The Disappearance of the Boston Bruins First Line

brad_marchand_patrice_bergeron_david_pastrnak.jpg(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports Photo)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

It’s been a few days since the Boston Bruins suffered a tough end to a well-hard played season and as many weigh in on exactly what went wrong, it’s hard not to discuss one glaring issue: the production of the first line.

NHL Insider for NBC Sports Joe Haggerty dubbed the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak “The Perfection Line.”  Throughout the regular season, the Bruins top line combined for many of the games top points and Brad Marchand hit 100 career points. At the end of the postseason, they combined for 59 points but despite that, the struggles of the first line had become a hot topic.

(Photo Credits: Harry How/Getty Images)

Last season saw the first line leading in team production, however, it was evident that the Bruins wouldn’t be able to survive on one line alone. This season Boston’s story turned around and as the team fought through injuries, the “next man up” mantra came into fruition. The Bruins kept winning despite all the line juggling and soon saw themselves punching their way into the Playoffs. The fourth line went full-steam ahead and with the addition of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, Boston found their missing pieces.

As the Bruins trailed the series 3-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the top line exploded with Marchand tallying up two goals and an assist, Bergeron with an assist and Pastrnak had two assists, forcing a Game Seven. But when it came time for Round Two and Round Three, things started to dry up a bit. Early on, Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the concern in regards to the lack of  production from the top line-most notably Marchand:

“We asked him to attack a little more. What happens with Brad is if the puck’s not going in, he wants to make plays for Pasta, because Pasta can score, Berg, they’re all 30-goal scorers, so [Brad] defers a little bit. If the pass is there, obviously make it, but don’t be afraid to shoot. You saw it the other night, he rang one off the post, had one cross screen and nice blocker save, [Sean] Kuraly almost got the rebound, so there was some stuff going on there for him. I thought Pastrnak was closer than that, had a block on a wraparound, so he’s getting inside. That encourages me. So I feel they’re close, but St. Louis is tough. It’s tough to get inside, they defend well, goaltender’s playing well. So it’s a good battle right now.”

As with the Toronto series, the Bruins found themselves with their back against the wall, but were able to push back and force Game Seven on home ice.  But when the time was needed for Boston’s once-feared first line to explode again, the trio garnered little to no points and missed many scoring chances in the final Game Seven. If you look strictly at the plus/minus, all three had a -3 or -4  at one point in the series.

Related image(Photo Credits: NBC Sports)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Game Seven was arguably the most important game for the Bruins and it was a quite…lackluster. And while you can’t place blame on just one line nor should you expect just one to produce all the goals, the drought was ill-timed. The final game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is one of sports biggest stage and there were many mistakes made. For Marchand, that badly timed line-change is something he will always “live with.” And when asked about the line’s struggles,  Marchand stated:

“I mean, that’s playoff hockey. You’re not going to dominate every game, you’re not going to score every goal. It is what it is. Obviously, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we would’ve liked to be better. That’s hockey.”

For as tough as this loss was, the focus will now turn to the buyout period and free agency. Changes are inevitable and many of the young players have expressed their strong desire to stay right here in Boston. In a few months, the team will once again come together and whether or not Coach Bruce Cassidy keeps the top line together remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure… the Bruins will use this loss as a lesson and raise the Cup sooner than you think.

Everything You Need To Know About The Boston Bruins Break Up Day

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, lies on the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues Monday, June 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Zdeno Chara

This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.

Kevan Miller

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.

Dec 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) takes a knee on the ice during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

( Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/ USA TODAY Sports )

David Krejci

No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”

Jake Debrusk

He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.

Brad Marchand

It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.

David Pastrnak

Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.

John Moore

This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”

Charlie Mcavoy

Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.

Boston Bruins’ Marcus Johansson was hospitalized after an enormous hit by the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland sent him flying to the ice during Tuesday’s game.Â

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”

Noel Acciari

The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.

Steven Kampfer

The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”

David Backes

Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.

Torey Krug

One of the biggest question marks of this offseason is “definitely very aware of the situations and scenarios that can play out” but also “wants to be here forever.”

B’s Chara Confirms He Played Through Multiple Jaw Fractures

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

( Photo Credit: The Buffalo News )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara confirmed today during the end of season media availability that he indeed played through a broken jaw and in fact played through multiple fractures in his jaw after blocking a Brayden Schenn shot in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The expected recovery for Chara is 5-6 weeks.

