The Bruins’ Silent Defender: Brandon Carlo

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

There’s a famous saying amongst NHL teams and scouts around regarding defenseman.  A defenseman’s ceiling is not known until they’ve played at least 250 NHL games.  Well, Boston’s Brandon Carlo recently eclipsed 278 games, and Carlo’s trajectory is clear to the organization and its fanbase.

The 6’5 Colorado Springs native began his path to the NHL in Canada’s Western Hockey League in 2012.  He spent three seasons in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans, progressing his game and points each year.  He was also featured on the American U-20 World Junior Championship teams in 2014 and 2015.  In 12 games at the World Junior Championships, he brought home a Bronze medal, scored five points, and an impressive plus-10 rating.

He even led the entire tournament pool of U-20 defenseman with two goals, winning the “U20 WJC Most Goals by Defenseman” award in 2015.  He is in great company for this award with the likes of Cale Makar, Thomas Chabot, and Zach Werenski.  Scouts predicted Carlo either be selected at the end of the first, early second round, and the Bruins were one of many teams interested.

The Bruins were fortunate enough to acquire four extra picks between the first two rounds in 2015.  Upon trading Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins found themselves with an additional pick in the second round, and with it, they selected Brandon Carlo.  His pre-draft scouting report was foreshadowing to what Bruins fans see night in and night out.  “Through maneuvering his way around the ice and making high-percentage, skilled decisions in all three zones, he is able to shut opposition offense down before it begins to take shape.”

He has become a steady, consistent shutdown defenseman that the team has lacked in the past few years.  There has been so much emphasis, energy, and draft choices spent on trying to find the league’s next Erik Karlsson. Teams should spend just as much time and energy on securing a player like Dennis Seidenberg.

Dennis Seidenberg came to the Bruins from Florida in a deadline trade in March 2010.  He was not known for his offensive prowess, but instead was a penalty kill specialist and a blocking shot animal.  Seidenberg amassed 1,417 blocked shots and averaged 20:44 minutes of ice time in 859 career NHL games.  This type of defenseman is needed to make a deep, unbeaten playoff run.

Brandon Carlo is following in the footsteps of Seidenberg, and for Bruins fans, that is a significant area of need.  The beginning of Carlo’s Bruins career would only require seven games in Providence before showing the Bruins he was ready for the big league.  In his first full year with the Bruins, Brandon played in all 82 games averaging 20 minutes on ice and finished with 16 points and a plus 9 rating.  He played alongside big man Zdeno Chara, and the two looked to have solidified an excellent working relationship.  Carlo was primed for his first NHL playoffs in 2017, but unfortunately, the game of hockey can be cruel.  In the last game of the regular season, Carlo suffered a concussion from an Alex Ovechkin brutal hit from behind.

The hit caused Carlo to miss the Bruins’ short playoff run.  The Bruins were eliminated heartbreakingly against the Ottawa Senators in the first round.  Their offseason began in April, and the Bruins were faced with an exciting offseason task.

The Vegas Golden Knights were the NHL’s newest expansion team in 2017, which created a new twist to the upcoming offseason.  The expansion rules required current teams to select 11 roster players for protection, while the rest of their roster was fair game.  However, NHL teams were allowed to exclude pro players who completed two or fewer years of the NHL from their list and the Knights.  These players for the Bruins included Charlie Mcavoy, Jake DeBrusk, and Brandon Carlo.  While this stopped the Knights from nabbing Carlo, it didn’t stop other teams from pursuing him.

The Colorado Avalanche were looking to unload their impending free-agent Matt Duchene in the same offseason.  They had a few calls, and one, in particular, piqued General Manager Joe Sakic’s interest.  Bruins General Manager, Don Sweeney, called Sakic inquiring the asking price for their second-line center.  Sakic expressed his interest in the Bruins budding blue-liner.

Don Sweeney was building a system and philosophy to develop and invest in players he drafted.  Thankfully, Sweeney stuck to his word and refused Sakic’s request.  Duchene would eventually be traded to the Ottawa Senators in a massive haul of prospects and draft picks.  Sakic tried a second time to pry Carlo from the Bruins, this time offering up their captain Gabriel Landeskog.

Sweeney, again, held onto his shutdown defenseman.  Carlo entered his sophomore season on the Bruins’ third-pairing with Kevan Miller.  Zdeno Chara and Charlie Mcavoy were leading the charge on the blue-line, with Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug right behind them.  When McQuaid broke his leg early into the season, Carlo moved up to Krug’s left side.  Carlo and Krug struggled to find chemistry right away, and he was heading towards a sophomore slump.

Hockey is just as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport.  Defensemen need to read plays before as it develops and react in an instance.  They need to pick themselves up after a goal is allowed on their watch.  Carlo struggled during the 2018-19 regular season, so much so that he was on the wrong end of the game-day roster in February against Buffalo.  The message was sent loud and clear, and Carlo quickly found his groove.  In 1,000 minutes played on 5-on-5 ice time, he led the league in the least amount of goals-against with 1.42 per 60 minutes that season.  Yes, even during a down year.  He was full-steam ahead for the playoffs when once again, the injury bug arrived, and he missed another playoff run.

