Danton Heinen Elevating Play For Bruins of Late

(Photo Credit: The Athletic)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter  @yanlatz

 

Danton Heinen, like many young Bruins, has had an up and down season. He has shown glimpses of a scoring touch, but other times he has been hardly noticeable. However, after recently getting a spot on the top line against the New York Rangers, he has elevated his game.

The Langley, British Columbia native, was selected in the fourth round (116th overall) by the Bruins at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He had 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists) with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey league before attending the University of Denver for 2 years where he accumulated 93 points in 81 games (36 goals, 57 assists).

His junior and college numbers showed real promise for the youngster to be a productive NHLer, and after a strong rookie campaign (16 goals, 31 assists) in 2017-2018, it seemed as though the Bruins had found a solid player in the fourth round of the draft.

This season, however, it has been a struggle for most of the year for #43. It seems as though another youngster has been going through the “sophomore slump.” With just 16 points in 52 games (8 goals, 8 assists) Danton Heinen found himself a healthy scratch again for the Super Bowl Sunday matchup with the Washington Capitals.

After drawing back in the lineup against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 6th, Heinen had to get his game going again to remain in the lineup and contribute to the Bruins offense.

Bruce Cassidy penciled him in on the right side of the top line, with Patrice Bergeron in the middle and Brad Marchand on the left wing side. With the Bruins down 1-0 in the second period, Heinen parked himself in front of the net and got a piece of a Matt Grzelcyck shot to tie the game.

On Saturday afternoon, the Bruins faced off against the Los Angeles Kings and Heinen, for the second straight game, found himself on the first line. The Bruins opened the scoring when Heinen showed his speed and vision to find a wide-open Patrice Bergeron at the side of the goal who made a sweet feed to McAvoy who had a yawning cage giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

After going down 2-1 in favor of the Kings, Danton Heinen answered with his 8th of the year burying the rebound past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Heinen has responded in these 2 games since being scratched by potting 3 points in 2 games (2 goals 1 assist) and showing us those glimpses of scoring that we saw in his rookie season and first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Then, on a snowy Tuesday night in Boston, the streaking Chicago Blackhawks came to TD Garden seeking their 8th straight victory. Heinen yet again started the game on the right side of Bergeron and Marchand and got on the score sheet in a big way. Heinen put home a rebound after a Chara shot deflecting off Marchand landed right on the stick blade of #43 in black who had a wide open net.

Just minutes later, Heinen makes a great forechecking play in the corner cutting off Blackhawks defenseman Gustav Forsling’s pass to get the puck up the half-wall to Marchand. Marchand then finds Bergeron who fires a shot that was stopped by Delia, only to find Danton Heinen right on the puck to make a fantastic feed to Marchand breaking in behind him. Marchand found the back of the net, in turn, giving the Bruins a 3-1 lead over Chicago and an assist to Heinen.

Fast forward to the 3rd period. The Blackhawks were making a push and recently cut the Bruins 4-1 lead to 4-2 and then 4-3. Just when it seemed as though the Bruins were to blow yet another lead, Peter Cehlarik gave the Bruins insurance. And yes, you guessed it, Danton Heinen had his fingerprints on this goal as well. After a great skating entry into the offensive zone by Torey Krug, Krug sent it to Heinen in front of the net and with great patience, Heinen slid the puck over to Cehlarik who one-timed it past Delia for Heinen’s 3rd point of the night (1 goal, 2 assists).

After scoring his 6 previous points in 22 games, Danton Heinen has scored 6 points in his last 4 games and has looked very solid in those 4 games. Bruce Cassidy has shown a lot of patience and faith in this kid, and it might be paying off at the right time.

It is clear that since the scratching of Danton Heinen against the Capitals, and being put on the right side of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Danton Heinen is starting to feel it. However, it is only 4 games, and the Bruins will need his production to continue, especially with the recent injury to David Pastrnak.

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Opinion: Boston Bruins Will Not Make A Big Trade At 2019 Trade Deadline

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away and the anticipation of every fan in the National Hockey League is growing by the hour. Similar to every season, in the weeks and days leading up to the February 25th deadline, the trade rumors are through the roof. NHL insiders and analysts alike are scrambling to find the latest, most in-depth scoop on any team involving trade.

For the past couple of seasons, especially this one, the Boston Bruins are one of the main teams in the mix to make a deal at or around the deadline. It is well known that the core of the Bruins – Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, etc. – are not getting any younger and it would be a good send off for some of these players to get another Stanley Cup ring under their belts.

In addition to that, the Bruins have some holes on their roster that need to be filled. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has had an issue with the depth scoring since Opening Day back in October. In the two wins last weekend against the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanche, Cassidy had star forward David Pastrnak on the second-line with Krejci and Cehlarik while Danton Heinen joined Bergeron and Marchand in an attempt to spread out the offence and spark offence on other lines than the top one.

Heading into the Trade Deadline, Boston is quite clearly going to push for a top-six winger, most likely to play with David Krejci, so Pastrnak can be reunited with Bergeron and Marchand, if they do end up making that push. With a quote coming from an article published on NHL.com by Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin on Twitter), General Manager Don Sweeney does indeed recognize that need.

