Providence Bruins Sign Sheppard To AHL Deal

( Photo Credit: Cliff Mander / Charlotte Checkers / gocheckers.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per RinksideRhodeIsland.com writer Mark Divver, the Providence Bruins have signed defenseman Derek Sheppard formerly of the Charlotte Checkers. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins locked up the blueliner to a one-year American Hockey League contract.

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As you can see in Divver’s tweet above, Sheppard certainly doesn’t back away from the opposition and is always there to stick up for a teammate when liberties are taken. The Scarborough, Ontario, Canada native is listed at 6′-0″ and 216-pounds per the EliteProspects.com website and has bounced around the AHL and ECHL in the last two seasons as a professional hockey player. In 71 games played for the ECHL Florida Everblades, he posted 18-33-51 numbers and in the AHL with Charlotte contributed 2-3-5 totals in 36 games for the former minor-pro affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 26-year-old Sheppard is an AHL Calder Cup Champion with his former Checkers team in 2018-19, and in that same year earned honors being selected to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and ECHL Second All-Star Team selection. It remains to be seen if Derek actually makes the Providence roster in the upcoming 2020-21 AHL regular season, or this could be a one-year insurance signing and place him with the NHL Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate in the state of Georgia with the Atlanta Gladiators.

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With defensemen Josiah Didier, Stevan Kampfer (If he survives the waiver process), Urho Vaakanainen, Cooper Zech returning to Providence next season, and if new additions like Brady Lyle, Nick Wolff, and Jack Ahcan, a player like Sheppard seems destined for Atlanta. Also, have to keep in mind Bruins 2015 first-round selection Jakub Zboril and whether or not he’s retained for further service in the B’s organization and where he’ll play. The signing of Sheppard could be as I mentioned above an insurance move in case Kampfer or Zboril are no longer under the umbrella of the Boston NHL team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Biggest Questions Facing The Bruins As They Enter The 2020 Playoffs

Notes, Thoughts And Observations From Ondrej Kase's Bruins Debut ...
( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images )

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

What is up with Kase and Ritchie?

There is a lot up in the air with the Bruin’s two most recent acquisitions. We know Ondrej Kase was the only player to not travel to Toronto with the team. It’s been said that the Czech Republic native will meet the team later, but if he’s healthy, what role will he have? He’s only played six games with Boston, and with younger guys (that will be mentioned later) getting more chemistry with the team, it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll have when he’s with the team.

That same story remains true with Nick Ritchie. Despite traveling to Toronto with the team, Ritchie has just now made his first on ice appearance in Ontario’s capital, in an optional skate this morning. He wasn’t featured Bruin’s lineup in the exhibition game and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll join the Bs for a game. The physical forward would be a really nice addition to the lineup, and his presence would be a welcome addition to the forward group.

How will the kids play?

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Studnicka #68 of the Boston Bruins warms up prior to the game against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 26, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins seem to have three players penciled into their lineup that have yet to play a playoff game in their NHL career. The trio of players are Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon. I recently wrote an article about how I believe Bjork has a good chance to break out in the playoffs. He’s an incredibly skilled player that has had success in every league he’s been in. The Notre Dame alum has developed into a really good 200-foot player and is a guy I can totally see having a Marcus Johansson like run in the playoffs. 

As for Studnicka, it appears that he will get the start to the right of David Krejci on the second line and I love it. He’s done everything you want in a young player making the jump to the pros. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals and was within the top 15 in both total goals and points. Getting the chance to play in the top six in the NHL playoffs as a 21-year-old is not something many can do, especially for a President’s Trophy winning team. It’s been all praise from teammates and I’m really excited to see how he does after his promising showing in the exhibition game. 

We saw Connor Clifton take big steps in his NHL career last year as a rookie in the playoffs, and now Jeremy Lauzon is looking to do the same. The French-Canadian plays the perfect playoff style of hockey. The adjective I would use to describe him certainly wouldn’t be shy as he already has 10 fights in his short NHL career. He’s added a nice physical presence next to Matt Grzelcyk and that bottom pair has been a big part of the B’s success. Since joining the big club, the Bruins have had a 15-3-1 record in games Lauzon has played in.

Can Rask replicate last year’s playoff success?

Bruins' Tuukka Rask Reveals Item He Brought To Toronto, Game Plan ...
(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Rask was excellent in the 2018-19 Playoffs. Saying anything but that would be idiotic.  Outside of the final game of the Cup, Rask was absolutely dominant in elimination and series clinching games. In five elimination games, the Finnish tender allowed just four goals to go with a .973 save percentage. And as crazy as it may sound, he was even better in series clinching games. He allowed ONE goal in the three games, good for a .990 save percentage and if you picked this up, well done, had more shutouts than goals allowed. Those are elite numbers. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the time off will affect the B’s starter coming off of his best regular season since winning the Vezina in 2014. Luckily if Rask falters for any reason, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jaroslav Halak. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Will the formatting of the playoffs hurt the Bruins?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 16: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight during the second period at TD Garden on January 16, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Well the immediate answer is yes. As they were six points up on the second place team in the league, Bs were poised to finish the regular season as the number one seed. They would’ve had home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs but are now forced to play in a round robin to determine where they finish. If the Bs fail to maintain the top spot in the East they would end up playing a better team than they would have normally faced. Can you believe if they end up playing the Penguins in the first round instead of a team around the 7-9 seed? No disrespect to any of those teams, but that would be incredibly tough on the Presidents Trophy winning team. 

