Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins 2018-19 Season Review

providence

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Providence Bruins 2018-19 AHL season came to an end on Friday, April 26, 2019, when they lost 4-1 to the Charlotte Checkers which gave the Hurricanes’ affiliate the 3-1 series win in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It was an exciting season of highs and lows for the baby Bs, and the team gave us as fans a lot to look forward to in the coming years. There are many players that we can look forward to seeing not only in Providence next season but Boston for years to come. Later in the article, I will go a little more in-depth about a player at each position that I am especially excited about, but guys like Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Lauzon, Trent Frederic, and Kyle Keyser are players you should be extremely excited about.

Team Breakdown 

The season started off rough for the Providence hockey club. They went 3-5-1 in October which frustrated not only the players but the fans as well. The month of November was much better for our boys in black and gold going 6-3-2 bring their record to 9-8-3. As we got deep into the holiday season, the Providence Bruins continued to struggle a bit. The month of December the Bruins went 5-7-2 bringing their overall record to 14-15-5. This was especially frustrating because despite the player call-ups and injuries this team was extremely talented and seemed to not be playing to their ability.

The new year hit, and the team was 15-16-5 after the first two games, and then something amazing happened. The team went on a 12-game point streak that went from January 6, 2019, to February 8, 2019. During the point streak, they went 10-0-1-1, and it was largely in part thanks to the defense and Zane McIntyre.  The point streak catapulted the team to a 25-16-6-1 record, and they jumped into playoff position during that 12-game period.

The rest of February wasn’t as kind to the Providence hockey club, they ended the month 3-4-1 pushing their record to 28-20-7-1 by the end of February. The month of March was very good to the baby B’s they went 7-4-1-2 pushing their record to 35-24-8-3 going into the final month of the season. The team would go 3-3 their final six games of the year pushing their final overall record to 38-27-8-3 (87 points) which was good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence Bruins ended up having a goal differential of +16 with 228 goals scored and 212 goals against. This was very good. The team defense was one of the best in the Eastern Conference.  The baby B’s would go on to have the seventh-ranked power play in the Atlantic Division and 12th-ranked in the Eastern Conference at 17.7%. The penalty kill, on the other hand, would end up being one of the best in the league being ranked third in the Eastern Conference as well as the Atlantic Division at 85%.

Forwards

The forward group had lofty expectations right from the get-go. They had a few big name prospects that were expected to make that jump from prospect to legitimate NHL player. The two main prospects that were supposed to take huge steps forward were Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic. Both young forwards were competing for the third-line center position in Boston during training camp. Ultimately, neither player would win the position out of camp and both would spend time in Boston never fully grasping the position.

Trent Frederic, a former University of Wisconsin Badger, did well in his first full professional year of hockey. Despite a slow start, it seemed like getting called up to Boston gave the young center confidence which translated into better play and more scoring later on in the season for Providence. Overall in 55 for the baby Bs, Frederic netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.45. Something else that was promising for the young center was 18 of his 25 points were scored after the new year. As the year went on, he got stronger. He did play in 15 games with Boston and didn’t register a point. However, he still looked solid when he played. Overall, I think this was a season that Frederic can build upon and I think he will end up being a good third or fourth line center for Boston in the future.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, on the other hand, might be a piece used in a bigger trade to strengthen the NHL roster. The former Boston University Terrier took a step back in a lot of people’s opinion. The young center did spend time in Boston and Providence and did deal with some injuries. It’s possible that the uncertainty about where he was playing, and getting hurt played into a less than stellar season. Ultimately, in 28 games with Providence, he netted seven goals and dished out nine assists for 16 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.57. With Boston, he netted three goals and dished out six assists for nine points in 28 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.32.

Another forward that was expected to take a big leap forward, and failed to do so was Zach Senyshyn. The young speedster excelled in the OHL scoring at a point per game clip of 0.91 (114-63-177 in 195 games). This has yet to translate fully to the AHL game, though he does show flashes of brilliance. In 66 games with Providence, the young winger netted 14 goals while dishing out 10 assists for 24 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.36. While he did score two more goals than last season he did also have two fewer points overall in the same amount of games. Despite this, Senyshyn did earn a call-up to Boston and in two games netted a goal. I am hoping that the confidence he showed there translates next season.

Two forwards who were both in their first professional season who surprised and had great years were the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain and NCAA champion Karson Kuhlman and the former University of Wisconsin Captain Cameron Hughes. Hughes had a strong start to the season, and then injury hurt his productivity, but he still ended up netting 13 goals and dishing 15 assists for 28 total points in 53 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.53. The former University of Wisconsin forward looks like he could be a strong player on one of the bottom two lines at the NHL level. He will be someone to look at next season.

Kuhlman, on the other hand, had a marvelous season. The former NCAA champion netted 12 goals while also dishing out 18 assists for 30 total points in 58 games for Providence. That’s a point per game total of 0.51. The young forward played so well that he earned a call-up to Boston and in 11 regular season games netted three goals while dishing out two assists for five total points. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain also has played in six playoff games for Boston this season and in those games has dished out two assists for two total points. He is someone who could potentially be a middle six forward in the NHL. He is someone to be excited about not only the rest of this season but next season too.

This brings me to the three guys who were probably the most consistent forwards throughout the year for Providence. First, is Jordan Szwarz who would serve as the Captain for Providence this season. The gritty forward was an excellent veteran presence in the locker room for the baby Bs. He is someone who served as a Captain or Associate Captain at every AHL team he’s played for. In 68 games with the Providence hockey club, he netted 23 goals and dished out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. It was his third year in a row with the spoked P where he netted at least 20 goals. He became the fifth person in team history to do so. Szwarz is an unrestricted free agent after this season so the likelihood of him in the organization next season isn’t great.