The third time is the charm, and he finally made his playoff debut in 2019.  He averaged 21:31 of ice time throughout the Stanley Cup run and even scored two goals.  The most impressive part of Carlo’s playoff run was his ability to shut down the offensive talent.  Chara was the guy to shut down the likes of Max Pacioretty, Steven Stamkos, and Henrik and Daniel Sedin in 2011.  Unfortunately, Chara isn’t getting any younger and needs to pass the shutdown torch.  Carlo stepped up in a big way.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Carlo played his most playoff minutes against Artemi Panarin, Auston Matthews, and Pierre-Luc Dubois.  All three are an incredible talent and poised to be household names for years to come.  When the three players were on the ice with Carlo in a 5-on-5 situation, the three fired a combined 104 shots on goal.  Without Carlo, the shot total increased to 114.  He also led the team in penalty killing minutes with 77:22 in the entire 2019 playoffs.  The next most PK minute total was Chara at 55:04.  Carlo also added a little flair to his penalty-killing abilities.

Unfortunately, adding a Stanley Cup to his resume will have to wait, but he grew into a phenomenal player over three months.  Carlo received a team-friendly contract of 2 years, $2.85M this past offseason, and will be a restricted free-agent again when it’s complete.  He will be a long-term staple on the blue-line and is an outstanding defensive defenseman, which is rarely talked about.  It’s now clear why Sweeney refused to trade the former second-round pick.

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.

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Bruins Call Up Jeremy Lauzon From AHL, Place Charlie McAvoy On IR

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

By: Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

On Monday morning, the Boston Bruins announced that defenseman Jeremy Lauzon has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and Charlie McAvoy was placed on injured reserve.

Lauzon has been developing as a strong defensive defenseman for Providence this season. The 22-year-old leads the team in plus-minus with a plus-16 rating in 35 games. He has also set a personal record in points, recording one goal and nine assists. Lauzon has also shown that he can be an intimidating physical presence and a challenge to play against. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds, he has the tools to keep this up at the NHL level. He has logged 16 games with Boston, all coming during the 2018-19 season, recording one point (a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights), two penalty minutes, and a minus-1 rating.

Lauzon’s call-up gives the Bruins another opportunity to see how well the defensive prospect has been developing and test his NHL readiness. The Quebec native was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft, 52nd overall. This was the sixth Bruins pick of the draft, with Lauzon being the last of three defensemen taken in the first two rounds by Boston, the other two being Jakub Zboril (13th overall) and Brandon Carlo (37th overall). Lauzon, Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen are widely considered to be the Bruins’ top defensive prospects and the best options for call-ups when injuries arise. That Lauzon got the call this time is a vote of confidence in his abilities by the Bruins’ coaching staff and front office.

McAvoy Placed on IR

Charlie McAvoy was injured on a hit by Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on December 23rd. He has not played or practiced with the team since then. It has been officially listed as a lower-body injury, but the Bruins have not given a timeline for his recovery as of yet.

McAvoy has skated in 38 games so far this season, recording 13 assists and a plus-13 rating. The defenseman’s injury comes at an inopportune time as he has been pushing to score his first goal of the season and get the offensive part of his game moving. His move to IR shows that he might be out longer than coach Bruce Cassidy anticipated.

Injuries Piling Up

The addition of Lauzon adds a healthy body to a depleted Bruins blue line. Connor Clifton was injured last night in a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres. There has been no official report as of yet about the nature of his injury, but the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter reported on Twitter during the game that he did not return to the bench after the end of the first period. The Bruins later tweeted that he was officially ruled out of the game with an upper-body injury.

The Bruins face off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Depending on which players return from injury and what the coaching staff decide, Lauzon could be making his 2019-20 debut with Boston.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: New York Islanders at Boston: 12/19/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (21-7-7)

Away: New York Islanders (22-8-2)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen

Bjork-Coyle-Wagner

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Backes

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

New York’s Lineup

Forwards

Johnston-Barzal-Bailey

Lee-Brassard-Eberle

Beauvillier-Nelson-Kuhnhackl

Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

Defense

Pelech-Pulock

Toews-Mayfield

Leddy-Boychuk

Goalies

Varlamov

Greiss

First Period

After a turnover in front of the Islanders net, Anders Bjork buried his first goal in 12 games to give the B’s the early lead less than three minutes into the game.

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The Bruins started the game with a big possession advantage and looked to be ready to go right from puck drop. The Islanders were called for too many men with 14 minutes left in the period, giving Boston a chance to double their lead. New York killed off the man advantage as the Bruins failed to do much in the offensive zone. Connor Clifton was called for tripping about midway through the period as the Islanders got an opportunity to even the game on the power play. The B’s killed it off as they didn’t allow the Isles to get into a rhythm.

Toward the end of the period, the game took on a physical tone as each team seemed to finish every single check. Both teams seemed to find an offensive rhythm as the period drew to a close and the Bruins got the benefit of a late power play to try to extend their lead. The B’s were unable to score before the end of the period but still had a good chunk of time left on the man advantage.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins couldn’t find the back of the net on the remainder of the man advantage as they failed to get any significant scoring chances. Johnny Boychuk tied the game against his former team with a rocket of a shot from the point just 3:26 into the period.

