Less Is More For The Bruins In Free Agency

CMAC

Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Many Bruins fans, as soon as the final horn sounded ending the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Final and the Boston Bruins and fans alike watched the St. Louis Blues celebrate on TD Garden ice turned to free agency to see how this team could be improved. There are many talented players hitting the market this year, and the Bruins have around 14 million dollars in cap space. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking that with that kind of money our favorite team in black and gold could get an elite player or two and this team who was one game away from being Stanley Cup Champions, would be in a great position to get back there. Now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble but the Bs should not, and probably will not be very active in free agency.

The first reaction some of you may have had seeing that news may be a bit on the reactionary side, but I’ll explain why you should temper free agent expectations. The major reason is the amount of restricted free agents the Bruins have both this year and next year that they will likely keep. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all restricted free agents this offseason and all three need to be re-signed. Brandon Carlo had an excellent season and played in his first playoffs ever despite this being his third year in Boston. The young defenseman played extremely well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. A longterm four or five-year deal will probably be reached, and it’ll likely be for over four million dollars a year.

Danton Heinen is a player who some fans have soured on a bit because his offensive numbers were down from last season. While this may be a cause for concern, something that some people fail to realize is Heinen is one of the Bruins best defensive and possession forwards, which is hard to see on a scoresheet. At any rate, the down offensive season may actually end up working in the Bruins favor because in contract negotiations he probably will not be able to command as much money as he would have. I definitely see the Bruins and Heinen working out a four-year deal worth anywhere from two to three million dollars a year.

That leaves our final restricted free agent Charlie McAvoy. This one is a little bit trickier because McAvoy definitely deserves a big payday, and the Bruins want him to be a cornerstone of the team and defense for many years to come. However, giving him that huge contract he deserves may not be in the best interest for the Bruins right away. Next season, the Bruins have Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Karson Kuhlman who are also RFAs. All four of those players are ones you’d probably like to keep. On top of that, Torey Krug is going to be a UFA, and that is someone the Bruins may also try to keep. They need as much cap space as possible.

What the Bruins will probably try and do is sign McAvoy to a smaller “bridge” contract with the promise of a big payday after that. A major reason why this would work out in the B’s favor is after the 2020-2021 season the Bruins have David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and David Backes all coming off the books. That will give the Bruins a little more than 20 million dollars to spend. If you give McAvoy a two-year “bridge” contract, you could line up his payday perfectly with that money coming off the books. The young Bruins defenseman seems to like Boston and wants to stay long term so I can see a “bridge” deal being agreed upon and then the big payday coming in a couple of years.

Ultimately, these are my thoughts as to why we shouldn’t expect the Boston Bruins to be too active in free agency. I think they have internal options to fill needs at the second-line right wing and I’d like them to keep their own guys. Despite losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the future is bright for the boys in black and gold. I think if they stay the course, and keep their own guys, the team will be in great shape going into next season. My biggest advice to Don Sweeney is no reactionary moves to the Stanley Cup Final loss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a fantastic offseason and enjoys the draft. As always GO, Bs, GO!

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 132 below!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 4: Boston at St. Louis: 6/3/19

Image result for bruins blues

(Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: St. Louis Blues

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

St Louis’s Lineup

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Tarasenko

Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron

Blais – Bozak – Maroon

Barbashev – Sundqvist – Steen

Defense

Edmundson – Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester –  Parayko

Dunn –  Gunnarsson

Goalies

Binnington

Allen

First Period

The goal scoring started really early, 43 seconds in off of a wraparound from Ryan O’Reilly. Tuukka Rask made the initial save on a point shot from Vince Dunn, but O’Reilly buried the quick wraparound very shortly after. The Bruins were forced to battle some early momentum from St. Louis from the get-go. Just what the Blues wanted.

The Blues continued to push the pace after scoring the first goal, outshooting the Bruins 7-3 through the first 6:53 and outhitting them 11-5. After that, the Bruins made some headway in terms of creating offense, but struggled with finding puck luck.

That all changed when Charlie Coyle got on the board for the ninth time in the playoffs. Danton Heinen took a hit to make a play and Coyle’s chance initially came off of a Zdeno Chara shot, before potting his own rebound. Chara’s assist was his fourth. It was 1-1 with 6:46 to go, goals in three straight games for Coyle.

