Bruins Sign Donato To Entry-Level Deal

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 28: Ryan Donato meets his team after being drafted #56 by the Boston Bruins on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier this evening that they’ve signed prospect and Harvard University forward Ryan Donato to an entry-level contract.  This year was a career season for the Crimson Junior as he posted 26-17-43 numbers in in 26 games and was the ECAC Player of The Year and a nominee for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award given to the best NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Athlete annually. The 21-year-old was also selected to the United State hockey team that played at the 2018 Winter Olympics and played very well with six points in five games (5-1-6).

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Donato, a second-round selection of the B’s in 2014 has really taken a huge step in his development over the past year and deservingly generated a great deal of hype from those professional opinions down to the fans that pay close attention to the developing youth on a yearly basis. Although I knew Ryan was going to be signed at some point in 2018, my projection of when was way off as I had him coming to the National Hockey League during the offseason as I believed the Bruins would go with the roster that’s had so much success in 2017-18. Regardless of my projected timeline, I’m very excited to have him with this team and look forward to seeing him when he makes it on the roster with 12 games remaining in the regular season and upcoming playoff schedule.

This is what Ryan had to say shortly after signing his entry-level deal with his beloved Boston Bruins…..

“I am excited to announce that today I have fulfilled a lifelong dream, signing a NHL contract to play for the Boston Bruins,” Donato said in a statement. “While I am beyond thrilled for this next opportunity, it comes with a bittersweet feeling, as my time as a student-athlete at Harvard comes to a close. I am so thankful for every day I have spent at Harvard and the remarkable people I have met along the way, from the classroom, to the ice, and beyond. It has truly been a privilege to wear the Harvard jersey and represent my school alongside such incredible teammates and coaches. My time in the Harvard hockey program has provided me with some of my closest friends and fondest memories, and I will strive to continue representing Harvard well from afar as I enter this next stage of my life.

“While no longer on campus, I am so proud to consider myself a member of the greater Harvard community, and I am still fully dedicated to working towards another lifelong dream of mine: a degree from the university that has given me the best three years of my life.”

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With the current injuries on the Bruins coming down the stretch, this is a solid depth move for the organization with players like David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, and Jake DeBrusk returns up in the air with a dozen games to go before the Mid-April Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the addition of the young Donato wasn’t exactly shocking. Regardless of how much action he gets into, he has to be a serious candidate at this point to make a full-time NHL player next season as current players that will be unrestricted free agents this summer might not be coming back and creating a permanent spot for him in 2018-19.

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I’ve seen many games that Ryan’s played at the NCAA level and every Bruins development camp that he’s attended and in my opinion, he’s got the skills of an NHL player now, and the pedigree is there with his father and former Crimson coach for the last three seasons Ted Donato who spent several seasons in Black and Gold cannot be denied. The way this kid can skate and stickhandle in traffic is second to none, and he does possess an NHL release. Now his development has brought him to the highest level in the world and can’t wait to see him play NHL opponents shortly as he’s been rumored to get his first taste of the top tomorrow night when the Columbus Blue Jackets come to the TD Garden in Boston. I have to go with a few professional analysts and say I doubt he plays against the Jackets tomorrow night without practicing with the team. Wednesday on the road in St. Louis is a better opportunity in my opinion as he’ll be more acclimated to his new club.

Breaking: Bruins’ Lose David Backes to 3 Game Suspension

cut.jpgPhoto: nhl.com

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today that Boston Bruins RW David Backes has been suspended for three games the hit Tuesday on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen. The suspension is without pay and under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary Backes will forfeit nearly $97,000.

The incident took place with 16 seconds left in the first period. At the time, Backes was assessed a minor penalty for roughing and served the majority of the penalty at the start of the second period.

If the organization decides to recall a right-winger from Providence for depth, one would think it could be either Zach Senyshyn or Jordan Szwarz.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Predicting The Rest of The Season: Bruins Final Record

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Photo: Elise Amendola, AP

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Last nights 6-5 overtime win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings marked the beginning of the stretch-run for the rest of the regular season. It was also the first of what will be a Bruins game every other day until the end of the schedule. This will no doubt be a trying and tough few weeks for the Boston Bruins as it includes a lot of travel and hard opponents including two trips to Florida to face the Panthers who are hot as of late and sitting just two points out of a wild card spot. While in the area, the B’s will face the conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning twice as well. Additionally, both teams from the sunshine state will make at least one trip to the TD Garden —  Tampa Bay for one game, Florida twice (one being a make-up game) — so we’re looking at 7 of the final 18 games against just them alone.