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Chara made a miraculous return to the lineup just days after suffering the injury, as he didn’t miss any time in the lineup. He, however, only played 16:42 in the Game five loss as the Bruins decided to play seven defensemen. The 42-year-old then played 22:15 in the B’s 5-1 win in Game six which was the second-highest time on ice total on the team. With his goal in Game six, Chara became the oldest player to score in a Stanley Cup Final game, and with his appearance in Game seven, he broke the record for most Game seven appearances with 14.

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Chara signed a one-year extension on March 28th as he was set to go into this offseason unsigned. There’s obviously no guarantee he does indeed come back as it would be feasible for him to retire as well. Knowing him, however, I would be very surprised if he chose to hang them up. It will be interesting to see if his minutes decrease next season considering his age and considering the capable young defensemen on the Bruins roster already.

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?

“Score” Another Record For Playoff Bruins

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

When you hit “21” in BlackJack, you’re an automatic winner. For the Black N’ Gold, that number hits upon a lot of winners this postseason as well.

Namely, the twenty one different goal-scorers the Bruins have had since the playoffs began earlier this Spring (and since they’re just about playing into Summer, that’s saying something). Not since the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers has any team balanced the score sheet so consistently and productively as this year’s beloved B’s. The “next man up” mantra should add the phrase to score at the end of it because no matter who Boston has inserted into the lineup on any given playoff night, that player has found a way to impact the game –and the net– in short order.

And it’s not just the top guys we’re talking about here… it’s the Karson Kuhlmans and Steven Kampfers and Brandon Carlos who are contributing just as important and timely of goals as the Patrice Bergerons, Brad Marchands & David Pastrnaks of the team. THAT is why the Bruins have beaten the likes of the Leafs, Blue Jackets & Hurricanes. THAT is why the B’s are pushing St. Louis to the brink. THAT is why Boston is on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup in what is, and what will undoubtedly be, a truly historic Game 7 on home ice at TD Garden (in fact, it’s the first ever Bruins SCF Game 7 at home in franchise history).

So, to recap, who exactly are these 21 goal scorers? It’s probably easier to just write “everyone not named John Moore or Tuukka Rask.” But, thanks to our friends at NBC Sports Boston, we can now show you in all its Gloria-gouging glory:

That’s right… the B’s had 13 different goal scorers in Round One versus Toronto; 3 more in Round Two versus Columbus; another 3 in Round Three against Carolina; and thus far 2 more battling the Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. Add ’em up… 13 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 21. Dealing out all the player cards below, that’s an impressive sight no sleight of hand needed!

(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins)

In fact, you’ve truly got to hand it to the Bruins and their depth, something Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and management have been preaching ever since the season began way back in the Fall in China! And with hockey’s most celebrated season about to end in Boston on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019… wouldn’t it be “a banner” night indeed if the B’s could bring home Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup for the second time this decade, giving each of 21 goal scorers above the ultimate “win” in all of professional sports?

I’ll stand on that!

Hypothetical: If Grzelcyk Can Go, Who Is In For Bruins?

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Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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

Banged Up

While Oskar Sundqvist’s dirty hit on Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals warranted both a minor penalty and a one-game suspension, the Boston Bruins found themselves feeling the repercussions (and concussions) of that incident for a much longer period of time.

As the hit took place early on in Game 2, Grzelcyk has essentially missed five games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins have gone on to win just two of these games, while losing three games, including the game from which Grzelcyk was removed for injury. On the contrary, the Bruins have won every the single game in which Grzelcyk remained healthy during the Final. While one game is a small sample size, it’s also all that stands between the Bruins and the greatest prize in professional sports.

Damage Control

Sure, the Bruins have been able to string together a couple wins without Grzelcyk. But anyone who would argue that the Bruins’ third defensive pairing, not to mention their team as a whole, has been missing the completeness and maturity of Grzelcyk’s game has not been watching.

In Grizz’s stead, John Moore has stepped in and has been…present.   The predicament that Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the string-pullers behind the Black and Gold curtain find themselves in is a tricky one, which couldn’t come at a more critical time:

If Matt Grzelcyk is cleared to play in Game 7, do the Bruins opt to put him into the lineup, or stick with John Moore?

The Case For Grzelcyk

Bruins fans know just how good Grzelcyk is, and has been, for the entirety of the 2019 postseason. A stalwart for the Bruins all year on their third-pairing, Grzelcyk’s upside has skyrocketed far beyond what most Bruins fans imagined at the start of the season. While he showed flashes of skating ability and strong puck-moving ability last season, he elevated his game to a new level throughout 2018-2019, and well into the playoffs.

