Boston Bruins: Trading Torey Krug?

 

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Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Kevan Miller #86 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup play-offs at TD Garden on April 25, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 7-4.
(April 24, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

As fans of the Boston Bruins, we’re all disappointed at the end of the B’s 2017-18 season. This year’s squad had the potential of making it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended those dreams by taking out the Black and Gold in five games.

They’ll be no dirty water in the Stanley Cup this year. So what happens when the team doesn’t go all the way. As usual, the fans and the media resort to the annual round of recriminations against the players and the front office.

A fair amount of that rage has been put on two players. Torey Krug and Brad Marchand. The most recent grumblings around Causeway Street are to have one or both of these players moved in the offseason. While Marchand’s licking antics were certainly a distraction, he was one of the best players for the B’s in the regular season and the playoffs.

Marchand’s not going anywhere. Like Patrice Bergeron, he’s going to be in the Black and Gold until he retires.

But persistent rumors continue to swirl around Torey Krug. Could the Bruins organization be considering moving him in order to find the missing piece for next season? The B’s have several left-shooting d-men coming up through the ranks, and on some level, it might actually make sense?

But would the Bruins do it?

Absolutely not. Trading Torey Krug is asinine.

Krug is the kind of player who will kill himself in order to make the play. He broke his ankle in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and will be wearing a boot for the next two months. (Thankfully, the injury won’t require surgery.)

“To be honest, I was hoping I just had a sprained ankle or something and I’d be able to go off for a shift and come back out there, but it was pretty obvious that that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Krug about his broken ankle. “You just try to get up and get off the ice. My dad always told me, ‘Don’t lay on the ice and let people pick you up.’ So [I] just kept going.”

Krug should be fully healed in time for training camp in September.

The biggest reason the Bruins organization won’t move him is simple: Krug is too bloody valuable to Boston. Krug led all defencemen with 59 points this season. His 14 goals was also a personal best for the 26-year old Michigan native. Krug also led B’s defencemen in scoring during the postseason, notching up 12 points for the Black and Gold. (By comparison, Bruins wunderkind Charlie McAvoy only put up five.)

Krug is one of the more reliable blueliners the B’s have right now. That he is one of the better puck-moving d-men out there certainly increases his value. He’s dependable, reliable, and gives people six inches taller than him a serious run for their money.

The Bruins organization might move Krug, but the offer would have to been one of those Tuukka Rask for magic beans trades that Boston always finds a way to get the Toronto Maple Leafs to agree to.

Krug’s potential has yet to be fully realized. Krug has the ability to be a 60 or even 70 point player for Boston. That’s something Cam Neely and Don Sweeney won’t walk away from.

So, the next time some media outlet mentions a ‘hot take’ on moving Krug, you can toss that opinion into Boston Harbor.

 

Boston Bruins: Simple Mistakes, Simple Fixes

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins talks with Matt Grzelcyk #48 during the second period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(May 1, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                          Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins are proving to be their own worst enemy right now. The Black and Gold had a sold-out crowd backing them on Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The B’s looked poised to push the Tampa Bay Lightning into Boston Harbor with a resounding win.

Then the B’s started making simple mistakes. The Bolts easily capitalized on those simple errors, allowing Tampa forward Ondrej Palat to score twice within the first 3:19 of the game.

“[The] puck kind of felt like it back-spin on me on the ice,” said Matt Grzelcyk about his early error that led to the Bolt’s first goal of the night. “[I] thought maybe it went behind me, so [I] just took my eye off the puck, I guess. And they capitalized because they’re a good team. Obviously not the way you want to start a game. It was tough bouncing back after that.”

Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, those two goals were all Tampa needed to beat Boston. The B’s ended up falling to the Lightning 4-1.  The B’s get another chance of redemption against Tampa Bay on Friday.

“We made a few mistakes early that unfortunately, we couldn’t crawl our way back from,” shared Bruins forward Brad Marchand with the media postgame. “But we had some pushes during the game where their goalie made some big saves. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Can we blame some of this on shoddy officiating? Some, but not much. The Bruins certainly got no favors from the refs in that game. (If you take a look around the league, the refs have been maddeningly inconsistent across the board in the second round of the postseason.)

Thankfully, the B’s penalty kill did its job most of the night in Game 3.

