The Window To Win Another Cup Is Closing For Some Current Bruins Veterans

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

For a little over a decade now, we as Bruins fans have been blessed with playoff hockey almost every year since 2008. Sure, not all of them have ended the way we would have liked, but playoff hockey is better than no
playoff hockey. We are entering a time now where we have to start asking ourselves this question, “how much longer does Boston have to win a cup with its core group of players still together and in their primes?”

Let me be more specific. By core players, I mean the guys that have been here since the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. That involves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All of these guys are in their early 30’s except for Chara, who is 43. Chara is long past his prime. With that being said, he is still finding a way to be one of the most feared and lock-down defenders in the league. Let’s go more into depth on a few of these guys.

Patrice Bergeron

Other than being my personal favorite player for over a decade now, Patrice Bergeron is the perfect description of what it means to be a Boston Bruin. He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and leads by example. He does the difficult things that not a lot of guys would do. Simply because he wants to win, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates or the fans down. Bergeron has had his fair share of injuries. Some he has been able to play through, some he has not.

I don’t think anyone will forget back on October 27th, 2007 the scary scene of Bergeron laying flat on his back after being boarded by Flyers defensemen Randy Jones. He would be stretchered off the ice after a 12-minute delay to tend to the injured forward. he was diagnosed with a “Grade 3” Concussion and would miss 72 games during the regular season plus another seven in the playoffs that year.

It wasn’t until the following pre-season that Bergeron was cleared to fully participate once again. He would only score four goals and 14 assists in the first 31 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then he got hurt again. On December 20th, 2008, Bergeron collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and once again, sending Bruins fans to panic. Regardless of those fears, Bergeron was back in-game action a little over a month later.

Now, on the other side of this is the injuries he did play through. More specifically, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In the toughest event, and at the highest level of play, Bergeron suffered torn rib cartilage in Game-Four. Then a broken rib in Game-Five. And to put the icing on the cake, he suffered a separated right shoulder and punctured lung in Game-Six. The Puncture in that lung caused it to collapse. Despite all those injuries and all the pain that comes with them, Bergeron KEPT PLAYING! He would spend the next three days after Game-Six in the hospital.

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Bergeron has literally given his body and soul to this organization and the fan base. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching and learning from his style of play. That being said, Bergeron is now 34 years old. He is still in the prime of his career, but how much longer will that be true with the injury history he has? Eventually that will take a toll on his body and he wont be the same player. Hopefully, that happens later rather than sooner.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Bruins since the 2006-2007 season. He was the big piece the Bruins needed to turn its fortune around. Since joining the club, Chara has taken on the responsibility of being the captain of a team in a market that LOVES its hockey and knows the game. In Boston, if the fans are unhappy with the way you are performing, they are going to let you know! And Chara has been up to the task the whole time.

Now, Chara is well known for being the tallest person to ever be in the NHL coming at 6’9 and maybe a little more than that on skates. But, he is also known for his NHL record hardest shot at 108.8 MPH. That record has not been broken since and probably never will.

Chara has had his fair share of injury history as well. Like Bergeron, he is no stranger to toughing it out and playing through injuries. The most recent sign of this was in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. In Game-Four, Chara went to block a shot from Brayden Schenn that deflected of Chara’s stick and hit him directly in the mouth. He was spitting out blood and skating off the ice under his own power. He would return to the bench for the third period of the game with a bubble mask on his helmet but did not play. It was later revealed that Chara had broken his jaw.

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With two days off between Game-Four and Game-Five, all the talk around the city of Boston was, “Is Chara going to play, or is he done?” It wasn’t until hours before Game-Five that we found out he would play despite having a broken jaw. Once again, Chara showed his toughness by playing through a debilitating injury that most guys would even think of playing through. Chara came out for the start of Game-Five to a standing ovation that, to this day, still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

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Chara is 43 now. Seriously, how much longer can this man play? I don’t have an answer to that for you, but I think he could play for another two-three years, at least. We’ve already seen one Boston icon play well into his 40’s with Tom Brady. Is Big Z going to do the same if not longer?

Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand is the youngest out of the core players coming in at 32 years old. He is the kind of player that if he isn’t on your team, you love to hate him. But, if he is on your side, you absolutely love the guy! Early in his career, he got into some trouble with suspensions and fines from the league. Since then, he has learned how to toe the line without crossing it. He is an energetic player who, like Bergeron, plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. If there was anyone you wanted to get under the skin of the opponent, it was Brad Marchand.