Next, we have Gemel Smith. The OHL product was acquired from Dallas in December and was excellent for Providence. In 47 games he netted 16 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 40 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.85. Smith is an RFA after this season so, he is someone that we may not see next season in the organization, but regardless was excellent this season. That brings us to the third guy on my list of “most consistent forwards on the year for Providence” Paul Carey. The veteran forward was acquired in January from Ottawa and was nothing short of brilliant in his time with the baby Bs. In 30 games with the club, the former Boston College Eagle netted 22 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 33 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.10.

Finally, the forward I am most excited about next year and beyond is someone who didn’t play a regular season game for Providence but joined the team in the playoffs. That person is Jack Studnicka. To me, he is the best offensive prospect in the system. The young center spent the entire regular season in the OHL splitting time between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs. In 30 games with Oshawa, he netted 12 goals and dished out 22 assists for 34 total points. Then, in 30 games with Niagra, Studnicka netted 24 goals and dished out 25 assists for 49 total points. That means, in 60 total OHL games he netted 36 goals and dished out 47 assists for 83 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.38. He also played in 11 playoff games with the IceDogs netting six goals and dishing out five assists for 11 total points. In four playoff games with Providence, he netted one goal and dished out one assist for two total points. The young forward is someone to look for next season and be extremely excited about.

Defense

The defense is another group that had many high profiles prospects that are well known throughout the system. Thanks to many injuries early on for the parent club in Boston, a lot of these prospects saw time in the NHL. One of those players is Jeremy Lauzon. The former QMJHL champion had a good season with Providence despite injury and being called up. In 29 games with the baby Bs, he found the back of the net once and dished six assists for seven total points. This is a point per game total of 0.24. The good news is he had the same exact stats last season in 55 games. So, his scoring rate increased despite getting hurt. In 16 games with Boston, he netted one goal for one total point. He also flashed some really good defensive ability. I could definitely see Lauzon being part of the Boston defense for years to come.

Another guy that spent a couple games up in Boston was Jakub Zboril. In two games with the parent club, he didn’t register a point but he played good defense. The major thing was he looked like he belonged. In 56 games with the Providence Bruins, the former QMJHL Champion netted four goals and dished out 15 assists for 19 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.33. Again, the good news here is that the young defenseman had the same exact stat line in 68 games with the baby Bs last season. This means his scoring rate increased which is positive because he is billed as a two-way defenseman. Zboril is an interesting case because with the depth the team has he could be dealt for a bigger piece or he could remain with the organization and be part of the team’s defensive plan moving forward.

Connor Clifton probably made the biggest jump from year one with Providence to year two, and it was a surprising jump at that. With all of the other defensive prospects the team had, the former Quinnipiac University Captain was overlooked. That turned out to be a mistake. In 53 games he netted six goals while dishing out 21 assists for 27 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.51. The young defenseman’s scoring rate almost doubled from last season. To top it off he was playing really good defense, and when Boston needed someone called up because of injury, they called on Clifton. In 19 games with the parent club, he dished out one assist for one point, while also playing a key role on the third defensive pairing. He has also played a pivotal role in the playoffs anchoring the third pair. Overall, I think Clifton can be a better version of Kevan Miller for the Boston Bruins moving forward.

There are two defensemen that I am extremely excited for next season for two totally different reasons. The first one is Cooper Zech. The young defenseman came to Providence as an undrafted free agent in March after his freshman season at Ferris State University. While there, he led the Bulldogs in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.78. In 12 games with the Providence hockey club, he didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points, and in the team’s four playoff games, he netted two goals for two total points. The main reason I am excited about Zech is I want to see how his offensive game translates to the AHL. If he can keep up a point per game total of 0.78 for a full AHL season he would have a 59 point season over 76 games.

The other defenseman I am extremely excited about is Urho Vaakanainen. The Finnish defenseman was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft and this was his first full professional season in North America. Despite getting injured during the second game of a brief two-game call-up, the young defenseman had a great season Providence. In 30 games with the baby Bs, he netted four goals while dishing out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.46. He didn’t register a point during the brief Calder Cup playoff stint but he played great defense. This is a player that I think is going to be a top pairing defenseman for the Boston Bruins for years to come. He not only possesses the defensive ability, but he also has some nice offensive ability too. Look for him to possibly make an impact in Boston as early as next season.

Goaltending

The goaltending for the Providence Bruins this season was not very consistent. They had stretches where it was lights out and others where it seemed like every shot was going in. First, we had Zane McIntyre who in his fourth season with Providence you hoped he would show that he could potentially at least be a back-up in the NHL. In 46 games with Providence this season, the University of North Dakota alum was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .898. The veteran netminder will be a group 6 unrestricted free agent this off-season. This happens when a player is 25 and have had at least three professional seasons beyond junior or collegiate hockey. I believe this means that McIntyre won’t be back in the organization next season especially with Kyle Keyser ready for the AHL and Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings at the University of Maine.

Dan Vladar had a respectable first season in Providence with the Bruins. In 31 games with the baby Bs, the 21-year old netminder was 13-13-4 with a GAA of 2.73 and a save percentage of .898. The young goalie showed you flashes of great play and the potential to be at least a back-up goalie at the NHL level. I expect him to share the load in Providence next season with Kyle Keyser who will likely play in his first full AHL season with the spoked P. It’ll be interesting to see if Vladar is able to take a big step forward next season, I like him overall as a prospect and hope that he has a great year next year.

