Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 2: Carolina at Boston: 5/12/19

5SPR6NJXUZGTBA6SDF7ELNNFPAPhoto Courtesy Of MassLive.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (9-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-4)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The game got off to a hard hitting start as Micheal Ferland had a big hit on Matt Grzelcyk in the early going. The Hurricanes had a solid start to the game with a few chances against Tuukka Rask but the goaltender stood tall. The Bruins had trouble in the opening minutes with turnovers but the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage. The Bruins began to find a rhythm in the offensive zone after a flurry of chances by the Bergeron line. The Hurricanes continued to be physical from the start as it seemed to be their game plan for Game 2.

Carolina would pick up the first power play of the game as Zdeno Chara went to the box for tripping with about eight minutes remaining in the period. The Bruins killed off the penalty despite the Hurricanes solid puck movement on the man advantage. After a slick feed from Marcus Johansson, Grzelcyk slipped a wrist shot past Petr Mrazek to give the Bruins the late first period lead.

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The Bruins seemed to get a jolt from the goal as they looked to be a lot more comfortable especially in their own zone. Boston would pick up their first power play late in the period as Justin Williams went to the box. Jake DeBrusk made it 2-0 just six seconds into the man advantage as he buried a rebound in front.

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Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go back to the penalty kill just over a minute into the second period as Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping. The B’s would kill off the penalty as the Hurricanes failed to muster much offensive zone time on the man advantage. Connor Clifton made it 3-0 Boston after another outstanding setup by Johansson just under four minutes into the middle period.

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The Bruins continued to push incredibly hard after the goal as they looked to impose their will. The Bruins continued to be very solid defensively as they didn’t allow Carolina to maintain an offensive rhythm as they looked to get back into the game. The Hurricanes continued to try to be physical towards the end of the second period but didn’t seem to be making much of a difference.

Chris Wagner was called for holding with just over six minutes left in the period as the Hurricanes looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins killed it off as Rask continued to have another strong game with a couple big stops during the man advantage. Boston would then go to the power play shortly after the kill as Williams was called for roughing. Grzelcyk made it two goals on the afternoon with a sweet backhand shot past Mrazek to make it 4-0 on the power play with about two minutes left in the period.

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Score: 4-0 Bruins

Third Period

Mrazek stayed in the net to start the third period in a slightly puzzling move but it was clear the Hurricanes were willing to roll the dice. Just over a minute into the period, David Backes stashed in a loose puck to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.

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About a minute after the goal, Bergeron was called again for tripping as the Hurricanes tried to desperately stay in the game. The Bruins killed off the penalty once again with almost no resistance and on the ensuing rush, Danton Heinen scored off of a great feed from Bergeron to make it 6-0.

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Williams made it a five goal game with a nice deflection on a shot by Justin Faulk with under nine minutes to go.

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After a bad misplay by Rask, Teuvo Teravainen buried the loose puck to give Carolina something to be happy about going into Game 3.

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Final Score: 6-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Grzelcyk. Perhaps the best player on the ice in this game, the young defenseman was everywhere and even took advantage of some scoring chances as he scored twice.

Second Star: Johansson. Another great game for the winger from Sweden who continues to potentially play his way into a new contract with the Bruins.

Third Star: Rask. While not incredibly busy, Tuukka was very solid especially when the game was still in the balance.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 1: Carolina at Boston: 5/9/19

cutPhoto Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (8-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-3)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Heinen-Coyle-Johansson

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Martinook-McKegg-Ferland

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The Bruins got off to a flying start with a few chances in the offensive zone and they looked to into the game right from puck drop. The Bergeron line had a great start to the game with a few good shifts in the attacking zone. Steven Kampfer, inserted into the lineup for the suspended Charlie McAvoy scored his first career playoff goal off a beautiful feed from Marcus Johansson about three minutes into the game.

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Sean Kuraly took a roughing penalty shortly after the goal and Sebastian Aho deflected in a shot past Tuukka Rask just seconds into the man advantage to tie the game.

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The Hurricanes got a huge swing of momentum after the Aho goal as they looked to build a lead early in the opening period. The Bruins responded to that with a few solid shifts of their own as they looked to return the momentum. Both teams started to settle in especially defensively as the scoring chances started to die down considerably. Charlie Coyle went to the box for tripping with under six minutes left in the period as Carolina looked to take the lead. The B’s killed off the penalty as Zdeno Chara took a shot off of his foot and appeared to be shaken up.

Immediately following the penalty kill, the Bruins went to the power play as Nino Niederreiter was called for slashing with about three minutes to go in the period. The Hurricanes killed off the penalty despite some good puck movement by Boston.

Score: Tied 1-1

Second Period

Brett Pesce nearly gave the Hurricanes the lead in the early moments of the period but hit the crossbar behind Rask which kept it a tied game. The B’s would be shorthanded yet again as Kuraly was called for a high stick about four minutes into the period. Boston killed off the penalty as Rask made a couple of huge saves. Both teams wasted no time renewing acquaintances with a ton of physical play and a few scrums after the whistle.

A crazy play in front resulted in Greg McKegg finding the back of the net before crashing into Rask after being pushed by Kampfer to give Carolina their first lead of the game.

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Rask made a few big stops after the goal to prevent the Hurricanes from extending the lead. The Bruins continued to have trouble generating offense as the Hurricanes began to dominate the possession game, making Boston tired from chasing the puck. The Bruins responded with a good shift from the Bergeron line as they looked to get back in the game. The Bruins picked up their second power play as Micheal Ferland went to box with three minutes remaining in the period. Carolina killed off the penalty despite some good scoring chances for the Bruins.

Score: 2-1 Hurricanes

Third Period

The Bruins got an early power play after Jordan Staal hit Chris Wagner from behind less than a minute into the period. Johansson found the back of the net towards the end of the man advantage on a loose puck in front to tie the game.

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The Bruins would receive another power play shortly after the goal as Dougie Hamilton went to the box for roughing. Patrice Bergeron buried a loose puck in front just seconds into the man advantage as the Bruins regained the lead.

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The Bruins went to the power play once again as Hamilton took another penalty, this time for interference as Boston looked to extend the lead. Carolina killed off the penalty as the Bruins struggled to maintain an offensive rhythm. The Bruins continued to respond after a trying second period as they had a strong period complete with chances from multiple lines. The Bruins also continued to be solid defensively in the final period as they anticipated several Hurricanes passes.

The Hurricanes pulled the goalie with about 2:45 to go as they looked to tie the game. Brandon Carlo scored on the empty net as the puck barely trickled into the net to essentially clinch the game. Wagner then made it 5-2 with goal off of a bad turnover to finish the game for the Bruins just seconds after Carlo’s goal.

