A By The Numbers Look At The Bruins Second Round Defeat

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Well, here we are Bruins fans, forced to jump on the bandwagon of a new team now that the Bs have been vanquished by the rival Lightning. At least there is some consolation in the fact that the Maple Leafs and Canadians have also been bounced from the bubble.

My colleague Michael Digiorgio wrote yesterday about some of the stories and moments that led to the Bruins playoff exit. The topics include lackluster efforts in the round robin and game three against the Lightning and lineup decisions by head coach Bruce Cassidy that sparked heated conversations on #BruinsTwitter. In the aftermath of Boston’s defeat, questions abound about key players, especially long time captain Zdeno Chara, not to mention the longevity of the current core. With all that in mind, let’s take a step back and look under the analytical hood to better understand what went off the rails against a talented Tampa Bay Team.

Overall Metrics

Glossary of Terms

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%GFGAGF%SH%SV%PDO
Series26428448.18%11613446.40%8.1610.9842.62%51426.32%4.03%89.71%0.937
Data from Natural Stat Trick

At even strength the Lightning drove play substantially throughout this series. The Bruins came out in the red in shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals. More importantly they lost the goals for battle by a sizable margin. As we peel back this data a couple of items emerge.

In games one through three the Lightning were head and shoulders the stronger team. The Bruins could not handle the dual threat of Tampa Bay’s ability to carry the puck in or chip and retrieve it. However, in games four and five, Boston did a much better job in the neutral zone, slowing down the attack and creating more favorable circumstances. In general, they were more patient, clogging the middle of the ice and not allowing Lightning forwards to wind up with speed. In turn, the Bruins were able to better control the play with games four and five largely a wash from an analytical standpoint and extremely close on the scoreboard.

The other key stats are shooting percentage, save percentage, and PDO (a simple combination of shooting and save percentage). PDOs typically should be around 1.00. Higher or lower numbers suggest either immense talent or a string of luck. The Bruins in the regular season exceeded 1.00 on the backs of strong goaltending and talented shooters. In this series their PDO comes in at 0.937, a scary number. Part of this has to do with the 7-1 thrashing in game three but the even worse culprit is an even strength shooting percentage of 4.03%. While some of this can be blamed on variance and luck, quite a bit of credit has to be given to Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning defenders. The Lightning goaltender made some big saves and for the most part his defenders kept the Bruins from second chance opportunities.

Heat Map

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As just mentioned, the Lightning defenders had an excellent series. In an ideal world you’d love to take every shot from right on top of the spoked B logo in the diagram. The Bruins did not get many opportunities from there at all. They also had few rebound attempts when Vasilevskiy did pop pucks back out. In contrast, the Lightning were able to penetrate the Bruins defensive posture. Their forwards combined quickness and toughness to win position in the center of the ice. In turn they scored a number of goals on screens, tips, and rebounds.

Key Players

David Pastrnak2 G, 4 A, 40% xGFNikita Kucherov2 G, 5 A, 71% xGF
Patrice Bergeron0 G, 2 A, 45% xGFBrayden Point1 G, 7 A, 70% xGF
Brad Marchand4 G, 1 A, 41% xGFOndrej Palat5 G, 2 A, 73% xGF
Charlie McAvoy0 G, 0 A, 39% xGFVictor Hedman4 G, 2 A, 52% xGF
Torey Krug0 G, 3A, 46% xGFMikhail Sergachev1 G, 2 A, 63% xGF
Jaroslav Halak3.12 GAA, .896 SV%, -2 GSAAAndrei Vasilevskiy1.79 GAA, .936 SV%, +2 GSAA
Data from Natural Stat Trick

In The Athletic, Fluto Shinzawa discussed how the Lightning’s top players were outshining the Bruins’ stars prior to game five. After game five, the contrasting play remained part of the story line. Tampa Bay’s top line drove play against every matchup. Cassidy tried several options throughout the series with David Krejci getting the assignment in game five. The “perfection line” (as NBC must have trademarked by now) was less than perfect when head to head against the Lightning’s top line or future Selke trophy candidate Alex Killorn. While the Bruins stars did get on the board, it was almost exclusively on the powerplay.

The second wave of offense further differentiated the two teams. Tampa Bay received contributions from the likes of Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman. They also got big contributions from their defenders who regularly walked the blue line and found seams to the net through heavy traffic. The Bruins, other than David Krejci, got virtually no secondary offense from their forwards or their defensemen.

In the goalie duel, Vasilevskiy is the clear winner. Halak put up his best effort in the elimination game, but at the end of the day his performance was not good enough. Despite some moments of strong play, reflections on his playoff run will largely be marred by a couple major guffaws. The Big Cat in Tampa’s net inspired more confidence and made big saves when needed.

Performance By Lines and Pairs

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A key caveat of the above chart is that it includes the whole time in the bubble, round robin and all. Having said that, it still has some value in assessing the Bruins’ demise. My colleague Lydia Murray recently did a great article on reading these charts and I encourage you to read it. For now, just know the upper right is the best and upper left is fine too. Lower on the chart is not where you want to be, particularity the bottom left.

The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line still ends up in the good quadrant but did not distinguish itself as much as usual. The line of Debrusk-Krejci-Kase performed well enough in their matchups but land in the dull quadrant as they didn’t necessarily move the needle much other than a couple big games against the Hurricanes. The Bruins fourth line struggled regardless of the musical chairs of players. You’ll also notice Charlie Coyle is not on the chart. That is because he had such a revolving door of wingers that no combination had enough minutes together to qualify. Coach Cassidy’s tinkering finally seemed to land on a winning combination in the final game with Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka, but it was a little too late to make a difference in the series.