Vladimir Tarasenko got lost in coverage and scored to take back the lead for the Blues with 13:14 left in the period. Tarasenko is the last person on the Blues you want to have a golden opportunity to score.

The Blues controlled play for much of the period, and also laid some pretty solid hits, which was a big reason as to why they were succeeding. They were the better team in the first period. Two big advantages for St. Louis in the first came in shots at 13-9 and in hits at 24-16.

Score: 2-1 St. Louis

Second Period

Things were fairly standard early until Chara had a Brayden Schenn shot deflect up and off of his face, bloodying the Bruins captain and forcing him to get repairs.

The first penalty of the game came 5:47 into the period when Coyle high-sticked Carl Gunnarsson. The Bruins killed off the penalty without one of their main penalty killers in Chara.

A Bruins power play came shortly after thanks to a delay of game penalty on Colton Parayko. The Bruins had a massive opportunity to tie the game, but they did not convert and the Blues held their one-goal lead.

Connor Clifton went to the box for an illegal check to the head of Tarasenko after a lengthy stint of offensive zone time for St. Louis. But who else but Brandon Carlo to tie the game with a shorthanded goal with 5:41 left? Carlo’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal was assisted. Patrice Bergeron (8) and Brad Marchand (13) has the assists. The goal made Carlo the 20th Bruin to score a playoff goal this season. That’s a franchise record.

It was not a perfect period for the Bruins, but Carlo’s late shorthanded goal was massive. The Bruins took the hit advantage this time, 13-8, but the Blues held the shot advantage, 12-10. After two, shots were 25-19, hits were 32-29, both in favor of the Blues. Chara did not return to game action after taking a puck up high. The Bruins needed to feed off of the energy from the Carlo goal into the third period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

Good news for the Bruins came in the form of Zdeno Chara’s return, with a fishbowl on his helmet. Bad news came in the form of a Danton Heinen tripping penalty just 2:08 into the period. Rask made a series of huge saves on the penalty kill, helping the Bruins kill it off. Through four and a half minutes and after the Heinen penalty was killed, the Bruins held a 13-3 advantage in blocked shots.

Coyle drew a high sticking penalty with 13:18 remaining to give the Bruins their second power play of the game. Up to this point, Chara remained on the bench for the whole period. Not a whole lot of cohesiveness came on the power play, and as a result, the Bruins failed to score.

Oskar Sundqvist has certainly made some noise in different ways in this series. That’s one way to put it. David Backes decided to flatten him.

O’Reilly added to his monster performance in this game, and he got rewarded for it when he quickly buried a rebound. Poor coverage in front of the net did not help Rask after a tough shot to contain up high and O’Reilly found an open spot in the chaos. Not too long after, Rask made a big stop on Patrick Maroon on a 2-on-1. St. Louis remained ahead by a goal with 8:44 to go. Shots to this point in the period were 9-3 in favor of St. Louis.

Things were pretty bad for the Bruins for the remainder of the third. Not a lot of cohesiveness and a bad turnover by Clifton that led to Schenn’s empty-net goal. The Schenn goal came with 1:29, 4-2 St. Louis. With 25.7 seconds remaining, Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug went off following a scrum. Another scrum happened at the buzzer. Chara went the whole third period without a shift, he was there to rally his troops.

Next up is game five in Boston on Thursday at 8 PM ET. The shots were 13-4 in favor of St. Louis and the hits were even at 12. ST. Louis clawed their way back into the series with force. A pivotal game five awaits.

Final Score: 4-2 St. Louis

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.

Marcus Johansson Playing Himself Into New Contract With Bruins

Johansson

(Photo Courtesy of Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

As the trade deadline approached in February, rumors swirled about what the Boston Bruins were going to do. Many people believed that the Bs needed a top-six forward to play on the second line with DeBrusk and Krejci. Right, when it looked like the Bruins were not going to make a trade before the deadline, the news came out minutes before the deadline that a deal had been made. That trade was with the New Jersey Devils. Boston traded their 2019 second-round pick, and a 2020 fourth-round pick for Marcus Johansson and the Devils would retain 40 percent of his remaining salary.