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The Bruins started to get their offensive rhythm back with a couple of good shifts by the fourth line soon after the tying goal. The Isles responded with a number of good shifts in the offensive zone as they continued to keep the pressure on Tuukka Rask and the Bruins defense. The B’s went to the power play once again as Derek Brassard was called for a high stick past the midway point of the period. The Isles killed off yet another Boston power play as the B’s continued to struggle to find scoring chances.

The Bruins pushed hard to take the lead late in the period as they put a ton on pressure on the New York defense. Both teams traded chances at the end of the period and Matt Barzal gave the Isles the lead after a great setup in the offensive zone with over a minute to go in the period.

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Brandon Carlo was called for tripping in the final minute of the period, giving the Isles a chance to extend their lead. The B’s killed the remainder of the period but New York still had time left on the man advantage.

Score: 2-1 Islanders

Third Period

The Bruins began the period with a number of shorthanded scoring chances as they looked to get a cheap one to tie the game. The B’s killed off the man advantage despite some solid puck movement from the Islanders. The Bruins had no trouble getting the puck and holding onto it but they continued to struggle to string together significant scoring opportunities. The B’s picked up their fourth power play of the game as Brad Marchand got hit with a high stick in front of the Isles net with 13:28 remaining. About midway through the man advantage, Brock Nelson was called for delay of game, giving Boston a five on three. Seconds into the two man advantage, Torey Krug launched one past Varlamov to tie it.

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The Islanders killed off the five on four to keep the game tied but the crowd was back in the game after Krug’s goal. The Bruins and Isles went up and down the ice, trading chances past the midway point of the period as the game started to open up considerably. Both teams started to hunker down defensively toward the end of regulation as they were careful to not make mistakes especially in their own zones.

End Of Regulation: Tied 2-2

Overtime

Both teams traded outstanding scoring opportunities at both ends in the extra session but nobody was able to find the back of the net and the game went to the shootout.

Shootout

Both Jordan Eberle and Matt Barzal scored in the shootout for the Islanders while David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins but Varlamov denied Brad Marchand to end it.

Final Score: 3-2 Islanders

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Varlamov

Second Star: Boychuk

Third Star: Bjork

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Los Angeles: 12/17/19

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

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Los Angeles Kings

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Coyle

Bjork – Kuraly – Heinen

Nordstrom – Wagner – Backes

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Los Angeles’ Lineup

Forwards

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown

Clifford – Carter – Lewis

Kempe – Lizotte – Wagner

Toffoli – Amadio – Prokhorkin

Defense

Ryan – Doughty

Hutton – Roy

MacDermid – Walker

Goalies

Quick

Campbell

The Bruins have hit a bit of turbulence as of late. Despite pulling out the win in Florida on Saturday night, the Bruins have lost five of their last six games and are 3-4-1 in the month of December. The Pacific Division’s last-place team, the Los Angeles Kings came to TD Garden looking to continue to make life hard for the Bruins.

First Period

Things got off on an awkward note when the Bruins took a too-many-men penalty just a minute into the game. A failed breakout attempt lead to the puck ending up on Jeff Carter’s stick and beating Tuukka Rask thanks to a deflection by Blake Lizotte out front. The Bruins were down early, just two minutes and 17 seconds into the game.

David Pastrnak showed us that it’s not all finesse with him sometimes, I suppose. Both teams were trying to feel each other out in the early going.

The feeling-out process continued for quite some time until Kyle Clifford went off for interference with 1:46 remaining – giving the Bruins their first power play of the game. Danton Heinen made good on the power play, using his skate to redirect one past Quick. The ruling on the ice stood even after a quick review. Heinen’s goal was his sixth of the season was assisted by Brad Marchand (33) and David Pastrnak (21).

It took a while to get things going for the Bruins, but they broke through. Shots in the period were 11-7 in their favor. Despite not generating a whole lot of consistent offense, they didn’t really play poorly. They actually have a great track record in games in which they don’t score first. It was anyone’s game going forward.

Score: 1-1

Second Period

We saw another early penalty come in the second period, this time it was on Kings forward Trevor Lewis for hooking. Things didn’t go as planned. Adrian Kempe found a loose puck after Jonathan Quick robbed Brad Marchand and buried it on a breakaway. It was 2-1 kings just 2:45 into the frame.

It took a bit of time, but Patrice Bergeron responded with a goal of his own on a shot with eyes through traffic – evening things up with 9:16 to go. Bergeron’s 11th goal of the season was assisted by Torey Krug (19).

Dustin Brown went off for slashing with just a little bit less than four minutes remaining, but the Bruins failed to score. Things went on to wrap up in a fairly standard fashion after that to close things out in the second period. Shots in the period were even at ten, bringing the total to 21-17.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

The trend of big things happening early on in a period continued – this time with a goal instead of a penalty. Brandon Carlo threw a shot towards the net that hit off of Kings defenseman Matt Roy and in. Carlo’s third goal of the season was assisted by Danton Heinen (9) and Jake DeBrusk (9) just a minute and 24 seconds in.