He quickly became a fan favorite and an essential player in this team’s future. He has six years left on his deal, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but how long will the Bruins continue to be useful during those six years? Will they all be good years for the team? Will they still have a chance to win another cup?

In conclusion, the Bruins core players are still in a great position to win another cup in the next two, maybe three years. But, what about after that? How good is this team going to be by then? Hopefully, the kids that come up from Providence or players that they sign in the offseason come in and fit in seamlessly. This core group can get it together and be as good as we all know they are.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Who’s The Most Underrated Player On The Bruins?

(Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I’m a Bruins fan, but I feel there’s a lot of players on the Boston Bruins roster that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whether that be league-wide, or by fans in Boston, there are a lot of underappreciated guys like Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, and Torey Krug just to name a few. As you continue to read below, I give my idea’s as a diehard and question who is the most underrated player on this National Hockey League Bruins team? Let me kno0w your thoughts in the comments section below about my mentions of the Bruins players.

Brad Marchand

When 95% of hockey fans hear the name “Brad Marchand,” the first thing they think of is his antics on the ice. While he’s certainly deserved his reputation in that sense, he needs to be talked about amongst the greats of the NHL right now. He should be spoken in the same breath as the likes of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Alex Ovechkin. 

Over the past three seasons, only Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, and Leon Draistaitl have more points than the A1 agitator. And he does far more than just score points. He’s been in the top 16 for Selke voting over the past three years and is well known as one of the better playoff performers in recent history. Despite one specific play sticking out like a sore thumb, everyone’s favorite rat led the playoffs in scoring last year and is currently 17th in active playoff scoring, despite being younger, and having fewer games under his belt than just about everyone around him. 

Charlie Coyle

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have had a hole at the third-line center position for quite some time. They’ve gotten good performances for a year from guys like Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash, but the consistency was never there. Now with Charlie Coyle, the Bruins have never been deeper.  He’s given the Bruins a level of stability that’s really needed to be a Stanley Cup contender.  

He’s managed to average more even-strength minutes than guys like Patrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk, and it’s been remarkable how much he’s helped the Bruin’s even-strength woes. 13 of his 16 goals have come at even strength, good for 4th on the team. He has a ton of skill for a guy his size and his ability to keep control of the puck is excellent. If he was put in a more prominent role, I think he’d have a real good chance to be a 20-something goal, 55 point guy. 

Brandon Carlo

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks
(Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Offensively, he’ll never get confused with his defensive partner Torey Krug, but Brandon Carlo may be one of the best defensive defensemen in the league. At 6’5, Carlo has a great reach, and despite his big frame, the Colorado native can really move. He’s relentless in the Bruin’s own zone and has helped the Bs boast the 3rd best penalty kill in the league. 

As he’s gotten older, the 23-year-old has only improved. He’s added a much-needed snarl to his game, and the once nicknamed “Bambi” has been way better with the puck on his stick. Despite the shortened season, the defenseman notched a career-high with 19 points in 67 games, following an excellent run in the playoffs. It took three seasons for Carlo to get a shot to play for Lord Stanley, and he did not disappoint. He touted a +10 rating, good for second in the entire playoffs, and had a couple really important goals for the Bruins. Learning from one of the best, Brandon Carlo will be a force at the blueline for many years to come. 

Matt Grzelcyk

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on January 19, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

If I had to describe Matt Grzelcyk in one word, it would probably be easier than trying to remember how to spell his last name. But that word would be great. He’s just great at everything he does. He makes a great first pass, he’s great at leading the transition, he’s a great skater with a great head on his shoulders. The Boston University product has simply been a swiss army knife. The Bruins have had nine defensive pairings this season that have played over 100 minutes together. Matt Grzelcyk is on the top FIVE in terms of GA/60 (goals allowed per 60 minutes). And in terms of Corsi, Gryz is featured on three of the top four. Give him more minutes. 

Honorable Mentions

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

David Krejci – He’s never really been appreciated by fans. He’s done everything you want from a 2nd line center despite not having a real right winger for years.

Patrice Bergeron – A little out of the running because he’s been “underrated” for so many years. But I still think he needs a more praise for how good he really it. 

