Bruins Jaroslav Halak: Staying Sharp Between The Pipes

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 14: Goaltender Jaroslav Halak #41 of ...(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

Training Camp has officially started and as the team comes together on the ice, the focus will turn to re-amping their efforts as the boys in Black and Gold look to once again reach the Stanley Cup Finals. As Butch Cassidy and his Sundance Kids look to shake off last season’s tough end, many of those players are ready to start fresh. While some are working to get a spot on the Varsity team, Bruins back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak is ready to continue his journey in between the pipes.

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE…

It’s something every professional NHL team wants and needs when it comes to having great goaltending: the perfect tandem. Last season, both Tuukka Rask and Halak acknowledged that their chemistry on and off the ice was the perfect combination of a winning duo. Halak’s calm demeanor in net allowed Cassidy more freedom in his choices, especially when it came time to give Rask much needed rest.

Image result for jaroslav halak(Photo Credits: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

When the 32-year-old Finnish native needed to time resolve a personal matter back in November, duties fell on Halak. Rask missed the games against the Toronto Maples Leafs and the Vegas Golden Knights. With Jaro in net, the Bruins won both match-ups. When Rask returned to the team, Boston, unfortunately, fell to the Vancouver Canucks 8-5 with Halak in net (Rask would come in as relief but the damage was already done).

As the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time counting 2011, one of the biggest observations was just how well Coach Bruce Cassidy was able to manage both goaltenders during the regular season. As noted in past performances, Rask faltered a bit when having to play a heavier workload. However, when the 34-year-old Halak signed with the Bruins (replacing Anton Khudobin), things were looking to balance out in favor of Rask. During the 2018-2019 regular season, Tuukka played 46 games and went 27-13-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average, while Jaro appeared in 40 games going 20-11-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average.

Image result for jaroslav halak tuukka rask(Photo Credits:  Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

Having a successful back-up goaltender made it easier for Cassidy to shift responsibilities between the two, thus allowing Rask to stay fresh-something important especially when we’re talking Playoffs. It certainly allowed Tuukka to play phenomenal during Boston’s extended postseason run. As Bruins President Cam Neely noted:

“The way that Jaro played for us this year really helped Tuukka get some rest… We’ve seen when Tuukka’s workload gets too high he really starts to break down. I think the fact Jaro had such a great year and we were able to rely on him, and even (Anton Khudobin) had a great year the year before, that really allows us to maybe reduce Tuukka’s starts a little bit. We could keep him a little fresher this year and I think it made a really big difference in the playoffs.”

With the new season fast approaching, both Rask and Halak are poised to once again share the wealth. As Boston Globe’s Marisa Ingemi recently reported, Rask is feeling just as healthy now as he felt towards the end of the last season. For Jaro, he’s looking to move forward this upcoming year:

“I just want to help the team, any way I could , same thing this year…get the win, get the points..we still have the same goal..we wanna win the cup.”

Bruins F Charlie Coyle Will Have Big Role In 2019-20

NHL: MAY 09 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Final - Hurricanes at Bruins

PHOTO CREDITS: (NHLPA.com)

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

Boston has always had a close connection to forward Charlie Coyle, considering he was born just 16.7 miles south of Boston in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Similar to other young kids that live near an NHL city, Charlie always had a dream to play for the Bruins, in the TD Garden, in Boston, Massachusetts. In an article for the Player’s Tribune back in May, Coyle shared his thoughts when he heard of the trade that sent him to the B’s.

“Boston is in my blood. Boston raised me. This place is my home.” Coyle said, “Me on the Bruins? My hometown team? Playing next to guys like Zee and Bergy? Come on that’s like fairy-tale stuff.” – Charlie Coyle, Player’s Tribune

Coyle, drafted 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, was traded to the Minnesota Wild in the off-season of 2011 where he, Devin Setoguchi, and a 2011 1st Round Pick (Zack Phillips) were sent to San Jose in exchange for Brent Burns and a 2012 2nd Round Pick.

The trade allowed Coyle to make his National Hockey League debut in the 2012-13 campaign, skating in 37 games, putting up 8-6-14 numbers for his first NHL season. Over the course of the next seven seasons, Coyle played in a combined 479 games for the Wild, ending his tenure with 91-151-242 totals and an additional 15 points in 44 playoff games for the franchise. Coyle’s time with the Wild placed him in the top ten for games played, assists, and points in franchise history, cementing his name in Minnesota history books.

However, with the Wild on pace to miss the postseason for the first time in six seasons, management decided to part ways with Coyle, trading him to the Boston Bruins just days before the NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for prospect forward Ryan Donato and a conditional 2019 5th Round Pick.

The trade caught many Bruins off-guard, especially when they saw who they were sending back to Minnesota – forward Ryan Donato. Donato had been one of the most anticipated prospects to come into the organization and many fans had imagined him being a future top-six player as we now look at Pastrnak or DeBrusk. However, after a struggling season for the young forward, it was best for the Bruins to move away and get more of an experienced player in return.

