Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 3: Boston at Carolina

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(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Carolina Hurricanes

Away: Boston Bruins

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

Svechnikov – Staal – Teravainen

Niederreiter – Aho – Williams

Foegele – McKegg – McGinn

Ferland – Wallmark – Maenalanen

Defense

Slavin – Hamilton

Pesce –  Faulk

Fleury –  de Haan

Goalies

McElhinney

Mrazek

First Period

Round one in PNC Arena came with high stakes for both teams. Would the Bruins go up 3-0, or would Carolina put the pressure on?

Things started off on a sour note for the Bruins, as the Canes established offensive pressure early, and Teuvo Teravainen somehow missed a wide-open Bruins net. Brandon Carlo then inadvertently gave them a power play as a result of a delay of game call. The power play came just 55 seconds into the period.

The first scrum of the game came after the first whistle on the power play as some real estate in the Bruins heads could be beneficial in making this series interesting. The Bruins killed off the power play in large part thanks to two huge saves by Tuukka Rask in front of the net at the end of the power play on Micheal Ferland and Justin Williams

Carolina’s power-play struggles continued, moving to 5 for 46 after the conclusion of their first man advantage of game three. But, the Canes definitely pushed the pace early on, and Rask stood tall.

The shots were 11-1 Canes through about six and a half minutes. That’s not what you want if you’re the Bruins. At this point, Torey Krug and Justin Williams went off on matching minor penalties, holding for Krug, roughing for Williams, 4-on-4 hockey commenced for two minutes.

The Bruins started to see some good chances come their way at the conclusion of the 4-on-4. The energy was high on both sides in the first period. The high-danger shots were there for Carolina, tasking the Bruins with limiting those going forward if they wanted any chance of winning.

A scoring chance from David Backes, a scrum, and a video review ensued around the halfway point of the period. The principal point of discussion was how the puck crossed the line, but the call stood in favor of the Canes. Shortly after, Williams ate another poop sandwich and was the only one in the penalty box after another altercation with Krug.

Just 45 seconds into the power play, Jake DeBrusk went off for slashing, creating a 4-on-4 for 1:15. That wasn’t all, as six seconds later, David Krejci made it 4-on-3 thanks to a high-sticking penalty. Even after the man advantage became a 5-on-3 for a little bit, the Canes failed to convert, and Rask looked solid again.

A big scrum ensued after another huge save from Rask, keeping with the trend, on Maenalanen. Former Minnesota Wild teammates Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter even went after it. Coyle, Krug, and Maenalanen went to the box following the scrum, Carolina came out with a 5-on-4. Stop if you’ve heard this before, Rask played awesome on the penalty kill and held the Canes scoreless.

The Krug and Williams fiasco extended into the final two minutes, as Williams intentionally went up high and Krug and sat for two as a result.

The Bruins failed to score on the man advantage before the end of the period, but had the 27 remaining seconds bled into the second period for the Bruins. Overall, it was an ugly period, with the final shots sitting at 20-6.

Here’s a visual:

Not great, despite the Bruins winning 61% of the faceoffs. I can’t imagine Bruce Cassidy was very happy with anyone in the locker room, besides Rask.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

The Bruins gave themselves and Rask a pick me up early in the second period. Joakim Nordstrom took a hit to make a play, leading to Sean Kuraly finding Chris Wagner out front to give the Bruins a one-goal lead. The goal made Wagner and Matt Grzelcyk the co-leaders in goals for the series, on both teams — just as everyone expected. Wagner’s second was assisted by Nordstrom (3) and Kuraly (2). What a shift from the fourth line.

Good fortune continued to come the Bruins’ way in the form of a Niederreiter high-sticking penalty on Krejci.

The Bruins made no mistake this time on the power play. Brad Marchand walked into the slot and backhanded on off of Calvin de Haan and in. Marchand’s sixth made it 2-0 Bruins, assisted by David Pastrnak (7) and Krejci (6). The effort level in the second period took a big leap for the Bruins. Krejci’s assist gave him his 100th career playoff point, tying him with Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk for third-most in Bruins history.

Just seven seconds before the halfway point, Backes was high-sticked by Ferland to give the Bruins another power play.