If there’s any pro out of this, it would be the fact that the Bruins now play high intensity games that matter, but without a lose or go home stipulation. Maybe if they don’t show up in the three round robin games it sends a message. Maybe if they DO show up it will give the team confidence and add a little swagger to their play. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Can the veterans succeed after so much time off?

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
(Photo Credit: Minas Panaglotakis/ Getty Images)

There’s no questioning if the leadership of the Bruin’s veterans will be there when the playoffs begin, it will. But will their usual great play be there as well? Zdeno Chara (42), Patrice Bergeon (34), David Krejci (33) and Brad Marchand (31) have all had amazing NHL careers, but without a proper training camp and so much time off, it may be tough to get back into the swing of things with the intensity of playoff hockey. Brad Marchand said earlier in quarantine that he thinks younger teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning will have the advantage over teams with an older core. With that being said, you know Bruce Cassidy and co will have the Bruins ready to play when the time comes. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

With An Eye On the Playoffs, What Were The Bruins’ Shot Patterns In 2019-20?

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me On Twitter @lydia_murray12

Advanced stats are becoming more common in hockey analysis these days. I’m a firm believer that you should never just pay attention to them but instead watch the player as a whole and do the good old-fashioned eye test. But, advanced stats do have a lot of merit, especially when trying to figure out why things are happening the way they are. With the round-robin tournament just two days away now, I decided to take a deeper dive into this Bruins team. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at some shot heatmaps for the Bruins offense at 5v5. Keep an eye out for an article coming soon with a heatmap of their defense and another with some heatmaps of power play and penalty kill. Also, be on the look for a deep dive one using skater good/bad/fun/dull graphs!

A Short Introduction to Shot Heatmaps

Before I begin, here’s a short overview of how to read these heatmaps for those of you who don’t know or need a refresher. This is just a basic overview of how these heatmaps work. If you want to see a really in-depth analysis, you can check one out (albeit of the San Jose Sharks) here. But anyway, these maps illustrate the number of unblocked shots (not necessarily on goal) for or against a team compared to the league average, and where those shots are coming from. Blue means that fewer unblocked shots are generated from a given spot than the league average, whereas red means more are generated than the league average. The deeper the color, the further away from the league average a team is from that spot. White means that shots are being generated at the league average from that particular spot. 

With this in mind, on offensive graphs, blue is good, and red is bad. Obviously, you want your team to be generating a ton of shots, and ideally, they’ll be producing more than most other teams. On the other hand, for defensive graphs, the opposite is true. When an area is blue, it means that team is letting less unblocked shots through than the league average. It goes without saying that’s a great thing. The fewer shots that get through unblocked, the fewer chances an opponent gets to score. 

Defining Areas of the Ice

Heatmap Taken From hockeyviz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

Before I get started with the actual heatmaps, there’s just a few more things I want to go over. Pictured above is an example of the heatmaps you’ll see in this article as it was directly on the website. This is great on its own, but I decided to add a few more things to aid in my analysis. 

Original Heatmap Taken From HockeyViz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

As you’ll see, I’ve add a box and a trapezoid to the above graph (as well as made the crease more obvious). My apologies for the subpar photo editing job, I don’t have access to the best software and I’m not too skilled at it either. But, it’s good enough for the purposes of this article. Please note, these outlines may be off a little bit, but if they are, it’s not by much as I was as exact as possible with the tools I had. 

( Graphic Credit: War-On-Ice.com )

I’ve added these areas to aid in my analysis of these graphs. The box area I have outlined is known as the “slot”, and shots from this area are considered “high danger”. The trapezoid is known as just that, and shots from that area are considered “medium danger”. Shots from anywhere else on the ice are considered “low danger.” According to this article, in the high danger area, shots have at least a 10% chance of going in. The article also says that shots from the medium danger area have a 3-10% chance of going in, while low danger shots have at most a 3% chance of going in. 

To be clear, those percentages are averages, as some shots obviously stand a better chance of going in than others, even from within those areas. For example, a shot from the backdoor of the net that’s wide open has a much better shot than one that’s coming from right out front with the goalie square to it. But anyway, with all of that out of the way now, let’s get into the actual analysis these things.

Now, It’s Time To Analyze This Heatmap

Original Heatmap Taken From HockeyViz.com Courtesy of Micah Black McCurdy

Low Slot Bad, High Slot Good

The first thing that pops out to me when looking at this map is unfortunately not a good thing. As you can see, the Bruins are significantly below the league average in getting unblocked shots off in the slot, particularly right in front of the net. Granted, it’s a difficult task since there’s usually a lot of bodies there, but that’s not an excuse given they’re doing worse than most other teams. It’s disappointing. However, what this map doesn’t count is rebounds, and the Bruins get a lot of those in front of the net, so I don’t think they’re as bad there as this map makes them look. But regardless, it’s something they can definitely work on in the playoffs.