That brings us to Kyle Keyser. The 20-year old goalie made his Providence debut during the Calder Cup playoffs in game four of the first round. The OHL product was forced into playing time because of a Vladar injury, and McIntyre being called up to Boston as the “black aces” goalie for the playoffs. The OHL product played as well as could be expected, stopping 26 of 29 shots that were fired his way in the series finale loss. Keyser is coming off an excellent season with the Oshawa Generals where in 47 games he was 32-8 with a GAA of 2.75 and a save percentage of .915. He also played excellently during their playoff run going 8-7 with a GAA of 2.83 and a save percentage of .925. This is the goalie I am most excited about the Bruins system. I think he has the tools to eventually be a number one goaltender in the NHL.

Ultimately, it was a fun season for the Providence Bruins that was full of ups, downs and a ton of excitement. It may have ended quicker than we all would have liked, but it was awesome watching our boys in black and gold play all season. There are many reasons to be excited about not only the AHL club moving forward but also the big club in Boston. They had prospects take important steps forward, and hopefully, those players continue their development and then make waves in the NHL. On a personal note, it was fun previewing the Providence Bruins for everyone this season, and I thank you for reading. Now that my rookie season is over expect next season to be even better. I will catch up with everyone as much as I can during the off-season but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the time off and Go, B’s, Go!  

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 1: Toronto at Boston: 4/11/19

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game SevenPhoto Courtesy Of CBS Boston – CBS Local

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (0-0)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (0-0)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Acciari-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Toronto’s Lineup

Forwards

Hyman-Tavares-Marner

Johnsson-Matthews-Kapanen

Marleau-Kadri-Nylander

Moore-Gauthier-Brown

Defense

Rielly-Hainsey

Muzzin-Zaitsev

Gardiner-Dermott

Goalies

Andersen

Sparks

First Period

Both teams were into it right from puck drop, not giving an inch and moving the puck very confidently. Tuukka Rask was solid in the opening moments as he faced a few good scoring chances and answered them effectively. Neither team had a noticeable advantage in possession in the first moments of the period as both teams were able to move the puck effectively. The Bruins received the first power play of the game as Connor Clifton took a high stick from William Nylander.

After a great pass from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron buried a man advantage goal to give the Bruins the lead with 10:29 to go in the period.

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The Bruins found some momentum after the goal as they looked to extend the lead. The Leafs became a little scattered in the defensive zone as the Bruins got a couple of great scoring opportunities. The B’s continued to be very solid in the defensive zone, blocking shots and not allowing too many good scoring chances by the Leafs. After a mad scramble in front of the Boston net, Mitch Marner knocked home a loose puck to tie the game with under four minutes remaining in the period.

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Score: Tied 1-1

Second Period

The B’s went to their second power play just moments into the period as Jake DeBrusk took a stick up high from Kasperi Kapanen. After a bad turnover by DeBrusk in the offensive zone, he tripped Marner on the ensuing rush which resulted in a penalty shot for the Leafs. Marner scored his second of the game on a beautiful move to give Toronto their first lead.

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The Leafs killed the penalty despite the Bruins moving the puck well on the man advantage. The Bruins continued to the strong puck movement following the goal but couldn’t find the back of the net. Charlie Coyle was especially unlucky as he had multiple great chances in the offensive zone. The Bruins continued to get chances in the offensive zone toward and after the midway point of the period.

The Leafs started to get some chances in the Boston end including Auston Matthews hitting the post behind Rask but the puck stayed out. The Bruins started to move the puck incredibly quickly looking to tie the game but they were unable to string chances together. The Leafs doubled the lead as Nazem Kadri sprung Nylander on a beautiful pass through the neutral zone and Nylander then beat Rask with about two minutes to go in the period.

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Rask made a gigantic stop on John Tavares on a breakaway to keep the game within striking distance with under a minute left in the period.

Score: 3-1 Leafs

Third Period

The Bruins seemed to be the aggressor in the first few moments of the final period, pushing to get back into the game. The B’s continued to have a hard time generating more than one chance in the offensive zone as the Leafs started to bear down defensively. The fourth line nearly cut into the lead with a great shift towards the midway point of the period but they were unable to capitalize on their multiple chances in front.

The Leafs looked a lot more structured in the neutral zone in the final period as they seemed dead set on not allowing the Bruins to pick up speed into the offensive zone. The Leafs would get their first power play opportunity with 8:15 to go as Zdeno Chara took an interference penalty. The B’s killed it off despite some good chances for the Leafs.

The Leafs defense continued to have a solid final period as they prevented scoring chances by blocking shots and not letting the Bruins get much going in the offensive end. The Bruins pulled Rask with under three minutes to go, down by two goals. Tavares iced it with an empty net goal with 1:19 remaining.

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Final Score: 4-1 Leafs

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Marner. The Leafs winger was the best player on the ice in Game 1, scoring twice and playing sound defensive hockey.

Second Star: Frederik Andersen. The Leafs goalie was at his best in Game 1, truly stealing the game for Toronto.

Third Star: Rask. Despite the three goals allowed, Rask was solid at times and kept the Bruins in the game with big stops in the third period.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

—–> Click Here To Get Your Boston Bruins First Round Stanley Cup Playoff Tickets From The Great Folks at SeatGiant! <—-

 

 

 

Bruins’ Miller Being Out Is A Bigger Loss Than You Think

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( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Most nights, when Kevan Miller is healthy and suited up for the Bruins, he’s the toughest guy in the rink. Unfortunately, Miller has been injured for the better part of the season. Having played in almost exactly half of the Bruins’ regular season games, naturally, the team was looking forward to having him back in the lineup for the playoffs.