Initial thoughts were that this was a pretty good depth trade and that Johansson was a player that could play on any wing. Then just four games into the Sweden native’s tenure in Boston, he took a crushing hit against Carolina. Jojo, as his teammates call him, would suffer a bruised lung and be out for a couple weeks. This had fans all over thinking “oh no, not again” because this would be the second season in a row in which a deadline acquisition would get hurt early into their tenure in black and gold. Three weeks later Johansson would return to the Bruins lineup and play in the teams remaining six games of the regular season.

The final three games of the regular season were very good for Johansson. He finally seemed to gel with his new team, and he would go to score a goal and dish out an assist in those three games. Then came the playoffs, and the Bruins would play Toronto in the first round. His first four games played in the playoffs were forgettable, and he would even sit out two of the first six games of the series. Then it was like a switch went off. The former New Jersey Devil would start gaining confidence and gelled really well with fellow mid-season acquisition Charlie Coyle.  Johansson would go on to score a goal in game seven against Toronto, and since then the flood gates opened up.

The Bruins third line of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen has been an x-factor for the Bruins this playoff run. The chemistry that Coyle and Johansson have on the ice is mesmerizing to watch, and every time Johansson touches the puck it seems like he has a chance to do something special. Including that goal in game seven, in his last 13 playoff games, Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points. He is driving play and has been one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins these playoffs. Now, Johansson’s play this run to the Stanley Cup Final has brought up an interesting question. Do the Bruins re-sign him?

I think the Boston Bruins have to absolutely look at bringing Marcus Johansson back next season with one caveat. The price has to be right. The Bruins have around 14.3 million dollars in salary cap space going into this off-season. This seems like a big number, but let’s dig into that a little further. At the end of this season, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are both restricted free agents, and you have to absolutely keep both of those players. That could take up most of your cap space depending on whether or not McAvoy takes a smaller “bridge” contract pushing off his big payday for a few years. On top of that, after next season Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are all restricted free agents as well. So, it may take some financial creativity to keep Johansson.

Now, what would a new contract for Johansson look like? I believe if you can get him to sign a one or two year contract in the neighborhood of 2.8-3.15 million dollars a year, then you have to absolutely sign him. Anything beyond that would probably be too detrimental to the salary cap and hurt your chances of keeping those core restricted free agents. One thing I do know for sure is that I hope Johansson keeps up his play the rest of this Stanley Cup run. He has been a lot of fun to watch, and it would be great to see his play rewarded with hoisting the Stanley Cup here in June. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. Enjoy the rest of the Stanley Cup Final, and GO, Bs, GO!

Heinen Shinin’ For Bruins Through Playoffs

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( Photo Credit: Kim Klement/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

If you were to poll the entirety of those who share a passion for Bruins fandom about which current Bruin they would choose as their favorite, some names would almost certainly stand out above the rest. As the Bruins are a notably deep team who owe much of their success to their admirable implementation and execution of the “next man up” (I just made that up, definitely not an overused cliché) mentality and system, there would likely be a few mentions of depth forwards and defensemen.

But it is likely that names like Bergeron, Rask, Chara, and Marchand would be offered as an answer to this childish hypothetical more so than the rest. Make no mistake, this should absolutely be the case.

However, when it comes to impactful players on the Boston roster who have embraced their role and outperformed their expectations, it would be tough to argue that many (or any) have surpassed Danton Heinen when it comes to consistency and efficiency.

Offensive Potential

Heinen, throughout the course of the regular season, demonstrated his value (shoutout to Dennis Reynolds) in a variety of ways. His 34 regular season points made him the sixth-highest scoring Bruins forward, and solidified even further his role as a forward with middle-six capabilities. However, as a stalwart on an injury-ridden Bruins’ roster throughout the season, the absence of David Pastrnak saw not only Heinen’s status on the lineup elevated to the first line but saw his performance elevated as well. In his time playing with Bergeron and Marchand during the regular season, Danton Heinen scored at nearly a point-per-game pace and allowed the Bruins to maintain their offensive effectiveness despite the absence of one of their most prolific scorers.

While most might offer that just about anyone would be successful offensively while playing with Bergeron and Marchand, the following will bring to light just how valuable Heinen has been in other ways.