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Final Score: 5-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Johansson. The winger had one of his best games as a Bruin, totaling two points including an important tying goal in the third period.

Second Star: Rask. The Bruin goalie continued his incredibly solid play as of late allowing just two goals and make a number of key saves.

Third Star: Kampfer. The veteran defenseman looked very solid filling in for McAvoy and didn’t look out of place at all.

Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes: In-Depth Series Preview

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Following Monday’s Game Six shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins officially move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since their Stanley Cup Finals run in the 2012-13 season. Boston now has a combined 8-6 record in the 2019 postseason and they prepare for a third-round match-up with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes entered the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card team, but courtesy of a Brock McGinn overtime winner in Game Seven, the Canes eliminated the Washington Captials who were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Carolina then faced the New York Islanders in the second round, a team who had swept the experienced Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round match-up. The ‘Bunch of Jerks’ dominated the Islanders, winning four straight – sweeping New York to meet at that time, either the Bruins or Blue Jackets.

For the second consecutive series, the Bruins will have to face a team who has had plenty of time to rest after their previous round ended while they have to deal with minimal rest in comparison to Carolina. However, the Bruins do have a few more days than they had between the Toronto and Columbus series which should be a great break for the team to regroup with only two rounds left to go.

Skaters To Look Out For

Boston Bruins:

  • F Brad Marchand: 13GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
  • F David Pastrnak: 13GP – 6G – 5A – 11P
  • F David Krejci: 13GP – 4G – 6A – 10P
  • F Charlie Coyle: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • F Patrice Bergeron: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • D Torey Krug: 13GP – 1G – 7A – 8P – 21:25 TOI
  • D Charlie McAvoy: 13GP – 1G – 5A – 6P – 24:46 TOI

The first-line trio of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had some early struggles in the 2019 postseason, but near the end of the best-of-seven series against the Blue Jackets, the top line started to heat up. In the crazy Game Five, Pastrnak tallied a pair of goals and his linemates of Bergeron and Marchand have been on the scoresheet numerous times as well.

David Krejci and Charlie Coyle have been the two best point-producing forwards aside from that line and Coyle himself has had some big goals including the game-winner in Game One’s first overtime session. Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly (not listed above) are also having themselves a big postseason. Both of them scored the insurance goal in each of the first series (Kuraly vs TOR in Game 7, Johansson vs CBJ in Game 6) and have been finding their game all over the ice.

On defense, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have arguably been the names seen the most, with them both having large time-on-ice numbers throughout the 13 games thus far, but players such as Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk have also been huge for Boston on the back-end. Going back to Game Five against Columbus, Carlo shut down Artemi Panarin in the defensive zone before passing it up to Marchand and then to Pastrnak for the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the third period.

The experience of the Bruins roster is something to watch out for as they have been able to battle through a lot of adversity throughout their years together as a core group, especially in 2018-19.

Carolina Hurricanes:

  • D Jaccob Slavin: 11GP – 0G – 11A – 11P – +8 Rating – 26:36 TOI
  • F Teuvo Teravainen: 11GP – 6G – 3A – 9P – +8 Rating – 20:20 TOI
  • F Warren Foegele: 11GP – 5G – 4A – 9P
  • F Jordan Staal: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P
  • F Sebastian Aho: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P 21:25 TOI
  • D Dougie Hamilton: 11GP – 3G – 4A – 7P 20:11 TOI
  • F Justin Williams: 11GP – 3G – 3A – 6P

Surprisingly, Jaccob Slavin leads the Hurricanes in points during the post-season with 11 assists in the same number of games. Three of those assists came in the Game Seven win over the Capitals. The 25-year-old defenceman averages the most minutes-per-game on the entire Hurricanes roster, with D Justin Faulk behind him, averaging 25:54 on the ice per game.

Behind Slavin, four Carolina forwards have nine points, putting their display of depth scoring on the max setting. Teuvo Teravainen led the team with 3-2-5 numbers in the four-game sweep of the Islanders. Seven players had three or more points in that same time span,

If the series goes to the do-or-die seventh game, then the Hurricanes will have a strong asset in captain Justin Williams. Williams holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7 with 15 throughout his career and boasts an 8-1 record in those crucial games. Williams was named the captain of Carolina in September 2018 and he has been the embodiment of leadership for the young locker room, having won the Stanley Cup on three occasions (’06 with CAR, ’12 & ’14 with LAK).

Goaltenders in the Between the Posts

BOS: Tuukka Rask – 8-5 .938 SV% – 2.02 GAA

Before the second-round battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets even started, one of the biggest concerns was how good Sergei Bobrovsky is and was most likely going to be for the duration of the series. Bobrovsky was good, but Tuukka Rask was outstanding for the Bruins for all six games, especially in the final three wins for the B’s.

In Game 4, Rask made 39 saves on 40 shots with the only goal going in creating controversy after the puck clearly hit the netting above the end boards. In Game Five, Rask was solid for the majority of the game, before allowing three third period goals in what was an insane final frame. Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella claimed Rask was “dented” after Game Five, but Tuukka came back even stronger with a 39-save shutout to eliminate Columbus.

One could very well argue that the reason that the Boston Bruins are prepping for Conference Finals, is Tuukka Rask’s elite play in net.

CAR: Curtis McElhinney – 3-0 .947 SV% 1.56 GAA OR

Petr Mrazek – 5-3 .913 SV% 2.22 GAA

Petr Mrazek was the starting goaltender throughout the regular season and was to begin the playoffs as well, eliminating the Washington Capitals and taking Game One against the Islanders. However, in Game Two, Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury that is being listed as a groin injury and did not play for the remainder of the series. Former Maple Leafs goalie, Curtis McElhinney, stepped in and won three straight to complete the sweep.

The eight-day break for Carolina allowed Mrazek to improve with his injury and it seems like he will be the goaltender that starts in Game One, but as of 1:00pm EST, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour would not directly release who that starting goaltender is. If it is McElhinney, the Bruins can expect Mrazek to be back in the lineup maybe as soon as Game Two on Sunday.

Either way, both netminders in the red and black sweaters for the Canes will be at the top of their game as they have shown throughout the postseason so far. Boston is used to playing against a hot goaltender, dealing with both Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky in the opening two rounds.

Season Series

The Bruins and Hurricanes played in three games during the 2018-19 campaign, with Boston finishing the season series with a 2-1-0 record.

  • October 30th/18: Bruins 3 – Hurricanes 2
  • December 23rd/18: Hurricanes 5 – Bruins 3
  • March 5th/19: Bruins 4 – Hurricanes 3 OT

Both of Boston’s wins over Carolina this season were only by a lone goal when the final buzzer sounded, including an overtime win to close out the season series on March 5th. Carolina won their only game of the series by a final score of 5-3. Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 37 shots against while Petr Mrazek stopped 27 of 30 shots that faced him.