“My feeling is that we would like to try and add without necessarily giving up what we know is a big part of our future,” Sweeney said in comments provided to NHL.com by the Bruins. “We committed assets last year to take a swing where we felt we needed to address an area of need and we will try and do a similar thing this year. I can’t guarantee that’ll happen. This time of the year, prices are generally pretty high, but we’re going to try. We’re going to try because I think we still need it.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

If the Boston Bruins want to be considered a Stanley Cup Contender this season or even just a really solid team coming out of the Eastern Conference, then Sweeney needs to pull the trigger and in my eyes – that is the move to make. Make a trade for a top-six winger who can score. However, even though I’d like to see a move made, I think for a few reasons that Boston will not make a big trade this Trade Deadline.

High Risk – High Reward, Maybe.

To make a trade, you have to send someone the other way – simple equation to all trades in every sport. The Boston Bruins appear to have a large pool of prospects in not only the AHL with the Providence Bruins, but across many different hockey leagues all throughout the world. With that said, the performance of these young players in the NHL this season may be a cause for concern for other General Managers on the other end of the phone call.

Ryan Donato and Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson were arguably the best prospects in the system as we closed in on the 2018-19 season, but with their lackluster performance in the NHL, resulting in their demotion back to Providence, it is a very good chance that the GMs across the league are worried that these prospects are “flops”, which could be completely false, but it is most definitely something they are discussing.

donato

PHOTO CREDITS: (CHARLES KRUPA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO)

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is without a doubt, the number one player on the market. Boston Globe’s Matt Porter discussed what the idea of what Columbus may be wanting for the pending unrestricted free agent.

“The market for (Panarin) is reportedly a first-round pick, a player, and a prospect. It is a high price, especially for someone who could leave a team empty-handed on July 1. But the Bruins are interested, and they’re not alone,” Porter reported.

If I were a betting man, (I am not), I would imagine Jake DeBrusk having to go to Columbus as well as a Ryan Donato or Trent Frederic and the 2019 1st Round Pick. All that with the added dilemma on what happens to Panarin after the season ends, does he test free agency, or does he sign an extension in Boston? That is a high price for a rental player and it does not guarantee a Stanley Cup for Boston.

Even if it isn’t Artemi, players such as Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds, Michael Ferland, or Kevin Hayes – the Bruins will have to give up assets that may or may not appeal to the future of this franchise. It has been mentioned that it is a buyer’s market right now, but teams with valued assets will most likely charge an arm and a leg for that player because they can most likely get those same assets back from one of the other 30 NHL teams.

Are the assets going out worth it? That is to be determined, but nothing is official.

Sweeney’s Trade History

Even though GM Don Sweeney expressed his interest in trading, he also said in the same quote that he wants to avoid moving a large part of their future for a possible rental player. When saying that, he wants to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadline acquisition with the New York Rangers.

Put in the same position as this year, the Bruins needed help on the top-six forward core. In what looks like now like a panic move, the Bruins sent forward Ryan Spooner, defenceman Ryan Lindgren, and Boston’s 2018 1st Round Pick (traded to Ottawa for D Jacob Bernard-Docker) to the New York Rangers for forward Rick Nash who played in eleven regular season games (3-3-6 totals) and another twelve playoff games (3-2-5 totals, -7 rating) and then retired this year.

Sweeney moved a lot of youth – mainly Lindgren and that 1st Round Pick for a player that played in a combined twenty-three games in a Spoked-B sweater. Don Sweeney has stated in the past that he does not want to move another first-rounder and if it is for a player that may decide on hitting the free-agent market come July 1st, the chances of him giving in are quite slim.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Sports)

When considering that, there are teams, such as Toronto, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, or Nashville that would gladly trade their first-round selection because they believe that they can be a serious Cup contender and that their pick will be a late round pick and in that regard, would not be that hard of a price to pay. Sweeney does not want to make a mistake on a trade nor make a move just for the idea of making a move, leaving some bargaining power off the table.

Free Agency Class – UFAs and RFAs

One thing that a lot of the hypothetical trade targets have in common, is that their current contract expires on July 1st. If the Bruins management decides to make a move for one of these players, it does not guarantee that they will remain on the team for the 2019-20 season. That plus the fact that the B’s will have to trade some pieces, like I have already mentioned, that may not be in the plans of the future.

Here are 10 unrestricted free agent players that could fill the Bruins holes in the free agent market IF they do not re-sign with their current organization and they decide to sign with Boston:

  • CBJ LW Artemi Panarin – 52GP – 21-42-63 in 2018-19
  • OTT RW Mark Stone – 55GP 25-31-56 in 2018-19
  • OTT C Matt Duchene – 46GP – 25-28-53 in 2018-19
  • NYI RW Jordan Eberle – 51GP 13-13-26 in 2018-19
  • OTT C/RW/LW – Ryan Dzingel 54GP 21-20-41 in 2018-19
  • NYR C/W Kevin Hayes – 46GP – 13-25-38 in 2018-19
  • DET RW/LW Gustav Nyquist – 56GP – 14-33-47 in 2018-19
  • NYR RW Mats Zuccarello – 41GP – 9-23-32 in 2018-19
  • ANA LW/RW Jakub Silfverberg – 47GP – 12-8-20 in 2018-19
  • CAR LW/RW Micheal Ferland – 48GP – 15-16-31 in 2018-19

Of course, there is no guarantee that any of these players make it to free agency and if they do decline offers from their respective teams, then there is no guarantee that they are swayed enough by the Bruins management members to come to Massachusetts and join the Bruins. However, the same can be true if the Bruins trade an arm and a leg for these players for them to just leave at the beginning of July. If Boston fails to win the Cup with them, then it is another bad move.

