and it seems like the Bruins will go 0-for-2 in the Finals since winning in 2011.

The Boston Bruins get some decent chances later in the period, but the Blues answer big time with a goal from Zach Sanford that makes it a four-goal lead for St. Louis off of a nice backhand pass from David Perron.

Matt Grzelcyk takes a point shot that manages to beat Binnington to end the shutout, but the Blues hold on to the 4-1 lead and win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 STL: 20

Final Score: 4-1 Blues – STL wins Stanley Cup 4-3

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: STL G Jordan Binnington – 32 Saves on 33 Shots, .970 SV%

2nd Star: STL F Ryan O’Reilly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 18:56 TOI, Conn Smythe Winner

3rd Star: STL D Alex Pietrangelo – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +3 Rating, 25:56 TOI

A sincere congratulations to the St. Louis Blues on winning their first Stanley Cup. To the Boston Bruins, thank you for a great season full of unexpected accomplishments. On to the offseason.

Boston Bruins: Keys to Win Game 7 Over St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

How are your nerves? Are your fingernails still intact? No? That’s alright, it’s normal – expected at this time of year. Tonight, the Boston Bruins will meet the St. Louis Blues for the final game of the 2018-19 NHL season with a chance to win the Stanley Cup on home ice while the Blues look to lock in their first ever Stanley Cup in their 52-year history.

Before the best-of-seven series began, it was well noted that these two franchises were near exact mirror images of one another. Great goaltending, solid players on the blueline and a forward core that brought a combination of toughness, hitting and goal scoring throughout all four lines. Many people, including myself, felt that this series was destined to go the distance and as we found out on Sunday, it sure will.

In Sunday’s Game Six in St. Louis, Missouri, Boston took a huge 5-1 win on the road to force this seventh game. Tuukka Rask was beyond stellar in net for the Bruins while third period goals from Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman and David Pastrnak sealed the deal before Zdeno Chara’s empty-net goal. The Bruins managed to quiet the roaring St. Louis crowd once again and made the series a true toss-up again.

Following Game Five, the Bruins had lost their second-consecutive game in the series and due to the fact that it was heading back to the Blues home arena, it seemed like the momentum was in St. Louis’ favor. Now, once again, there is no real momentum nor favorite to win Game Seven in TD Garden.

The entire series so far has been fascinating to watch. Boston overcame a two-goal deficit to win Game One only for the Blues to take an overtime win in Game Two. The B’s exploded back when the series debuted in the Enterprise Arena with a crushing 7-2 victory only for the Blues to win both Game Four and Five to take a 3-2 series lead. After the Game Six performance where the top-six of Boston finally woke up and played at the level that we are used to seeing while Rask continued to be elite – a reoccurring theme in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

All across the spectrum, the Bruins and Blues have an equally strong chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Boston. Neither team has let set downs hold them down long-term. As we know, the Blues were once dead-last in the National Hockey League on January 2nd and look where they are now. So, for the Boston Bruins, what needs to happen during the three periods (and maybe more) in order to win Stanley Cup number seven?

1. Tuukka. Rask.

As previously mentioned, Tuukka Rask has been one of the sole reasons for being Eastern Conference Champions and having three wins in the Finals as of this point. Going way back to the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rask was key in numerous wins including a dominate Game 7 performance, stopping 32 of the 33 shots he faced to send Boston to the second round.

Against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Rask finished the six-game series with a .948 save percentage and a 1.83 goals-against-average, closing out the series with a phenomenal 39-save shutout in Game Six. That dominance continued in the Conference Finals over the Carolina Hurricanes, allowing only five goals in four games with another shutout in the final elimination game.

In every game during the Stanley Cup Finals, Rask has allowed over one goal but no more than three goals except for Sunday’s win where he allowed only one goal against on 29 shots. Tuukka was by far Boston’s best penalty-killer in Game Six and crushed the momentum for the Blues. Rask is now 3-0 in elimination games in the 2019 postseason with a 1.34 GAA and .953 save percentage.

St. Louis has had great success with their forecheck against Boston’s defense and that is likely to continue, but if Tuukka Rask can be as dominate as ever, he will be the biggest factor to a Bruins win if it does happen and they need him to perform at that extreme level.

2. Shut Down The Neutral Zone

Part of the reason for the success in the 5-1 win three days ago was the strength in the neutral zone. The Bruins did an excellent job at making the Blues offense work hard for their zone entries and make it a difficult task to dump the puck in deep. Boston’s second line of Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman and David Krejci did a particularly good job at that while the defensive pairings managed to retrieve the loose pucks on the dump-ins.

