Bruins Post-Game Recap: Chicago at Boston: 12/5/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (20-3-5)

Away: Chicago Blackhawks (10-12-5)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Marchand-Coyle-Heinen

Bjork-Kuraly-Wagner

Nordstrom-Lindholm-Backes

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Chicago’s Lineup

Forwards

Saad-Toews-Nylander

DeBrincat-Strome-Kane

Smith-Dach-Carpenter

Kubalik-Kampf-Wedin

Defense

Koekkoek-Murphy

de Haan-Seabrook

Gustafsson-Gilbert

Goalies

Lehner

Crawford

First Period

Early in the first minute of the game, Patrick Kane was called for hooking and the Bruins got a great chance to take an early lead. The B’s were unable to get muster much offense on the man advantage as they looked a bit slow to open the game. The Bruins seemed to get their legs moving toward the midway point of the period but couldn’t find many scoring opportunities. On the positive side, the Bruins were able to keep Chicago in check in the offensive zone as they didn’t manage many scoring chances. Toward the closing minutes of the period, the Blackhawks finally put together some solid shifts to attempt to take the lead.

The Bruins would get their second power play late in the period as Charlie Coyle was tripped up in the defensive zone. Late in the man advantage, Ryan Carpenter stashed a rebound past Tuukka Rask to give Chicago a lead.

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Soon after the goal, David Pastrnak was sent to the penalty box for interference as Chicago looked to double their lead. The Hawks did just that as Dylan Strome tipped a shot past Rask in front of the net with just over a minute to go in the period.

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Score: 2-0 Blackhawks

Second Period

The Bruins picked up another early period power play as the Blackhawks were called for too many men. Chicago killed off the penalty despite the B’s being able to move the puck pretty efficiently in the offensive zone. After the man advantage, the Bruins were buzzing around the net and appeared to be very hungry to get back in the game. Chicago then responded with a great shift that nearly resulted in another goal but Rask came up with a few key stops.

About midway through the period, Charlie McAvoy took a stick up high and the Bruins returned to the power play in hopes of cutting the deficit in half. Chicago killed off the penalty as the Bruins again were unable to find the back of net and get back in the game. After a scrum in front of the net, Pastrnak was called for roughing and the Blackhawks went back to power play to try to take a stranglehold on the game. The B’s killed it off as Rask made a number of key saves.

Score: 2-0 Blackhawks

Third Period

Just 17 seconds into the third, Alex DeBrincat ripped a wrist shot past Rask to give the Blackhawks a three goal advantage to seemingly take the wind out of the B’s sails.

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About a minute and a half later, Joakim Nordstrom potted a rebound off of a David Backes shot to pull the Bruins within two goals.

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The Bruins continued to push for another goal with a few intense shifts in the attacking zone. Robin Lehner was pretty busy in the early moments of the period and made a few solid saves to keep the Bruins at bay. After a questionable hit by Zack Smith on Pastrnak, John Moore dropped the gloves with Smith but seemed to hurt himself during the fight. The B’s would take a penalty soon after as Coyle went to the box and Chicago looked to put the game away. Chris Wagner took an opportunity and scored on the penalty kill as the Bruins cut the lead to one with five minutes to go.

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Two and a half minutes later, Torey Krug tied it up after a great play behind the net by Jake DeBrusk to send the Boston crowd into a frenzy.

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Score: Tied 3-3

Overtime

After a mysterious non penalty call on Pastrnak, Jonathan Toews scored on a breakaway to win it for Chicago.

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Final Score: 4-3 Blackhawks

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Lehner. Despite allowing three goals in the third period, the Chicago goaltender was the reason the game wasn’t decided in regulation.

Second Star: Wagner. The Bruins winger was very solid in this game, driving to the net and even added a shorthanded goal in the third period.

Third Star: Backes. The veteran winger had another solid game with an assist on Nordstrom’s goal that got the B’s back in the game.

Bruins’ Defensemen And Goaltenders Grades At The Quarter Point Of The Season

zdeno_chara.jpg

( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Boston Bruins currently sit atop the entire NHL and their defense and goaltending is a major reason why. They’ve allowed the second least amount of goals in the league and with their incredibly deep defensive core and top goaltending tandem, they should continue their stellar play for the rest of the year. Now at the quarter-point of the season, it seems like a good time to look at how good the Bs defense and goaltending has been.

Zdeno Chara – A

It’s hard to believe that a 42-year-old is having one of his best statistical seasons in years, but Zdeno Chara continues to amaze. Through 26 games, the big man has five goals, seven assists, and a +16 rating. While we’ve all seen his legs slow down over the years, Chara still remains one of the best shut-down guys in the league.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy – B+

One may look at Charlie McAvoy’s stat-line (seven assists in 26 games) and think that McAvoy hasn’t played up to standards but that is simply not the case. He continues to grow his defensive game and whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side of the puck, he seems to make a game-changing play once a game. Offensively, you’d like to see some more growth from the former 1st-rounder but that will come in time.