Coyle came into the lineup and played in 21 regular season games, putting up 2-4-6 numbers and averaging just under 16 minutes per game. At this point, it seemed like the acquisition of Coyle was nothing too special, until the playoffs came around. In the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 27-year-old scored three goals and added an assist for four points in seven games – scoring the first of two empty-net goals in Game Seven.

“That Game 7 environment against the Leafs was just about the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Like Roman Coliseum s***, with thousands of people screaming for blood. There’s no better atmosphere in hockey, and that’s not up for debate.” – Charlie Coyle, Player’s Tribune

He was not done there. In Game One of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Charlie Coyle stole the show on home-ice, scoring the game-tying goal with less than five minutes left in the third period to cause an uproar in the TD Garden. Not as loud, however, when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give Boston a 1-0 series lead.

Coyle finished the series against the Blue Jackets with 2-2-4 totals in six games, then went on to score four points in the four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals – including an impressive three-assist night in the 6-2 victory in Game Two. In the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blues, Charlie buried three goals and assisted on one goal to finish the best-of-seven series with four points. All in all, Coyle proved to be one of the most valuable players in Boston’s playoff run in 2018-19, ending the post-season with 9-7-16 numbers in 24 games.

Entering this upcoming campaign, the current role of Charlie Coyle is undecided by some, but for me, it makes clear sense where he should be playing – third line center. His success that he found throughout those playoffs were because of his third-line time with wingers Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson (who signed with the Sabres in the off-season). Coyle does a great job battling in the boards and during the post-season, he recorded 14 takeaways and only 9 giveaways – the type of ratio you want to see from your third-line center.

One concern for him playing in that position is his face-off percentage. Due to lack of regular season games, I once again go to his playoff numbers to tell the story. Coyle took a combined 257 face-offs, winning 122 of them, for a face-off win percentage of 47.5%. Although, that percentage is not too far off from second-line veteran, David Krejci, who had a 48.4% success rate on the face-off dot.

The alternative option would be to play Coyle on either the second-line right-wing, alongside David Krejci or on the first-line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron with David Pastrnak playing on the second-line instead. With that said, it would only create another hole at third-line center, an important position. Also, Coyle and Heinen showed great chemistry and separating that forces the third-line to have brand new chemistry, which is not always in the best interest.

Oftentimes, when a player is traded to a contender at the Trade Deadline, he only has one year remaining on his current deal. It is a way for a team to make a strong push without constraining the cap for the next season. However, the Bruins were able to acquire Coyle with another year left on his contract. For the 2019-2020 season, Charlie Coyle will make $3.2 million – the final year of his five-year deal that he signed in 2014.

Now, with the opportunity to play a full season and post-season with the Boston Bruins, it is Charlie Coyle’s time to shine. Regardless of his exact position in the lineup, he will bring his very best to every single game and will play a big role, no matter where Head Coach Bruce Cassidy decides to play him. Boston is his home and he wants to make his home proud.

“I want to win a Cup for Boston and Weymouth — for all the great people from my town who’ve supported me every step of the way. And I want to win one for all my cousins back home who I know are going to be losing their minds as soon as that puck drops.” – Charlie Coyle before Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, Player’s Tribune 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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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Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Recap

Bruins rookie camp

( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

For the fifth year in a row, the Bruins sent a team to participate in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. This year’s edition split it right down the middle, finishing with a 1-1-1 record after three games versus prospects from the Penguins, Sabres and Devils organizations. I would like to say that it was a good opportunity for fans of the team to become more familiar with some of their prospects. Unfortunately, that was not the case, unless you were lucky enough to actually attend the Challenge in person.

That’s because the Bruins organization did not see fit to televise or stream any of the games. The Penguins and Sabres streamed the games locally, but most in the Boston area were unable to watch. Fortunately, the Devils broadcast the Monday game on YouTube, and it’s still available for your viewing pleasure. It would be great if the Bruins decided to remedy this situation going forward, but that’s a discussion for another day. On to the actual games.

On Friday afternoon the Bruins took on the Penguins, and the good guys managed to come out on top, 4-3. The game did not start off very well for the Bruins, with the team falling behind 2-0 after goals by Sam Miletic and Pittsburgh first-round pick, Samuel Poulin. Boston bounced back on goals from draft picks Jakub Lauko, and Jack Studnicka and camp invite Scott Conway. The Pens tied it on a score by Nathan Legaré late in the second period. Anders Bjork came to the rescue for the Bruins, scoring the game-winner on the PP with just two seconds left in regulation. It was a good showing for Bjork, who had an assist to go along with his goal. Jack Studnicka also had a score and a helper.

