Report: Bruins Add RW Ritchie For Depth

Image result for brett ritchie nhl(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

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

The Boston Bruins reportedly have added some grit, depth & potential goal scoring to their bottom six forward group.

According to reports from the Stars camp and TVA sports up in Canada, the Bruins wrestled rough Right Wing Brett Ritchie away from Dallas — and at good value.

 

The early Twitter returns are saying Ritchie will not only be a solid replacement for the recently departed Noel Acciari, but also brings an “intriguing skill set” that includes the major ability to… well… earn majors (but in that Big Bad Bruins way as seen above).

As the above tweet says, this could be a “smart move” by Bruins GM Don Sweeney, especially considering the B’s have always liked their 4th line wingers to have a little pugilistic pluck & puck personality.  It also comes on the heels of another solid signing — the locking up of Connor “Cliffy Hockey” Clifton for four more years — and at that always affordable in today’s NHL $1M AAV.

Make sure to follow the Black N’ Gold Hockey team for more Bruins & NHL Free Agency updates in the days ahead. And of course be sure to listen to and support our podcast below:

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

Report: Bruins Sign Connor Clifton To Contract Extension

NHL: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo Courtesy Of WEEI Radio

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Prior to the start of free agency on Monday afternoon, it was reported that the Bruins had signed Connor Clifton to a three-year extension worth three million dollars total. The young defenseman had a year left on his current contract worth $725,000 for next season.

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Clifton appeared in 19 regular season games for the Bruins this past season, totaling an assist. He also skated in 18 playoff games during the B’s Stanley Cup run, scoring a pair of goals and adding three assists for five points. Clifton also appeared in 53 games for Providence this past season, posting six goals and 21 assists for 27 points. Clifton also skated for Providence last season, posting four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 54 games.

The Long Branch, New Jersey native was originally selected in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. Clifton signed with the Bruins last May after completing his senior season at Quinnipiac University. Clifton played four seasons for the Bobcats, posting totals of 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points in 156 career games. Clifton should see a larger role this season considering how well he performed during the postseason. With this signing it certain seems as though we could see some movement on the Bruins blue line.

How College Hockey Has Impacted The Boston Bruins Roster

( Photo Credit: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

College hockey just continues to grow and grow. Not only the popularity, but the quality of play has been incredible as of late, and it’s really starting to show with more and more NCAA players entering the NHL. In 2003, the NHL was made up of 21% NCAA alumni. That number has risen considerably since then, reaching 33% this season.

As a Bruins fan, the rise of the NCAA is incredibly evident when looking through this Bruins team. 12 out of 22 skaters for the Bruins have come out of college and played a game for the Bruins in these playoffs.

( Photo Credit: Jim Pierce )

The BU Boys

Charlie Mcavoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Charlie Coyle all played their college hockey at Boston University. While Grzelcyk was just a year away from playing with Coyle, he was able to pair with Mcavoy on BU’s top defensive pair when he was captain of the team in 2015, combining for 48 points and a +27 rating. While the two aren’t a pair anymore, they are still on the second powerplay unit, and it seems their chemistry hasn’t skipped a beat with each having two PP goals apiece to go along with nine combined assists. We all know

The Minnesotaians

The Bruins have a pair of players from Minnesota that played hockey in their home state in David Backes and Karson Kuhlman. The veteran Backes played three seasons at Minnesota State University, averaging above a point per game in all but one year (where he has 37 points in 39 games) and just as many other players you will see on this team, was team captain for his final year there. Moving on to the youngster in Kuhlman, he played four seasons at the rival Minnesota Duluth, captaining the team in his final year while leading the team to a national championship.

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( Photo Credit: Jack Fredricks )

The Bottom Six

The Bruins bottom six consists of four products of NCAA (including Coyle) and a healthy Chris Wagner would make that five. Danton Heinen is one of a handful of active NHL players that played for the University of Denver, where he was electric, averaging over a point per game in the two seasons he played there. That success has carried over to the NHL as we’ve seen Heinen pair up with Coyle and Marcus Johansson to form the best third line we’ve seen in years.

Sean Kuraly spent four years at Miami University (Ohio), right near where he grew up in Dublin, Ohio. The former captain at Miami has made a name for himself as a clutch performer throughout the three playoffs he’s been a part of. Another member of the 4th line, Noel Acciari spent four seasons at Providence College and served as the captain for a season just as Kuraly had. The hard-nosed Rhode Island native has made a name for himself these past few years as a dependable 4th liner. The last member of the former WAK 4th line, Chris Wagner, spent his college days at Colgate University, playing two seasons in upstate New York. He had an incredible second season for Colgate, scoring 17 goals with 51 points in just 38 games played for the club.