Boston’s third goal of the game came from Kuhlman, but was created off of a neutral zone turnover by St. Louis. For the majority of the game, the Boston players were quite aggressive on pucks and gave the Blues very little room to work. This was evident on this goal as DeBrusk goes after his man who turns it over to David Krejci. Krejci quickly brings it into the zone and feeds Kuhlman who snipes one far-side.

Boston cannot back down when the Blues go for their zone exits and rushes up the ice. St. Louis has big forwards such as leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly who can blast down the ice and get hard drives to the net that create scoring opportunities. Limiting the space that St. Louis has to exit the zone will force more mistakes and allow Boston to pounce on the resulting chances.

However, Boston cannot make mistakes of their own while doing this. If a player misses a check and gets them self out of position, then the Blues could have an odd-man rush going the other way. Calm, but tenacious hockey in the neutral zone is what will win this for Boston.

3. Win The Smaller Battles & Trust Leaders

Once again, the Bruins found the success that they did in Game Six because of the smaller plays. It was not until the third period where Boston scored goals two, three, four, and five. From the 8:40 mark of the first period to just over two minutes into the third, Boston managed to maintain a one-goal advantage on the scoreboard. That was in part, due to the victory of smaller battles throughout the entirety of the game.

As showed above, Boston did a much better job controlling the neutral zone to adequately shut down the chances St. Louis had coming down the ice. Also, Boston did a solid job winning the battles along the boards, in both the offensive and defensive zones and that allowed the Bruins to score goals and also keep the Blues to the outside and forced them to take point shots that were either blocked, intercepted, or stopped by Rask in between the pipes.

On David Pastrnak’s goal that gave the Bruins a 4-1 lead in the third, forward Sean Kuraly used that same concept to drive into the zone, pressure the St. Louis defence, make a clean pass to Marchand who made an equally impressive feed to an open Pastrnak to beat Binnington. The rest of the players in the blue jerseys were unable to come back and defend the play because they were expected a pass up the ice and because they were finishing up a change. The tenacious effort on pucks will be crucial for Boston to claim victory.

In addition to that, the 2018-19 Boston Bruins are much different from the 2010-11 Bruins that won the Stanley Cup. The 2011 Bruins were filled to the rim with veterans of the game who had the experience to guide them to the championship. This time around, a lot of the key players – David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Karson Kuhlman, Jake DeBrusk, etc. – are leading the team. However, they will need to listen to the guidance and expertise of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Brad Marchand who have been there before and have won before. Every piece of advice and knowledge may be the ultimate difference maker.

Regardless of the outcome, at the end of the day, very few individuals in the hockey community expected the Boston Bruins to be one win away from the Stanley Cup this season. The same could be said for the St. Louis Blues as well. After all, the Tampa Bay Lightning were by far the best team in the regular season and they were swept early. When the final buzzer rings tonight, the winner will be the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions. The only question remains – will it be the Bruins or Blues hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads?

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 6: Boston at St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CBS Sports)

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

The Stanley Cup is in the building. For the first time in franchise history, the St. Louis Blues are one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and above all else, on home ice. The Bruins are facing elimination for only the third time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (two versus Toronto) and are looking to force a Game Seven on Wednesday.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (15-7)

Away: Boston Bruins (14-10)

Last Game Result: Blues won 2-1

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman is in the lineup for Game Six while forward David Backes and defensemen and Steven Kampfer are the scratches.

First Period:

The Boston Bruins start off the elimination game with some decent legs and forward pressure, even though they made some bad passes in their own zone that forced Tuukka Rask to make a big save in tight. Less than three minutes into the period, Sean Kuraly clears the puck over the glass and the Bruins are going shorthanded for a delay of game penalty.

On the penalty kill, the Blues had some serious chances to score but Rask continues to look excellent in net early on and after some following clears, the Bruins are now back at even-strength.

After some great forecheck by St. Louis, the Bruins finally get the puck out of the zone and down the ice. Joakim Nordstrom drove deeper into the zone and at the same time, takes a huge hit from behind by Brayden Schenn. The officials whistle down the play and Schenn is off to the box for boarding.

The power-play takes off early but in the worst way. Ryan O’Reilly manages to escape on a breakaway chance but fans on the shot attempt. As the Bruins work their way into the zone, Brad Marchand makes a poor pass directly to a Blues player, who feeds O’Reilly. This time, however, O’Reilly clears it over the glass himself and he goes to the box, 5-on-3 coming for Boston.

Boston gets a close chance early on the two-man-advantage off of some shots that created rebounds and forced the Blues to scramble. As the puck came to the top of the zone, Krug passes it to Pastrnak, who controls the puck and delivers a perfect no-look feed to Brad Marchand and the Bruins strike first, 1-0 lead.