But, at the same time, they’re above the league average right at the top of the slot, and in my opinion, that’s a more dangerous spot. I’ve been taught to move out towards this area as a high school player, as it often results in more goals being scored. The same is true in the pros. Defensemen typically stay closer to the net, as there’s usually at least one player there, so the further out you move, the less likely they are to stick right to you. You often become the center’s problem at that point. So, you’re still covered by a player, but, it’s better to be covered by the center. 

Why is it better to be covered by a center than a defenseman you may ask? Well, sometimes they’re easier to get away from, but that’s not always the case (Bergeron is a prime example of this). So, the biggest reason that being covered by the center is better is if the defensemen are closer to the net, as well as a forward or two, that’s a lot of bodies that you can use as screens for the goalie. If a goalie can’t see the puck, they can’t stop it (unless it hits them). So, while it’s disappointing to see so much blue closer the net, it’s nice to see a higher volume of shots from a little further out.

Bumper/High Slot Area Good

That whole red blob that’s mainly in the trapezoid but spills into the slot a little bit (right in the power play bumper area) is nice to see. It’s a great spot to shoot from because if the initial shot doesn’t go in, there’s typically a good rebound from that far out. Rebounds are how most goals are scored, and once you get in too close, there usually isn’t a good one. Goalies are better able to control shots from close in, and even if they can’t, it usually gets cleared by defensemen. Shooting from further out and getting those big rebounds means there’s a much better chance that someone will be able to jump on it and bury it. So, even though those aren’t technically considered “high danger” shots, they can be more dangerous than those that are, because most goals, especially in the NHL, don’t come from the initial shot, but from rebounds.

Left Circle Unsurprisingly Excellent

Another solid spot the Bruins shoot from according to this map is the left circle. This is unsurprising, as the Bruins have a lot of big shooters on that side. In particular, that’s where Pastrnak typically lets off his one-timer. For those that are a bit confused by that since he’s a right wing, it’s common to see players switch sides in the offensive zone, especially if they shoot different ways. That way, their sticks are in the center of the ice, meaning their forehand is towards the net. Otherwise, they have shoot across their body, which is not ideal from an angle standpoint, and it gives goalies that extra split second to get ready, which can make all the difference. It’s also much more difficult to one-time a puck on your off-hand, so all around it just makes sense to switch sides.

As good as most of the left circle is, there’s a big spot starting in the top of the left circle where the Bruins are shooting a little below the league average. That’s never great, but, the Bruins are never going to be shooting league average or above from every inch of the ice. It’s impossible for them to. So, with that in mind, if there are good spots for them to be shooting below league average from, that’s one of the big ones.

For the most part, it’s a weird angle to the net, especially if it’s a left shot player. Weird angle shots are not good because it’s lucky if it goes in on the initial shot, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t going to produce a good rebound. The angle a puck goes in at is the angle it comes back out at, so in all likelihood, that puck would be heading to the corner off a rebound (if it goes anywhere). It’s no good to anyone over there. So, yeah, it’s an area they could work on. But, it’s not a concern for me, even though much of it’s considered “medium danger” scoring chances. I’m sure it’s not for them either, as it’s not a big spot goals are scored or good rebounds are produced from.

Lots of Shots From the Left Point Too

One final spot the Bruins are particularly good at getting unblocked shots off in is the left point (up by/on the blue line). Again, this is not surprising. For starters, Chara fires off his slapshots from that spot, and those aren’t typically blocked. They’re so hard players don’t have time to react and step in front of them before they’re through (not that they’d want to). Plus, he usually doesn’t shoot unless he has a clear line.

But, the bigger reason the Bruins shoot from such a high volume at that spot is Krug. He’s the Bruins top offensive defenseman and is certainly not afraid to let a lot of shots fly. Yes, they get blocked sometimes, but he shoots so often, he makes up for the ones that are. His shots are also hard enough that, like Chara’s, players don’t typically have enough time to react and step in front of it once he lets it loose. 

So, it makes perfect sense that the Bruins would be significantly above league average in this spot. It’s also a good thing because even though point shots don’t go in that often (despite the screens that typically form), they produce massive rebounds that can easily be pounced on by another player. Again, most goals in the NHL come from rebounds, not the initial shot, so shots from anywhere that typically produce good rebounds are great in my book.

Shooting More From the Right Circle Would Be Great

One area they should work on shooting at least a little more from in the playoffs is the right side. In a playoff series, it’ll be easier for a team to figure out how to shut them down from one particular spot, and they’ll almost certainly focus on that left circle. Yes, they (and especially Pastrnak) will probably still get a lot of shots through. But, if they can start shooting more from the right circle, it’ll catch the other team off guard. That’s a good thing. Plus, it’ll make it a lot harder for them to focus on just shutting down the left side.

