Bear Trap? The Bruins’ Schedule This Week Will Test Them In a Few Ways

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( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/ Getty Images )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Up and Away

With the Bruins embarking on a four-game road trip on which they play four games in seven days between Tuesday and Saturday, they will be tested in more ways than one. While certainly, their playoff status is all but a foregone conclusion, the Bruins remaining ten games of the season will have an effect on whether or not they finish above Toronto and have home-ice for the first round of the postseason. As things stand, it is their advantage to lose.

Hurts so Good

In addition to the on-ice contests that see them face-off against the Islanders, Devils, Panthers, and Lightning, the Bruins will be tasked with playing consecutive road games with a lineup that is in flux. Bruins continue to come back from injury, which despite being a primarily positive thing, it does take away a level of consistency from the lineup.

 

Ambien Teams

To add another level of difficulty to the Bruins’ forthcoming stretch of hockey, their first and fourth games of the trip serve as the fancy playoff bread in a spam sandwich that features New Jersey and Florida as the middle (in that they are a substitute for playoff teams). That was not a good metaphor. But I have a tendency to write around lunchtime, my stomach is doing most of the talking here. The point is that the Bruins begin and end their stretch with games against strong, playoff-caliber teams, and in between these contests are slated to face off against two clubs whose playoff chances are six feet under.

While their game against the Islanders shouldn’t prove to be difficult to get excited for, their games against NJ and FLA are a bit more concerning. The Bruins have at times this season showed an inability to bring their best effort against lesser teams. Both New Jersey and Florida fall into this category that I’ll refer to as “Ambien Teams,” because they seem to have the effect of lulling the Bruins to sleep, and bringing them down to their level of play and intensity.

Rude Awakening

Should the Bruins play down to the level of the Devils and Panthers, then they will be passing up crucial opportunities to gain points and maintain their status as the two-seed in the Atlantic.

However, in the hopefully likely event that they do end up winning these two games, and even if they play well in those games, the Bruins are then thrust right back into a showdown with the President’s Trophy frontrunners in Tampa Bay.

While the Bruins are, in my opinion, the best matchup for Tampa in terms of skill (when healthy) and depth (when healthy), it is a daunting task to bring playoff-level intensity after playing in New Jersey and Florida. While the Black and Gold will have a day or two in Florida to relax and prepare for their contest against the Bolts, that does not negate the difficulty of playing on the road against the current Stanley Cup favorite.

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Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images

Perfect Storm

This road trip could be a huge positive to begin the last three weeks of the season for the Bruins, or it could turn out to be a setback and a reality check for an ailing squad. It’s my hope and my expectation that the B’s will play a strong style of hockey throughout the road trip, and that they will only improve as more of their injured compatriots return to the lineup.

But the combination of road games, lineup inconsistency, trap games, and stiff competition make this road trip one that will likely show what the Bruins are made of.

Let’s all make sure to overreact to every occurrence in the meantime.

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With Rask Potentially Injured, Who Could Be His Replacement?

Image result for rask injury chytil( Photo Credit: ESPN.com )

By Nick Sutherland  |  Check Me Out on Twitter (@Sudsy8)

Late in the first period of the Saturday night’s Bruins versus the Rangers game, Tuukka Rask was injured by a hard drive to the net by NY Rangers forward Chytil, he went to the net hard and ended up with his back end towards Rask. The hit on the Boston goaltender forced him to fall back and hit his head on the post. It was not a good look as Tuuka stayed down for multiple minutes as the trainers got to him rather quickly. With that being said, we as a fan base need to know who could be the potential replacement for Halak as the new backup goaltender until Rask seemingly passes the NHL’s concussion protocol.

Providence currently has two goaltenders on the active roster; with Zane McIntrye having a better season to date than his counter-mate Daniel Vladar. McIntyre the 6′ 2″ 205 lb goalie from Minnesota had a rough beginning of the year for Providence, but since the December 29th game against Hersey, he has been tremendous. In his last 10 games started, starting with a game against Hersey, he has posted a 2.20 GAA and has won 9 of those 10 games. His only blemish was the game against Binghamton Devils on December 21st in which he let up 5 goals on 22 shots.

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The month of January has been great for McIntyre. In his last 8 games, he has a .911 SV%. McIntyre has yet to be called up since the 2016-17 season where he started 3 games for the Bruins but struggled mightily in those contests. The 26-year-old netminder has yet to register his first career NHL win. With that being said, he projects as a career AHL player but could get spotty back up games a low ceiling goaltender in the NHL.

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The other Providence goaltender is Daniel Vladar, a 2015 third-round pick of the Bruins is a 6’5” 190lb native of the Czech Republic. He has gotten spot starts in the last two seasons in the AHL with the majority of the time spent at ECHL affiliate Atlanta, but this year he has been given a bigger workload in Providence. Now, he is a ’97 birthdate, so he is tremendously young. He has a much higher potential than 26-year-old McIntrye does with Vladar not turning 22 until the off-season.

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Vladar has struggled a bit the last few months, in his 10 starts in December and January so far this season he is 3-4-3 with a .899 Save percentage. Some of those losses have come from a high volume of shots that he is seeing, two games against Springfield in January he stopped 72 out of 80 shots.     Some goalies develop slowly, but he has the size to be a true starter in the NHL. He has struggled this year in the AHL with a 6-8-4 record. He began the year pretty strong but has only won one regulation game since 12/8.

( Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography )

I would imagine the Bruins call up McIntyre if they do indeed lose Rask for a significant amount of time. The B’s are currently in day number four of the nine-day league-mandated bye week and get back to work on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019, against the Winnipeg Jets. Rask will have up to 10 days to recover. The Bruins are usually pretty vague when they release injury information, with that being said, I figure they are going to call this an upper-body injury. We all know that it probably is a concussion for Rask.