The Bruins defenders struggled. The speed and tenacity of Carolina and Tampa Bay were too much for Chara and Brandon Carlo to handle. Torey Krug was exposed in a number of tough matchups against top talent. Charlie McAvoy did his best work in limited minutes with mobile puck mover Matt Grzelcyk but otherwise was on his heels defending the other team’s best players, alongside long time partner Chara.

Special Teams

Boston: 5 out of 17; 26:33 minutes; 21 shots; 3.14 xG; 5 goals

Tampa Bay: 4 out of 20; 33:28 minutes; 28 shots; 3.35 xG; 4 goals

Special teams is where the Bruins had the marked advantage coming into the series. They have a number of dominant players on both units. In general they performed alright. With the exception of a three goal output in game three, the Lightning only scored one other goal with the man advantage despite ample opportunity. The Bruins even had a number of chances while shorthanded. Boston scored a powerplay goal in every contest. In general, that is a key ingredient for the Bruins. They keep games simple, low-event, and close before finishing teams off with their lethal power play.

However, in this series, Tampa Bay’s advantage at 5v5 was just too overwhelming and the Bruins’ time in the bubble has come to an end.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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!!

Boston Bruins Vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 Preview

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Game 5, 7 PM ET. It’s do or die for the Bruins. Their season is on the line. After winning the first game of the series 3-2, the Bruins have dropped three games in a row and haven’t looked good. This Boston team has been as resilient as you can get since the start of the season and they need to show up and show up big time. “I think our core will,” Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They have to. Your best players need to be your best players. I think what I was getting at the other day was they’re going to have some nights where they need the secondary group to push up. Every team, if you’re going to advance in the playoffs, needs that.”

Obviously their stars need to show up, but if the Bruins want to win this game, the Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjorks of the team need to produce. Tampa Bay’s depth scoring from guys like Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde have been a massive advantage for the Lightning. The B’s defensive coverage has also been a question mark for the team, as apparent in the Lightning’s first goal in Game 4. The Bruins just need to play their game and start capitalized on the few errors the Lightning make.

Injury Update

Steven Stamkos will remain out for the Lightning. Ryan McDonagh will be game time decision after missing most of the series. Chris Wagner will be out for Game 5 and both Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie are questionable. 

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Lineups

Neither lineup has been confirmed, but I’d assume there will be a bit of a personnel change for the Bruins. Their grittier approach hasn’t worked and I’d be really interested to see a speed approach for the Bruins. Get some young, hungry, talented guys back into the lineup. I’d also entertain the option of moving Pastrnak to Krejci’s wing. For the Tampa side, I can’t really see any lineup changes with the recent success they’ve had. 

Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Jack Studnicka

Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Karson Kuhlman

If Kuraly is back, he’ll slide into the 4C. Also very possible to see Nick Ritchie remain in the lineup, likely taking out Studnicka and moving Bjork to the right.

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton

Jaroslav Halak

I’d like to see Krug and Carlo on separate pairs. After a great regular season, they’ve been a bit underwhelming. Maybe we see a jumbo pairing of Chara and Carlo and have Krug in an offensive pairing of Krug and McAvoy. We could also see Jeremy Lauzon or John Moore hop back in for Clifton. 

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Lightning

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov

Alex Kilhorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman

Patrick Maroon – Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk

Brayden Coburn – Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

It’s worth noting that if Ryan McDonagh enters back into the lineup, the Lightning may move back to six defensemen and slot Mitchell Stephens back one the fourth line.

Andrei Vasilevsky

My prediction is a 3-2 Bruins win. Goal scorers Krug, Coyle, Bergeron. Let’s hope this isn’t Krug’s final game in the spoked-B. Go Bs.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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!!

Boston vs Tampa Bay Game One Breakdown

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Leon Lifschutz | Follow Me On Twitter @LeonLifschutz

The eastern conference’s top two regular-season teams kicked off their series in exciting fashion with non-stop action right from the opening puck drop. The Bruins came out of this one the winner, but early indications suggest this will be a long and hard-fought series. Let’s get into the breakdown of game one!

The Recap

Late in the first period, Charlie Coyle continued his run as the Boston’s top hitter deflecting a Carlo shot out of mid-air past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Boston would build on their lead in the second with a vintage David Pastrnak power-play one-timer off an impressive seam pass from David Krejci. Tampa Bay pushed hard the remainder of the second, but the Bruins held onto the 2-goal lead. Early in the third, Patrice Bergeron picked the pocket of Ryan McDonagh, starting a pretty passing sequence from himself to Pastrnak to Brad Marchand, who finished the play with a one-timer. The Lightning regrouped in the latest stages of the game and managed to float two-point shots through traffic past Jaroslav Halak, The Lightning would pull within one, but the Bs held on to win 3-2 and take 1-0 series lead.

Check out the full RECAP from my colleague Liz Rizzo.

The Storyline

This was a great hockey game from two outstanding teams. If this is a preview of the rest of the series, hockey fans are in for a real treat. Both sides showed they were capable of attacking, defending, and even getting a bit physical. The pace seemed an extra step quicker than round one, and the skill on display was impressive. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point stood out for the Lightning continuously rushing the puck up ice and buzzing around the offensive zone. The Bruins five-star first line may not have been at it’s best all game, but they factored into all three goals for the black and gold. Both goaltenders made some great saves throughout the game, with Halak being just one save better on this night. Game one delivered on its hype, let’s hope that continues as the series progresses.