Versatility

Throughout the regular season, Heinen saw time playing with each of Boston’s top three lines. In fact, he was rumored to have singlehandedly kept Boston-area LIDS stores in business because of the many hats he wore throughout the season (you’re welcome for that one).

As a younger player, it would have been reasonable to think that the consistent movement throughout the lineup might impact Heinen’s effectiveness on the ice and hinder his abilities to string together consistent performances. However, in the face of the instability of the Bruins’ forward units (for the better part of the season), Heinen managed to, on top of his respectable offensive production, amass the third-highest +/- rating among Boston forwards, behind just Bergeron and Marchand.

While some might predictably point to +/- like an outdated statistic, being included in the same category as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is nothing to write off. Even more so, the fact that Heinen put together such an impressive performance over the course of the entire season proves that the result was no fluke. Even amidst a variety of lineup moves that hindered his ability to get comfortable with certain linemates for extended periods of time, Heinen proved his commitment to a balanced style of production and defensive commitment.

Playoff Improvements

The NHL Playoffs are a grueling time. While the regular season is longer, the intensity of postseason competition is unmatched, not just in hockey, but in the entire realm of professional sports. Simply put, the playoffs create a unique demand for staying healthy, while also producing and playing consistent hockey during situations of the highest intensity.   Younger players with relatively less experience with such big moments might often fall victim to the effects of “the moment.” Danton Heinen appears to have received his “the moment” vaccination, and as such, is immune to its harmful effects that other younger players find themselves struggling with. Heinen has not only maintained his effectiveness but has improved in important areas of the game.

Heinen’s 34 regular season points saw him produce at a .44 points/game clip. In the playoffs, Heinen’s 7 points through 17 games have him producing at .41 points/game. When considering the magnitude of some of his points, and the skill/determination required to create them, this stat becomes all the more impressive. Most notably among Heinen’s playoff production is his overtime assist in Game 1 of the second round against Columbus. Did someone order a master class in body control, awareness, vision, and touch?

Heinen has not been able to maintain his status as the Bruins forward with the third-highest +/- rating in the playoffs. Instead, he now sits 1st (Pronounced “FIRST”) among Bruins forwards with a +10 rating in just 17 games. This comes despite Heinen averaging just 13:33 in ice-time throughout the playoffs, which sits among the lowest of Bruins forwards. Heinen’s utility in his shortened allotment of ice-time speaks to how effective he has been when he has graced the ice.

Moving Forward

Heinen has shown that his game is much more mature than he will get credit for. While he is a far cry from being compared to the likes of Patrice Bergeron, his defensive commitment coupled with his respectable offensive capabilities make him incredibly valuable to a Bruins team that has benefitted from enhanced depth throughout the playoffs.

Heinen has gelled with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson in his time on their unit, and I would expect to see that chemistry continue to grow and positively affect the outcomes of Boston’s upcoming games.

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( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/ AP )

And thus ends my ode to Danton “Grindin’ and Shinin,’ Third Linin’” Heinen.

From Non-Factor to X-Factor: Bruins Third Line Coming Up Huge In Playoffs

thirdline

(Photo Courtesy of John Tlumacki / Boston Globe Staff)

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Boston Bruins find themselves in the middle of a long playoff run, and while there are many different factors that have led to this, one of the biggest x-factors that fueled this run is the play of the third line, and the players that make up that third-line. Going into the season, if someone told you the Bruins would make it at least to the Eastern Conference Final, and that third-line was going to be a big part of that, you would probably think that person was nuts, but here we are. Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen have played great hockey over the last few weeks, and they’ve really shown that they can hold the secondary scoring mantle. Secondary scoring was also a big problem for the boys in black and gold with many local and national media personalities telling us that while the first-line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is elite, the team needed more balance on all lines.

With that balance needed, and the younger internal options never fully emerging the Bruins turned to the trade market to fortify the third-line. The guy that Boston turned to was Charlie Coyle. They traded Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Coyle. Then a few days later, the Bs traded a second and fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Marcus Johansson. Now, Coyle looked strong, and the Bruins seemed to finally solve the third-line center position, but Johansson was initially tried out on the second-line. Then only a few games into his tenure with the spoked B he took a hard hit from Carolina Hurricanes’ winger Micheal Ferland, which bruised the New Jersey Devils’ lung. As a result, we never were able to fully see what Boston’s new additions could do.