Torey Krug – A

Over the past few seasons, Torey Krug has emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and that narrative has stayed the same throughout this season. Already with 18 points in just 21 games, Krug is well on his way to another big season for the Bs. In just the three games since returning from his injury, Torey Krug has shown how important he is to the Boston Bruins. His vision, puck movement and skating ability is second to few in the league and his five points within those three games show just that. 

Brandon Carlo – A

Many people’s biggest gripe with Brandon Carlo in the past was how little offense he was able to generate. However, the key part of that statement is “in the past.” We’ve seen steady growth in Carlo’s ability to join the rush over the past couple seasons and it’s really paying dividends this season. He’s already over halfway to his career-high of 16 points and with 3/4 of the season to go, he seems primed to break that number.

 

Matt Grzelcyk

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

Matt Grzelcyk – A

I’ve been on the Matt Grzelcyk train for a while and he just continues to improve seemingly every game. The former Boston University captain has been excellent this year, especially when fellow blueliner Torey Krug went down with an injury. In Krug’s absence, Grzelcyk was forced to play bigger minutes while slotting in on the first powerplay and the increased role didn’t phase Grzelcyk at all. in the five games without Krug, Gryz potted two goals (both of which were beauties), four points, and was a +3.

Connor Clifton – B

Connor Clifton has been as sound as a third-pairing defenseman can be. Entering his first season with a full-time role, Clifton hasn’t looked out of place at all. Despite his smaller frame at 5-11, the defenseman isn’t scared to throw his body around. He sits second out of all rookies in hits and has added two goals and a positive rating to begin the season. 

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer (44) fired up after scoring the 1st goal of the game. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 09, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire Getty Images)

Steven Kampfer – C

There isn’t much to say about Stevie-snipes as he’s only played in three games, but in those three games, he’s looked solid. Kampfer’s possession statistics have actually been great, his Corsi and Fenwick sit at 60.3 and 63.2 respectively. His +1 rating and no points tell most of his story this year, he’s been everything he’s needed to be as a #7 defenseman.

Urho Vaakanainen – C+

Unlike last season where Vaakanainen’s stint was cut short due to an injury, we got to see a bit more of the young defenseman this year. He’s not the type of playing to blow you away but he looked like a better player compared to last season. The Fin is an incredibly fluid skater and his puck skills have continued to grow. While it doesn’t play into this grade, his stat-line since returning to the AHL has been very promising, with three goals and three assists in three games.

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Images)

Tuukka Rask – A+

The league leader in wins, top three in goals allowed average, top five in save percentage with a save of the year candidate to boot; but Tuukka Rask stinks, right? After failing to capture Lord Stanley the prior season, Tuukka has looked in the zone this season. He’s been one of Boston’s top players in all but a few games, only allowing more than three goals in just three games within his first 16 starts. Say what you want about Rask, but his stats speak for themselves.

Jaroslav Halak – A

Jaroslav Halak simply isn’t a backup goalie; he is the 1B to Tuukka Rask’s 1A. Last season, Halak was able to come in and provide much-needed stability to the Bruins’ net and has continued that through the first quarter of this season. In the ten games, he has appeared in, he’s put up a 6-1-3 record with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 goals allowed average. 

Click here to check out the Bs’ forwards graded!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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After A Switch To Left Wing, Frederic Is Ready To Step Up His Offensive Game

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Carrie Young | Follow Me On Twitter @carrieyoung512

“A real solid two-way center with size” are the words that John Ferguson Jr., executive director of player personnel for the Boston Bruins, used to describe Trent Frederic after he was drafted in 2016. The Bruins had just missed the playoffs for the second year in a row and were looking for players who could make an impact at the NHL level in the near future. They certainly found that in Charlie McAvoy, who was chosen with the first of the Bruins’ two first-round picks that year.

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Fifteen picks later, at twenty-ninth overall, fellow USA Hockey National Team Development Program alum Trent Frederic heard his name called and donned the spoked B for the first time. The pick used to draft Frederic was acquired a year earlier when Boston traded goalie Martin Jones to San Jose in exchange for a 2016 first-rounder and prospect Sean Kuraly. Jones had just carried the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final a few weeks before the draft, so all eyes were on the Bruins to see if the trade could work out in their favor.

Though Frederic was labeled by Bruins scouts as “[not] a top two-line guy,” the first-round label placed high expectations on the young prospect’s shoulders. He played for two years at the University of Wisconsin before making the jump to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He also made the USA World Junior Championship team in 2018. At every level throughout the years, he played center. He was drafted as a center and even had an opportunity to center Boston’s third line in the 2018-19 season.

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This season, though, the Bruins coaching staff decided to switch it up. When Frederic was called up to Boston due to injuries, he was put on the fourth line’s left-wing alongside Par Lindholm and Paul Carey. Though he didn’t register a point in two games, he was put back on the left-wing after he returned to Providence. The Bruins’ game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 22nd saw Frederic in the starting lineup on the left side of Cameron Hughes.