The second game was Saturday evening against the host Buffalo Sabres. The final score was the same as Friday, 4-3, but the hometown boys came out on the short end, despite a great offensive effort by C/W Oskar Steen. Buffalo opened the scoring on a goal by Rasmus Asplund. Steen tied it midway through the second period on a feed from diminutive camp invite Dante Hannoun before the Sabres scored three goals in less than four minutes. Two of the goals came from center Matej Pekar, a fourth-round pick in 2018. The Bruins closed the gap in the third period on two power-play goals, from Steen and QMJHL free agent signing Samuel Asselin. They had a number of good chances to tie the game in the last minute or so with goalie Dan Vladar pulled for the extra attacker. Unfortunately, they were unable to get the equalizer by 2014 draftee Jonas Johansson.

The final game was a breakfast tilt with an unusual 9:30am start time Monday morning against the New Jersey Devils prospects, including first overall pick, Jack Hughes. The Bruins dropped this one in OT, but I felt they were the better team for the majority of the game, particularly at even strength. Both regulation goals by NJ were scored on the PP. The Devils tallied the first goal of the game while on a 5 on 3 PP. I would term the calls that led to the two-man advantage as “generous.” The score came by Nathan Bastian off a tic-tac-toe passing play that goalie Kyle Keyser had no chance at.

The Bruins tied the game with less than 30 seconds to go in the first period on a Dante Hannoun goal (assisted by first pair d-men Urho Vaakanainen and Axel Andersson). Scott Conway put the Bruins ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. That was it for the regulation scoring until 8 seconds remained in the contest. NJ was on the PP (thanks to another iffy penalty call) and had the goaltender pulled when former Merrimack forward Ludvig Larsson tied the game. Larsson scored again, ending it two minutes into the OT, even though Boston had the better of the play and chances.

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the play of Jack Hughes. It’s very early in his pro career, but I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed. He’s a very good skater, extremely quick, but appeared to be forcing a lot of plays. He fanned on a wide-open chance that would have been the go-ahead goal in the third period. Then in the OT, he failed to make a pass on a great 2 on 1 opportunity. I have no doubt that Hughes is going to be a fantastic player in the league, but I can’t help but think he would have been better off playing in college for at least a year like older brother Quinn. He was overshadowed, at least in this one game, by forwards Jesper Boqvist (36th overall 2017) and Mikhail Maltsev (102nd in 2016) who both played extremely well.

As much fun as it is to watch hockey again, that’s not really the point of these prospect games. With Training Camp starting today, the idea was to get these kids some playing time before training camp and to allow the staff to see if they think any of them can make the jump to the NHL. In the case of the camp invites, the teams want to see if there are any players they should bring on board. I will be basing my observations primarily on the game against NJ. I watched the game Saturday night versus Buffalo as well, but the quality of the stream I found left a little to be desired.

There were no huge surprises, in my opinion, but a few players made good impressions. I’m going to preface everything that comes after this by reminding people that it was only a prospect tournament. Players that performed well aren’t necessarily going to be superstars, and ones that did poorly are not necessarily busts. My colleagues at Black N Gold Hockey are doing a fine job giving in-depth looks at these prospects. There is no need to rehash that, but let’s take a quick look at how some of those prospects acquitted themselves.

 

Forwards:

Most of the kids up front that impressed at the Challenge were the names you would expect. Studnicka (1g/2a in 3gp) and Steen (2g/1a in 3gp) each had three points to lead the team, while Bjork had two points (1g/1a in 2gp). Lauko only had one goal in three games, but played well and showed his speed. Bjork (in the little I saw of him) was moving well and looked strong, which was to be expected given the experience advantage he has over the other prospects. There were few unheralded kids that I thought played well also. Scott Conway and Tommy Marchin, who both have AHL deals in place with PRO for the 2019-20 season were solid. Conway, who played his college hockey at Providence had two goals in his two games. Marchin, a Brown University product was held off the scoresheet, but every time he had the puck, he seemed to make the smart play, even if it was a just a cross-corner dump-in.

The player that surprised me the most this past weekend was an undersized wing, Dante Hannoun. He played his junior hockey for Prince Albert in the generally rugged WHL, and it showed. Despite being only 5’6″, and 165 pounds, he was fearless, taking hits and delivering some to much larger opponents. Hannoun was very quick, displayed a strong base, and was able to protect the puck well. He collected a goal and an assist in his two games and did not look out of place. He has not officially signed a deal yet, but based on comments from Bruins management, it appears that he will be somewhere in the system (possibly Atlanta).