Don’t let de Haan’s goal distract you from the fact that Rask did this. But that’s one that Rask wants back. 2-1 Bruins with 6:12 to go.

This happened too.

Things went much better in more areas than not for the Bruins this time around. The final shots for the period were 18-6 Bruins in the second, moving the totals to 26-24 Carolina overall. A huge third period awaited both teams

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

This time, de Haan found his way into the spotlight for a tripping penalty 3:43 into the period. The Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into this one, with eight shots.

A point hammer from Krug found its way in, but DeBrusk made contact with McElhinney as a result of a collision with Jaccob Slavin as McElhinney was headed towards the outside of the crease. This had to have been a tough call for the officials, but they ruled in favor of the Canes. The score remained 2-1.

Make of that what you will.

The misfortune continued for the Bruins as Grzelcyk went off for interference with 14:22 to go in the period. Rask continued to make big saves and the Bruins killed off the penalty, making the Canes 0/5 on the power play.

Things were pretty back-and-forth for the rest of the period, at times. Wagner took a Justin Faulk slapshot off his hand and went to the locker room in the final three minutes of the period.

McElhinney was pulled for the extra attacker just around the two-minute mark. The final shots were 36-31 Canes, 10-7 in the period. The final tally was 35 saves for Rask in an epic showing from him, yet again. The Bruins take a three-game lead in the series in a hectic one. Next up is game four on the road again on Thursday at 8 PM ET.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

Eastern Conference Final Game 1 Preview – Hurricanes at Bruins

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photo credit: Associated Press 

By Mandi Mahoney | check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

Here we are, the Eastern Conference Final! For the first time in a decade, the Carolina Hurricanes will be making an appearance in this round of playoff hockey. They will be facing the Bruins tonight at what is sure to be a rocking TD Garden. This will undoubtedly be a fun and interesting series, with all sorts of young players, old players, and goaltenders doing great things this season, and a multitude of fascinating storylines for everyone ti discuss.

Examples:

  • Can Tuukka Rask steal another series?
  • How will Brad Marchand offend the entire league next?
  • Is Greg McKegg’s full name Gregory McKeggory?
  • Is Dougie Hamilton still a no-fun wet blanket? Will he miss a morning skate because he’s at the Botticelli exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? Was he responsible for the heist?
  • Can Petr Mrazek keep playing like this? Does he really hate vowels?
  • Will the ghost of Scott Walker haunt the Bruins, help the Canes, or not appear?
  • How will the Bruins defense hold up without convicted criminal Charlie McAvoy?
  • How many times will Garden Organist Ron Poster play Brass Bonanza during the series?

We digress… let’s get the details down before the series begins!

Game Details:

  • Where: TD Garden, Boston, 8:00pm
  • Who: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
  • The game will be televised on NBC Sports
  • Leading Scorers: Brad Marchand (BOS), 5 goals, 8 assists; Jaccob Slavin (CAR), 11 assists
  • Goalies: Tuukka Rask (BOS) 8 wins, 5 losses | 2.02 goals against average, .930 save percentage; Petr Mrazek (CAR) 5 wins, 3 losses | 2.22 goals against average, .913 save percentage
  • Injuries: Kevan Miller (BOS – lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (CAR – upper body), Saku Maenalenen (CAR – upper body)
  • Miscellaneous: Charlie McAvoy will serve his one game suspension for a hit to the head on Columbus’ Josh Anderson tonight.

 

Boston Bruins Lines:

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – David Backes

Marcus Johansson – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Defense:

Zdeno Chara – Connor Clifton

Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer

Goalies:

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Carolina Hurricanes Lines:

Forwards:

Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams

Warren Foegele – Lucas Wallmark – Brock McGinn

Micheal Ferland – Greg McKregg – Jordan Martinook

Defense:

Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce – Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury – Calvin de Haan

Goalies:

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Keys to the game:

  • Team defense is going to be an important focus with Charlie McAvoy out of the lineup and Chara looking, well, old.
  • Goaltending is going to need to be solid, as the Cane are a speedy team with some scoring threats in Ferland, Svechnikov, and Aho
  • The Bruins cannot be a one or two line team. Things are clicking for Carolina lately, and all their lines are going to be buzzing. The Bruins’ entire roster needs to be engaged tonight.
  • Special teams are going to be a factor – the Bruins have the best powerplay in the league this postseason, and their penalty kill is solid as well. Hopefully they stay out of the box, but if they do end up on the kill, Carolina may have some trouble converting, which is an obvious plus.
  • The Bruins should not underestimate Carolina. They are a legitimate threat and have been playing some great hockey lately. Boston must take their opponent seriously, regardless of whether they’re a bunch of jerks.