“It was my first time playing left-wing [in Providence], so it was my third game in a long time, but I felt really comfortable,” Frederic said after the game. “[Cameron Hughes] and [Jakub Lauko] helped me, so sometimes I was playing on the right, or sometimes I was playing middle or center down low, so it was good. I had some more chances to make plays on the left-wing tonight, more [plays] came to me. So, I don’t have much experience, but I liked it.”

The switch seems to have sparked Frederic’s offensive abilities. He scored his first goal of the year in the win against Bridgeport, then went on to score another goal two days later against the Hershey Bears. He also added two assists in that span.

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The Providence coaching staff recognized that Frederic was looking comfortable on the wing, so he has mainly been playing that role ever since. Saturday night’s game against Charlotte marks the fourth time in the past five games that Frederic has started on the left side. This doesn’t mean that the Bruins no longer see him as a candidate to fill in at center in Boston, but it does prove that he could be more versatile than previously thought. With centers Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Charlie Coyle now locked up for multiple years, Frederic might have a better opportunity to make an impact in the NHL on the wing. His two-way ability and physical presence have been proven. A little more offense will go a long way, no matter what position he plays.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: New York Rangers at Boston: 11/29/19

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (17-3-5)

Away: New York Rangers (12-9-2)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Krejci-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Studnicka-Coyle

Bjork-Kuraly-Heinen

Nordstrom-Lindholm-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Halak

Rask

New York’s Lineup

Forwards

Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich

Panarin-Chytil-Strome

Lemieux-Howden-Kakko

Smith-Nieves-Fast

Defense

Skjei-Trouba

Lindgren-Fox

Hajek-DeAngelo

Goalies

Lundqvist

Georgiev

First Period

The B’s opened the game with a few good shifts in the attacking zone and got a few good looks at the net as they looked to gain an early lead. The Rangers also had a few solid scoring chances in the early going but Jaroslav Halak was up to the task, including a ridiculous save on Pavel Buchnevich off of a B’s turnover. The Rangers started to impose their will in the offensive zone as the Bruins looked to be a step too slow. The Rangers would go to the power play with under eight minutes left in the period as they looked to take the lead. The B’s killed off the penalty but immediately following the kill, Buchnevich found the back of the net through traffic in front to give New York the lead.

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The Rangers seemed to find their game in the latter part of the period as the Bruins continued to struggle in their own end. Halak continued his strong period with a couple key saves toward the end of the first, keeping the deficit to just one.

Score: 1-0 Rangers

Second Period

The B’s continued to have issues defending the Rangers in the defensive zone as New York forced a few turnovers. Connor Clifton took a tripping penalty early in the period as the Rangers looked to double their lead. The Bruins were able to kill off the penalty as the Rangers failed to get any high danger scoring opportunities. New York made it 2-0 after a bad giveaway in the neutral zone resulted in a rebound goal by Filip Chytil.

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Halak continued to be busy with the Rangers getting a number of shots on goal and time in the offensive zone as the period went on. To try to get the Bruins going, Charlie McAvoy dropped the gloves with Brendan Smith about midway through regulation time. The Bruins scoring chances came few and far between in the middle period as they tried desperately to stay relevant in the game. The Rangers would go back to the man advantage as Matt Grzelcyk was called for a high stick. New York would make it a two man advantage as Sean Kuraly was called for a cross check. The B’s were able to kill off both penalties without any significant scoring chances against.

Late in the period, the Bruins finally broke free as a Kuraly deflection somehow found its way into the back of the net as Henrik Lundqvist inadvertently knocked the puck in.

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Score: 2-1 Rangers

Third Period

The Bruins opened the period with some solid attacking zone time as they looked to tie the game early in the frame. Both teams traded some outstanding scoring chances early in the period but neither team could find the back of the net. David Pastrnak tied it with 15:33 to go as he slammed home a great feed from Jake DeBrusk.

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The Bruins seemed to get a big energy boost from the tying goal and Pastrnak nearly got another as the team started to impose its will on the Rangers. The Bruins seemed to greatly improve their play in the own zone which was helped by some very solid breakout plays. Boston picked up their first power play of the game as Smith was called for hooking with 9:25 to go. The Bruins were unable to take the lead on the man advantage as Lundqvist made a few monster saves.

Par Lindholm took a penalty soon after the power play which gave the Rangers a four minute man advantage and a chance to retake the lead. The Bruins were able to kill off the penalty as the Rangers managed only two shots on goal.

End Of Regulation: Tied 2-2

Overtime

David Krejci buried the winner after a ridiculous setup by Pastrnak, giving the Bruins yet another come from behind victory.

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Final Score: 3-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Pastrnak. The third period and overtime was vintage Pasta as he led to team to the win.

Second Star: Halak. The B’s backup kept them in the game all afternoon and was a huge reason the team pulled off yet another comeback.

Third Star: Kuraly. The Bruins center was a monster in this game and his goal in the second period kickstarted the comeback.