Zdeno Chara – People seem to focus on his legs, not his importance to the Bruins. Their D-core won’t be the same when he leaves. 

Tuukka Rask – It seems like everyone outside of Boston realizes how good Mr. Rask is, he’s elite.

I’m not sure I could pick the most underrated player on the Bruins. Gun to my head, I’d think I would have to say Brandon Carlo, but the others aren’t far behind. Who do you think takes the crown for the most underrated player on the Bruins?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Projecting What The Bruins Could Look Like Three Years From Now

Boston Bruins: Best trade deadline acquisitions will come from within

Photo Credit: David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

This kind of thing is fun. Trying to forecast what a team could look like down the road. Mind you, this projection won’t factor in future potential draft picks or free-agent signings. It will also not factor in any potential trades that could go down between now and then. This will include players currently apart of the organization in some fashion. Here’s my shot at projecting the 2023-2024 Bruins.

First line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

I see Bergeron still playing at a high level at age 38. His contract expires after the 2022-2023 season, but I think the Bruins will keep him around as long as he is productive. He is showing no signs of slowing down in my eyes, I don’t see that happening much in the next three years. Marchand and Pastrnak aren’t going anywhere.

Second line: John Beecher – Jack Studnicka – Ondrej Kase

While Beecher was drafted as a center, he has played the left-wing at times at the University of Michigan, as well as with team USA in the World Juniors. With the structure of this roster, I think he fits in better as a winger. Having that kind of speed and size on the wing isn’t a bad thing. Given the fact that he will still be developing at this time, he might still be earning his keep to start the 2023-2024 season, but Beecher projects as a surefire NHL player down the road, in my eyes.

At this point in time, I definitely think Jack Studnicka will be entrenched in a full-time NHL role. I think a player of his caliber would complement the skillsets of both Beecher and Kase pretty well. Kase’s current contract expires following the 2021-2022 season, but unless he struggles to contribute, I think he will be retained for the foreseeable future.

Third line: Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

I have made it clear that I like this line in the past, and given the makeup of this roster, they should stay together. DeBrusk and Bjork’s contracts both expire following this season, so their next contracts will tell us more about their future with the Bruins when they receive them. I see no reason to let either of them go at the moment, and think they both have the potential to be productive players on the team for a while.

Fourth line: Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Jakub Lauko

Extra forward: Karson Kuhlman

This would be a very interesting fourth line. Frederic could find himself in a situation like Beecher where he shifts to the wing. A player with his physical nature and tenacity should do fine on the wing. He has played both on the wing and center in the past in Providence. Kuraly is a perfect fourth-line center, and I see him sticking around for a while, even after his contract expires following the 2021-2022 season.

Jakub Lauko’s blend of offensive skill and tenacity makes him a great fit for the fourth line in the early stages of his potential NHL career. This line could create some serious hell on the forecheck and keep the trend of great Bruins fourth lines going. Having a player of Kuhlman’s caliber as an extra forward in this case is a nice luxury to have.

First defensive pair: Urho Vaakanainen – Charlie McAvoy

Zdeno Chara isn’t going to be around forever, and Vaakanainen has the best shot to fill his shoes, in my opinion. Despite having what some saw as a rough season this past year in Providence, I still think Vaakanainen has top-pairing defenseman potential. Charlie McAvoy isn’t going anywhere and could be a lethal defensive partner for Vaakanainen.

Second defensive pair: Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

I think Torey Krug will re-sign with the Bruins, meaning there’s no reason to break up this defensive pair. They’ve proven to work well together in the past, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Third defensive pair: Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon

Extra defenseman: Connor Clifton

While both Grzelcyk and Lauzon are candidates to be plucked away by Seattle in the expansion draft, I’m putting them in this projection because that hasn’t happened yet. Grzelcyk has established himself enough to be a mainstay on the third pairing, and Lauzon is on his way to doing so as well. Like Kuhlman as a forward, having a player like Clifton as an extra defenseman is a nice luxury to have.

Goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Swayman

At age 33 with an expiring contract following next season, it’s hard to say whether Rask will be around or not, but if he is still serviceable as a goaltender, there’s no reason to let him go. Unless of course, a prospect like Swayman or Vladar were to emerge as a starting-caliber goaltender to take his place. I see Rask still starting in goal for the Bruins in the 2023-2024 season unless he is let go and/or falls out of favor somehow.