Even after Johansson came back from injury, he still needed time to fully show what he could do. Heading into the playoffs, Charlie Coyle had fully stabilized the third-line center position, and Johansson was still working to find his niche on the team. Even after game one of the first round of the playoffs against Toronto, the Bruins sat the Sweden native for games two and three. Since then, however, both Coyle and Johansson have been a force to be reckoned with these playoffs. Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal even pointed out that Johansson and Coyle combined in the playoffs have netted nine goals and dished out 12 assists for 21 total points, and they’ve generated 25 individual high-danger scoring chances. Individually, Charlie Coyle has netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points, Marcus Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points, and the final member of the third-line Danton Heinen has netted two goals while dishing out five assists for seven total points.

To top all of that off, over the past five games that they’ve played together the three players have netted a combined four goals while dishing out a combined nine assists for 13 total points. To take it a step further, the 13 points in five games accounts for 21% of the points scored in those games. All five of those games have resulted in a Bruins victory.  Not only are these guys scoring, but they are also driving play when they are the ice which is one of the most important things, especially in the playoffs. A lot of fans were critical of Don Sweeney at the trade deadline stating that the trades getting Coyle and Johansson would not be enough to get past Tampa Bay and win a Stanley Cup. Luckily for Boston, Columbus took care of Tampa Bay for them, and their acquisitions are playing a large part in the Bruins being two wins away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

The Boston Bruins third-line has gone from a non-factor to an x-factor this long playoff run. They’ve become such a big strength that you have to consider re-signing Marcus Johansson in the off-season if the price is right. It seems like whenever he has the puck, he has a chance of making a big play. The play of the third line has been an absolute joy to watch, and Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson have become some of my favorite players to watch these playoffs. If Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson can keep up their high level of play, then the Bruins’ chances of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June are very good.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of this playoff run. Feel free to leave questions or comments on my Twitter and Go, Bs, Go!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECF Game 2: Carolina at Boston: 5/12/19

5SPR6NJXUZGTBA6SDF7ELNNFPAPhoto Courtesy Of MassLive.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (9-5)

Away: Carolina Hurricanes (8-4)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Carolina’s Lineup

Forwards

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defense

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

Mrazek

McElhinney

First Period

The game got off to a hard hitting start as Micheal Ferland had a big hit on Matt Grzelcyk in the early going. The Hurricanes had a solid start to the game with a few chances against Tuukka Rask but the goaltender stood tall. The Bruins had trouble in the opening minutes with turnovers but the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage. The Bruins began to find a rhythm in the offensive zone after a flurry of chances by the Bergeron line. The Hurricanes continued to be physical from the start as it seemed to be their game plan for Game 2.

Carolina would pick up the first power play of the game as Zdeno Chara went to the box for tripping with about eight minutes remaining in the period. The Bruins killed off the penalty despite the Hurricanes solid puck movement on the man advantage. After a slick feed from Marcus Johansson, Grzelcyk slipped a wrist shot past Petr Mrazek to give the Bruins the late first period lead.

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The Bruins seemed to get a jolt from the goal as they looked to be a lot more comfortable especially in their own zone. Boston would pick up their first power play late in the period as Justin Williams went to the box. Jake DeBrusk made it 2-0 just six seconds into the man advantage as he buried a rebound in front.

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Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins would go back to the penalty kill just over a minute into the second period as Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping. The B’s would kill off the penalty as the Hurricanes failed to muster much offensive zone time on the man advantage. Connor Clifton made it 3-0 Boston after another outstanding setup by Johansson just under four minutes into the middle period.

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The Bruins continued to push incredibly hard after the goal as they looked to impose their will. The Bruins continued to be very solid defensively as they didn’t allow Carolina to maintain an offensive rhythm as they looked to get back into the game. The Hurricanes continued to try to be physical towards the end of the second period but didn’t seem to be making much of a difference.

Chris Wagner was called for holding with just over six minutes left in the period as the Hurricanes looked to cut into the lead. The Bruins killed it off as Rask continued to have another strong game with a couple big stops during the man advantage. Boston would then go to the power play shortly after the kill as Williams was called for roughing. Grzelcyk made it two goals on the afternoon with a sweet backhand shot past Mrazek to make it 4-0 on the power play with about two minutes left in the period.