After the goal, the B’s seemed to take the momentum just a little bit. The second line of Krejci, DeBrusk, and Kuhlman had a good, solid shift with great work deep in the zone by both DeBrusk and Kuhlman. That line is improving from the previous games in this series with the addition of Kuhlman.

Less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, Zdeno Chara engages in a net-front battle with David Perron with both men pushing and shoving each other but when Chara pushes him all the way down, the officials call it and Boston goes to the penalty-kill for the second time of the game. Bruins do a solid job preventing high-quality shots on Rask and the ones that did go through were easily shut down.

The first period was not terrible for Boston. They had some good offensive chances and were not atrocious on the defensive side of the puck. However, the Blues forecheck proved once again to be a scary force in this series and on numerous occasions, they had a minute or so of control in Boston’s zone but the B’s survived it. St. Louis will have 21 seconds of power-play time to begin the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 10

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Marchand (9) PP Assists: Pastrnak (10), Krug (16)

Second Period:

St. Louis tried to strike early again in the middle frame on the limited power-play chance with some fantastic shot opportunities that were stopped with confidence by Tuukka Rask – continuing his good play so far. Penalty ends and the game is back to 5-on-5.

Within the first five minutes of action in the second, the Bruins nearly score again to extend their lead. Charlie McAvoy showed high-level patience to make a crisp pass up the ice that sent Danton Heinen up the middle on a breakaway but a great defensive play by Pietrangelo lifting Heinen’s stick prevented the shot from beating Binnington. Nonetheless, an encouraging opportunity for the Bruins.

Just around the halfway point of Game Six, Boston is whisted on yet another penalty call. Brad Marchand aggressively forechecks on the dump-and-chase, but collides his leg with Alex Pietrangelo – a slewfoot – and Boston goes shorthanded again. On the PK, the Blues get multiples razor-close chances to bury their first of the contest including a shot that hit the post, hit by McAvoy’s stick, then off of Rask’s back and stays out. Blues fans cannot believe it, but the man-advantage ends and we return to 5-on-5 hockey.

With just around six minutes to tick away, the speed of the game costs Boston once again with another penalty. Charlie McAvoy collides with a Blues player with his knee and gets called for tripping, Boston’s fourth penalty of the game. The Bruins reply with possibly their best penalty-kill of the hockey game and successfully shut it down with great reads and clears.

It was an even better period from the Boston Bruins once the buzzer sounds, signifying the end of the second period. Pastrnak had a good shot in close in the final second that was stopped with the armpit of Binnington and now we head to the third period with a one-goal hockey game.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 19

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period

The third period of play was back and forth, to begin with St. Louis putting on much-needed pressure in hopes of scoring quickly. Less than three minutes into the final frame of regulation, Jake DeBrusk does a terrific job deflecting the puck into St. Louis’ zone and engaging in a board battle before passing it to Brandon Carlo on the point. Carlo shoots the puck towards the net, bouncing on the ice right in front of Binnington and beats him. An odd one but it puts the Bruins up 2-0.

These two teams are proving once again how close they are to one another. Each team goes both ways in the third period with Boston playing a little more of a defensive style of hockey with a two-goal lead. Tuukka Rask has been able to see everything that St. Louis puts towards the net if anything does indeed get by.

Another area of strength in tonight’s game for Boston has been the neutral zone coverage – making sure nothing serious gets by them and making sure pucks get in the Blues zone more than in the Bruins zone. David Krejci brings the puck into the offensive zone, feeds it off to Karson Kuhlman on his right side and Kuhlman rips it far-side past Jordan Binnington and Boston leads 3-0.

Not long afterwards whatsoever, the Blues get one right back. A bouncing puck hits Ryan O’Reilly who controls it on the ice and shoots it on Rask. Tuukka sprawled across the crease and appeared to make the save with the right pad, however after video review, it was made clear that the puck clearly crossed the red line and the lead has been cut back to two goals once again.