Tomorrows contest with the Philadelphia Flyers whom are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and sitting in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. Looking ahead at the schedule at other games against playoff / playoff caliber teams include Columbus at home, plus Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas, Philadelphia and St. Louis on the road.

So feasibly, what can we expect for the Bruins in terms of record at the end of the season? Earlier this week I put up a twitter poll in preparation for this article and the results were quite definitive.

 

Before I layout my prediction we must consider a number of contributing factors, first let’s take a look at the remaining schedule:

Thu. March 8 7pm vs PHI
Sat. March 10 1pm vs CHI
Sun. March 11 12:30pm @ CHI
Tue. March 13 7pm @ CAR
Thu. March 15 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. March 17 7pm @ TBL
Mon. March 19 7pm vs CBJ
Wed. March 21 8pm @ STL
Fri. March 23 8:30pm @ DAL
Sun. March 25 7:30 @ MIN
Tue. March 27 8pm @ WPG
Thu. March 29 7pm vs TBL
Sat. March 31 1pm vs FLA
Sun. April 1 12:30pm @ PHI
Tue. April 3 7:30pm @ TBL
Thu. April 5 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. April 7 7pm vs OTT
Sun. April 8 7:30pm vs FLA

So lets start right off the clip with the biggest story of the week: Charlie McAvoy missing time due to his left MCL sprain. Remember this: Charlie is being evaluated in 4 weeks. Until then he’s expected to be in a brace and not skating. Best case scenario is that the next month goes by and he’s cleared and he’s right back on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Bad news, that isn’t going to happen. We would all love to see it, but the idea of McAvoy returning by April 1st at Philadelphia is probably an unreasonable ask for him. If he gets looked at, feels right enough to get some work in then we might see him for the final weekend of the season when the Bruins finish off the season with Ottawa and Florida. Silver lining here is the defensive depth is going to get quality time in, and in no short supply with the brutal schedule the Bruins are staring in the face.

Patrice Bergeron is also being evaluated in a few weeks, and with the fracture that he suffered is also unable to skate. We’re well aware of the fact that Bergeron is a professional and will not take much time to get right back into game shape following his hiatus. Possibly looking at some reduced minutes initially, or perhaps just simply getting a few extra games off leading up to the playoffs.

Lastly, just consider the quality of opponents and the on/off schedule Boston has left. Some less than desirable travel days loom, and there will not be a lot of time to rest up. There will be more injuries, hopefully nothing major but there are going to be guys banged up without question. It will be interesting to see how coach Bruce Cassidy handles his rotations and scratches over the next few weeks.

Boston Bruins record as of Wednesday, March 7th is 41-15-8, with 90 points.

All that said, here’s where I see it:

The most anticipated and undoubtedly important games remaining come against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 18 games left for a maximum of 36 points out for the taking. With 3 games against conference leading Tampa Bay, I predict the Bruins will go 1-1-1 head-to-head in March and April. The Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games including a current win streak of 3 games. This team is legit, no one doubts that. The Bruins are no slouches either, and will take three points out of the Bolts. It’s not an easy call to predict an OT loss with Boston’s recent success in extra frames, but Tampa Bay will take it if that one is on their home ice. Contrarily, I feel the same that if a game went to overtime in Boston, it would be the Bruins taking the extra point.

Another key matchup would be the two games remaining against Philadelphia. One home on March 8th and one on the road April 1st. The Flyers are a more dangerous team than their record may suggest. Certainly their goal differential isn’t ideal at +4, but this team can surprise people. Although they failed to use the deadline as a way to bolster their roster for the playoffs with GM Ron Hextall admitting the prices for rentals were too high for his liking stating they were in this ‘for the long haul’, and he wasn’t going to make ‘emotional decisions’. Probably the correct play on his part as Philadelphia aren’t necessarily considered true cup contenders — but they sure are built to play spoiler if teams aren’t careful. I believe the Bruins have enough depth to take the full 4 points from them, but wouldn’t be shocked if they split the difference with the Flyers.