The Stats

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%
P1191753.57%121054.55%0.740.7848.64%
P272122.73%4833.33%0.281.1319.64%
P3201557.14%9756.25%0.590.5850.43%
Game465346.46%252550.00%1.612.4939.02%
Data from www.naturalstattrick.com

At even strength, Tampa Bay drove the overall play. Boston came out fast in the first and uncharacteristically traded chances, highlighted by the 12-10 scoring chances in the period. They did get the better of the ledger in all but expected goals (which were almost even), but the Bs typically prefer low event games to track meets. Tampa’s second-period pushback after going down two was ferocious, as evidenced by the numbers. Without a great period from Halak, the outcome of this one could have been very different. The early third-period goal by Marchand swung momentum the Bruins’ way before Tampa’s late push evened up the third-period numbers.

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The Bruins continued to get goals from inside the dots and managed several additional shots from that prime area. Tampa used the low to high play a decent amount and generated shots off it, especially from the right point. They were also able to get many shots from on top of the crease and were clearly prioritizing getting traffic in front. Some nice saves by Halak and some boxing out by the Bruins D prevented any scoring from the net-front.

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Coyle led the team in-game score and batting average (last baseball comparison, I promise, it’s just August). His line though, struggled through the first two periods struggling to create with the exception of a singular excellent rush. The third was a little more productive, but Coach Cassidy played Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie the least of all his forwards shifting ice time to the Kuraly line, especially when protecting the lead.

Halak had an excellent game and a substantial second period. If not for the late goals, the Bruins netminder would have been the runaway game score leader. Nonetheless, he was undoubtedly one of the stars of the game. The David Krejci line was again strong. Debrusk and Kase used their bodies when needed, and David Krejci kept his point streak going. They played a smart low event game and were quick and dangerous in transition where their patience paid off in the forms of chances. This blueprint for the Bruins will be the focus of tonight’s video breakdown.

The Bruins defenders remain a slight cause for concern. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo looked to be moving the puck pretty well in this game but continue to come out on the wrong side of the possession and chances ledger. It was progress though for the crucial pair after struggling in round one. Zdeno Chara continues to bleed chances. Charlie McAvoy led the team with close to 27 minutes of ice time. Overall his game was alright, but he struggled when matched up against Point, Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. However, only one goal was conceded against Tampa’s top line, which you’ll take most nights.

The Video Breakdown

Tonight’s video comes from the David Krejci line. While the line did not end up on the score sheet, they offered a blueprint for how to beat the Lightning 5v5. They played stout defense, stuffing lanes without over committing. Once Tampa Bay forced a play or made a mistake, the line took advantage by transitioning to the offense as quick as possible. Here is a great example:

As a five-man unit, the Lightning are forced to the outside on their entry. Once outside, Chara, Krejci, and Kase all contain the play. They do not play soft, but they also avoid over-committing.

A shot block by Kase leads to a turnover. Debrusk quickly gets to the loose puck. Even as he gets to the loose puck, all five Bruins and especially Kase and Krejci have transitioned from defense to offense. Debrusk makes a clever little area pass for Kase. It is a little off stride, but it is enough to get the rush going.

They are quickly up ice. Debrusk drives the center lane to push the defense back. This allows Krejci to hang back just a little with a touch of space. Kase tries his most Krejci-an saucer pass, but it is just a little behind his countrymate.

While this play didn’t quite connect, it was indicative of the lines play all night. They didn’t trade chances with the Lightning but rather played smart and tough defense. When the opportunity to attack presented itself, they took it. As a result, they were the only Bruin line to post positive shot attempts or expected goals.

Moment of the Night

Feel free #NHLBruins to brag about Bergy.

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The Bruins lead 1-0! See you Tuesday after I try my best Bergeron impressions out at Tuesday night shinny (pick-up hockey)!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 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!!

Takeaways For Boston From Tampa Bay’s Win Over Washington

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

By Bryan Murphy | Follow me on Twitter @bryan_murphy10

The Bruins haven’t looked quite like themselves since arriving in the Toronto bubble as the NHL restarts with its 24-team playoff.

Boston looked sluggish and sloppy in its 4-1 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week. In its first game of the round robin, the Bruins played a back and forth game with the Philadelphia Flyers, an improvement from the poor showing against Columbus. However, the Bruins again fell 4-1 in a crucial game for seeding.

Now the Bruins are in a tough situation going into Wednesday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning took a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in their first round robin game and now the Bruins are at the bottom of the seeding rankings with no points. With a loss to the Lightning, the Bruins will no longer have a chance at the No. 1 seed.

The Lightning looked very solid in their first meaningful game, outside of a span of four minutes at the end of the second period where the Capitals scored two goals to tie the game.

Here are some of the takeaways for the Bruins from the Lightning’s win.

More Sandpaper In The Bay

Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois had plenty of time to mull over what happened to the Lightning last season when they were swept in the opening round by the Blue Jackets. He realized the Lightning needed to add physicality to their game and they did just that.

BriseBois and the Lightning signed Pat Maroon this offseason and brought in Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman at the trade deadline, in addition to signing Zach Bogosian in late February. With guys like Cedric Paquette, Yanni Gourde, and a boatload of big defensemen already on the roster, this is a dangerous group that may have just figure out the final piece of the puzzle.

The physicality was on full display against the Capitals, with the Lightning racking up a whopping 45 hits to the Capitals 44. They didn’t cave and get away from their game plan trying to take runs like we’ve seen in the past. They now have enough sandpaper guys that their skilled players don’t have to worry as much about playing that style.

“I thought we were in their face,” said Maroon after the game. “That’s the kind of team we need to be, just kind of have that mentality to push back. … I thought we did a really good job of just staying in it, not getting frustrated when they were throwing big hits and responding at the right time.”