I count myself among the many Bruins fans who were anticipating Miller’s return for playoff hockey, only to fall for the oldest trick in the book: Miller getting hurt. I got got. You got got. We all got got.

 

While Kevan “Not So Meek Mill” Miller (TM) again finds himself sidelined with important hockey to play (this time with a knee injury), the pain of his absence has been assuaged by the steadiness of replacement Connor Clifton’s play. With Miller again watching his teammates from the press box, the Black and Gold will turn to either Clifton or Steven Kampfer (which is a whole different story) to slot into the right spot on the B’s third defensive pairing.   I won’t address the possibility of Kampfer beginning the Toronto series ahead of Clifton right now, because it’s early and it will do nothing but ruin my day.

While Kampfer would not be my choice of replacement for Miller over Clifton, his presence likely won’t have enough of an impact on the series to make a sizeable difference. Quite simply, I don’t see Toronto stealing any wins because of Steven Kampfer and his (likely) 12 minutes a night.   But unlike many Bruins fans that have come out of the woodwork to voice their approval of Connor Clifton’s play, I am still less comfortable with “The Connor Clifton experience” than I am with what Miller would bring to the table. Clifton is a solid young defenseman, good even. But he doesn’t heal the wound that Kevan “Killer” Miller’s absence has created, and I personally think this will matter if Miller can’t return to the B’s within the next two weeks.

Size and Toughness

Clifton is sized at 5’11”, 175 lbs. That means he gives up three inches and 35 pounds to Kevan Miller. While I am very much a proponent of skating as an asset on the defensive side of the puck, Miller’s toughness is not going to be replaced by Clifton. Certainly, Clifton plays a tough game for a somewhat undersized first-year player, with a propensity to throw some solid hits.   Clifton’s hits are the types that are made through his skating ability.

He has smart gaps coming back on the defensive, and he is able to close these gaps with just a few strides. With that being said, it is the toughness that Miller brings in his own end that is not getting replaced by Clifton. And like it or not, the Bruins will be spending a decent amount of time in their own end, especially against the Toronto forward units. Miller’s strength and toughness is such that he can manhandle opposing forwards and move them off of pucks, creating turnovers and helping the Bruins relieve pressure.

Skating

Connor Clifton is a great skater. Better than Kevan Miller even. Guess what, though? Kevan Miller is also a strong skater. And Miller’s skating has improved in every single season he has played with the Bruins. Having worked on the skill side of his game with Adam Oates, there has been an improvement in just about every facet of Miller’s game since he joined the Black and Gold. These improvements are not at all limited to his skating, as his puck-moving abilities have gotten exponentially better, while he has become much more confident in all three zones (when healthy). This has, amazingly, happened without him abandoning the gritty, tough style of hockey that he came into the league with.

Protection

With Miller out of the lineup, the Bruins are much more vulnerable as a unit. That’s just a fact. Last year, the Bruins saw Nazem Kadri throw a cheap shot at forward Tommy Wingells, who missed time due to injury. Admittedly, there are probably better targets for Kadri’s attention, but Kadri’s presence remains, as does the presence of a quicker-paced, more physical brand of hockey that comes around each spring during the playoffs. Having Miller in the lineup is crucial for the protection of the Bruins’ lineup against incidents like the one above. His ability and willingness to drop the gloves to restore some order in the game and protect his teammates serve the Bruins well, especially with the star power in their first two forward lines, and how important they’ve been.

 

The fans that yell “shoot” when the Bruins cross the offensive blue-line will say that Miller’s absence is fine because Zdeno Chara will drop the gloves for the Bruins. To that, I say, “wake up.” Zdeno Chara does not best help the Bruins lineup by sitting in the box for five minutes. His playoff experience and defensive pedigree (while not what it used to be) needs to be utilized on the ice… you know… playing hockey. The Bruins can afford for Miller to sit for five minutes as a third-pairing defenseman because his toughness and the tone that he sets for the game more than makes up for his brief absence.

Overall

Should the Bruins use Steven Kampfer as Miller’s replacement, then they are giving up skill, skating ability, toughness, playoff experience, and veteran leadership. Should the Bruins use Connor Clifton as Miller’s replacement, then they are again giving up toughness, leadership, and experience, and Clifton’s skating is not enough of an asset to counterbalance those sacrifices. Kevan Miller’s brand of hockey is tailor-made for the playoffs, and the Bruins’ should be rubbing their rabbit’s feet in hopes of his return for the second round.

 

Either way, Kevan Miller being injured is a loss and a much bigger one than many of the fans who never played hockey will realize.

Fortunately, I don’t think it will matter in the first round. And it will only serve Connor Clifton well down the road to gain some playoff experience.

 

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

—–> Click Here To Get Your Boston Bruins First Round Stanley Cup Playoff Tickets From The Great Folks at SeatGiant! <—-

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston @ Tampa Bay: 3/25/19

Image result for bruins lightning

(Photo Credit: Scott Audette/Getty Images)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Tampa Bay Lightning

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Wagner

Nordstrom – Acciari – Backes

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Clifton – Carlo

Moore – Kampfer

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Palat – Stamkos – Miller

Johnson – Point – Kucherov

Killorn – Cirelli – Joseph

Erne – Paquette – Callahan

Defense

Hedman –  Sergachev

McDonagh – Cernak

Coburn – Rutta

Goalies

Vasilevskiy

Domingue

First Period

The Bruins rode a four-game winning streak into this one. Last time they faced Tampa Bay back on Feb. 28, the Bruins dominated. They were hoping for much of the same this time around.