A stretch we should also be looking at is March 21st through March 27th where within that seven days the Bruins travel to St. Louis, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg who are all strong teams in the West. Only the Blues are currently on the outside looking in with regards to the playoffs — however they only sit 2 points outside of the wild card. If the Bruins come to each of these games and match the hunger and compete level I would call taking 5 out of a possible 8 points as being a ‘win’ for that road trip. Oh, and incase you were wondering their next game coming off that is against Tampa Bay. Are we all starting to see how insane this schedule is about to be? Good grief.

And now my prediction:

The final stretch: 10-7-1 in the final 18 games, good for 21 points.
Overall 2017-2017 record: 51-22-9, with 111 points.

Here are some other predictions from our BNG Staff:

Court LaLonde  53-19-10, 116 points
Lauren Campbell  52-22-8, 112 points
Spencer Fascetta  50-22-10, 110 points
Mike Cratty  52-21-9, 113 points
KG  51-20-11, 113 points

If McAvoy and Bergeron were were healthy then the prediction would be 117 points on the nose. I even believe thats still possible, as predicted by our own Court LaLonde,  because of the depth, and players like Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk getting hot. Brad Marchand being — well, himself. The 4th line being one of the best and most productive in the NHL. Even the defensive depth like Nick Holden and Matt Grzelcyk getting increased playing time is not a bad thing if you take into account that the ultimate goal is a deep playoff run.

Regardless, playing slightly above .500 hockey which is below our true expectations for this team but reasonable for what they face over the next 4 1/2 weeks. If the Bruins play .500 hockey from tomorrow’s game and through the end of the season we shouldn’t be surprised, though I’m sure panic would rain down on hockey twitter in the form of blaming a goaltender, an aging defender, or unproven youth. Remember folks, when they’re hot you love every single piece of this team — as you should.

Let’s all take this final stretch for what it really is. It’s a test. A test that Sweeney and Cassidy appear ready to handle.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins’ Rookie Charlie McAvoy Exits Game With Apparent Injury

Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Defenseman Charlie McAvoy exited the game Saturday in the first period with a ‘lower body injury’ on a blade trip to the right skate from the Montreal Canadians’ Brendan Gallagher, although He was almost immediately ruled out for the game. After the slash McAvoy went straight into the tunnel and to the locker room. Defensive linemate, Zdeno Chara was paired with Brandon Carlo on the next shift.

Until we know more on the injury the assumed pair for Chara would be Carlo, or perhaps Adam McQuaid. We will have more insight on this as the story developes.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bergeron Out With Fractured Foot

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Photo Credit: Justin Tang (CP)

By: KG                   Follow me on Twitter: @kgbngblog and on FanCred at K G

Patrice Bergeron will be out for at least the next two weeks following a blocked shot in the game on Saturday 24th in Toronto. He played Sunday because the X-rays had come back negative, but was given a CT scan after the Buffalo game where team medical staff discovered the hairline fracture in his foot. He is set to be re-evaluated in two weeks, giving him a potential return date of Tuesday, March 13th against the Hurricanes in Carolina.

This is a huge blow to the Bruins lineup and may also explain why Don Sweeney went out and got Tommy Wingels yesterday at the deadline. This way, Coach Cassidy can move guys like David Backes into the center position and still have solid wingers to put throughout the lineup. Bergeron currently has 27 goals and 27 assists in 55 games played this season.

 

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

Boston Bruins Deadline: Why They Do Not Need ‘The Next Chara’ Right Now

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Photo Credit: nbcsports

By: Thomas Nystrom           Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom 

There appears to be a difference in opinion prevailing amongst Bruins fans. Do you go out and get the big name at the deadline? Do you stand pat? The fact that Boston is even in this situation is nothing short of incredible based on preseason expectations. The chemistry and production has been lauded in big media outlets across North America. The question has become: Do they have enough to win a cup? Regardless of which crowd you belong to, the Boston Bruins have some critical decisions to make in the next ten days regarding acquiring a big piece or depth pieces.