Los Angeles didn’t roll over after the Carlo goal, but the Bruins were doing enough to keep things out of reach. Check out this impressive sequence that very well could have extended the Bruins lead to two. Just some crazy puck possession on display from Anders Bjork and then some.

Offensive zone stints like that definitely help when you’re trying to preserve a lead. Outshooting your opponent by a lot helps too, and that’s what the Bruins did, 14-5 at one point. It worked for a while until Roy hammered a one-timer past Rask to tie the game with 2:01 remaining. A frustrating way to go to overtime. The final shots in the period were 16-8, and 37-25 overall.

Score: 3-3

Overtime

The start of overtime was highlighted by Charlie McAvoy nearly scoring and then making a great sliding effort to thwart a chance to end it for the Kings. Anders Bjork then went on to find himself all alone not too long after, but was stopped by Quick. Patrice Bergeron sent a premium chance high over the net and then Anze Kopitar ended it one a 2-on-1 chance.

Shots in overtime were 3-2 Bruins, and 40-27 overall but Los Angeles came out on top. The Bruins have now lost six of their last seven games and are 21-7-7 on the season. Next up on the schedule are the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday at 7 PM ET.

Final Score: 4-3 Los Angeles

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 158 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’ Defensemen And Goaltenders Grades At The Quarter Point Of The Season

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Boston Bruins currently sit atop the entire NHL and their defense and goaltending is a major reason why. They’ve allowed the second least amount of goals in the league and with their incredibly deep defensive core and top goaltending tandem, they should continue their stellar play for the rest of the year. Now at the quarter-point of the season, it seems like a good time to look at how good the Bs defense and goaltending has been.

Zdeno Chara – A

It’s hard to believe that a 42-year-old is having one of his best statistical seasons in years, but Zdeno Chara continues to amaze. Through 26 games, the big man has five goals, seven assists, and a +16 rating. While we’ve all seen his legs slow down over the years, Chara still remains one of the best shut-down guys in the league.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy – B+

One may look at Charlie McAvoy’s stat-line (seven assists in 26 games) and think that McAvoy hasn’t played up to standards but that is simply not the case. He continues to grow his defensive game and whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side of the puck, he seems to make a game-changing play once a game. Offensively, you’d like to see some more growth from the former 1st-rounder but that will come in time.

Torey Krug – A

Over the past few seasons, Torey Krug has emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and that narrative has stayed the same throughout this season. Already with 18 points in just 21 games, Krug is well on his way to another big season for the Bs. In just the three games since returning from his injury, Torey Krug has shown how important he is to the Boston Bruins. His vision, puck movement and skating ability is second to few in the league and his five points within those three games show just that. 

Brandon Carlo – A

Many people’s biggest gripe with Brandon Carlo in the past was how little offense he was able to generate. However, the key part of that statement is “in the past.” We’ve seen steady growth in Carlo’s ability to join the rush over the past couple seasons and it’s really paying dividends this season. He’s already over halfway to his career-high of 16 points and with 3/4 of the season to go, he seems primed to break that number.

 

Matt Grzelcyk

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

Matt Grzelcyk – A

I’ve been on the Matt Grzelcyk train for a while and he just continues to improve seemingly every game. The former Boston University captain has been excellent this year, especially when fellow blueliner Torey Krug went down with an injury. In Krug’s absence, Grzelcyk was forced to play bigger minutes while slotting in on the first powerplay and the increased role didn’t phase Grzelcyk at all. in the five games without Krug, Gryz potted two goals (both of which were beauties), four points, and was a +3.

Connor Clifton – B

Connor Clifton has been as sound as a third-pairing defenseman can be. Entering his first season with a full-time role, Clifton hasn’t looked out of place at all. Despite his smaller frame at 5-11, the defenseman isn’t scared to throw his body around. He sits second out of all rookies in hits and has added two goals and a positive rating to begin the season. 

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer (44) fired up after scoring the 1st goal of the game. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 09, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire Getty Images)

Steven Kampfer – C

There isn’t much to say about Stevie-snipes as he’s only played in three games, but in those three games, he’s looked solid. Kampfer’s possession statistics have actually been great, his Corsi and Fenwick sit at 60.3 and 63.2 respectively. His +1 rating and no points tell most of his story this year, he’s been everything he’s needed to be as a #7 defenseman.

Urho Vaakanainen – C+

Unlike last season where Vaakanainen’s stint was cut short due to an injury, we got to see a bit more of the young defenseman this year. He’s not the type of playing to blow you away but he looked like a better player compared to last season. The Fin is an incredibly fluid skater and his puck skills have continued to grow. While it doesn’t play into this grade, his stat-line since returning to the AHL has been very promising, with three goals and three assists in three games.

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Images)

Tuukka Rask – A+

The league leader in wins, top three in goals allowed average, top five in save percentage with a save of the year candidate to boot; but Tuukka Rask stinks, right? After failing to capture Lord Stanley the prior season, Tuukka has looked in the zone this season. He’s been one of Boston’s top players in all but a few games, only allowing more than three goals in just three games within his first 16 starts. Say what you want about Rask, but his stats speak for themselves.