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Score: 4-0 Bruins

Third Period

Mrazek stayed in the net to start the third period in a slightly puzzling move but it was clear the Hurricanes were willing to roll the dice. Just over a minute into the period, David Backes stashed in a loose puck to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.

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About a minute after the goal, Bergeron was called again for tripping as the Hurricanes tried to desperately stay in the game. The Bruins killed off the penalty once again with almost no resistance and on the ensuing rush, Danton Heinen scored off of a great feed from Bergeron to make it 6-0.

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Williams made it a five goal game with a nice deflection on a shot by Justin Faulk with under nine minutes to go.

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After a bad misplay by Rask, Teuvo Teravainen buried the loose puck to give Carolina something to be happy about going into Game 3.

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Final Score: 6-2 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Grzelcyk. Perhaps the best player on the ice in this game, the young defenseman was everywhere and even took advantage of some scoring chances as he scored twice.

Second Star: Johansson. Another great game for the winger from Sweden who continues to potentially play his way into a new contract with the Bruins.

Third Star: Rask. While not incredibly busy, Tuukka was very solid especially when the game was still in the balance.

Something’s Gotta Give: Pastrnak Bumped To Third Line

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photo credit: USA Today sports

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

Bruce Cassidy needs to get his team going in order to prevent having their backs against the wall as they did for two games straight in the first round versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yesterday, the Bruins tweeted their practice lines, and to the surprise (and even dismay) of many, right wing David Pastrnak was playing on the third line alongside trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Pastrnak’s playoff stats may not quite show it, but anyone who has watched even a period of Boston Bruins hockey this postseason can tell as plain as day that Pastrnak is seriously struggling to play at the level we are all used to seeing from him.

Since the beginning of the playoffs, Pastrnak has been turning the puck over constantly, taking weak shots, and totally missing the mark when passing. Even worse, he has passed the puck instead of taking shots on many scoring opportunities While this has been a problem through the Bruins’ top six, Pastrnak has looked to be struggling more than most.  In fact, his travails have led many people to assume he is concealing some sort of upper body injury, as his skating appears to be fine. This gluten-free Pasta is not getting it done, and the Bruins’ coaching staff must address the issues with his game.

Pastrnak has notched three goals and assisted on four for a total of seven points in nine playoff games. That’s a respectable number, but it’s not what the team or its fans have come to expect from Pasta. Typically, when the Bruins need a big goal, Head Coach Bruins Cassidy can put his top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pastrnak on the ice and have a reasonably good chance to get the goal he needs out of them. The problem this postseason is that all three of them are struggling, and it’s been brutal to watch.

With Pastrnak skating on the third line instead of the first, two-way wing Danton Heinen will be skating in his place with Bergeron and Marchand. Some fans are wondering what playing on the third line will do for a guy who is having trouble finding his game, and the answer typically is that it will get him back to basics and help him simplify his game. If a scorer is having trouble putting the biscuit in the basket, then he needs to at least be playing strongly otherwise, and at the moment, Pastrnak is not. Playing with Coyle and Johansson will likely give Pastrnak a chance to do so.

This should not be looked at as a punishment in any way — coaches need to move players around the lineup when things aren’t working — and the top line isn’t working right now, so here we are. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, right? As a fan base, we cannot complain about a coach’s unwillingness to change his lineup or move players from line to line (this was a gripe often heard about former Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien), and then complain about where those players end up at the same time. That’s a total double standard, so let’s give this a chance.

Another thing to consider here is that if Pastrnak plays on the third line and things aren’t clicking, Cassidy can always move him back to skate alongside one of the centers he’s used to, whether that center be Patrice Bergeron, or David Krejci. This is not permanent, nor is it a punishment. Cassidy has to make changes to his lines, or he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face. He cannot worry about players’ and fans’ feelings during a playoff run. Furthermore, Pastrnak will still be playing on the power play (and scored during a power play drill in practice), so the Bruins are still going to rely on him offensively. Third line duty will hopefully help him get his groove back, though.

Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson will likely benefit from having such a speedy, skilled wing on their line, as well. With Coyle’s defensively responsible grinding game, and Johansson’s silky-soft hands, putting the three together could turn out to be a match made in heaven. It will also make the lineup deeper and give the Bruins a more balanced attack, especially since that leaves energetic rookie Karson Kuhlman playing right wing on the second line, with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, who are not producing to their standards lately, either.

If the Bruins come out of the tunnel flying like they didn’t during game one, and Pastrnak can settle his nerves a bit and get back to basics, the Bruins can absolutely win game three against the Blue Jackets in hostile territory… even if there’s a cannon involved. Of course, if the Bruins don’t want to hear the cannon, they could always shut Columbus out. Hopefully these line changes help the offense get moving again tonight.

Bruins’ First Line Is Pivotal To The Bruins’ Success

 

(Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The narrative for the Bruins over the past few seasons has been a significant lack of depth scoring. In last years playoffs, the Bs were lead by the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak who combined for a staggering 16 goals and 53 points throughout the Bruins first two rounds. Following the first line, David Krejci (10 points) and Jake Debrusk (eight points) both had solid playoffs but after those five forwards, the next highest scorer was Rick Nash who had a measly five points and a -7 rating. The lack of depth was the downfall of the Bruins in last years playoffs.

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In last year’s first round, the Bruins top line was incredibly dominant and the graph above shows just that. For reference, anything over 50% was in the Bs favor so yea, the line was incredible all series (Bergeron was hurt game four). In game five (which the Bruins actually lost) the Bergeron line outshot Toronto 31-6 (84%) and out-chanced them 18-3 (86%). That dominance was the main reason the Bruins were able to make it past the Maple Leafs last season.

This is a new year, and a new Bruins team. The Bruins AREN’T relying solely on their top line. Their third unit has arguably been their best line this entire series. Charlie Coyle has shown why he was so popular in Minnesota and has impressed all of Boston with his strong play the series. Danton Heinen hasn’t slumped as he did last playoffs with a goal and two assists in five games and Both David Backes and Karson Kuhlman have played pretty well, giving the Bruins a legitimate 3rd line unlike last playoffs.

(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the strong play of the 3rd line the Bruins are still down 3-2 in the series. What was most apparent after their 2-1 loss to the Leafs on Friday was the lack of dominance, or dare I say it, poor play shown by the 1st line. Playing primarily against the line centered by John Tavares and the pair of Jake Muzzin and Nikita Zaitzev, the “perfection line” has been far from perfect. The trio has scored just three even strength goals this series and, especially in game five, have really struggled to generate offense.

After the line was stymied again in game three, Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy said “they’re having a tougher time getting to the net, and as a result I think they’re trying really hard one-on-one to get there. I think they need to use each other a little bit more to get there. [Maybe] get an old-fashioned goal whether it’s a center lane drive, a puck to the net or a second chance. They’re pretty determined guys.” While the line bounced back to have a solid Game Four, it clearly didn’t carry into Game Five.

Like Cassidy said, the line just needs to simplify their play. I’ve seen Marchand and Pastrnak carry the puck into the zone and attempt to finesse through three Toronto players too many times. The line is just too good to continue to get stifled by the Leafs D.

Brad Marchand David Pastrnak Patrice Bergeron Bruins

(Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers)

In the three Bruins losses this series, the Bergy line has scored once, which was a powerplay goal in game one. Maybe Bergeron is playing through an injury and Pasta’s hand is still not fully recovered but a line consisting of an 100 point player, a four time Selke winner, and a guy that was on pace for 45 goals this season shouldn’t be struggling this much, especially against a team that they have all had incredible success against in the past.

Now it’s do or die for the Bruins and their 1st line. The Bergy line MUST come out strong and replicate the success they were able to sustain in last years matchup. If they continue to play poorly in the 1st period, Cassidy needs to do his job and break them up, there’s no more time to wait for them to produce, it’s now or never. Maybe Danton Heinen or Marcus Johansson find their way to the first line or maybe David Krejci, who played incredible with Marchand and Pasta when Bergeron went down with an injury, slides up in the lineup. It’s time to see why this has been the best line in hockey over the past two years.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Tampa Bay at Boston: 4/6/19

usa_today_10746426.0Photo Courtesy Of SB Nation

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (49-23-9)

Away: Tampa Bay Lightning (61-16-4)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Johansson-Coyle-Senyshyn

Blidh-Frederic-Backes

Heinen-Nordstrom-Kuhlman

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Clifton-Grzelcyk

Lauzon-Kampfer

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Tampa Bay’s Lineup

Forwards

Gourde-Stamkos-Kucherov

Palat-Johnson-Joseph

Killorn-Cirelli-Callahan

Erne-Martel-Miller

Defense

Coburn-Girardi

McDonagh-Cernak

Gaunce-Rutta

Goalies

Pasquale

Vasilevskiy

First Period

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins organization handed out a bevy of regular season awards to celebrate another successful season in Boston.