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Click Here For The Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

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New Year’s Resolution For All Bruins Players

(Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

New Year, new me, right? It’s that time of year where we all get those year-long gym memberships and give up in February. I thought it would be a cool idea to take a look at what each player might be looking to improve in the New Year. If you want to read a great piece by BNG writer Evan Michael about the New Year’s resolutions for the Bruins as a whole, check that out here! 

Patrice Bergeron– Health. We all know Bergeron is a warrior and will play through almost anything but man has his body taken a toll. Bergeron is a close to a perfect man as anyone in the world, all he can wish is to stay healthy.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Colby Cave– A true Bruin moment. Cave has gotten his fair share of hate this season from the Bruins’ faithful, while some Bruins (Debrusk etc) have become fan favorites because of goals, blocked shots, fights and other moments. It would be great for Cave to have a big moment like that to cement himself a role with the team and the fans.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson– A consistent top 9 spot. It’s been an up and down year for JFK, he was probably the front-runner to take the vacant third line center spot in pre-season but failed to take that spot. After starting the year in Providence, he was given a shot with the big club and was on and off. It seems Cassidy has liked what the young Swede has done recently as he’s giving him a shot on the 2nd line for the Winter Classic. 

David Krejci– Be able to play with any winger. We know what Krejci can do with great wingers, he played incredible when filling in for Bergeron on the top line. Now it’s time for Krejci to show that he can play great with whatever winger he’s put on a line with.

( Photo Credit:  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

Sean Kuraly– Another huge goal to showcase the Kura-leap. You just love to see it.

Noel Acciari– A consistent role on the 4th line. While he brings his physicality every game, the offense is rarely there. With a healthy team, I think he should always be the odd man out if he can get more ice time, that will be a successful 2019 for Acciari.

David Backes– A great performance in the playoffs. In his time with St. Louis, Backes excelled in the playoffs. He’s the hard-nosed player everybody wants to have on their team. A couple of big goals, big hits, and big fights in the playoffs would be great for Backes and the Bruins.

Jake DeBrusk– No more concussions. The last thing any young player wants is a history of head injuries. Here’s to hoping DeBrusk can dial in and stay healthy for the rest of the year (and his career.)

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe )

Ryan Donato– Find a way into the top 6, stay there, and score goals. We’ve all seen what Donato can do, he’s had a lot of moments where he looks like a bonafide 30 goal scorer, we’ve also seen moments where he seems lost and weak on the puck. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy doesn’t seem to have a ton of faith in the kid but if he gets a shot with 46 or 37, he needs to take it and run.

Danton Heinen– Same as Colby Cave, a true Bruin moment. He was a great surprise last season but the start of the 2018 has been a mess for Heinen. He’s been all over the lineup but has yet to have a big moment for the Bruins, look for that to happen in the new year.

Brad Marchand– No more suspensions. He can still be a goal scoring pest without dishing out any elbows or slew-foots. As long as he sticks to getting points and licking, he’ll be good to go.

Joakim Nordstrom– A little more luck. Nordstrom is one Bruin that always gives his all every single shift he’s out there. There’s not much to dislike with what he brings to the table, maybe a couple more bounces go his way and his great season will start showing up on the stat sheet.

David Pastrnak– There’s not much more a 22-year-old point per game player could wish for, maybe a Rocket Richard?

( Mandatory Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

Chris Wagner– For him and his line to become the new Merlot Line. That is a high task as the trio of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille will go down in Bruins history but I see a lot of that line in Wagner.

Brandon Carlo– Get a little bit tougher. Carlo has looked great this year, I see a lot more tenacity and toughness out of him than the past. He needs to keep using his 6’5 frame and continue to amp up the grit in his game.

Zdeno Chara– Another picture just like the one above. There’s not much more the man can do, going out on top would be an incredible way to end his career.

Matt Grzelcyk– To get consistent top 4 minutes like he deserves. He’s been the unsung hero for the Bruins this season. I don’t know how many times I’ve been “wowed” by how much ice time he can take and his vision on defense may be the best on the team, he deserves a lot more recognition than he gets and a spot in the top 4 would be well deserved.

Steven Kampfer– A game in the playoffs. He’s done above and beyond what most thought he would bring to the team. A cherry on the top would be to find his way into the lineup in the playoffs and play well.

Torey Krug– Health in the playoffs. The theme of health continues. Krug had a great first rookie playoff but has been banged up in the past two seasons. A healthy postseason would be huge for the offensive D-man.

( Photo Credit: ESPN.com )

Charlie McAvoy– HEALTH, he has been banged up all year. For the Bruins to succeed (and for McAvoy to get paid this summer) the young defenseman needs to stay healthy for the rest of the season. He’s an important member of the defensive core and these first few years of his career are huge in his development as an NHL player.

Kevan Miller– No more injuries. As the most physical guy on the Bruins, he’s taken a lot. He’s improved his puck skills a ton as well, everything you want in your number six defenseman he just needs to stay healthy.

John Moore– To stay in the lineup. I think Moore should be the odd man out when every Bruin is healthy but he has proven he can do a lot on the back-end. We’ve yet to see a fully healthy team so Moore should do a little more (haha) than he has been to keep a spot in the top six.

Jaroslav Halak– Start a playoff game. How great for Halak would it be to come into a backup role and play so well that he’s able to steal a start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from a bonafide starter like Tuukka Rask

Tuukka Rask– Win a Stanley Cup, as the starter. There’s not much more Rask can do to shut up all of his haters, this would certainly do the trick.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Happy New Year to all!!!

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

Click Here For The Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com