Jaroslav Halak – A

Jaroslav Halak simply isn’t a backup goalie; he is the 1B to Tuukka Rask’s 1A. Last season, Halak was able to come in and provide much-needed stability to the Bruins’ net and has continued that through the first quarter of this season. In the ten games, he has appeared in, he’s put up a 6-1-3 record with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 goals allowed average. 

Click here to check out the Bs’ forwards graded!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. San Jose: 10/29/19

Feb 26, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Barclay Goodrow (23) fights with Boston Bruins right wing Chris Wagner (14) during the second period at TD Garden.

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: San Jose Sharks

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Coyle – Heinen

Bjork – Lindholm – Ritchie

Wagner – Kuraly – Backes

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

San Jose’s Lineup

Forwards

Marleau – Couture – Labanc

Kane – Hertl – Radil

Sorensen – Thornton – Meier

Goodrow – Gambrell – Karlsson

Defense

Vlasic – Burns

Dillon – Karlsson

Ferraro – Heed

Goalies

Jones

Dell

David Krejci and Chris Wagner made their way back to the lineup on Hockey Fights Cancer night against the Sharks. You can donate to the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative here. With Krejci’s return came the debut of a new second-line this season, with Danton Heinen getting a promotion to Krejci’s right-wing. Rask got the start after Halak played on Sunday.

“The Mighty Quinn,” Quinn Waters dropped the puck before this one. BNG writer Yanni Latzanakis wrote about Quinn earlier this month. You can read Yanni’s story about Quinn here. What a night for him, and for fellow Weymouth, Mass native Charlie Coyle as well.

First Period

Things were quiet early in the first until Barclay Goodrow went off for tripping. The lethal Bruins power play had its first opportunity. Someone scored on the power play. It was David Pastrnak, again. This was shortly after Brad Marchand was robbed of a high-danger scoring chance in front of the net by a blocked shot. The play was challenged by Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer for offsides, but to no avail. Pastrnak’s league-leading 12th of the season was assisted by Patrice Bergeron (7) to give the Bruins an early lead.

Right after the Pastrnak goal came another Bruins power play. This time, Lukas Radil went off for delay of game. Just around halfway through the man advantage, Jake DeBrusk found himself on a 3-on-1 with Marchand and Pastrnak, but Martin Jones made the stop.

As the man advantage began to fade away, Matt Grzelcyk made it 4-on-4 briefly when he went off for holding. The Sharks had some solid zone time on the power play, but couldn’t beat Tuukka Rask. The Bruins held on to their one-goal lead.

Late in the period, Tomas Hertl incidentally caught Charlie McAvoy up high and sat for two minutes as a result. After some time, David Krejci found himself all alone and smoked a one-timer past Jones to extend the lead to two. Krejci’s first of the season was assisted by Torey Krug (8) and Brad Marchand (14). The Bruins were 2 for 3 on the power play in the first period.

The Bruins really pushed the pace early on in this one. Shots were 16-6, scoring chances were 11-4, both in favor of the Bruins. It was one of the more dominant periods of the season.

Score: 2-0 Boston

Second Period

A golden opportunity to get back into this game came early in the second period for the Sharks. Krejci went off for hooking, and Brent Burns made it hurt on the power play, cutting the lead in half for the Bruins just a minute and 31 seconds into the period.

Nearly two minutes later, Hertl took his second penalty of the game, this time for tripping. Scoring opportunities came and went, but the Bruins couldn’t convert. That was until not too long after the power play concluded, Krejci put a slap pass right on Coyle’s tape for a tap-in goal to extend the lead back to two. Coyle’s second goal in as many games, and second of the season was assisted by Krejci and Heinen for their second assists. As good a time as ever for seconds, I suppose.

Add seven minutes of strong play in the second period to a great first period, and you’ll see a daunting 22-9 shot advantage for the Bruins. They weren’t giving the Sharks much of anything.

A solid pass from just inside of the defensive blue line by David Backes led to Chris Wagner finding space and burying a backhander on a breakaway, adding to a very productive offensive night for the Bruins. Wagner gets his first goal of the season, Backes gets his first helper.

The Sharks just weren’t doing themselves any favors as Radil went to the box again. Luckily for him, it didn’t lead to another power play goal for the Bruins, but not thanks to a lack of effort. The chances were coming over and over again, even after the conclusion of the power play.

Wagner picked up his third assist of the season as Brandon Carlo sent a shot on net that was deflected on the way in that fooled Jones, making it 5-1 Bruins. Zdeno Chara (2) had the secondary assist on Carlo’s second of the season.

The shots were 18-6 in another dominant period for the Bruins, bringing the total to 34-12. Scoring chances were 13-2, and 24-6 overall. It was all gas, no brakes hockey that gave them a huge four-goal cushion going into the third period. Here’s a visual.