On the flip side, a couple of kids that didn’t really stand out, in my opinion, were Robert Lantosi and Pavel Shen. Lantosi is a 23-year-old right shot wing who averaged more than a point per game in the highest Slovakian league last year. Shen, the Bruins 7th Round pick in 2018 looked a step slow. He was significantly better in the WJC’s this year for Russia, playing against his peers. It could just be that both Lantosi and Shen need time to get acclimated to the smaller ice surfaces and style of play in North America

Defense:

The prospect that stood out on the back end was definitely Cooper Zech. He had two assists in three games, but it was his skating and “escapability” that impressed me the most. He is calm with the puck, makes good decisions, and on the rare occasion when he doesn’t, he’s able to skate his way out of trouble. I think he is going to have a great rookie year in PRO and I’m looking forward to catching as many games as possible. Next up was Urho Vaakaneinen. He started off slow but seemed to get progressively better. Monday was his best game by far. He was very efficient on the defensive side and led several rushes into the offensive zone as well. He’s not flashy, but he moves extremely well and is very efficient.

It’s going to be tough for him to crack the NHL roster, but I believe he’s definitely the first man up in case of injury. Another guy I was really looking forward to seeing was 2018 2nd rounder, Axel Andersson. He only played in Monday’s game and looked a little tentative. The skill is there, and you can see flashes, but I think he just needs to be a little more consistent, which should come in time. Wiley Sherman was decent, but not really noticeable one way or another (which is not always a bad thing for a defenseman). Unfortunately, none of the camp invites on the blue line did much. On the positive side, as long as the contracts get done, the Bruins appear to have plenty of depth on defense at both the NHL and AHL levels.

That’s going to put a wrap on the 2019 Prospects Challenge. There was some good and some bad, but we will get a much better idea about what some of these kids are capable of over the next week or so as they hit the ice with the big boys at Bruins Training Camp. I’m not sure I see any of the guys from the Challenge roster breaking camp with the NHL team, but only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

For Bruins’ Bjork, Uncertainty Looms Ahead Of Training Camp

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(Photo: Paul Rutherford / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Anders Bjork has not had the start to his professional hockey career that he, or anyone else for that matter, likely envisioned. Between inconsistency at the NHL level, a demotion to Providence that led him to miss the Winter Classic at his alma mater, and two season-ending shoulder surgeries, the forward is basically starting from scratch this season.

Surprising or not, the fact that Bjork was included on the Bruins’ rookie camp and Prospects Challenge roster should have been beneficial to his chances of having a good showing at training camp. The Notre Dame product said he was fully cleared to play in July and trained hard all summer; however, few things can simulate game speed, but the Prospects Challenge should have served as a great chance for Bjork to get his legs back under him ahead of what looks to be an extremely competitive training camp. From the way things sounded on Twitter (because most of the games were not streamed, of course), Bjork was among the standouts during the games in Buffalo.

The Mequon, Wisconsin, native is among other prospects, like Jack Studnicka, Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, and more, who are looking to make a strong impression at camp and seize one of the two forward spots that are up for grabs. With 50 games of NHL experience under his belt, Bjork has a leg up on most of the others, likely aside from Cehlarik and Karson Kuhlman, though.

In those 50 games (5-10-15 numbers), Bjork has shown flashes of the skilled, speedy, all-zones force that many thought he would become in time with the Bruins. He looked most promising when playing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s right wing during his rookie season, but struggled when suiting up further down the lineup in a bottom-six role last season.

Entering the last year of his entry-level contract, the 23-year-old will not only be looking to stand out to secure a spot in the NHL, but also to earn a decent pay raise this off-season when his deal is up. So, if Bjork wasn’t motivated enough to prove that he still has the potential to become the player everyone once thought he could be after shining at Notre Dame, the added factor of it being a contract year almost certainly adds to the fire under him.

So where exactly does Anders Bjork fit within the Bruins’ organization? The answer to that question is hard to pinpoint. In an ideal world, the Bruins have the two wide open forward spots sorted out, which would allow Bjork to start the year in Providence to regain his confidence and get up to speed. However, this is not a perfect world, so it remains to be seen who might step up during training camp and seize the spots. Head coach Bruce Cassidy even specifically named Bjork as one of the guys in the running to slot in on David Krejci’s right on the second line; you can read about that in my last article here.

On paper, based on Bjork’s skillset alone, the obvious choice for where he would go in the NHL lineup would be in the top-six next to either Krejci or Bergeron, whom he has found success with in the past, as I previously mentioned. However, a third-line role next to Charlie Coyle would not be the worst thing in the world, especially considering Bjork would be making a significant upgrade from the start of last season when he flanked David Backes.

Long story short, Bjork needs to play meaningful minutes, whether it is in top-flight role in Providence, or a top-nine spot in Boston. With training camp beginning tomorrow, there is no doubt that he needs a strong showing at camp to ensure that he is still in the organization’s future plans.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakub Lauko

Bruins Capitals Hockey

(Photo Courtesy of AP / Nick Wass)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jakub Lauko was drafted in the third round, 77th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. The young forward is someone who the Bruins felt could be the steal of the draft. Though his stats didn’t jump out at you, he still played well in the Czech Republic’s top league, Czech Extraliga. Lauko’s biggest asset when he was drafted was his speed. He’s able to use this speed to skate past defenders and drive to the net. Not only does he have elite speed, but he also has excellent on-ice awareness and a great finishing touch. These are three tools that not a lot of players possess. Now that we’ve gone a little into the why let’s dive into what Lauko did leading up to and after being drafted.