Connor Clifton got the blood flowing with a huge hit on Ondrej Palat.

Tampa Bay struck first just 6:42 into the period. Steven Stamkos buried a one-timer from his wheelhouse on the off-wing. Some pretty poor defensive coverage hurt the Bruins there.

46 seconds later David Pastrnak drew a penalty on Nikita Kucherov. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill is the league’s best, the Bruins power play is third. The Bruins made no mistake in responding quickly as Brad Marchand potted a one-timer off of a feed from Pastrnak. Marchand’s 33rd of the season was assisted by Pastrnak (38) and Patrice Bergeron (43). Marchand’s road to 100 points makes its next stop at 93.

Stamkos struck again after a crazy bit of passing, again from his wheelhouse on the off-wing. It was 2-1 Tampa Bay with 5:02 left in the period. Then what do you know? Same as last time as Tampa Bay took a penalty shortly after they scored. First, it was J.T. Miller, then it was Alex Killorn to make it a 5-on-3. The Bruins had scored three 5-on-3 goals entering this man advantage.

Just 32 seconds of power play time lingered into the second period. Shots in the first were 9-4 Tampa Bay, so there was certainly room for improvement when it came to generating a sufficient amount of offense.

Score: 2-1 Tampa Bay

Second Period

John Moore was injured late in the first period due to a hit by Adam Erne and wouldn’t return for the rest of the night. The Bruins were shorthanded on defense for the rest of the night as a result.

Karson Kuhlman’s early penalty didn’t end up hurting the Bruins, but it’s certainly not what they wanted. Thankfully for their sake, they killed the penalty successfully.

Charlie Coyle scored his first as a Bruin off of a defensive zone turnover. Coyle’s first as a Bruin and 13th of the season was assisted by David Backes (13).

The theme of taking a penalty after a goal continued as Zdeno Chara went off for hooking shortly after the goal. Despite some decent looks, Tampa Bay didn’t convert.

Brandon Carlo made no mistake on a pass from David Krejci for his second of the season, giving the Bruins their first lead of the night. Krejci’s assist was his 46th of the season, ironically enough, Jake DeBrusk notched his 13th assist on the goal as well. The goal marked Carlo’s first in 44 games.

Marchand’s road to 100 went up a notch to 94 on his second goal of the game, and it was certainly a weird one. His own shot hung in the sky before he deposited it for his 34th of the season. Like his first, Pastrnak (39) and Bergeron (44) had the assists.

Connor Clifton laid another huge hit on Mathieu Joseph, as if the Bruins didn’t have enough energy. A huge chance followed for Tampa Bay not too long after that hit both posts, but didn’t go in.

A great period really gave the Bruins a stronghold on the game’s momentum. Despite not generating as many shots as Tampa Bay again, they made them count.

Score: 4-2 Boston

Third Period

A Steven Stamkos hat trick bid was thwarted by Rask, but Victor Hedman crashed the net hard and potted the rebound to make it a one-goal game.

Things got worse as Pastrnak went off for four minutes for high sticking. Tampa Bay is the last team you want to kill a four-minute penalty against. Brandon Carlo made a huge blocking stop late in the kill and the double-minor was killed successfully.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made a miraculous save on Pastrnak and unfortunately for the Bruins, the rebound found its way on to Kucherov’s stick and in the back of the net. Tie game with less than seven minutes to go. The Bruins were getting thoroughly outplayed for most of the period thanks to Tampa Bay’s suffocating forecheck.

The last thing that you want at this point? A penalty. Charlie McAvoy took a hooking penalty with 2:58 to go in the third. Tuukka Rask made a massive glove save on a shot through Miller’s screen from Kucherov. Despite a pretty solid defensive effort, Anthony Cirelli broke free in the slot and put a half slapshot past Tuukka Rask to take the lead with 52.2 seconds left in regulation.

Marchand’s late penalty iced things for the Bruins with 38.4 seconds to go and that was it. In a game that had a playoff atmosphere, Tampa Bay’s dominant third period was the difference. The final shots were 28-17 in favor of the Lightning. Up next for the Bruins are the New York Rangers at 7:30 PM ET at TD Garden. This is a tough one to swallow.

Final Score: 5-4 Tampa Bay

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Bruins Assign Peter Cehlarik To Providence

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(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced this afternoon that forward Peter Cehlarik has been assigned to Providence, in addition to several other updates, including Connor Clifton and Paul Carey being recalled. The 23-year-old has split time between the big club in Boston and the Providence Bruins this season, having suited up in 20 games for Boston and 39 for Providence.

During his time with the Bruins this season, Cehlarik has 4/2/6 totals to go along with a plus-3 rating and six penalty minutes; with Boston’s AHL club, the Czech has totaled 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in addition to a minus-1 rating and eight penalty minutes. In 37 career games played in the NHL, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger has amassed 5/5/10 numbers on top of a plus-5 rating and eight penalty minutes.

“The time for him [Cehlarik] to get better is in Providence,” Cassidy said of the team’s decision to re-assign the winger. Cassidy also mentioned that, ideally, Cehlarik would stay and practice with the team; however, the way the schedule looks for the near future, the team felt the best option would be to send him down.