Score: 5-1 Boston

Third Period

Things got messy early as Chara didn’t like a cross-check to the neck from Evander Kane to Charlie McAvoy and got into it briefly with Brenden Dillon. Chara, McAvoy, Kane, and Dillon all went to the box, but the Bruins ended up with a power play. Chara and Dillon got offsetting roughing penalties, as did McAvoy and Kane, and Kane got an additional two-minutes for high sticking.

Kane lined McAvoy up along the boards after the incident and Chara wanted a piece of him. They exchanged words and went their separate ways. Radil then took a third penalty of the game, but DeBrusk also took one, creating a 4-on-4. Neither team scored.

Things settled down after the theatrics before Brett Ritchie and Barclay Goodrow dropped the gloves in the first fight of the year. Brad Marchand and Logan Couture then locked up behind the Sharks net, but it didn’t materialize into much. Pete DeBoer was thrown out of the game, yes you read that right.

Backes then decided to say hello to Kane along the boards and got tied up with Radil in response. In a continuing theme, Kane made more friends than enemies in Boston, as he did last February when he dropped the gloves with Chara. Grzelcyk went down the tunnel late in the frame after taking a hit up high from Timo Meier, and a scrum ensued. The third period was a mess

Misconducts and scrums galore closed out this one. Rask didn’t have a very busy night, but stopped 16 of 17 shots. The shots were 9-5 Bruins in the third period (41-17 total). The Bruins had as many power play shots as the Sharks had total shots, and now they are 9-1-2 and rolling. Next up are the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at TD Garden 7:00 PM ET.

Final Score: 5-1 Boston

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 151 that we recorded on 10-27-19 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!!

The Culture Of The Boston Bruins

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Photo)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Like every other sport, hockey is a game that requires skill and certain physical abilities in order to be successful. Hockey is also a sport that involves a lot of intangibles. Anyone who follows the game, whether you have ever laced them up or not, knows how highly leadership and perseverance are valued. There are whispers about guys being dealt because they “weren’t good in the room.” We all know the story of the 2013 Finals when Patrice Bergeron played through a veritable laundry list of injuries that included torn rib cartilage, a broken rib, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. Just a few months ago, Zdeno Chara broke his jaw in multiple places in Game Four of the Finals…and didn’t miss a single game.

Both of those players are revered around the league for their toughness and leadership abilities. Players that join the team from other organizations speak to the culture of the room. As John Moore so succinctly put it during an interview back in May, “For lack of a better way to put it there are no ****heads.” Bergeron and Chara’s acts of will no doubt inspire the other guys in the room to play through pain and for one another. The 2011 and 2019 teams were reputed to have two of the tightest-knit rooms in the NHL. As fascinating as it is to discuss those displays of pure willpower (and it is), I have been asking myself if perhaps these events inspire a more tangible benefit than a bunch of guys that get along? Does the culture in the B’s dressing room directly affect the product they are able to put on the ice?

Looking at the deals that Peter Chiarelli and Don Sweeney have negotiated over the last few years, I think the answer is yes. There appears to be a trend in Boston of players taking “less than fair market value” in order to stay with the team. Boston is a great city with good schools, medical facilities and lots to do, but let’s face it, NHL players making millions will be able to get that in most cities. Bruins players truly enjoy coming to work every day, and it’s reflected in the “fair deals” they sign with the team.

Chara Room

(Photo Credit: AP/Charles Krupa)

This trend first started before Don Sweeney was named GM, with the two de facto leaders in the room, Chara and Bergeron. In 2010, Chara was in the last year of the five- year, $37.5 million contract that marked his departure from Ottawa for Boston. He came to an agreement on a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in October of 2010 that would set the tone for the rest of the guys in the room for years to come. When comparing contracts signed in different years (and with different cap ceilings) the key is to look at the percentage of the cap the deal eats up. Chara’s contract accounted for 11.64% of the cap at the time.

Next up was Patrice Bergeron. In July of 2013, after the Bruins made their second trip to the Finals, Bergeron signed an eight-year extension at $6.875 million per season that would make him a Bruin for life. This contract would take up 10.69% of the cap that year. Nearly seven million dollars and more than ten percent of the cap sounds like a lot until you look at deals for similar players. The closest comparison that year to Bergeron was the Anaheim Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf. The season before Getzlaf had 11g/46a (Bergeron had 22g/42a), which was a down year for him. Despite that, in March of 2013, he inked an eight-year deal for $8.25 million a season that accounted for 12.83% of the Ducks total cap space. A little more than a two percent difference doesn’t sound like a lot until think about the other 21-22 players on the team that are going to want a few more percentage points on all of their deals (because that’s what the team leaders did).

Another veteran that signed a long-term extension in 2014 was center, David Krejci. While his six-year, $43.5 million contract was for a slightly higher AAV ($7.25m) then Bergeron’s, it didn’t take effect until 2015-16. In the interim, the cap went up, and as a result, Krejci’s deal was actually a slightly lower percentage to the cap than Bergeron’s (10.51%). So, now it’s the 2016 offseason, Sweeney is the GM, and the Bruins have three of their key (and most influential) veterans locked up on long-term deals at very reasonable money. Whether it was intended to do this or not, the effect of having those three Cup-winning leaders locked up was to create an artificial ceiling. Combine that with the personalities of those guys and the culture in the room and what happened next should not have been much of a surprise in hindsight.

Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets

(Photo Credit: Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Brad Marchand was in the last year of his four-year, $4.5 million per deal and B’s Nation was worried. Marchand was coming off career highs of 61 pts and 37 goals. There was talk of an $8m contract, not being able to afford the controversial wing, and potentially trading him, rather than losing him for nothing to free agency. This went on all summer, and all through camp, until the last week of September. At that time Sweeney and Marchand announced an eight-year deal for $49 million (8.39% of the cap) that would likely keep Bad Brad in Boston for the remainder of his career. He has done nothing but make that deal look like a bargain since. His point totals the last three seasons are: 85 pts (39 goals), 85 pts (34 goals), 100 pts (36 goals). Many believe Marchand’s contract to be the best value in the league.

Fast forward to the following summer. The Bruins returned to the playoffs under Bruce Cassidy, who replaced Claude Julien with 27 games left in the season. They were eliminated in the first round, but optimism reigns. The team has a new coach and an exciting young wing in David Pastrnak who produced 70 points, including 34 goals. The only thing more captivating than Pasta’s scoring ability was his gap-toothed smile and Bruins fans adored him. There was one problem. Pastrnak had his breakout season in the last year of his ELC. To most fans, this meant that he would command a big salary that would put a strain on the salary cap. I guess we should have known better by this point? After several months of angst and speculation, in September of 2017 Pastrnak signed a six-year deal for $40 million ($6.66m per year, 8.89%). In the two seasons after, he has 73 regular-season goals and 161 points. Another deal that has some fans referring to the Bruins GM as “Sweenius” for his team-friendly extensions.

It seems like every offseason, there are contracts that need to be negotiated, and this year was no exception. Three young regulars: Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo were all coming off their ELC’s and needed new deals. After the long postseason run, and loss in the Finals, fans were cranky and needed something to complain about. The dialogue was that there was no way Sweeney could sign his three restricted free-agents with David Backes’ deal still on the books, limiting him to roughly $12 million to work with. It would turn out that all the gnashing of teeth and stress were for nothing. The solution would come in the form of three “bridge” deals. Heinen signed first, two years, $2.8m per season. McAvoy was next and he came in at $4.9m for three years. That left only Carlo, who ended up at $2.85m for two years. A Top-9 forward and two Top-4 defensemen for less than $11 million. Who would have thought it possible?

The thing that makes all of this even more delicious is that the Bruins main division rival du jour, the Toronto Maple Leafs, had their own high-profile RFA to sign. Leaf wunderkind Mitch Marner was coming off three 60+ point ELC seasons, culminating in last season’s 94 point effort. He ended up signing a six-year deal for more than $65 million ($10.89m per, 13.37% of the cap), which was significantly more than any of his RFA peers. I am not saying that Toronto has “bad” guys in their dressing room, but the leaders on that team have not taken “team-friendly” deals, and you can see the trickle-down effect with a lot of their contracts.

It started with John Tavares. He signed in July 2018 to the tune of $77 million (7 years, $11m AAV, 13.84% of the cap). Then restricted free agent William Nylander held out until December, missing the first two months of the regular season. On the last day of eligibility to play in the 2018-19 season, Nylander inked a deal with the Leafs worth $45 million (6 years, $6.96m AAV, 12.93% of the cap). After those two contracts, can you really blame Matthews and Marner for wanting their piece of the pie? Matthews signed his extension in February of 2019. It was a five-year deal worth almost $58.2 million ($11.63m AAV, 14.63% of the cap) that will make him an unrestricted free agent at the ripe old age of 28.

Carlo and Krug

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

Obviously, you have to take into account that the league has changed over the last few years, and also the ages of the players involved. Even taking those factors into consideration, the difference between the paths the two teams have taken is striking. Toronto’s top four forwards account for more than $40 million, or roughly half the cap. Boston has its top four forwards signed for a total of less than $27 million. Each one of the Leafs forwards has a percent-to-cap number of about four-to-five percentage points higher than the comparables in Boston.

I realize that there are a lot of numbers involved in what I have been talking about and that the salary cap can be a very confusing topic of discussion. That said, if I had to boil it all down to a single overriding idea for the reader to take away from this article, it would be that the culture in the Bruins dressing room has had a very tangible and measurable effect. In addition to being good in the room, Bruins veterans have been willing to take less money to enable Bruins management to keep the core of the team together. It started about five or six years ago and continued into this past offseason. Next year Don Sweeney will have roughly $24 million in cap space, and he will have to make decisions on players like Krug, Coyle, DeBrusk, and Grzelcyk. It will be extremely interesting to see if the unique culture in the Bruins dressing room influences these players to be reasonable in their salary demands so the band can stay together. Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 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!

 

Bruins Sign Carlo To New Contract

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Photo Courtesy Of Getty Images

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has signed defenseman Brandon Carlo to a two-year deal with approximately $2.85 million per season. The signing comes just two days after the B’s were able to come to terms with Charlie McAvoy. Carlo skated in 72 regular season games for the B’s last year, recording two goals and eight assists for ten points. He also appeared in all 24 postseason contests last spring, posting two goals and two assists.
 

