Bruins Game 10 Preview: St. Louis Blues

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

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

The rematch of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals goes down tonight in the same building where the St. Louis Blues hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history – the TD Garden. The Boston Bruins welcome the Blues into the Garden coming off of a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, bringing their overall record to 6-1-2. Tonight’s game is the first half of a back-to-back that has the B’s playing the New York Rangers tomorrow.

Tonight’s game for the Blues is the first road game after four consecutive home games that saw them win twice and lose twice. The Blues currently hold the third spot in the Central Division with a record of 5-2-3 after ten games. St. Louis has come out victorious in back-to-back games with wins over Los Angeles (5-2 on Thursday) and Colorado (3-1 on Monday).

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 4-0-1 1.78 GAA .944 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-2 win vs TOR

STL: Jordan Binnington 4-1-3 2.58 GAA .916 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 5-2 win vs LAK

Who’s Hot:

Tuukka Rask played in his 500th career NHL game on Tuesday and in the process, picked up career win number 269 with a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs in Boston. Rask is first in the NHL in save percentage (.944%) and goals-against-average (1.77) with a minimum of four games played and he remains undefeated in regulation with a record of 4-0-1. Tuukka is historically known for being a slow-starter in a season, but in 2019-20, he has been solid and will look to continue that tonight.

Brayden Schenn leads the Blues in points with eight goals and three assists through ten games played and he is currently riding a two-game goal streak including a two-goal performance in the win over the Los Angeles Kings. Schenn has scored a point in every game this season except for two (Washington and Montreal) and has been averaging just around 18 minutes on the ice per game.

David Pastrnak has not slowed down and you have to wonder if he ever will anytime soon. Pastrnak leads the National Hockey League with ten goals and has played the least amount of games out of anyone in the top thirteen goal-scorers. The 23-year-old is on a remarkable seven-game point streak and a four-game multi-point streak. Pastrnak’s last game saw him score a terrific goal and add an assist as well.

Who’s Not:

Ivan Barbashev is one of the better depth players on the Blues roster, but so far this season he has not found his point-production that St. Louis most likely wants from him. The 23-year-old forward has only two assists through ten games and is pointless in each of his last six games. Barbashev has averaged around thirteen minutes of time on the ice over the course of that time span, but neither the goals nor points are coming for him right now.

With the absence of David Krejci (upper-body), Charlie Coyle has seen more opportunities in the top-six for the Bruins in order to keep a natural center alongside Jake DeBrusk, but Coyle has not been terrific this season. Off of his strong postseason, Coyle is still yet to find the back of the net and only has two assists to his name with a -3 rating. He also saw more than five minutes of a reduction in ice time in the last game in comparison to last Saturday’s contest. Bruins need him to start producing with Krejci out.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Patrice Bergeron is two assists away (498) from 500 career NHL assists

St. Louis Blues:

  • F David Perron is two points away (498) from 500 career NHL points
  • F Alex Steen is one even-strength goal away (137) from passing Pavol Demitra (137) for sole possession of 7th-most even-strength goals in Blues history

Bruins vs Blues Outlook:

On either side of the ice tonight, expect an emotional battle with memories of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. For the first time since the heartbreaking loss, the Bruins take to the ice with the St. Louis Blues on the opposite side. The challenge will be to not let the memory of June’s result take over their emotions for tonight and for the Blues, they must remember to stay calm against the team they beat for the Stanley Cup.

Bringing things back to the 2019-2020 season, this is one of those games that the entire league will want to watch. Boston and St. Louis are only separated by a single point in the NHL league standings and a win for either side can possibly give them a boost in the overall standings.

The best power-play in the league will look to keep that 35.7% by capitalizing on St. Louis’ 11th-best penalty-kill in the league. Boston’s trio of Marchand, Pastrnak, and Bergeron has put the league on watch with their precise passing and hockey IQ, creating brilliant plays while on the man-advantage. The Bruins know it is one of their big threats and they make teams pay for their penalties.

On the other side, the Blues have the sixth-best power-play in the NHL at 25.8% while the B’s have an 84% success rate on the PK (9th in the NHL). Boston has done a good job on the penalty-kill recently with some great efforts by Brad Marchand in numerous games so far this season.

Some big news for the game tonight – the Blues will be without Vladimir Tarasenko (upper-body) and forward Sammy Blais is considered a game-time decision for the Blues. In Boston, David Krejci will once again be absent, his fourth-straight game out of the lineup, due to an upper-body injury. However, Joakim Nordstrom is expected to return to the lineup for the Black and Gold.

Puck drop for tonight’s Stanley Cup Finals rematch is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from Boston, Massachusetts.

Projected Lines:

Boston Bruins:

St. Louis Blues: 

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Sundqvist
Steen – O’Reilly – Perron
Sanford – Bozak – Thomas
Blais – Barbashev – MacEachern

Defense

Parayko – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Faulk
Dunn – Bortuzzo

Goalie

Binnington

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Bruins D Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara Deemed Game-Time Decisions

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PHOTO CREDITS: Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced earlier today, June 6th, that defensemen Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk are deemed game-time decisions for tonight’s pivotal Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, Massachusetts.

The news comes today after many speculated on the numerous off days since the Game Four loss on Monday that Zdeno Chara was done for the remainder of the postseason with what was assumed to be a broken jaw. However, it was made clear that the 42-year-old captain did not need his jaw to be wired shut and he is not missing any teeth but he does indeed have a brace going along his bottom gum line according to Shawn Hutcheon.

Chara’s injury came from the second period in Game Four when he attempted to block a wrist shot from Blues forward Brayden Schenn with the Bruins down 2-1 on the scoreboard. As a result, Chara inadvertently deflected the shot off of his monstrous stick and directly into his face. A flow of blood immediately poured out of the giant as he skated off to the Bruins locker room. Chara did end up returning in the final regulation period with a full face mask, but did not play a shift as he felt “uncomfortable”.

As for Matt Grzelcyk, his injury came back during Game Two of the Finals, when he took a hard hit along the end boards by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The National Hockey League’s Player Safety took a look at the hit and following a hearing, was suspended for Game Three. After taking the hit hard, Grzelcyk appeared to stumble when he got up, sending him through concussion protocol.

The 25-year-old was forced to miss Game Four on Monday but was seen wearing a maroon-colored non-contact jersey in practice on Wednesday but Cassidy was not positive on his status for Thursday’s contest. Earlier today, Cassidy clarified that Grzelcyk is also a game-time decision like Chara and if he feels ready to go around 7:00pm, then he will be in the lineup.

During the talks of both injuries, Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may lean to running seven defensemen and eleven forwards for Game Five and according to the Head Coach on Thursday, that idea still remains a topic of discussion ahead of puck drop, even if both blueliners are feeling up to the task of playing in this crucial game.

In regard to the injury, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said this in a written response to the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association:

“You don’t think about that. You think about playing. You don’t go into a game thinking you might get hurt. At this time of the playoffs, everyone has injuries and there are challenges that you have to overcome to play. I’m no different than any player on either team.”

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals is deadlocked at two games apiece with tonight’s game in Boston giving the winner a 3-2 series lead and a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Sunday in St. Louis. The current scheduled puck drop for the game is 8:00pm EST.

Five Non-Rental Players The Bruins Can Target At The Trade Deadline

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(Image: Noah K. Murray / Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL Trade Deadline is nearly upon us, and with it comes the rumor mill that has been running rampant all over Twitter. Whether it be about a big fish like Artemi Panarin or a lesser-known commodity like Ryan Dzingel, fans and analysts have shared opinions while insiders have provided reports that have sent Twitter into shambles.

There has been plenty to discuss about the Bruins, given the team’s scoring struggles and the recent loss of David Pastrnak–you can read about the injury in Garrett Haydon’s article breaking the news.

With plenty of concern about trading for a rental player given the Bruins’ recent history with those types of moves in mind (see Nash, Rick), here are five non-rental forwards that the Bruins can target to help the team for now and in the future:

Tyler Toffoli

Toffoli’s name came up in Mike Cratty’s recent article, detailing five scorers the Bruins could target outside of Artemi Panarin. Toffoli has had a down year while playing on the Kings–one of the league’s worst teams–with only 12 goals and 15 assists. The 26-year-old is only on pace for 18 goals and 40 points, compared to last year’s clip of 24 goals and the 31 goals he scored in 2015-16.

However, if given the right situation (alongside a gifted playmaker, like David Krejci), Toffoli could return to that form; he’s currently slotted in on the King’s third line alongside Mike Amadio and Brendan Leipsic–not exactly a combination that sets Toffoli up for success.

Toffoli is locked up for this year and next at a $4.6-million cap hit, and trading him would allow the rebuilding Kings to recoup some assets; it’s just a matter of what the Bruins might have to give up to get the winger.

Kyle Palmieri

The Devils have regressed quite a bit since their playoff birth last season, largely due to Taylor Hall’s inability to stay healthy, the team being ahead of schedule with its performance last year, and not being able to get a save from either goaltender. This gives reason to believe that the Devils may not be totally out of the woods yet with their rebuild.

Since arriving in New Jersey in 2015-16 after a trade from the Anaheim Ducks, Palmieri has been a perennial 20-30 goal-scorer. The 28-year-old has 24 goals and 42 points on a putrid Devils team this season and is on pace for 35 goals and 63 points.

With a cap hit of $4.65-million for this year and the next two seasons with a modified no-trade clause, Palmieri would be a fantastic addition to the Bruins’ top-six as he is not only capable of providing more-than-adequate offense, but he is also an excellent all-around player and leader. The Smithtown, New York, native also lives and trains in Boston over the off-season.

With that being said, we are left with three burning questions. First, would the Devils even be willing to move Palmieri? Second, would Palmieri waive his NTC? Then number three, if they are willing to move Palmieri, what would the asking price be? Presumably, I would guess the price would be high,  considering Palmieri’s age, production, importance to the Devils, and term remaining on his deal–but man, would he look great on the Bruins.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn’s name has been tossed around a bit this season, especially given the St. Louis Blues’ early struggles. The 27-year-old center has had an “okay” season with 10 goals, 25 assists, and 35 points, and is on pace for 16 goals and 51 points.

Schenn had a career season with 28 goals, 42 assists, and 70 points in his first campaign with St. Louis last season; before that, he scored at least 25-goals in two-straight years with the Flyers. Luke Schenn’s younger brother can also play both wing and center, bringing a complete 200-foot game, and doesn’t shy away from throwing his body around.

So, Schenn could be a potential solution at wing in the top-six, as he was featured on his off-side (right wing) during his days in Philadelphia, or he could also play third-line center if the Bruins were to choose to load up down the middle.

Schenn carries a cap hit of $5.125-million until the end of next season. Again, it’s just a matter of what the asking price would be.

Chris Kreider

Much like Schenn, Kreider’s name has been tossed about frequently in the same breath as the Bruins. The Rangers forward and Boxford, Massachusetts, native is signed through next season with a $4.625-million cap hit.

The 27-year-old currently has 24 goals and 43 points for a middling Rangers team and is on pace for 36 goals, 27 assists, and 63 points, all career-highs. The Boston College product is a prototypical power forward for today’s NHL; he can skate like the wind, makes a living in front of the net, uses his body, and can rifle the puck off the rush.

On the Bruins, Kreider would slot in to aid the top-six. Yet again, the predicament arises when considering New York’s willingness to move him, and the potential asking price.

Charlie Coyle

It seems like the Weymouth, MA, native has been linked to the Bruins in trade rumors for nearly his entire career. The Boston University product has 10 goals and 18 assists this season, on track for 15 goals, 26 assists, and 41 points.

At 26-years-old, a 15-20 goal-scorer and 40-50 point-getter is by and large what Coyle likely is at this point in his career. He has scored at least 15 goals twice previously in his career with 18 in 2016-17 and 21 in 2015-16. This season would also mark the third time Coyle has surpassed the 40-point plateau in his career as he had 42 in 2015-16, and 56 in 2016-17.

Like Kreider, Coyle can play a heavy, powerful game at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, and has the ability to answer the bell if he has to.

Coyle is locked up at $3.2-million through the end of next season and is capable of slotting anywhere in the top-nine, whether it be at wing or center. The Wild’s lines have been shuffled around nearly all season as Coyle has been featured at center and right-wing on the first, second, and third lines; a firm role alongside David Krejci or as third line center could provide certainty and do him a world of good.

Bonus/Wildcard: Adam Henrique

After spending the first six-and-a-half seasons of his career with New Jersey, Henrique finished with 20 goals and 36 points last season after being traded to the Ducks. The 29-year-old center has the exact same numbers as Coyle this year with 10 goals and 28 points–on pace for 15 goals and 41 points.

Including last season, Henrique has totaled at least 20 goals three times while reaching the 30-goal mark once. As for as points go, Henrique has had at least 40 points on three occasions to go along with one 50-point campaign.

A center who is defensively responsible and has a solid ability to put the puck in the net, Henrique has a $4-million contract that runs out after this season before a five-year, $5.825-million extension with a modified-NTC kick in. That contract extension alone makes it unlikely that Henrique is part of the “major surgery” general manager Bob Murray is considering that Elliotte Friedman talked about in his weekly 31 Thoughts column. Even with that being said, Henrique is just some food for thought, hence the “wildcard” label.

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Blues Schenn Will Not Face Discipline After Hit On Bruins Krejci

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Photo Credit: NBCSports Boston

By: Lauren Campbell | Follow on Twitter: @lalalalaurrrren 

On Thursday, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced there will be no further discipline for Brayden Schenn after he hit David Krejci in the head on Wednesday night.

Schenn was called for charging and given a two-minute minor in the second period during St. Louis’s 2-1 overtime win over the Bruins.

The Department of Player Safety claims there was no charging on the initial play because Schenn still had his skates on the ice once contact with Krejci was made. They also said the head was unavoidable on the play.

Thankfully, Krejci was uninjured after he took the hit and remained in the game, but the inconsistency of the Department of Player Safety continues.

Earlier this month, Boston’s David Backes, who had never been suspended in his 12-year career, was handed a three-game suspension for a very similar hit to head of Detroit’s Frans Nielsen.

Backes also received a match penalty and was ejected from that game.