March 19, 2016: Quinnipiac Bobcats defenseman Connor Clifton (4) skates with the puck as Harvard Crimson forward Brayden Jaw (10) tries to defend during 2016 ECAC Tournament Championship game between Harvard University and Quinnipiac University at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY. (John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging)

( Photo Credits: John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging )

The Back End

The Bruins starting six (with a healthy Matt Grzelcyk) consists of four guys that played hockey in college. Torey Krug spent three years in his home state of Michigan at Michigan State University, captaining the team for two of the three. Steven Kampfer is yet another Michigan native that got to spend college in his home state however he played at the University of Michigan for four seasons before coming to the NHL. Connor Clifton has come onto the scene out of nowhere after four seasons at Quinnipiac University and is really making a name for himself with his play these playoffs. He’s yet another former captain on the Bruins, and it’s starting to really make sense how this team is doing so well.

Other Bruins that have contributed this season that played NCAA hockey were Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson (Boston University), Trent Frederic (University of Wisconsin), and Paul Carey (Boston College).

It’s clear to see just looking through these players college careers that there’s a big reason aside from skill that this Bruins team is doing so well. Their locker room is filled with tons of leaders and former captains of very successful college teams. I think this influx of college talent will only continue to grow not just for the Bruins, but for the entire league with highly touted prospects like Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte and many more high profile players committing to schools to play hockey. With all the success the Bruins have had with these players, let’s hope they draft another few this year.

Cliffy Hockey: Bruins Young Defenseman Shining On The Brightest Stage

clifton2

(Photo Courtesy of Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

A year ago, young defenseman Connor Clifton played in his first season with the Providence Bruins. He came to Providence as a college free agent signing an AHL contract, after not signing with the Arizona Coyotes (the team that drafted him) and electing free agency. The New Jersey native came from Quinnipiac University, where he had a very successful college career, and even served as the Bobcats’ Captain in his senior season. After taking some time to adjust to the AHL game, the young defenseman got better with each game he played through the season. The Boston Bruins were so happy with his progression that they signed him to a two-year ELC after last season.

Coming into this season, the major things that stood out about Clifton’s game were his great skating ability, and his aggressive play both with and without the puck. The former Quinnipiac University Captain came into this season on a mission, playing extremely well for Providence. Even early in the season, it was easy to see that Clifton had the biggest improvement in play from last year to this year. Then in mid-November with a lot of injuries to the Boston defense, Clifton got his first call-up to the big club. In his nine-game stint, he looked good. The young defenseman didn’t register a point, but he played good defense and looked like he belonged in the NHL.

After being sent back down to Providence, he continued to improve his game. Playing great defense while also contributing offensively as well. The injury bug bit the Boston Bruins defense again, and in mid-March, Clifton was called back up to the NHL, and this time it was for good. He would play in 10 games at the end of the regular season and registered his first NHL point, getting an assist in a win against the Florida Panthers. Overall, in 19 games with the Boston, he registered the one point. While in Providence, he netted six goals while dishing out 21 assists for 27 points in 53 games played. That’s a point per game total of .509.

At the end of the season, Clifton was playing so well that the Bruins decided he would be in their line-up when the playoffs started April 11, 2019, against Toronto. The New Jersey native would get dinged up in the game one loss to Toronto, but finally got back into the line-up in time for the game seven victory that sent Toronto home for the summer and Cliffy Hockey was born. The young defenseman has played so well that he’s stayed in the rotation even with big free agent acquisition John Moore, who signed a five-year 13.75 million dollar contract in July being healthy.

With each game Clifton plays, you can see him getting more confident and playing better. Not only defensively, but offensively as well. The Quinnipiac Alum plays big. He’s not afraid to throw his body around, and he plays an aggressive style that is an absolute joy to watch. Not only that, his skating ability is awesome. Clifton’s speed has helped in both ends of the ice these playoffs. His play has really peaked during this recent eight-game playoff winning streak that the Bruins are on. In the eight games, he’s netted his first two career NHL goals, and dished out two assists for four total points. As the stage gets brighter, so does Clifton’s play. His goal in game one of the Stanley Cup Final was huge. The Bruins were down 2-0, and the goal turned the tide of the game.