A third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (90th-overall), Cehlarik returns to a P-Bruins lineup that sits fourth in the Atlantic Division–two points off sole possession of third place–and is entering an important stretch of games as the team jockeys for position with the Calder Cup Playoffs creeping closer. With 41 goals and 49 assists for 70 points in 123 AHL games played, Cehlarik will look to return to his role as a key contributor for Providence as the team’s regular season draws to a close.

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Bruins Recall Connor Clifton and Paul Carey from Providence

AR-181128743Photo Courtesy Of The Patriot Ledger

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On Wednesday afternoon, Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that the team had recalled defenseman Connor Clifton and forward Paul Carey from Providence.

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Clifton has skated in nine game for the Bruins this season, going scoreless. He made his NHL debut on November 16th in Dallas against the Stars. Clifton also has spent 53 games with Providence this season, posting six goals and 21 assists for 27 points. Carey has skated in 21 games for Providence since being traded from Ottawa, scoring 14 goals and adding six assists for 20 points. Carey made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche on March 12th, 2014 against the Chicago Blackhawks

Clifton was originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Carey was originally drafted by the Avalanche in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry draft. Both players should see ice time as soon as tomorrow night as the Bruins continue to be banged up on the recent road trip. Clifton looked fairly solid in his time in Boston this season so he should be a good addition. Carey being an experienced player, should bring some stability to a lineup that desperately needs it.

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Providence Bruins Weekend Recap: 3/9 and 3/10

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

Check out my Friday night March 8th Providence Bruins Vs Hershey Bears game recap from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center by CLICKING HERE

Bruins vs Bears, 3/9/19

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

A shootout was needed to decide the first game of the weekend between Providence and Hershey, and the Saturday sequel would not disappoint. Both teams have been swinging back and forth in the Atlantic Division standings over the last few weeks and the weekend was a prime opportunity for one team to gain a solid amount of distance on the other.

First Period:

The defense showed up first and foremost, holding Hershey to just 4 shots through the first twenty minutes and killing off an early power play. Trent Frederic got the scoring started for Providence at the 9:51 mark. After keeping in a clearing attempt on the half wall, Frederic fired a slap shot that Ilya Samsonov was unable to get out of the air. It was Frederic’s eleventh goal of the season.

Score: Providence 1-0

Second Period:

Just like the Friday contest Hershey always seemed to linger, tying the game up just 1:30 into the second period with Riley Barber beating Dan Vladar on a delayed penalty call.

Providence got to show off the special teams to get right back in the game courtesy of Uhro Vaakanainen. It would be the first goal on what ended up being six power plays in the game for the Bruins. Barber would score his second goal of the evening on a breakaway to tie the game again for Hershey 2-2 late in the second period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period:

Jayson Megna gave Hershey their first lead of the night just about halfway through the third period.

A few minutes later, the Bruins were given a good break when Beck Malenstyn was called for tripping. That power play allowed Paul Carey to lift a puck from right in front of the net to tie the game back up for Providence. Connor Clifton also continued to dish out the assists, notching his fourth in the last two games.

Score: 3-3

Overtime:

As fate would have it, Carey’s night was destined to end more dramatically. After a Bruins faceoff win to begin the overtime period, Carey streaked into the offensive zone and ended the game earlier than expected for the crowd at Dunkin Donuts Center. The Bruins would finish the weekend with a contest against the Springfield Thunderbirds, once again in front of a home crowd.

Final: Providence Wins 4-3 

Bruins vs. Thunderbirds, 3/10F

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

After picking up two wins in post-regulation against their division rivals Hershey, the Providence Bruins looked to make it a clean sweep of the weekend against the Springfield Thunderbirds, a team that is a lowly 9-14-5 on the road this season. Paul Carey came into Sunday’s contest with 6 points in his last 4 games, and with a few additions back on the Providence, roster looked to keep it intact.

First Period:

With Providence getting their first power play opportunity in the first period, Trent Frederic came off from the bench and made a beautiful two on one pass to defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, his third goal in the last four games.

Springfield looked to get the momentum back in their favor when Jacob McDonald went after Michael Doherty just about halfway through the period, with both receiving matching fighting penalties. The bad blood continued to the very last seconds of the period when all players on both teams gathered in the near side corner of the ice to apply some shoves.

Score: 1-0 Providence

Second Period:

Joel Lowry tied the game for Springfield just 2:17 into the second. After a shorthanded chance by Trent Frederic went off of the post, Lowry went right back the other way with Sebastian Repo and beat Zane McIntyre cleanly. Just a minute and a half later, Anthony Greco continued his goal-scoring streak to give the Thunderbirds took a 2-1 lead. Springfield continues to be ranked in the top ten of the AHL in second period scoring with 73 goals for.

Providence took the deficit and started to fire a flurry of shots towards the Springfield cage. Turnovers lead to great chances by the Bruins forwards but they were all stopped, including an incredibly athletic save by Chris Driedger with just over seven minutes to go.

Score: 2-1 Thunderbirds

Third Period:

With 7:39 to go in the third period, Vincent Praplan scored his first goal as a Springfield Thunderbird after the penalty kill had come up large for most of the period. The forward also had his family in attendance after making a late surprise trip from his native Switzerland. That would be all as far as the Bruins efforts would go as they could not get any more shots past goaltender Chris Driedger. Still, the Bruins managed to get four of a possible six points on the weekend to keep themselves in a playoff position. Providence will rest for the week then be back in action against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who currently sit just outside of a playoff spot.

