Grzelcyk Ready to Go for Bruins

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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

The 2018-2019 season did not end well for Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelcyk himself may not remember much of what happened after a hit in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals that sent his head careening off the boards and forcing him to be helped off the ice, but Boston fans surely do.

After that fateful hit, Grezelcyk was placed in concussion protocol. He resumed practicing with the team after a couple of games, but most of that time was spent in a red non-contact jersey. He was finally cleared to return to action for game seven and actually scored the Bruins’ only goal in a heartbreaking loss.

Interviewed after game seven, a visibly shaken Grzelcyk broke down in front of reporters when describing how it felt to be sidelined for so much of the series. Minutes after the series ended, the pain of the loss was still very fresh in the minds of Grzelcyk and his teammates.

The good news is (yes, there is good news here), Grzelcyk is raring to go for the 2019-2020 campaign. And, with so many questions remaining about the make-up of the Bruins’ defensive corps leading into camp, the 25-year-old Charlestown native is one piece of the puzzle that is solidly in place. He recently said that he took some time off after the season to let himself fully recover from any lingering effects of the concussion he suffered, but he now feels good and ready to go.

Heading into the final year of a two-year deal signed in July 2018, Grzelcyk is in a great position to have a break-out season. With captain Zdeno Chara returning for at least one more season, but likely to see reduced minutes as he approaches his 43rd birthday in March, Grzelcyk is a prime candidate to share some, if not quite a bit, of that extra load. With injuries dominating the blue line throughout much of the season, he’s already shown that he is more than capable of stepping up when needed.

Of course, last season was a tough one for Grzelcyk himself from a physical standpoint. In addition to the concussion suffered in the final round of the playoffs, Grzelcyk missed a few weeks with an apparent arm injury suffered March 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the team and fans were relieved that tests revealed no broken bones or significant structural damage, the injury still kept Grzelcyk out of the lineup during a key stretch of the season.

Grzelcyk played 66 of 82 games in 2018-2019, but still managed to increase his points total to 18 points last season from 15 scored in his first season in Boston, in which he played in 61 games. Those numbers aren’t staggering, but considering that Grzelcyk played most of the season on the third pairing with a revolving door of defensive partners, they are solid. Also, he stepped up big in the playoffs, including a two-goal effort in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bruins fans also know that statistics don’t tell the whole story. Grzelcyk is known for his ability to move the puck, and that trait can be invaluable. Even though he has suffered injuries, listed at 5′ 9″ and 174 pounds, Grzelcyk has shown that he does not shy away from puck battles or hits from larger players. If he can stay healthy, I expect Matt Grzelcyk to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way in the upcoming season.

Bruin’s Offseason: All Quiet On The Eastern Front (1 of 2)

(Photo Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

The start of free agency saw the Bruins come out of the gate quickly, signing or extending seven players. Forwards: Brendan Gaunce, Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Fitzgerald…Defensemen: Connor Clifton and Josiah Didier…Goalie: Max Lagace. While none of these players were big-name signings, which was to be expected given the Bruin’s limited cap space and restricted free agents, it was an encouraging sign for the fans of the team.

Over the next three weeks, forward Peter Cehlarik signed a one year deal, forward Danton Heinen inked a two-year extension, and center prospect Pavel Shen signed his ELC. Since then, all has been quiet on Causeway Street, with very little being said about restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. This is not unusual for the Bruins. Since Sweeney was named GM, they like to keep everything internal and very little leaks out. The only comments on the subject came from Bruin’s President Cam Neely via Joe Haggerty two weeks ago.

That brings us to the present, and where the Bruins go from here. With the Backes’ contract still on the books, the team does not have the Cap space to acquire any more help at this juncture. So, what you see is what you get as training camp looms.

The only thing that appears certain at this point is that Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak are the B’s two netminders. In this two-part series, we will take a look at the openings and question marks the Bruins have at forward and on defense heading into the 2019-20 regular season. Part One will deal with the forwards and Part Two the defense.

The Bruins return a Top 4 that was as good as any in the NHL. Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Krejci combined for 333 points. Jake DeBrusk had a “decent” sophomore season, and will likely be attached to Krejci’s left side, as he has been for the first two seasons of his career. His 27 goals in 2018-19 were more than acceptable, but it would be nice to see him up his assist and overall point totals, particularly as he was a staple on the PP most of the season.