It’s part of why the Bruins have had success in the playoffs. They have the skills, but it’s the in-your-face mentality that ultimately separates the men from the boys. The Bruins have seen the scrappiness from the Lightning in the regular season and should expect to see that ramped up on Wednesday.

No Steven Stamkos

The Lightning were without their captain Steven Stamkos against the Capitals and appeared to not miss a beat.

Stamkos suffered a leg injury during voluntary workouts and while he’s expected to play at some point these playoffs, he isn’t quite ready yet. Brayden Point slid into the top line center position alongside Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

Mitchell Stephens was in the fourth line center role and looked very comfortable. The rookie put the Lightning ahead 2-0, getting in front of the net and deflecting a shot past Holtby. That started from a hard forecheck by Stephens that caused Capitals defensemen Jonas Siegenthaler to turn the puck over and Stephens outmuscled Siegenthaler again in front to get his stick on the puck and redirect it.

The Lightning went 3-3-1 in the regular season without Stamkos when he went down with his core muscle injury in February. Two of those games were against the Bruins, a 2-1 win for Boston and a 5-3 win for Tampa Bay.

So the Bruins know what to expect from the Lightning even without Stamkos. They looked very good without him against the Capitals and will have to do so again on Wednesday against the Bruins. But it’s a chance for Boston to exploit the absence of their top center who was averaging over a point per game this season.

Vasilevskiy Is Still Really, Really Good

SPOILER ALERT – Quarantine did not seem to affect Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The “big cat” of Tampa made 31 saves and two of three saves in the shootout on Monday. The two goals he gave up came off of some bad bounces that the Capitals were able to just sneak by.

Vasilevskiy made some big time saves, including stopping a Jakub Vrana breakaway attempt in the overtime period.

The rebound control is what stood out the most. Vasilevskiy was calm in the net and either was able to swallow up everything or kick it to the corners. The Caps two goals came off of getting bodies and pucks to the net and the Bruins will have to do just that to disrupt Vasilevskiy.

The Vezina candidate compiled three wins and a loss against the Bruins in the regular season, giving up no more than three goals in a game. And after a rough postseason in 2019, Vasilevskiy, like the rest of the Lightning squad, will be coming back with vengeance this postseason.

The Bruins and Lightning will kick off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday with a lot more on the line for the boys in black and gold. It’s put up or shut up time for the Bruins, as they truly need to find their game before it’s too late.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 188 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 Goaltender Tuukka Rask Named Vezina Finalist

Photo Credit: @NHLBruins/Twitter

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy. Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was named one of the three finalists, along with Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Winnipeg Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. According to NHL.com, “the Vezina Trophy is an annual award given “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position” as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.”

Rask Was Lights-Out This Season

It’s no surprise that Rask was named a Vezina finalist this season. In 41 games this season, he posted a record of 26-8-6 and held a 2.12 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage. Those are his best numbers by far since he won the Vezina back in 2014. They were also good for the best GAA in the league and the second-best SV%. At 33 years old, all of these are quite impressive feats.

The Stats Aren’t Wrong

There’s still a lot of “Tuukka haters” out there, despite there really being no evidence for them to support their claims. So, I know there’s plenty of people out there who will argue that the only reason Tuukka’s stats were as good as they were this season was that the team was outstanding. But, that is far from the truth. Rask kept the Bruins in a lot of games this season when they weren’t at their best. There were some you could even say he stole. He also made some truly jaw-dropping saves this season. I’m sure everybody remembers the awe-inspiring blocker save from the video above.

Rask, Hellebuyck Both Deserving

Not only is Tuukka more than deserving of the nomination, but he deserves to take home the trophy this season. He has the best stats of all the finalists, and typically that’s the goalie who goes home with the hardware, even though it shouldn’t always be that way. Plus, as I said above, stats aside, Rask truly was an incredible goalie this season. He was easily one of the best, and arguably the best, goalie in the league.

But, fellow finalist Connor Hellebuyck was also incredible and deserving of the award. He stole numerous games for the Jets this year, who did not have great defense. His stats were also outstanding considering who he had playing in front of him and the number of games he played. Frankly, he’s really the only reason the Jets were able to squeak into the playoffs under the new format. 

Vasilevskiy is the reigning Vezina winner, but he shouldn’t be much of a threat this season. His numbers were about average, yet he was playing on a superteam. That’s not good, and so frankly, he didn’t deserve the nomination. I don’t see any scenario in which he beats Rask or Hellebuyck for the trophy this season.

Hellebuyck and Rask were the best two goalies in the league in my opinion, and I think we’ll find the GMs agree. But, we’ll have to wait until the Conference Finals to see which order they come in at. Both are more than deserving of the award, and it’s far from surprising to see them both as finalists. It’s hard to say who’ll take it home, but I think I speak for all of us here at BNG when I say we hope it’s Tuukka. Thankfully, if history is any indication, it’s likely that it will be.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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 Post-Game Recap: Tampa Bay at Boston: 03/07/20

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

The NHL’s best team is back at home after going undefeated on a three-game road trip that saw wins over the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers. Boston holds a nine-point lead over the Lightning for the top position in the Atlantic Division with a 43-13-12 record with just over a month left of hockey to play. On Thursday, the Bruins took a tight 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in overtime to extend their current winning streak to four games.