Bruce Cassidy has had tendencies to put Boston’s fourth line late in hockey games with the lead in order to kill time off the clock and it works again. Sean Kuraly with some terrific forecheck, effectively stealing the puck and passing it to Brad Marchand. Marchand makes a nifty backhand pass to David Pastrnak who patiently waits for Binnington to move and he roofs it – 4-1 Boston.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled Jordan Binnington with a few minutes left on the clock in an attempt to maybe make some sort of comeback effort but it only results in Zdeno Chara icing the game with a long empty-net goal to put the nail in the coffin and end this game for the Boston Bruins who have forced a Game Seven.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 32 STL: 28

Final Score: 5-1 Bruins – Series Tied 3-3

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .964 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 15:47 TOI

3rd Star: BOS D Brandon Carlo – 1 Goal (GWG), +3 Rating, 20:32 TOI

For the first time in NHL history, the Boston Bruins will host a Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night. Scheduled puck drop is 8:00pm EST.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 5: St. Louis at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CBS Sports)

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

Right down to the wire. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues meet tonight for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals with the series tied 2-2. The Bruins had a rough night in Game Four, losing 4-2 the final score. Tonight’s game in Boston is arguably the most important game to date for both teams.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (14-9)

Away: St. Louis Blues (14-7)

Last Game Result: Blues won 4-2

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

The Boston Bruins will have the services of captain Zdeno Chara who suffered a facial injury following a blocked shot in the second period of Game Four, but will once again be without Matt Grzelcyk who is still out with an injury after going through concussion protocol. David Backes is out of the lineup and Steven Kampfer is in to make it seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

First Period:

After and amazingly-loud opening anthem and introductions, Game Five is officially underway. Marcus Johansson gets the first good chances quite early in the game, taking a pass from Charlie Coyle and rushing hard for a wrap-around chance that nearly bounces up and over the pad of Binnington. Solid skating by Johansson to get the opportunity.

Less than four minutes in, Sean Kuraly lands a clean tape-to-tape pass across the zone to Brad Marchand who rips a hard wrist shot off of Binnington’s blocker. The rebound was briefly there for Kuraly but he could not beat Binnington there. Only seconds later, Noel Acciari levelled Alex Pietrangelo in the neutral zone that was met with cheers from the Boston faithful.

The Bruins then feel the pressure of the Blues dangerous forecheck and when they clear the puck out of the zone, it hits a small pile of excess snow on the ice, stopping the puck conveniently for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly stops up, sending a back-checking Brayden Schenn sliding on the ice. As the Blues recover, Vince Dunn sends the puck over the glass and the Bruins are off to the power-play. Unfortunately, Boston failed to capitalize on the first man-advantage of the game.

Boston has been getting quite a few chances past the halfway mark of the opening frame. Torey Krug demolished Alexander Steen behind Rask’s net, taking the puck away and a few passes later, Brad Marchand has some speed up the middle. Marchand stops up and feeds Pastrnak who blasts one off of the pads of Binnington. The Blues goaltender has been much more active already in this one.

At this point of the hockey game, Tuukka Rask has only faced four shots against but has had to make two large stops on Tyler Bozak and Jay Bouwmeester in the slot. Both goaltenders have been on their game as they have been all playoffs.

Just around five minutes to go, the top line of the Bruins get two Grade A scoring chances including a tight shot by Marchand that rang off of the short-side post and got the crowd cheering as they have been for what seems like the entire night so far. On the same shift, Bergeron unleashes a bomb from the high slot and Binnington continues to look great.

Another chance for Boston leads to a penalty for the Black and Gold. Brad Marchand attempts to poke the puck from Jordan Binnington but hit him in the mid-section, getting whistled for a slashing call. 2:38 remaining in the first period and St. Louis goes to their first man-advantage of the game. On that power-play, Chara turns the puck over on the clear attempt and roughly 25 seconds later, David Perron one-times a puck from a Ryan O’Reilly pass that gets robbed by a sprawling Tuukka Rask – penalty killed off.

Solid period for the Boston Bruins on both ends of the ice including Tuukka Rask while Jordan Binnington is the sole reason for this game being tied still.

Shots on Goals: BOS: 17 STL: 8

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Less than thirty seconds into the second period, somehow Vladimir Tarasenko gets away on a breakaway but Tuukka Rask follows him all the way and makes the save and proceeds to make another one on the rebound attempt. The Blues continue the hard pressure early in the period and off of a poor Bruins line chance, O’Reilly is alone in front and beats Rask 55 seconds into the period. 1-0 Blues.

The Blues have put a lot more pressure on the Bruins in the second period so far but in the process, have engaged in poor hits that appear to have targeted the heads of Bruins. Most notable, Zach Sanford hits Krug up high with no call made on the ice whatsoever. Officials have not been great tonight and another instance is on display here.

At the 9:25 mark of the second, the officials finally call a penalty on the St. Louis Blues – an interference penalty on David Perron who knocked down David Pastrnak without the puck on his stick. The power-play was quite bad for Boston, failing to even enter the zone with consistency and when they did, not too many chances came as a result. Bruins now 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.