The only real question mark in the Top 6 is who is going to play to the right of David Krejci. It seems that this has been an issue headed into every season since Nathan Horton left following the 2012-13 season. My first choice to fill one of the Top 6 right-wing positions would be Danton Heinen. I have been a proponent of putting Heinen with Bergeron and Marchand on a more permanent basis for a while now. He showed last season over a 16 game stretch when Pastrnak was injured that he can play and more importantly, produce, in that role, putting up 13 points during that span. This would allow the B’s to put Pastrnak on Krejci’s right-wing, giving him his first legit scoring threat there in years.

The Bottom 6 would appear to have four spots already locked up with Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, and Nordstrom filling those positions unless something unforeseen happens. That leaves only two openings for a wide variety of candidates.

They include incumbents Karson Kuhlman, Petr Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Anders Bjork. Newcomers Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Oskar Steen, and possibly Jack Studnicka (although the B’s have consistently maintained they want to keep him at center) round out the group. These players represent a wide variety of styles and experience levels and while all have question marks of one type or another, they give the Bruins the ability to go in a number of different directions.

Three of the contenders, Cehlarik, Lindholm and Ritchie are not waiver exempt, meaning the Bruins risk losing them if they don’t make the team out of camp. Every year this plays a factor around the league in who makes teams initially. Many times more talented players who are waiver exempt end up getting sent down to the AHL, at least to begin the season.

Bruins fans are well acquainted with Cehlarik. The 24-year-old former third-round pick has appeared in 37 NHL games over the last three seasons with mixed results. He has tended to start off quickly and then become less visible as his appearances mount. He’s a big body that uses his size for puck possession but is a below-average skater. The left-shot wing does have the flexibility to play both sides.

Lindholm was a point per game scorer for Skellefteå of the SHL, but it didn’t translate to the NHL with Toronto last season, where he had only 12 points in 61 games. He turns 28 in October and is primarily a center (51% in the dot with 400 attempts). His advanced stats were not great, but in his defense, he had only 30% offensive zone starts.

That brings us to the newly-signed Brett Ritchie. A big, physical scoring wing in his OHL days, who scored 41 for Niagara one year. The offensive side of his game has never manifested itself in the NHL, where he only has 33 career goals in 241 games. If I had to guess, I would say that the B’s see Ritchie as a cheap replacement for what Backes brings (on ice), if they can find a way to move 42.

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

The next group of guys: Bjork, Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Fitzgerald, Steen, and Studnicka contain my two favorites to get the remaining spots and also my “long shot” candidate. All of these guys are waiver exempt, so they will be susceptible to being “stashed” in Providence to start the season. For that reason, I am going to rule out both Fitzgerald and Studnicka. I would much rather see them playing big minutes in all situations with Providence than watching from the press box in Boston.

My favorite to take the first open spot in the Bruin’s forward lineup this season is Anders Bjork. The 23-year-old graduate of the University of Notre Dame already has 50 NHL games under his belt but has yet to have any tangible impact because of a variety of injuries. Shoulder surgeries have cut short Bjork’s seasons in consecutive years, but perhaps the third time is the charm? Bjork has an NHL-caliber shot, a quick release, excellent skating skills and is a good three-zone player. The only thing he needs to stick in my opinion is a bit of luck and some good health. As a rookie, Bjork put up 3g/6a in his first 16 games (playing with Marchand and Bergeron) before suffering a concussion after a collision with Toronto’s Matt Martin. The Bruin’s staff seems to really like Bjork, so he’s a possibility for Top Six duty again, but personally, I would start him on the third line at left-wing and see what happens.

The other player I see cracking the lineup in October is Minnesota-Duluth’s, Karson Kuhlman. Bruin’s fans are already familiar with him due to his strong play down the stretch and into the playoffs, where he compiled eight points in 19 games. Kuhlman is another player (like Bjork) that possesses plus speed and skating ability and a strong defensive game. I believe he would be a strong complement to Bjork and Coyle at right-wing on the third line. Bruce Cassidy could use a line like that in a variety of situations, including up against the top two lines of opposing teams. Combine that with the confidence he already has in the “fourth line” and it would provide him a great deal of flexibility when matching lines.