In the same breath, the 2018-19 free agent class has one of the most-skilled RFA class of any year’s past. When sending an offer to an RFA that makes it past July 1st, you must not only get acceptance from the player, but from the team, who has the option to match your contract offer. If the Bruins can land a player that is under a restricted free agent status, then compensation picks that vary on annual salary amount will have to be paid to the team. Under every option, the Bruins right now, are able to offer any amount. It is important to know that all picks are for the nearest Entry Draft so in this case, 2020 NHL Draft unless the compensation is multiple picks from the same round, then it can be from numerous years. Check it out below via CapFriendly Offer Sheet Calculator:

  • $0 – $1,339,575 – No Compensation
  • $1,339,576 – $2,029,659 – One 3rd Round Pick
  • $2,029,660 – $4,059,322 – One 2nd Round Pick
  • $4,059,323 – $6,088,980 – One 1st Round Pick and One 3rd Round Pick
  • $6,088,981 – $8,118,641 – One 1st Round, One 2nd Round, One 3rd Round Pick
  • $8,118,642 – $10,148,302 – Two 1st Rounds, One 2nd Round, One 3rd Round
  • $10,148,303 – ∞ – Four 1st Round Picks

If Sweeney and the Bruins make a move that will most likely have to require that first rounder, it makes a RFA offer less likely because Boston will be without a pick in the first round for three years in a row. The options for Sweeney are a lot, but the questions that are being asked often are the following.

Can the Bruins afford to move the youth and prospects that they have built up for a rental? Will a trade for a longer-term player work out? Will the lack of 1st Round Pick(s) impact the team in a negative manner for the long-term? Should Boston make a real push with Chara, Bergeron, etc., getting older and their time for another Cup running slim?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

The questions continue from there but with the weeks and days counting down, only the B’s management know what they can get and what they want. We as fans just have to bite the fingernails off as we anticipate the breaking news, or lack thereof.

In one final conclusion, I do not think that the Boston Bruins will make a big, franchise-altering trade at the Trade Deadline this season. If there will ever be a big trade, it will be at the NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver or on the opening day of NHL Free Agency. Don Sweeney’s track record has not been pleasant nor will the assets going the other way for a player that may or may not stay with Boston next season all combined together with the simple fact that nothing guarantees a Stanley Cup. What do you think about the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline?

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Boston Bruins Recall Providence’s Kuhlman

Image result for karson kuhlman(Photo Credits: 13thForward)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Today Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that Providence forward Karson Kuhlman had been recalled. He was signed by the B’s to a two-year contract last April. In his first professional season with the Providence Bruins, Kuhlman has had a decent outing so far playing. He has 25 points in 50 games as he notched 12 goals and 13 assists with a plus-22 rating.

The 5-foot-11, 190 forward played a full season in 2013 for the the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the Unites States Hockey Leagues (USHL). He tallied 25 goals with 19 assists for 44 points in 56 games. He was elected to play in the USHL All-Star Game. As a freshman for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, he recorded eight goals with 10 assists for 18 points, thus earning a bid in NCAA tournament. In his sophomore year, he was named alternate captain in which he netted 12 goals with eight assists for 20 points.

Image result for karson kuhlman(Photo Credits: WEEI.com)

Kuhlman, a native of Cloquet, Minnesota,  served as an alternate captain in his junior year accumulated six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 42 games-a career high. That year, the Bulldogs advanced to the Frozen Four, but ultimately fell to Denver in the final. In his senior year, Kuhlman served as captain of the Bulldogs where he netted 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points in 44 games. The 23-year-old was named MVP in the 2018 NCAA tournament where he lead Minnesota with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. Kuhlman has played 166 consecutive games in the NCAA-tying a record in NCAA history (he’s tied for seventh).

With the upcoming western roadtrip, the Bruins may be looking to have another extra body upfront as the organization looks to fill a roster spot created by the David Pastrnak injury. Described as tenacious with the puck during rookie camp in September, Kuhlman could serve as a possible winger, even though he is a right-shot center. General Manager Don Sweeney is quoted as describing Kuhlman as “a dog on a bone” when it comes to his puck-hunting.

Related image(Photo Credits: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

His two-year deal with the Bruins would guarantee him a minimum of $315,000 over the two years, with an NHL level salary of $750,000. He will join the team as he skates in his first varsity practice in Anaheim. Although he is there as an extra forward, fans may get to see Kuhlman make his NHL debut this weekend.

At last year’s camp, the versatile Kuhlman aimed to make make an impression on the B’s brass:

“This is a great organization and that’s why I chose to come here in the Spring…I want to come in and show them the way that I play hockey. I’m taking it day by day, not worrying about too far into the future. That’s something you’ve got to do at a camp like this, especially when there are so many guys that have NHL experience that are here in this room right now. So I’m just trying to play my game and hopefully going from there.”