The St. Louis Blues have effectively shut down the Bruins from making good plays in this game as they did in Game Four. The strategy of throwing shots on Binnington in the first period has disappeared and Boston looks out of sorts late in the period. The fourth line has been by far the best line, again, with hustle from Nordstrom, Kuraly, and Acciari that is missing from the majority of Bruin forwards.

In the dying seconds, Krug turns the puck over on the breakout and gets into another wrestling match with Sundqvist. The non-call on Sundqvist leads to a wide-open net for Alex Pietrangelo but his shot gets blocked by David Krejci in the crease. Rask was on his stomach and was way out of position but Krejci keeps it a one-goal game at the end of 40 minutes.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 25 STL: 14

Score: 1-0 Blues – Goals: O’Reilly (6) Assists: Sanford (3), Pietrangelo (14)

Third Period:

Down by one goal in the final period, Bruins need something and something early and they nearly get just that. DeBrusk passes to Heinen and his drop pass misses DeBrusk but allows Steven Kampfer to unleash a rocket from the point – he does so, but the shot hits the corner of the post and crossbar. Kampfer stares at the ceiling in awe that it didn’t go in.

Boston ends up drawing a penalty a few shifts later as Krejci gets interfered with by Steen. The power-play had some passes around the umbrella format with some shots on goal by Krug and a near-redirect by Johansson but no dice. Bruins now 0-for-5 since on the power-play since going 4-for-4 in Game Three.

Seven minutes into the final period of play, the Bruins nearly get their first goal of the game, but after video review, it was shown that Krejci pushed the puck in by pushing the pad of Binnington and the game remains tied.

Then, it gets worse. On an offensive zone forecheck, Tyler Bozak clearly slewfoots Noel Acciari from behind him, sending Acciari flying back in pain. Now kneeled over on the ice, the Bruins are discombobulated and a broken play leads to David Perron tapping in a goal off of the inside of Rask’s pad, 2-0 Blues.

In response, Bruins fans proceed to throw debris on the ice and rain down heavy boos towards the officials. A horrendous missed call has put St. Louis up by two in the third period of play. Even with all of that, Boston does not get a power-play from the play and the game continues to be 5-on-5.

With all of the controversy and outrage, the Bruins are not quite done yet. Torey Krug does a great job to watch a puck that is teetering along the blueline to make sure it does not go offside, then takes the puck and makes a perfect pass to Jake DeBrusk who blasts a blistering shot far-side and past Jordan Binnington to make it a one-goal hockey game with around six minutes remaining. We have a hockey game.

In full desperation mode, the Boston Bruins are a mere inches away from a miraculous tying goal off of hard shots, close deflections and a whole slew of other chances by the B’s. All of the chances were kept out of the net and the Blues win 2-1, giving them a 3-2 series lead in the Cup Finals.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 39 STL: 21

Final Score: 2-1 Blues – 3-2 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: STL G Jordan Binnington – 38 Saves on 39 Shots, .974 SV%

2nd Star: STL F Ryan O’Reilly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 68% Faceoffs, 19:19 TOI

3rd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 25:26 TOI

The series now heads back to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Six. The Blues have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and eliminate the Bruins. Scheduled puck drop is 8:00pm EST on Sunday, June 9th.

Bruins D Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara Deemed Game-Time Decisions

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PHOTO CREDITS: Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced earlier today, June 6th, that defensemen Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk are deemed game-time decisions for tonight’s pivotal Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, Massachusetts.

The news comes today after many speculated on the numerous off days since the Game Four loss on Monday that Zdeno Chara was done for the remainder of the postseason with what was assumed to be a broken jaw. However, it was made clear that the 42-year-old captain did not need his jaw to be wired shut and he is not missing any teeth but he does indeed have a brace going along his bottom gum line according to Shawn Hutcheon.

Chara’s injury came from the second period in Game Four when he attempted to block a wrist shot from Blues forward Brayden Schenn with the Bruins down 2-1 on the scoreboard. As a result, Chara inadvertently deflected the shot off of his monstrous stick and directly into his face. A flow of blood immediately poured out of the giant as he skated off to the Bruins locker room. Chara did end up returning in the final regulation period with a full face mask, but did not play a shift as he felt “uncomfortable”.

As for Matt Grzelcyk, his injury came back during Game Two of the Finals, when he took a hard hit along the end boards by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The National Hockey League’s Player Safety took a look at the hit and following a hearing, was suspended for Game Three. After taking the hit hard, Grzelcyk appeared to stumble when he got up, sending him through concussion protocol.

The 25-year-old was forced to miss Game Four on Monday but was seen wearing a maroon-colored non-contact jersey in practice on Wednesday but Cassidy was not positive on his status for Thursday’s contest. Earlier today, Cassidy clarified that Grzelcyk is also a game-time decision like Chara and if he feels ready to go around 7:00pm, then he will be in the lineup.