A player I’m sure the Bruin’s brass would love to see grab a spot is former first-round pick Zach Senyshyn. Bruin’s fans would likely be relieved as well if he became an NHL regular so they did not have to hear about the 2015 draft any longer. Senyshyn has the size/speed ratio needed to roam the right-wing on the third line. The only issue is that the scoring touch the 6’2″, 200 pound Ottawa product displayed in the OHL (114 goals in 195 games) has yet to manifest itself as a pro in the AHL. His supporters point to his deployment as a third liner and the desire to develop his three-zone game as reasons why he has not scored more. His critics say that a lack of consistency and hockey IQ’s are the culprits. I would love to see Boston start him off in a fourth-line role and let him play his way higher into the lineup. However, it may be a case of musical chairs, where there are too many bodies and not enough seats to go around?

My dark horse candidate for the third-line right-wing position is Swede Oskar Steen. He was a 6th Round Pick (165 overall) in the 2016 draft. He got off to a slow start in his first two seasons with Farjestäd of the SHL. In 2018-19, Steen was given a larger role and ran with it. He finished the season with 17 goals and 20 assists in 46 games. It was good for 10th in scoring in the SHL and he was the only player in the Top 10 under the age of 26 (20 at the time). He also finished with 49 PIM’s (18th) which is impressive for a guy of Steen’s small stature (5’9″, 187-pounds). I had the pleasure of watching him at several of the Bruin’s Development Camps, and in my opinion, he was easily the most skilled forward I saw. He’s quick, explosive, and strong on his skates. Given that skill set and his build, he will definitely garner some comparisons to Marchand. Obviously, he has a long way to go before he ever reaches that level.

Bruins development camp

(Photo Credit:  Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

I wouldn’t put money on it, but if someone twisted my arm and forced me to put in in writing, this is what my starting lineup would look like for Opening Night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday, October 3rd:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Bjork-Coyle-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Ritchie

There are definitely some question marks in the Bruin’s top nine, but there are also a number of candidates that could fill those holes. The options, competition, and differing styles of the players involved should make for an interesting Camp where roster spots will be on the line.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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!

Report: Bruins, Cassidy Begin Contract Extension Talks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

According to Joe McDonald of The Athletic, the Boston Bruins have started to talk to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy regarding an extension on his contract that expires at the end of this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

Bruce Cassidy has been in the Bruins organization since 2008-09 when he was the assistant coach for the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins. Cassidy, who turned 54 on May 20th, was the assistant in Providence for three seasons before being named Head Coach in the 2011-12 season, operating in that role up until the 2015-16 campaign. With the P-Bruins, Bruce led his team to the playoffs in four of the five seasons, only missing the postseason in his first year.

To begin the 2016-17 season, the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada native was the assistant coach to then-Head Coach Claude Julien. However, the Bruins would announce that they had fired Julien after the team boasted a 26-23-6 record. From February 7th on, Cassidy was the Interim Head Coach, leading Boston to an 18-8-1 record with him and managed to make it to the postseason in a losing effort to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

On April 26th, 2017, General Manager Don Sweeney formally announced that Bruce Cassidy would become the 28th Head Coach of the Boston Bruins, starting his Head Coach role in the 2017-18 season. Once again, the B’s were a dominant team in the Eastern Conference, finishing the regular season with a 50-20-12 record, earning a berth in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, the Bruins lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round Two.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steve Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty)

With the success of his first full season behind him, Bruce Cassidy still had a few doubters on his case, but yet again, he proved them all wrong, leading the club to a 49-24-9 record at the end of the regular season and helped keep the Bruins fighting strong all the way through to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he and his team fell one game short to the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven.

As of right now, Cassidy has a 117-52-22 record in the three regular seasons that he has coached in – a .612 winning percentage as the Head Coach. As Joe McDonald states, the organization does not release the salary of the bench boss but without a doubt in anyone’s mind, he will receive a raise in comparison to his previous contracts.

Keeping Cassidy is the best decision for the Bruins. Bruce has shown confidence in his players and has no problems benching players or moving players up and down the lineup when they are in a slump scoring-wise. In 2018-19, Boston dealt with injuries upon injuries to almost every single player on the NHL roster. However, Bruce managed to keep the wins coming, leading Boston to the Eastern Conference Championship.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Coach’s Corner: B’s Cassidy & Pat’s Belichick Bond

Image(Photo Credit: Mike Reiss – ESPNBoston.com)

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

Cassidy and Belichick. Not a bad Coach’s Corner to be in, no disrespect to B’s alum Don Cherry and his North-of-the-border broadcast bud Ron MacLean.