The 2017-18 season was the year before Lauko was drafted. The Czech Republic native was playing in the Czech Extraliga for Pirati Chomutov. He had made his debut with the club the previous year as a 16-year-old kid. That gives you an idea of how talented Lauko is. In 42 games with Pirati Chomutov, he netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points and a plus/minus rating of -1. Despite the seemingly low point total, the Boston Bruins really liked what they saw from Lauko. The skill that really caught their eye though, was his speed. It’s Lauko’s biggest asset moving forward. Combining that with his scoring ability and it makes for a lethal combination.

After being drafted in 2018 Jakub Lauko was invited to training camp with the Boston Bruins. After a strong showing, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and was assigned to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. The 2018-19 season with the Huskies would be a memorable one for the young forward. In 44 games with Rouyn-Noranda, Lauko netted 21 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 41 total points, and a plus/minus rating of +34. In the Huskies’ 19 playoff games, he netted six goals and dished out seven assists for 13 total points and a plus/minus rating of +10. The young speedster would lead rookies in playoff scoring which helped Rouyn-Noranda win the 2018-19 QMJHL Championship.

After winning the QMJHL Championship the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies would go on to play in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Memorial Cup is awarded to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) Champion. The CHL is made up of three member leagues, the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (Western Hockey League). Each year, the champion from each league and a host team play in a round-robin style tournament to determine the Memorial Cup winner.

Lauko would end up leading the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a Memorial Cup Championship win. In the five games, he netted two goals and dished out six assists for eight total points and a plus/minus rating of +3. Lauko’s eight points would lead the tournament in scoring. It was a superb season for the native of the Czech Republic. He showed that he a lot of scoring ability that he’s able to pair with elite speed and on-ice awareness. Lauko has a ton of talent for being such a young player. If he can continue to develop at his current rate, then the Bruins’ assertion that he will be the steal of the 2018 draft will end up being true.

Going into this season there was some on where Lauko would play. Does he play in Providence or stay with Rouyn-Noranda? I expect the young forward to spend the entire season in Providence. The speedster has done all there is to do in the QMJHL and with a talent like his, it’s better to not rush him to the NHL before he’s ready. A full year in Providence will allow him to get acclimated to the Bruins’ system, and structure. It will also give him a chance to catch up to the speed of professional hockey. Thanks to his combination of speed, on-ice awareness, and finishing ability I think Jakub Lauko has a chance to be a special top-six forward for many years in Boston. I hope everyone is enjoying the off-season and feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins Patrice Bergeron Preparing For Another Career Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

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

In the future, the Boston Bruins will likely be raising the #37 banner into the TD Garden rafters and Patrice Bergeron will go down as one of the greatest players to play in the Spoked-B sweater and one of the greatest defensive forwards in the history of the National Hockey League.Thankfully for us, we are still in the midst of Bergeron’s career and the accolades and milestones will only continue to pile up.

Before we dive into Bergeron’s upcoming 2019-20 campaign, it helps to learn about the beginning stages of the beloved assistant captain. Bergeron was drafted 45th Overall (2nd Round) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Born in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada, Bergeron spent his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Bergeron played the full 2002-03 season with the Titan, putting up an impressive 23-50-73 stat sheet in 70 games including another 15 points in 11 playoff games. After being selected by the Bruins in the NHL Draft, he made his way to the big leagues, where he played in 71 games during the 2003-2004 regular season, scoring 16-23-39 numbers in that span. This was the same year that Bergeron won his World Championship Gold Medal with Canada.

Due to the lockout in the 2004-2005 NHL season, Bergeron played with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, scoring 61 points in 68 games. The center was also able to play in the Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship where he would once again win Gold with Canada while winning the MVP of the tournament and scoring the most points (13) out of any other player. Following his first 70-point season for Boston, Bergeron was named assistant captain of the Bruins to start the 2006-2007 campaign.

Patrice was forced to miss the entirety of the 2007-08 season due to a concussion suffered in October of ’07, but came back the following year with 8-31-39 totals in 64 games played. After winning his first of two Olympic Gold Medals with Canada in 2010, Bergeron scored 57 points in 80 games, but added another 20 points in 24 playoff games to win the Stanley Cup in 2011. This win stamped Patrice Bergeron’s name in the “Triple Gold Club” – World Championship Gold, Olympic Gold, and Stanley Cup.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/Boston Bruins)

In his 15-year career with the Boston Bruins to date, the now 34-year-old Bergeron has 321-492-813 numbers in 1028 career NHL games, winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward in the NHL four times (tied with Bob Gainey for most all-time), winning Olympic Gold twice, and having his #37 retired by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

In this past 2018-19 season, Bergeron dealt with some injuries throughout the year, keeping him to only 65 games played, but he managed to hit the 70-point mark for the first time since his concussion twelve seasons ago and he nearly hit 80 points for the first time in his career. According to Hockey Reference, Bergeron recorded 42 takeaways and only 27 giveaways, earning his eighth-straight Selke nomination.