Did the refs take away the momentum from the Bruins at times? Sure, but when the B’s seemed to have control of the ice, they were unable to find a way around Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Do the Bruins need to go back to the drawing board? Certainly not. The B’s are an elite team that earned their place in the playoffs. They’re just going to have to make a few tweaks and focus a little more on their puck management.

The B’s top-six forwards will remain the same. They’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting so far this series. While there are certainly no passengers on the team right now, there are players (especially among the bottom-six forwards) who need to hunker down and give everything they’ve got left to win this series.

While changes are going to be made among the forwards (and quite possibly a shuffling of the defensive pairs), Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is keeping any new configurations under his hat for the time being.

“I’m not going to tell you who’s going in or who’s going out now because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first and then go from there,” offered Cassidy. “Tuukka [Rask] will start, I’ll give you that.”

The Bruins seem ready for Game 4, and they’ll stand by whatever decisions Cassidy wants to make.

“He’s gonna make his decisions as a coach,” said B’s alternate captain David Backes. “We’re the players, if we’re in the lineup we’ve got to give everything we’ve got every time our name is called to get on the ice. If it’s not called, we need to be supportive of our teammates. The character in this room is something I’ve never been concerned about. We have guys that when they’re out there are working their butts off to try and stay ready if their name is called.”

 

Boston Bruins: Department Of Player Safety Will Suspend Nazem Kadri

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Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on November 10, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime.
(Nov. 9, 2017 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are some of the most intense two months you’ll see in all of the professional sports. Sixteen teams battle in four rounds of hockey. They all have one goal in mind. To bring the Stanley Cup home.

Hockey is a passionate sport. Sometimes players will go out there and do stupid things. As a member of the Boston Bruins fan base, many of us have had to defend the actions of our players during past playoffs.

Let’s face it, defending Brad Marchand can be a full-time job for many fans of the Black and Gold.  Marchand going ‘Fifty Shades of Bruin’ on Leo Komarov will certainly be generating some anti-rat buzz for Boston’s ‘Little Ball of Hate’ tomorrow.

I won’t be surprised at all if the home office in Toronto throws some kind of fine at him.

But for all of Marchand’s antics Thursday evening, Leafs forward Nazem Kadri’s dangerous play takes the cake.  Kadri made two separate hits on Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in the game.  He was penalized for both hits and was given a game misconduct for the second one.

Kadri will almost certainly be suspended for the hit. The Leafs will be down one of their best players, and Kadri could easily find himself watching the rest of the series from the ninth level.

This is what Kadri had to say in his defense of the (second) hit on Wingels.

“Well, initially I just thought (Wingels) made contact with (Mitch Marner’s) head to start,” said Kadri postgame, “and I didn’t see a call there. He was turning up the wall, so I was coming into the hit, and then he ended up falling. It happened pretty quick, and I think he was reaching for the puck. I haven’t really watched it yet, but I don’t think I stuck my leg out or my arm out. or whatever the case is, but it’s in the NHL’s hands at this point.”

Kadri (like Marchand) is considered a repeat offender. He has been suspended three times in his career.  He (like Marchand) has been fined in the past for various violations of league rules. The Department of Player Safety will (or at least should) take his past transgressions into account when the penalize him.

This looks like it should be a two or three-game suspension. Personally, I’d rather see three. It was a dangerous hit, and it wasn’t Kadri’s only attempt to injure another hockey player. One stupid hit in a game is being like Brad Marchand. Two or more and you start looking like Matt Cooke.

Hopefully, the Department of Player Safety gets this one right. Fingers crossed, but the DoPS have let us all down before.

Boston Bruins: Thirst For First Runs Dry

 

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Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on November 10, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime.
(Nov. 9, 2017 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew E Thompson                                                                 Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins found themselves controlling their own destiny on Sunday night. The Black and Gold were playing for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference as they took on the Florida Panthers in the final game of the 2017-18 season. The B’s weren’t able to get it done, falling to the Cats 4-2.

 

Sure, the loss was disappointing. Had the Bruins won, they’d have had the top spot in the East and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs.  The loss put the B’s playoff plans into sharp focus. With their second place seed in the Atlantic secured, they now prepare to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins knew they let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers with their loss tonight.  “We’re not going to allow one game to define us, yet we understand the meaning,” said Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy over the loss after the game. “We let one get away, an opportunity lost to have home-ice advantage. And we’ll see if that haunts us down the road. I think it’s too early to tell that right now.”