And as many members of the Boston media reported Monday, the Bruins’ bench boss attended his second consecutive #PatsCamp and took it all in with his family by his side.

Now, Cassidy’s son Cole may have a career in football on his hands (hands that Kraftly caught this pigskin on camera earlier)…

…but if there’s any football career to be clamoring about in Foxboro it’s that of Cassidy’s cross-town coach Bill Belichick — a coach that he hopes to learn from even more ahead of his team’s Stanley Cup runner-up follow-up season. As Cassidy mentioned back in May to our friends at NESN before his black n’ gold squad suited up for the Cup Finals, he reached out to Belichick for advice on how to handle not only the long layoff between the ECF and SCF, but also the pressure of playing for it all in Boston:

“[The Patriots] share whatever they can — very supportive. It’s been great for me. I’ve gotta tell you — [Belichick’s a] terrific guy. Very insightful, and it was great. I really appreciate it.” — Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, May 2019

Well, as we all know by now (and perhaps are still trying to forget), the B’s came up short while playing for it all this Spring & early Summer. One game short. One shift short. Perhaps even one play short if you like to factor in momentum in do-or-die postseason games — all scenarios Coach Belichick has been through, learned from and overcame while leading the Super Bowl Champion Patriots to two dynastic runs over the last 19 New England years. And as we learned from NESN again, Cassidy couldn’t resist checking back in with Belichick on Monday — this time about how to bounce back when your team comes oh so close to winning it all:

“A little bit about his team, a little bit about situational stuff that happens. For example, coming off a loss at the end of the season, [the Pats] did it two years ago to Philly, rebounded to win a championship last year. So, what kind of preparation goes into that, or do you just put it all behind you and move on? So, try to steal a few things here and there in that area [from Belichick].” — Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, August 2019

Sage advice from a man who’s become a legend in our sports-crazed community. Can we also get Tom Brady & Patrice Bergeron together to talk championship fodder & folderol? Kidding aside, Cassidy’s comments definitely create good karma & buzz ahead of a B’s season bound to be under the microscope from September to hopefully May and June again. And if his team can rebound a la the Patriots after a championship loss, then I think this Cassidy/Belichick bond blossoming before our eyes could become the new Coach’s Corner!

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 140 that we recorded on 8-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

AND…

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!

 

 

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

Image result for boston bruins 2019-20 schedule(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

In Part I… we made you fear the start of the season (and just in time for Halloween)!

In Part II… we showed you unless the Bruins stuff themselves with wins, it could be a Thankskilling in the standings!

Now, for their busiest month yet–December, comes Part III of the B’s calendar series. And like all “threequels”… there are bound to be surprises around every curve of the rink! So, let’s start at the top and cruise through the holiday season right up until NYE.

December 1st – 7th: “Livin’ On A Prayer”

The Boston Bruins at TD Garden are always a challenge, no matter the opponent. Especially when the fans get into the game (like they did in the above clip). Well, the B’s will have four consecutive games in front of those Bon Jovial fans to start December — one of their longest home stretches of the season. They’ll match-up for a Sunday funday fight on the 1st against their most historic & hated rivals: the Montreal Canadiens. Then they’ll play every other day through Saturday the 7th versus some “C-League” teams — Carolina, Chicago & Colorado. However, they’ll have to bring their “A-game” because outside of the ECF series sweep against the Canes this past season, the B’s have always struggled at home against the Blackhawks & Avalanche.  That’s why this first week is very important for the team (and perhaps the eyes of management). It would behoove the B’s to stockpile as many points as possible while playing in front of their friendlies (who perhaps came from Friendly’s) because right after all this TD Garden time, it’ll be time to take this show on the road!

December 9th – 14th: “On The Road Again”

Just like the Willie Nelson song suggests, the B’s are no strangers to being on the road again for an extended period. For week number two of December, it’ll be a lot of North/South travel. The Bruins begin that stretch on Monday the 9th in Canada’s capital against the sorry Sens–a game they should definitely capitalize on. Why? Because next up, just down the street from our own Capitol, are the Washington Capitals in D.C. That city, and arena, have never been nice to the Bruins–politics aside. So, let’s vote for a win as opposed to lobbying for a loss, especially with the Lightning on the schedule the very next night. That’s right, a midweek back-to-back versus two of the top teams in the NHL–and on enemy ice. This will be as difficult of a 48-hour period the B’s will face all season long. And, as most road games against Tampa go, it’s on to Sunrise next for a post-Luongo-era match-up versus the Florida Panthers to end this four-gamer away from Boston.