While there are still valid arguments being made to the contrary, the idea of getting the ‘superstar’ has appeared to dim over the last week in and around the media coverage surrounding the Bruins. I would like to discuss one particular sticking point; the idea that getting a big name defensemen now could help Boston in both the immediate and future seasons. Absolutely, that goes without question. However, be wary of such a simplistic analysis. I take issue with the idea that a move like that will result in a guy who’d become Zdeno Chara’s future replacement. Take this into account: Chara will undoubtedly resign after this season. There is no debate. He has stated he wishes to keep playing and doing so in a Boston uniform. The assumption is that he will be here two more seasons and within the next two years there are numerous opportunities to address his eventual replacement. Drafting a successor and/or developing current or future prospects is vital to the organizational process both while we have Chara, and after he retires. This is not even taking into account that his replacement very well could be playing next to him night after night right now. Charlie McAvoy’s contract extension has to be the priority of the offseason and it’s not even close. Resigning McAvoy to a long-term deal would cement this blue line for the next decade. At that point, drafting and developing his line-mate can be brought into the discussion. Something to consider is whether Brandon Carlo may or may not be here at that point, and his detractors would obviously prefer the later. I will state for the record: there is not a team in the NHL that wouldn’t play Carlo 17-20 minutes a night right now. Whether or not the Bruins view him as expendable remains to be seen, but for the moment Carlo is lined up to be a defensive fixture for the foreseeable future.

  Zdeno Chara On Patrice Bergeron’s Play, NHL Trade Deadline, Courtesy of NESN

The direction in which this team will go at the deadline is entirely speculation. The front office has redeemed themselves from initial mixed reviews just a year ago when they fire Claude Julien and did little to make waves in the offseason. We must now take a step back and put our trust in Don Sweeney and his staff. Trust includes that the Boston Bruins will ultimately take their best option at the deadline while understanding what put them in the position of being ‘buyers’ in the first place: patience, depth, and chemistry. Should the team decide to stay the course with what they have, and perhaps add depth for the playoff run, the fans have little to complain about. Things look positive for the present and future of the franchise, deadline splash or not.

 

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron And The Triple Fifty Line

 

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Patrice Bergeron #37 and Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins react in the first period against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 7, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins earned themselves another two points with a solid 5-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames Tuesday night.  Overall it was a great night for Bruins fans. The TD Garden hosted the legendary Don Cherry and members of the Bruins 1977-78 squad (the only team in NHL history to have 11 20-goal scorers).

The Bruins got on the board early, and they got on the board often. Once again, the Black and Gold came from behind to make life difficult for the opposing goalie. Riley Nash put in the first two goals of the night for the B’s, and B’s captain Zdeno Chara put in the empty-netter to seal the deal late for Boston.

But once again, the player of the game was B’s alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron scored the third and fourth goals of the game, putting the game out of reach and stealing the heat from the Flames.

Patrice Bergeron has been on fire these last few weeks. Since the start of 2018, the four-time Selke winner (and obvious first ballot into the Hockey Hall of Fame) has made NHL goalies his playthings by putting in 16 goals for the Black and Gold (including two hat tricks). Four of those goals were game-winners and he tallied an obscene 65 shots on goal.

So what does one of the hottest players currently in the National Hockey League think about being a one-man shooting gallery?

“I’m trying not to think about it,” said Bergeron with his usual honest humility. “I’m trying just to go out there, play, and stay focused…push myself to be better from one night to another and learn and watch video. Whenever it’s on the power play, [studying] my positioning and trying to find openings and things like that. To be honest with you, I’m trying to stay focused and be in the moment.”

Bergeron’s two goals helped him eclipse the 50-point plateau this season. Bergeron has hit this mark or higher every year for the last five seasons.  He’s the last of the Bruins top line to hit that mark. David Pastrnak crossed that line last week against the New York Rangers. Boston’s Little Ball of Hate Brad Marchand passed that mark in late January against the New Jersey Devils.

The Bruins top line has been one of the strongest lines in the entire league this season. It’s impossible to find a line in the league that has let in as few goals as they have. In his long career, Bergeron has been a remarkable leader and teacher to the rest of his line. He’s helped turn Marchand from a fourth-line grinder to an All-Star, and Pastrnak from a raw rookie to a future All-Star.

There’s also that small matter of putting Bergy’s name in the conversation for the Hart Trophy.

Look at the numbers Marchand and Bergeron have put up in their respective careers in Boston.  43 goals in 2010-11. 50 in 2011-12. 28 in 2012-13(but that’s because the owners wanted to stick it to the players and thus gave up half the season). The numbers are high and they stay high.

Now add in David Pastrnak and the numbers just get silly. 69 goals (10 of them game-winners) between the three of them. 156 points. 440 shots on goal and nobody on that line hits less than 14% of the time.  It’s as close to Bruins hockey perfection without mentioning the name ‘Orr’.