The Bruins certainly struggled against the Leafs this season. Early on in the season, the Black and Gold were totally black and blue. Injuries to key players kept the B’s on the defensive in their first two games back in November of 2017.  The B’s dropped both of those games. The B’s looked better against the Leafs in February, beating them cleanly 4-1 in one match. In the other game, the team missed a few opportunities and fell to the Leafs 4-3.

So, how will the Black and Gold do against a team that they went 1-2-1 in the regular season?

Injuries will certainly play a factor in the series. The Bruins will be without the services of two players for the remainder of the playoffs. Anders Bjork is out with a shoulder injury sustained at the end of January.  Brandon Carlo is all out of action due to his ankle fracture sustained on March 31.  Rick Nash and Riley Nash are questionable for Thursday night, and their absence could be keenly felt during game one.

The Leafs are no slouch on offense.  Toronto is fourth in the league in goals scored (3.29/game).  Boston is sixth with 3.26 goals/game. They have seven 50-plus point players on their team (compared to four Bruins). Thankfully, no Leaf player can match the firepower of either Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak. The Leafs will also have to work hard to find a solution to Mr. Selke himself, Patrice Bergeron. (Bergeron’s 57.31% faceoff win percentage is (once again) among the best in the league.)

Special teams will certainly play a factor as well. The Leafs are second in the league on the power play (25%, the Bruins are fourth with 23.5%).  The Bruins have the edge on the penalty kill, being the third best team in the NHL while a man down (83.7%, the Leafs are 12th at 81.4%).

The Black and Gold could find themselves in a protracted goalie duel in the first round. While some fans would disagree with this, the Bruins have the advantage here. Frederik Andersen won four more games than Tuukka Rask but played 12 more games. Rask has also given up a full half goal less per game (2.36 to Andersen’s 2.81). As long as Rask has proper support, he’ll be able to get the team past the Leafs.

Rask feels like he’s ready for the challenge. “Prepare mentally and physically…we know it’s going to be Toronto in the first round, so we have to be ready because it’s going to be a tough matchup like they all are,” said Tuukka Rask. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me who you play because you’ve got to beat them all so you just have to prepare yourself and be ready when the puck drops on Thursday.”

The Leafs also have a tendency to give up more soft goals than Boston. (The Leafs are 12th in the league with 2.8 goals-against per game, while the B’s are fourth at 2.57.)

The Black and Gold begin their quest for the Stanley Cup, and they look like they’ve got the skills to make a solid run.

 

Boston Bruins: Finally First In The Atlantic

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins reacts after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at TD Garden on November 29, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Nov. 28, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins have had a very unusual season.

The Black and Gold started out in a rough patch due to the loss of so many senior players. As the season progressed, the 2017-18 B’s had to overcome a serious boatload of injuries. The team roster often found itself inundated with AHL players in order to overcome their shortcomings on their current roster.

As the Bruins progressed, the team’s behavior certainly didn’t help.  The occasional suspension of key players (B’s forward Brad Marchand (who earned it) and David Backes (who only earned it because the Department of Player Safety lives in some damnable bizarre universe where only their interpretations of the rules make sense. (By the way, if Parros isn’t being set up by Bettman et al to take the fall when the NHLPA’s concussion case finally comes to court…well, that will certainly be a pleasant surprise.))) certainly didn’t help matters.

By actions that happened outside of their control, the 2017-18 Bruins were put in a very ugly situation.  It left them adrift in a no-mans-land.  This meant the local media (who act like ravenous piranhas on a good day) chose to have their way with a team that was trying to find its identity. It didn’t matter that several key players were hurt. It didn’t matter that the team was full of young talent. The local media smelled blood in the water, and like sharks in a feeding frenzy, they engaged without thought of the potential consequence of their actions.

This meant the Boston media wrote the team off way too early. Many of the pundits claimed that the Bruins organization had made too many unrecoverable mistakes. The team was too young. The team lacked a central core. The Bruins could not get behind a coach who was spending his first full season as an NHL bench boss.