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Neither team was too aggressive in the early going, undoubtedly trying to avoid any injuries and not expend too much energy. Scoring chances were few and far between in the opening period as neither team could get consistently good shift in the opponents zone. The Bruins started to get an attacking zone rhythm in the middle stages of the period thanks to a solid shift by the third line. Tuukka Rask made a nice stop on Mathieu Joseph to keep the game scoreless with about 10 minutes left in the period.

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The B’s seemed to be the more aggressive team in terms of scoring chances in the first period as they strung together a couple great offensive shifts. A nice passing sequence by the Bruins resulted in David Krejci knocking home a loose puck in front to give Boston the lead.

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The Bruins continued to be quick to the puck and continued to get chances in the offensive zone as they looked to extend their lead. Danton Heinen doubled the Boston lead with just 19 seconds left in the period on a beautiful shot past Pasquale.

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Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins went to the penalty kill as Joakim Nordstrom slashed Steven Stamkos about three minutes into the period as the Lightning looked to get back into it. Erik Cernak cut the lead in half with a dart of a shot past Rask on the man advantage.

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The Bruins seemed to respond well to the Lighting goal as they got their skating legs back under them. The B’s continued to be very hungry on the puck toward the midway point of the game as the looked to assert control. The Lightning looked a lot more comfortable handling the puck in the second period with a lot more noticeably crisp passes. The Bruins would head to their first power play as Nordstrom was hit by a high stick with over seven minutes remaining in the period.

After a bad turnover in the offensive zone, Stamkos skated in on a breakaway that tied the game as the Bruins gave up yet another shorthanded goal on the season.

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The Lightning killed off the Boston power play despite some good puck movement by the B’s. Pasquale continued to have a strong game with a couple huge saves late in the second period. Anthony Cirelli buried a shot in the slot with about three minutes left in the period to give Tampa their first lead of the game.

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The Bruins challenged the goal for goalie interference but unfortunately to no avail. After Krejci was hit hard by Joseph, David Pastrnak took a penalty for roughing with just over two minutes left. The B’s killed it off and kept it a one goal game.

Score: 3-2 Lightning

Third Period

Just 53 seconds into the period, Nikita Kucherov made an incredible individual play in the offensive zone to double the Tampa Bay advantage.

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The Bruins continued to get some good scoring chances in the final period as they moved the puck pretty well in the offensive and neutral zones. The B’s would go to the man advantage with under fifteen minutes remaining in the game as Tyler Johnson was called for tripping. Tampa Bay killed off the penalty despite the Bruins getting some great opportunities.

The game started to get very nasty towards the end of the period as both team began to throw their weight around. Both Joseph and David Backes would go to the box for roughing following a scrum in front of the Tampa Bay bench. Matt Grzelcyk found the back of the net on the ensuing four on four to cut the deficit to one on a nice wrist shot.

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Just mere seconds after the goal, Brayden Coburn somehow found the net on a long wrist shot as Tampa Bay regained their two goal advantage.

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The Bruins pulled the goalie with under three minutes to go as they tried desperately to get back into the game. Johnson ended it with an empty net goal with 1:26 to go.

Final Score: 6-3 Lightning

Three Stars Of The Regular Season

First Star: Brad Marchand. The feisty winger had his best career season, surpassing 100 points for the first time and being the best offensive player on the team all year long.

Second Star: Patrice Bergeron. Amazingly, Bergeron set a career high in points this season despite missing a decent chunk of the year. He continues to impress every single season.

Third Star: Krejci. Despite a revolving door of winger at certain moments, the veteran center tied a career high in points and looked to be at his very best at multiple times of the year.

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