The Boston Bruins find themselves just three wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup for the seventh time in franchise history. There are many contributing factors that have led them to this point. The play of Tuukka Rask, the play of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and the third line, the play of Sean Kuraly and the fourth line, even the team’s defense as a whole. However, even with all of those factors, Connor Clifton’s coming out party which has solidified the defensive third pairing is as big a factor as all of those things. If Boston wants to finish off this season with a championship, then Clifton will need to continue his high level of play, and I expect him to do just that. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions on Twitter, and I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the Stanley Cup Final. Finally, most importantly, GO, B’S, GO!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 1: St. Louis at Boston: 5/27/19

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Boston BruinsPhoto Courtesy Of CBS Sports

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (12-5)

Away: St. Louis Blues (12-7)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

St. Louis’s Lineup

Forwards

Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko

Blais-O’Reilly-Perron

Maroon-Bozak-Thomas

Barbashev-Sundqvist-Steen

Defense

Edmundson-Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester-Parayko

Gunnarsson-Bortuzzo

Goalies

Binnington

Allen

First Period

The Bruins got out to a flying start with a few good chances in the St. Louis zone. Neither team looked to show much rust in the opening moments as they both looked ready to go from the start. Sean Kuraly went to the penalty box for tripping under four minutes into the period as the Blues got their first power play opportunity. The Bruins killed off the man advantage as the Blues failed to get any significant scoring chances. Brayden Schenn gave the Blues the first period lead with a nice shot on a loose puck with about 12:30 left in the period.

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The Blues seemed to grab the momentum with a couple of good shifts following the goal. The Bruins would pick up their first power play as David Perron was called for tripping with 6:45 left in the period. Marcus Johansson had a great look late in the man advantage but hit the post. The Blues killed the penalty despite the Bruins getting some solid scoring chances.

Robert Thomas was called for hooking late in the period as the Bruins got another power play opportunity. The Blues killed off the penalty yet again as the Bruins continued to move the puck effectively on the man advantage.

Score: 1-0 Blues

Second Period

Vladimir Tarasenko made it 2-0 just a minute into the period after a terrible turnover in the Boston zone by David Pastrnak.

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Connor Clifton deflected a puck past Jordan Binnington shortly after the goal on a spectacular play by Kuraly that cut the lead in half.

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The Bruins started to find their legs after the goal by Clifton as they looked to even the score. The Bruins would go back to the man advantage as David Backes took a high stick from Joel Edmundson as they looked to tie the game. The Blues killed off yet another man advantage but the Bruins continued to move the puck effectively and get good chances.

The Bruins got another man advantage opportunity as Oscar Sundqvist was called for a cross check on Clifton. Charlie McAvoy fired a quick wrist shot past Binnington off a deflection to tie the game for the Bruins on the power play.

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The Bruins began to get much more physically involved in the second period as they started to push back on the Blues who had established the physical play initially. The Bruins continued to look a lot more comfortable in the second period as they got their legs out from under them which allowed them to take control of the tempo.

Score: Tied 2-2

Third Period

The B’s strung together some really solid shifts to open the period as they looked to truly impose their will and take the lead. Kuraly jumped on a loose puck in the offensive zone after it was kept alive and buried it as the Bruins took the lead for the first time about five minutes into the final period.

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David Krejci took a elbowing penalty with about 13 minutes to go as the Blues got a power play opportunity to try to tie the game. The Bruins killed it off as the Blues failed to gain any momentum from the man advantage. The B’s continued to move their legs in the final frame as they looked to close the game out and take an advantage in the series. The Bruins would go to the power play again with 6:32 to play as Sammy Blais went to the box for interference. The Blues killed off the penalty as they remained within striking distance.

The Blues pulled the goaltender with about two minutes to go and Brad Marchand buried the empty net goal shortly after to ice the game for the B’s.

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Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Clifton. The young defenseman had perhaps his best game in black and gold as he was the best player on the ice for some big stretches in the game.

Second Star: Kuraly. The fourth liner was everywhere on the ice in Game 1 as was rewarded with the winning goal.

Third Star: McAvoy. Another young defenseman with a solid game, McAvoy was very solid once again and factored into the scoring with the tying goal in the second period.

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!

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

Screen Shot 2019-04-10 at 8.24.09 AM

( 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!

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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

GettyImages-1095698730.jpg

(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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