Final: 3-1 Springfield 

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Providence Bruins vs Hershey Bears Game Recap 3/8/19

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flikr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

Providence Bruins Lines:

Carey – Szwarz – Kuhlman
Blidh – Frederic – Senyshyn
Fitzgerald – Smith – McNeill
Riley – Koppanen – Pond

Goalie:

McIntyre

Hershey Bears Lines:

Smith Pelley – Sgarbossa – Barber
Gersich – Megna – Walker
O’Brien – Pilon – Malenstyn
Kammerer – Pinho – Whitney

Goalie:

Vanacek

First Period:

The Bruins looked to begin a strong weekend in the month of March against one of their chief rivals in the Atlantic Division. The Hershey Bears came into this matchup sitting just one point ahead of Providence for third in the division standings. It was the first of two games against Hershey as the Bruins looked to prevent the Bears from getting their 8th win in the last 11 games.

With the return of forward Karson Kuhlman to the lineup, Providence was expecting an added boost of offense. Early on the Bruins wouldn’t do so, going 0 for 2 on the power play and not controlling the pace of the game as Hershey could. Zane McIntyre continued his impressive season by coming up with several very athletic saves in the early minutes, notably on Beck Malenstyn, while the Bruins defensemen were making a few passing mistakes.

The Bears got the scoring started with just about a minute and a half left in the first period with Riley Barber receiving a terrific pass from behind the net by Aaron Ness. Despite the slow start on the scoreboard, Providence lead in the shots on goal category 12-8.

Score: Hershey 1-0

Second Period:

Providence applied more of an aggressive forecheck to begin the second period, and the scoring chances were coming much more frequently as were fortunate turnovers. Providence went on their third power play of the game with 13:19 to go in the period due to an interference penalty. Special teams finally yielded a goal to the Bruins via the captain Jordan Szwarz, his third against the Bears this season. After a great point shot by Clifton, Szwarz dived in front of the net to put it past Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek. A punch filled scrap between Tyler Lewington and Trent Frederic right after the goal kept the fans very much into it.

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As the physicality of the game picked up it was the job of the Bruins penalty kill to keep the tie intact. They held Hershey scoreless on their two power play chances in the period, continuing their season-long success down a man. After some incredible stick moves by Connor Clifton, the Bruins got yet another power play goal to take their first lead of the games. While he didn’t finish off his highlight reel approach, former Bear Paul Carey received a perfect pass and finished with under three minutes left in the second.

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Score: Providence 2-1

Third Period:

The third period started with a great bounce from Hershey. Their continued zone presence and crisp passing left the Bruins gassed, but the defense and McIntyre were able to fend off all challenges. With some tight back and forth action being applied between the two squads, Lucas Johansson tied it up for the Bears with 4:54 left in regulation. It was his first AHL goal since mid-October. It was an unfortunate one to give up given how much Providence had controlled the puck in their offensive zone. The goal would give each team one point as the contest headed to overtime, but only one squad would walk away with a big second for the win.

Score: 2-2

Overtime was a very even contest but it yielded no winner. The noteworthy highlights were a big couple of denials by McIntyre on Hershey’s Jason Megna, who had been a shot machine all night for the visitors.

Shootout: Hershey has been known throughout the season as a very strong shootout team, but none of their shooters could figure out Zane McIntyre. In the sixth round, Anton Blidh scored to give the Bruins the win which will leave the teams tied in the Atlantic Division standings. Next up for Providence: Another tilt against the Bears tomorrow night at the Dunk, followed by a Sunday matinee contest versus Springfield.

Final: 3-2

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Preview

PBruins

(Photo Courtesy of Amanda Statland – The Sin Bin )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

This weekend is the last leg of the 5-game road trip for the Providence Bruins. Our boys in black and gold currently sit at 7th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 13-13-5 (31 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. The team continues the aforementioned road trip on Friday traveling to Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center. The Providence club finishes up the road trip with two games against the host Hershey Bears in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday.  

Friday, December 28th Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY) 

The Friday match-up marks the third time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goalie Dan Vladar looked much better in net stopping 18 of 21 shots.  

The third game of the season series will not be easy for Providence. Lehigh Valley comes into the game 18-9-1-2 (39 points) and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 3rd in the Atlantic Division with games in hand. To make matters worse, over the past five seasons the Bruins are 4-6-0-1 at Lehigh Valley and 8-11-2-1 overall in that time frame. A major key in this game will be the number of goals scored. On the year the Phantoms score 3.8 goals a game, and Providence is 3-12-5 when giving up 3+ goals in a game. Along those same lines, the Baby B’s are 10-5-2 when they score first. Grabbing the early momentum and keeping it will go a long way to shutting down the Flyers’ affiliate. Despite the uphill battle, the Baby B’s hope they can break through against the Phantoms and grab a much needed two points.  

Saturday, December 29th and Sunday, December 30th Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (AWAY) 

The Saturday and Sunday games will mark the second and third time Providence has played Hershey this season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Baby B’s beat the Washington Capitals’ affiliate 6-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Jordan Szwarz (2), Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh, Kyle Cumiskey, and Tanner Pond while goalie Zane McIntyre looked great in net stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced.  