The more they can spread out the defensemen, the better off they’ll be. Less concentrated defensive coverage will mean even more unblocked shots get through from the left than already are, which will almost certainly result in more goals. Plus, an increased volume of shots from the right should mean more will get through unblocked, which should result in a lot more goals too. 

The Same Goes For the Right Point

I’d like to see them get more shots off from the right point in the playoffs for the same reasons I want to see more from the right circle. According to the heatmap, they’re around league average for most of it. That’s not awful obviously, but it’s a missed opportunity. Just like shooting from the right circle more will, shooting more from the right point will spread their opponents out more.

This will open up more lanes on both sides to get shots through, which almost surely means more goals. This is especially true for shots from the left point because they were already getting a lot of shots through from there despite already having a little more focus on them. So, if that side starts getting defended looser, they’ll be able to get even more through.

Summary

In short, the Bruins did a lot of things well shooting-wise this season. But, there are also a few areas they could work on for the playoffs. For the most part, they did a great job of getting a lot of unblocked shot through from the left side of the ice. They also did a good job of shooting from the bumper/high slot area, which, even though it’s classified as “medium danger,” is a really dangerous spot to shoot from. It usually produces decent rebounds if the initial shot doesn’t go in, which is always a good thing since the most common way goals are scored in the NHL (and really at all levels of hockey) is off of rebounds.

As for things the Bruins need to work on shooting-wise, they really need to start shooting more from the right side of the ice. As you can see from the map, they’re mostly league average over there. Obviously, that’s not terrible. But, if they start shooting more from that side, it’ll catch teams off guard. It’ll also make it so defenders have to spread out more and not just focus on one side of the ice, which will result in more shots getting through unblocked from all sides. Obviously, that’s a good thing, and it should result in a lot more goals for the team, which is something everybody wants.

They could also stand to shoot from right in front of the net a lot more. They were really bad at getting initial shots off from there this season. But, they did get a lot of rebounds there, which were not accounted for in this heatmap. So, it’s nowhere near as bad as it seems. However, it never hurts to shoot more, especially from a “high danger” area such as that.

Overall, the Bruins did a good job of shooting from dangerous areas of the ice this season. That’s unsurprising given how good they were this season. But, it’s nice to know that in this case, the advanced stats agree with everything else. Now there’s really no denying that the Bruins were really that good offensively this past season. Let’s hope they can keep that up throughout the playoffs!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Columbus: 7/30/20

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Columbus Blue Jackets

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Studnicka

Kuraly – Coyle – Bjork

Nordstrom – Lindholm – Wagner

Kuhlman

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Moore

Goalies

Rask – Halak (splitting time)

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Foligno – Wennberg – Atkinson

Texier – DuBois – Bjorkstrand

Nyquist – Jenner – Foudy

Robinson – Nash – Bemstrom

Gerbe

Defense

Werenski – Jones

Gavrikov – Savard

Murray – Kukan

Nutivaara

Goalies

Korpisalo – Merzlikins (splitting time)

First Period

As expected in the first game action since early March, both teams were feeling each other out and getting their feet under them. Things were fairly pedestrian for the first four minutes. That was until Boone Jenner got the Blue Jackets on the board four minutes and 27 seconds in, connecting on a sweet saucer pass from Liam Foudy.

John Moore took the first penalty of the game with 6:42 remaining for interference. The Bruins killed the penalty successfully. Good to not start 0 for 1. Not too long after, Matt Grzelcyk and Seth Jones both took separate penalties. Grzelcyk went off for hooking, Jones went off for slashing, and a 4-on-4 ensued. Brad Marchand went off for hooking late in the 4-on-4. Zach Werenski then buried a one-timer from the point just seconds later on the 4-on-3 to give the Blue Jackets a two-goal lead with 1:42 left.

Gustav Nyquist made it three for the Blue Jackets just 18 seconds later. Outside of being down on the scoreboard, the Bruins just couldn’t put much of anything together in the offensive zone. Luckily, it doesn’t count for anything. The Bruins were outshot 13 to 7.

Score: 3-0 Columbus

Second Period

The Bruins played a bit better to start the period, but still struggled to score. Brandon Carlo went to the box for tripping with 12:42 to go. Jaroslav Halak came in for Tuukka Rask with 10:06 remaining. Rask stopped 17 of 20 shots. Elvis Merzlikins did the same for Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo stopped all of the 11 shots that he faced.

David Pastrnak got the Bruins on the board, at last with 7:44 remaining, beating Merzlikins on the five-hole. Sean Kuraly and Charlie McAvoy had the helpers. Seth Jones took his second penalty of the game, this time for interference with 5:03 remaining. Nothing came of it for the Bruins.

Pastrnak’s goal was the only one scored in the second period. Despite being bailed out by a couple of posts, the Bruins definitely turned things up a notch, primarily offensively. Shots in the period were 12-9 in favor of the Blue Jackets, bringing the total to 25-16.

Score: 3-1 Columbus

Third Period

Pierre-Luc DuBois went off for cross-checking early in the period, but the Bruins couldn’t make it hurt. Shortly after, Par Lindholm went off for goaltender interference. Both penalties were killed effectively.