Throughout the NHL history, both franchises have had some legendary playoff moments as well. That dates back to the days of the Hartford Whalers before the relocation to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 1997-1998 season. For more on that history, check out fellow BNG’s teammate Evan Michael’s article regarding the Bruins/Hurricanes before their 2019 clash.

Projected Lines for Game One

Boston Bruins:

Forwards:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defence:

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

Goaltender:

Rask

Scratched: Noel Acciari (upper-body), Karson Kuhlman (healthy), Charlie McAvoy (suspended for an illegal hit to the head), Zane McIntyre (healthy), John Moore (healthy).

Carolina Hurricanes (per @NHLCanes on Twitter):

Forwards

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defence

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

A starting goaltender has not been announced.

Scratched: Bean (healthy), Brown (healthy), Maenalenen (upper body), van Riemsdyk (upper body).

Puck drop for Game One is scheduled for tonight, May 9th at 8:00pm EST in Boston, followed by the remaining possible six games:

*if required

Game Two: Sunday, May 12th – 3pm EST in Boston

Game Three: Tuesday, May 14th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Four: Thursday, May 16th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Five*: Saturday, May 18th – 7:15pm EST in Boston

Game Six*: Monday, May 20th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Seven*: Wednesday, May 22nd – 8pm EST in Boston

With that, let the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals begin!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: EQSF Game 5: Columbus at Boston

bruins-tuukka-rask-game-4.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (JAMIE SABAU/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES)

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

The Boston Bruins are once again in the middle of a tight, best-of-seven series for the second time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tonight, the Bruins face the Jackets in Game Five in what is now a best-of-three series. A win on home ice for the Bruins gives them a chance to eliminate Columbus in Game Six.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (6-5)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (6-2)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 4-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Noel Acciari was not present at the morning practice or the pre-game warmup for the Boston Bruins. Replacing Acciari is forward Chris Wagner, who will make his way back into the lineup for the first time since Game Two in Boston.

First Period:

Due to the Kentucky Derby, the game was delayed slightly. Early on, both teams started off cautiously but the Bruins third-line had some quick shots on Bobrovsky with Danton Heinen getting a couple of them. David Backes also had some hard hits in the first few minutes of this pivotal Game 5.

The first-line of Boston, including Torey Krug blasted some shots and Bobrovsky allowed some large rebounds in the process. Bruins should look to take advantage of that idea and continue to fire shots on the net. One of Krug’s shots blasted Werenski in the ankle, causing him to fall on top of his own goaltender at the same time.

With 10:57 remaining in the opening period, the first penalty of the game gets called against the Blue Jackets. After some borderline hits from both teams, Marcus Johansson brings the puck up the ice 1-on-4, taking a slash on the hand by Cam Atkinson who heads to the box for two minutes. Boston’s power-play looked much better than the six they had on Thursday, allowing zero chances against, something that happened often in Game Six. Nonetheless, the penalty is killed off and back to 5-on-5.

Not long after the Columbus penalty-kill, Boone Jenner comes into the zone and as he goes to take a shot, Charlie McAvoy takes a slashing penalty as well. Boston gets their first chance on the penalty-kill with 8:25 left to go in period number one. Boston’s PK looked great, even taking the puck into Columbus’ zone to skate around a bit and kill off the clock. Only one true chance for Columbus on the penalty, back to even-strength.

Immediately after, the Blue Jackets are caught with six players on the ice. John Tortorella argued the call, but there was a time where six players were clearly on the ice for the Blue Jackets, tough break for them. Boston right back to the power-play with a chance to get on the board first.

The Bruins had some hard chances that either missed or were blocked, but the opportunities were indeed there. Definite improvement for Boston’s power-play going back to last game but we are back to 5-on-5.

In the concluding minutes of the period, the Blue Jackets started to get some chances to shoot off the rush into the zone, but the Bruins do a great job shutting down the extra passes, blocking shots, and when it does get to the net, Rask has been solid and calm to make the save. A solid defensive effort so far for the B’s as the first period ends.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 9 CBJ: 8

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Only 1:39 into the second period, the Bruins strike first. David Backes picks off a Columbus turnover and heads down the ice. Backes drops the puck off for Jake DeBrusk who tosses it across the zone to Krejci. Krejci originally has issues handling the rolling puck and barely touches it, narrowly beating Bobrovsky under the pad. Boston takes a 1-0 lead early on in the middle frame.

Boston used that goal as some serious momentum to start controlling this hockey game. They are forcing turnovers in the neutral zone and are doing a great job limiting chances when Columbus finds themselves in the offensive zone. The Blue Jackets are just trying to dump the puck behind Rask, but the B’s are winning the board battles, proceeding to get the puck back up the ice.

Boston’s third-line gets in on the action as well when Marcus Johansson’s one-timer from the faceoff circle gets robbed by the left leg of Sergei Bobrovsky. Charlie Coyle was the one to get the pass through the middle of the zone across to Johansson, proving that the combination of those two are getting some serious chances to score. The athleticism and flexibility of Bobrovsky continue to be on display in this series.

After some more incredible chances by the Bruins by seemingly everyone, the Blue Jackets get their best chance of the hockey game when Brandon Carlo turns the puck over in his own zone, leading to Cam Atkinson on a partial breakaway. Tuukka Rask, however, follows Atkinson all the way and makes a large save. On the play, Torey Krug is called for a holding penalty but Rask looks great nonetheless.

Right off on the power-play, the Blue Jackets’ captain Nick Foligno somehow gets around Zdeno Chara in on Rask, but again, Rask stays strong with the pad save. He is looking great once again for the Bruins. On a clear attempt, Joakim Nordstrom falls twice and then holds his shoulder in some discomfort. Nordstrom heads down the tunnel as a result but manages to return not long after. Boston kills off the penalty though, 1-0 lead still in tact.

The Bruins did not record as many shots in the second half of the second period but they also didn’t give up many either. Great net-front battles right down to the final seconds of this frame helped the Bruins end the period with a one-goal advantage heading into the final twenty minutes. Another goaltender’s dual.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 21 CBJ: 23

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Krejci (3) Assists: DeBrusk (2), Backes (3)

Third Period:

Again, early in the period, the Bruins get some great zone time on Columbus. The Blue Jackets did get some offensive control of their own, but both shots were blocked. David Pastrnak and his linemates had some shots on goal and some that missed as well, however, the B’s start the third off well.