Boy were the pundits (this means you Felger) wrong. Not just wrong, but humbly being served an order of crow tartar while apologizing for their errors in judgment wrong. That is the problem with mainstream Boston media these days. Once they think you’re done, they’ll press the point come hell-or-high-water and damn the facts if they disagree with the narrative.

The 2017-18 Bruins squad have done something that very few teams in NHL history have done. They have fought and scratched their way from a non-playoff position to the top of their division. As of March 30th, the Boston Bruins via a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning hold sole possession of the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

How did the B’s get to where they are now? By not listening to the media. By committing themselves to every practice they undertook. By recognizing that every shift had significance and those shifts were a building block for the shifts that followed them.

“I guess when you look at the importance of the game, they’ve been in first place pretty much as long as I can remember this year. So that’s nice, to pass them,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy of the Bruins passing the Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division.

The B’s 4-2 win proved to the league that they can take on the best in the Eastern Conference. When the Bruins head into the postseason, they’ll be in a prime position. While it might be a little too early to talk smack, the Bruins look like a team that could reach the Stanley Cup Finals this year.

 

Ryan Donato Cuts His Teeth on TD Garden Ice

 

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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.
(June 27, 2014 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @godwentwhoops      The Boston Bruins found themselves in a pickle last Monday night. They were taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets who were fighting to hold on to their wild-card playoff slot. The Bruins were down no less than seven players and had to dig deep in order to earn points against the Jackets.

This led to the saw debut of Ryan Donato. Donato is a junior at Harvard. Once Harvard was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs,  the 21-year old Donato junior made the decision to waive his fourth year of NCAA eligibility.  (Donato had been drafted in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was a second-round pick (like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand) and was the 56th pick overall.) He then signed with the Black and Gold the very next day.

 

This was a big opportunity for the Mass native to showcase some of his skills. By and large, he succeeded. Donato earned his first NHL goal, and his first assist as well.

In the end, Donato ended up with a three-point night and found himself all over the ice. Coach Bruce Cassidy had Donato on the power play and even gave him some ice time during the overtime period.

Current members of the team were certainly pleased with Donato’s debut in Boston. “Ryan played a good game,” said Bruins forward David Krejci on Donato’s first game in the spoked ‘B’.  Donato’s third point of the season came from Krejci’s goal in the middle of the third period. That goal opened the way up for the B’s to take the see-saw game to overtime.  “Good for his confidence to get the first one. That is always the hardest, but he’s got to keep playing the way he played today. I thought he played well and he made some good plays. He easily could have got a couple of more, but that’s a good start for him.”

This was a fantastic debut for the Scituate native.  Even in the loss, Donato was excited to don the spoked ‘B’ and carry on another father-son tradition in Boston. The Donatos are the sixth family in Bruins history to carry on the Black and Gold legacy from father to son.

“I mean, it was fun,” said Donato of his first game for Boston. “Obviously it ended tough, but at the end of the day I was excited and I think it all went well personally, but I’d say it’s still bitter because of the loss.”

Donato’s arrival is certainly a good sign for Boston. Even with some of their best players out of action, the depth of this team is incredible. They’re competitive with other playoff teams and are even capable of shutting out some of the best teams in the NHL. Donato’s strong play once again validates Boston’s “next man up” philosophy.

In the end, Donato and the B’s weren’t able to pull off the win, but they did get that important OT point. This gives the Bruins 99 points for the season. The Black and Gold should find themselves holding onto an automatic playoff spot the next time they earn any kind of point in their next eleven games.

Boston Bruins: Riley Nash For The 7th Player Award

IMG_1394By Andrew Thompson  | Follow on twitter @godwentwhoops

For the last half-century, the 7th Player Award has been awarded to the Boston Bruins player that performs above and beyond expectations.  It’s one of the most difficult local awards to predict. Some seasons, the logical choice is selected. Other years, a dark horse candidate grabs the trophy.

Every once in a while, the Boston Bruins player declared the ‘cutest’ ends up winning.

The 7th Player Award should go to a player that has exceeded the expectations of the fans. This year there are several deserving candidates. Jake DeBrusk,  Matt Grzelcyk, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy,  and Anton Khudobin have been suggested as a possible winner. Each of these players has brought something to the table in Boston, and all of them are deserving candidates.

In my mind, there is one player that has truly gone above and beyond in Boston.  He was expected to be a low ice-time grinder for the Black and Gold. But through hard work (and the occasional injury) he has found himself on every forward line for the Bruins this year.  The player I’ve voted for is forward Riley Nash.