Jaroslav Halak was pulled with around a minute left, but it wasn’t enough. Alexandre Texier buried an empty netter with 1.5 seconds left and that was it. Shots in the third were 8-6 in favor of the Bruins, 31-24 Blue Jackets overall. Although it was a lackluster performance for the Bruins overall, it’s nothing to freak out about. Next up are the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday to get round-robin play started. Puck drop in Toronto is set for 3 PM ET.

Final Score: 4-1 Columbus

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

User 568316199 · 187: We Honor The Loss Of An Amesbury, Mass. Legend & Give Updates On Recent Bruins News

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Forward David Pastrnak Will Return To The Lineup Tonight

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

The Bruins are set to play an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in Toronto. This will be the first game that the Bruins play since the league suspended the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March.

Coach Bruce Cassidy told media members today that forward David Pastrnak will be in the lineup tonight. Pastrnak was deemed “unfit to participate” in practice on July 16th after apparently having come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. This required him to serve another 14-day self-isolation period, the first being after he traveled back to the United States from the Czech Republic earlier in July.

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Pastrnak apologized publicly for the actions that kept him away from practice and the rest of the team. The contact with the infected person took place during a skating session at a local rink. He confirmed that he tested negative for the virus and is ready to help the team once the playoffs begin.

“I felt great,” Pastrnak said about his return to the ice. “I was actually surprised. I love the game and I will always be up [for playing].”

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Teammate Patrice Bergeron was impressed with what he saw when Pastrnak returned to practice.

“[The rest of the team] has some catching up to do. He’s looking great,” Bergeron said on Wednesday. “Looking like Pasta out there, like he hasn’t missed a beat.”

Pastrnak is now known as one of the best scorers in the league, especially dangerous from his spot at the left circle during the power play. He has also been a key to the team’s success in the playoffs. Fans were understandably concerned that he was kept out of practice for so long, as his superstar status and pure talent would leave a gaping hole if he was excluded from the Bruins lineup. Luckily, it seems that all is well with the Czech winger.

Pastrnak is looking to continue a strong season after sharing the Rocket Richard Trophy with Alex Ovechkin for leading the league in goals through the regular season. Though he missed a significant amount of practice time with the rest of the team, he will likely not be too far behind the rest of the league considering the long break. Tonight’s exhibition game will serve as a measuring stick to see how prepared Pastrnak and his teammates are to compete in playoff hockey.

Expect Pastrnak to slot into his normal spot on the top line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. This line will see a lot of ice time once the postseason gets underway. The puck drops at 7:00 ET tonight from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 6 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

( Photo Credit: NHL 20 Game Capture )

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

In my brand new video on my YouTube channel, I started a series where I simulate an upcoming Bruins game with my own commentary. What better way to start this series than to simulate the Bruins exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets ahead of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Check it out below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be updated when a new video is published. 

  • First Period: 2:20
  • Second Period: 11:33
  • Third Period: 19:06
  • Overtime: 26:34

Home: Columbus Blue Jackets

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

Bjork – Coyle – DeBrusk

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Moore

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Nyquist – Dubois – Bjorkstrand

Foligno – Jenner – Anderson

Shore – Wennberg – Atkinson

Robinson – Nash – Gerbe

Defense

Werenski – Jones

Murray – Savard

Gavrikov – Peeke

Goalies

Korpisalo

Merzlikins

The Bruins head to Toronto in preparation for the 2020 NHL Playoffs. Following the extended break, the Bruins take on the Blue Jackets to get up to speed before the round robin for seeding begins. Tuukka Rask grabs the start for Boston while Joonas Korpisalo starts in net for Columbus.

First Period

Columbus got off the mark 3:17 into the period on a goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand in the slot with assists to Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist. Shortly after the goal, Nick Ritchie and Nick Foligno went head-to-head in a fight that was even, but ended in Foligno knocking Ritchie to the ice. Both players received fighting majors.

Off of the faceoff following the fight, David Krejci won the draw back to Torey Krug, who fired a wrist shot past Korpisalo to tie the game at 1. The game remained that way until Zdeno Chara’s slap shot from the point hit the post, but the puck was passed from John Moore to Chara to Brad Marchand, who scored the go ahead goal with 3:11 remaining in the period.

Only a few more shots were taken in the final minutes of the period as it ended with Boston in front 2-1. Columbus outshot Boston 8-7 in the first.

End of the period score: 2-1 Boston

Second Period

Columbus came out flying to start the period and tied the game 1:19 into the period. Nyquist collected a centering feed from Bjorkstrand and slipped it past Rask.

That lead was short lived as Marchand got the puck in the left circle and found Patrice Bergeron in the slot for the shot and score to retake the lead 4:18 into the second period.

NHL 20 Game Capture

Columbus had several chances to score on Rask throughout the second period, including a sequence of 3 shots saved by Rask in quick succession shortly after Bergeron put Boston ahead.

Neither team could solve the goalies, so the game went into the third 3-2 in favor of the Bruins. Columbus outshot Boston 12-6 in the period, making it 20-13 Columbus through 2.