Tampa Bay lost to the Bruins earlier in the week, but enter tonight’s game following a convincing 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night as well. The Lightning have not been excellent as of late, going 5-5-0 in their last ten games played and with the loss of superstar Steven Stamkos for the remainder of the regular season and potentially somewhat into the postseason, wins are difficult to come by. Tampa is second in the Atlantic Division with a 42-20-5 record.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (43-13-12)

Away: Tampa Bay Lightning (42-20-5)

Bruins’ Last Game: 2-1 OT win vs FLA

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo (upper-body) will not play tonight after taking an elbow to the face from Florida Panthers forward Evgeni Dadonov. John Moore takes his spot alongside Torey Krug on the defensive pairing. Tuukka Rask gets the start in goal.

First Period:

Early in the game, the Bruins get some good offensive pressure and a couple decent chances from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak who connected on a long pass for a 1-on-1 play for Pastrnak against Kevin Shattenkirk but the shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy. Roughly five minutes into the game, the Lightning had four recorded blocked shots.

5:01 into the game, Barclay Goodrow lands his elbow to the head of Ondrej Kase and the Bruins will go to their first power-play of the game. Only six seconds onto the man-advantage, however, Anthony Cirelli takes the puck and races down the ice to snipe one blocker side past Rask and the Lightning take a 1-0 lead off a shorthanded goal.

One-minute-and-two-seconds later, Mihkail Sergachev is fed the puck in the slot and wrists one past Rask again to give Tampa Bay a two-goal lead off two shorthanded goals. Not a good start for the Bruins who just seem to be lacking on the smaller details of their game early on.

Not long later, Chris Wagner lands a hard hit on Mikael Sergachev behind the Bruins net and then proceeds to drop the gloves with Goodrow for the hit on Kase. Both Wagner and Goodrow get offsetting unsportsmanlike conducts for dropping the gloves and it heads to four-on-four. As soon as the penalties end, Wagner and Goodrow meet at center ice to drop the mitts and Wagner’s fight brings some much-needed life back into the TD Garden.

Another good span in the offensive zone for the Bruins from the Kuraly-Coyle-DeBrusk third line as Kuraly came from behind the Tampa Bay net to nearly feed DeBrusk in the slot. Just moments before that, Charlie Coyle’s one-timer was stopped by Vasilevskiy. During the zone time, Cedric Paquette takes a hooking minor and Boston goes to the power-play again. A bit of a better man-advantage this time around, but nearly all of Boston’s shot attempts were blocked before they even got close to Vasilevskiy. Back to even-strength.

Bruins got a few high-volume shots towards the Lightning net in the time after the pair of Tampa goals but failed to score on any of them. With 45.7 seconds left to tick away in the frame, Jeremy Lauzon gets whistled down on an interference minor and Boston goes to the penalty-kill. Period ends, Lightning will have 1:15 of power-play time to begin the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 14 TBL: 5

Score: 2-0 Lightning – Goals: Cirelli (16) SHG Unassisted; Sergachev (10) SHG Assists: Gourde (18)

Second Period:

Down two goals, the Bruins need some spark offensively to cut into Tampa’s lead but early on, Zach Bogosian takes the puck into Boston’s zone and around the net before finding Cedric Paquette for a tap-in goal and a 3-0 lead for the Bolts. Poor defense for the B’s here and now have a tough three-goal deficit to come back from.

Not long after the goal, Bruins forward Brett Ritchie lays a big hit on Brayden Point in the corner of the boards which brings some noise to the Bruins crowd. Ritchie has not been afraid to use the body since his arrival to Boston on Trade Deadline day. That physicality will likely be huge in the postseason if it continues.

Near the end of the period, David Pastrnak takes a shot on Vasilevskiy, leading to a potential Marchand rebound attempt. Marchand took another clean swipe at the puck before getting pushed by Cirelli and then Marchand gets attacked by numerous Lightning players along the boards, but somehow Marchand and Cirelli get matching minors.

On the 4-on-4 session, Jake DeBrusk does a fantastic job driving hard to the net, allowing Charlie McAvoy to snap a gorgeous shot past Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to only one goal. This goal does not happen if DeBrusk doesn’t stay strong on the net drive to make the defense stay honest and providing a small screen for the McAvoy shot. 3-1.

All of a sudden, with the home Boston crowd roaring, the Bruins keep coming back with tons of pressure on the Tampa defense. Unlike the beginning stages of the second period, the Bruins have their skating legs and are hard on the board battles. A net-front battle eventually leads to Sean Kuraly tapping in what looks to be a goal, but it is waived off on the ice. As the play goes back the other way, the siren sounds meaning Toronto likely saw a goal and after review, it became apparent that Kuraly scored and now it is a 3-2 game.

Then, all hell breaks loose. The Bruins and Lightning engage in a line brawl with multiple fights breaking out and a ton of pushing and shoving. At the end of it all, here are all the penalties including some at the horn:

BOS F Sean Kuraly – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Blake Coleman – 10-minute misconduct
BOS F Brett Ritchie – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Erik Cernak – 10-minute misconduct
TBL F Patrick Maroon – 5-minute major (fighting)
BOS D Zdeno Chara – 5-minute major (fighting)
BOS F Brad Marchand – 2-minute minor (slashing)
TBL Bench Minor – 2-minute minor (delay-of-game) – assistant coach barking at the refs, was ejected from the game

And the second period ends emphatically there.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 28 TBL: 15

Score: 3-2 Lightning – Goals: Paquette (7) Assists: Bogosian (6), Coburn (3); McAvoy (5) Assists: Coyle (21), Grzelcyk (17); Kuraly (6) Assists: McAvoy (27), Kase (17)

Third Period:

The final regulation period starts with a brief 4-on-4 session that sees no goals. However, on Tampa’s shortened power-play off of Marchand’s slashing minor during the intermission, Sergachev takes a point shot that was tipped in by Alex Killorn and the Bolts regain their two-goal advantage just over one minute into the third period.

