Bruins Studnicka Impresses In Debut

(Photo Credit: NHL via Getty images)

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Jack Stunicka was impressive in his post COVID break debut. The game was a tryout of sorts for the 21-year-old natural center. However, he found himself in an unusual spot on the right side of David Krecji with Jake Debrusk on the left. After his performance you will likely see him there again when the Bruins take on the Flyers at 3PM. 

What we saw from Studnicka was good; what we didn’t see was even better. There were no glaring rookie mistakes and he played a solid game in his own end. The Ontario native got stronger from when we last saw him in camp at the beginning of the season. Things are going to get a lot more physical as this tournament proceeds, so we are going to see if the muscle Studnicka put on is going to make an impact in the dirty areas and along the boards.

With his first shift Studnicka was able to show off some of his skills when he intercepted a pass and had a great chance to take a shot on goal. The rookie passed it up and tried to feed a covered Krejci to the dismay of Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins faithful. However, he got more comfortable and confident with each shift and took some great shots. “Certainly [Studnicka] had some of our better chances,” said Cassidy in a post game interview. One that sticks out to me was his breakaway chance, where he showed off his electrifying speed when he received a pass from Krejci and put a nice move on the goalie. He also set up Debrusk for a scoring chance at the end of the second period.

He didn’t look out of place on the power-play either. He played in Patrice Bergeron’s famous bumper spot on the second power-play and was able to create some chances. He had a scoring chance but was unable to convert. 

Cassidy was critical of Studnicka, but said he played good. His decision making wasn’t quite where Cassidy would like it to be. “The shooting versus passing, I mean we’re gonna have to live with that for a while. Until he learns the league, what he can get away with,” Cassidy commented referring to the chance Studnicka had early in the game. He didn’t stop there saying “I liked his initiative. A couple of back soft backhand plays, again a lot of young guys, those aren’t gonna happen in this league. Sticks are too good. Certainly had some of our better chances, unfortunately didn’t finish but I thought he played well.” These are all things that are going to be fixed with time. Unfortunately, the Bruins don’t have time since the playoffs are here and he’s gonna need these improvements to come quickly. 

Ondrej Kase has now arrived in Toronto and will be eager to earn his spot back. I expect Studnicka, because of his lack of experience, to be on a short leash until he can earn the coaches’ trust. Studnicka could be a key player for the Bruins in these playoffs with his speed and his offensive abilities and it will be interesting to see if he has the physicality now to go along with those skills. He is a smart two-way hockey player and can play at the NHL level, but this is a team that won the President’s trophy in the regular season and he will have players pushing him for his spot in the lineup.

Studnick did not stick out the way he did versus the Flyers like he did against Columbus. You didn’t see too much of his speed or his offensive ability on display. He had a great back-check that really stood out to me at the end of the Bruins power play, but that was really his only highlight. I did like seeing him down low in front of the net on offense and after whistles. However, if he is going to keep a job through the playoffs, he needs to make an impact.

The line of DeBrusk-Krejci-Studnicka did not look good on Sunday but it was not all on Studnicka. The Bruins as a whole were trying to force extra passes and did not have a shoot-first mentality. With the ice in the playoffs seeing multiple games in a day we are gonna see a lot of bouncing pucks and passes are going to be harder to make and receive. Kase and Ritchie look like they should be ready to go when the Bruins face Tampa on Wednesday.

I would not be surprised to see Studnicka in or out of the lineup. I would like to see the kid get another shot but it is playoff time and everyone needs to contribute every shift or find some pine. Nobody looked great out there besides Kuhlman and he has all the skills to play at this level. When the rookie’s decision making starts to click, Studnicka has the potential to be a star. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Biggest Questions Facing The Bruins As They Enter The 2020 Playoffs

Notes, Thoughts And Observations From Ondrej Kase's Bruins Debut ...
( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images )

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

What is up with Kase and Ritchie?

There is a lot up in the air with the Bruin’s two most recent acquisitions. We know Ondrej Kase was the only player to not travel to Toronto with the team. It’s been said that the Czech Republic native will meet the team later, but if he’s healthy, what role will he have? He’s only played six games with Boston, and with younger guys (that will be mentioned later) getting more chemistry with the team, it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll have when he’s with the team.