These next two games are ones the Bruins should be looking forward to. Hershey comes into them 12-17-0-2 (26 points) and 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 8th in the Atlantic Division. On top of that, Providence holds a 4-4-2 record in Hershey over the past 5 seasons and a 12-6-2-1 record overall in that time frame. A few things to look at this weekend, Providence is 9-6-2 when playing on Saturday or Sunday this season, and are 10-3-2 when leading after two periods. If they can get an early lead, the home team from Hershey could melt from the pressure. These are two games the Baby B’s should win to grab a needed four points in the standings.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot 

Jordan Szwarz: Over the past 5 games the Bruins’ captain has played very well, scoring three goals and tallying two assists for five total points. Leading by example is big for Szwarz who has stats of 10-5-15 overall this year. Something to start looking for as the season progresses, if Szwarz scores 20 goals this year, he would be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with three 20+ goal seasons. One thing the OHL product does have going for him is that he’s scoring 0.625 points per game which is higher than his AHL career mark of 0.59.

Peter CehlarikOver his past 5 games Cehlarik has netted two goals while dishing out four assists for six total points. He has looked good recently, and overall on the season, he’s posted 5-15-20 numbers. If the young forward can keep up these numbers we may see him up in Boston before the season is through.

Not 

Tanner Pond: Pond has produced 1-0-1 numbers in his last 5 games. Hopefully, the center can pick it up this weekend for Providence and light up the score sheet. The gritty forward has 24 penalty minutes in 13 games in his time with the Providence Club as he’s spent most of the 2018-19 season with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. Over his career in the ECHL, the former Northeastern Husky has scored at a 0.69 point per game clip with stats of 16-28-44 in 64 games. Given a little time to acclimate himself to the AHL’s talent, Pond could find himself in the hot instead of the not category.

Karson Kuhlman: Kuhlman has found the back of the net once in his last 5 games of action. The former NCAA National Champion and 2018 Tournament MVP with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs has been a streaky player since joining the Providence club after his commitment to his college team was over. The former Bulldog is another player who may just need some time getting used to the skill level of the AHL before climbing out of the not category. With Providence, he’s scoring at a 0.33 ( 4-7-11 in 33 games) point per game clip which is less than his college days of 0.48 (39-41-80 in 166 games).

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

Anders Bjork: Since being sent down to Providence, Bjork is scoring at a 1.00 point per game pace with 1-9-10 numbers in 10 games played thus far. Look for him to keep it up this weekend. If he plays well, we could see Boston call him up for the Winter Classic which is being played at his Alma Mater Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

On The Blue Line: 

Connor Clifton: Clifton has played well for Providence this year posting 3-6-9 numbers in 22 games. He even saw a call-up to Boston when they needed help with injuries. Look for him to keep up his play this weekend. The young defenseman’s uptick in scoring is not as surprising as one may think. While at Quinnipiac University he was scoring 0.36 points per game (19-37-56 in 156 games). This is much closer to this season’s 0.41 points per game than last’s of 0.24. 

In Net:  

Dan VladarI would look for Vladar to have a good weekend for Providence, especially with the games against Hershey. The Bears have had a rough go of it this season, and Vladar could shine against them. Something to look for, the young goalie is 4-3-1 on the road this year stopping 212 of 234 shots for a .906 save percentage and  2.51 goals against average.

I am optimistic that the Baby B’s will find some magic this weekend before they return home. The game against Lehigh Valley will be tough. However, the two games against Hershey are ones they should absolutely win. If our boys in black and gold can skate away from the weekend with at least four points, it would go a long way to helping them climb the Atlantic Division standings. We will catch you up next week and let you know how the team fared but feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and Go, B’s, Go!

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Connor Clifton Impressing In His first Stint With The Bruins

( Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/ Getty Images)

By: Jamie Gatlin    | Follow Me On Twitter: @JamieGatlin1217

So far this season the Bruins young defenseman have been tested due to injuries. Key players such as Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Kevin Miller have missed significant time causing the Bruins to rely on their depth. As a result, Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton have made their NHL debuts sooner than many anticipated. While they both have performed well Clifton, has been a pleasant surprise. He has quietly been one of the Bruins best defenseman as injuries mount.

Coming into the season, the expectations were not high for Clifton. He was seen as a longshot to make it to the NHL after being signed as an undrafted free agent. When Chara, was injured Clifton was the only right-shot defenseman left on the Providence roster. His numbers were not overwhelming as in 14 games he had only four assists. Despite his low expectations, the former Quinnipiac star has not let others opinion define him.

Clifton made his NHL debut against the Dallas Stars on November 16th and set the tone early. Less than 13 minutes into his NHL career he got into his first fight with veteran Jason Spezza. The rookie made a statement showing that he will not back down from any challenge. Since his debut, Clifton has been all that the Bruins could have hoped for.

Through his first seven games, Clifton has yet to register a goal or an assist. Despite his lack of offense, he has been impressive in other ways. The rookie has shown confidence and grit while providing the Bruins with valuable ice time.  He is playing big minutes which reflects the trust the Bruins staff has in him. After being an afterthought, he has been critical to the Bruins of late.

As his solid play continues, the expectations will only rise. That could dictate just how long he stays on the roster. Kevin Miller will be out until mid-January however the Bruins will get a couple of key pieces back soon. Brandon Carlo could return this weekend, and Charlie McAvoy continues to improve. The return of these two will not only improve the roster but limit playing time for others.

In his brief NHL career, Clifton has played well enough to deserve a roster spot. He is improving every game and looks more confident on the ice. He has been shut down on the backend and played a career-high 24 minutes in the Bruins lose to on Monday. Despite his solid play the Bruins defenseman has continued to play with a chip on his shoulder.

While injuries have tested this teams depth, it has given players like Clifton the opportunity to shine. He has seized the opportunity and at the very least has made his mark. When everyone is healthy the Bruins, will have some tough choices to make. If Clifton can continue his recent play, then he could secure himself a roster spot something nobody expected when the season began.

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