Providence Bruins’ Vaakanainen Named AHL Player Of The Week

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

 

It was announced on Monday morning that Urho Vaakanainen was named as the AHL’s Player of the Week. In two games over the weekend, the defenseman had two goals and three assists and registered a plus-six rating. This was an offensive breakout for Vaakanainen, who had just two points in his first fifteen games with Providence. He recorded two assists in an overtime loss in Springfield on Saturday, then scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist on Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Hershey Bears.

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Vaakanainen was assigned to Providence on Saturday after playing five straight games with Boston, in which he registered zero points and a plus-two rating and averaged just under seventeen minutes per game. He showed no signs of fatigue after over a week of playing and practicing with the NHL squad and finished out the weekend strong, with Sunday’s game being his third in four days. His call-up to Boston seemed to give him a boost in confidence which translated nicely into an all-around effort on both Saturday and Sunday.

 

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Vaakanainen has been lauded as a prized prospect since he was chosen 18th overall by Boston in the 2017 NHL Draft. There has been tight competition within the organization to fill spots on the blue line, with the Bruins prioritizing the acquisition and development of defensemen in recent history. Vaakanainen was picked in the third of four straight years that the Bruins used their first draft selection on a defenseman (the others being Jakub Zboril, Charlie McAvoy, and Axel Andersson).

This is the 20-year-old’s second season in North America, though his first was significantly shortened by a concussion sustained in his second NHL game when the Ottawa Senators’ Mark Borowiecki caught him in the head with an elbow. The injury kept Vaakanainen out of game action for months. He returned in time to help Team Finland to a gold medal victory at the 2019 World Junior Championship in January, then headed back to Providence to finish out the season.

The Bruins are hoping that Vaakanainen continues to find his game in the AHL. After a slow start, he has been steadily improving on both ends of the ice. Sunday’s contest was a perfect example of his two-way potential, as he put in a solid defensive effort as well as registering the second two-goal game of his professional career. He is on pace to beat last year’s point total of 14 (4 goals, 10 assists) in 30 games. His play in Boston has also proved that he can be relied upon as a call-up when injuries arise.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

The Bruins Unsung Forward: Danton Heinen

( Photo Credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Over the years, the NHL’s recipe to win Lord’s Stanley Cup has changed. We have seen fewer teams like the 2011 Bruins win with a goalie who catches fire at the right time, coupled with physical and mentally draining gameplay. In recent years, the NHL is trending toward teams winning with a well-rounded offense, two to three talented puck-moving defensemen, a hot goaltender, and role players. These role players don’t always end up on the score sheet night in and night out, nor receive the recognition for their deeds. Instead, these players are winning key puck battles, keeping the puck out of their own end, ensuring the opposition can’t get a quality scoring chance and maintaining high average time on ice. They are an integral part of the current NHL’s winning recipe. Players like Charlie McAvoy and Erik Karlsson are insanely fun to watch and many fans fall in love quickly, but teams need players who can help them in the defensive zone and break the puck out to their fellow line-mates. Enter: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen was drafted 116th overall in the 2014 NHL draft from the British Columbia Hockey League Surrey Eagles. In 2014, he attended the University of Denver, having two very successful consecutive years at center for the Pioneers. He posted 93 points and a plus 38 in 81 games, while also winning Rookie of the Year in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference; he led the Pioneers both years in scoring. His scouting report highlighted that he has very good hands and a nose for the net. He can play on both wings, which adds to his overall versatility.

 

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Versatility is something the Bruins have always valued.  They’ve sought out players who are able to give more than just a scoring touch, which speaks to most of their players’ abilities.  Injuries and poor play can elevate another player into a role they’re not used to. Heinen has been given the opportunity to play on all four lines and in most situations. He has seen time on both the power-play and penalty kill, as well as playing alongside David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Charlie Coyle without skipping a beat. These opportunities aren’t new to Heinen in his hockey career. When signing with the Bruins, Heinen’s college coach (now Dallas Stars Head Coach) Jim Montgomery spoke of Heinen in high regards: “The accolades he’s accrued and the (statistical) numbers he’s produced during his time at Denver speak volumes about his talent as a hockey player, but the things that don’t show up on a score sheet – his tremendous character, work ethic and dedication to his teammates – are truly immeasurable and that’s what makes him such a special young man.”  These attributes are what make Danton an extremely special player and unfortunately misunderstood. 

 

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Over the years, Bruins fans have fallen in love (almost to a fault) with the gifted and exciting players who zip in and out of defenders for highlight-reel goals.  In last year’s Stanley Cup run, Heinen was wrongfully judged to the point where fans wanted him watching from the press box as a healthy scratch.  He wasn’t the top goal scorer, power-play contributor, or delivering massive neutral zone hits.  He was, however, consistently breaking the puck out and winning puck battles in corners and open space to allow scoring plays to develop.  If a defenseman has a great game, you rarely notice them on the ice because they are doing their job. The same applies to Heinen: one of his biggest strengths is preventing the opposition from scoring, which is what fans admire Patrice Bergeron for.  So why is the love lost with Danton?