After some good chances on both ends for either team, Nikita Kucherov gets called on a minor penalty and the Bruins are going to another power-play opportunity. On an offensive zone faceoff win, Torey Krug skates backward towards the point and makes a cross-ice pass to David Pastrnak who unloaded a cannon from way downtown to make this one a 4-3 hockey game. Pastrnak takes sole possession of the league-lead in goals with his 48th of the season.

And once again, the two teams get into a scuffle after a whistle roughly nine minutes into the game. In the mix of it all, Bergeron gets sent to the box for two minutes for a delay-of-game penalty (puck over the glass) and now the Bruins go to a very important penalty-kill. During the possession time, McAvoy, Chara, and Tyler Johnson were engaging in a hard battle with cross-checks in front of Tuukka Rask that leads to another post-whistle scrum. Bruins make the kill.

Just around seven minutes to go, David Pastrnak receives a great pass to be sent alone on a breakaway but his fantastic shot is shut down by Vasilevskiy who keeps this a one-goal contest. Moments later, as Ondrej Kase stickhandles the puck through the neutral zone, Tyler Johnson’s stick interferes with him and takes him down, however, the officials call both the stick infraction and embellishment on Kase so we go to 4-on-4 for two minutes.

With 1:02 remaining, Nikita Kucherov picks up a loose puck from a falling David Krejci and buries it in the empty-net. Tampa Bay wins this one, 5-3 and win the season series over the Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 38 TBL: 25

Final Score: 5-3 Lightning

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: TBL G Andrei Vasilevskiy – 35 Saves on 38 Shots, .921 SV%

2nd Star: TBL D Mikhail Sergachev – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Hits, 29:05 TOI

3rd Star: BOS D Charlie McAvoy – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 4 Hits, 25:45 TOI

The Bruins now only have a seven-point lead on Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic Division and look to their next game on Tuesday against the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers who have won nine consecutive games.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!

Rask’s Unbeaten Home Streak Has Landed Him In Vezina Contention

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(NHL with AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Bruins’ latest winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon in Detroit, though one streak remains intact for the Bruins’ starting netminder, Tuukka Rask.  Following the 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes Saturday afternoon, Rask extended his home regulation winning streak to 18 games.  Rask has not logged a regulation loss at the TD Garden since April 6, 2019, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The streak also breaks Gilles Gilbert’s 17-game winning streak to open a season, set back in 1973.

Rask is in the midst of an impressive year and is in contention for the NHL’s best goaltending trophy: the Vezina.  Considering goalies who have played more than 25 games this year, Tuukka leads the league with a 2.14 goals-against average and ranks second with a .929 save percentage behind Columbus’s Elvis Merzlikins.  He sports a 20-5-6 record with 67 goals against, which ranks sixth among NHL goalies.

The Bruins sit atop the NHL standings with 80 points, three points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.  It’s no coincidence that Rask is among the top three goalies in contention for the Vezina, and his team is the best in the NHL.  He’s even made a case for the save of the season.

When it comes to the Vezina race, Rask has some stiff competition.  To open the year, Rask ranked behind Pekka Rinne, Frederik Andersen, and 2019 winner, Andrei Vasilevsky.  All three have been atop the goaltending ranks for the past few years.  Rask currently has the second-best chance to win the trophy behind Winnipeg Jets’ netminder, Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck is having a remarkable year in goal for Winnipeg.  He is leading the NHL with 1,306 saves and has been able to maintain a .920 save percentage.  To put this in perspective, his team has allowed 1,420 shots through the 46 games he’s played this year.  Rask has seen 942 shots and has saved 875.  Hellebuyck’s goals-against average sits at a high 2.67, which gives Rask has an opening to reclaim the trophy.

Rask etched his name in the Vezina trophy’s history books once before.  In the 2013-14 season, he ended the year with a 36-15-6 record and a league-leading .930 save percentage.  Tuukka also recorded a 2.04 goals-against average and seven shutouts.  He has consistently been a rock for the Bruins, including his performance in the playoffs.  This past playoff run, Rask was always the best player on the ice for the black and gold.  He led all goaltenders in the playoffs (who played past the opening round) with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

The Bruins have historically been a strong home team.  They rank first in the NHL with a 19-2-9 home record, and it’s no secret that Rask has been the main contributor to that success.  The Bruins are a few trade deadline pieces away from hoisting their seventh Stanley Cup.  They have the makeup, leadership, and experience to make another deep playoff run.  If Rask can continue his torrid pace at home, the Stanley Cup may be in a different set of hands at the TD Garden in June.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 165 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’ Rask To Forgo 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend

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(Photo: Winslow Townson / AP Photo)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will not participate in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, as announced by NHL Public Relations. Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevsky will replace Rask at the festivities on All-Star Weekend.

Rask spoke to the media on Monday evening before Boston’s visit with the Philadelphia Flyers, saying it was a tough decision that he put a lot of thought into. While the goaltender noted that it was an honor to be selected to the Atlantic Division All-Star team, he emphasized that he made his decision in order to get extra rest and time with his family.

“I had to be kind of selfish, thinking how much hockey we played last year, the short summer, wanting to play into June again, and [All-Star Weekend] falling right in the middle of our bye week.” Rask said to the media. “It was a selfish decision to go spend time with my family and get the mind and body rejuvenated.”

As is the case with players who decide to forgo All-Star Weekend after being voted in, Rask will be mandated by the NHL to serve a one-game suspension in the Bruins’ last game before the break or the first game following the break. Rask acknowledged the suspension during his media availability, saying it will probably be after the break.