What makes his health so important to the Bruins’ success in a seven-game series against St. Louis is the exact same reason that he has been injured for the majority of the series—the St. Louis forecheck. The Blues have demonstrated a propensity for aggressive play in the offensive zone on the forecheck in an attempt to disrupt clean zone exits by Boston. This aggression has at times proven to be dirty play, manifesting itself through hits from behind, hits to the head, and the occasional slewfoot. I’m not here to enforce the rules. It seems too that, at times, the referees aren’t even here to enforce the rules.

But I digress.

Grzelcyk is not just effective in the Bruins’ own zone against St. Louis, but his ability to snap tape-to-tape passes out of the zone in concert with his ability to beat forecheckers with speed make him an invaluable asset. The quicker the Bruins can break it out of their own zone, the less time they spend there. Read a book for once.

Having a defenseman who can, at times, singlehandedly surpass a forecheck designed to make the game tougher on the Bruins, inherently makes the game easier on the entire Black and Gold roster. Fewer minutes in the D-zone means fewer tough minutes, which means that the majority of the Bruins’ energy can be allotted towards effectiveness in the offensive zone (bingos, ginos, daggers, lazershows…goals).

It would be difficult to argue that John Moore’s upside accomplishes half of what a healthy Grzelcyk’s does. As such, and as is the nature of the hypothetical I’ve raised, the issue lies with just how healthy Grzelcyk is, even if he is cleared to play.

The Case for Moore

It would be impossible to argue that John Moore has not played in the four most recent games of the Stanley Cup Final. There is video evidence of him playing in the aforementioned games. John Moore is a defenseman who has played in the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup Final.

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Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Has John Moore’s play hurt the Bruins in any overt or measurable way? No. His +/- even sits in the positives (at a whopping +1) for the series, whereas his +/- throughout the postseason stands at -3. Plus/minus does not tell the whole story of any one player’s performance. Heck (yes, heck), it doesn’t even tell all that much about a player’s performance. But you can’t ask much more of a seventh/eighth defenseman than to step into the lineup and be unremarkable.

Through his first three games of the series, Moore played… hockey. He played hockey. He wasn’t bad. He wasn’t good. But he was in the lineup, and that’s a fact.

Where this hypothetical gets even Moore interesting is after watching Moore’s performance in Game 6. Moore played 17 minutes in a must-win game, and by all accounts… he played well. Moore’s gutty performance featured a hit and three key shot blocks. While Moore has never lit the world on fire offensively with the Bruins, his best efforts have come when he plays a gritty, hard-nosed style of hockey.

While he was on the ice for 100% of St. Louis’s goals (1) in Game 6, he made a strong case to remain in the lineup for the upcoming series-clincher on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see whether Cassidy opts to keep his Game 6 lineup intact or to roll the dice and play Grzelcyk who has been on the shelf for two weeks. As for me, I hate rolling dice, but I love Matt Grzelcyk.

Butch, Please

A lot of people grow up imagining themselves scoring the game-winner in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, but not me. I grew up imagining Matt Grzelcyk scoring the Cup-winning goal. If Grizz is healthy enough to go for Game 7, I want to see him in the lineup. And if you don’t want to see that happen, then you are officially not invited to my birthday party. Sorry.

Big Thanks to Me

Before you go, I’d like you all to take a moment to appreciate that I have typed the name ‘Grzelcyk’ no fewer than twenty times. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve almost always typed ‘Grzelyck,’ on my first attempt, and have subsequently had to type Grze…#48’s name twice for every time I wanted to reference him. There were times when I wanted to quit. But I persevered. After all, this is Game 7 we’re talking about, and I wasn’t going to let a little a lot of adversity slow me down. Round of applause for me.

Bruins Backes, Wagner Likely To Sit Out Game Seven

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues

(Photo credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Boston Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy indicated on Monday that the lineup for Wednesday’s series-deciding seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals will probably look just like the one that took the ice for Sunday’s 5-1 victory, with one possible exception that seemed even less likely as the week progressed. If those plans hold up, that means former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes will once again watch the game from the TD Garden press box.

Backes has been in and out of the lineup throughout the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch for game five when Cassidy opted to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in an effort to boost the strength of a banged-up blue line. Backes also was scratched for game six in favor of the speedier Karson Kuhlman.

The decision to insert Kuhlman in the second line left wing slot that Backes had been occupying paid off for Cassidy, with Kuhlman scoring a goal and helping the second line put forth a solid effort in the win. As a result, it makes sense for the coach to stick with Kuhlman for the final game. For his part, Backes seems to be glad to play whatever role he is assigned in the team’s quest for the Cup.

Chris Wagner is another season-long contributor who likely will not dress for Wednesday’s game. Wagner, who suffered an arm injury when he blocked a shot in the third game of Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, somewhat surprisingly participated in practice leading up to Sunday’s game six. Wagner was a full participant in Tuesday’s final practice of the season, as well. However, Cassidy’s plans for game seven do not include inserting Wagner back into the mix, even if he is healthy enough to play.

With fourth liners Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari racking up first line-type minutes and contributing on the score sheet throughout the series, it would be difficult for Cassidy to justify sitting any of them in game seven to make room for Wagner. So, it appears as if the Walpole native will be joining Backes on the ninth floor cheering on his teammates on Wednesday.

That brings us to the player Cassidy dubbed “the wild card” when discussing his lineup for game seven: Matt Grzelcyk. Charlestown’s Grzelcyk was placed in concussion protocol following a hit that forced him out of game two.

Although Grzelcyk has returned to practicing with the team and with the Black Aces, most of that time, he has been donning a red non-contact jersey. Before the game on Sunday, it was announced that he had still not cleared concussion protocol, meaning he could not play in game six. Grzelcyk was still in the non-contact jersey for Tuesday’s practice, making any potential return to game action even less likely.

Even if Grzelcyk is cleared for game seven, Cassidy said there was no guarantee he would play. John Moore has been filling in during Grzelcyk’s absence, and either Moore or Connor Clifton would probably be relegated to a healthy scratch if Grzelcyk does play.

Here is the expected lineup for game seven, based on the lines at Tuesday’s practice.

 

Kuhlman Making An Impact For Bruins In Cup Final

( Photo Credit: Boston Informer )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Oftentimes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, experience makes all the difference. Typically speaking, experienced players get more opportunities because of their past performance, and they are counted on much more than inexperienced players. The Boston Bruins are no stranger to playoff experience. Three of the most important players on the team, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara have over 300 games of postseason experience.

These guys have been through all sorts of playoff battles and therefore are relied upon much more than any other players. David Backes is another example of a very experienced player who is a very respected player in the locker room. However, sometimes experience isn’t everything, and Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy made a huge decision that went against some people’s logical thinking. After scratching Backes in Game Five to play seven defensemen, Cassidy chose to insert rookie Karson Kuhlman into the lineup in favor of putting Backes back into the lineup.

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Rightfully so there were some folks unsure about Kuhlman’s insertion and unsure how he would react to playing on such an important stage, an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Final. Not only did Kuhlman play a decent game in Game Six, but he was also one of the best forwards on the ice. Playing on a big stage is nothing new for the former Minnesota Duluth Bulldog who just a year ago, helped the school win the NCAA National Championship and was named the Tournament’s MVP. Not to say the stage is the same, but you can’t deny that experience certainly helped him feel less nervous and probably not allow the nerves to affect him as much. Kuhlman showcased his best skills last night, skating, speed and his unparalleled hunger for the puck. Kuhlman is not the physical player Backes is, but he certainly more than makes up for it in the other aforementioned areas.

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Before you get the wrong idea, this is not an anti-David Backes article because myself I’ve been a fan of his since his St. Louis days. But sometimes a coach needs to recognize which skills are more useful in a certain situation. Backes certainly has made a positive impact for the B’s in the playoffs, but unfortunately, that was two rounds ago. When the Bruins trailed two games to one against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Backes was inserted into the lineup to combat the physical play, and he did just that and was one of the main reasons the Bruins ended up clinching that series by winning three straight games. Since that series, Backes has one point and hasn’t made much of an impact. The Bruins could get by with Backes in the lineup against Carolina but when playing a team that’s as physical as St. Louis, trying to match their strength isn’t the right way to go.

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Physical play is the name of the game for the St. Louis Blues, they play with grit, are hard on the puck and hit everything that moves. Interestingly enough, it perfectly describes the 2011 Boston Bruins, and yes, we all know what happened with that team. Getting down in the muck and trying to outhit and out physical, the Blues is a strategy that hasn’t worked for the Bruins in this series, and it hasn’t worked for them in the past(Tampa Bay last season). This isn’t to say the Bruins aren’t a tough team and can’t hit well, they are a physical team, but they are at their best when they play with pace and energy.

Inserting Kuhlman into the lineup seemed to inject energy into the second line, and they responded with their best game of the series. The more the Bruins can play with pace, the better chance they have to win, and at the end of the day, the goal is to give yourself the best chance to win. People might disagree about who should play, but we can all agree we want the team to win and want the team to put out the best lineup possible.

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

bruins-blues-2.jpg

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.