As for December 15th – 31st, the B’s play five of those seven games at home–making the holiday season, at least schedule wise, the home stretch of ’19-’20. The most notable match-ups are not marquee but still worth watching/following as the Preds claw into town followed by the Caps just before Christmas. The B’s will round out 2019 with a matinee game in New Jersey, just in time for some bedeviled New Year’s celebrations we hope!

In short, the eight games to start December could be very telling as the B’s approach the midway point of their season. Will they look like the Eastern Conference Champs and Stanley Cup Runners-Up that they are? Or will the newly blended veteran/youth mixes be mixed up & already worn out? As we like to say, Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar now… for all those “I Told You So” moments later!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

AND…

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!

 

Catching Up With The Bruins: Summer Edition

Related image(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

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

In what seems like a lifetime ago since the boys in Black and Gold skated in front of the Garden faithful, we’ve reached the very dreaded summer lull. With the NHL Free Agency gone and some new signings coming the way of Sweeney and Co., there have been other little sneaky things happening for the team. If you missed it, fret not as we have a quick low down of all things Bruins:

SOME FAMILIAR FACES

With fresh new faces joining the ranks of the prestigious club, the team will be welcoming back a few that have made their mark during the Bruins run for the 2019 Stanley Cup. This past June, Steven Kampfer agreed upon a two-year contract for $1.6 million dollars and will play through the 2020-2021 season. The blue-liner was brought in by the Bruins last September in exchange for defenseman Adam McQuaid. And when Boston was down a few defenseman, Kampfer was more than happy to step in and even more grateful to continue to don Boston’s jersey:

“It’s an honor and privilege to wear the Spoked-B. I’m really excited to be here and get this journey started again.”

Related image(Photo Credits: NBC Sports)

With the Playoffs on the horizon for the Bruins, injury once again plagued the team. Enter Connor Clifton, who was playing his second season down in Providence. After a quick stint in December when Clifton played for nine games with Boston, he was recalled once again and never returned to Providence, earning a spot on the NHL roster during the post-season run. The Quinnipiac alum played 18 games for the Bruins during the Playoffs were he netted two goals and three assists. His efforts were rewarded as both parties agreed to a contract extension of three years for $3 million.

Danton Heinen Photos - 28 of 78(Photo Credits: Steven Ryan/Getty Images North America)

Bruins forward Danton Heinen recently re-signed with the Boston Bruins for two more years with an annual cap of $2.8 million. The chippy forward had two goals and six assists during the Playoffs. Say what you want about Heino, but his ability to play both wings saw him garner a significant amount of time on ice while being shuffled amongst the top three lines. While not flashy, he certainly was dependable and played a key role alongside Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johannson.

O’ CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!

There’s a lot to say about the indomitable force that is Zdeno Chara who has been enjoying summer back in Slovakia with his family. And at age 42, he is now the oldest active player in the NHL and is there is no slowing down his regimen.  Recently Chara has once again been named Slovakia’s Best Hockey Player, making it the sixth time he has won.  Also in the mix was Jaroslav Halak, who won Slovakia’s Best Goaltender.  Both players were not able to make the awards and had their respected family members there to receive the honors. Halak had a tremendous year with the Bruins, ending the season with a .922 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.34 in 40 games.

Image result for zdeno chara slovakia award(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins/NHL.com)

ON THE MEND

After the loss of the Stanley Cup Finals in Game Seven, many of the Bruins were revealed to have suffered many injuries. As those players take time off to heal from those ailments, their head coach revealed that he too needed this summer to heal up. Cassidy suffered a recurring injury that stemmed from a decades-long problem: a torn ACL that was never dealt with properly. After being selected in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983, Cassidy injured his knee after playing ball hockey. Team doctors went against surgery opting instead for rehab, a decision that affected the young 18-year-old’s career.

Image result for bruce cassidy surgery(Photo Credits: Boston Informer)

After dealing with a recent re-injury to his knee during the Playoffs, the swelling proved too much and after a few aspirations (fluid being drained), the decision was made to have surgery:

“All of a sudden it just sort of gave out, maybe I lost my footing or whatever…I don’t know if it was in the gym, maybe, but it got puffy all of a sudden. They kept draining it through the Carolina series and some of the St. Louis series. I got X-rays and they said ‘you have to get it done.’

It is also worth noting that after many years of ligament damage from not having his ACL reconstructed, this led to Cassidy having a total hip replacement. Luckily the timing was just right and the Bruins coach continues to rehab the knee and regain his range of motion and mobility prior to the start of the new season.

THIS, THAT AND OTHER BITS

It was just recently announced that the Boston Bruins organization has hired former player Chris Kelly as Player Development Coordinator and Andrew Dickson as an Amateur Scout. Kelly is a former member of the 2011 Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup.

Image result for former bruin chris kelly(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins/NHL.com)

Some members of the Boston Bruins will once again be traveling to Beijing as the sport of Hockey continues to grow globally. Last year many of the veterans played and participated in youth clinics in China. This year, Providence players Anton Blidh and Wiley Sherman will be heading up the clinics. The Bruins have had very strong ties with China since partnering up with O.R.G. Packaging, becoming the first NHL franchise team to do so.

STAYING COOL

With the blistering heat here to stay for the next few months,  things tend to be quiet on the hockey front, but luckily fans have been treated to some online banter. And in case you were wondering if the team lost any of its “family” connection, you’ll be happy to know that the camaraderie has not faltered.  Most recently Bruins Twitter debuted a special installment of a segment called “Staying Connected” featuring Sean Kuraly video chatting with Jake DeBrusk (and with some added insight from Torey Krug). Enjoy below and hockey can’t come soon enough!

 

How Last Season’s Deadline Changes Sweeney’s Approach?​

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( Photo credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

As most Bruins fans know, the deadline for NHL season is always an interesting time for the black and gold. Many players have been traded for and never panned out like Andrej Meszároš or the infamous Zach Rinaldo, both of which were quick experiments that failed to deliver any results. As more trade deadlines came and went, Bruins fans started to wonder if there was a repeated pattern of trading for non-impact level players as well as swinging and missing out on some bigger names they have been linked to.

During the 2019 season, however, that all changed. During the week of the trade deadline at the end of February, the Bruins traded prospect Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle, a player who hasn’t really lived up to his potential in Minnesota. Many Bruins fans at the time questioned the move as they seemed to surround themselves in the hype that was Ryan Donato. They ultimately in the short term were proven right as Donato would go on a mini point streak with the Wild and Charlie Coyle looked invisible on the ice.

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Then on deadline day, the Bruins acquired Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Many Bruins fans were puzzled with this one as many saw that JoJo (Johansson’s nickname) was injury prone and also was on the receiving end of a controversial hit involving Brad Marchand earlier in the season that sidelined him for a while. After playing a couple games with the Bruins, JoJo got hurt and was sidelined again for a bit which left fans wondering was giving up two draft picks at the time worth it for what possibly was going to be a rental?

As the Bruins punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they were eager to go on a deep run with this core and believed they had the depth to do it. All of a sudden, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson were a dynamic duo helping the Bruins redefine their offensive attack with a now solid third line! As the playoffs rolled along, the two additions quickly became fan favorites as they contributed to most of the team’s scoring output when the top line had a bad night or a bad shift. Head coach Bruce Cassidy finally had multiple lines up and down the roster that he could roll out and go on a deep run with and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.

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While the Bruins didn’t capture the ultimate prize at the end, the trades of Coyle and Johansson provided a much-needed jolt of offense that was critical to reaching game seven of the Stanley Cup final. Knowing how well their trades worked and how far the Bruins went general manager, Don Sweeney has to be feeling pretty good knowing he traded for a rental that brought them within sixty minutes of a title and a nice depth piece in Coyle who is versatile and still under contract for the 2019-2020 season. Sweeney always has the team’s best interest in mind and would be willing to stand pat or make trades as needed to improve the lineup. Knowing Sweeney struck gold at this past trade deadline as well as being awarded GM of the year, expect Sweeney to enter next season’s trade deadline with a different attitude which maybe could land the next big thing in Boston, who knows?