End of the period score: 3-2 Boston

Third Period

Anders Bjork provided Boston with some energy just after the midway point of the period, delivering 2 consecutive big hits David Savard and Cam Atkinson just inside Boston’s defensive zone.

Just as 2 minutes remaining passed, Marchand took advantage of a Columbus mistake at center ice to get a breakaway. Marchand took his shot too early, letting Korpisalo make an easy save. This ended up being a costly mistake as Foligno found Dubois to start up ice. Dubois found Zach Werenski in the slot for the shot that was saved by Rask, but Dubois followed up to score the tying goal with 53.3 seconds to play.

( Photo Credit: NHL 20 Game Capture )

Both teams had great opportunities to win it late, but couldn’t beat the goalies, sending the game to overtime. Columbus outshot Boston 9-5 in the third, making it 29-18 overall in favor of Columbus.

End of Regulation Score: 3-3

Overtime

Overtime started with a controversial moment as Marchand got knocked down Dubois in front of Korpisalo, and then tripped Seth Jones as he started a break for Columbus. The referees did not call anything on Marchand on the play.

Following a faceoff in Boston’s own end, Torey Krug skated from the bottom of his defensive circle to the top of the attacking circle before finding a wide open Bergeron in the slot to rifle one past Korpisalo to give the Bruins the win 3:05 into the overtime period.

( Photo Credit: NHL 20 Game Capture )

The Blue Jackets ended up outshooting Boston 30-19 . Rask made 27 saves in the win, including some key saves late in the game.

Final Score: 4-3 Boston

Hockey is officially back in action and the Bruins have their first game back tonight at 7 PM against the Columbus Blue Jackets on NHL Network and NESN. I will be posting another simulation ahead of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and please consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel HERE!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Is Jack Studnicka The Answer To The Bruins Search For Krejci’s Right Wing?

( Photo Credit Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers )

By: Jack Gotsell |Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Bruce Cassidy has a big decision to make when it comes to who will be playing on the right side of David Krejci this postseason for the Boston Bruins. With Ondreje Kase unable to get on the ice in the return to play phase of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, being deemed “unfit to play”, the Bruins will look to their young prospect and 2nd round pick in the 2017 entry draft Jack Studnicka to fill the void next to Krejci. If Studnicka plays well he will likely keep the role; and if not, Anders Bjork could likely get a look before we see Kase back next to Krejci.

Studnicka was drafted 53rd overall by the Bruins and has not disappointed. In his rookie season for the organization the 6’2” 21-year-old forward was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. He led the Providence Bruins in scoring this season with 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games. He brings a promising finishing touch that the Bruins and General Manager Don Sweeney have been searching for to boost the top six.

Sweeney was confident he found that boost when the Bruins acquired Kase from the Anaheim Ducks on trade deadline day. The COVID break has left that question still unanswered as we enter the return to play phase. Kase is a shoot-first forward and much like Studnicka, he brings a tremendous amount of speed to his game. In Kase’s time in Anaheim he dealt with a lot of injuries and despite the time off the ice was able to tally a ton of shots. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert on many of those as he continued to struggle with his finish. Kase is in his fifth NHL season and when he’s healthy he shows some flashes of high-end talent. Nothing exemplifies that more than his last healthy season which came in 2017-2018 where he was able to find the back of the net 20 times.

Kase’s battle for the second line right wing will have to wait until he is able to get in the bubble. With that out of his control for now, Studnicka will look to fight for and hold the job. Studnicka only played two games with the big club this season and has never played in an NHL postseason. Being a natural center, he will have to adjust to the responsibilities of the wing while dealing with the pressure of his first postseason minutes. That’s not to say he never played wing; Jack played wing for the Canadian junior team in the 2019 World Junior Championship. In that tournament he tallied 1 goal, 3 assists, and 4 points in 5 games for the silver medalists.

Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron has been impressed with Studnicka saying “he seems to be getting faster, which is scary.” Bergeron also mentioned that he looks a lot stronger than he did in camp at the beginning of the season and that he plays the game the right way. That’s quite a compliment coming from a future Hall of Famer like Bergeron. Studnicka will continue to look to that vetran leadership as he joins this hungry club in the postseason. 

Cassidy has said “It wouldn’t be automatic that I put Ondrej [Kase] in if the young kid was playing really well.” Cassidy has also made some comparisons between Bergeron and Studnicka referencing that he hopes that Studnicka is the next Patrice Bergeron. He’s noted that it would be great for everyone in the organization if he is and I have to agree. However, Cassidy has said all camp that Anders Bjork looks like one of the best players out there, so he is another guy seeking that job. If Studnicka slips up, Bjork could get that chance not only on the third line with Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle, but on the second line as well with Krejci. Clearly the Bruins have some faith in Bjork’s future as they just recently signed him to a 3-year extension. 

The unfamiliarity that Bruce Cassidy has with Kase really hurts him. He doesn’t know him as a player. He was only able to see him in 6 games before the season was put on pause. Cassidy is more familiar with Studnicka and Bjork and he is ready to see both of them lace up in this round-robin tournament. 

