What Are the Bruins Options With John Moore

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown

John Moore signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2018. The contract was for five years with an average annual value towards the Bruins’ salary cap of $2,750,000. At the time of the signing, General Manager Don Sweeney discussed the need for skating, size, and depth in his defense corps all of which he believed Moore, coming off the best stretch of his career with the Devils, could provide. Two years into the five year deal, Moore has only played 85 games with the spoked B on his chest, a consequence of injuries and sliding down the depth chart. Sweeney’s concern about depth two seasons ago has been slightly allayed by the play of youngsters like Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon, all of whom have become preferred choices for Coach Bruce Cassidy in the lineup over the veteran Moore. By all accounts from Bruins’ beat writers, Moore is a great professional but it’s evident things have not worked out how the team or the player imagined on the ice when signing the long-term deal on the first day of free agency two summers ago. In this piece, we will examine what the Bruins’ options are with Moore who this past season was not much more than a very expensive depth option.

Buyout

The Athletic’s James Mirtle recently did a piece on the top buyout candidates in the NHL where he floated Moore’s name. In a flat cap world with diminished revenues paying so much for a player like Moore instantaneously raises this scenario. Not only does it reduce your cap hit for the upcoming season, it also opens up a roster spot to sign a free agent or to promote a younger player to the top club. If the Bruins buyout Moore they will owe him $805,556 in actual money until 2025-26. In terms of cap savings, they would get back $1,444,444 in 2020-21 and 2022-23 and $1,944,444 in 2021-22. However, the buyout would eat up $805,556 of cap space for three years beyond when the initial contract is set to expire. While the Bruins could use the cap space this year they may need it even more in the coming years needing to re-sign players like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy as well as plug holes as their core players age.

Bury The Contract

Another option available to the Bruins is to send Moore down to the minors and “bury his contract”. The Montreal Canadiens have been currently employing this strategy with Karl Alzner. Although Alzner’s paycheck is bigger than Moore’s, there are a lot of similarities amongst both players and their situations. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that if you send a player on a one way contract down, your cap still includes the original cap hit minus league minimum salary and an additional $375,000. If the Bruins’ sent Moore to Providence he would still count as $1,675,000 towards their cap. This is slightly more than the buyout option but would ensure the contract came off the books when it is set to expire in 2022-23. Moore would also need to clear waivers to be sent down and it’s possible, though unlikely, another team would claim him.

Trade

An inevitability of the cap era is the need to get rid of contract’s that were ill advised or just didn’t work out. In these instances team’s often need to sweeten the pot to find a taker. Bruins fans are familiar with this as recently as this past winter, when Sweeney had to include a first round pick and retain some salary to move on from David Backes and his albatross of a contract. Over the summer there is likely little market for a player like Moore. Many similar players will be available for cheaper in a depressed free agent market. Teams may also want to gauge what their in-house options are for a third pair defenseman before taking on a larger salary for one. However, as teams get into their opening games (whenever that might be), assess their talent level, and start facing injuries, they may decide they have a need for a player like Moore to shore up their depth and take on some minutes for them. The Bruins would likely be willing to part with Moore for a marginal pick and could even consider retaining some salary to make it work.

Remain On The Team

Moore is indeed still part of the Bruins as this article is being written. He was a part of the traveling party in the playoff bubble and did get into one game. Had the Bruins’ defense faced injury, Moore likely would have received the call after Lauzon. Moore is only 29 years old so while he is just past his prime, age is not a major concern. The Bruins also may indeed have a depth issue on defense depending on how the off-season (not the summer) plays out. If the Bruins do not sign a defenseman (or two) in free agency and decide it would be best for their young defense prospects to keep logging extensive and all situation minutes in the minors, they have a dearth of options on the big club. Grzelcyk has yet to show he can play big minutes. Clifton and Lauzon have yet to show they can be everyday players. That leaves just Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as proven commodities the Bruins know what to expect from on their current roster. Even Carlo is coming off an inconsistent playoff bubble performance and poorer underlying regular season numbers than previous years. While Moore’s performance relative to his teammates has not been sterling, he does provide a veteran presence for Cassidy. Moore, after struggling with injury this season, should also come to camp in full health ready to battle for a spot.

Conclusion

The Bruins are in an unenviable position with John Moore. A buyout provides some short term savings but could hinder them long-term. Burying Moore in the minors provides savings similar to that of a buyout without the long term impact. Trade options are likely scarce over the off-season but may be available as teams become desperate with injuries or underperforming players. However, the Bruins best option is likely to retain Moore for now. Unless Boston makes a big splash on defense in free agency, or via trade, they may need him as an option next season. The Bruins would need to see if Clifton and Lauzon can become regulars or if a player like Jakub Zboril is ready to make the jump. Having a veteran insurance policy would be a good route to go. If the youngsters or off-season additions prove adequate then they could look to off-load him early on next season or consider assigning him to Providence.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 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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BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 9 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

In my latest video uploaded to my YouTube channel, I look back at my 2019/20 NHL Awards prediction video. In this upload, talk about what went through my head during the predictions and discussing the award winners. Check it out below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be updated when a new video is published. 

  • Hart: 2:04
  • Lady Byng: 4:23
  • Vezina: 6:11
  • Calder: 7:44
  • Norris: 9:29
  • Ted Lindsey: 11:34
  • Jack Adams: 12:24
  • Selke: 13:48
  • Jim Gregory: 15:11

The Bruins may be out of the playoffs, but that won’t stop the content from being produced. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and please consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel HERE!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Predicting The Future Performance Of The Bruins’ Next Core

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

Welcome back for Part Three of our series predicting the performance of the Bruins’ core players. In Part One we examined aging curves and decided on who made up the Bruins’ veteran and young cores. In Part Two we analyzed the past performances and trends of the Bruins’ veterans in order to predict what the future might hold for each player and the group as a whole. In Part Three we will take a look at the players the Bruins organization hope will make up their next wave of key players. These are players already making an impact on the team. The organization can only hope that their trajectory and longevity mimics that of the current veteran core. We will again use the same formula as laid it in Part One to examine player’s past performance and current career trajectories. We will then try and make some assessments. We will ponder if the young core is capable of helping the veteran core achieve greatness one last time. With some recent trade rumors in the air, especially in such an uncertain world, it will also be worth considering if this is a group capable of taking the proverbial torch and leading the Bruins’ franchise to success in the years to come.

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David Pastrnak

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Contract: $6,666,666 AAV through 2022-23

What we learned: Pastrnak grades out as one of the best players in the league and that was recently recognized in the form of Hart Trophy votes. As a teenager in a limited role, he showed he belonged in the NHL. Once he turned 20 and saw his responsibility increase, he blossomed. Over the course of his career his efficiency has continued to improve. He has driven play and generated opportunities consistently since that 20 year old season but he has become more lethal. His shooting percentage has increased year over year as does his ability to make dangerous plays.

Outlook: Entering his 24 year old season Pasta should be able to maintain his level of play for the foreseeable future. While aging curves suggest he has another year to get better, he already was the leagues co-best goal scorer this year. Even if Pastrnak’s shooting percentage regresses a bit he is still a threat to score 40 goals every season for a number of years. It is also evident he makes players around him better evidenced by the increased output from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand over the last few years. While not known for his defense, Pasta is capable in his own end. Pastrnak is a player you can build a team around. Barring any major injuries or issues Pasta is the future of the Bruin’s core.

Charlie Coyle

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Contract: $5,250,000 AAV through 2025-2026

What we learned: Coyle is the oldest of the young core. By hockey standards he is no longer young and coupled with his years of service in the NHL can be considered grizzled vet. Coyle’s trends have a little bit of noise to them. The first noisy piece is a decline in his mid 20s due to a diminished role towards the tail end of his time with the Minnesota Wild. Second, a tough start to his Bruins’ career after a late season trade over a small sample messes with the visual and trendlines. Having said that, he is most recent season’s numbers are on par with his performance earlier in his career. Coyle is done developing at least from an offensive standpoint as he approaches his mid 20s. He is also signed to a very long term contract.

Outlook: Coyle’s play this past year is pretty much career average and probably a clear indicator of who he was and is as a player. He is a bit of a swiss army knife under head coach Bruce Cassidy playing up and down the lineup as needed. In general, he is a solid middle-6 forward ideally suited for 3C, a slot he can really impact the game. At 28, Coyle will not see a spike in offense. However as a trusted player in Cassidy’s lineup, 15 goals and 40 points seems reasonable for the next couple of seasons. In the short term he provides great depth and can step up in the lineup when needed. If David Krejci moves on he can move up to 2C though he is better suited for the third unit. He also seems a quality professional with some leadership ability. However, as he enters his 30s Bs fans may end up regretting the length of his contract.

Jake Debrusk

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Contract: Restricted Free Agent

What we learned: Debrusk burst onto the scene three seasons ago and had instant chemistry with David Krejci. He increased his goal scoring output in his sophomore year largely on the back of a high shooting percentage. In year three his goals and points declined a bit as his shooting percentage regressed and the early career chemistry with Krejci faded. Throughout his young career Debrusk has been a bit on the streaky side. In other words, a little inconsistent. Debrusk has had a small but steady uptick in individual expected goals though that has not really translated into an increase in points.

Outlook: Debrusk is at a make or break point in his career. He has been given every chance to succeed with the Bruins playing on their second line, receiving favorable offensive zone starts, and getting time with the first and second powerplay units. Entering his 24 year old season, Debrusk must prove he is more than a middle-6 complimentary player. In all likelihood though Debrusk is what he is, a 20 goal, 45-50 point player. That is by no means bad but you always get the feeling Debrusk has the potential to be more.

Charlie McAvoy

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Contract: $4,900,000 AAV through 2021-22

What we learned: McAvoy has quickly become the Bruins top defender. The chart doesn’t show his increase in ice time or the difficulty of the competition he plays against night in and night out. He has done so the last couple of years with an aging Zdeno Chara (or occasionally the undrafted Matt Grzelcyk) and still managed to post positive numbers. The NHL media recognized McAvoy’s play recently in the form of votes for this season’s Norris Trophy. McAvoy’s offensive production though has not ascended to the level of other elite two-way defensemen. His numbers are stagnant partially because of a decrease in powerplay time after his first season. His percentages have also decreased despite generating more shots and individual expected goals.

Outlook: McAvoy is no doubt a number one defenseman currently playing on a bargain contract. Just turning 23, he also has a little time to round out his game. If McAvoy can add a little more quality to his offensive chances and get a little more opportunity on the power play he has the potential to enter the upper echelons of NHL defensemen and be part of Norris conversations for years to come. The Long Beach, NY native also showed some durability in 2019-20 after dealing with injuries and time missed in his first couple of seasons. If McAvoy stays healthy and can bump up his offense a touch he should be able to shutdown top lines and produce 40-50 points a season for the foreseeable future.

Brandon Carlo

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Contract: $2,850,000 AAV through 2020-21

What we learned: Carlo will never be known for his offense though he has shown some improvement in that area in his young professional career. Strong numbers his rookie year are the result of unsustainable percentages but his underlying offensive numbers have improved. The Bruins don’t need Carlo to develop into an offensive juggernaut. They need him to be a stopper, a guy that plays hard minutes against top-6 forwards and locks it down on the penalty kill. Carlo is an able penalty killer. His 5v5 possession numbers though regressed alongside Torey Krug this past season. Is this past season an outlier or is tough competition a little too much for Carlo to handle?

Outlook: Carlo is a big man and sometimes it takes players with larger frames a little more time to fill out and find their way. Entering his 24 year old season, and a contract year, it will be imperative for Carlo to figure things out. A little more offense would be nice but in particular he needs to show that the Bruins can drive possession while he is on the ice even against tougher competition. 20 Points isn’t unreasonable to expect from Carlo over the next few years. In all likelihood he will have a new partner next year as well which could help or hurt Carlo in the long-term. This year will either solidify Carlo as a reliable top-4 defender or make him expendable as a depth defender. Carlo’s history, coupled with just a little more development, suggest he can be the former.

Summing Up The Young Core

The Bruins have a current superstar in David Pastrnak and a budding star in Charlie McAvoy. Both have the potential to get even a little better and should be top players in the league for a number of years. Charlie Coyle will not carry a team but is an important player who can be relied upon in all situations, move up and down the lineup, and provide secondary scoring. Coyle should be able to provide that for at least the first half of his contract.

Jake Debrusk and Brandon Carlo are at career crossroads. Both turning 24, they must prove they are more than complimentary pieces and are integral to the team. Both have recently been linked to trade rumors suggesting the Bruins are questioning whether they are part of the organization’s long term plans or the time is right to sell high on their potential. In all likelihood, both can be useful players but are best suited to the middle of the lineup on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it all the way through our three part series, first of all thanks for reading! In Part Two of our series we surmised the Bruins veteran core is likely on it’s last year as a group with potentially three of the five players moving on in 2021. At minimum, only Bergeron and Marchand are likely to continue in their current roles beyond next season. When looking at our young core there are two star players in Pastrnak and McAvoy. Coyle is a very reliable veteran. All three can likely fill the void if the Krejci and Chara move move on or continue to decline. However, to be a true Stanley Cup team the Bruins will need a couple more pieces. This upcoming season will indicate if Carlo and Debrusk can reach their potential and prove they should be long term parts of the team’s core. Otherwise, the Bs will need youngsters like Jack Studnicka or others to show they can be the part of the future core or look towards trades and free agency. The Bruins will also need to find a replacement in net for Rask either at the end of this current contract or as his play declines in the coming years.

There is much lineup uncertainty beyond this year. The Bruins must assess which veterans to move on from and which young players can fill the void when they do. By 2021-22 the Bruins will have a new core but have some key pieces that could sustain success moving forward if surrounded by the right pieces. Having said that, the 2020-21 season should be win at all costs mode for the Bs with much up in the air in the very near future.

All data courtesy of Naturalstattrick, Hockey-Reference, and Puckpedia

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 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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The Bottom Six For The Boston Bruins Needs To Be Top Notch

( Photo Credit: Charles Krupa / The Associated Press )

By: Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards

For the Boston Bruins to compete for another Stanley Cup, their offensive production will have to improve from all four lines, particularly in even-strength situations. The talk has mostly been about adding a capable scoring threat at right-wing for the second line with center David Krejci. This is a significant need along with a left-shot defenseman to potentially replace Torey Krug, who may not re-sign with Boston. However, the Bruins also need more production from the bottom two lines and will need to solidify who will play regularly in those roles.

A big question mark that needs to be answered entering into next season is whether young players such as Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, and Jack Studnicka can progress into productive NHL players. The hope is that Studnicka can be the spark the second line needs and use his talents to become the next Bruins star. He might even be a fit on the top line with David Pastrnak moving down to play with Krejci. Kuhlman is a restricted free agent who has shown great speed and a decent skill set but needs to be more consistent to remain in the lineup. However, general manager Don Sweeney has to decide if Kuhlman’s potential is worthy of a contract. The feeling is that Bjork will get a long look as a third-line winger with Charlie Coyle at center.

If the makeup of the roster does not significantly change and management believes that holes can be filled with in-house prospects, then this is what I would like to see for line rushes as the 2020-21 season begins in December or early January:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jack Studnicka
Jake DeBrusk (if re-signed)-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Ondrej Kase
Trent Frederic-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner

Ondrej Kase was a midseason addition who did not produce as much as the team had hoped and then missed some time when the group entered the bubble. He never seemed to get himself into a rhythm, and his point production suffered. I think he may be better suited for the third line with Coyle as both players have had good puck possession numbers.

The fourth line is very intriguing and could be a real strength for Bruce Cassidy’s team. Wagner and Kuraly have both shown an excellent ability to hunt pucks and provide some offense while in the lineup. The addition of Frederic could ultimately complement them well. The former University of Wisconsin star has shown promise at the American Hockey League level with Providence. He is a grinding player who can play center and wing and has a feisty side which the Bruins would welcome on their roster. Frederic would replace unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom, who will more than likely sign elsewhere. Par Lindholm is also in the mix with one year remaining on his deal. The time is now to see what the Bruins have in Frederic.

With all of the uncertainty facing the Bruins this offseason, the team may be in an excellent position to roll out two good bottom-six lines to begin next season. This will be paramount in terms of competing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who made significant changes to their bottom-six this past season. With talk that the Bruins may not spend to the cap limit going into the upcoming campaign, the organization’s player development program will be on full display in 2020-21 and could be the reason the window stays open one more season for the Boston Bruins.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

In Hindsight, 2020 Playoffs Looked Like Many Past Bruins Campaigns

( Photo Credit: Stan Grossfeld / Globe Staff )

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

There’s no masking it for the Boston Bruins.

Not now during the pandemic of 2020. Not then during the pandemonium of 2019 (pictured above). And not way-back-when, panning back to the mid 70’s, late 80’s, early 90’s and forgettable “00” oughts (when the team was often panned).

When it comes to playoff performance, the B’s have only ever hit their “peak” twice since 1970 — first in 1972 as a followup to the historic Orr-in-Four Cup run. And then once more in 2011 when this current Bruins core was in its prime.

So, how is it that Boston teams within these past fifty years of Hub Hockey are always primed for playoff success, yet rarely ever achieve it (and you best “B”-lieve I’m talking about the ultimate playoff success of winning the Stanley Cup; none of these “learning moment” milestones)?

You could blame it on the coaching over that timespan — everyone from Harry Sinden to Bruce Cassidy with the likes of Don Cherry, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly, Mike Milbury and Claude Julien in-between to name a few B’s bench bosses.

BUT… many are HHOF-caliber coaches (if not Jack Adams Award-winners like the recently-lauded Cassidy) and most, if not all, got the Bruins to the Cup Finals once or twice (including Julien who was a part of the aforementioned celebratory ’11 success).

Then how about ownership and management? Surely the B’s brass and money men should shoulder the load of early playoff exits and late-round collapses over the last half-century, especially when they bungled so many trade deadlines and salary caps (finger-pointing at you Monsieurs Sinden & Chiarelli)!

THEN AGAIN, the B’s nearly did win three more Stanley Cups under their leadership (’88, ’90 and ’13) with less-tenured GM’s like Mike O’Connell and Don Sweeney also making near-Cup-winning runs (and yes, the pre-lockout ’04 Bruins team was one of the best I’ve seen). So it can’t be that, can it?

Let’s lay the blame on the players then! If you’ve got perennial All-Stars, top scorers, elite defenders and Vezina-worthy goaltenders with names like Orr & Espo / Moog & Lemelin / Bourque & Neely / Bergy, Marchy & Big Z … then there’s no way your team can turn up more L’s than W’s in big games, important moments and clinching finales, right?

Unfortunately, wrong (with uncomfortable attention payed to the ill-fated “Too Many Men on the Ice Game” of 1979, the “Lights Out at the Garden Game” of 1988, the gut-wrenching “Game 7 OT Oopses” of 2009 & 2012, and the “Must-Win Home Heartbreaks” of 1971, 1982, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2013 and most recently 2019).

YET, we all understand no team can win every year (unless of course you’re the Canadiens, Islanders or Oilers of your era) and that the Bruins did have their fair share of more-than-memorable comebacks, OT thrillers and series victories that truly felt like winning the Cup. And why most were against the Toronto Maple Leafs will always be a point never worth questioning but always worth smiling about!

SO, how can we truly knock our fan favorites, our boys who always bleed Black N’ Gold no matter the jersey, just because some years they come up short of that all-too-familiar ultimate goal?

Because… and I hate to say it since I’m so often guilty of it… it’s easy and we’re used to it; sure as hell more used to it than seeing the B’s win, close it out, move on and hoist the Cup. In fact, in my Reagan Era-born lifetime alone, I’ve now watched four other celebrations where Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice was kept from my beloved Bruins. Add in my father, it’s seven disappointments. Add in my late grandfather, it’s twelve!

SURE, there were a few parades in Boston during that stretch (only six altogether) but not enough to cover up the almosts, the could-have-beens, the this-was-ours moments that were missed. There will never be enough of those for Bruins fans.

( Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images )

And that’s okay. We want to win. We love to win. We expect to win, especially in the 21st-century now dubbed the “Boston Sports Dynasty” years. But until we win again… playing the blame game and panning our team is something we’ll continue to do.

Because, like the B’s coming up short against the Lightning (add the years 2018 and 2020 to the growing list of game-related gripes), we’re good at it. Always have been. Always will be.

There’s no masking it in Boston.

Check out the latest BN’G Podcast Episode 194 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!

And 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!

Boston Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy Wins 2020 Jack Adams Award

PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has officially been named the winner of the 2020 Jack Adams Award, the trophy given to the best head coach during the 2019-20 regular season.

Cassidy became the bench boss of the Bruins back in the 2016-17 season following the departure of longtime coach Claude Julien. Prior to his hiring, Cassidy was the Head Coach for Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, for five seasons – only missing the postseason once.

Cassidy coached only 27 games in ’16/’17, but with the change of coaching the Bruins went 18-8-1 and managed to claw their way into the playoffs, ending a two-year playoff drought. While the Bruins fell short to the Ottawa Senators in six games, it became clear Cassidy was the right fit for the organization.

In 2017-18, the Bruins won 50 games for the first time since the 2013-14 season and made it to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In ’18-’19, Bruce Cassidy led the B’s to another near 50-win campaign, finishing the year with a 49-24-9 record. While the Bruins failed to secure the top spot in the Atlantic Division, they managed to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and swept the Carolina Hurricanes en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the St. Louis Blues.

That brings us to this year. Boston was undeniably the best team during the course of the regular-season prior to the pause in result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bruins finished as the only franchise to reach the 100-point plateau and as result, won the league’s Presidents’ Trophy. With a plethora of injuries throughout the campaign, Cassidy kept the train on the tracks and with the “Next Man Up” mentality, allowed the Bruins to remain contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy joins Don Cherry (1975-76), Pat Burns (1997-98), and Claude Julien (2013-14) as the only head coaches in Boston Bruins franchise history to be named the Jack Adams winner.

Philadelphia Flyers’ Alain Vigneault and Columbus Blue Jackets’ John Tortorella finished second and third respectively in the voting done by broadcasters across the league.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Predicting The Future Performance of the Bruins Veteran Core

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

In Part One of this series we took a look at aging curves. We also determined who makes up the Bruins’ core group of players. Today, in Part Two, we will use that information to take a look at the trajectory of the Bruins’ veteran core which we have identified as Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask. This group is made up of a number of iconic players for this generation of Bruins’ fans. These players have been part of an incredibly successful run in Bruins’ history including winning the ultimate prize in 2011. Each have also enjoyed individual success and they have all received votes for post-season league awards during their careers. However, the youngest player in this group is now 32 years old. Three have contracts expiring now or after next season. Sports are fickle and playing careers do not have the longevity of other lines of work. As a reminder, here is a look at a typical aging curve over several metrics.

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So what can we expect for each individual player moving forward? And how might their future performance as a group effect the Bruins’ chances to win it all in the coming seasons? David Krejci sure believes the window is still open.

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With those words in mind, lets break it down and see if Krejci is correct.

Patrice Bergeron

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Contract Status: $6,875,000 AAV, 2021-22

What We Learned: Bergeron, as everyone knows, is impressive. He has continued to play at a high level into his mid-30s. However, Bergeron is showing some signs of slowing down. While his goal scoring has actually gone up a little due to a strong shooting percentages he has seen some dips in first assists, total points, and shot metrics. His 5v5 play has also started to dip the last couple of seasons though it is still on par with his data from his late 20s. His possession metrics are still elite but not the absurd numbers from his late 20s. Being a key cog on one of the best powerplays helps keeps the numbers up.

Outlook: While Bergeron is talented, he succeeds based on his hockey IQ and attention to detail, items that age more gracefully. The following illustrates this perfectly.

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He should continue being an effective player for at least a few more years with contributions on the scoresheet and in many other key facets of the game. He is also the heir apparent to Chara whenever the latter decides to retire or move on. Expect Bergeron’s totals to start slowly decreasing though as his shooting percentage regresses and he slows down a touch. 30 goals and 60 points is reasonable to expect the next couple of seasons if he can stay healthy. Health though needs to be considered as Bergeron has not played close to a complete season since 2016-17. It may also be wise to continue decreasing the heavier matchups and defensive expectations against other team’s top lines as has already been the trend the last couple of seasons.

David Krejci

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Contract Status: $7,250,000 AAV, 2020-21

What We Learned: Krejci’s steady decline has already begun. With the exception of goal scoring, his numbers are down across the board. If you exclude a 2018-19 resurgence as an outlier the picture is worse. His numbers are also propped up by strong performance on the powerplay which offsets declining 5v5 production. Krejci has seen declining possession metrics though he still comes out on the positive end of the goals for battle.

Outlook: Krejci is no doubt still a talented player who contributes to the team. The silky passer has also not had a true scoring winger on his flank for a couple of years now and has played a lot of minutes with the enigmatic Jake Debrusk. Krejci will likely continue his decline. His defensive responsibility and powerplay contributions though continue to provide value until the expiration of his contract next season. Beyond that, he is likely better suited for third line minutes and the Bruins will need to sign him on a shorter term contract with a lower cap hit or consider moving on.

Brad Marchand

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Contract Status: $6,125,000 AAV, 2024-25

What We Learned: Marchand hit a turning point in his career in his late 20s. When most players are leveling off or declining, Marchand decided to get serious and turn himself into a top liner instead of a middle-6 pest. His career turn was impressive and welcome by the team and fans. In the past few years, Marchand has shown some signs of leveling off and in some instances slowing down. In particular, Marchand’s goal totals have begun to tail off. However he has redefined himself again adding a little more play making to his repertoire. It certainly helps playing with David Pastrnak when it comes to assists. He has also dialed down the physical stuff a bit over the last couple of seasons.

Outlook: The youngest of the veteran core, Marchand’s numbers should be steady for a couple more years. However, expect his goal scoring production to decrease as his straight line attacking game ages. He should remain dynamic on the powerplay but at even strength start to wane. Marchand can still be counted on for top line minutes but expect his numbers to drop slightly into the 25 goal and 50 assist range in the near future. That still puts him near a point a game pace for the next couple of seasons. His production will likely continue to dip further before the end of his lengthy contract which doesn’t end until he is 37.

Zdeno Chara

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Contract Status: UFA

What We Learned: Chara once had a stretch of 11 straight seasons receiving Norris trophy votes. Those days are long behind him. Chara’s offensive production has continued to nosedive, not a surprise given his age. However his possession numbers tanked this past season after remaining above average in recent years.

Outlook: It’s doubtful that Chara’s production or play driving improve moving forward and this past season is likely best case scenario moving forward. Chara obviously brings more to the team than just statistics. Having said that, Big Z should likely be relegated to third pair minutes along with penalty kill and closing out game duties. The latter two he continues to do quite well. Asking more of that from Chara is too much and a detriment to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Tuukka Rask

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Contract Status: $7,000,000 AAV, 2020-21

What We Learned: Rask hit his peak at 25. He then had a steady decline before bouncing back a little at 30. He saw decreases in overall play and consistency over that time. Rask’s numbers the past several years prior to this one are slightly above league average. However, at 32, Rask had his best season in years en route to a number of Vezina trophy votes.

Outlook: It would be irresponsible to consider this season for Rask anything but an outlier. Players rarely have a career renaissance in their 30s and expecting another run at the Vezina is unlikely. However it would be fair to expect Rask, in the final year of his contract, to continue playing a little above league average. With the Bruins tight defensive structure, and Rask’s ability to occasionally steal a game, his presence should continue affording the Bruins a chance to win night in and night out.

Conclusion

The Bruins key veterans have generally performed better than the typical aging curve would suggest. Their performances were good enough to make the Stanley Cup final in 2018-19 and win the President’s Trophy in an abbreviated 2019-20. Even with normal aging curves, we can expect them to still be strong performers and potentially lead the Bruins’ on another playoff run. Bergeron and Marchand should generally continue their strong play though they will likely start slowing down in certain facets of their games. Chara’s role has already been redefined in recent years and that trend needs to continue. Krejci’s role may need to change as well, though he is still a dependable middle-6 center. Rask should not be expected to duplicate his Vezina nominated season but is a reliable starter.

There is no question that the window is narrowing and our conclusion is that 2020-21 will be the final hurrah this group. Between decreasing performances and expiring contracts it is a strong possibility that Chara, Krejci, and Rask all move on to retirement or other teams in 2021. It would be poor asset management for Sweeney and company to expect the current level of performance from the three and extend them for term and money into the twilight of their careers. In a flat cap world, if any of them want to stay Bruins they will have to do so on team friendly contracts. Having said that, these players deserve the opportunity to give it one more run before the band gets broken up.

It is also apparent that to be a true cup contender in the coming year the Bruins will need more support for their veterans from their young core. Beyond next year, the young core will need to step up and take control of the franchise’s destiny. With that in mind, join us for Part Three when we examine the Bruins young core and forecast if they are up for the challenge.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Predicting The Future Performance Of The Bruins’ Core Part One

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

Since the Bruins second round exit, fans have already turned their attention to next season. This past week, my BNG colleague Mike Cratty looked at what a homerun offseason could look like examining some possible options for the Bs in free agency and the trade market. Much has also been made of what could become of the Bruins core. Will Zdeno Chara retire? It looks like not. Will Torey Krug move on in free agency? Sounds like there is a good chance. What of the rest of the veteran core, now well into their 30s and with lots of regular season and playoff miles? Colleague Matt Barry believes there is still some time for this group. David Krejci, who earlier in the year bristled at the question of the group’s age, agrees sharing the following sentiment.

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NHL front offices are tasked with a number of things including predicting the future. They do so every time they make their rosters whether it be player acquisition or doling out contracts. It is not an exact science. Players are human after all. They get injured, have personal lives, don’t always fit in a system, and sometimes get unlucky. The one thing that happens to every player though – they get older. Getting older can be a good a thing. Moving into their early 20s players gain strength, experience, and better decision making (well, most of us do). But at some point in time, as all of us adult league heroes know, age catches up with you and things are just a little harder than they used to be.

In this three part series we will do our best Don Sweeney impressions to try and predict what the future might have in store for key Bruins’ players. In part one, we will examine what aging curves can tell us about player performance. We will also discuss who makes up the current core and who could make up the next wave. In part two, we will look at the veteran core, players who have been around since the Bruins last Stanley Cup and continue to drive the bus. In part three, we will look at the players that make up the young core, supplementing the veterans and who have the ability to influence both the present and future of the storied original six franchise. For both groups, we will examine each players current trends and make predictions about their outlook and expected performance for the upcoming seasons.

Examining Aging Curves

There has been a number of studies on how aging effects player performances. The first significant study came from Hawerchuck in 2013 and look at points per game. More recently, the folks at Hockey Graphs and Evolving Wild have been using a comprehensive WAR (wins above replacement) stat to examine year over year performance. For our purposes, we are going to lean heavily on the work of Eric Tulsky who looked at agings impact on year over year scoring rates, goal scoring versus playmaking, and possession numbers. The folks at Hockey Graphs also looked at goalie aging curves . At the risk of oversimplifying, goalies have similar trajectories to skaters. Here is a visual of aging curves on a number of different stats.

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So what are our key takeaways from all this great research and the nice visuals? First, NHL players peak around 24. They stay at their peaks until about 28. At that point they start to slowly decline with the trend becoming more significant into the early 30s. By the mid 30s, players typically fall off a cliff. The effect of age is most noticeable on goal scorers. Playmakers can hang on for a little bit longer. On the powerplay, players stay at their peak a little longer with strong performances, though not peak, in the early 30s before falling off a cliff in their mid 30s. Possession numbers, generally speaking, mimic point production. Defenders and goalies may be able to hang on a year or two longer but generally follow a similar curve.

For our purposes we will look at Bruins’ players offensive numbers and possession numbers. I’ve grouped points into all situations for a couple of reasons. First, the Bruins rely heavily on their power play. Second it made the visuals look a little cleaner I will be sure to point out any situations where the numbers have noise, for example in the case of David Krejci. For offensive production I’ve chosen goals, total points, first assists, and individual expected goals. First assists are more indicative of player performance than second assists, which can be pretty random. For possession, I’ve chosen Corsi (shot attempts) and expected goals percentage. All player stats were converted to per 60 minutes rate stats to avoid discrepancies due to injury or average time on ice. For the goalie position I’ve chosen goals saved above average (GSAA) and quality starts. All stats come from Natural StatTrick and Hockey Reference.

The Bruins Core Players

Our first task is to decide who makes up the Bruins’ core. There is some debate over how many players make up a core. For Pittsburgh it’s been just three players – Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. For other teams its been more like five to six players that management has tried to build their team around. St. Louis last year had close to ten regulars who were long term parts of their team and core. For our purposes we will count a player as a part of the core if we anticipate they can have a strong impact on team performance and they will be a long term member of the team. Being a long term member means they are under contract or under team control with little expectation of being traded.

The Veteran Core – With those parameters in mind, our older core is made up of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Zdeno Chara. All five have been Bruins for more than a decade with three being draft picks and four never playing for another NHL franchise. Inclusion of Chara can be debated but with his recent comments its hard not to picture Big Z playing for the Bruins next year. He is still the captain and averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game this past season. Torey Krug was considered for this list but he doesn’t have the longevity of the others on the list and there is a decent chance he leaves in free agency.

The Young Core – The young core was a little harder to determine but we ended up with David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Charlie Coyle, Jake Debrusk, and Brandon Carlo. David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy were easy choices. The two already lead the team in several statistical categories and are on team friendly long-term contracts. Charlie Coyle is the third player included on the list. Coyle is an all situations player trusted by the coaching staff to the point it’s not surprising to see him lead all Bruins’ forwards in ice time in some games. The 28 year old is also locked up long term team to a reasonable contract. The last two members of our young core are Brandon Carlo and Jake Debrusk. There was debate among my BNG colleagues over the inclusion of those two. However, they seem like two young players with the likelihood of staying power. Both are under team control for a number of years and already play in the top half of the lineup. It really seems like the Bruins coaching staff and management are hoping Carlo and Debrusk can keep growing and help the team in substantial ways.

Conclusion

We have examined aging curves and how they can help us in predicting player’s future performance. We have also decided who makes up our veteran core and our young core. With that in mind, please join us in part two when we examine how much tread is left on the veterans. We will follow that up with part three where we will try and forecast what the peak performance could be for the younger core of players. After our exploration of both groups we will do our best to draw some conclusions around how long this iteration of the Bruins’ has left in it’s Stanley Cup window.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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!!

A By The Numbers Look At The Bruins Second Round Defeat

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Well, here we are Bruins fans, forced to jump on the bandwagon of a new team now that the Bs have been vanquished by the rival Lightning. At least there is some consolation in the fact that the Maple Leafs and Canadians have also been bounced from the bubble.

My colleague Michael Digiorgio wrote yesterday about some of the stories and moments that led to the Bruins playoff exit. The topics include lackluster efforts in the round robin and game three against the Lightning and lineup decisions by head coach Bruce Cassidy that sparked heated conversations on #BruinsTwitter. In the aftermath of Boston’s defeat, questions abound about key players, especially long time captain Zdeno Chara, not to mention the longevity of the current core. With all that in mind, let’s take a step back and look under the analytical hood to better understand what went off the rails against a talented Tampa Bay Team.

Overall Metrics

Glossary of Terms

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%GFGAGF%SH%SV%PDO
Series26428448.18%11613446.40%8.1610.9842.62%51426.32%4.03%89.71%0.937
Data from Natural Stat Trick

At even strength the Lightning drove play substantially throughout this series. The Bruins came out in the red in shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals. More importantly they lost the goals for battle by a sizable margin. As we peel back this data a couple of items emerge.

In games one through three the Lightning were head and shoulders the stronger team. The Bruins could not handle the dual threat of Tampa Bay’s ability to carry the puck in or chip and retrieve it. However, in games four and five, Boston did a much better job in the neutral zone, slowing down the attack and creating more favorable circumstances. In general, they were more patient, clogging the middle of the ice and not allowing Lightning forwards to wind up with speed. In turn, the Bruins were able to better control the play with games four and five largely a wash from an analytical standpoint and extremely close on the scoreboard.

The other key stats are shooting percentage, save percentage, and PDO (a simple combination of shooting and save percentage). PDOs typically should be around 1.00. Higher or lower numbers suggest either immense talent or a string of luck. The Bruins in the regular season exceeded 1.00 on the backs of strong goaltending and talented shooters. In this series their PDO comes in at 0.937, a scary number. Part of this has to do with the 7-1 thrashing in game three but the even worse culprit is an even strength shooting percentage of 4.03%. While some of this can be blamed on variance and luck, quite a bit of credit has to be given to Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning defenders. The Lightning goaltender made some big saves and for the most part his defenders kept the Bruins from second chance opportunities.

Heat Map

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As just mentioned, the Lightning defenders had an excellent series. In an ideal world you’d love to take every shot from right on top of the spoked B logo in the diagram. The Bruins did not get many opportunities from there at all. They also had few rebound attempts when Vasilevskiy did pop pucks back out. In contrast, the Lightning were able to penetrate the Bruins defensive posture. Their forwards combined quickness and toughness to win position in the center of the ice. In turn they scored a number of goals on screens, tips, and rebounds.

Key Players

David Pastrnak2 G, 4 A, 40% xGFNikita Kucherov2 G, 5 A, 71% xGF
Patrice Bergeron0 G, 2 A, 45% xGFBrayden Point1 G, 7 A, 70% xGF
Brad Marchand4 G, 1 A, 41% xGFOndrej Palat5 G, 2 A, 73% xGF
Charlie McAvoy0 G, 0 A, 39% xGFVictor Hedman4 G, 2 A, 52% xGF
Torey Krug0 G, 3A, 46% xGFMikhail Sergachev1 G, 2 A, 63% xGF
Jaroslav Halak3.12 GAA, .896 SV%, -2 GSAAAndrei Vasilevskiy1.79 GAA, .936 SV%, +2 GSAA
Data from Natural Stat Trick

In The Athletic, Fluto Shinzawa discussed how the Lightning’s top players were outshining the Bruins’ stars prior to game five. After game five, the contrasting play remained part of the story line. Tampa Bay’s top line drove play against every matchup. Cassidy tried several options throughout the series with David Krejci getting the assignment in game five. The “perfection line” (as NBC must have trademarked by now) was less than perfect when head to head against the Lightning’s top line or future Selke trophy candidate Alex Killorn. While the Bruins stars did get on the board, it was almost exclusively on the powerplay.

The second wave of offense further differentiated the two teams. Tampa Bay received contributions from the likes of Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman. They also got big contributions from their defenders who regularly walked the blue line and found seams to the net through heavy traffic. The Bruins, other than David Krejci, got virtually no secondary offense from their forwards or their defensemen.

In the goalie duel, Vasilevskiy is the clear winner. Halak put up his best effort in the elimination game, but at the end of the day his performance was not good enough. Despite some moments of strong play, reflections on his playoff run will largely be marred by a couple major guffaws. The Big Cat in Tampa’s net inspired more confidence and made big saves when needed.

Performance By Lines and Pairs

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A key caveat of the above chart is that it includes the whole time in the bubble, round robin and all. Having said that, it still has some value in assessing the Bruins’ demise. My colleague Lydia Murray recently did a great article on reading these charts and I encourage you to read it. For now, just know the upper right is the best and upper left is fine too. Lower on the chart is not where you want to be, particularity the bottom left.

The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line still ends up in the good quadrant but did not distinguish itself as much as usual. The line of Debrusk-Krejci-Kase performed well enough in their matchups but land in the dull quadrant as they didn’t necessarily move the needle much other than a couple big games against the Hurricanes. The Bruins fourth line struggled regardless of the musical chairs of players. You’ll also notice Charlie Coyle is not on the chart. That is because he had such a revolving door of wingers that no combination had enough minutes together to qualify. Coach Cassidy’s tinkering finally seemed to land on a winning combination in the final game with Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka, but it was a little too late to make a difference in the series.

The Bruins defenders struggled. The speed and tenacity of Carolina and Tampa Bay were too much for Chara and Brandon Carlo to handle. Torey Krug was exposed in a number of tough matchups against top talent. Charlie McAvoy did his best work in limited minutes with mobile puck mover Matt Grzelcyk but otherwise was on his heels defending the other team’s best players, alongside long time partner Chara.

Special Teams

Boston: 5 out of 17; 26:33 minutes; 21 shots; 3.14 xG; 5 goals

Tampa Bay: 4 out of 20; 33:28 minutes; 28 shots; 3.35 xG; 4 goals

Special teams is where the Bruins had the marked advantage coming into the series. They have a number of dominant players on both units. In general they performed alright. With the exception of a three goal output in game three, the Lightning only scored one other goal with the man advantage despite ample opportunity. The Bruins even had a number of chances while shorthanded. Boston scored a powerplay goal in every contest. In general, that is a key ingredient for the Bruins. They keep games simple, low-event, and close before finishing teams off with their lethal power play.

However, in this series, Tampa Bay’s advantage at 5v5 was just too overwhelming and the Bruins’ time in the bubble has come to an end.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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!!

What Happened To The Bruins In Toronto?

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Last night was a heart-breaking loss on many different levels, and a result Bruins fans did not expect during the season. The Bruins were steamrolling its competition in the regular season, cruising to the top of the league’s standings. The President Trophy winners were the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, even after the NHL’s Return to Play announcement. Unfortunately, the Bruins never consistently showed the same regular-season tenacity and are heading home way too early.

Many fans will bash the NHL for its Return to Play schedule, where the Bruins had to play three more games to warrant the top seed in the East. Let’s be clear; unfortunately, the Bruins’ regular season point total did not result in the East’s top seed. However, the Bruins did not come close to showing the NHL that it deserved the number one seed in the Return to Play. Each team had the same starting position, and the Bruins controlled their own destiny. They did not play up to caliber for a number one seed.

The Bruins came out flat against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the exhibition. The team allowed two goals in 18 seconds and scored their lone goal in the second period. Bruins nation chalked it up as a slow start due to the pandemic and insisted the team would be fine during the round-robin. However, the Bruins never led in any of their round-robin games and only scored four combined goals. For reference, the Bruins scored 227 goals in the regular-season, which equates to 3.24 goals per game and ranked 9th in the entire league. At the end of the playoffs, the Bruins goals-per-game fell to 2.23.

The Bruins’ first playoff match-up was against a team they had playoff experience against in the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins swept the Hurricanes in last year’s playoffs, and nearly did this year. Tuukka Rask announced his departure after two games against the Hurricanes and the organization turned to Jaroslav Halak to lead the charge.

The Bruins beat Carolina in five games, but still didn’t look their full selves. There were plenty of flashes, and they strung together some great games, but they never put forth a complete 60-minute domination. The Tampa Bay Lightning awaited after beating the Blue Jackets in five games as well.

The Bruins won game one and took a 1-0 series lead on Tampa. The Bruins scored one goal each period, while Tampa made a late push, but it was too little too late for the Lightning. The Bruins looked a tad lost in game two and allowed Tampa’s offensive weapons to get behind their defense, leading to an overtime loss. Things went from bad to worse in game three and never turned around.

Game three was one of the worst showings the Bruins had in a playoff series in nearly 30 years. The Bruins allowed the Lightning to score seven goals to their one. The Bruin skaters left their goalies out to dry in this game and could not overcome adversity.

Each of the three pictures above shows how poorly the Bruins played in the most crucial moments. Tampa had at least one step ahead of the closest Bruin, and the Bruins allowed Tampa’s lethal weapons to have prime real estate in from their goal. This game (and the series) was not lost because Rask left the bubble. Tuukka may have given the team a better chance to win, but Halak and Vladar were placed in incredibly difficult positions and were left out to dry. The Bruins did not put forth a full 60-minute effort consistently and outright quit at times. They looked lost and overpowered against Tampa and could not overcome adversity, which is ironic because Tampa had the same issue last year against the Blue Jackets.

Bruins media and its organization have touted how closely matched these two teams are, but frankly, this series showed those claims are myths. Tampa Bay was by far the better, faster, and stronger team this series. Tampa’s large defensive players took every opportunity to shoot the puck at the point into a wave of blue and black and gold jerseys. Tampa Bay scored the majority of their goals either off of odd-man rushes or deflections. Jon Cooper and his team had a perfect game-plan to park big bodies out front of the Bruin goalies, like Pat Maroon, to set up screens and tip shots that come towards the net.

The Bruins were also undisciplined and gave Tampa countless opportunities to score on the power-play. The Lightning were 0 for 16, heading into game three of the series on the power-play. The Bruins decided to test that record, and the Lightning netted three power-play goals in game three. The Bruins ranked third in the regular-season on the penalty kill, killing 84.3% of their penalties. By the end of this playoffs, their percentage declined to 82.9%. The 1.4% change may not seem like a lot, but in-game power-play goals can change momentum instantly.

In the elimination game, the Bruins looked like their old selves; unfortunately, it was too little too late. Jaroslav Halak played unbelievably and gave his team a chance to win.

Tampa scored the series-ending goal in double overtime, sending the Bruins home. Zdeno Chara may have played his final game as a Bruins, and David Krejci explained what every Bruin fan has been fearing.

This Bruins team may have a different makeup next year. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and a few more require contracts, and the Bruins have $15M in cap space. General Manager, Don Sweeney, has a long list of to-do items in the shortened off-season. Many difficult yet necessary decisions will be made. The “core” that Krejci mentions genuinely does have one to three years left. Thankfully, a few bright spots in this year’s playoff could be shaping the new core.

Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few lineup changes that did not pay dividends like inserting John Moore and playing 11 forwards. However, the changes that did work included Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka, who both played alongside Charlie Coyle in game five.

Bjork and Studnicka looked like they belonged and took advantage of their opportunities. They looked comfortable with the speed and physicality of the game. Bjork landed four shots on goal and played 18:30 minutes, while Studnicka surpassed 17 minutes and one shot on goal. Coyle landed ten shots on goal and looked to be comfortable with his line-mates.

Patrice Bergeron doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all and has continued to dominate the opposition. He will continue to center the first line come next season.

The “what if” questions will linger over these playoffs. What if the Bruins’ regular-season point total had landed them the top seed? What if the season had played through without the pandemic? Unfortunately, we have an answer to what occurred, and the Bruins did not play up to their potential. It was a disappointing showing from a team who showed they belonged in the Stanley Cup. Bruins fans will have to wait another year and hopefully one with the original core for another run.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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!!