Report: Johansson Not In Talks With Bruins Ahead Of Free Agency

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

At the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was optimistic that he would come to terms with Marcus Johansson and his representation on a deal. Up until late last week, the Bruins were still in the mix along with a handful of other teams. However, it is now being reported by Darren Dreger of TSN that 10 or more teams are in contact with the 28-year-old forward from Sweden and the Bruins are not one of those teams.

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Johansson will become an unrestricted free agent on July first as the NHL Free Agency frenzy begins after the Bruins acquired Johansson from the New Jersey Devils on trade deadline day for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

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He will likely get a raise on his $4.6 million that he received last season and with the Bruins cap situation they just simply cannot afford to pay Johansson. Johansson praised the city of Boston and the Bruins organization and expressed interest in re-signing but will likely be wearing another sweater in the 2019-2020 season.

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His tenure with Boston got off to a rough start. On March 5, 2019, Johansson was injured in just his fourth game with the Bruins. He was hospitalized after a collision with Carolina Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland and later diagnosed with a lung contusion. He went on to miss 10 games in March for the Bruins after the injury.

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During his brief time in Boston, Johansson put up one goal and two assists in 10 regular season games played. But, his impact was really felt in the postseason. Johansson quickly built chemistry with B’s forward Charlie Coyle on the third line for Bruce Cassidy. In 22 playoff games, Johansson scored four goals to go along with seven helpers and 11 points and scored some huge goals for Boston like his insurance marker in the first period of game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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He also connected with Charlie Coyle with incredible passes on the tying and overtime game-winning goals in game one of the second round series against Columbus. The line of Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson were often the Bruins most effective line during the long Stanley Cup run. With the “perfection-line” and the David Krejci line often struggling to find the back of the net, the Johansson line was productive in their forecheck and goal-scoring and he will definitely be missed by the Bruins next season.

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As a result, Don Sweeney’s search for wingers continues heading into Free Agency on Monday and the rest of the offseason. Sweeney will certainly be busy as the Bruins have a number of UFA’s and RFA’s that they will try to come to terms with before the start of next season.

Sweeney has extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson as well as extending offers to pending unrestricted free agent Noel Acciari and a 2-year extension for defenseman Steven Kampfer.

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July first is always an interesting and exciting day in the NHL so follow along with our Black ‘N Gold Hockey team for all the latest free agency news.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

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

Bruins Schedule(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

With the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 regular season schedule recently released by the league and team, it’s that time of the off-season again to mark your B’s calendar! In this six-part series, I’ll be taking a look at what I think are the key scheduling stretches for the Black N’Gold this upcoming year. Some will be home stands, others long road trips; we’ll preview some back-to-backs and some historic (and heated) rivalries; and of course we’ll look at the big divisional match-ups and Stanley Cup rematches that all of the hockey world will be eager to see.  So, without further ado, let’s start with the B’s grueling Fall schedule — a tough test for any team, let alone one that played until June and will have a limited Summer.

OCTOBER 3rd – 10th: “Road Warriors”

The Bruins open next season on the road and stay on the road for another three games in what could be called a mini Western Conference kick (as opposed to the annual “West Coast Kick” in California later next Spring). The team first plays the always formidable and fight-filled Dallas Stars on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd before taking on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche over the next seven nights, respectively. This will be a pretty solid litmus test for the almost Stanley Cup Champs (who also pride themselves in being “Road Warriors”) as three of their four competitors also had solid playoff runs and will be wanting to make a statement against the Eastern Conference Champs on home ice. I expect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to split these four games, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rode the early hot (glove) hand on the road if either could get on a streak right out of the gates.

If the B’s can secure at least five-out-of-eight points during this opening stretch of hockey, that would be ideal — especially when you consider the team will be without stalwart defensemen Kevan Miller & John Moore to start the year and will most likely be featuring a new top-six set-up with Butch Cassidy juggling “the Sundance kids” to see who exactly is the best fit alongside Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (line one) and David Krejci & Jake DeBrusk (line two).  All in all, there’s a lot to pay attention to and take note of as the B’s travel West for a week to start the ’19 season.

OCTOBER 17th – 29th: “Test Your Might!”

I’m likening this next portion of the Bruins’ schedule to the opening part in the original Mortal Kombat theme song: Test Your Might. And coming off what will hopefully be a successful TD Garden Home Opener on October 12th against New Jersey (that’ll be a good one now that P.K. Subban brings his devilish “D” to the Devils) followed by a visit from the once mighty Ducks of Anaheim two days later, the B’s will need every bit of focus, fortitude & follow-through to contend with what could be the most challenging two weeks of hockey all year (and for any NHL team).