For now, it looks like Studnicka will be the guy on the second line when the Bruins play Columbus at 7PM. However, Cassidy confirmed earlier today Bjork and Karson Kuhlman will also see some time at second line right wing tonight. Unfortunately for Kase, he will be watching this one from home as he has still not been able to make the trip to Toronto. It remains to be seen how the lineup will look when the Bruins face the Flyers to open the round-robin tournament. If Studnicka is able to produce some secondary offence it will be an uphill climb for Kase to get back into the Bruins lineup. This is a good problem for Bruce Cassidy and the Boston Bruins to have.  

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

How the Boston Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline Acquisitions Look Today

( Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

On February 21, 2020, the Bruins traded David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, a 24-year-old Czech right-winger with a boatload of skill. In the following days, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins finalized another deal swapping the rights of Nick Ritchie and Danton Heinen, Ritchie, and Kase, each with an extra year on their current contract. Looking at the trade at the time, most would say Boston added some depth pieces and scoring, definitely added a big body in Ritchie, and that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had another successful trade deadline. And then Coronavirus halted the NHL season with the Bruins only having completed 71 games and at the top of the standings for the entire league.

Since time has passed and the league has restarted their season with a revamped 24-team playoff/play-in round, we can evaluate the deals that Sweeney made in February. When we were shopping for our next second-line winger near the deadline, I was excited to see some impressive names in the running. Guys like Palmieri from New Jersey or Tomas Tatar from Montreal seemed like an easy solution to our scoring issues. Even when we got Kase and Ritchie and we did not go for the big-name scorer, I was not that disappointed. Ondrej Kase has a ton of skill and an excellent offensive mind. He is young and still developing, and I believe he could be a Bruin for some years down the line.

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With the impression that Kase has made on the Boston organization so far, I am afraid we may never reap the benefits of trading that first-round pick. In six games, he has one assist as a member of the black and gold, and with the unfortunate stoppage the NHL had suffered, let us hope that is not the only production we see from Kase in the top-six.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Since the NHL has restarted its training camps on July 10, Kase has skated with the team once in Boston and was labeled “unfit to play.” Ritchie skated on the 18th and the 20th with the team and has not been back with the squad since. Some wonder if Ritchie is dealing with an injury, though it seems likely, it would be wise to not rush him back, especially for a round-robin tournament game. It is not looking too great for Sweeney’s deadline acquisitions; we gave up a first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen for two players that may be out for an extended period of time.

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Ondrej Kase is the main piece of this deal and the piece that I am most excited about. I wanted to extend him right away but would prove a foolhardy move to sign an extension without seeing the player play with the team. With one assist in his first six games as a Bruin, those extension talks that were going on in my head alone seemed to have ceased. Though the chances are slim, I am not going to write off Kase getting extended. He has skill and vision, a great fit next to David Krejci, a winger we have been waiting for since Nathan Horton left. If he can get healthy for the playoffs and produce some big-time plays and not be an absolute liability in the defensive zone, he could find himself in extension talks with Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-13-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston’s Newest Winger’s Future

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(Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Boston Bruins’ phones are generally ringing off the hook at each trade deadline.  This year, they made two moves, with the same team, in two separate trades.  The Bruins acquired Anaheim Ducks’ Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase for David Backes, Axel Andersson, a 2020 first-round pick, and Danton Heinen.  General Manager, Don Sweeney, received tons of praise for these separate deals because it relieved some cap stresses and brought NHL-ready talent to a team that is in a “win-now” mode.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-winger who hasn’t tapped his full potential.  His last meaningful game with the Bruins was on March 10, and he’s been a ghost since the NHL announced its Return To Play plan.  The NHL’s Return To Play plan consists of four phases, with the second phase being one of the more important ones. Step 2 of Return To Play allowed players to practice in small-group sessions, without contact.  NHL clubs were not permitted to require players to practice, making them voluntary.  In the world of COVID, Kase opted not to skate.

The NHL’s training camp, beginning on July 10, was its third phase of the plan.  These camps were to be held in the club’s respective cities and last about two and a half weeks.  The Bruins had a near-perfect attendance during training camp.  David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were the regular absentees.

The Bruins went about their regular business during these two and a half weeks and did not give the media any info to work off of related to the two absentees.  Recently, however, news broke as to why both players were held out.  Kase and Pastrnak attended a practice unrelated to the NHL’s Return To Play plan a few days before Phase 3, which required them to quarantine for 14 days.  Pastrnak joined the team on the charter to Toronto; however, Kase did not.  He had to fly coach, which means he needs to quarantine for an additional four days before rejoining the Bruins.

The problem here is, he is new to the Bruins.  Pastrnak has been with the Bruins for five years now and can integrate with his linemates with ease.  Kase has played a whopping six games with the club and was coming off of a concussion that he suffered earlier this year.  The Phase 2 training camp was the best thing that could have happened to Kase to allow time to get his skating legs back and chemistry flowing with his new teammates.  The unregulated practice was harmless, but it costs him time with his team and, now, potentially his spot on the second line.