 

Bruins’ McAvoy Suspended One Game

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(Photo: CBS Boston)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy for one game for his illegal hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. It was reported earlier today that the 21-year-old would receive a hearing for the incident, which occurred in the second period of last night’s 3-0 Game Six victory to eliminate Columbus.

McAvoy was only given a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check to the head during the game. Anderson was injured on the play, but returned for the third period. The young defenseman has been among the best players for the Bruins through the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs.

In the video explanation of the suspension, which can be viewed by clicking this link, the DoPS cited Anderson’s head being the principle, yet avoidable, point of contact as the main reasoning behind the decision. The video also noted how the angle of approach that McAvoy took caused him to drive into and up through the front of Anderson’s body, rather than his core or shoulder. This comes as the first discipline that the Long Beach, New York native has received from the league through 117 career regular season games and 31 playoff games.

With last night’s win, the Bruins advance to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. McAvoy will miss Game One, which will take place in Boston on Thursday night at 8:00 pm, making an already intriguing series much more interesting.

Bruins Sign Oskar Steen To Entry-Level Contract

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( Photo Credit: BostonHerald.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the Bruins have inked forward prospect Oskar Steen to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal runs through the 2020-21 season, carrying an annual NHL cap hit of $809,167.

Steen, who was drafted in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has spent the last three seasons playing for Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League. This season, the 21-year-old had a career year, tallying 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 47 games to go along with a plus-17 rating. His 37 points were good enough for second on his team and 10th in the SHL. In 14 playoff games this year, Steen recored 2-5-7 numbers.

Last season, Steen registered four goals and two assists for a total of six points through 45 games. In 2016-17, the 5-foot-9, 186-pound forward recorded five goals and six assists (11 points) in eighteen games for Sweden Junior’s Farjestad Jr. in addition to four games for Sweden 2’s MoDo. Also, Steen had a goal and an assist in one game for Sweden 3’s Forshaga in the ’16-17 season.

The Karlstad, Sweden native represented his country at the 2018 World Junior Championships, where he won a silver medal after registering two goals (both coming as game-winners), two assists, and a plus-five rating in seven games. In 2016, Steen won a silver medal at the U18 World Junior Championships as he notched 1-1-3 in seven games.

It is not yet confirmed whether or not Steen will make the jump to North American hockey next season, although it would make sense for him to join the Providence Bruins to become acclimated to the smaller ice and different style of play.

Something’s Gotta Give: Pastrnak Bumped To Third Line

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photo credit: USA Today sports

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

Bruce Cassidy needs to get his team going in order to prevent having their backs against the wall as they did for two games straight in the first round versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yesterday, the Bruins tweeted their practice lines, and to the surprise (and even dismay) of many, right wing David Pastrnak was playing on the third line alongside trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Pastrnak’s playoff stats may not quite show it, but anyone who has watched even a period of Boston Bruins hockey this postseason can tell as plain as day that Pastrnak is seriously struggling to play at the level we are all used to seeing from him.

Since the beginning of the playoffs, Pastrnak has been turning the puck over constantly, taking weak shots, and totally missing the mark when passing. Even worse, he has passed the puck instead of taking shots on many scoring opportunities While this has been a problem through the Bruins’ top six, Pastrnak has looked to be struggling more than most.  In fact, his travails have led many people to assume he is concealing some sort of upper body injury, as his skating appears to be fine. This gluten-free Pasta is not getting it done, and the Bruins’ coaching staff must address the issues with his game.

Pastrnak has notched three goals and assisted on four for a total of seven points in nine playoff games. That’s a respectable number, but it’s not what the team or its fans have come to expect from Pasta. Typically, when the Bruins need a big goal, Head Coach Bruins Cassidy can put his top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pastrnak on the ice and have a reasonably good chance to get the goal he needs out of them. The problem this postseason is that all three of them are struggling, and it’s been brutal to watch.