Less than three minutes in, David Krejci uses the stick in the neutral zone to hand it off to DeBrusk. DeBrusk keeps his legs moving and gets a contested backhand on Bobrovsky, following it by colliding into Bobrovsky’s pads, causing the net to come off. Great net drive by DeBrusk and that would be great to have more often in this game and the remainder of the postseason.

Columbus gets a chance of their own on a 2-on-1 scenario with Atkinson being the pass-receiver. Just as he is about to get the pass, Joakim Nordstrom hustles back and makes a great stick check to prevent what may have been a game-tying chance. Right back the other way, on an offensive zone faceoff win, Connor Clifton pushes up the zone, feeding Marchand who gets robbed again. However, the rebound goes right to his stick and he buries that one past Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky shows evident frustration after the goal against, knowing now the Bruins are up 2-0.

Just over halfway into the period, the Blue Jackets rip a shot tight on Rask who hugs the post immediately. The play seems normal, but the refs decide to look at the play. The puck looked to have crossed the line but the puck was not seen on any of the replay angles provided. Regardless, the officials, after a lengthy review process, rule it a good goal and it becomes a 2-1 hockey game.

Less than one minute after the goal, the Boston Bruins escape on a 3-on-1 play with David Pastrnak as the puck-holder. The defenceman allows Bobrovsky to take Pastrnak as he takes the passing options but Pastrnak just rips a Pastrnak-esque wrist shot past a standing Bobrovsky and it is right back to a two-goal Boston lead. Pastrnak with the patent hand-to-ear celebration afterwards and he is finally feeling himself these playoffs.

But, again, the goals somehow come everywhere. 51 seconds after the Pastrnak insurance goal, Matt Duchene makes a quick pivot that gets Chara out of position, then feeds it across to Ryan Dzingel who shoots it top shelf past Rask with just around seven minutes to go in the third period. Three goals in 1:23.

And it doesn’t stop there. Artemi Panarin gets the puck, almost fakes the shot and passes it to Dean Kukan in the high slot. Kukan’s bomb beats Rask high and the Blue Jackets tie this hectic hockey game with six minutes left to go in this game.

Boston gets a close chance when Bobrovsky is on his stomach when Krejci drives wide and throws it in front, but right back the other way Atkinson gets a contested breakaway that goes right into the chest of Tuukka Rask. Neither team is backing down.

With 1:28 remaining in the third period, Brandon Carlo shuts down Artemi Panarin, eventually forcing an odd-man rush going the other way. Brad Marchand makes a clean pass directly to the tape of David Pastrnak who just barely squeaks the puck past Bobrovsky and the Bruins once again take a one-goal lead. Pastrnak’s second of the game.

With the goalie pulled, Matt Duchene tips a puck that would have beat Tuukka Rask but bangs right off of the post. Then, with 14.6 seconds to go, Cam Atkinson gets yet another chance in tight but thanks to the sprawling Rask and pretty much every Bruin on the ice, the puck does not cross the red line.

After Columbus’ timeout, the Bruins cannot clear the puck and Panarin’s one-timer gets blocked hard by Charlie McAvoy but the Bruins hold on and win. Game-saving block by McAvoy.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 36 CBJ: 36

Final Score: 4-3 Bruins – 3-2 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 2 Goals, 7 Shots, +3 Rating, 17:48 TOI

2nd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 20:56 TOI

3rd Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 29 Saves, .917 SV%

The series now heads back to Columbus, Ohio and the Boston Bruins have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game Six. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST on Monday, May 6th.

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

620-marchand

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.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECSF Game 2: Columbus at Boston: 4/27/19

charlie-coyle-bruins-blue-jacketsPhoto Courtesy Of Sports Illustrated

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (5-3)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (4-1)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen

Johansson-Coyle-Wagner

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson

Foligno-Duchene-Anderson

Texier-Wennberg-Bjorkstrand

Dubinsky-Jenner-Nash

Defense

Werenski-Jones

Kukan-Savard

Harrington-Clendening

Goalies

Bobrovsky

Korpisalo

First Period

Both teams got off to an energetic start especially the Bruins who threw their weight around with a few big hits. Neither team was able to get much of an attacking rhythm in the early going as not many shots were attempted. The Bruins would go to the power play with 13:31 left in the period as Josh Anderson went off for interference in front of the Boston net. Matt Grzelcyk found the back of the net over a minute into the man advantage to give the Bruins the lead.

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The Blue Jackets responded with a good shift which nearly resulted in them tying the game but the B’s defense remained strong. The game began to get a bit more physical especially after a battle in the corner in the Columbus end. The Bruins started to find an offensive rhythm with a few chances in the attacking zone but the score remained the same.

Columbus continued to have trouble generating scoring chances which resulted in them scrambling their forward lines to find some offense late in the period. A scrum behind the Boston goal after the period ended continued the physical tone the period had.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Blue Jackets picked up a power play at the end of the period as Brad Marchand served his first penalty of the postseason. Artemi Panarin blasted home the tying goal on the man advantage just over a minute into the middle period.

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The Bruins answered right back with a goal less than a minute after the Panarin goal as Charlie Coyle banked a puck in off of David Pastrnak past Sergei Bobrovsky as the B’s regained the lead.

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The Blue Jackets responded once again with a solid shift in the Boston end following the go ahead goal. The B’s would go shorthanded again as Zdeno Chara was called for tripping Cam Atkinson with under 14 minutes left in the period. The Bruins caught a break while shorthanded as Anderson was guilty of a high stick on Sean Kuraly which resulted in a four on four. Panarin made it two goals on the night after a bad turnover in the defensive zone and the Blue Jackets tied the game once again.

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The Blue Jackets killed off the ensuing power play despite the Bruins moving the puck very effectively. The second period had a much more frenzied pace as both teams skated very well but the Bruins continued to have trouble with turnovers especially in the defensive zone.

Score: Tied 2-2

Third Period

The Bruins got some solid scoring chances in the opening moments of the final period but were unable to solve Bobrovsky for a third time. The B’s seemed to be the aggressor in early going of the third, generating sone pressure in the offensive zone. Shots were hard to come by and the Bruins continued to pass up scoring opportunities to make an extra pass. The B’s started to struggle in the defensive zone as Columbus brought some pressure toward the midway point of the period.

Atkinson went to the box with 9:12 to go for tripping as the B’s looked to get the lead back. Boston failed to get any momentum on the man advantage as they couldn’t even manage a shot on goal. A long run of continuous play yielded a few scoring chances for both teams but neither could find the back of the net going into the final moments of regulation. Tuukka Rask made a gigantic save on Nick Foligno in the final minute to preserve the tie going into overtime.

End of Regulation: Tied 2-2

Overtime

Rask robbed Foligno yet again in the opening minutes of overtime with a ridiculous glove save off of a two on one rush. The Bruins held much of the possession in the early going of the extra period but couldn’t find any great scoring chances. A crazy bounce nearly went past Bobrovsky for the winning goal but he made the glove save on the bounce just over six minutes gone in the overtime. A couple of huge saves by Bobrovsky on Patrice Bergeron kept the game tied.

Charlie McAvoy took a high sticking penalty about halfway through the overtime period as Columbus looked to tie the series with a goal on the man advantage. The Bruins killed off the penalty as the Blue Jackets failed to get any legitimate chances in the offensive zone. Bergeron again has a great chance late in the session but Bobrovsky made another huge stop.

First Overtime: Tied 2-2

Second Overtime

Rask made another big save after a bad turnover in the defensive zone just seconds into the second overtime off the stick of Boone Jenner. Bergeron was whistled for tripping in the opening minutes of the second overtime session as the Blue Jackets got another chance on the man advantage. Matt Duchene ended it with a rebound goal in front on the man advantage as Columbus evened the series.

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Final Score: 3-2 Blue Jackets

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Bobrovsky. The game’s best player made the biggest saves in Game 2 and was the main reason why the Blue Jackets evened the series.

Second Star: Panarin. The Russian winger was outstanding and tallied three points in the victory for Columbus.

Third Star: Rask. The Bruins goaltender kept them in the game with a couple big saves in the overtime sessions but ultimately came up a bit short.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: EQSF Game 1: Columbus at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

After eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, the Boston Bruins are right back in action after a short, one-day break to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round Two of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blue Jackets are coming off of a four-game sweep of the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round matchup.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (4-3)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 5-1 in Game 7

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Defenceman John Moore is out of the lineup for tonight’s Game One with an upper-body injury and is considered to be day-to-day with the injury. Connor Clifton will enter the lineup in replace of Moore. In addition, forward Chris Wagner will come back into the forward core and Karson Kuhlman will be the scratch. Tuukka Rask is the starting goaltender for Boston.

First Period:

Less than a minute into round two and the Boston Bruins are bringing back the physical style of hockey that we saw in Game Two against the Maple Leafs. The fourth line of Boston, as well as Torey Krug, had some huge hits on the Blue Jackets early on and that could be a big storyline throughout this series.

About four minutes into the game, the intensity level rises just a bit. Blue Jackets d-man Scott Harrington sticks the knee out on Sean Kuraly as Kuraly enters the zone, getting called on a two-minute tripping minor in the process. Right after, Nordstrom gets into a scuffle with some opposing players, showing what kind of series this will be.

The Bruins thrive on the early power-play with some great chances, headlined by a highway robbery by Sergei Bobrovsky – a split save on a bouncing puck right in front of the net and it stays scoreless. With 43 seconds left, Boston gets caught with six players on the ice and the power-play becomes  4-on-4 play for too-many-men. Bobrovsky makes another huge stop on Charlie McAvoy as well. Fortunately, Columbus fails to get a shot on the man-advantage and we go back to 5-on-5.

The B’s forecheck has been great in the early portions of this game, but Charlie Coyle goes a bit too far, getting called on a hooking minor about halfway through the first period. Columbus has a chance on a full power-play session for the first time this series. Boston’s PK did a great job shutting down offensive chances in the neutral zone and the Blue Jackets cannot get anything going.

Continuing a great penalty-kill, Noel Acciari stands up strong on the blueline, picking up the puck off of a McAvoy poke check, turning around and heading on a 2-on-1 with Nordstrom. Instead of passing, Acciari rips one shorthanded underneath Bobrovsky’s blocker to put the Bruins up 1-0.

Brad Marchand makes a slick move to get around the defender, takes a shot that gets stopped by Bobrovsky, but the Bruins stay hard on the puck. At the other end, Cam Atkinson steals the puck off of Zdeno Chara in the Bruins defensive zone, then passes it to Ryan Dzingel in the slot. Tuukka Rask makes only his second save of the game with three minutes to go in the period on a solid chance.

Columbus closed out the first period with the best zone control they had all game, quite honestly the only time they had such pressure in the offensive zone, but the Bruins deal with the chances and not many shots end up reaching Rask. With that, Boston ends the period with a 1-0 lead. Columbus ties a franchise record for fewest shots on goal in the first period of a playoff game with four.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 14 CBJ: 4

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Acciari (1) SH Assists: McAvoy (3)

Second Period:

Just shy of three minutes into a slower-paced second period, former-Bruin Riley Nash trips up Matt Grzelcyk and Boston once again goes to the power-play. Early on, Columbus shows great improvement on the penalty-kill, but a small cycle play causes a Pastrnak one-timer that shatters his stick. The puck somehow gets to Marchand who has an open net but rings it off the crossbar and it goes up out of play. Blue Jackets kill off the penalty on Nash.

Not long after Nash leaves the box, David Krejci gets his stick on the skates of Nick Foligno at the end of his shift and the officials wave him to the penalty box. Columbus heads to the power-play for the third time already. Tuukka Rask has to make a couple solid saves – which he does so and Boston successfully makes their third kill of the night.

Midway through the game, the Blue Jackets have clearly found their game that was absent in the first frame. Already more shots in the second period than the opening period for Columbus and they have begun to start the cycle on a couple occasions. Boston forced to ice it a few times in the process.

With 5:30 remaining in the frame, Patrice Bergeron is called on a hooking call when he makes a play to shut down a David Savard chance on Rask. Yet again, Bruins off to the 5-on-4 penalty-kill tonight. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has a wide open net on a rebound but the bouncing puck goes over the blade of his stick and no shot comes off. Marchand gets a contested breakaway shorthanded but with the good defence by Bjorkstrand, he is unable to get the shot off. The chance is enough to kill off the penalty, though.

Brad Marchand, who has been all over the puck since hitting the crossbar, gets the puck on a short 2-on-1 with Pastrnak. Pastrnak gets interfered with by Zach Werenski and with around one minute left in the second, Boston goes to the power-play. Off of a terrific diving play to keep the puck in by Torey Krug, Bruins get numerous high-quality chances, but the period ends before a goal goes in. B’s will have 48 seconds on the power-play to start the third.

Columbus out-shot the Bruins 10-to-6 in that middle frame and Boston has allowed them to get their legs in this game. Boston needs a goal early in the final regulation period to give them the momentum back in this Game One contest. It should be an entertaining upcoming twenty minutes of action.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 CBJ: 14

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period:

Unable to strike on the short power-play to begin the period, the Bruins get a full one 1:20 into the third on a holding minor against Boone Jenner. Just seconds beforehand, Jenner took a shot on the rush that hit Rask’s glove and then the post but stayed out. Marchand again gets the best chance on the power-play, a deflection on a slap pass from Pastrnak that just goes wide. Blue Jackets block a few hard shots including one off of Zach Werenski’s hand. He has been the top minute-eating defenceman for Columbus and losing him would hurt. Boston, though, can’t score again on the man-advantage.

In a game that felt like a regular season game at times results in a Seth Jones point shot that gets deflected by former-Bruin Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky, tying the game at one. Only thirteen seconds after that, Artemi Panarin takes a hard slapshot towards Rask and it hits Pierre-Luc Dubois’ leg, beating Rask. All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets have a 2-1 lead in the third.

Looking for a response, Joakim Nordstrom takes a spinning shot and somehow Sean Kuraly gets his stick on a loose puck but his attempt gets stopped by with a desperation save by Bobrovsky. Boston’s fourth line continues to have the best chances for the team and that usually does not win you consistent playoff games.

A slower period than expected, Marcus Johansson comes down the right-wing side with head up all the way and he makes a slick backhand pass to Charlie Coyle and his bomb of a one-timer goes in and out so fast that it almost seemed like a post shot, but Coyle and the official behind the net saw that it went in short-side and the Boston Bruins have tied this game with just under five minutes in regulation.

In the final minutes, Charlie McAvoy gets absolutely levelled behind Tuukka Rask by Josh Anderson. McAvoy returned the favour to Boone Jenner later in the shift as Jenner tried to cross the Bruins blueline. High intensity in the concluding moments with some hard pushes by Boston but we head to overtime for the first time in the playoffs for the Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 CBJ: 21

Score: 2-2 – Goals: Dubinsky (1) Assists: Nash (1), Jones (3); Dubois (2) Assists: Panarin (4), Jones (4); Coyle (4) Assists: Johansson (1), Krug (4)

Overtime:

In the first few minutes of the overtime session, it is apparent that David Krejci is not on the bench nor the ice for the Bruins. Talks are that Krejci took a hard hit at the end of the third period, but no clear play of injury is present.

Leave it up to the third line. Marcus Johansson tosses the puck high up for Danton Heinen who just barely gets into the zone onside. Zach Werenski pauses to protest for a possible offside, which allows Charlie Coyle to get around him. In the meantime, Johansson feeds a perfect pass to Coyle for a deflection goal. Bruins win Game One, 3-2 in overtime.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 37 CBJ: 22

Final Score: 3-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Charlie Coyle – 2 Goals, OT Winner, 2 Shots, 3 Hits,

2nd Star: CBJ G Sergei Bobrovsky – 34 Saves, .919 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Marcus Johansson – 2 Assists, 2 Shots, 16:20 TOI

Game Two is currently scheduled for 8:00pm EST on Saturday, April 27th in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bruins Should Not Overlook Series Against Columbus

bruins_blue_jackets

( Photo Credit: NECN.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Boston Bruins are set to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday night at TD Garden. After a thrilling game seven win over the Toronto Maple Leafs just two days ago, the Bruins hope the momentum will carry over into the second round against the Blue Jackets who stunned the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning with a first-round sweep.

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The road to the Stanley Cup Finals will go through Boston as the Black ‘N Gold are the highest remaining seed in the postseason. For the first time in NHL postseason history, all four division winners were eliminated in the first round with all four Wild Card teams advancing.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs in a stunning turn of events and similarly the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy and record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning out of the first round. On Wednesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in double-overtime to move on.

In the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks defeated the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of game seven to move onto face Colorado who also completed a stunning upset when they beat the Western Conference top seed Calgary Flames in only five games. In recent seasons, the Nashville Predators have been a large favorite to come out of the west. However, this season was different when the Dallas Stars defeated the Preds in six games to propel Dallas into the West Semifinals.

In January, the St. Louis Blues were dead last in the NHL but stormed back to make a playoff appearance in the Central Division. They handled the Winnipeg Jets in six games and have moved onto the second round to face the Dallas Stars.

The Stanley Cup Playoff first round has been incredibly fun to watch with the upsets and storylines in each series. With these upsets, the Bruins remain as the highest seed in the playoffs and means that they will have home-ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs. This bodes well for the Bruins as the B’s went 29-9-3 at the TD Garden in the regular season and won a pivotal game seven at home on Tuesday night 5-1 over the Maple Leafs.

With the results around the league, it can be easy for the Bruins to look ahead to the Conference Finals and even the Stanley Cup finals because of some of the favorites being out of the race in the first round. However, it is essential that the Bruins do not look past Columbus in the second round series.

The Blue Jackets finished as the second Wild Card team in the East and nearly missed the postseason after a fairly strong but inconsistent season. After making the dance, they faced the heavy cup favorite in Tampa who tied the single-season record for most wins with 62. A lot of people picked Tampa to sweep Columbus but instead, John Tortorella and his team shocked the sports world and swept them instead. With strong goaltending, team defense, and production from their superstar forwards including deadline acquisition Matt Duchene who leads the team with three goals and four assists for seven points, the Blue Jackets are a strong team that should not be overlooked just because of their seeding. Sergei Bobrovsky has played like his Vezina self posting a .932% save percentage this playoff and shut down the superstars for the Lightning in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

It was said by fans and some media members in Boston that after the slow start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, that the Bruins might have overlooked the Leafs and were already thinking about facing Tampa Bay in the second round. Both the team and the fans should not take Tortorella’s squad lightly. The Blue Jackets have proven to the hockey world that they belong in the playoffs and are a strong team and the Bruins should not take them lightly. The Bruins powerplay helped them out in their series against Toronto and went seven for sixteen on powerplay chances in the series which was second in powerplay percentage during the first round only behind the Blue Jackets who buried five PP goals on 10 opportunities against Tampa Bay. Alternatively, the Blue Jackets were tied for the top penalty kill percentage in the regular season and killed off 83% of the Lightning PP opportunities in round number one. 

It is exciting to look at the remaining Eastern Conference teams and to realize that the road to the Finals goes through TD Garden, but the Bruins and the Bruins faithful must focus on the Blue Jackets should not think that this will be an easy series — because it wont. However, as it is encouraging and exciting to see an “easier” road to the finals but as we all know there is no easy route to the championship especially in hockey with every team deserving to be here.

This is another tough matchup for the Bruins who will be battling a very good team in a best of seven series and will be another fantastic coaching matchup between Bruce Cassidy and John Tortorella. The Bruins must come out strong against Columbus who haven’t played in nine days and set the tone for the series and continue their strong play that emerged in game six and seven against Toronto.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 7: Toronto at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Tonight, it ends. The first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs see yet another Game 7. Both teams have had strong games, weak games, and everything in between. For one team, they move on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round Two, the other heads home for the offseason.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (3-3)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 4-2

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Everything remains the same for the Bruins after Sunday’s Game 6 victory in Toronto. Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen are the starting goaltenders for Boston and Toronto.