Jeremy Swayman is too skilled and athletic in the crease to not have an NHL job in some capacity come 2023. This would make him an ideal candidate to learn from Rask for a while and perhaps take over as the starting goaltender whenever Rask decides to call it a career. This could be a really solid goaltending tandem.

Full lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Beecher – Studnicka – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Frederic – Kuraly – Lauko

Kuhlman

Defense

Vaakanainen – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Swayman

Let’s see how this holds up three years from now. If it does, I think this team could still be competing for the Stanley Cup. It projects to be a pretty deep team. The projection could be spot on, or not even close, we’ll have to wait and see.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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 Recognize Season Ticket Holder & Healthcare Heroes!

Bruins STH Heroes(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Boston Bruins organization is honoring faithful fans dedicated to not only the team, but also our health and safety during these unprecedented times.

 

Through their Season Ticket Holder (STH) Heroes initiative and the equally relevant Healthcare Heroes program, the B’s “are highlighting season ticket holders who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or are on the frontlines of the fight against the virus… [as well as] the care and compassion of countless [Bruins fans] in healthcare,” according to the team’s website and Twitter account.

As many of us have experienced firsthand be it through family, friends, fellow fans or even ourselves, the fight against COVID-19 has required ample amounts of sacrifice, dedication, perseverance and a mutual respect of each other’s well-being — echoing the recently-published posts (and ideals) of Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara as players and more importantly people.

Now with the team sharing positive and inspiring stories about Bruins supporters who simultaneously support everyone’s health and well-being with their tireless efforts and actions, the B’s are putting themselves in a position to succeed both on and off the ice when the season (hopefully) resumes mid-Summer.

Here’s an example of how the Bruins are tipping their caps online to each STH and Healthcare Hero right now:

Name: Amy Ginter / Occupation: Respiratory Therapist

STH since: 2017

Seats: Loge 8, Row 20, Seats 1-2

Favorite Player: Zdeno Chara – “I admire his skill, leadership qualities and record-fast slap shots! I can’t wait to see my Bruins in action again at the Garden.”

“Being a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 13 years has been an amazing experience. Respiratory Therapy, as an occupation, is not widely known or understood by the general population, but we are a key part of the bedside care team with nurses and doctors. Our responsibility is the patient’s airway, so we initiate and manage ventilators (life support) as well as other means of ventilatory support.

“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges that I have never witnessed before: new ventilation strategies, stringent PPE requirements, overwhelming numbers of patients who require intensive care, etc. The most difficult aspect has been witnessing family not able to be with their suffering and dying loved ones because they are in isolation and cannot have visitors. Respiratory Therapists and nurses are at the bedside for these patients for their last moments which has been profoundly sad.

“On a positive note, COVID-19 has brought forth a better understanding of the role that Respiratory Therapists play as part of the care team through recognition on social media and news outlets. This really means a lot to me, and I am proud of my profession and feel blessed to be a part of such an integral team. Yay Respiratory!

“Currently, I am a traveling Respiratory Therapist in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on a COVID-19 crisis assignment.”

                                                                                                            –Boston Bruins Website

If you’d like a chance to be recognized, or to nominate someone as a Bruins “STH or Healthcare Hero,” I suggest tagging the @NHLBruins online or commenting on any of the team’s official posts. Like a David Pastrnak “Goal of the Year,” now is a great time to be celebrating some positive news when it comes to one of our passions — Bruins hockey!  

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What Could the Bruins’ Power Play Look Like Next Year If Krug Leaves?

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As I’m sure most of you reading this know, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Krug is one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the NHL, and he’s improved greatly at both ends of the ice at even strength in recent years as well. He’s also become a good leader on and off the ice. Contrary to what some still think, Krug is an extremely important player to the Bruins, and losing him will create a huge hole on the back end that won’t be easily filled.

Thankfully, both the team and Krug want him to stay, so hopefully, he does. But an agreement hasn’t been reached yet, and it’s still possible one never will be. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but since it’s possible, we should start thinking about what things could look like without Krug. So, I decided to take a look at what the first power-play unit could look like next year should Krug depart.

Current PP Structure

Before I get too far into this, I thought it’d be good to provide a refresher of the way the Bruins structure their first power-play unit. The Bruins use four forwards and one defenseman on their PP in the 1-3-1 format. Krug is the point man, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are the attackers (bumper, right half-wall, and left elbow, respectively), and DeBrusk is the net-front presence.