The 32-year-old Finn also said that the organization supported his decision. In 27 appearances this season, Rask holds a 17-4-6 record to go along with a 2.27 goals-against average (fifth-best in the league) and a .925 save percentage (fifth-highest).

The Bruins will take on the Flyers on the road on Monday night at 7:00 pm before visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. Jaroslav Halak will get the nod in goal on Monday, while Rask is expected to start in Tuesday’s contest, per head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 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!!

Boston’s Goaltending Strategy Extending Into The Playoffs

( Photo Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

 

After Tim Thomas solidified a championship-winning run for the Boston Bruins in 2011, he took a longer than expected sabbatical from the NHL leaving Tuukka Rask the keys to the kingdom. Rask has been the Bruins sole beneficiary to their successful season since 2012. A recent question to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy by The Athletics’s Fluto Shinzawa has made Bruins fans wonder, how long until teams are using the same goalie tandems they’re using in the regular season in the playoffs?

Fluto Shinzawa’s question to Cassidy centered around how goalie tandems are so heavily used in the regular season, but perish in the playoffs entirely. Fluto asked if and when we will see the same regular-season timeshare used in the playoffs. “I don’t know if it will be this year. But I think eventually, if they’re structured that way during the regular season, then why would you necessarily change it in the playoffs? So I could see it happening, definitely. Absolutely,” Cassidy said during one of his pressers. For years, the NHL has relied heavily on one goaltender to carry a team throughout a playoff run. Martin Brodeur led his New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cups; two of which he had played over 70 games in the regular season.

Dominik Hasek had played in 65 games before his first cup with Detroit. Jonathan Quick led his Los Angeles Kings to two cups, playing in 69 and 49 regular-season games in their respective years. Tim Thomas played in 57 regular-season games in 2011, before hoisting the cup in June 2012. Starting goaltenders have always been expected to play most of the regular season, and continue that regularity into the playoffs. Recently, the NHL has seen goalies’ workload split almost evenly between starter and backup in the regular season. Teams have been focusing on finding reliable backups who can give rest to their star keeper. It’s only a matter of time before we see this continue into the postseason.

Andrei Vasilvesky is Tampa Bay’s young promising goaltender, who has already won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender in the regular season) at the age of 24. He was part of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s historic run last year when Tampa roared through the entire NHL racking up 128 points. The 2018-2019 Lightning won 76% of their games, in large part due to their lethal offense and stingy defense and goaltending. Vasilevsky played in 53 games last season. The Lightning were not only heavy favorites to sweep the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, but was predicted to walk into the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning (and the rest of the NHL) were stunned to see the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the series four games to none. Vasilevsky’s regular-season timeshare was questioned and many wondered if he was overused.

The 2019 Stanley Cup Final was represented by two goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington. Binnington at one time played for the Bruins’ farm system as an emergency loan before ultimately starting for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were at the bottom of the standings by Christmas and were viewed as heading for a rebuilding year and sellers at the upcoming trade deadline. Jordan Binnington received the call-up because their current goalie, Jake Allen, sported a 2.83 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Binnington sparked a winning streak in the Blues and appeared in 32 regular-season games and eventually carried his team to the Final. Binnington’s usage during the regular season had been a unique situation, but the message stays the same: goalies who have more rest during the regular season enter the playoffs fresh. They fare extremely well the deeper the playoff run extends.

Tuukka’s situation was more common. He had never had a strong backup who could handle a larger workload. They swung and missed on numerous back-ups including Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, and Nicklas Svedberg. Anton Khudobin seemed to handle the backup role quite well, but was given a two year, $5 million raise from the Dallas Stars and the Bruins were unwilling to match for a perennial backup. In the 2018 off-season Don Sweeney, current General Manager of the Boston Bruins, signed former New York Islander starter Jaroslav Halak to take on Rask’s backup duties. He was signed to a $5.5 million deal over two years, which exceeds Khudobin’s raise.

The difference here is that Halak was a long-time starter for the Canadiens, Blues, and Islanders. He had the resume that could withstand a long season with dependable starting opportunities, which is something the previous backups lacked. Halak most recently guarded the Islanders’ goal from the 2014-2017 seasons. The Islanders had a strenuous 2017-2018 season allowing the most shots on goal in the entire NHL, making Halak’s job harder than it already was. He posted a weak 2.80 goals-against average on Long Island. Halak came into Boston giving Rask something he wasn’t used to a reliable backup who can handle a substantial amount of starts appearing in 40 games in the 2018-2019 season. Halak was back to his old form in the black and gold posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

 

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Halak’s reliable play put Tuukka in a fantastic situation to tend the twine deep into the playoffs. It, unfortunately, did not gain the Bruins a championship, but Rask was often the best player on the ice throughout the playoffs, which can be attributed to his regular-season rest. The closest we’ve seen to a team using a goalie tandem in the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Penguins during their historic run winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Marc-Andre Fleury was one of the team’s biggest stars, which is a high accolade playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang. Fleury played in 58 games in the regular season, with a promising young goalie prospect, Matt Murray, only providing rest for 13 games.

Jeff Zatkoff played in the remaining 11 games. Fleury, a three-time Cup winner, was injured in the second game of the playoffs, ceding the crease to Murray. Behind some impeccable offensive firepower, Murray and the Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup championship. The following season the two net-minders split time almost evenly. The Penguins gave Fleury the starting nod come playoff time. Fleury was a force in the first two playoff series, ensuring his team won both. He was eventually pulled in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals after allowing four goals on nine shots. Murray started the rest of the way, earning the franchise’s fifth championship.