With Pastrnak skating on the third line instead of the first, two-way wing Danton Heinen will be skating in his place with Bergeron and Marchand. Some fans are wondering what playing on the third line will do for a guy who is having trouble finding his game, and the answer typically is that it will get him back to basics and help him simplify his game. If a scorer is having trouble putting the biscuit in the basket, then he needs to at least be playing strongly otherwise, and at the moment, Pastrnak is not. Playing with Coyle and Johansson will likely give Pastrnak a chance to do so.

This should not be looked at as a punishment in any way — coaches need to move players around the lineup when things aren’t working — and the top line isn’t working right now, so here we are. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, right? As a fan base, we cannot complain about a coach’s unwillingness to change his lineup or move players from line to line (this was a gripe often heard about former Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien), and then complain about where those players end up at the same time. That’s a total double standard, so let’s give this a chance.

Another thing to consider here is that if Pastrnak plays on the third line and things aren’t clicking, Cassidy can always move him back to skate alongside one of the centers he’s used to, whether that center be Patrice Bergeron, or David Krejci. This is not permanent, nor is it a punishment. Cassidy has to make changes to his lines, or he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face. He cannot worry about players’ and fans’ feelings during a playoff run. Furthermore, Pastrnak will still be playing on the power play (and scored during a power play drill in practice), so the Bruins are still going to rely on him offensively. Third line duty will hopefully help him get his groove back, though.

Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson will likely benefit from having such a speedy, skilled wing on their line, as well. With Coyle’s defensively responsible grinding game, and Johansson’s silky-soft hands, putting the three together could turn out to be a match made in heaven. It will also make the lineup deeper and give the Bruins a more balanced attack, especially since that leaves energetic rookie Karson Kuhlman playing right wing on the second line, with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, who are not producing to their standards lately, either.

If the Bruins come out of the tunnel flying like they didn’t during game one, and Pastrnak can settle his nerves a bit and get back to basics, the Bruins can absolutely win game three against the Blue Jackets in hostile territory… even if there’s a cannon involved. Of course, if the Bruins don’t want to hear the cannon, they could always shut Columbus out. Hopefully these line changes help the offense get moving again tonight.

Bruins Should Not Overlook Series Against Columbus

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( 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.

Seven Key Bruins Who Need To Perform In Game Seven

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photo credit: Matthew J. Lee / Boston Globe staff

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

For the third time in seven seasons, the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will be facing off in a seven game playoff series. The Bruins made a legendary comeback to win in 2013, and won again in 2018. Should the following players keep their heads in the game and perform to their capabilities, there is no reason the Bruins can’t advance to the second round again.

Tuukka Rask

Always a controversial topic among Bruins fans, Rask has had a whirlwind season. Things started off ugly with a blowout loss to the Washington Capitals, then there was a short leave of absence, followed by some streaky play. All in all, the Finnish goaltender has been solid, but not world class, this season, putting up a 2.48 goals against average, and a save percentage of .912. He was very good in game 5, but the rest of the team wasn’t, so the Leafs were able to take the series lead. His performance on Easter Sunday was masterful, and the Bruins went on to force game 7 by nothing a 4-2 win.

The Bruins will need another great performance out of Rask, as nothing takes the wind out of their sails like a bad goal can. Obviously the team defense has allowed Rask to be tested far more than he should be, but the Finnish netminder is going to have to overcome his skaters’ shortcomings if the Bruins are going to advance to the Conference Semifinals. It’s certainly not encouraging when the team is giving up breakaways to a star studded roster of forwards on the regular, but these goals need to be prevented nonetheless. However frustrating it may be, Rask has got to keep his head in the game, as he has for the last two games.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug is another player some Bruins fans love to hate. Sometimes their annoyance is understandable, especially during the last six games, as the puck has jumped over his stick at the blueline multiple times this series, causing a breakaway for the Leafs, or at the very least, squandering an offensive opportunity for the Bruins. Krug, however, is a double-edged sword: the Bruins employ a high-risk, high-reward strategy during the power play, and Krug is a vital piece when they’re on the man advantage. The Bruins also have trouble breaking out of their own zone cleanly when he’s not on the ice, so while he may leave something to be desired defensively, he is indispensable to this Bruins team.