During the talks of both injuries, Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may lean to running seven defensemen and eleven forwards for Game Five and according to the Head Coach on Thursday, that idea still remains a topic of discussion ahead of puck drop, even if both blueliners are feeling up to the task of playing in this crucial game.

In regard to the injury, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said this in a written response to the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association:

“You don’t think about that. You think about playing. You don’t go into a game thinking you might get hurt. At this time of the playoffs, everyone has injuries and there are challenges that you have to overcome to play. I’m no different than any player on either team.”

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals is deadlocked at two games apiece with tonight’s game in Boston giving the winner a 3-2 series lead and a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Sunday in St. Louis. The current scheduled puck drop for the game is 8:00pm EST.

Bruins Joakim Nordstrom Taking Large Strides in Stanley Cup Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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

Tonight, the Boston Bruins have a chance to lead the Stanley Cup Finals three-games-to-one over the St. Louis Blues. Following a brief look at the roster, many can attribute the success found in the 2018-19 season to many different sources. Goaltender Tuukka Rask and the first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are four obvious choices while the defensemen of Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Zdeno Chara played equally important roles in not only getting to the postseason, but achieving the Prince of Wales Trophy.

Going back to October, one of the main topics of concern for the Bruins roster was the depth scoring, or lack thereof. Everyone was well aware of the powerhouse top line that dominated the previous playoff run, more specifically against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but after that, the consistent scoring was simply in question.

David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk had chemistry together but they had troubles gelling with a player on the right wing. Numerous players were tested with them, even Pastrnak at some points but the need for a top-six winger was on the Bruins’ radar. Further down the lineup, the third and fourth lines were decent, but they weren’t expected to produce numbers that are needed from your bottom-six in today’s NHL.

Fast forward to now and the Boston Bruins are being talked about for their resilient, hard-working depth that has carried them through the scoring droughts and struggles of the more well-known Bruin forwards. Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Noel Acciari had a fantastic fourth line throughout the season. The addition of both Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson have been tremendous boosts for the team and Danton Heinen has found a success role on their wing.

When Chris Wagner fell out of the lineup this postseason due to an injury that resulted from a blocked shot, the Bruins turned to Joakim Nordstrom to help the bottom line with Kuraly and Acciari. Nordstrom had been bounced from the third line and fourth line all season long and was deemed a healthy scratch quite often during the regular season due to the poor play he had shown.

During those times of scratches and long (and I mean long) scoring droughts, many believed that the two-year signing of Nordstrom in the 2018 NHL Free Agency period was a waste of money. His lack of production and value to the team was mentioned everywhere and it was apparent that the coaching staff felt the same way. Yet, that did not and will not alter the mindset of the 27-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden native.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

Nordstrom started off the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against Toronto with one goal in the opening four games. In that span, he averaged only 11:33 of ice time and was a -2 rating. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy scratched Nordstrom for Game Five, a loss for Boston, then went back to Joakim with their backs against the wall in Game Six in Toronto. Nordstrom played less than nine minutes in the win, recording only one hit and sat in the box for two minutes.

Now on home ice, Nordstrom scored the first goal of the game in Game Seven and helped out later in the game with a secondary assist on Sean Kuraly’s third period goal. Joakim Nordstrom finished the series with 2-1-3 numbers – not fantastic, but a definte improvement from his sub-par season. Unfortunately, he failed to score a single point in the entire six-game series against the Blue Jackets and he ended the Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes with only one assist.

Then came the Stanley Cup Finals and a new Joakim Nordstrom. During his two-year stint with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nordstrom played in three games over the course of the entire playoff run, but did get to raise the Stanley Cup over his head with the 2015 Hawks. With the experience of hoisting the Cup in the past, 2019 became the first time that Nordstrom got the opportunity to play in the Finals and he has taken that chance and has ran with it.

In the opening three games of the best-of-seven series against the St. Louis Blues so far, Joakim Nordstrom has one goal and three assists for four points to go along with his six blocked shots and +5 rating. All of a sudden, Nordstrom is one of the biggest factors to Boston’s winning lineup. In Game Two, the forward recorded five blocks, including this remarkable effort on an extended penalty-kill late in the second period to keep the game tied.

Earlier in the same game, Nordstrom squeaked a clean shot five-hole past Jordan Binnington to restore Boston’s one-goal lead only forty seconds after Robert Bortuzzo tied the hockey game in the opening frame. While Boston lost the game in overtime later in the night, the quick goal from Nordstrom prevented the momentum from drastically being in St. Louis’ favor.