He played the majority of the 2018 playoff games on the third line with Weymouth-native Charlie Coyle, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Minnesota for another Massachusetts native, Ryan Donato.  Heinen was second on the team in plus/minus in the playoffs, only behind Coyle.  Even further, Heinen did not post a minus from Game 5 of the Toronto series through Game 2 of the St Louis series, which totals 13 straight games.  Many have disputed the plus/minus stat because sometimes it doesn’t give an accurate assessment of a player or play.  For example, a player will receive a minus on the score sheet if they are on the ice for an empty-net goal.  However, Heinen was on the ice for an average of 13:14 throughout the playoffs, which is very modest for a third liner and supports his plus play.   He was also tied for third on the team in takeaways with Brandon Carlo at 43.

 

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The Bruins’ Achillies heel last year was their lack of consistent scoring depth. Many hoped the acquisition of Coyle would spark Heinen and his teammates throughout the playoffs, but it did not come to fruition. The first line was relied on heavily throughout the playoffs to provide the goal-scoring, which fans rightfully expect out of their star players. The problem arose when the same group of stars went cold in the Stanley Cup Final, resulting in the St. Louis Blues raising the Cup on the TD Garden ice.  Depth scoring needs to come from all four lines in order to win: see the Merlot line in 2011. There is some blame to cast on Heinen in last year’s playoffs, specifically with his lowly 8 points.  He showed flashes of offensive prowess in a few games, but unfortunately could not consistently sustain it over a seven-game series.

This year, Heinen has been able to play with the likes of Jake DeBrusk and (when healthy) David Krejci on the Bruins second line.  He already has 6 points in 13 games played this season, which puts him on pace for 38 points.  This would not surpass his career-high of 47 points set in his rookie season, however, it would provide the regular depth scoring the Bruins have lacked for a few years. He is frequently in the right place at the right time, which is not by accident.  Heinen’s ability to get the puck out of the neutral zone from multiple defenders has lead to great rewards.

 

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The Bruins have been searching for a dominant and consistent top 6 forward since Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have left town. They have tried numerous players on Krejci’s right side, but none have been able to stick for a full season. Danton Heinen is the next player to be given the chance to seize the opportunity. If he can continue his strong two-way play and create plays out of the zone, Heinen and his teammates will reap the benefits and Boston may have finally found the top 6 forward they’ve been desperately searching for

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 152 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Dallas: 10/3/19

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Dallas Stars

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Coyle – Ritchie

Heinen – Lindholm – Kuhlman

Wagner – Kuraly – Backes

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Dallas’s Lineup

Forwards

Benn – Seguin  – Pavelski

Dickinson – Hintz – Radulov

Cogliano – Faksa – Comeau

Janmark – Dowling – Gurianov

Defense

Lindell – Klingberg

Heiskanen – Sekera

Oleksiak – Polak

Goalies

Bishop

Khudobin

The Bruins are back, and that’s pretty cool. The first stop on the road slate of the season was Dallas where the Bruins took on the Stars to start both team’s respective seasons. David Krejci was a last-minute scratch due to injury, leading to Brett Ritchie’s debut in response. For the Bruins, not a whole lot changed in the offseason outside of replacing Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari with Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie, essentially.

The Stars, on the other hand, landed Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in free agency. Anyone that was watching knew that the Stars were going to come out of the gate with intensity against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Bruins.

First Period

What’s the weirdest way this season could have started? Former Dallas Star Brett Ritchie scoring on his first shot as a Bruin just 1:09 into the game. Yeah, that happened. Charlie Coyle had the lone assist.

Alexander Radulov went to the box 4:23 into the period for holding. Danton Heinen made him pay late in the man advantage to give the Bruins a two-goal lead 14:01 to go. Two goals on two shots. Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy had the helpers.

The rest of the period was much quieter than the first five minutes. But, the Bruins managed to control the flow of play for much of the remainder of the period, despite not scoring more goals than the two they scored early on. Radek Faksa went off for high sticking with 2:27 go in the period, giving the Bruins an opportunity for the Bruins to go up by three.

Although they failed to convert on the power play, Dallas didn’t get on the board, so the missed opportunity was a bit more palpable. Not a bad way to start the season, especially the first period. The shots were 6-4 in favor of the Bruins.

Score: 2-0 Boston

Second Period

It was a pretty standard, back-and-forth period to start until Roman Polak went into the boards awkwardly and made some pretty painful-looking shoulder contact with the boards. He was down for quite a while in some serious pain before being helped off the ice on a stretcher by team personnel.

Shortly after the injury, Roope Hintz buried the first Dallas goal of the season to cut the Bruins’ lead in half with 12:05 to go. Radulov then went off the ice for the second time for tripping Par Lindholm just past the halfway point. It wasn’t a very eventful power-play opportunity, so normalcy ensued. Dallas certainly had a bit more energy after losing Polak to injury.