That same story remains true with Nick Ritchie. Despite traveling to Toronto with the team, Ritchie has just now made his first on ice appearance in Ontario’s capital, in an optional skate this morning. He wasn’t featured Bruin’s lineup in the exhibition game and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll join the Bs for a game. The physical forward would be a really nice addition to the lineup, and his presence would be a welcome addition to the forward group.

How will the kids play?

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Studnicka #68 of the Boston Bruins warms up prior to the game against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 26, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins seem to have three players penciled into their lineup that have yet to play a playoff game in their NHL career. The trio of players are Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon. I recently wrote an article about how I believe Bjork has a good chance to break out in the playoffs. He’s an incredibly skilled player that has had success in every league he’s been in. The Notre Dame alum has developed into a really good 200-foot player and is a guy I can totally see having a Marcus Johansson like run in the playoffs. 

As for Studnicka, it appears that he will get the start to the right of David Krejci on the second line and I love it. He’s done everything you want in a young player making the jump to the pros. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals and was within the top 15 in both total goals and points. Getting the chance to play in the top six in the NHL playoffs as a 21-year-old is not something many can do, especially for a President’s Trophy winning team. It’s been all praise from teammates and I’m really excited to see how he does after his promising showing in the exhibition game. 

We saw Connor Clifton take big steps in his NHL career last year as a rookie in the playoffs, and now Jeremy Lauzon is looking to do the same. The French-Canadian plays the perfect playoff style of hockey. The adjective I would use to describe him certainly wouldn’t be shy as he already has 10 fights in his short NHL career. He’s added a nice physical presence next to Matt Grzelcyk and that bottom pair has been a big part of the B’s success. Since joining the big club, the Bruins have had a 15-3-1 record in games Lauzon has played in.

Can Rask replicate last year’s playoff success?

Bruins' Tuukka Rask Reveals Item He Brought To Toronto, Game Plan ...
(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Rask was excellent in the 2018-19 Playoffs. Saying anything but that would be idiotic.  Outside of the final game of the Cup, Rask was absolutely dominant in elimination and series clinching games. In five elimination games, the Finnish tender allowed just four goals to go with a .973 save percentage. And as crazy as it may sound, he was even better in series clinching games. He allowed ONE goal in the three games, good for a .990 save percentage and if you picked this up, well done, had more shutouts than goals allowed. Those are elite numbers. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the time off will affect the B’s starter coming off of his best regular season since winning the Vezina in 2014. Luckily if Rask falters for any reason, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jaroslav Halak. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Will the formatting of the playoffs hurt the Bruins?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 16: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight during the second period at TD Garden on January 16, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Well the immediate answer is yes. As they were six points up on the second place team in the league, Bs were poised to finish the regular season as the number one seed. They would’ve had home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs but are now forced to play in a round robin to determine where they finish. If the Bs fail to maintain the top spot in the East they would end up playing a better team than they would have normally faced. Can you believe if they end up playing the Penguins in the first round instead of a team around the 7-9 seed? No disrespect to any of those teams, but that would be incredibly tough on the Presidents Trophy winning team. 

If there’s any pro out of this, it would be the fact that the Bruins now play high intensity games that matter, but without a lose or go home stipulation. Maybe if they don’t show up in the three round robin games it sends a message. Maybe if they DO show up it will give the team confidence and add a little swagger to their play. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Can the veterans succeed after so much time off?

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
(Photo Credit: Minas Panaglotakis/ Getty Images)

There’s no questioning if the leadership of the Bruin’s veterans will be there when the playoffs begin, it will. But will their usual great play be there as well? Zdeno Chara (42), Patrice Bergeon (34), David Krejci (33) and Brad Marchand (31) have all had amazing NHL careers, but without a proper training camp and so much time off, it may be tough to get back into the swing of things with the intensity of playoff hockey. Brad Marchand said earlier in quarantine that he thinks younger teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning will have the advantage over teams with an older core. With that being said, you know Bruce Cassidy and co will have the Bruins ready to play when the time comes. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Is Jack Studnicka The Answer To The Bruins Search For Krejci’s Right Wing?

( Photo Credit Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers )

By: Jack Gotsell |Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Bruce Cassidy has a big decision to make when it comes to who will be playing on the right side of David Krejci this postseason for the Boston Bruins. With Ondreje Kase unable to get on the ice in the return to play phase of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, being deemed “unfit to play”, the Bruins will look to their young prospect and 2nd round pick in the 2017 entry draft Jack Studnicka to fill the void next to Krejci. If Studnicka plays well he will likely keep the role; and if not, Anders Bjork could likely get a look before we see Kase back next to Krejci.