As mentioned previously, the Bruins are on the road for Game Four tonight. With a 2-1 series lead on the Blues, Boston can take a stranglehold on the series with a win – giving them a chance to win the Stanley Cup at home on Thursday. Coming off of a stellar 7-2 victory in St. Louis on Saturday night, the momentum appears to be in Boston’s favor now.

However, in order for the winning team on Monday night to be wearing Black and Gold, players such as Joakim Nordstrom need to continue the admirable efforts on the ice. Of course, the best of the best to wear the Spoked-B this season need to show up as well, but as the history has shown in 2018-19 – it all comes down to depth. Will Joakim Nordstrom continue to silence the doubters on this Stanley Cup run and help lead the B’s to another victory? Puck drop for Game Four is scheduled for 8:00pm EST from St. Louis, Missouri tonight.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 3: Boston at St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

With the series deadlocked at one apiece, the Stanley Cup Finals head to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Three of the best-of-seven series. The Bruins left Game Two with an overtime loss in an overtime session that had zero offensive chances whatsoever – resulting in the goal against on the penalty-kill.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (13-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (13-6)

Last Game Result: Blues won 3-2 in OT

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is out of the lineup after taking a hard hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Game Two. Sundqvist was handed a one-game suspension as a result of the injury, but regardless Boston will be without Grzelcyk tonight. In replace of him, John Moore enters the lineup.

First Period:

For the first time in 49 years, the Blues are hosting a home game in the Stanley Cup Finals and the atmosphere in St. Louis showed that. The crowd was explosive and deafening in the pre-game anthem and ceremonies. Once the puck dropped, the two teams exchanged some hard hits, including a massive one on David Backes by Sammy Blais. Right back the other way, Jake DeBrusk goes for a hit, but gets called on a knee-on-knee hit, Boston goes shorthanded just over a minute into the first.

The Blues had some solid chances early on the man-advantage, with the best one coming later on the power-play from David Perron, but Tuukka Rask stays strong with a big save.  Vladimir Tarasenko also had a chance with a short-side shot on Rask but gets stopped and this game returns to 5-on-5.

Even after the early power-play, the Blues controlled the game and it took until roughly the six-minute mark of the opening frame to record their first shot, a close one by Charlie Coyle that almost past Binnington who was all the way on his stomach. Bruins need to come out more aggressive on the offensive attacks.

Not long after that, the Bruins’ first line had some good puck movement and had some decent chances – good signs for Boston. In Boston’s zone, Tarasenko nearly strikes first but again, Rask stays big and strong and keeps this game tied 0-0. A high-paced game made even more exciting with the roaring St. Louis crowd in attendance.

That first line of Boston has their best shift of the series later on in the period. Fantastic passing and zone coverage leads to a David Pastrnak one-timer that somehow gets saved by a sprawling Binnington. Pastrnak has been throwing everything towards the Blues net, trying to get deflections and rebounds. Good start for Boston.

St. Louis has been sending their defensemen hard to the net to get some chances, but it is only allowing chances the other way. David Backes and Jake DeBrusk find themselves on a 2-on-1 chance, only for Alex Pietrangelo to break up the chance. In the neutral zone, though, David Perron clearly interferes with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins go to their first man-advantage of the hockey game with 9:34 remaining in the first period.

The power-play stays hot. Only twenty-one seconds into the man-advantage, Torey Krug rifles a shot off of a faceoff win that gets deflected by none other than Patrice Bergeron, beating Binnington glove high. Assists go to Krug and DeBrusk – Bruins lead 1-0.

With the intensity level rising even more than they already were, both Connor Clifton and Ivan Barbashev get matching minors during a battle between the two and the game heads to 4-on-4 action for the next two minutes of play. St. Louis ate up a good 30-45 seconds just passing the puck within their own zone. Not a whole lot of opportunities for either team in a very defensive 4-on-4 session.

With just around two minutes left in the frame, Charlie Coyle does a terrific job taking the puck up the ice, avoiding the defenders, and passing it off to Danton Heinen. Heinen drops the puck for Johansson who makes a beautiful pass off a slick fake shot right to Coyle, beating Binnington and extending the Bruins’ lead to two goals.

Only seconds are ticking away on the clock, Joakim Nordstrom gets tied up with the Blues defenceman, leaving the puck alone for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly just shoots the puck with a screen in front of Binnington and it goes past the red line. The play caught the young goaltender off guard and Boston makes it 3-0 with seven seconds to go.