First Period:

Right out of the gate, the Bruins attacked the Leafs defence with some quick shots and a close wraparound shot by David Pastrnak. Frederik Andersen seemed a tad bit slow on the wraparound but makes the save nonetheless. Boston looking not too bad to start off this Game 7. Not too long after, Tuukka Rask makes a large save for himself on Auston Matthews right in the slot.

Later in the early stages to the period, the Bruins with some solid shots on goal or some that just miss by a hair. Torey Krug lightens up the crowd even more than they already are with a huge hit on Trevor Moore that knocks his helmet off. After a solid Game 6, Krug is looking to have another big playoff game tonight.

As the period continued, Boston seemed to relax a little or Toronto just had their legs more. Both teams commit numerous icings consecutively but the Leafs are the ones getting shots and pressure on the Bruins defence. Tuukka Rask has made some good stops including some huge saves on Mitch Marner but the B’s need to be better defensively.

With around five minutes to go in the opening frame, the Bruins fourth line strikes first. Noel Acciari picks off a breakout pass by the Maple Leafs just on the line, feeding it to Sean Kuraly. Kuraly drives the puck in deeper, getting a shot on, but it is Joakim Nordstrom that somehow beats Andersen right in front of him. The puck found the smallest gap imaginable and quite frankly, I’m not sure Nordstrom even saw that opening. No matter what, Bruins are up 1-0 late in the first.

With the crowd going crazy in the TD Garden, Jake Gardiner makes a terrible turnover behind his own net with Kuhlman close behind him, leading the puck to Marcus Johansson who spins and shoots the puck past Andersen. Johansson finally gets on the board for his first goal of the postseason and Boston takes a big 2-0 lead late in the frame. With the constant pressure on the top-six by the Leafs, the Bruins’ bottom-six needs to show up and so far, they are.

As the final seconds tick away, Boston nearly strikes again with some good chances by DeBrusk, (who is all over the puck tonight) and Pastrnak. However, Andersen makes a big toe save and we enter the first intermission.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 11 TOR: 12

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Nordstrom (2) Assists: Grzelcyk (4), Kuraly (1); Johansson (1) Unassisted

Second Period:

In the first five minutes, Bruins get some chances off a long airborne pass to Pastrnak but some fanned shots don’t result into anything. Exactly 3:54 into the period, John Tavares comes onto the ice, gets the puck, and snipes one far-side on Tuukka Rask to cut into Boston’s lead. Tyler Ennis does a great job taking the puck away from the Bruins player – resulting in the goal. 2-1 Bruins early in the second.

The goal for Toronto gave them tons of momentum as the Matthews line puts hard pressure on with some high-quality shots and chances but with the help of Rask’s play in net, Boston keeps it 2-1. The Bruins need a big hit or preferably, another goal to shift the momentum once again.

Eight minutes into the second, Zdeno Chara does a great job pinching to keep the puck in the offensive zone. As a result, Danton Heinen rips a wrist shot at Andersen’s chest, leaving a juicy rebound for Brad Marchand. Marchand shifts the puck to his backhand but cannot lift the shot over the sprawling Andersen. Extremely close opportunity to extend the lead to two goals again.

In a net-front battle, Brandon Carlo cross-checks the back of Andreas Johnsson and the officials are not going to have it and Carlo goes to the box for two minutes. I personally think it is a weak call, but it is called so Boston heads to the penalty-kill. The Maple Leafs get some close calls with the scary threats of Matthews, Marner, Tavares, and Rielly but a lot of missed shots keep it a one-goal game. Boston successfully kills off the penalty.

Even though the game is back to 5-on-5, Boston is allowing the Leafs to walk all around their zone and they fully rely on Tuukka Rask in the net. Fortunately, Rask has made some big saves but the five skaters on the ice wearing the Spoked-B are chasing the Maple Leafs and cannot form any sort of breakout whatsoever.

Eventually, the Bruins get some offensive control of their own and the team is able to make a successful line change while in Toronto’s zone. In the final six minutes or so, the B’s have been able to shut down a lot of the chances against Rask and they have looked a bit better since the goal by Tavares.

With all of that, the second period ends there – only twenty minutes remain in Game Seven. The Boston Bruins finished the frame with a lot better pressure and much better control. Not as many shots, but a good end to the period. Also, some post-whistle pushing and shoving before we head into the second intermission.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 TOR: 25

Score: 2-1 Bruins – Goals: Tavares (2) Assists: Ennis (2)

Third Period:

Twenty minutes to go… and the Bruins strike early. Noel Acciari leaves the puck for Sean Kuraly in the neutral zone. Kuraly weaves into the Leafs zone with slick hands and snipes it clean past Rask. The clutch play by Sean Kuraly in the playoffs continue with this massive insurance goal less than three minutes into the third period. He has been a key player for Boston in the two games that he has returned.

With 14:41 to go in the third, the linesman catches the Bruins with six players on the ice – too-many-men – a bench minor that will put Boston to the penalty-kill for the second time tonight. Boston kills off the penalty will almost ease and it is back to 5-on-5, impressive to be honest.

As the minutes go by, the Bruins play gets better and better. All of a sudden, the Maple Leafs are having trouble entering the zone, especially Mitch Marner and John Tavares. Boston is not laying back, but not taking risks either. It is a calm style of game for the Bruins right now and it is exactly what they want.

Toronto did not have many great opportunities to score in the final regulation period, except for a close call that took a weird bounce off of the post. Mike Babcock pulled Andersen with roughly three minutes to go in the game and Sean Kuraly makes a nice play to allow Krejci to find Charlie Coyle who buries it in the open cage. Bruins take a 4-1 lead and are only minutes away from round two. Bergeron added an empty-net goal in the final seconds to make it 5-1.

And with that, the Boston Bruins eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games and advance to the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 32 TOR: 33

Final: 5-1 Bruins – BOS wins series 4-3

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 28 Saves, .970 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 50% Faceoffs

3rd Star: BOS F Joakim Nordstrom – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 5: Toronto at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

On Wednesday night, the Boston Bruins tied up their Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 6-4 victory in Toronto. With the win, Boston regains home-ice advantage in what is now a best-of-three series. The winner of tonight’s Game 5 will have the opportunity to end the series on Sunday in Game 6.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (2-2)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 6-4

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Sean Kuraly makes his long-awaited return to the lineup after dealing with a hand injury since late March while Joakim Nordstrom is the healthy scratch to allow Kuraly back in the forward lines.