This is the typical structure of it, but the true beauty of the Bruins PP is how fluid it is. You’ll often see Marchand (or even Pastrnak) switching positions with Krug, or Pastrnak switching with DeBrusk, among many other switches. While they may technically have an assigned spot, they rarely stay in it the whole time, and it’s a big reason why the Bruins’ PP is as successful as it is. Krug is a big reason why they are able to do this because, as an offensive-minded defenseman, he is very comfortable jumping up in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his point totals.

Keep The Same Format

( Photo Credit: John Minchillo/Associated Press )

The easiest option if Krug departs is to keep the same format (four forwards, one defenseman, 1-3-1 set-up), and plug either McAvoy or Grzelcyk into Krug’s point spot. Both McAvoy and Grzelcyk have proven that they’re able to man the PP, as they run the second unit and sub in for Krug if he’s hurt. They aren’t as good as Krug, but they’re capable and will likely improve if given more time there. Unfortunately, though, if McAvoy or Grzelcyk was the point man, the PP would likely not be as fluid.

While both players are comfortable jumping up into the offensive rush, they aren’t quite as offensive-minded as Krug. So, I have my doubts that either of them would be comfortable rotating around as much as Krug does, or at least they wouldn’t be for a while. So, this style of PP would be less effective for the Bruins not only because Krug wouldn’t be there, but because it wouldn’t be as fluid and therefore it’d be just like everyone else’s, and so teams will be better prepared to defend it. So, Cassidy has reportedly been considering another option, one that no other team currently uses in the NHL.

Five Forward Unit

According to this article by Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, if Krug leaves, Cassidy is considering a first PP unit made up of all forwards. Please note, much of what was said in that article I fully agree with, so I am not simply parroting what he said. I actually hold the same opinions that he does on this. Moving on, this PP structure has the potential to either be really good or really, really bad. The reason teams don’t do this is that obviously when they’re on the PP, they want to lower the chances of a shorthanded goal being scored.

Having a defenseman man the point (most of the time) does that. Anybody who watches a lot of hockey can tell you that defensemen are almost always far better at transitioning and skating backward than forwards are. Plus, they obviously know their defensive positioning angles better. If you stick a forward back there, it’s probable that opposing teams will take more chances shorthanded to know they aren’t as equipped to handle it. As a result, they’ll likely score more shorthanded goals, which is obviously not what you want.

However, this may not be the case with the Bruins, and I can see why Cassidy is at least considering it. The Bruins have several forwards who would be capable of manning the point and handling a shorthanded break should one happen.

( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press )

Krejci is the first player who comes to mind as a forward who would be good at quarterbacking the PP. He’s one of the smartest players on the team, so he would likely be fine with his positioning on a shorthanded chance. Also, because of his high hockey IQ, he’d be able to handle rotating with some of the others a lot, thus allowing them to keep the fluidity they have. That’d also make it so the point responsibilities wouldn’t all fall on him.

Plus, he’s a pass-first guy, making him perfect for manning the point on the first unit because he’ll have plenty of eager shooters to pass to. But, Krejci also has a great one-timer and isn’t afraid to use it, so if the opportunity presented itself, he could also rotate down one of the walls, particularly the left one. His ability to slow the game down is incredible as well, which is a skill that is very useful for the guy operating the point on the PP to have. In short, a five forward unit of Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Marchand, and DeBrusk has the potential to be lethal offensively as well as sound defensively.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Associated Press )

Another forward that could work well as the point man is Coyle. He’s a solid skater all around, and he has a good hockey IQ, so he’d probably be able to contain shorthanded chances fairly well. He probably wouldn’t be as likely to rotate all over the place, but I think he’d be capable of it, so it’d still be an option, just to a lesser extent probably. Coyle also has a nice shot, so if the best option was to shoot, he’d probably be able to get it through a fair amount of traffic. He’s also great at passing and setting others up, so regardless of what the best option was, he’d be able to handle it well. 

If the Bruins are going to go with this, they really need to pick a center to be the primary guy to man the point. They have other options that could work, but centers are often (but not always) better at skating backward and playing defensively than wingers are, and in the case of the Bruins, they have two great all-around centers (besides Bergeron) to choose from. Both Krejci and Coyle would likely be fine handling the point, although I’ll have to give the edge to Krejci, given his incredible vision and ability to slow the game down.