Craig Berube challenged the play for offside, but the goal stands after the review and Blues are handed a bench minor. Boston will have 1:50 of power-play time to start the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 8

Score: 3-0 Bruins – Goals: Bergeron (8) PP Assists: Krug (12), DeBrusk (6); Coyle (8) Assists: Johansson (7), Heinen (6); Kuraly (4) Assists: Nordstrom (4)

Second Period:

Typically, a power-play at the very beginning of a period is a lot more difficult to score on, but not in this case. Only forty-one seconds into the second period, Torey Krug finds Pastrnak down low. Pastrnak makes a quick deke and roofs it past Jordan Binnington on the blocker side, extending Boston’s lead to four goals. The once loud crowd in attendance is silent and a pin drop could be heard. Momentum is all in Boston’s favour.

Boston controlled the first few minutes of this period after the goal as well, shooting the puck often, making wise defensive decisions and just looking good. Eight minutes into the middle period, Jaden Schwartz hits McAvoy behind the Bruins net. Only seconds later, McAvoy clears the puck but catches his stick on Brayden Schenn’s stick and he goes off. While McAvoy skates to the box, Pat Maroon and Zdeno Chara go off for unsportsmanlike conduct, leaving Boston without Chara and McAvoy on the PK. However, no issues as the B’s make their eighteenth straight successful penalty kill and we are back to even strength.

In need of serious momentum, the Blues get some great zone control when the Bruins are dead tired – needing a desperate line change. St. Louis knows this and makes sure they cannot go off, cycling the puck down low and eventually scoring past Tuukka Rask. Ivan Barbashev fires a shot from a Zach Sanford pass in front that takes a double deflection off of Charlie McAvoy, cutting the lead to three.

Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron get another good zone entry with some good passing before Brad Marchand draws a penalty on Colton Parayko. While Parayko sits in the box, the Bruins make it look easy. Clean, tape-to-tape passes by the Bruins eventually lead to a bullet shot from Torey Krug that deflects off of a Blues defenceman in front of the net and beats Binnington. Immediate response to St. Louis’ tally and Jordan Binnington is pulled as a result, Jake Allen enters the cage.

The Blues had some chances later in the period, including a post shot, but failed to strike again. David Perron ran into Tuukka Rask with about twenty seconds remaining, followed by a nose-to-nose staredown between the Bruins goaltender and the Blues forward. Rask had no intentions of touching him, a great show of self-control and calmness from the Finnish netminder. The second period ends not long after, 5-1 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 18

Score: 5-1 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (8) PP Assists: Krug (13), Bergeron (6); Barbashev (3) Assists: Sanford (1), Steen (3); Krug (2) PP Assists: Marchand (12), Bergeron (7)

Third Period:

Less than a minute into the final regulation period, the game returns to 4-on-4 hockey. In the middle of a net-front battle, Clifton cross-checks Sammy Blais and the arm of the official goes in the air. After the whistle blows, David Perron also gets called on a minor penalty – two for roughing.

Not long into the pair of penalties, Brandon Carlo takes a careless interference penalty on Ryan O’Reilly right in front of Tuukka Rask, forcing the game to 4-on-3. St. Louis tried to make passes around the triangle formation of Boston’s defence, but they failed to get much through the bodies in front and both the 4-on-3 and the 5-on-4 afterwards conclude with no goals for the Blues.

Six minutes into the frame, captain Zdeno Chara takes another penalty for Boston. On the power-play, Colton Parayko fires a shot from the point, bounces off of Brandon Carlo and knuckles over the shoulder of Rask, making it a three-goal game once again. Blues end the 19-kill streak on the penalty-kill for Boston.

A careless third period for Boston continues when Jake DeBrusk goes to clear the puck out of the zone but clears it out of the rink in the meantime. Third consecutive power-play for St. Louis in the period, with a chance to make it 5-3 with over thirteen minutes remaining. Boston’s players shorthanded do a great job with a textbook PK, shutting St. Louis down fully – back to even strength.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled goaltender Jake Allen with 5:30 remaining in the game, trying to get a quick goal and make this one a little bit more interesting. The Bruins took until under two minutes left in the game, Joakim Nordstrom feeding it to Noel Acciari for the 6-2 goal. Just beforehand, McAvoy blocked a huge shot on the inside of the knee and was in some pain on the bench.

Somewhere in there, the Blues take another penalty and Boston does not go easy, Marcus Johansson strikes on a clean one-timer goal – Boston going 4-for-4 on the man-advantage and take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 7-2 victory on the road.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 STL: 29

Final Score: 7-2 Bruins – 2-1 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .931 SV%

2nd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 22:09 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 58% Faceoffs, 15:58 TOI

Game Four goes down Monday, June 3rd at 8:00pm EST in St. Louis, Missouri.

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.