To wit: Boston welcomes the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners from Tampa to town on the 17th and ends the month with the near-Cup-contending Sharks swimming by on the 29th. Sandwiched in between what will undoubtedly be two great games of exciting hockey to bookend this stretch, you see a home-and-home versus a revenge-motivated Toronto team, followed by a Game 7 rematch versus St. Louis’ surly squad that gave everyone in Boston “the Blues.” Then, it’s off to New York to battle the rebuilding Rangers on the road.  These six consecutive games will show beyond a shadow of a doubt if the B’s are still Cup-trending or are in need of a boost/spark before Thanksgiving. To paraphrase a different Mortal Kombat line from the still-catchy tune of yesteryear, the B’s will need stand-out performances from, indeed, their mightiest of stars who will be put the test early and often:

EXCELLENT!

Krejci (Kano)

Big Z (Liu Kang)

Marchand (Raiden)

Tuukka Rask (Johnny Cage)

Bergeron (Scorpion)

Sub Jaro (Sub Zero)

Pasta (Sonya)

BOSTON KOMBAT!!!

Coming up in Part II of my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series, I’ll preview what’s on the November docket and how the B’s can take advantage of some important divisional match-ups to make the most of their early season schedule. In the meantime, stay tuned in and tuned up with all things Black N’ Gold by checking out our podcast below:

 

Bruins David Pastrnak Wins Award

Image result for david pastrnak golden stick award 2018(Photo Credits: Tech2.go)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

For the third time in three years in a row, Czech-native David Pastrnak has won the Golden Hockey Stick ( Zlatá hokejka)). The award is given annually to the top-performing Czech ice hockey player. This year, Pastrnak beat Tomas Hertl, forward for the San Jose Shark and fellow Czech Jakub Voracek-who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Pastrnak led the poll with 59 points ahead of Hertle to win the top prize.

Pastrnak became the youngest Cezch player to win the award in 2017. Winning for the third time in consecutive years has not been done since Jaromir Jagr did it from 2005-2008. The 47-year-old Jagr has won the award 12 times while legendary goaltender Dominik Hasek won five times. Fellow Bruins and Czech player David Krejci finished fourth behind Voracek in the poll. Pastrnak and Krejci did not attend the ceremony. In a recent interview with Czech media, Pastrnak had a few words to say about the recent loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals:

“The last defeat, even after the few days, still hurts a lot. It’s a memory of the end of life and a big disappointment.”

The 23-year-old native of Havirov had 19 points during the post-season run in the 24 games played. Pastrnak enjoyed one of his best performances during the regular season as being part of Boston’s top line. He had accumulated 81 points with 38 goals and 43 assists in 66 games. David Krejci was voted sixth place last year and jumped to fourth this year.

For the final poll, Pastrnak had 464 points with Hertl at 405 points. The final top players were determined in two rounds and were voted by representatives of hockey associations, coaches and top competitive clubs along with journalists. Here are the top five NHL Czech Players that made the final cut:

  1. David Pastrnak-Boston Bruins
  2. Tomas Hertl-San Jose Sharks
  3. Jakub Voracek-Philadelphia Flyers
  4. David Krejci-Boston Bruins
  5. Michael Frolick-Calgary Flames

IN OTHER NEWS

Pastrnak had a tough end to the post-season and much like the rest of team had been dealing with an injury reaggravated during a game in the Playoffs.  Aside from physical injury, many players had to overcome mental hurdles as well. At the end of the season media presser, Coach Bruce Cassidy did touch upon the possibility of moving Pastrnak and stated the conversation would continue next season.

For his part, the young winger (who reaggravated his thumb in the Columbus series) was quick to say the injury was not the sole reason when it came to the lack of production. A lot of it came the way of criticism and the grind of the Playoff that affected the young Czech winger:

“It was defiantly tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were picking each other up…I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite. It was mental stuff…In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff…it’s tough.

I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. So it was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience…The mental stuff is what I learned the most…It’s the Playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you…Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

With the season down and Pastrnak joining some Czech legendary company, here’s to the young winger and may he reach his 100 point season next year!