So, What’s the Best Option?

All of this being said, I’m not sure we can say with much certainty which option would be better for the Bruins if Krug leaves. At first glance, it seems like they’d be better off just sticking to the usual 4F/1D, but at the same time, the 5F format could be really interesting. No other team uses it, so teams wouldn’t be as good at defending it. Plus, unlike some other teams, the Bruins have some solid options for forwards to run the point that would not only be good offensively but would be capable defensively as well.

So, in the unfortunate (and in my opinion unlikely) event that Krug leaves this offseason, I think we see Cassidy try the 5F configuration for at least a few games. He’s certainly not afraid of mixing things up and trying new things, and this could end up being really successful. If it goes well, he’ll keep it, and if not, it’ll be easy for them to revert back to the old format.

Or, it’s possible that he could practice both and have them as options, so depending on the opponent or how the PP is playing, they could switch it up. Regardless of what they do, though, the PP wouldn’t be the same without Krug. He’s a huge part of why it’s so successful, so no matter which option they choose, it probably won’t be as good as it is right now. But hopefully, they’ll be able to find a way to minimize the damage caused by Krug’s departure should it unfortunately happen.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 Recent History (And Success) With Czech Republic Players

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

At this year’s Trade Deadline, the Bruins were pretty active players. They made two deals with the Anaheim Ducks, the most interesting being the acquisition of Ondrej Kase. While Kase is a highly skilled player with blazing speed and age on his side, the most interesting thing to me, is actually his nationality. The winger is of course a native of the Czech Republic, and the Bruins have quite the success rate with players that hail from the Czech Republic. So naturally, I had a little look at the Czech players that have donned the spoked B in the past ten or so years and wrote an article on it. The Bs have some skilled prospects in the system like Jakub Zboril, Jakub Lauko, and Daniel Vladar but due to their minuscule time in the NHL, they will only get this mention. 

David Krejci

David Krejci of the Boston Bruins celebrates after
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

It’s crazy to think that when it’s all said and done, David Krejci will likely go down as one of the top Czech players of all-time. He currently sits at 11th all-time in scoring with 686 points and can realistically get to number three by the end of his career, passing Milan Hejduk with 805 points. I feel Krejci never gets the recognition he truly deserves. He’s been instrumental in each and every deep playoff run by the Bruins. He’s in 11th place when talking about active players in playoff scoring and continues to prove how important he is to the Bruins. 

The slick playmaker has been a Bruin his entire career. After a few seasons where many though the best of Krejci may be behind him, the center had quite a resurgence last season. He put up 20 goals and 53 apples with a successful go of it in the playoffs with 16 points in the Bruins cup run. As underrated as a #2 center can be, it would be weird to think of Krejci sporting any jersey besides the black and gold. He’ll be a Bruin for life.

David Pastrnak

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins plays against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

He’s just so damn good. Just as the aforementioned Krejci, Pasta will also likely go down as one of the greatest Czech players we’ll ever see. He’s second (to a player that will be mentioned shortly) in points-per-game of all Czech players and he’s only going to continue to improve. Since he stepped on the scene, Pastrnak has been a game-changer for the Bruins. After two seasons where he played just about half the schedule and put up a respectable 53 points, Pasta took massive strides. He helped the Bs get back into the playoffs with his 70 point performance and his partnership with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has developed into the best line in all of hockey. 

This season, Pastrnak was able to capture his first career Rocket, Richard, sharing the honors with Alex Ovechkin. He would’ve almost certainly hit the 50 goal and 100 point marks had the season continued, but his 48 tucks in 70 games aren’t too shabby. Since coming into the league as a teen, Pasta has grown into an incredible player, and most of all, a complete player. I’m sure his linemates in Bergeron and Marchand have contributed to his growth, but there is no question the 24-year-old will continue to have his name among the current greats for years to come.

Jaromir Jagr

(Photo Credit: Michael Ivins/ USA TODAY Sports)

And here’s the top Czech player of all time. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Jagr. Despite going overseas for three seasons (plus a season and a half missed worth of lockouts) the living legend has still managed to sit second all-time in points. A year after returning to the NHL, Jagr made his way to Boston at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline. The Bs pulled off a deal to acquire the veteran, sending a 2nd rounder (which ended up being Jason Dickinson) and a couple of minor leaguers. 