A fourth Boston power play came after McAvoy was interfered with by Mattias Janmark. McAvoy then went off for a penalty of his own, making it a 4-on-4, temporarily. Luckily, for the Bruins, Dallas didn’t score on the power play following the conclusion of Janmark’s penalty. The shots were 9-7 in favor of Dallas this time around, as they began to turn the tide a bit.

Score: 2-1 Boston 

Third Period

Some momentum was generated in the Bruins favor early thanks to some offensive chances from the Bergeron line. That was until Zdeno Chara went to the box for interference within the first minute. Rask made a couple solid saves within the final 30 seconds of the power play to preserve the one-goal lead.

Despite not scoring on the power play, Dallas kept the offensive zone pressure up and kept Tuukka Rask busy. That pressure kept up for quite some time, pretty consistently through the first ten or so minutes of the period. One of the highlights on the Bruins side of this onslaught in favor of Dallas was when Rask flashed the leather on a shot from Hintz that was labeled for the top corner.

Speaking of Hintz, Chris Wagner buried him at the eventual conclusion of the next shift. Through the first eight minutes of the third period, the shots were 11-7 Dallas, and they weren’t giving the Bruins much.

For the most part, outside of a Karson Kuhlman breakaway chance, credit to Dallas for not allowing a whole lot of fluidity through the neutral zone and into the defensive zone for the Bruins. If you scroll past the tweet below, you’ll see both of Kuhlman’s big-time scoring chances from the game.

Huge blocks from Brad Marchand, Chris Wagner, and a strong defensive stand preserved the win for the Bruins after Jim Montgomery pulled Ben Bishop late. The shots were 16-7 Dallas in the third, meaning Rask is very much worthy of praise for being instrumental in holding the one-goal lead for so long.

The Bruins start of the season in the win column. An 82-0 season is still possible, folks. Next up are the Arizona Coyotes on the road this Saturday at 9 PM. There is plenty to work on despite a hot start from now until Saturday night.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

The Culture Of The Boston Bruins

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Photo)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Like every other sport, hockey is a game that requires skill and certain physical abilities in order to be successful. Hockey is also a sport that involves a lot of intangibles. Anyone who follows the game, whether you have ever laced them up or not, knows how highly leadership and perseverance are valued. There are whispers about guys being dealt because they “weren’t good in the room.” We all know the story of the 2013 Finals when Patrice Bergeron played through a veritable laundry list of injuries that included torn rib cartilage, a broken rib, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. Just a few months ago, Zdeno Chara broke his jaw in multiple places in Game Four of the Finals…and didn’t miss a single game.

Both of those players are revered around the league for their toughness and leadership abilities. Players that join the team from other organizations speak to the culture of the room. As John Moore so succinctly put it during an interview back in May, “For lack of a better way to put it there are no ****heads.” Bergeron and Chara’s acts of will no doubt inspire the other guys in the room to play through pain and for one another. The 2011 and 2019 teams were reputed to have two of the tightest-knit rooms in the NHL. As fascinating as it is to discuss those displays of pure willpower (and it is), I have been asking myself if perhaps these events inspire a more tangible benefit than a bunch of guys that get along? Does the culture in the B’s dressing room directly affect the product they are able to put on the ice?

Looking at the deals that Peter Chiarelli and Don Sweeney have negotiated over the last few years, I think the answer is yes. There appears to be a trend in Boston of players taking “less than fair market value” in order to stay with the team. Boston is a great city with good schools, medical facilities and lots to do, but let’s face it, NHL players making millions will be able to get that in most cities. Bruins players truly enjoy coming to work every day, and it’s reflected in the “fair deals” they sign with the team.

Chara Room

(Photo Credit: AP/Charles Krupa)

This trend first started before Don Sweeney was named GM, with the two de facto leaders in the room, Chara and Bergeron. In 2010, Chara was in the last year of the five- year, $37.5 million contract that marked his departure from Ottawa for Boston. He came to an agreement on a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in October of 2010 that would set the tone for the rest of the guys in the room for years to come. When comparing contracts signed in different years (and with different cap ceilings) the key is to look at the percentage of the cap the deal eats up. Chara’s contract accounted for 11.64% of the cap at the time.

Next up was Patrice Bergeron. In July of 2013, after the Bruins made their second trip to the Finals, Bergeron signed an eight-year extension at $6.875 million per season that would make him a Bruin for life. This contract would take up 10.69% of the cap that year. Nearly seven million dollars and more than ten percent of the cap sounds like a lot until you look at deals for similar players. The closest comparison that year to Bergeron was the Anaheim Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf. The season before Getzlaf had 11g/46a (Bergeron had 22g/42a), which was a down year for him. Despite that, in March of 2013, he inked an eight-year deal for $8.25 million a season that accounted for 12.83% of the Ducks total cap space. A little more than a two percent difference doesn’t sound like a lot until think about the other 21-22 players on the team that are going to want a few more percentage points on all of their deals (because that’s what the team leaders did).