Studnicka was drafted 53rd overall by the Bruins and has not disappointed. In his rookie season for the organization the 6’2” 21-year-old forward was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. He led the Providence Bruins in scoring this season with 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games. He brings a promising finishing touch that the Bruins and General Manager Don Sweeney have been searching for to boost the top six.

Sweeney was confident he found that boost when the Bruins acquired Kase from the Anaheim Ducks on trade deadline day. The COVID break has left that question still unanswered as we enter the return to play phase. Kase is a shoot-first forward and much like Studnicka, he brings a tremendous amount of speed to his game. In Kase’s time in Anaheim he dealt with a lot of injuries and despite the time off the ice was able to tally a ton of shots. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert on many of those as he continued to struggle with his finish. Kase is in his fifth NHL season and when he’s healthy he shows some flashes of high-end talent. Nothing exemplifies that more than his last healthy season which came in 2017-2018 where he was able to find the back of the net 20 times.

Kase’s battle for the second line right wing will have to wait until he is able to get in the bubble. With that out of his control for now, Studnicka will look to fight for and hold the job. Studnicka only played two games with the big club this season and has never played in an NHL postseason. Being a natural center, he will have to adjust to the responsibilities of the wing while dealing with the pressure of his first postseason minutes. That’s not to say he never played wing; Jack played wing for the Canadian junior team in the 2019 World Junior Championship. In that tournament he tallied 1 goal, 3 assists, and 4 points in 5 games for the silver medalists.

Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron has been impressed with Studnicka saying “he seems to be getting faster, which is scary.” Bergeron also mentioned that he looks a lot stronger than he did in camp at the beginning of the season and that he plays the game the right way. That’s quite a compliment coming from a future Hall of Famer like Bergeron. Studnicka will continue to look to that vetran leadership as he joins this hungry club in the postseason. 

Cassidy has said “It wouldn’t be automatic that I put Ondrej [Kase] in if the young kid was playing really well.” Cassidy has also made some comparisons between Bergeron and Studnicka referencing that he hopes that Studnicka is the next Patrice Bergeron. He’s noted that it would be great for everyone in the organization if he is and I have to agree. However, Cassidy has said all camp that Anders Bjork looks like one of the best players out there, so he is another guy seeking that job. If Studnicka slips up, Bjork could get that chance not only on the third line with Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle, but on the second line as well with Krejci. Clearly the Bruins have some faith in Bjork’s future as they just recently signed him to a 3-year extension. 

The unfamiliarity that Bruce Cassidy has with Kase really hurts him. He doesn’t know him as a player. He was only able to see him in 6 games before the season was put on pause. Cassidy is more familiar with Studnicka and Bjork and he is ready to see both of them lace up in this round-robin tournament. 

For now, it looks like Studnicka will be the guy on the second line when the Bruins play Columbus at 7PM. However, Cassidy confirmed earlier today Bjork and Karson Kuhlman will also see some time at second line right wing tonight. Unfortunately for Kase, he will be watching this one from home as he has still not been able to make the trip to Toronto. It remains to be seen how the lineup will look when the Bruins face the Flyers to open the round-robin tournament. If Studnicka is able to produce some secondary offence it will be an uphill climb for Kase to get back into the Bruins lineup. This is a good problem for Bruce Cassidy and the Boston Bruins to have.  

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

How the Boston Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline Acquisitions Look Today

( Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

On February 21, 2020, the Bruins traded David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, a 24-year-old Czech right-winger with a boatload of skill. In the following days, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins finalized another deal swapping the rights of Nick Ritchie and Danton Heinen, Ritchie, and Kase, each with an extra year on their current contract. Looking at the trade at the time, most would say Boston added some depth pieces and scoring, definitely added a big body in Ritchie, and that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had another successful trade deadline. And then Coronavirus halted the NHL season with the Bruins only having completed 71 games and at the top of the standings for the entire league.