If the Black and Gold want to be successful in game 7, Torey Krug will have to keep his nerves in check, and will have to try and avoid the blue line mishaps that have been his calling card lately. At the very least, he’s going to have to do what he does best: make up for his defensive gaffes by scoring or setting up goals. His offensive talent is fantastic, and he’s going to have to bring it tonight for the Bruins to get the win.

Brandon Carlo

As Torey Krug’s defensive partner, Brandon Carlo will naturally be responsible for a lot defensively. No good offensive defenseman can do what he does without a good shutdown partner, and Carlo is exactly that. Brandon Carlo has played very well in this, his maiden playoff voyage, and he’s going to need to be aggressive and keep his head in the game tonight. Toronto’s top two forward lines are no joke, and they’ve been jumping on breakaway chances repeatedly during this series. Carlo is going to have to do his best to keep the door to the crease closed tonight.

David Krejci

Having led the NHL in postseason scoring twice before, the Bruins’ second line center is known to have a lycanthropic streak, where he turns into am absolute beast once the postseason begins. Krejci Beast Mode is here again in 2019, and it needs to make its presence known in game 7. At this point, Krejci has scored 2 goals and assisted on two more in six playoff games. Four points doesn’t sound like much, but Krejci brings more than points to the table. He’s been playing the body all series, hitting anyone and everyone he can. The Czech center can also play well without the puck, so the Bruins are able to rely upon him a bit defensively, as well.

Ideally, Krejci will be centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak tonight. The combination of Pastrnak’s speed and shot combined with DeBrusk’s straight-line speed and love for crashing the net match perfectly with Krejci’s bizarre ability to slow the game down and allow his teammates to get to where they need to be before making the magic happen. If Krejci continues to play like a man possessed and he’s skating with DeBrusk and Pastrnak, good things will happen for the Bruins’ offense. Like they say, as David Krejci goes, so go the Bruins.

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photo credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Jake DeBrusk

Jake DeBrusk is all heart, and is exactly the kind of player you want on your roster for games like this. He emits this “young Mark Recchi” aura, and it is wonderful. His going head-to-head with Nazem Kadri and causing him to be suspended for most of the series was entertaining, and actually pretty important. DeBrusk has only scored one goal and assisted on another in the six games he’s played in this series, though, and that will have to change if they’re going to make a run of this.

Playing alongside the Czech Davids is both a gift and a responsibility. DeBrusk has earned his ice time for sure, but he’s going to have to produce if he wants to keep it. DeBrusk will need to do what he’s best at – winning puck battles and crashing the net. If he continues to move his feet and fight for his ice like he did against Kadri, the goals will come.

David Pastrnak

In the first six games of this series, David Pastrnak has scored two goals, and has notched four assists. He hasn’t looked like his usual self through much of it, though — he’s tried to get cute and make the extra pass instead of shooting a few too many times this series — Pastrnak will need to get away from that and play his usual game. Pasta cannot let Toronto’s defense out-muscle him and force him to the boards. He will need to fight for the middle of the ice and put as much on net as possible. Krejci will undoubtedly be feeding him passes for one-timer opportunities, and DeBrusk will be in the crease to hit any rebounds home. If Pastrnak is able to put up with Toronto’s physical game and get as many pucks on net as possible, it should pay off.

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron is the heart and soul of this Bruins team. He is far and away Boston’s best player. Bergeron is a gamer and will likely have a big game 7, as he typically does, and the Bruins need it, badly. Bergeron is their go-to when it comes to must-win faceoffs, and his line is typically the one Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy turns to when a big goal is needed. It is rare that Bergeron has consecutive bad or no-show games, but he has looked a little bit off this series.