The goalie tandem is not unheard of in the NHL but has not been viewed as best practice. Certain circumstances have shown that it is necessary. If a goalie in the regular season benefits from a reliable backup, what’s stopping that same philosophy in the playoffs? The Bruins are set up to be one of the best teams to test this theory, given they essentially have two starting-caliber goalies and a coach who is not afraid to play the hot hand, regardless of a player’s salary. These upcoming playoffs could come with an interesting twist if Cassidy decides that Halak and Rask can co-exist in the sport’s most crucial time of the year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 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 Game 7 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Winslow Townson/AP)

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

After two consecutive wins over the New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks, the Boston Bruins now look to start the hardest four-game stretch of the early season, starting things off against the Tampa Bay Lightning before a home-and-home match-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs and then the St. Louis Blues to wrap it all up. Boston is tied for third in the league standings with a 5-1-0 record and ten points.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have not had the best start to the new season, or at least not what they had hoped for coming off of their shocking first-round loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning hold a 3-2-1 record after the first five games, positioning them in the first wild-card spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

Tampa is coming off of a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday after losing to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The defending Presidents Trophy winners are still a great team, but have struggled early on.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 3-0-0 1.33 GAA .957 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 3-0 win vs NJD

TBL: Andrei Vasilevskiy 3-1-0 2.53 GAA .921 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 3-1 win vs MTL

Who’s Hot:

David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. David Pastrnak. Why did I say his name four times? That’s how many goals the superstar forward scored against the Anaheim Ducks on, lighting the lamp four times en route to a 4-2 win over the Ducks in Boston. The performance led Pastrnak to becoming the first Bruin in the 2019-20 season to hit double-digits in points with 6-4-10 totals in six games so far. Everything is working for him right now and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

For many years now, Steven Stamkos has been the face of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Season after season, he is always near the top of team scoring and for that matter, league scoring. In 2019-20, nothing has changed, Stamkos currently leads the Lightning in points with 4-4-8 numbers in six games – tied with Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos has also been great on the face-off dot, winning 57.89% of the draws he takes. In 39 career games against Boston, Stamkos has 21-10-31 totals and will look to add to that tonight.

Even with the dominant performance from David Pastrnak against the Ducks, Brad Marchand was still as threatening. Anaheim managed to prevent Marchand from getting any shots on goal, yet he still finished the night with two assists – bringing his season total to 4-5-9 – second on the team in points. Marchand has found success against the Lightning throughout his career as well, scoring twelve goals and sixteen assists for 28 points in 33 games against Tampa.

Who’s Not

In one of the biggest moves of the 2018 Trade Deadline, defenceman Ryan McDonagh was traded from the New York Rangers to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, the 30-year-old scored 9-37-46 totals in a full 82-game season with Tampa Bay, but only has one assist in the opening six games in 2019-2020. McDonagh only has two hits on the season and averages 21:52 time-on-ice. The one bright spot for him is his +5 rating in the plus/minus category, however, that statistic often gets a bad rap.

Today, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk turns 23-years-old and it would be a perfect time for him to score his first goal of the new season. DeBrusk has one assist in six games, even though he has had opportunities to score in multiple games this season so far. With his center, David Krejci, out tonight with an upper-body injury, DeBrusk needs to step up offensively to bring some depth scoring to Boston against a stacked Lightning offence.

Charlie Coyle will move up in the lineup to be the second-line center for DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie, yet he himself only has one assist that was achieved in the opening game against the Dallas Stars back on October 3rd. The third-line of Heinen, Coyle and Ritchie had some chances in the last game against Anaheim, but failed to score. Tonight would be a good game for him to find his game that he had in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get back on the score-sheet.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • G Tuukka Rask is playing in his 499th career NHL game
  • F Patrice Bergeron is four assists away (496) from 500 career NHL assists
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one assist away (496) from passing Rick Middleton (496) for sole-possession of 6th-most assists in Bruins history

Tampa Bay Lightning:

  • F Steven Stamkos is three goals away (397) from 400 career NHL goals

Bruins vs Lightning Outlook:

The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have a rich history as Eastern Conference teams. Throughout the regular-season, the two franchises have played in 102 games against each other, with the Bruins having the better record of 64-28-9-1 – averaging 3.31 goals-for-per-game and 2.60 goals-against-per-game. In the playoffs, the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals come to mind when Boston defeated the Lightning in a razor-close Game 7 to advance to the Finals where the eventually won the Stanley Cup.

More recently, the Lightning dispatched of the Bruins in the 2018 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in only five games after the B’s won Game One. These two teams have been atop the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings for the better part of the past decade and each game has created an entertaining affair.

Tampa Bay won the season series of four games in 2018-19, defeating the Bruins three times, (3-2, 5-4, and 6-3) while the Bruins won once by a final score of 4-1 on February 28th. Boston scored a total of thirteen goals for and allowed fifteen against in the four games.

Regarding specialty teams, this could be a very entertaining hockey game. On the power-play, both teams are tied with a 31.3% success rate on the man-advantage, however, the Bruins have a better penalty-kill percentage (83.3%) compared to Tampa’s 73.9%. Either way, it will be interesting to see what team’s specialty teams out-performs the other. It may just be the difference in who wins.

Bruins Projected Lineup:

David Krejci is out for the Bruins tonight after playing minimal minutes against Anaheim on Monday. After the game, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy expressed hope that Krejci would be able to play tonight, but evidently has decided to keep the veteran center out of the lineup. Charlie Coyle moves up while Par Lindholm centers Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on the third-line. The first and fourth lines remain the same as of right now.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 149 that we recorded on 10-11-19 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 exciting Black N’ Gold online content!