First Period:

The first period for this critical Game 5 was back and forth for all twenty minutes but at no time did either team “dominate” the other. Bruce Cassidy went with the Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari against that top line of the Maple Leafs off the opening draw, but as the period went on, we began to see more of a Bergeron/Tavares matchup on the ice.

The Leafs did have a lot of pressure in the offensive zone, putting some good shots on Tuukka Rask in the first half of the period, but the Bruins managed to get the puck out of the zone most of the time. On too many occasions, Toronto had possession of the puck and winning the battles along the boards.

Regardless, Rask made the saves he needed to make and Boston did get a few opportunities on some rushes of their own. Both Toronto and Boston stayed firm in the defensive zone, protecting the middle of the ice and forcing the offence to use the outside of the zone to get their chances. Neither team is making many mistakes and it made for a tight frame.

With three minutes to go, Zach Hyman gets called on a tripping minor that many people think was a light call, however, Boston is going to the first power-play of the game. On the man-advantage, both David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk get close chances, but either the shot missed the cage, or was stopped by Frederik Andersen. Bruins cannot score and the buzzer sounds for the first.

After the whistle, Auston Matthews took some shots at Zdeno Chara to try and get under the skin of the captain but to no avail. It was much better last six minutes for the Bruins than Toronto and that momentum needs to be used heading into an important second period.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 6 TOR: 7

Score: 0-0

Second Period

Toronto opens the second period with some good shots but Tuukka Rask looks a lot calmer and relaxed at this stage of the game compared to Wednesday in Toronto. Auston Matthews took some shots at the chest of Rask as well as some slight deflection shots but score stays scoreless.

Less than five minutes into the frame, Boston begins to make some passes around the Maple Leafs’ zone, resulting in a hooking minor against Patrick Marleau on David Krejci. Some of the best chances so far on the end of either team came from that man-advantage, including a Pastrnak one-timer that bounced off of Andersen’s pads. Other than that, the Leafs kill the penalty off and we return to 5-on-5.

Nearing the halfway mark of the middle regulation period, the Bruins get a chance off of  Brad Marchand wrist shot that leaves a sneaky rebound to David Pastrnak. Pastrnak’s rebound is batted off of the iron and the side of Andersen and remains out of the net. The Bruins continue the strong offence, but the Leafs are exhausted. A bouncing puck around the boards leads to Mitch Marner who golf swings his stick, hitting the puck up and over the glass – delay-of-game penalty and B’s are back to the power-play.

A weird bouncing rebound off Andersen somehow sets up Kasperi Kapanen on a shorthanded breakaway. Fortunately, Kapanen misses the net high and wide. Bruins, still on the man-advantage, turn it over in the neutral zone, leading Hyman to drive into the zone. Hyman is cut off but crashes hard into the end boards. He is slow to get up to his feet, similar to Game 4. Ultimately, Hyman remains on the bench in some discomfort and the Bruins’ terrible power-play ends there.

Easily the best chance of the game so far comes from David Krejci’s stick. Marchand left the puck for Krejci who took a quick shot and it appeared to cross the line. Even Pastrnak thought it went in, but the call on the ice was no goal by the official by the net. After seeing the replay, the shot rifled where the crossbar and the post meet, cleanly beating Andersen but the game remains nodded at zero.

Late in the frame, still 0-0, Tyler Ennis makes a strong move to the net around Matt Grzelcyk, curling in front of Rask but Tuukka stays strong and firm, stopping the chance cleanly. About a minute following, Kapanen takes a rip at Rask as well and cannot find the back of the net. Game 5 heads into the third and final period with a 0-0 tie.

It has been a very tight, defense-first type of hockey game with neither team giving up a chance to score or even get high-quality shots on goal. Only a combined 31 shots have hit the goaltenders and that is due to the lack of shots hitting the net and the high traffic in the slot area. In addition to the middle-heavy defence, shots are coming from the point. It really seems like the next goal scored with be the game-winning tally.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 15 TOR: 16

Score: 0-0

Third Period:

In a game where it truly seems like the next goal will win it, both teams come out with Boston taking the best chances early. A few icing calls against Toronto led to some shots against the tired Leafs unit. Sean Kuraly also got a short rush and ripped a quick wrister that hit Travis Dermott and then fell over top of Dermott. Good chances but still nothing.

Not long after, the Leafs try to get a rush of their own with Connor Brown, who has had a great game all over the ice, takes a shot that hits the side of the cage and gloved down by Rask. At the same time, Brown gets absolutely levelled by Chris Wagner with a hard collision. Charlie Coyle came right back with one of his own as well. Not many hard hits, but Boston may look to go that route at this stage.

With around 12 minutes left to tick away in the third, right before the TV timeout, the Bruins are called on a too-many-men call. A tough call to hear – sending Toronto to their first power-play of the night. Toronto blasted some bombs and got some solid shots on net too, but Boston holds on to kill the entire two minutes off.

With 8:27 remaining, Jake Muzzin makes a brilliant feed to Auston Matthews on the opposite side of the zone who blasts it past Rask to finally put a goal on the board. However, Cassidy challenges for goalie interference on Zach Hyman. On the screen, it appears that there was some contact with Rask in front of the net, but the call on the ice stands – good goal. 1-0 Toronto.

The game started to open up following that goal and it showed. Some intelligent passes by the Leafs lead to a 3-on-2 rush for Toronto – leading to a Kapanen goal past Tuukka Rask. After a tight forty minutes, Toronto takes a 2-0 lead in the game and the Bruins are looking in a tough spot.

The trio of Coyle, McAvoy, and Johansson had some fantastic chances in the dying three minutes with Rask on the bench but somehow the puck never crossed the goal line. Every time it appeared to be close, Andersen or a defenceman somehow got a piece of the puck.

With the goalie pulled, amazing patience by Pastrnak to fake a shot and pass it to Krejci on the other side of Frederik Andersen leads to the first goal for Boston with 43.4 seconds to go. There is some life in not only the players but the fans as well.

The Boston Bruins had a few shots, including one off the faceoff with one second remaining, but too little way too late and the Toronto Maple Leafs win Game 5 on the road, taking a 3-2 series lead heading back to Toronto on Sunday.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 TOR: 27

Final Score: 2-1 Maple Leafs

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: TOR G Frederik Andersen – 28 Saves, .966 SV%

2nd Star: TOR F Kasperi Kapanen – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 15:56 TOI

3rd Star: TOR F Auston Matthews – 1 Game-Winning Goal, 5 Shots, 17:44 TOI

With Boston’s season on the line, the series goes back to Toronto on Sunday for Game 6. Puck drop scheduled for 3pm EST.