With the official Bruins training camp beginning tomorrow, we turn to the upcoming 2019-2020 NHL season and this one, not anymore than the other years, can be and should be a career-setting season for one of the best. Below are some of the big milestones and accomplishments that can be reached by “Bergy” this year.

  • 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • 850 Career Points (Current: 813)
  • 3rd-Most Games Played as a Bruin (Don Sweeney: 1052) (Current: 1028)
  • 5th-Most Goals as a Bruin (Cam Neely: 344) (Current: 321)
  • 5th-Most Assists as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 516) (Current: 492)
  • 5th-Most Points as a Bruin (Bobby Orr: 888) (Current: 813)
  • 4th-Most Even-Strength Goals as a Bruin (Wayne Cashman: 218) (Current: 209)
  • 5th-Most Power-Play Goals as a Bruin (Rick Middleton: 102) (Current: 96)
  • 2nd-Most Shots as a Bruin (Phil Esposito: 3223) (Current: 3047)

From the statistics above, it is clear that for the remainder of history, Patrice Bergeron will be one of the greatest players to play for the Boston Bruins and as his career continues, he will only continue to rise through the rankings of some of the all-time greats.

However, recent news showed that Bergeron may still be dealing with some lingering injuries that have been bothering him for the past few seasons. During the Stanley Cup Finals, it was made clear that Bergeron was dealing with a groin injury that kept him from playing at a full 100-percent. Once the series concluded, the news came out that he would not require off-season surgery, but Bergeron said the pain has lingered during the summer.

“I feel better,” he said. “It’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer, so I got a PRP in July I think and I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice and … I think it’s what we’re trying shoot for is more October rather than this Thursday.” 

If Patrice Bergeron does decide to participate in the Bruins training camp that begins tomorrow, expect him to be limited in what he can do. Regardless, the hope is for Bergeron to have a full season or at least one that does not see much time missed. Bergeron went on to say the following in the same NHL.com article by Matt Kalman.

“It’s been a short summer. I think the best way to go at it is to kind of take it slowly and kind of make sure you get ready for October instead of getting ready for the first day of camp,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s how you kind of build that up and how you’re able to be fully rested or feeling good in January and February and the long stretch. You know I think that’s what you’ve got to aim for.”

Do you think Patrice Bergeron hits any or all of the milestones above? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Bruins Sign Bruce Cassidy To Extension

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Photo Courtesy Of Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning, that the team has signed Head Coach Bruce Cassidy to a multi-year contract extension. Cassidy is about to start his third full season behind the B’s bench and has compiled a record of 117-52-22 since taking over for Claude Julien.

Cassidy already owns the fourth-best winning percentage in team history and is the second-fastest head coach in team history to reach 100 wins. In just his second full season in Boston, Cassidy led the B’s to a 49-24-9 regular season record and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the second straight year the Bruins had topped 100 points and the third straight season the team had reached the playoffs under Cassidy.

 

Prior to joining Claude Julien’s staff in 2016-17, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-2016) as the Head Coach of the Providence Bruins. He also spent three seasons (2008-2011) as an assistant to the hockey club. The 54-year old native of Ottawa, Ontario compiled a record of 207-128-45 in his tenure as Head Coach including four playoff berths. Since taking over for Claude Julien, Cassidy has been rock solid as Head Coach and has done a fantastic job in a very short span. It’s good to see the front office and the organization not only recognizes his work but rewards him for the success he’s had.

Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Others Among Potential Second Line Solutions For Bruins, Per Bruce Cassidy

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(Photo: David Berding / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Among several stories to come out of the Boston Bruins Foundation golf outing Monday afternoon was head coach Bruce Cassidy’s comments regarding the state of the second line right wing situation, which has been a glaring issue for the better part of five seasons now. Cassidy told the media that Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Brett Ritchie, and potentially more are all among options he will consider to fill the open roster spot on David Krejci’s right.

All of the guys mentioned above are also assumedly in the mix for the open spot on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, barring a shift in the lineup for either of those two; however, the main concern is obviously who will take the third spot alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The clubhouse favorite seems to be Kuhlman as he had success with the aforementioned duo last season and even came up huge in the playoffs. In 11 regular season games, the Minnesota-Duluth product posted three goals and two assists for five points, spending most of his time on the second line.