Another veteran that signed a long-term extension in 2014 was center, David Krejci. While his six-year, $43.5 million contract was for a slightly higher AAV ($7.25m) then Bergeron’s, it didn’t take effect until 2015-16. In the interim, the cap went up, and as a result, Krejci’s deal was actually a slightly lower percentage to the cap than Bergeron’s (10.51%). So, now it’s the 2016 offseason, Sweeney is the GM, and the Bruins have three of their key (and most influential) veterans locked up on long-term deals at very reasonable money. Whether it was intended to do this or not, the effect of having those three Cup-winning leaders locked up was to create an artificial ceiling. Combine that with the personalities of those guys and the culture in the room and what happened next should not have been much of a surprise in hindsight.

Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets

(Photo Credit: Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Brad Marchand was in the last year of his four-year, $4.5 million per deal and B’s Nation was worried. Marchand was coming off career highs of 61 pts and 37 goals. There was talk of an $8m contract, not being able to afford the controversial wing, and potentially trading him, rather than losing him for nothing to free agency. This went on all summer, and all through camp, until the last week of September. At that time Sweeney and Marchand announced an eight-year deal for $49 million (8.39% of the cap) that would likely keep Bad Brad in Boston for the remainder of his career. He has done nothing but make that deal look like a bargain since. His point totals the last three seasons are: 85 pts (39 goals), 85 pts (34 goals), 100 pts (36 goals). Many believe Marchand’s contract to be the best value in the league.

Fast forward to the following summer. The Bruins returned to the playoffs under Bruce Cassidy, who replaced Claude Julien with 27 games left in the season. They were eliminated in the first round, but optimism reigns. The team has a new coach and an exciting young wing in David Pastrnak who produced 70 points, including 34 goals. The only thing more captivating than Pasta’s scoring ability was his gap-toothed smile and Bruins fans adored him. There was one problem. Pastrnak had his breakout season in the last year of his ELC. To most fans, this meant that he would command a big salary that would put a strain on the salary cap. I guess we should have known better by this point? After several months of angst and speculation, in September of 2017 Pastrnak signed a six-year deal for $40 million ($6.66m per year, 8.89%). In the two seasons after, he has 73 regular-season goals and 161 points. Another deal that has some fans referring to the Bruins GM as “Sweenius” for his team-friendly extensions.

It seems like every offseason, there are contracts that need to be negotiated, and this year was no exception. Three young regulars: Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo were all coming off their ELC’s and needed new deals. After the long postseason run, and loss in the Finals, fans were cranky and needed something to complain about. The dialogue was that there was no way Sweeney could sign his three restricted free-agents with David Backes’ deal still on the books, limiting him to roughly $12 million to work with. It would turn out that all the gnashing of teeth and stress were for nothing. The solution would come in the form of three “bridge” deals. Heinen signed first, two years, $2.8m per season. McAvoy was next and he came in at $4.9m for three years. That left only Carlo, who ended up at $2.85m for two years. A Top-9 forward and two Top-4 defensemen for less than $11 million. Who would have thought it possible?

The thing that makes all of this even more delicious is that the Bruins main division rival du jour, the Toronto Maple Leafs, had their own high-profile RFA to sign. Leaf wunderkind Mitch Marner was coming off three 60+ point ELC seasons, culminating in last season’s 94 point effort. He ended up signing a six-year deal for more than $65 million ($10.89m per, 13.37% of the cap), which was significantly more than any of his RFA peers. I am not saying that Toronto has “bad” guys in their dressing room, but the leaders on that team have not taken “team-friendly” deals, and you can see the trickle-down effect with a lot of their contracts.

It started with John Tavares. He signed in July 2018 to the tune of $77 million (7 years, $11m AAV, 13.84% of the cap). Then restricted free agent William Nylander held out until December, missing the first two months of the regular season. On the last day of eligibility to play in the 2018-19 season, Nylander inked a deal with the Leafs worth $45 million (6 years, $6.96m AAV, 12.93% of the cap). After those two contracts, can you really blame Matthews and Marner for wanting their piece of the pie? Matthews signed his extension in February of 2019. It was a five-year deal worth almost $58.2 million ($11.63m AAV, 14.63% of the cap) that will make him an unrestricted free agent at the ripe old age of 28.

Carlo and Krug

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

Obviously, you have to take into account that the league has changed over the last few years, and also the ages of the players involved. Even taking those factors into consideration, the difference between the paths the two teams have taken is striking. Toronto’s top four forwards account for more than $40 million, or roughly half the cap. Boston has its top four forwards signed for a total of less than $27 million. Each one of the Leafs forwards has a percent-to-cap number of about four-to-five percentage points higher than the comparables in Boston.