On a shaky Dallas team, Jagr put up a respectable 14 goals and 26 points in 34 games. At the ripe old age of 40, the forward became a solid veteran presence for a Bruins team looking to capture their 2nd cup in three years. When he got to Boston, it was no surprise that Jagr was able to adapt to the Bruins’ system quickly and put up nine points in the last 11 regular-season games. 

When Jagr and the Bs got into the playoffs, it was a bit of a different story. After failing to get Jarome Iginla at the deadline and “settling” for Jagr, the Bruins were of course still able to go on a hell of a run in the playoffs. It’s not that Jagr was bad, he wasn’t, but it was remarkable how snakebitten he was throughout the playoffs. It felt like he hit a billion posts, and without a goal in 22 games, he still put up 10 assists in the Bs’ run that ultimately ended in the dying moments of Game Six. 

Tomas Kaberle

(Photo Credit: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Now here’s a player that was on a Bruins team that went on a run, and DIDN’T lose in the Stanley Cup. Tomas Kaberle was yet another trade deadline acquisition by the Bruins, and man did they give up a haul for him. Going to the Toronto Maple Leafs was Joe Colborne (who at the time was a highly-touted prospect) a 1st round pick (which was used on Rickard Rakell) and a 2nd round pick (which was used to draft Mike Winther). Despite what they gave up, the Bruins went on to win the cup so there’s not much to deliberate on if the trade was a win for the Bruins.

Kaberle didn’t have a massive role in the Bs’ Stanley Cup run, as seen by his 16 minutes of ice time a game, but still remained solid throughout the playoffs. The defenseman played all 25 games and notched 11 assists and a plus-8 rating. And yes, they won the cup nine years ago on this day.

Clearly, the Bruins have had a pretty good track record with Czech players in their team. All four have reached the Stanley Cup and captured the gold twice with Boston and I think we all hope that Ondrej Kase can do the same. The speedy winger had just one assist in his six games with the Bs, but with all the talent he has, I can’t see the youngster’s drought lasting much longer as we enter the playoffs.

I’m not going to lie, I originally had a funny little piece on Andrej Meszaros and his storied Bruins career. But when reviewing the article, I realized he is in fact Slovakian. Nice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 General Manager Don Sweeney Holds Virtual Press Conference

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

Earlier today, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney held a Zoom press conference regarding the beginning of Phase 2 and what’s expected next. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Player Locations + the Beginning of Phase 2

According to Logan Mullen of NESN and Matt Porter of the Boston Globe, Pastrnak, Nordstrom, Blidh, Vladar, Vaakanainen, and Zboril have all returned home to Europe. Some of them have reportedly been on the ice, but nobody specific was named. 

As for all of the other players, Sweeney did not name who had participated in Phase 2 so far or even who was in the area. Coaches and management aren’t allowed to guide or watch Phase 2 practices and they’re voluntary, so it’s possible he may not even know who’s participated. But, it’s more likely in my opinion that he’s just protecting the identity of the players so people don’t know who is choosing not to return to the ice right now. The only two players we know for sure that are in Boston and have been at Warrior are Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, as the Bruins posted a photo album of them to their official website.

A Bruins Tests Positive for COVID-19

Sweeney also discussed the unfortunate news that broke this morning, which was that the Bruins had been informed that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19. The player was asymptomatic at the time and has since tested negative twice. For more information, check out my fellow BlackNGold writer Andrew Lindroth’s article on the situation here.

All But Miller Expected to Be Healthy

In addition to talking about the beginning of Phase 2, Sweeney said that as of right now, every Bruin except for Kevan Miller is expected to be healthy and available for the beginning of Phase 3 (training camps open), which is slated to start on July 10th. This is obviously great news, as the team had some injuries to key players at the time of the pause, including Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug. Having everyone healthy at the start will put the Bruins in a great spot to get back up to speed somewhat quickly and hopefully hold onto their top speed going into the playoffs, and then go on a deep run.

No Updates on Upcoming Free Agents

The last notable bit of news that Sweeney offered was that there was nothing new to report on the Bruins’ upcoming UFAs and RFAs. This is far from surprising since nobody knows for sure what the cap is going to look like next season. It just doesn’t make sense to negotiate contracts when you don’t know how much money you have to work with. However, I do feel bad for the players because they’re left in limbo, not knowing what their next contract will look like or if they can make it work with the Bruins.