Leading into the postseason, the second line with Kuhlman on the right posted eight five-on-five goals in 68:21 of ice-time, and the 23-years-old stepped in seamlessly when asked to either slot in on either the third or second line during the playoffs, notching 1-2-3 numbers in eight games, including this SNIPE in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final:

Next on the wheel of possibilities is Anders Bjork, who, after a strong showing at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, is looking to prove that he is ready for an NHL role after his first two seasons were cut short by a pair of shoulder surgeries. Bjork is essentially starting from scratch this season, and the Prospects Challenge should have served as a good opportunity to help get his legs under him ahead of camp.

With 15 points in 50 games with the varsity club, Bjork has shown flashes of what many thought he could be when given the chance to actually play in the top-six. However, starting the year off in Providence may not be the worst thing for him as far as his confidence and conditioning goes. The 23-year-old’s NHL experience likely gives him leg up on guys like Senyshyn and even Jack Studnicka or Oskar Steen, both of whom may also get a chance to show what they can do on the second line.

Speaking of Senyshyn, the 15th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is an interesting case. Boasting gobs of speed, tenacity, and skill, Senyshyn has not quite lit the world on fire at the AHL level (26-24-50 in 132 games) after going off in the OHL (114-63-177 in 195 games).

However, in two NHL games at the end of the regular season last year, the 22-year-old was quite impressive and even scored his first NHL goal against Minnesota; although it was an empty-netter. The speedy Ottawa, Ontario native certainly has the skill set for potential success next to David Krejci, and he’ll get a shot to show he’s the man for the job in what will surely be a “prove it” year.

Ritchie was already going to be an interesting guy to keep an eye on during training camp, but with Cassidy specifically mentioning him in the running for second line right wing, the intrigue has only heightened. The 26-year-old signed with the Bruins at the start of free agency for a one-year, $1-million deal–a pretty low-risk, potentially high-reward signing.

It is unlikely that Ritchie will miraculously become the player that the Dallas Stars thought he could have turned into, a bruising middle-six, or top-six, winger, but he does fit the mold of guys who have found success next to Krejci in years passed (Lucic, Horton, and Iginla–not to say he is or will be as good as those guys, but the comparison is there). Ritchie’s best season was two years ago with Dallas where he scored 24 points (16 goals and eight assists); he moved around in the top-nine, but also spent a decent amount of time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

The 16 goals he scored three years ago is the key stat. If he can tap into that goal production playing with skilled guys like Krejci and DeBrusk, the Bruins may have found something, so we’ll have to see where this goes during camp.

Cassidy only explicitly mentioned the four guys I talked about above, but that’s not to say someone like the aforementioned Steen or Studnicka won’t get a look either. Although, Steen is still likely a few seasons of way from being fully ready to make the leap to the NHL since this will only be his first professional season in North America.

Likewise with Studnicka, the 20-year-old is set to begin his first full pro season since joining Providence’s playoff run after lighting up the OHL. The former Oshawa Generals captain has experience playing wing even though he is a natural center, and he has made it clear to the organization he will play wing if needed–the skillset on this kid increases the possibility of making an impact with the big club. However, it may be best for him to get even more seasoning playing center in Providence; more on where Studnicka might fit in a future article to look out for. Also, I haven’t even mentioned Peter Cehlarik, but rest assured he’ll probably get a shot considering the flashes he’s shown in his NHL experience.

With training camp set to kick off this week, the ongoing saga at second line right wing is certainly among the top storylines, and Cassidy’s comment only increased the interest around the open roster spot.  It really is anyone’s guess as to who will seize the two open roster spots up front. Everyone will surely be curious to see where this goes and who steps up as the next man for the job.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Providence Bruins Get A Gem In Asselin

( Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

The Bruins have remained fairly steady the last couple years when it comes to making any big changes, whether that be adding through free agency or looking to bring a change through any trades that would make an immediate impact. They have stuck to their guns and have been trusting the process of building from within, by drafting and developing players that slot into the roles they want to inject into the lineup.

Look no further than the way off-board pick of Trent Frederic at 29th overall in the 2016 entry draft as a prime example. They were so brazen as to even publicly state that they picked him there with the intention and of his projection to be a bottom-six player in their lineup. Why you would take someone you think is a bottom-six that high is beyond me, but I digress. And it turns out the young man continues to get better, faster, and stronger, almost like he has something to prove. Maybe this was their divine plan all along? We could go back to the hotly debated 2015 draft as well, where they took players that were projected far lower than where the Bruins snagged them. Regardless, they have shown time and time again to build the big league team through their system ranks instead of making any big splashes.

The odd time, they, as well as other clubs, take a chance on some players that linger on the outskirts, because why not? Worst case scenario they don’t progress into anything, and best-case scenario, they grow as a player under the tutelage of good coaching and trainers, and as they become men, they turn into an impact player. This is not a common happening. But, if there is a player I would put my money on to be one of the players in a small sample size to break the mold, it is Samuel Asselin.

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Asselin was picked up this year by the Bruins as an undrafted overage player coming out of the QMJHL, playing his final season with the Halifax Mooseheads where he was also tagged with an “A” on his jersey for awesome. Well, an assistant captain, but this kid has skills as you saw in the video above. He is a smaller player coming in at 5’9 and 180 pounds, but in today’s game, this doesn’t tell the full story. This kid is quick, gritty, has great hands, attacks the net, is relentless on the puck, can make the plays, and has a great shot. Yes, he is a bit of all things good.

This description got me thinking of another player with the Bruins actually…..#63. I hate making comparisons because it isn’t fair to drop that on him thinking he will produce in the same way, but I believe the sky is the limit here with him, and he certainly can do great things. What remains to be seen is if he can translate it to the NHL level. He is currently on a contract that has him sticking in the AHL only, but what an opportunity to show what he can do and earn himself something better when this runs out.

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Asselin has some impressive accomplishments coming with him to the Bruins. He was the leading goal scorer in the ‘Q’ in his final year, was a Memorial Cup Champion in 2018, and made it back to the Mem Cup finals again in his last season coming up just short while being the most dominant player in the tournament by far. He was also a member of the Titan when they were the QMJHL Champions and served as captain of the Cataractes in his third season in the league. Some other accolades he holds with him are being named to the CHL All-Star Team in 2017-18 and in 2018-19 was named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. He has also been leaving his mark on the recent Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. I can’t help but see some Marchand-Esque zip to his game.

Asselin is very self-aware and knows what he brings to the table:

“I can score, I can pass the puck, I think I’ve got pretty good vision but I can always play both sides [of the puck], I can play in my zone. I’m a good two-way forward. I think that’s my biggest asset,” Asselin described himself 10 months back.

In his first three seasons with Shawinigan, he put up 30 – 73 – 103 numbers in 167 games played. In that third season, he was moved to the Titan and played 10 games with them there posting 4 – 7 – 11 totals. The following season he was moved quickly to Halifax, where one could say he had a coming-out party of sorts, putting up an impressive 48 – 38 – 86 in 68 games. He had some solid players surrounding him there as well, like LaVoie, who went in the second round of this year’s draft to the Oilers.

This is very promising. While not having the prestige that some of these top prospects have, he most certainly is a gamer. I will go down as saying he is one of the best players in years to go undrafted and also has huge potential to make it to the NHL. Again, can he translate it to the NHL? If he can make this leap in the next couple years, with Marchand and some of the current core getting older, it would be perfect timing.

To wrap this up, and something all of us Bruins fans can love, Montreal was interested in signing him as well. Being the good and smart francophone that he is, he made the smart decision and chose the Bruins. A couple more things to leave you with just to make you smile.

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Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Report: Bruins, Charlie McAvoy Contract Talks To “Heat Up” In Coming Days

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JANA CHYTILOVA/GETTY IMAGES AND BOSTON BRUINS)

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

Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free-agent defenceman Zach Werenski to a three-year contract worth $5 million per season.

Werenski was regarded as one of the top defensive RFAs on the available market and now that he has officially agreed to re-up his deal with the Blue Jackets, the other teams across the NHL with young blueliners on expiring contracts will be looking to compare their players to Werenski.

Not long after the news broke, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins will heat up talks with their RFA defenders – Ivan Provorov and Charlie McAvoy, even more so with training camp beginning later this week.

We are all aware of the current situation with Charlie McAvoy and the contract negotiations that have been going down this off-season. The problem is that the two parties have not engaged in as many talks as some wish. It has been made clear in several interviews and press releases that McAvoy loves it in Boston and truly wants it to be his home for the long-term future. Bruins management has made it quite clear that they ultimately share the same feelings and they feel a deal will happen eventually, even if talks are “stalled”.

The 22-year-old Werenski was the eighth-overall draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets and has since scored 38-90-128 numbers in 237 career NHL games with Columbus including six points (1 goal, 5 assists), in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2018-19, the Grosse Pointe, Michigan native scored 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points in 82 games played, but finished with his career-worst -12 plus/minus rating.

Charlie McAvoy has not played in nearly as many games as Werenski, even though the two players are less than five months apart in age. The reason – injuries has slowed down the production of McAvoy, but even still, has become a top-two defenseman for the Bruins and will likely hold that position for years to come. McAvoy scored 7-21-28 totals in only 54 games in ’18/’19, but averaged 22:10 of time-on-ice and a remarkable 24:30 TOI during the four-round playoff season.

Bob McKenzie also mentioned how the current narrative is a long-term contract is likely for the 21-year-old McAvoy due to his praise for Boston and the Bruins organization – with the trip to the Stanley Cup Finals being a big reason for that. As of this moment, we have no word on annual salary or years, but expect news this week regarding the future franchise defenseman.

For all Boston Bruins reports, breaking news, and updates, make sure to check on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website where all of our brilliant writers aim to get the news out for your eyes as soon as we hear of it.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!