Bergeron being engaged, healthy, and allowed to take important faceoffs (instead of being kicked out, as NHL linesmen seem to love doing to Bergy) are paramount to this Bruins’ team success. If Bergeron can play his game and not be neutralized by the Leafs, the Bruins will have a much better chance at a successful game 7. He and Brad Marchand, like David Pastrnak, need to put pucks on net rather than making the extra pass. Andersen needs to see as much traffic and as many shots and possible if the Bruins want to win tonight. Pray to the Hockey Gods that Bergeron comes up big tonight.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 6 Boston at Toronto

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( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

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

On Sunday afternoon, the Bruins and the Leafs battled in the first elimination game of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Boston Bruins forced a game seven back in Boston with the 4-2 victory and will face the Maple Leafs on TD Garden ice in a do-or-die game seven for the third straight time these two teams have met in the postseason. Here’s how it all went down:

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Home: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2)

Away: Boston Bruins (2-3)

Game 5 Result: Toronto Maple Leafs (2) – Boston Bruins (1)

Bruins Lineup:

Bruce Cassidy announced at his pre-game press conference that Joakim Nordstrom and Karson Kuhlman would draw back into the lineup and Chris Wagner and David Backes would be the scratches.

First Period:

The first period started off much quicker and with more energy than Game 5 in Boston. The first penalty call was a controversial one as it initially appeared Zdeno Chara sent the puck out of play. The on-ice referees conferenced and sent the Bruins captain to the penalty box but Marcus Johansson and Bruce Cassidy showed the referees the puck that had, in fact, landed in the Boston bench. Nonetheless, the Bruins went on the penalty kill and survived it.

With 10:18 left in the first, the Bruins failed to get the puck out of the zone a number of times and Morgan Reilly rifled a shot from the point that beat Rask, giving the Maple Leafs a quick 1-0 lead.

Right after Toronto struck first, Sean Kuraly drew a holding penalty and the Bruins had a chance to tie the game on their first powerplay of the game. Right off the face off to the right of Andersen and about halfway through the powerplay, Brad Marchand ripped a shot that deflected off a Toronto leg and through the five-hole of the Leafs netminder. The Bruins PP answer tied the game 1-1 — something the team failed to do three times in game five.

After the Bruins tied the game, Joakim Nordstrom was battling Travis Dermott in the Leafs corner but was called for high-sticking (another controversial call after replays showed Dermott slew-footing Nordstrom). The Leafs would go on their second powerplay of the game and the period but the Bruins would again make the kill.

Right after the successful PK, you guessed it, the Bruins went back to the powerplay when Dermott tripped Jake DeBrusk behind Frederick Andersen. The Bruins looked to take the lead in the game on their second PP of the period. After good zone time, David Pastrnak threw one off Andersen and Krug buried the rebound, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead late in the first. The B’s looked to be playing some of their best hockey in the series at this point after giving up the first goal early.

With just a minute left in the first, Andersen robbed Patrice Bergeron on the doorstep after Marchand wrapped the puck around the net. Bergeron did not get everything on the shot but Andersen nevertheless made the big glove stop.

Shots on Goal: Boston 14 – Toronto 6

Score: Bruins 2 – Toronto 1

Second Period:

The Bruins came out strong in the second period and were the faster, more physical team in the beginning of the middle period. At 7:53 of the second, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk brought the puck into the attacking zone and in a give and go play, Krejci found DeBrusk who deflected the pass past Andersen, extending the B’s lead with an insurance goal to make it 3-1.

Right after the Bruins goal, yet another questionable call sent the B’s to the penalty kill when Charlie Coyle was whistled for tripping. However, like the previous two times, the Bruins made the kill and kept the lead by two.

The Leafs responded (after coming up empty handed on the PP for the third time in a row) with a few strong shifts of their own. After getting some looks on Rask and a scramble in front, David Krejci gathered the puck and sent it down the ice for icing to alleviate some of the Toronto pressure. Auston Matthews won the ensuing draw and the Leafs hemmed the tired Bruins in their own zone. The puck was worked around to the right side to Morgan Reilly who sidestepped a Bruin defender and rifled a shot that was answered by the glove of Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins would respond after the good shift by Toronto with two strong, cycle-the-puck and physical shifts by the third and fourth lines – something that was much needed for Bruce Cassidy’s bench as it wore down the Maple Leafs’ defense.

After a few more chances for both teams, the period ended with two “almosts” for the Bruins, but the Black N’ Gold still took a 3-1 lead to the dressing room heading into the last period of regulation.