When the Bruins varsity team headed to China this past summer, Kuhlman was able to take advantage and played in two preseason games. During the Prospect Challenge at the rookie tournament in Buffalo, Kuhlman had an opportunity to get some more hockey in his repertoire. Coach Bruce Cassidy, who had a chance to see Kuhlman in Buffalo before leaving for China, described Kuhlman as a “Swiss Army knife.” With David Pastrnak out for a few weeks, the Bruins could use a “jack-of-all-trades” type player, especially during these last few months to the season.

Bruins Cassidy Is Here To Stay As He Nears Two Full Seasons

Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils

PHOTO CREDITS: (Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

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

On Saturday, February 9th, Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will be the main man on the B’s bench for his 164th game – exactly two full 82-game seasons. Recently, individuals around the fan base have been questioning the work of Cassidy and whether or not he is the right head coach for the team moving forward in the years and seasons to come. In the shootout loss to the New York Rangers, Cassidy chose not to put forward Patrice Bergeron in the player-vs-goalie period, once again bringing up the judgement on his decisions.

Then there is the David Pastrnak situation. The Bruins are very much a front-loaded roster when it comes to the offence. Aside from the first line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the Bruins do not have much to fall back on when we are talking bottom-nine scoring forwards. David Krejci can put up numbers but always seems to be lacking good wingers at all times. Jake DeBrusk has more recently brought some life to the second line, but a hole remains on the right wing.

During the fast-paced action of a game, Cassidy may put Pastrnak with his fellow countryman, David Krejci and Canadian Jake DeBrusk to “spread out” the offensive firepower. However, not before long, the trio that is a true threat to any team in the NHL is back together and a large pool of centres and wingers are placed alongside Krejci to try and find that seemingly-rare chemistry.

We have yet to see multiple games of consistent Krejci-Pastrnak action unless it is on the power-play which, coincidence or not, is one of Boston’s strongest weapons of scoring opportunities. Krejci and Pastrnak have proven in the past that they can find that chemistry that has been discussed before on many occasions and build some good chances to put the puck past the goal line and into the back of the net.

Although, once they are on together, it brings along a weaker first line, where Marchand and Bergeron lose a highly-skilled scoring player who can make things happen on the ice. Recently in an interview prior to the Kings game on Saturday, Cassidy said that they are going to try out Danton Heinen on that top line. Heinen is not Pastrnak by any stretch of the imagination and has struggled this season after a strong rookie campaign in 2017-18. Cassidy did go on to say that Heinen is more a defensive player and the three of them will not have to worry too much about the top lines of other teams because all of them, especially Patrice Bergeron, are for the most part, responsible defensively.

The lack of depth scoring on the Boston Bruins in February 2019 can also be attributed to the lack of trades by General Manager Don Sweeney and with only a few more weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline at the end of the month, the clock is ticking to make that deal for another scoring player to play on the front end and bring some help to the top-six.

Either way, Bruce Cassidy has done well and continues to do well. In the past few games, the only line that has been reliable offensively has been that first line. In the three games of February so far, Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have a combined eleven points. After them, David Krejci has two points, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Peter Cehlarik have one, and the rest of the forwards are yet to score a single point in three games.

Dating back to January 1st, the dangerous first line has fifty-three points combined (22 Goals, 31 Assists) with Brad Marchand (7-13-20) leading the way in those 15 games. Only David Krejci has double-digits in points for 2019 and Jake DeBrusk is the next highest with only five points in fifteen games. It does not make the job of Cassidy any easier when they do not have a high quantity of quality players.

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Tampa Bay Lightning for examples. Both teams have many interchangeable parts on all four lines. Almost every forward on the roster can play on the first line with success and the team will most likely still win games. Do goaltending and defence play a large factor in that as well? One-hundred percent. But the flexibility of those four forward lines makes the job of Mike Babcock on Toronto or Jon Cooper on Tampa Bay a lot easier.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

 

Just like the blame cannot be placed on individuals for a team effort, the blame cannot be solely placed on Cassidy for the position the Bruins are in. On April 26th, 2017, the Bruins named Cassidy head coach of the team – replacing long-time coach, Claude Julien who was fired earlier in the year.

Cassidy coached twenty-seven games for the Bruins, finishing with an 18-8-1 record and leading them to a first-round playoff matchup with the Ottawa Senators in the 2016-17 season, a series that they lost in six games. This led into last season, where Cassidy implemented his faith and passion for the young players of this league, helping lead the B’s to a 50-win season. Bruce was right behind the team for their first-round win over Toronto and stuck by them in the five-game loss to the Lightning. The year for Bruce led to him being one of the three nominees for the Jack Adams Award – awarding the best coach in the NHL for that season. While he didn’t take the award home, the honour of being nominated for it is a great accomplishment.

Again this year, Cassidy has done a great job. It has been a difficult road to manage the struggling youth that once succeeded for him not only in Providence but in Boston during 2017-18 as well, the goaltending challenges of Rask and Halak, and the whole offensive situation that I’ve discussed over.

With the older players such as Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Backes, being surrounded by the younger players such as Pastrnak, DeBrusk, McAvoy, Carlo, and Heinen, Cassidy has had a challenge of who to play with who at what time and when. For a team that seems to have rough nights, still battles back and is able to fight their way to earn a point or at the very least, remain competitive in the ever-so-difficult Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy has a 97-45-21 record with the Boston Bruins since 2016-17. According to BostonGlobe.com’s Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD on Twitter), Claude Julien, the man who won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, had a 94-48-22 in his first 164 career games with the Black N’ Gold.

Julien and Cassidy are almost identical in their wins/losses and they have started almost a decade apart from each other (’07/’08 debut for CJ, ’16/’17 debut for BC). Bruce Cassidy is not only a good coach, but he should remain a coach for the Boston Bruins. He has had success and will continue to have success if the right players are on his lineup. Does he make mistakes time in and time out? Of course, not many coaches in any sport are perfect, (unless you’re Bill Belichick on New England) and it is how he can rally behind the team after a loss and turn it into a win. Bruce Cassidy can do that with the best of them.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

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Timely Tuukka Tops Tiny, Huge Accomplishment For B’s Netminder!

PNG image(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

What a wonderful, wacky, wild, whimsical, & whirlwind start to 2019 for Tuukka Rask. First, the beloved/beleaguered B’s netminder surpassed team legend and HHOF’er Tiny Thompson for the “Most Games Played” for a goalie in a Bruins uniform on January 1st during the Winter Classic.

Then, he tied Thompson’s record for team wins two weeks later with a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, entering into elite Bruins crease company.

But, before he even had a chance to enjoy the accomplishment and set his mind on record-setting victory number 253, he nearly lost his mind in a concussed collision with Rangers player Filip Chyta.

I don’t even like watching it after the fact because it’s about as worse as it gets for a goalie (unless of course you’re Clint Malarchuk). However, with a bye-week and All-Star break fortunately scheduled for right after that painful game, Rask had time to heal from his concussion and get back into game shape — no easy feat when returning from any type of head injury/contact. And an even more challenging feat when you’ve ALREADY returned from a mental health break earlier in the season to get your head right.

Then, he literally stands on his head against the flightless Flyers to end the month of January (all but a GUARANTEED win to break the record, right?)

Wrong. Rask got absolutely no help from his D-core or any teammate not on the 1st line–especially Danton “Empty Net” Heinen–yet Tuuuuuuuk still maintained his poise, confidence & resolve after the fact, even when head coach Bruce Cassidy nearly lost it during the post-game presser.

So, who better to straighten it out? The Fin with finish who’s now finished in the No. 1 position on the Mt. Rushmore of Bruins goalies. This, after literally & figuratively climbing back up a mountain to be the best goalie he can be–for his teammates, the entire B’s organization and all of Boston fandom (yes, even the crazy ones from the THC… “Tuukka Haters Club”). And there was no better way to do it than by taking down the team that’s owned him, and the entire B’s organization, for the past 5 seasons: The Washington Capitals.

This was no doubt an important game for Rask, and the roster, on many levels–both personally & professionally. For the forwards & D, it was their chance to respond after being called out by Cassidy for an unwillingness to “buy into the system” of Bruins hockey. And for Rask, it was his chance to not only silence any critics of his game coming off the concussion, but also to achieve a milestone moment in a B’s sweater that NO OTHER goalie in Boston history had ever accomplished (and against a team he hadn’t beaten since the Obama Administration). Needless to say, everyone stepped up, especially Mr. 253, who made history in the most memorable way possible… with a 1-0 shutout and more timely saves than he’s gloved, blockered & sticked away all season!

Moving forward for both Rask and his teammates, everyone wearing the Black N’Gold “Spoked-B” needs to build on this oh-so-important win and keep the momentum going down the stretch. The season/going-to-the-playoffs will most likely come down to a few points, with the B’s having a pretty good chance at matching-up against the Caps for either a first or second round series (if they can make it that far). With the rally monkey now literally & figuratively off their back against Washington, hopefully the B’s can use this victory as a catalyst and start a strong stretch of hockey between now and April. And if Rask can continue his impressively strong & clutch play between the pipes, also using his history-making “W” as a motivator, then come playoff time, I think we’ll all be rooting for #TuukkaTime!

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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Game Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals

Image result for boston bruins vs washington capitals(Photo Credits: AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

After losing two games that went into overtime and a shoot-out, the Bruins will be looking to finally break their 14-game losing streak against the Washington Capitals this afternoon. In a Super Bowl Sunday matinee, the B’s will be facing the Capitals on their home turf at the Capital One Arena. Noting some criticism towards defense, Coach Bruce Cassidy will be looking to make some lineup changes after the loss to the Flyers.

During the Flyers game, Danton Heinen had a wide open net with a chance to score. However, an unlucky bounce to the puck would befall the forward.

“I think after the last play the other night it does (affect his confidence),” said Cassidy. “Got the puck on your stick with basically an empty net, game-winning goal and it hops over. You start getting in your own head I think when that happens. That’s just tough luck there. He’s in the right spot, did everything right to win the puck and then to just – I suspect it would a little bit.

We have to try to help him through that.”

-Coach Cassidy

Image result for joakim nordstrom boston washington capitals(Photo Credits: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Joakim Nordstom will play on the third line with Trent Frederic and David Backes to hopefully add some dimensional speed.  Matt Grzelcyk will be back in the lineup and be paired with Kevan Miller. Goaltender Tuukka Rask will get the start in net. Rask is currently fourth in the NHL with a goals against average of 2.45 and a 0.920 save percentage.  The Bruins are 1-2-3 in their last six games.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Cehlarik – Krejci – DeBrusk

Nordstrom – Frederic – Backes

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

 

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Miller

Moore – Kampfer

Rask

Halak

Who is out: Moore, Heinen

 

WASHINGTON

The Capitals continue with their six-game homestead when they host the Bruins this afternoon. They are 1-5-2 in their last eight games and snapped a seven-game losing streak when they defeated the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Friday. Alex Ovechkin returns after a one-game suspension for skipping the All-Star game. He will also become the NHL’s all-time leader in points by a Russian-born player. Ovechkin is currently tied with Sergei Fedorov at 1,179 points.

Image result for washington capitals vs boston bruins(Photo Credits by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Washington’s last loss against the Black and Gold was on March 29th, 2014 with their recent game slump being their longest in over five years. With Ovechkin returning to the lineup, center Lars Eller may be out after sustaining a lower-body injury in the game against the Flames. He did not practice with the team yesterday and will be a game-time decision. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 37 while his 57 points lead the team. Nicklas Backstrom has 52 points with John Carlson is third with 48 points. Expect Brayden Holtby in the net.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie

Jakub Vrana — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson

Dmitrij Jaskin — Travis Boyd — Brett Connolly

Andre Burakovsky — Nic Dowd — Devante Smith-Pelly

 

Dmitry Orlov — John Carlson

Michal Kempny — Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik — Jonas Siegenthaler

Braden Holtby

Pheonix Copley

 

Who is out: Chandler Stephenson, Madison Bowey

Injured: Christian Djoos (thigh), Lars Eller (lower body)

 

ONE MORE TO 1,000

Today’s game will mark the 999th NHL career game played by Patrice Bergeron, who has four career 30-goal seasons. Boston continues to rely on their top line as they have netted 65 of 147 goals scored this season so far. Right-winger David Pastrnak reached his third straight 30-goal season during the Flyers game. He currently leads the team in goals (30) and team points (61). Brad Marchand is also looking to reach his fourth straight 30-goal season.

The Bruins have been teetering between third and fourth in the Atlantic Division and have a 27-17-7 record as they battle for a spot in the Playoffs. The Capitals are third in the Metropolitan Divison with a 28-17-6 record with the Columbus Blue Jackets biting at their heels.

WHEN TO WATCH: Today with puck drop at 12:30pm

WHERE TO WATCH: NBC

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It’s Groundhog Day & Bruins Keep Repeating Mistakes Over & Over

Enlight610(Photo Credit: Enlight)

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

BING! If Ned Ryerson is everyone on the Bruins who can’t score right now (or practically all season for lines 2-4), then Phil Connors is the coaching staff, management & fan base reacting appropriately:

 

And it keeps happening over… and over… AND OVER, just like the aptly-named comedic classic Groundhog Day. But there’s nothing to laugh at this February 2nd for the Boston Bruins. Their on-ice business isn’t funny at the moment and, furthermore, everyone’s fed up with the funny business happening on the ice right now. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy ain’t pleased with his D-core. The D ain’t pleased with the fruitless forwards. And the goalies, well, they ain’t pleased with anything (excuse the vernacular)!

This is what happens when you lose three in a row after having leads in all three games; when you lose 5 out of 6 after having scored the first goal in every game; when you constantly let important points slip away in a playoff race where EVERY. SINGLE. POINT. MATTERS!

I’m kind of wishing Blades the Bear pulls a Groundhog Day and goes back into hibernation after seeing his shadow. Because if we have to bear 6 more weeks of Winter hockey like this, then it truly is “pitiful” to quote Weatherman Phil (and then some):

 

Yet, for all the moping & groping and whining & pining that Bruins fans do (and rightfully so considering the current climate surrounding the team’s dispirited play… heck, I know I’m guilty of it), the solution is right there for all to see. In fact, Jack Edwards has been screaming it from the booth–and on Twitter–as loud as he can over the past two weeks: EXTEND THE LEAD.

As we’ve seen in the most recent games against Montreal, Philly (twice), New York & Winnipeg, the B’s have had a 1-goal lead with glorious chances to make it a 2-goal lead, be it on the PP, a quick clean breakout, a cycle-pressure turnover or a breakaway. Yet, every player has come up empty when given the chance “to bury it.” Yes, even the only-thing-keeping-the-Bruins-afloat first liners have missed on extension goals, to playfully paraphrase Edwards. As a result, the B’s have gone an abysmal 0-2-3 in those games. That’s right, ZERO WINS in games where they’ve not only had a lead, but a lead in the third period that should’ve been closed out, especially this late in the season (and against teams with inferior records). It’s about as maddening as a cold shower during the Polar Vortex:

So, what’s the solution to this ever-repetitive, ever-repulsive puck performance the B’s are putting us through right now, outside of “extending the lead”? Maybe it’s a trade… a shake-up… a big, bold move from up above!?!? I know a lot of folks on social media are all for this course of action — be it a Panarin-type, a Dzingel-type, or ANY TYPE THAT CAN ACTUALLY SCORE.

No matter what happens on the trade front for the B’s this month, first and foremost they need to survive the Groundhog Day curse. This all-too-familiar trend of repeating the same day/game again and again and again MUST STOP. If Phil Connors can do it, so can the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask & Bruce Cassidy. Be it checking or Chekov, the Boston Bruins have to turn things around starting February 3rd.

 

Do I sure as heckfire want that to happen? BING!

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Bruins Place G Tuukka Rask On Retroactive IR, Recall G McIntyre

Rask-collision.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Associated Press)

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

Off the hands of the All-Star Weekend in San Jose, the Boston Bruins have announced some roster moves ahead of their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, January 29th. In addition to some forward breaking news that can be found on blackngoldhockey.com, the Bruins announced today that goaltender Tuukka Rask has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to January 19th and goaltender Zane McIntyre has been called up from the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

In the final game before the nine-day break, goaltender Tuukka Rask was involved in a scary collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil, resulting in Rask leaving the game with what appeared to be a concussion. Jaroslav Halak replaced Rask in the game and the Bruins went on to lose 3-2 the final score.

The extended break for the Bruins may have been the best thing possible for Rask and the organization. It has been confirmed today that Rask has indeed suffered a concussion from the collision and in today’s NHL, concussions are taken quite seriously as they should be. The time off has allowed the Bruins doctors and trainers to properly diagnose Rask and Rask has not had to miss any games in the meantime.

While the Bruins have ruled Rask out of the game against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow, they have not ruled out a possible return for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The retroactive injured reserve placement means Rask can return to the Bruins lineup whenever he feels that he is ready. To replace him against the Jets, Boston has called up goalie Zane McIntyre on an emergency basis.

McIntyre has played in twenty-seven games with the Providence Bruins, compiling a record of 16-8-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.74 and a save percentage of .887%. The 165th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins has made eight NHL appearances, going 0-4-1 in that time span along with a 3.93 goals-against-average and a .858 save percentage.

In my opinion, Boston will go with Halak against the Jets, as he is the better goaltender and has done well this season. McIntrye will most likely serve as a backup goaltender for the inevitable future but the possibility is there for him to get his first National Hockey League start in goal in the 2018-19 season.

Returning from the All-Star festivities, it is now crunch time for the B’s as we enter the final stretch of the ’18/’19 regular season. Boston currently sits in the first wild-card position, two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for third place in the Atlantic Division, but the Bruins do have two games in hand. Boston also has a five-point lead on the Buffalo Sabres who are the best team that is currently outside of the playoffs. Every game from this point on has its consequences and the healthy return of Tuukka Rask is needed to make that push for the post-season.

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Gimme A “Break”–B’s Got One, Could Use Another

Image result for boston bruins(Photo Credit: Fox News)

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

What have the Boston Bruins been up to lately? Just goofing around on social media?

Gimme a break! Well, that’s exactly what the NHL did, in fact, give the Bruins from January 20th through All-Star Game weekend, right up until the team takes on the wily & winning Winnipeg Jets at home on the 29th. That’s a full week+ off with plenty of time to have fun, connect with friends & family, make nickname/lookalike videos as shown above, and truly take a break from the mental & physical grind of the game — a grind that EVERYONE who pays attention to this team could plainly see was wearing (and tearing) on them, from the players to the coaches to even “must-make-a-move-management,” as the internet declared.

And if the B’s are to come roaring out of their bye-week break–hot on the heels of a Pasta-filled All-Star soiree in San Jose–then they’ll actually need to catch a break. What I mean by this is the B’s will need to get healthy and STAY healthy (sending lots of good vibes to Tuukka Rask for a quick recovery), something that hasn’t happened at all during the first half of the season; they’ll need to make the most of their now games-in-hand and see other playoff-bubble teams in the East lose some ground; and they’ll need to actually have a goal and/or goalie challenge call go in their favor for the first time in hockey history (yes, I know this is a hyperbolic jest but the Bruins MUST own the record for most goals disallowed/overturned/challenges screwed in the last few years, am I right?).

So, how do the B’s accomplish all of the above? By putting themselves in the best position to get that break they so desperately deserve. And that starts with playing UP to the competition on the ice and focusing on the style of hockey which makes the B’s, at their buzzing best, so very hard to play against. To quote Head Coach Bruce Cassidy after the team’s recent losses to Montreal, Philly & New York (all teams the B’s were ahead of in the standings at the time those games were played):

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“Are we playing down to the level of competition or are we going to play to our standard… The message from us as a coaching staff over the last two, three years is we need to play to our standard. So, I guess that’s the message we have to get back to.”