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The Bruins drafted the Colorado Springs native in the second round (37th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Carlo skated in all 82 regular season games for the B’s in his rookie year, posting six goals and ten assists for 16 points which are still career highs for the young defenseman. Due to injuries at the end of both of his first two seasons, Carlo didn’t appear in the postseason either of those years. Carlo spent seven games in 2015-16 with the Providence Bruins, recording an assist.

Carlo may not be the offensive force that Charlie McAvoy is but he is just as important to the team if not more. He has already cemented himself as one of the best young defensive defensemen in the entire league. Don’t be surprised if the B’s increase his ice time this season, and if all goes well he may contribute a little offense.

Bruins Ink McAvoy To New Deal

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Photo Courtesy Of The Boston Globe

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

First reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Bruins have signed Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract worth about $4.9 million dollars per season. McAvoy skated in 54 regular season games for the B’s last year, posting seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points. He also appeared in 23 postseason games last spring, posting two goals and six assists for eight points.

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In McAvoy’s rookie season in 2017-18 he posted seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points in 63 regular season games. He also posted a goal and four assists in 12 postseason contests. The 21-year-old also appeared in six playoff games in 2016-17, posting three assists in six games. In that year, McAvoy also appeared in four games in Providence, recording two assists. The Long Beach, New York native was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (14th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

McAvoy will certainly be a big part of the Bruins future and perhaps the present as well. Number 73 should see increased ice time overall and on the power play and we could see a breakout season if he can stay healthy. Now with McAvoy locked up, the Bruins defense corps will be solid for years to come. Logically, signing Brandon Carlo would be next on the list for Don Sweeney.

Bruins Defensive Depth Could Be Tested Early On In The Regular Season

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup play-offs at the Air Canada Centre on April 19, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Matt Grzelcyk(Claus Andersen)

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Ideally, this scenario never happens and we can resume peaceful existence, but there is a chance that Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are not in the opening night lineup for the Bruins. In this event, things need to be done in a certain way, in my eyes. This scenario also assumes that John Moore and Kevan Miller will be out of the lineup recovering from their respective injuries.

First defensive pairing; Chara-Clifton

Zdeno Chara and Connor Clifton have a little bit of experience with one another, but not much. I still think this is the ideal first pairing with a decimated defensive core. While I think there is a chance Chara’s playing time gets scaled back ever so slightly this season, this would not be the scenario to do so. A shutdown presence is very much needed in this case.

Clifton didn’t shy away from a larger role no matter where he played in the lineup last season, making him the best option in this scenario, with Matt Grzelcyk on his off side not being the worst thing either. But ultimately, I think Clifton should be the guy on pairing number one in this scenario.

Clifton’s physical presence, skating, and puck-moving abilities could really compliment Chara’s shutdown style pretty well.

(Video Credit: Tom Brady on YouTube)

Second defensive pairing: Krug-Kampfer

On the second pairing, Torey Krug and Stevie Snipes join forces to further stabilize the top-four. Torey Krug is a wagon and Kampfer really improved as the season progressed. He even scored a huge goal in game one against Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals, earning himself the title of Stevie Snipes.

Krug’s defensive game took a step in the right direction, and Kampfer’s defensive and puck-moving abilities are solid enough to complement Krug’s game and potentially create a solid duo on the back end.

Third defensive pairing: Vaakanainen-Grzelcyk

This is where it get’s interesting. This pairing has the potential to be a puck possession, zone exit-entry monster pairing. Grzelcyk has seen time on his opposite side with Chara in the past, but I think putting him with Urho Vaakanainen could be very beneficial for Vaakanainen.

Who knows? Maybe Grzelcyk will be able to showcase his one-timer again on his opposite side.

(Video Credit: SPORTSNET on YouTube)

Despite being undersized, Grzelcyk’s been able to handle himself in the physical game fairly well, and he and Vaakanainen could very well create offense and facilitate plenty of puck possession through the neutral zone.

A good chunk of this pairing success hinges on how well Vaakanainen continues to adapt to the NHL in a second stint. His first stint this past season was cut short due to a concussion after an elbow from Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki. An elbow that netted Borowiecki a one-game suspension.

In this doomsday scenario, I would love to see what this pairing could do with one another.

What else is there?

Alex Petrovic is set to join the Bruins in camp on a PTO. There is also still a chance that the Bruins perhaps sign another defenseman to join the mix at camp and potentially provide reinforcement past a PTO.

There are also a few AHL options, god forbid it gets to the point so early in the season. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Wiley Sherman are the three available options at this point in time. Lauzon and Zboril have seen brief NHL time, Sherman hasn’t. Hopefully it doesn’t come to disrupting their AHL development in the event of more chaos on the back end for the Bruins.

In this scenario, things could be a lot worse, and I think this would be the best way to operate with McAvoy, Carlo, Moore, and Miller all potentially out of the lineup to start the season. The depth was tested for quite some time early last season, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I don’t think it will, but crazier things have happened.