Shots on Goal: Boston 30 – Toronto 15

Score: Boston 3 – Toronto 1

Third Period:

Clinging to a two-goal lead entering the third period of play north of the border in Toronto, the Bruins needed to keep their foot on the gas in order to force a game 7 back in Boston at the Garden.

After a slow start to the period for both teams, the Leafs began to put some pressure on the Bruins. John Tavares had a point-blank chance in front after a great pass from behind the cage and Rask pushed over to rob him. Right after the ensuing draw, a passing play for the Leafs found Auston Matthews wide open on the right wing side. He fired a wrist shot off the pipe and in that beat Tuukka Rask to the blocker side and the Leafs cut the deficit to one, 3-2.

The Leafs then continued the pressure all period long, hemming the Bruins in deep almost the whole period. The Bruins held on with Rask having his best game of the series. The defense also stood tall with Brandon Carlo in particular playing like he did in the regular season, shutting down the Leafs and making fantastic plays in his own zone. Charlie McAvoy also had an incredible game as he played 9:19 of the third period, with Zdeno Chara logging 8:49 of ice-time himself.

The Leafs pulled Andersen late in the third but Brad Marchand sealed the game for the Bruins with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the final frame, giving the B’s a 4-2 lead.

With the big win, the Bruins have now forced a game seven back at TD Garden on Tuesday night for the third straight time in the playoffs against Toronto.

Shots on Goal: Boston 41 – Toronto 24

Final Score: Boston Bruins 4 – Toronto Maple Leafs 2

 

Bruins’ Bergeron Named Selke Trophy Finalist

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(Photo: Matt Stone / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

For the eighth-straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is annually awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game” as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association at the end of the regular season. Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights are the other two finalists for the award this year. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trophy was first presented by the NHL Board of Governors in 1977.

Bergeron has won the award four times in his career (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017), which is tied with Bob Gainey for the most all-time. As the only active player to win the Selke Trophy four times, if Bergeron were to take home his fifth this year he would undoubtedly solidify himself among the all-time great Bruins and two-way forwards.

The 33-year-old certainly has a strong case to take home another Selke this season. Although he missed 17 games in the regular season, the Bruins’ alternate captain had his best offensive season of his career, totaling 47 assists, matching his career-high of 32 goals, and setting a new career-high in points with 79 in 65 games.

On top of his strong offensive output, Bergeron was the same stalwart defensively that everyone knows and loves. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center was strong at the face-off dot once again, boasting a 56.6% success rate (sixth in the league); it was Bergeron’s tenth-straight season having a face-off win percentage of at least 56%. Bergeron also posted a Corsi rating of 56.77%, the eighth year in a row that he has posted at least 55% for a Corsi rating.

In his 13th season as an alternate captain for the B’s, Bergeron skated in his 1,000th NHL game versus the New York Islanders on February 5th. He finished the season with a plus-23 rating and 30 penalty minutes. The 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Bergeron finished with the second-best offensive-zone face-off win percentage in the league with a 59.7% success rate, the fifth-most total power play face-off wins with 162, and the 13th-most total face-off wins (786).

The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec native scored the most short-handed goals on the Bruins this season with four, and tied Brad Marchand for the most-shorthanded points on the team with seven. Bergeron ranked first overall in the league in SAT, a team puck possession metric, with a percentage of 56.73% (minimum of 30 games played).

Bergeron is certainly up against stiff competition this year as both Stone and O’Reilly have had phenomenal seasons at both ends of the ice for their respective clubs. However, the Bruins’ best player has as strong of a case as he ever has, and we could see him add yet another milestone to his lengthy resume by the time the NHL Awards roll around this summer.

 

 

 

 

Kadri and DeBrusk Go Head-to-Head in Bruins – Leafs Series

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photo credit: John Tlumacki / Boston Globe staff

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

When the Bruins traded goaltender Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs thirteen years ago, nobody had any idea it would be the first significant event in a series of ridiculous trades and playoff series that would ignite a Boston-Toronto rivalry for the ages. For the last couple of years, Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri has shown that he is totally buying into this rivalry.

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photo credit: BarDown staff / TSN

A condensed list of Boston and Toronto asset exchanges in recent years looks something like this:

  • Andrew Raycroft for Tuukka Rask. The Bruins intended to release Raycroft if they weren’t able to trade him. Turns out they were able to flip him for a franchise goaltender instead.
  • Phil Kessel didn’t like the idea of playing for Claude Julien or the Bruins anymore and was sent packing in exchange for the draft picks that would become Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight, and Dougie Hamilton (let’s not go there).
  • Prior to the trade deadline in 2011, the Bruins finally pulled the trigger on a long-awaited trade for Tomas Kaberle, a puck-moving defenseman Boston fans had been coveting for years. The Leafs received Joe Colborne, a first round pick, and a second round pick. Kaberle took approximately two shots on goal during that entire glorious Cup run. He might not have been the offensive dynamo that Bruins fans were looking for, but he did manage to make a lasting impression with this work of art:
  • The Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 began with a game 7 win over Toronto, when the famous, “It was 4-1!” cry was coined.
  • Last season, the Bruins faced the Leafs in the first round once again, and while Toronto did not go down without a fight, the Bruins were the team that advanced to the second round. The series included Brad Marchand licking Leo Komarov, and Nazem Kadri being suspended three games for trying to take Tommy Wingels’ head off.

Fast-forward to this year, which may be the ugliest Boston and Toronto exchange yet: During game 1, Kadri made a late hit on left wing Jake DeBrusk behind the Bruins’ net, and, not to be outdone, included a bonus slewfoot. Kadri was not penalized. In the small world that is hockey Twitter, Maple Leafs fans are seemingly glossing over this fact after what happened in game 2. Jake DeBrusk has played a very gritty game up to this point in the series but hasn’t committed any blatantly dirty offenses (forgive our bias).

Saturday night in Boston, the Bruins started the second game of the series off with a bang – literally – as they were hitting everything that moved. One of these hits included Jake DeBrusk checking Kadri, who grabbed onto DeBrusk on the way down, and then threw a punch before they got up. Apparently, the part where Kadri punches DeBrusk was not televised in Canada and must be blacked out on every Twitter video north of the border, as Leafs fans could not understand why both players landed in the penalty box after DeBrusk retaliated. In typical dramatic Toronto fashion, Leafs Twitter has not been handling it well.

DeBrusk and Kadri had been targeting each other all night. In the third period, the pair collided when DeBrusk attempted to check Kadri with his shoulder. Instead of taking the hit, Kadri tried to dodge DeBrusk, and the two ended up making knee-on-knee contact. Kadri dropped to the ice as if he’d been shot by the man on the grassy knoll, rolled around, writhing in pain a la 2003 Mike Ribeiro, and then was miraculously healed once he realized his Oscar-worthy performance on this self-inflicted injury was not yielding a power play. Nobody is falling for it, Naz — sorry not sorry.

Here’s the hit in question:

It was a very bad hit, apparently. Horrific, even. Jake DeBrusk should probably just take his skates off and head directly to jail – do not pass go, do not collect $200. Twitter was, of course, incredibly entertaining, as Leafs fans and media were coming completely unhinged, while Bruins fans were getting saucy and picking fights. A good time was had by all.

After the unpenalized knee-on-knee incident, Kadri was frustrated, naturally. DeBrusk checked Patrick Marleau, and Kadri took exception by way of cross-checking DeBrusk in the face and then turtling when it was time to pay the piper, Zdeno Chara. Refs were not impressed with Kadri’s actions and assessed him a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, both of which were well deserved. It was announced today that Kadri will have an in-person hearing this afternoon. In-person is generally not a good thing, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kadri get suspended more than five games, given his history and what happened with Wingels the last time these two teams met in the postseason, and what in-person hearing generally signify.

Hopefully, DeBrusk is feeling good and is in the lineup on Patriots’ Day. Kadri, however, is his own worst enemy and likely will not be. It seems Leafs fans won’t be able to whine too much about Marchand being dirty these days. They no longer have a leg to stand on when it comes to that argument. Cross your fingers that there were no serious injuries and that the Department of Player Safety throws the book at Kadri, who shows no sign of learning from previous incidents.

Please enjoy the collection of tweets below – we know we did:

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