I realize that there are a lot of numbers involved in what I have been talking about and that the salary cap can be a very confusing topic of discussion. That said, if I had to boil it all down to a single overriding idea for the reader to take away from this article, it would be that the culture in the Bruins dressing room has had a very tangible and measurable effect. In addition to being good in the room, Bruins veterans have been willing to take less money to enable Bruins management to keep the core of the team together. It started about five or six years ago and continued into this past offseason. Next year Don Sweeney will have roughly $24 million in cap space, and he will have to make decisions on players like Krug, Coyle, DeBrusk, and Grzelcyk. It will be extremely interesting to see if the unique culture in the Bruins dressing room influences these players to be reasonable in their salary demands so the band can stay together. Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Richardson: Bold Predictions For The 2019-2020 Bruins Season

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(Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

As the 2019-2020 season draws near, there is an excitement in the New England air amongst Bruins’ fans. This team a year ago was one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and expectations are sure to be high again. As you’ll see with my bold predictions, I too, have some lofty expectations of what this team can do. Without further ado, let’s dive right in and see what I believe we could be in store for this season.

David Pastrnak eclipses 50 goals and 100 points

David Pastrnak was excellent for the Bruins last season. In 66 games played he netted 38 goals and dished out 43 assists for 81 total points. Looking at those numbers a little deeper, you find out that 50 goals and 100 points may not be such a huge stretch. Scoring 38 goals in 66 games is a goal per game pace of roughly .575. That projected over an 82 games season works out to be roughly 47.15 goals.

That’s really not that far off from the 50 goal prediction I made. I think it’s feasible, if healthy that Pastrnak eclipses the 50 goal mark. Looking at the winger’s point total, he had 81 points in 66 games. That ends up being a point per game total of roughly 1.22. That over an 82 game span works out to be 100.04 points. As you can see, given his production last season, and the fact that he’s increased his production each year since being in the league we could be in for a big season from Pastrnak.

Oskar Steen will eventually lock down second-line right-wing

Oskar Steen has looked excellent so far during the pre-season. He’s been able to showcase his ability and prove that he may ready for the NHL quicker than previously anticipated. The young forward comes to the Bruins after having an excellent 2018-2019 season in the Swedish Hockey League where he netted 17 goals and dished out 20 assists for 37 points in 46 games.

Steen is a tenacious, hardworking forward with great offensive ability. He’s not afraid to battle to gain position on players. Many people actually believe that this style of play will be more suited for the North American game than it was in Sweden. Steen will likely start the year in Providence, but given his ability, style of play, and how well he has played in the pre-season, I firmly believe by the trade deadline that we will see Steen solidify the revolving door at the second-line right-wing position.

Charlie McAvoy will be a Norris Trophy Finalist

Charlie McAvoy is coming off a season where he was really good despite being injured for part of it. On top of that, he was excellent in the playoffs and showed a glimpse of what he can truly be. We all know that he is the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara as the team’s number one defenseman, but I think he takes a major step forward and solidifies that spot this season.

Not only do I believe that McAvoy will step up his defensive game even more, but I think his offensive game will also improve. His point per game total was up from his rookie year, and though he had 28 points in 54 games, that roughly translates to 42.82 points in 82 games. I think McAvoy will eclipse 55 points this season. Ultimately, McAvoy will fully grasp the title of best defenseman on the Bruins and it, in turn, will result in becoming one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

The 2019-2020 Boston Bruins will make it back to the Stanley Cup Final

The 2018-19 season left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Bruins’ players and fans alike. The team was devastated after losing game seven at home to St. Louis. This is going to motivate the team to be even better this season. The offseason brought a lot of change in the Eastern Conference. Teams got better, and familiar contenders are still going to be good. Despite this, and a few questions in the Bruins’ lineup, I think Boston will be left standing when all is said and down in the East.

The major reason that the Bruins will be in the Stanley Cup Final again is the defense. They will end up having the best defensive unit in the East and possibly the entire NHL. The young guys; Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton each took a huge step forward during the 2018-19 playoff run and will only continue to get better.

Veterans Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are still very good and will round out the defense. Not to mention you still have the excellent goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. This defense is going to be formidable and will be the biggest reason why they make it back to the Stanley Cup Final. I hope everyone enjoys this final stretch before the start of the season. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter and as always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins Sign Carlo To New Contract

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Photo Courtesy Of Getty Images

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has signed defenseman Brandon Carlo to a two-year deal with approximately $2.85 million per season. The signing comes just two days after the B’s were able to come to terms with Charlie McAvoy. Carlo skated in 72 regular season games for the B’s last year, recording two goals and eight assists for ten points. He also appeared in all 24 postseason contests last spring, posting two goals and two assists.
 

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The Bruins drafted the Colorado Springs native in the second round (37th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Carlo skated in all 82 regular season games for the B’s in his rookie year, posting six goals and ten assists for 16 points which are still career highs for the young defenseman. Due to injuries at the end of both of his first two seasons, Carlo didn’t appear in the postseason either of those years. Carlo spent seven games in 2015-16 with the Providence Bruins, recording an assist.

Carlo may not be the offensive force that Charlie McAvoy is but he is just as important to the team if not more. He has already cemented himself as one of the best young defensive defensemen in the entire league. Don’t be surprised if the B’s increase his ice time this season, and if all goes well he may contribute a little offense.