Patrice Bergeron is only 32. He still has five-plus years in the league. Marchand’s just 29. This power trio will be one of the dominant lines in the NHL until the mid-2020s.  Guess Bruins Nation owes a big debt of gratitude for Claude Julien for putting them together.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Hit: Bruins Fall In Trap Game

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Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

By: Thomas Nystrom           Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom 

Saturday night we saw a much different Bruins team take the ice. Not in terms of personnel, but certainly in the way of effort and execution. Boston looked disjointed in every aspect of the game. The stick handling left much to be desired, the passing was lazy, and the shots didn’t find their mark with any level of consistency in comparison to what we’ve seen over the better part of the last two months. Tuukka Rask had a few misreads and blown saves, although the highlights will also show that he kept them in this game until the very end with a handful of unbelievable stops. Unfortunately his effort wasn’t enough to continue his outstanding point streak which ends at 21 games.

This game appears to be less about Rask’s off night and more about the overall lack of compete from a Boston squad fresh off a few days rest after an absolutely commanding road performance in their 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers.

The flip side of this article is undoubtedly being written in Buffalo as we speak, but here, the great things that the Sabres did tonight shouldn’t go without praise. The Buffalo Sabres entered TD Garden with purpose despite having very little to play for at this stage of their mostly disappointing 2017-2018 campaign. They were strong on the forecheck, broke up a number of high-probability scoring chances, and backup Goaltender Chad Johnson put together an outstanding if not unexpected 60 minute effort in net. Ryan O’Reilly centered a Buffalo line that tonight played Bergeron/Marchand/Pastrnak with intensity and fearlessness arguably more-so than any other offensive pairing since November. Mind you, Buffalo’s best weapon and Massachusetts’ own Jack Eichel was knocked out of the game with under 7 minutes left in the first on an ugly looking collision where he came down awkwardly with his leg pinned beneath him.

Positive spin: I would like to state for the record that in no way do I believe the Sabres just laid out the blueprint for how to contain the monster that has been the Boston Bruins over the better part of the season. This was a ‘trap game’ if there ever was one. The seemingly easier contest of the back to back this weekend didn’t go as planned, but in many ways was half-heartedly forecasted. The ‘trap’ is not a myth folks and tonight was exhibit A.

The Boston Bruins travel to Newark, New Jersey tomorrow to take on the (27-19-8) Devils, whom are coming off their own 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Columbus on Sunday. I foresee a physical, perhaps desperate level of effort from both teams looking to quickly right the ship. Face off at 7:00pm. See you then.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Boston Bruins: Is This Frank Vatrano’s Last Season With The B’s?

 

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Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins directs Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on November 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
(Nov. 15, 2017 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Frank Vatrano is currently the odd man out with the Boston Bruins. Vatrano hasn’t seen much action with the Black and Gold this season. He’s only played in 22 games, and he’s spent most of that time as a fourth line grinder for the B’s. In his last five appearances, he cracked the ten-minute ice time mark only once.

Vatrano’s limited action is due to the strength of the Bruins rookies. The B’s youth movement have earned themselves positions on the roster, and that forced players like Matt Beleskey (currently playing in Providence) and Vatrano on the sidelines. Vatrano is only seeing action due to the B’s injuries and the suspension of forward Brad Marchand.

Vatrano’s never really been a full time player for Boston. He’s played in 83 games in the last two seasons. He’s been moving up and down the lines as the situation (or the injuries) required. For his part, the 23-year old Mass native is trying to stay positive. He’s doing his best to be ready for whenever he gets to see action on the ice.

“It’s always difficult when you’re not playing, you’re always trying to get back into the lineup,” Vatrano said. “But when the team is as hot as it is right now you’ve got to tip your cap to everyone in the room, even if you’re not in the lineup you’re rooting for the guys.

“You want them to win, you always want to win. You’ve got to be a good teammate, whether you’re in the lineup or out of the lineup. For me, I just have to have the same mindset night in and night out.”

Vatrano was a point-a-game player during his AHL time. (A situation he may find himself in again come next season.) Now he’s a penalty minute a game player.  He’s now in the situation that Ryan Spooner found himself in last year.  It’s not that he’s a terrible player, but the current roster have been firing on all cylinders.

For Vatrano, it’s about staying positive and waiting for the next opportunity to show he can still be an effective player in the Boston organization.