Sweeney Applauds Chara and Bergeron’s Leadership

Finally, when asked about his thoughts on Chara and Bergeron speaking out in support of the current Black Lives Matter movement, Sweeney applauded them for commenting and, in Chara’s case, joining a protest. He said it speaks to their leadership as human beings and not just hockey players, which I wholeheartedly agree with. This further proved what Bruins fans already knew, which is that both of them are true leaders on and off the ice, and the Bruins are extremely lucky to have them.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! 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, NHL Move Into Next “Phase” Of Return

Patrice Bergeron(Photo Credit: Boston Hockey Now)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The same week the Bruins won the Stanley Cup almost a decade ago in June now “bears” another marker worth remembering: hockey’s return having a tentative date!

Per the league’s official announcement on the B’s website, “the National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10th.”

That’s right, hockey could be back in under a month, Bruins fam (“provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play” to refer back to the official wording of the release).

Of course, we already had reason to celebrate the B’s this week when team leaders like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand hit the Warrior Ice Arena to get their hockey legs (and timing) back after a long, but necessary, hiatus.

And talented members of our very own Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog have hit the books expertly breaking down how the new playoff format will work and which B’s could fill out a potential playoff roster… not to mention all the amazing activism Bruins players have taken part in “Beyond The Ice” recently.

So, even though “the length of training camp and, therefore, the START DATE for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date” as the official release reminds us, it’s still good to know the return of hockey is heading in the right direction.

And that our hunger for B’s hockey, just like David Pastrnak’s ever-growing trophy case, will soon be filled by actual, meaningful games with the ultimate trophy — The Stanley Cup — still well-within reach!  

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!

 

We Want The Cup….We Want The Cup….Somebody Should Get The Cup!

( Photo Credit: Associated Press )

By: Maria from Watertown  |  Follow Me On Twitter @mariaofh2otown

Commissioner Gary Bettman raised some eyebrows during a recent San Jose Sharks’ virtual town hall, where he apparently said that canceling the season without crowning a Stanley Cup Champion is not an option (music to my ears)!  The NHL is considering some type of playoff format, either by way of a traditional or an altered structure.  One could also infer that remaining regular-season games may likely be cancelled.  For those teams who were on the playoff bubble and their fans, this will be a disappointing end to the season, but it is probably the right decision.

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As a fan of the Boston Bruins, I would like nothing more than to watch our team battle to win the most revered trophy in all of all professional sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup.  When the NHL halted play in mid-March, the Bruins had the best record in the league.  David Pastrnak was on his way to a potential 50-goal season and is currently one of the top point-getters in the league, along with his linemate, Brad Marchand.  Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are the best goaltending tandem in the league, with Rask leading the NHL in GAA. 

When the Bruins lost to the St. Louis Blues in game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, not only we were many of us left stunned by that loss, we couldn’t help but wonder if the Bruins could make another run at the Cup, especially with the core of the team being another year older. Yet, the Bruins were on pace to give us what we want – another deep playoff run. That plan has seemingly derailed due to current circumstances, and fans may not be able to file into arenas, waive our rally towels and support our team for another run at the Cup.

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With the NFL talking about ways to potentially have fans in the stadiums, simulating game day presentation experiences with ideas like pumping in crowd noise and MLB arguing about money with its players’ association, if there are to be Stanley Cup playoff games scheduled in 2020, the NHL and players’ association need to focus on these two issues which are paramount in my view:

  • The health, safety, and welfare of the players, team personnel, trainers, broadcasters, and all arena personnel; and

  • The quality of play.

The NHL has a unique opportunity to showcase its sport and provide fans with an opportunity to witness the most exciting playoff series of all the major four sports leagues.  There should be no worry about having fans in the stands or simulating game day experiences – we will eventually flock back to the TD Garden in due time.  Provide and something we are all desperately craving – the chance to watch the caliber of play that we have grown to love and expect during the Stanley Cup Finals.  The Bruins, and the NHL, could likely win over some new fans.

I, for one, am willing to sit in the comfort of my home if it gives me the chance to see this one more time….

Below are the final game highlights before the league shut down and continue to wait on the NHL’s plan to get back to hockey moving forward. The B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers by the score of 2-0 before the world came to a crashing halt.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 178 that we recorded below on 5-10-20! 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!!