Jack Studnicka is a promising young right-winger, who was drafted 53rd overall in the 2017 NHL draft.  The pick was acquired from Edmonton in return for Peter Chiarelli, their former General Manager. Studnicka played two games with the Bruins this year, tallying an assist against Montreal on November 26, 2019.

He has a nose for the net, averaging 1.4 points per game in the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018-19 season.  Jack has been hyped as maybe the best prospect the Bruins have in the system, and he’s showing Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, he can earn a spot in the starting lineup in Thursday’s exhibition game vs. Columbus.

One scenario that would be quite troubling for Kase is if Studnicka is given the right-wing spot for the beginning of the playoffs and plays well enough to stay in the lineup.  Would Bruins fans be okay with spending a first-round draft selection on a player who watches the more playoffs than not from the ninth floor?

The above scenario would be a tough pill to swallow for Sweeney, but it’s unlikely it to happen.  Kase will likely play the majority of the playoffs, but his current absence is troubling.  His playoff performance could determine his future with the Bruins.  If Kase plays from the beginning and plays stellar, he’ll probably be on the second line come next season.  But if he doesn’t play well or at all, Sweeney could move him in the upcoming off-season.

The Bruins announced a contract extension for one impending restricted free agents last night.

The NHL announced next season will feature a flat salary cap, meaning the cap will neither increase nor decrease.  The Bruins currently have $18M in cap space after the Bjork extension.  They still need to sign Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Matt Grzelcyk.  There are some murmurs DeBrusk’s agent pegs him at $6M per year, and Krug has stated he is looking for a 6-year, $49M deal this off-season.  If both players receive what they’re asking, the Bruins will have $4M left in cap space.  Don Sweeney has not given a current Bruin their first figure at the negotiating table, and he’ll continue that trend.  But what if Kase doesn’t have a fruitful playoff and the DeBrusk does?

The Bruins could be staring down another cap clearing trade this off-season.  If the Bruins decide to trade Kase and his $2.6M cap hit, they would increase their current cap space number to $20.6M.  Trading Kase wouldn’t mean that he is damaged goods, it’s just the timing of everything.  He hasn’t practiced with the team, he hasn’t played a meaningful game in 4 months, and he had been coming off an injury in March.  Some players need ample opportunity to get up to speed, especially on a new team.  The playoffs are not the time to get back up to speed, hence why the NHL allowed a two and a half week training camp.

The Bruins would have to look for a trade partner who is in need of a top-nine forward.  They could package Kase and another draft selection or higher-end prospect to get back into this year’s first-round.  The Bruins have been stockpiling their prospect pool for a few years under Sweeney, and it would be challenging to watch newly-acquired Kase and another prospect leave for a draft selection we already possessed.  But, the Bruins face more significant issues with their impending free agents that they’ll have to address, and freeing up cap space is the number one priority.

Another scenario is Kase plays unbelievable and DeBrusk is unwilling to sign a bridge deal that would pay him significantly less than his $6M per year ask.  Maybe the Bruins look to trade DeBrusk’s rights to a team.  This would allow the Bruins to get compensated for their player, sign Krug and Grzelcyk, and the receiving team would be able to sign DeBrusk before July 1.

Trading Kase seems to only happen if he doesn’t participate in the playoffs or play up to his potential.  It would be more beneficial to the Bruins and management if their newly-acquired right-winger can step into a top-six role and have an immediate impact.  Most Bruins fans want the latter scenario and hope both Kase and Studnicka can take a leap forward this playoff and beyond.  But, if Kase is unable to keep pace, there could be some new unforeseen changes on the Bruins horizon.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

 

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Bruins’ Charlie Coyle Named Winner Of NESN’s 7th Player Award

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(Photo: Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This afternoon Bruins forward Charlie Coyle was named the winner of NESN’s 7th Player Award for the 2019-20 season, as voted on by the fans. Per NESN, the 7th Player Award is annually awarded to a Bruins player, who has performed above and beyond expectations every day for the good of the team without any expectation to be recognized.

During the regular season, Coyle notched 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points in 70 games, all in the top 10 on the team for each category. The 28-year-old finished the regular season with a plus-nine rating while averaging 16:47 of ice time per game, the fifth-most among Boston forwards.

The East Weymouth, MA, native broke out during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Bruins, recording 9-7-16 totals in 24 games, tied for the team lead in scoring. Since coming over from the Minnesota Wild via trade, the 6-foot-3, 220 pound centerman has 18-25-43 numbers in 91 regular season contests – 2-4-6 in 21 games immediately after the trade.

Originally drafted 28th overall in the first round of the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Coyle has registered 109 goals and 176 assists for 285 points in 570 NHL games between the Wild and the Bruins. In 68 playoff games, the former Boston University Terrier has 16-15-31 totals.

With the award, Coyle will also receive $5,000 to donate to a charity of his choice. Current Bruins to have won the award include Chris Wagner (2019), Charlie McAvoy (2018), David Pastrnak (2017, 2015), Brad Marchand (2016, 2011), Tuukka Rask (2010), as well as David Krejci (2009).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!