“I actually felt pretty good,” offered Vatrano on his current condition. “I’ve been trying to stay on top of my conditioning, on and off the ice. I felt good, felt like I really didn’t miss a beat out there. My timing was good, so hopefully I can add some more finishing to it. Obviously in a different role right now, so trying to be reliable.”

Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy has been satisfied with Vatrano’s reliability. Cassidy has been trying to find a use for Vatrano in the wake of the B’s youth movement. So far, Vatrano has adapted to his current role.

“With Frank, we’re going to continue to make sure that in those close games he does his part away from the puck, keep getting better defensively and hopefully the puck falls a little bit and he creates a little more on his own on that line,” said Cassidy of Vatrano’s current performance.

“He’s been good, he’s worked hard the last six weeks without playing. I give him credit for that, it’s not easy when you’re young.”

While Vatrano is trying hard to make a difference with Boston, it may be a case of too little, too late for him. The Bruins have too many prospects coming up. The B’s current roster is (for the most part) injury free, and it’s a case of too many players and not enough spots on the roster.

This will likely be the last season for Vatrano in the spoked ‘B’. Vatrano may end up back in Providence, but its more than likely that’ll end up in another organization.

Injuries And Depth A Concern, And Here’s How It Can Be Fixed

david-backesAbove Photo Credit: intelfeeds

By: Thomas Nystrom           Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom 

The story of the 2017-2018 Boston Bruins has now reached a critical point in ‘act two’ of the the season. At this juncture it can be classified as an obstacle while being mindful that there is a thin line between that and a full blown crisis in any story arc. The obstacle Boston currently faces is a test of organizational depth, and fans are already looking for answers.

During Tuesday nights return to post-all-star action we saw two immediate tests come in the form of a cross-check to Anders Bjork, and an unreasonably late hit high on David Backes. Neither player would return in this contest and Coach Bruce Cassidy has already stated that Bjork will be missing some time. The true extent of the Backes injury is still undetermined but it appears right now that he avoided a set-back on the hit from Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie. He indicated today that he ‘feels fine’ to NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty.

This makes the last week and a half’s injuries and issues compile into something not only worth monitoring, but addressing before it becomes the narrative of the second half. Bjork is out, and if it’s a shoulder as reported.. it may be a bit before he’s back to 100%. Charlie McAvoy hopefully will return sooner than later but coming off a heart procedure there is zero pressure to rush back from anyone in the organization. Backes narrowly avoided another stint on the IR. Noel Acciari has missed time with a lower body injury and is not expected to return to action Thursday against the Blues. And lastly, Brad Marchand still has another three games to serve on his suspension for a hit that did not need to happen.

Depth is going to be a major plot point for the remainder of the season, and one that will likely be addressed at the trade deadline on February 26th. Names like Evander Kane have been tossed out there, though the general consensus is that the persistent drama surrounding him is a chemistry risk and may outweigh the upside a player like that would present. Max Pacioretty is rumored to be available but I highly doubt Montreal and Boston would come to any reasonable terms for him. Michael Grabner, James Neal, Patrick Maroon, Rick Nash, and so on — all left wingers who will come with a high asking price from their respective organizations. Besides, to me I see a higher need to perhaps add a right winger and not a left, and a player like Jordan Kyrou would be safer, and more reasonably priced at the deadline.

All options will no doubt be considered and explored accordingly, just looking at the injury report as it stands today only accentuates the need for help on the wing for the final stretch to the post-season. Should the Bruins choose to primarily work within the system, their options at the AHL level include players like Peter Cehlarik who was called up this morning to fill the void left by Accairi and Bjork, both considered day-to-day per Bruce Cassidy. If Backes winds up missing any time this season (or any center for that matter) there is the impending call-ups of Providence’s Ryan Fitzgerald and Jakob Forbacka Karlsson. Both would be exciting promotions for Bruins fans in the know, but not a move considered ‘sexy’ by the casual fan that will start jumping on board with the team for the next few months as they push for a high seed in the conference heading into the playoffs.

Simply stated, Bruins appear to be deep but could/should add to that if the goal is to be raising hardware by the end of spring. This season started with a dense unavoidable haze of melancholy but has suddenly swung to an heir of confidence and hope for a deep playoff run. How proactive the orginization is in the coming weeks with regards to putting the pieces together for Cassidy to mold into a championship team — that is the new narritive.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom