Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask Set to Play in 500th Career Game

tuukka-rask-500

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The Bruins are gearing up for a big matchup against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. There will certainly be a buzz in the building as the Boston and Toronto rivalry writes another chapter but there will also most likely be much louder “TUUKK” chants coming from the Black ‘N Gold faithful as well.

That’s because Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for the Bruins and it will be his 500th game in the National Hockey League. On November 24, 2007, Rask got his first win against the Maple Leafs with a 30 save performance in a 4-2 win for the B’s. Twelve years later it all comes full circle as Rask will skate in the milestone game against the very same team that drafted him and that he got his first NHL victory against.

Bruins head coach, who started coaching Rask in 2008, has rotated starts between Rask and Jaroslav Halak who have arguably been the league’s best goaltending tandem for the past two seasons. The lesser workload for Rask has allowed him to play better and more consistently all season long. Last season, Rask played in 46 games which allowed him to be fresher for the Bruins long playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Rask and Halak have picked up right where they left off last season and the Bruins hope the goaltending tandem can emulate their success from last season.

“They say it’s like 1,000 games for players, he said after practice on Monday when asked about his upcoming milestone game. “It’s a big milestone. I think you play 500 as a goalie, it’s going to take some years. Just goes to show how old I am, that’s about it.”

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara also weighed in on his longtime goaltender’s achievement: “I think it’s a great achievement. It just shows his durability and the way he takes care of himself and we are certainly happy for him. He deserves the accomplishment and whatever it comes with.”

Tuukka Rask was drafted 21st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, his opponent for his 500th career game, but has only played for the Boston Bruins. His rights were traded to the Bruins on June 24, 2006, for goaltender Andrew Raycroft and he then signed a three-year contract in May of 2007. He played most of his early career for the Bruins backing up Tim Thomas and won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011 but still has not yet won the Stanley Cup as a starter – failing to beat the Blackhawks in the 2013 Cup Finals and the Blues in the 2019 Cup Finals.

The Bruins goaltender has posted a 3-0-1 record this season in four starts posting a 1.72 goals-against average to go along with a .946 save percentage. The Bruins look to bounce back on Rask’s big night on home ice against the Leafs after falling to them on Saturday night in overtime 4-3.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 149 that we recorded on 10-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Growing Frustration For Boston’s DeBrusk

(Photo Credits: NESN.com)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The Boston Bruins are eight games into the season as they face the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight and there are already growing concerns. Although it’s still too early to think the sky is falling, the Bruins have had a decent October month, but the lack of secondary scoring is starting to wane on player’s minds.

After having a goal and an assist wiped off the board after a controversial goalie interference and a border-line offside call, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk showed a rare instance of growing frustration after the 4-2 game loss against the Colorado Avalanche:

“Of course [it’s frustrating]…Any time that you get production finally and it gets taken away from you twice, it’s just one of those things where you almost don’t believe it. But at the same time that’s how things are going for me.

“I scored and had an assist tonight, they got pulled back. We should’ve won this game 4-2, but those weren’t goals, I guess. One was offside and goalie interference. They looked at it and that’s how it was. I don’t think it’s gonna snowball, but definitely pissing me off for sure.”

It’s been a slow start to the season for DeBrusk who has one point through seven games. Reminiscent of last season, the 23-year-old left winger’s game didn’t pick until later on. He ended the 2018-2019 campaign with 27 goals in 68 games played. During the Stanley Cup Playoff run he came away with four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 24 games.

(Photo Credits: AP /Winslow Townson)

As the Bruins deal with injuries, the “next man up” mantra will once again come into play, especially for tonight’s match-up in Toronto. For DeBrusk, staying even-keel and being patient will be key going forward this new season. One added pressure point for the left-winger: his contract.  After the 2019-2020 season ends,  he will become a RFA (restricted free agent) and re-signing DeBrusk will depend on his play this year. The winger spoke recently:

“Yeah, frustration, it’s past that to be honest with you. I’m just trying to stay even-keel and try to play my game. That’s one thing that’s been kind of one of those issues for me personally is I haven’t found my game at all this year…You look at statistics…I think that I’m not really helping myself out in a lot of categories…Sometimes the game doesn’t come to you and you got to go to the game.”

With the Top Line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak accounting for most of the goals so far, Coach Bruce Cassidy is trying to attack bad habits now rather than later in the season. Recently, Cassidy gave time off to the top trio as he worked with the rest of the team.

And while it would be unfair to place everything on DeBrusk, the coaching staff needs him to create more scoring chances and be more active in front of the net. Looking to last season, especially during the Playoffs, the young left-winger has the ability to get that greasy goal and that’s exactly what the Bruins need now. 

(Photo Credits: Scott Kane/Boston Herald)

And for DeBrusk, what he needs is to find that spark; hopefully tonight in Toronto he’ll get it back and then some:

 

“I think that I need to hold onto it more, maybe attack more and be more selfish with my shot selection.”

 

NHL20 Predicts A Bruins Championship

Image result for nhl20 bruins(Photo Credit: EA Sports – NHL20)

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

It’s “game” time for hockey fans everywhere. And I’m not just talking about the NHL’s 2019-2020 season dropping the puck for Opening Night.

Rather, EA Sports’ NHL20 video game, which has made a Bruins prediction as bold as some of our recent BN’G blog posts: that the B’s will win it all this year. Huzzah!

Pretty impressive right? The B’s will beat the Leafs (no surprise there) in the opening round, then the Lightning in round two and then the Caps in the Eastern Conference Final before dethroning the Golden Knights in six games.

And, get this: everyone’s favorite productive pest Brad Marchand will win the Conn Smythe, con artists be damned, with a nearly point-plus per game proficiency. That’s a prediction that’s not only bold and gold, but truth be told, I’m sold on!

However, I know what some of your are already saying / thinking / posting / tweeting: “what a jinx!” Or, perhaps, “where was this last season?” Or, better yet, “the odds of that actually happening are absurd.”

Be it in real life or the gaming world, prognostications of simulations can lead to recreations of imaginations. Simply put: it ain’t easy to predict a Stanley Cup winner — on the ice with talent, or on the screen with cheat codes.

Yet, not cheating ourselves, how fun is it to speculate on the official eve of Bruins puck drop? I mean, now that you know the team’s Stanley Cup Runner-Up history, why not have a little fun playing a game about the B’s potential game play this season? So far, the social media world seems to be enjoying it… especially the fact that Boston takes down Toronto in yet another first round Game 7 match up (this alone makes the NHL20 Sim worth it).

What else is worth a lot? Hope. At least the hope of another entertaining hockey season in Boston. Sure, losing the Cup really sucked (and still hurts), but we sure as hell went along for the ride up until mid-June! Now, if we’re to put our fanatical faith, and perhaps even some frivolous finances, into another form of entertainment — NHL20 — it looks like we’ll experience a SIMilar Summer run of perspective Cup fun.

I’ll hit “PLAY” on that B’s button all day long!

 

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 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!

 

In The Crease With Bruins Kyle Keyser

(Photo Credits: Lane Turner/Boston Globe Staff)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Prior to Friday’s announcement of another round of cuts to the roster, the future of the Boston Bruins will come way via those that are currently playing or will play for Providence. Today’s game against Chicago will be the final push for these young players to impress, knowing full well coaches will be watching closely as they narrow down to the core Varsity group.  While some have a little more experience than others, one particular player is looking to sharpen his skills in the crease.

At just 20-years-old, Kyle Keyser is looking pretty good and perhaps his time playing with the big boys may come sooner rather than later. As Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy noted:

“He battles…It looks like he’s going to be a good one”

Signed in 2017 after participating in the Boston Bruins rookie camp (as an invite), he joined Providence during the end of his junior season in Oshawa in 2018-19. He played in the AHL during Providence’s playoff run for the Calder Cup that same year. Keyser ended up playing in the AHL’s Bruins final post-game, where they, unfortunately, lost 4-1 to Charlotte. The young Coral Gables, Florida native played four seasons of junior hockey in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) with the Flint Firebirds and Oshawa Generals posting a 71-40-3 record.

Related image

(Photo Credits: Aaron Bell / OHL Images)

 

In 137 career games in the OHL, he also posted a 3.19 goals-against-average. Keyser had one of his best seasons in 2018-2019 with a 32-8-3 record, a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage in 47 games. In the 2019 World Junior Championship where he represented Team USA, Keyser had a 1-1 record with a 2.95 GAA in two games that earned him a  Silver Medal. The 20-year-old goaltender was also named to the 2018-19 OHL’s Second All-tar Team.

In the recent Bruins overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday night, Keyser’s time came during the third period as he relieved Maxime Lagace. 18 shots were fired towards the Bruins net; all 18 were blocked. In overtime, a lucky shot that bounced off of Chicago’s Patrick Kane went behind Keyser, who had little chance to stop the rebound. Despite the loss, his play was quite impressive and it’s becoming quite clear that when the time comes for Tuukka Rask to pass the torch, the Bruins may have found their next go-to goaltender.

Image result for kyle keyser boston bruins

(Photo Credits: The Boston Globe)

Even more impressive about the young netminder is his preparedness and continued focus on the game of hockey. He recently stated that he worked closely with renowned sports psychologist Dr. Saul Miller to help deal with the mental aspect of the game:

“As I’m getting older, I’m just getting more mature with my game and taking the mental side of the game more seriously. For me, talking to my trainers and coaches, it was ‘let’s get to the next level, mentally.’ For me that was really important and something I’ve put a lot of stock in,”

“I feel like I’m playing my game and feeling good about myself and I feel like I’m jump-starting into the season with some confidence…I want to provide that stability in net and when those guys pull on the jersey they know what they’re going to get out of you every night.”

Keyser is amongst the group of players that have been currently sent down to Providence and it remains to be seen if he’ll get more time in between the pipes. What’s promising to know is that he is fully aware of what it takes to play at the next level:

“You always want to play at the highest level you’re able to…I’m going to go in and work hard and play my game. It doesn’t matter where you put me. I’m going to play my same game and I’m going to keep the puck out of the net. That’s my job.”

 

 

 

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part VI

Image result for boston bruins schedule 2020(Photo Credit: NESN.com)

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

We’ve finally made the march to March in our Summer-long (and now Fall) scheduling series on upcoming Bruins games for the 2019-2020 season (hence the Part VI moniker). Now, here’s where you should make a March mark on that B’s calendar — be it online, on the wall or on your dolled up desk!

Florida Face-Offs: March 3rd – 7th

The B’s open up hockey’s penultimate month of regular season play (yes, there are a few games in April before the playoffs start) on the road in Florida with their annual consecutive-game schedule versus the Lightning and then the Panthers. This year, however, there’s an added bonus — or challenge to be more accurate: Boston returns home to face Tampa Bay for a second game within five days time. That’s right, the Bruins will go Bolts, Cats, Bolts between March 3rd and March 7th before bolting back to the road in week two.

Now, it doesn’t take an Original six seer, Cup crystal baller, skilled skate psychic or puck luck prognosticator to predict just how tough this three-game stretch will be for the B’s… especially considering where Tampa Bay will most likely be in the standings at this time of year: the top, with ideally Boston just a few points behind making every game a potential four-point swing.

As a result, the Black N’ Gold will have to bring their A++ game to take multiple points and multiple games against two annoyingly talented teams (sorry, I feel that way for all Florida sports–yet not theme parks, surprisingly) who always play them tough — even when the backup goalies start like two times last season.

That being said, count on some very entertaining and meaningful hockey, which we all hope looks very similar to the clip below (from almost the same time of year last season), to kick off a month that could be a make-it or break-it one for the B’s with 14 games scheduled, eight of them on the road, and no layoffs longer than two days.

 

California Crosschecks: March 18th – 21st

For week three in March, the B’s will travel across the country to California where they’ll (cross)check in for their yearly West Coast Kick, even if it takes them off Route 66 and up & down the 5 North for a few days (I hope to cover these games live for our BN’G brethren back home).

Day one starts in Anaheim on the 18th at The Pond versus the once-Mighty Ducks of orange (and Orange County). It’s immediately followed by a next-night affair versus the Kings in LA, confidential as that may be. Keeping with consistency and Pacific specifics, Boston will then cruise past Santa Cruz on the way to San Jose for a Shark Tank visit that’s always worth wading into (especially for JAWS fans who love hockey & Jumbo Joe fans who love big jaws).

This three-game, four-night stretch is always one of my favorites… not just because of WHERE & WHO the B’s play, but for what it could potentially mean in the standings and for team morale. Boston will only have six games remaining on the schedule before playoff hockey commences by the time they finish these games.

We’d all like to think the B’s will be snug safely into a playoff spot by this time, which means a six-point sweep in California could be the difference between home ice and road ice or a division crown versus a runner’s up match up. The B’s play will be important because their positioning will be important (just like the post’s position in the clip below). And as we all know and have come to expect in Boston, there’s nothing more important than playoff hockey!

 

Hometown Heroics: March 24th – 28th

Hopefully. Hopefully there will be some “hometown heroics” at the end of March in Boston. Maybe the kind where divisional banners are raised? That’s definitely putting the Zamboni before the horse. But, with three consecutive games at TD Garden against divisional opponents who should be on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in, I’d like to think the B’s will take care of business at a time they know they should (and need to).

Speaking of needs, Detroit, Ottawa and Florida (on the 24th, 26th and 28th, respectively) will have plenty of them. Mostly on offense and defense, but you can best believe they’ll each be looking to burst Boston’s bubble before the season ends and steal a few precious points in the process.

The B’s, simply put, can’t let that happen. As Andy “Brick” Brickley likes to remind the Bruins from the broadcast booth every season, you’ve got to beat the teams you’re supposed to. There’ll be no better time than late March to do just that for the Black N’ Gold!

 

To recap our other Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar feature pieces, click on the links below:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

 

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!

 

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part V

Picture 1 of 12(Photo Credit: Bruins Pinterest)

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

Since we just celebrated Friday the 13th on the calendar here in the States, it’s only fitting to remind everyone what “Part V” of that seminal series was called: A New Beginning. Well, that’s exactly what the month of February could be for the Boston Bruins depending on how the team handles a January against some quality dual opponents (as I outlined in the previous installment of our Black N’ Gold Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar series).

Also, like the hockey-masked killer character in the aforementioned film franchise, the B’s hockey franchise won’t be able to mask any of their faults in February–especially on every weekend–because of the 14-game workload lined up for them, including a historic five Saturday games. They even get to play on LEAP YEAR day! How’s that for superstitious scheduling since Friday the 13th references will be a recurring theme throughout this piece. So, let’s drop the puck (and perhaps the machete) on what specific games are worthy of highlighting on your B’s calendar this fabulously frightening & frozen February!

 

Weekend One: Crystal Lake, Minnesota

Okay, okay. We all know that Camp Crystal Lake is not in Minnesota, but rather in New Jersey (as far as fake movie location names go). But, if the B’s can open the month of February with a “road W” over former friend Ryan Donato at the Xcel Energy Center on the 1st, then they can celebrate its first Sunday by visiting a famous underwater Jason Voorhees statue just up the road. In fact, the Wild will be a fitting first opponent to begin a busy hockey stretch at an important time of the year for the Bruins. Since 2015, the B’s have won four of their last five road games in Minny, including the last two, so keeping that streak alive would be advantageous considering the former city of North Stars always plays spirited hockey against Boston.

Weekend Two: Jason Takes Boston

The B’s will be lucky it’s only Jason Demers coming to town with the Coyotes on February 8th and not that other titular Jason from the woods. Then again, if the team doesn’t want to end up out in the woods, the players should take care of business against an Arizona squad that will most likely be out of the playoff race by then. Also, they’ll need to get on a plane to fly off to Detroit for a Motor City matinee on the 9th immediately following their howling hockey versus the Coyotes. I would call this back-to-back home/road split versus two beatable teams a must-win weekend for the B’s if they want to build momentum during a month where all eyes will be on playoff positioning.

Weekend Three: Origin(al Six) Stories

More matinee marquee match-ups are in store for February 15th & 16th against Original Six rivals the Red Wings again, followed by the New York Rangers (and all of this coming hot on the heels/skates of the B’s having recently played the Blackhawks & Canadiens a few games earlier). And like any good horror movie’s origin story, the B’s will need to look to their successful history against these teams in order to “make them history” at a time when both the division & conference races will be tightening up. All of these contests offer national audience eyes as well, so you can best “B”-lieve the hockey world will be talking them up since many broadcasters, like fans from these cities, champion themselves as Original Six supporters & supposed soothsayers (this is also similar for Friday film fanatics).

Speaking of making bold predictions, if the B’s aren’t careful — i.e. they let the Wings take them to a shootout then get gassed at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours later — then they could end up looking just like this upon leaving New York… an expression well-known to a familiar-faced character who enjoyed romping around Manhattan back in his heyday. (Eastern Hockey League be damned!)

 

Weekend Four: Canadien Cutthroats

When it comes to the Bruins traveling across country for their annual “West Coast Canadien Kick,” the schedule always seems to fall in February for these three games — two of which will be back-to-backers on February 21st (Calgary) and 22nd (Vancouver), respectively. One needn’t guess which other city the B’s will be visiting just days prior unless you’ve been living under Plymouth Rock for the past decade and not paying attention to this always-highlighted stretch of hockey (it’s Edmonton in case you have been and my apologies).

And if previous seasons are any indicator, then we all know just how important taking AT LEAST four out of six points will be for the B’s against the Oilers, Flames & Canucks. This will be cutthroat hockey at its finest–with no machete needed–proving just how fun, competitive & memorable these games can be. The B’s also like to use this road trip as a memory-making team bonding experience so let’s hope they make the most of what the calendar has lined up for them yet again this upcoming season.

Weekend Five: The Final Chapter

This weekend, or to be more specific this Saturday matinee, only comes around once in a blue–strike that, Black N’ Gold, moon; definitely once every four years, but rarely does that infamous day fall on a game day. That’s right, I’m talking about February 29th — LEAP DAY! And the Bruins throughout their 23-Leap-Year history (sorry, the franchise Inaugural Year of 1924 doesn’t count on the Leap-season statistics since it began in December long after February celebrated an additional day of aging) have had nine games on that calendar extension mark, if you will.

Plainly, to put a mark on it, the B’s are a mediocre 4-4-1 on LEAP DAY dating back to the Roosevelt administration (that’s FDR not TR for you Presidential historians out there). To get even more detailed, the team’s 4-1-1 at home in Boston and 0-3 on the road in Toronto, Chicago and New York. If you’d like to see it in list form, look no further than below:

BOSTON BRUINS LEAP YEAR HISTORY:

1940 – W, 4-2 over Montreal

1944 – L, 7-3 @ Toronto

1948 – L, 5-1 @ Chicago

1956 – L, 4-2 @ New York

1964 – W, 2-1 over Detroit

1968 – W, 4-1 over Toronto

1976 – W, 5-3 over Vancouver

1992 – T, 5-5 with Washington

2000 – L, 5-1 to Ottawa

If the Bruins would like to win their first ever LEAP DAY tilt on the road and, dare I type, tilt the ice in their favor, they’ll have the perfectly slanted opportunity to do so against the insalubrious Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in 2020. Now, that’s a game I’d like to see — be it in person, on television or on the NHL-TV recap ap! It’s obviously the final day of February (and for those celebrating an “Over The Hill” occasion, their 10th official Birthday), but I’m rooting for the B’s franchise to be exactly like the Friday the 13th franchise on this day — not only will it NOT be the final chapter, but many successful sequels will follow!

Image result for boston bruins season schedule 2020(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

With the month of March looking scarily similar to February — both in terms of the number of games and number of tough teams to play against for Boston — the B’s could find themselves successfully skating towards the playoffs or falling through the ice and flailing for help just like that poor young boy whom the camp counselors ignored much to his maligned mother’s chagrin & sharp knives. Thankfully, there’s no Friday the 13th in February of 2020… and now you don’t have to mark your calendar to know it!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 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 Jaroslav Halak: Staying Sharp Between The Pipes

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 14: Goaltender Jaroslav Halak #41 of ...(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

Training Camp has officially started and as the team comes together on the ice, the focus will turn to re-amping their efforts as the boys in Black and Gold look to once again reach the Stanley Cup Finals. As Butch Cassidy and his Sundance Kids look to shake off last season’s tough end, many of those players are ready to start fresh. While some are working to get a spot on the Varsity team, Bruins back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak is ready to continue his journey in between the pipes.

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE…

It’s something every professional NHL team wants and needs when it comes to having great goaltending: the perfect tandem. Last season, both Tuukka Rask and Halak acknowledged that their chemistry on and off the ice was the perfect combination of a winning duo. Halak’s calm demeanor in net allowed Cassidy more freedom in his choices, especially when it came time to give Rask much needed rest.

Image result for jaroslav halak(Photo Credits: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

When the 32-year-old Finnish native needed to time resolve a personal matter back in November, duties fell on Halak. Rask missed the games against the Toronto Maples Leafs and the Vegas Golden Knights. With Jaro in net, the Bruins won both match-ups. When Rask returned to the team, Boston, unfortunately, fell to the Vancouver Canucks 8-5 with Halak in net (Rask would come in as relief but the damage was already done).

As the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time counting 2011, one of the biggest observations was just how well Coach Bruce Cassidy was able to manage both goaltenders during the regular season. As noted in past performances, Rask faltered a bit when having to play a heavier workload. However, when the 34-year-old Halak signed with the Bruins (replacing Anton Khudobin), things were looking to balance out in favor of Rask. During the 2018-2019 regular season, Tuukka played 46 games and went 27-13-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average, while Jaro appeared in 40 games going 20-11-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average.

Image result for jaroslav halak tuukka rask(Photo Credits:  Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

Having a successful back-up goaltender made it easier for Cassidy to shift responsibilities between the two, thus allowing Rask to stay fresh-something important especially when we’re talking Playoffs. It certainly allowed Tuukka to play phenomenal during Boston’s extended postseason run. As Bruins President Cam Neely noted:

“The way that Jaro played for us this year really helped Tuukka get some rest… We’ve seen when Tuukka’s workload gets too high he really starts to break down. I think the fact Jaro had such a great year and we were able to rely on him, and even (Anton Khudobin) had a great year the year before, that really allows us to maybe reduce Tuukka’s starts a little bit. We could keep him a little fresher this year and I think it made a really big difference in the playoffs.”

With the new season fast approaching, both Rask and Halak are poised to once again share the wealth. As Boston Globe’s Marisa Ingemi recently reported, Rask is feeling just as healthy now as he felt towards the end of the last season. For Jaro, he’s looking to move forward this upcoming year:

“I just want to help the team, any way I could , same thing this year…get the win, get the points..we still have the same goal..we wanna win the cup.”

Bruins Sign Bruce Cassidy To Extension

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Photo Courtesy Of Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning, that the team has signed Head Coach Bruce Cassidy to a multi-year contract extension. Cassidy is about to start his third full season behind the B’s bench and has compiled a record of 117-52-22 since taking over for Claude Julien.

Cassidy already owns the fourth-best winning percentage in team history and is the second-fastest head coach in team history to reach 100 wins. In just his second full season in Boston, Cassidy led the B’s to a 49-24-9 regular season record and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the second straight year the Bruins had topped 100 points and the third straight season the team had reached the playoffs under Cassidy.

 

Prior to joining Claude Julien’s staff in 2016-17, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-2016) as the Head Coach of the Providence Bruins. He also spent three seasons (2008-2011) as an assistant to the hockey club. The 54-year old native of Ottawa, Ontario compiled a record of 207-128-45 in his tenure as Head Coach including four playoff berths. Since taking over for Claude Julien, Cassidy has been rock solid as Head Coach and has done a fantastic job in a very short span. It’s good to see the front office and the organization not only recognizes his work but rewards him for the success he’s had.

Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Others Among Potential Second Line Solutions For Bruins, Per Bruce Cassidy

zach-senyshyn.jpg

(Photo: David Berding / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Among several stories to come out of the Boston Bruins Foundation golf outing Monday afternoon was head coach Bruce Cassidy’s comments regarding the state of the second line right wing situation, which has been a glaring issue for the better part of five seasons now. Cassidy told the media that Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Brett Ritchie, and potentially more are all among options he will consider to fill the open roster spot on David Krejci’s right.

All of the guys mentioned above are also assumedly in the mix for the open spot on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, barring a shift in the lineup for either of those two; however, the main concern is obviously who will take the third spot alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The clubhouse favorite seems to be Kuhlman as he had success with the aforementioned duo last season and even came up huge in the playoffs. In 11 regular season games, the Minnesota-Duluth product posted three goals and two assists for five points, spending most of his time on the second line.

Leading into the postseason, the second line with Kuhlman on the right posted eight five-on-five goals in 68:21 of ice-time, and the 23-years-old stepped in seamlessly when asked to either slot in on either the third or second line during the playoffs, notching 1-2-3 numbers in eight games, including this SNIPE in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final:

Next on the wheel of possibilities is Anders Bjork, who, after a strong showing at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, is looking to prove that he is ready for an NHL role after his first two seasons were cut short by a pair of shoulder surgeries. Bjork is essentially starting from scratch this season, and the Prospects Challenge should have served as a good opportunity to help get his legs under him ahead of camp.

With 15 points in 50 games with the varsity club, Bjork has shown flashes of what many thought he could be when given the chance to actually play in the top-six. However, starting the year off in Providence may not be the worst thing for him as far as his confidence and conditioning goes. The 23-year-old’s NHL experience likely gives him leg up on guys like Senyshyn and even Jack Studnicka or Oskar Steen, both of whom may also get a chance to show what they can do on the second line.

Speaking of Senyshyn, the 15th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is an interesting case. Boasting gobs of speed, tenacity, and skill, Senyshyn has not quite lit the world on fire at the AHL level (26-24-50 in 132 games) after going off in the OHL (114-63-177 in 195 games).

However, in two NHL games at the end of the regular season last year, the 22-year-old was quite impressive and even scored his first NHL goal against Minnesota; although it was an empty-netter. The speedy Ottawa, Ontario native certainly has the skill set for potential success next to David Krejci, and he’ll get a shot to show he’s the man for the job in what will surely be a “prove it” year.

Ritchie was already going to be an interesting guy to keep an eye on during training camp, but with Cassidy specifically mentioning him in the running for second line right wing, the intrigue has only heightened. The 26-year-old signed with the Bruins at the start of free agency for a one-year, $1-million deal–a pretty low-risk, potentially high-reward signing.

It is unlikely that Ritchie will miraculously become the player that the Dallas Stars thought he could have turned into, a bruising middle-six, or top-six, winger, but he does fit the mold of guys who have found success next to Krejci in years passed (Lucic, Horton, and Iginla–not to say he is or will be as good as those guys, but the comparison is there). Ritchie’s best season was two years ago with Dallas where he scored 24 points (16 goals and eight assists); he moved around in the top-nine, but also spent a decent amount of time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

The 16 goals he scored three years ago is the key stat. If he can tap into that goal production playing with skilled guys like Krejci and DeBrusk, the Bruins may have found something, so we’ll have to see where this goes during camp.

Cassidy only explicitly mentioned the four guys I talked about above, but that’s not to say someone like the aforementioned Steen or Studnicka won’t get a look either. Although, Steen is still likely a few seasons of way from being fully ready to make the leap to the NHL since this will only be his first professional season in North America.

Likewise with Studnicka, the 20-year-old is set to begin his first full pro season since joining Providence’s playoff run after lighting up the OHL. The former Oshawa Generals captain has experience playing wing even though he is a natural center, and he has made it clear to the organization he will play wing if needed–the skillset on this kid increases the possibility of making an impact with the big club. However, it may be best for him to get even more seasoning playing center in Providence; more on where Studnicka might fit in a future article to look out for. Also, I haven’t even mentioned Peter Cehlarik, but rest assured he’ll probably get a shot considering the flashes he’s shown in his NHL experience.

With training camp set to kick off this week, the ongoing saga at second line right wing is certainly among the top storylines, and Cassidy’s comment only increased the interest around the open roster spot.  It really is anyone’s guess as to who will seize the two open roster spots up front. Everyone will surely be curious to see where this goes and who steps up as the next man for the job.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

2019-20 Is A Year Of Opportunity For Bruins F Karson Kuhlman

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

The 2019 Boston Bruins Rookie Camp begins on September 5th and a week later on September 12th, the official Bruins Training Camp begins. During these two main events of the offseason, players break-out and impress the likes of Don Sweeney and the other members of Boston’s management staff while others fail to meet the expectations and are cut from the camp or are sent down to the American Hockey League.

Lately, on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website, my fellow teammates have been listing their top-10 prospects within the organization and there are some great names to watch out for in the future. Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser, Oskar Steen, and John Beecher are in the minds of most Bruins fans while others such as Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn are the players just on the cusp of making it, with their fair share of doubters surrounding them. On my own personal list, forward Karson Kuhlman is always on the top, or close to it at the very least.

Karson Kuhlman first caught the eye of the Boston Bruins during his time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where he spent four seasons. After only one season with the Bulldogs, Kuhlman was handed the “A”, becoming assistant captain – a position he held for two seasons before being promoted to team captain in the 2017-18 season.

That campaign was a solid one for the Esko, Minnesota, USA native, as the forward scored 13-7-20 numbers in 44 games but it was during the NCAA Championship where he really had a successful run. Kuhlman was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament following a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Notre Dame to win the championship. The now 23-year-old center was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and also won the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

On April 10th, 2018, General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins had signed Kuhlman to a two-year NHL contract and that he would be sent to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, playing only two games, but did record an assist in the process.

In this past 2018-19 season, Kuhlman spent the majority of the hockey year with the P-Bruins, scoring 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points in 58 games played. At the same time, Karson scored an additional five points in eleven games up in the big leagues, scoring his first career goal in only his second NHL game.

Karson’s speed and dangerous shot earned him some playing time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in a combined eight games. Kuhlman recorded one assist in five games against the Maple Leafs in the opening round, scored another assist in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and would not play another postseason game for Boston until Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.

The Bruins were down the series three-games-to-two and the play of David Backes on the second line was not up to the standards required so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy went faster and put the youngster in with Krejci and DeBrusk and stepped up to the plate and put up Boston’s third goal of the game with a total of 13:07 of time on the ice. Kuhlman displayed his rocket of a wrist shot and showed his chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk as the line finished the do-or-die night with three points.

For a brief time, we saw that the trio of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman has the combination of speed and skill along hockey IQ that can bring some additional scoring to the line. It has been a long time since Krejci has had a legitimate offensive threat on the right-wing, some would argue that he never has had one, but Kuhlman could eventually grow into that player that is so desperately desired with that leadership and veteran experience of Krejci.

Earlier this offseason, I published an article that outlined by ideal opening night lineup for the Boston Bruins and I had Kuhlman in that competitive spot. This allows the Bruins to keep David Pastrnak on the first line in an effort to continue the dominance that was found with his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The fourth line can also stay the same, leaving the third line up for debate.

Having Kuhlman’s speed and skill on the second line would leave an opening for a young rookie on the third line alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. Whoever that ends up being will get the playing time but will not have the large responsibility as they would have in the top-six. Regardless, the upcoming Training Camp will be the time for these players to battle for their spot on the NHL roster. In my books, Kuhlman’s performance in the Finals was enough to earn him a little bit of an advantage over the other candidates listed above.

In addition, Chris Mazza from Dobber Prospects said the following about the center in April 2019 in a post on the site:

“Signed as a college free agent in 2018, Kuhlman enjoyed a successful first year of pro hockey, managing 30 points through 58 games with Providence in addition to five points in 11 NHL games while playing primarily on Boston’s second line. He captained the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2017-2018 National Championship, taking home tournament MVP honors in the process. Kuhlman’s offensive upside is limited, however, he has been touted as a strong leader everywhere he has played. He excels in board battles, has a decent shot and is seemingly always in position to make a play. Look for Kuhlman to push for a full-time role with the NHL Bruins next season.” – Chris Mazza

On my official Twitter page, (@tkdmaxbjj ), I posted a poll asking for your thoughts and opinions regarding the thought of throwing Kuhlman on the second line and the results were quite similar to mine. Either way, the efforts and production of the 2018-19 season for Kuhlman have created big opportunities – will he capitalize on them? Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 143 that we recorded on 9-2-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

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