The 28-year old Nash has been the biggest and best surprise for the Bruins organization this year. He’s become the go-to player on the squad when the B’s need to change a lineup. While he’s spent most of his time on the B’s third line, the versatile Nash now finds himself on the B’s top line as Patrice Bergeron heals from a hairline fracture in his foot.

Riley Nash is currently tied for eighth on the team in points with 32.  He’s having a career year in goals (12) and assists (20).  He wins just under half (49.9%, 372/746) of his battles in the playoff circle, and is the best jack-of-all-trades player the team has right now (with the exception of Bergeron).

He’s currently fourth among forwards for overall ice-time. (Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are ahead of him.) He’s third in shifts as well(1252).  Among the B’s forwards he shares the lead for the most amount of short-ice time as well (1:53).  He’s even tied with Bergeron for the most amount of takeaways this season (48). If any player has exceeded the expectations on the team this year, it’s Nash.

Nash’s total package skill set has been one of the great surprises for the Black and Gold. He’s also been one of the big bargains in Boston. At just $900,000 this season, Nash has proven to be one of the best grabs made by Don Sweeney in his tenure as the B’s general manager.

All these numbers look great for Nash as he heads into a contract year with Boston. He’s been a great deal for the B’s these last two years, and the organization will probably try to pick him up for another two or three seasons.  Sadly, the B’s cap space may make that a daunting prospect.

Hopefully, the fans will take a look at Nash’s service to the team this season and give him the award he’s certainly earned.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins Rookie Squad Continues To Impress and Improve

 

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Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins works against Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers in the third period during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 6, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins knew they would be going all-in on the youth movement when they replaced Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy had spent his time in Providence working with many of the young kids that were coming up through the ranks in Boston. The Bruins organization knew that there would be growing pains early on and the team certainly felt them that first month (Especially with the rough string of injuries that hampered the Black and Gold).

The young kids have come a long way in just a few short months. They’ve picked up the slack in Boston, and in some cases helped push the team from the near bottom of the pack to the second-best point total in the NHL (after tonight’s 6-1 drubbing of the New York Rangers).

Early on in the season, the Boston Bruins had to rely on the scoring prowess of the Bergeron line. At one point in the season, the B’s top line was responsible for over 45% of the scoring for the Black and Gold.

Thankfully for the Bruins and their fans, that situation has changed. The Bruins rookie squad has learned from the B’s rough start and have become the most prolific scorers among all NHL teams. The rookies have already put up 33 goals for the Black and Gold, good enough for nearly 20% (19.41) of the B’s total goal production this season.  The young guns are playing their part in the B’s 3.27 goals/game average (fourth in the league).

The rookies have been all over the ice this season, and it shows in the Bruins numbers when compared to the rest of the league. Charlie McAvoy has done an outstanding job on the blueline so far this year. He’s part of the reason why the B’s are number one in the league in goals-against per game (2.35). He’s also seeing a decent amount of time on the penalty kill, now rated sixth in the league (82.9%).

The young players rookie seasons are certainly impressive so far. Danton Heinen already has 38 points (12 goals) this year and is on track for a near 60 point season this year. Jake DeBrusk isn’t that far behind with his 28 point (11 goals) effort. McAvoy finishes out the top three with 25 points and 5 goals.  Heinen certainly the breakout rookie star this year after working his way up onto the team after being a fourth-round pick (116th overall) in the 2014 Entry Draft. He’s become the B’s diamond in the rough this season.

The lion’s share of credit has to go to Cassidy, who is earning more and more buzz as a solid contender for the Jack Adams Award. He’s really turned things around in Boston and has made the Bruins a team to be respected in the league.

Credit also needs to be given out to the veteran members of the team who have helped make the young players better. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has certainly taken McAvoy under his wing. Players like Patrice Bergeron (who may actually pull of the Selke and the Hart Trophy this year), Brad Marchand, and even David Pastrnak have made the rookie forwards more dangerous and aware on the ice.

It’s been an amazing run so far for the 2017-18 Bruins squad, and all Black and Gold fans can only be excited for the young guns of the team. They continue to impress and improve and they’ll be a terror for the other teams for the rest of the season.

 

 

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.