(Photo Credit: Trifecta Sports)

The B’s will also need to “take care of their own” and NO, that doesn’t mean bring in an enforcer to light up another player after a big hit or take down. It means giving the appropriate and timely response to an important sequence of play during a game — i.e. not giving up a goal after immediately scoring one; taking advantage of the man advantage and putting opponents away or stretching the lead when given the opportunity (too many blown 2-goal leads and against non-playoff teams); being aggressive, and when necessary, getting in the face / dropping the gloves to assert your dominance and liven up the bench; and making the tough & timely save.

The schedule isn’t getting any easier, especially with two difficult road trips lined up and three more games against the we-never-lose/light-up-the-league Lightning. Literally, the B’s season & playoff hopes could come down to one or two games and two or fewer points. How do you ensure you’re on the right side of the standings when everything shakes out in April? You play hard, you play to win every night and you hope your veterans and youthful skill players all hit their strides at the same time.

Oh, and speaking of JFK:

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Bruins Face Quite The 2nd-Half Fight For Playoffs!

Related image(Photo Credit: CBS Sports)

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

To say the Boston Bruins are going to need a lot of punch to their game during the second half of the season (which started this weekend with a big W over Buffalo), well… that would be an understatement. A punch to the gut, if you will (or to the head if you’re throwing down like Kevan Miller, as pictured above). That’s because in order to avoid being punched out of the playoffs come ticket-punching time in April, the team will need to fight, finagle & finish and skate, scrap & score up until the very last second of every game between now & then. Look no further than their last four games, and no, I’m not pulling any punches like a “frightened Frolik” would:

The Eastern Conference playoff picture right now, especially the B’s own Atlantic Division, is as tightly framed as an on-loan Picasso to Mass MoCA. It’s something you can keep looking at, yet you’ll come away with a different perspective after each viewing. In other words, it’s artfully maddening — just like the B’s oh-so-skilled scorers who all-too-often would rather razzle/dazzle us than shoot the puck (I’m looking at you, Brad Marchand). At least, that’s my interpretation…you know, because “art” can be subjective.

While on that subject, an almost-in-contention-for-the-ART-Ross-trophy David Pastrnak will need to –just like his top line mates– have zero “off games” down the stretch if the B’s are going to seriously stay in the hunt for either the third seed or a wild card berth. The B’s have been fortunate enough to make the most of secondary scoring during their recent 4-game winning streak (hats off to the spirited 4th line play of Wagner, Kuraly & Acciari), but as anyone who watches this team with even one eye open knows, Boston lives & dies by the play of the 1st line 88% of the time (that number was intentional). That doesn’t mean they won’t steal a few games 2-1 or 3-2 like they deservedly did against Buffalo both before & after the New Year (“4-point games” as we like to call them), but the B’s have THE BEST chance at going on a 2017-’18-esque run here in the second half of the season by the likes of Bergy, March & Pasta serving up their best play.

You know who’s also playing at his very best right now?

***WARNING: all members of the THC (Tuukka Haters Club), please log off your browser!

Mr. One-win-shy-of-250 Rask, who looks as calm, confident & composed between the pipes since that aforementioned epic run of games-with-points last season. If he can keep the good goalie vibes going AKA keep the B’s “in the game” up until the 3rd period, then you can expect the team to respond accordingly and tack on a few more historic wins for Tuukka.

The same can be said for Jaroslav Halak who despite letting in a few more goals than he’s used to in his last few starts has consistently been as dynamic of a netminder as you’ll see in the NHL this year. Look no further than my favorite but oft-forgotten goalie stat (GSAA) to see just how impactful he’s been between the pipes:

No matter who head coach Bruce Cassidy decides to start, he’s got the best 1-2, or perhaps better put 1A-1B, punch in the league right now. So quit your bashing, bemoaning & b!tching B’s social media (not all of you… just some), because the team needs both Rask AND Halak to stay where they are in the standings… and maybe even gain a bit of ground on Toronto.

Shifting gears to some on-ice shifts we’ll need to see more of here in the second half, the B’s must allow the “Kid Line” to develop, prosper & produce. Outside of the scenario where one or two of these guys may be traded, along with a pick, for a Brayden Schenn or someone similar, the trio of Donato-JFK-Heinen looked as solid as they have all season in the win over the Sabres. The line produced multiple chances, had some skillful puck movement & management, and even saw some PK time (well at least JFK did).

I thought for sure they’d eventually score, but if they are allowed to stick together and further develop that exciting, youthful chemistry, then more goals will be exactly what’s in store (and in the net) for all of them. After all, when you mix together hockey smarts & IQ (JFK), lethal sniping and goal-scoring ability (Donato) and solid two-way play (Heinen), you have a combo that’s destined to deliver (sound/look familiar?)!

So, what will the rest of the season’s second half deliver? Well, here are the guarantees: a tough-as-nails schedule where the B’s will spend a lot of time playing non-divisional opponents, a big West Coast kick (as featured in my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series), and 6 back-to-backs (3 of which feature teams who will also be playing for their playoff lives). Outside of those guarantees, here’s what you should expect: must-see hockey nearly every time the Black N’ Gold take the ice. Because, “B”-lieve me, there’s plenty to fight for ahead of everyone’s favorite season: the postseason — no punching-up needed!

*For more insight into the B’s second-half, check out this week’s puck-perfect podcast:

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

Click Here For 2018-19 Boston Bruins Regular Season Games and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com