Since time has passed and the league has restarted their season with a revamped 24-team playoff/play-in round, we can evaluate the deals that Sweeney made in February. When we were shopping for our next second-line winger near the deadline, I was excited to see some impressive names in the running. Guys like Palmieri from New Jersey or Tomas Tatar from Montreal seemed like an easy solution to our scoring issues. Even when we got Kase and Ritchie and we did not go for the big-name scorer, I was not that disappointed. Ondrej Kase has a ton of skill and an excellent offensive mind. He is young and still developing, and I believe he could be a Bruin for some years down the line.

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With the impression that Kase has made on the Boston organization so far, I am afraid we may never reap the benefits of trading that first-round pick. In six games, he has one assist as a member of the black and gold, and with the unfortunate stoppage the NHL had suffered, let us hope that is not the only production we see from Kase in the top-six.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Since the NHL has restarted its training camps on July 10, Kase has skated with the team once in Boston and was labeled “unfit to play.” Ritchie skated on the 18th and the 20th with the team and has not been back with the squad since. Some wonder if Ritchie is dealing with an injury, though it seems likely, it would be wise to not rush him back, especially for a round-robin tournament game. It is not looking too great for Sweeney’s deadline acquisitions; we gave up a first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen for two players that may be out for an extended period of time.

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Ondrej Kase is the main piece of this deal and the piece that I am most excited about. I wanted to extend him right away but would prove a foolhardy move to sign an extension without seeing the player play with the team. With one assist in his first six games as a Bruin, those extension talks that were going on in my head alone seemed to have ceased. Though the chances are slim, I am not going to write off Kase getting extended. He has skill and vision, a great fit next to David Krejci, a winger we have been waiting for since Nathan Horton left. If he can get healthy for the playoffs and produce some big-time plays and not be an absolute liability in the defensive zone, he could find himself in extension talks with Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-13-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Bruins That Could Be At The 2022 Beijing Olympics

(Photo Credits: Gene J. Puskar | AP Images)

By Bryan Murphy | Follow me on Twitter @bryan_murphy10

It looks like the Olympics are going to be back with the best talent in the world at the 2022 Olympics. 

The NHL and NHLPA recently agreed to let NHL players back into the Olympics in 2022 and 2026 as a part of their CBA agreement. It’s not 100% locked in yet, but if all goes well, the best of the NHL will be representing their home countries. 

However, the last time we saw NHLers organized to play for their countries was at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, so we’re talking a six-year difference in rosters. 

For the Bruins, there’s a handful of guarantees that should be playing in Beijing, but also a number of bubble players who could see their names on the roster. 

USA

The Bruins haven’t had a representative in the Olympics since 2010 when Tim Thomas was backing up Ryan Miller, but that could change in 2022. 

Both Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug stand out as options on a young USA team. Where they fit in the defensive core is a mystery. 

Outside of a lethal pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, and veteran John Carlson, I would say the next three spots are up in the air for the US. I wouldn’t be shocked to see both Krug and McAvoy included in the top three pairings, however with young stars in the making like Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox continuing to develop, it wouldn’t be shocking to see both Boston defensemen on the outside as the seventh or eighth defensemen. A very underrated Jaccob Slavin also should compete for a spot on the roster. 

McAvoy has not only international experience, but tons of success to go along with it. He has won gold at every junior level – the U17, U18 and World Juniors. He also played in the IIHF World Championship in 2018, leading all defensemen in scoring with nine points despite only playing in six of the nine total games. USA won bronze at that tournament. 

Krug also saw action at the IIHF World Championship in 2015. USA won bronze also at that tournament where Krug led all USA defensemen with six points. 

This could be the first of perhaps two or three Olympics for Krug or McAvoy. But it won’t be easy for either with tough competition for roster spots. Besides, Krug may not be on the Bruins roster by the time 2022 rolls around (but we sure hope so.)

Canada

The dynamic duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has shined in Boston and should be shining again on the international scale for Team Canada.

Bergeron has played in two Olympics already and is in line to be playing in his third, while Marchand would be playing in his first ever Olympic games. 

However both played together at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and if what we saw then is any indication of what Marchand and Bergeron can bring to Canada in 2022, then buckle in folks and get ready for some highlights. 

Playing alongside superstar Sidney Crosby, that trio propelled Canada to the World Cup of Hockey title. Marchand and Bergeron were No. 1-2 in goals (Marchand with five, Bergeron with four) and right behind Crosby for the lead in points out of all players at the tourney, with eight and seven points respectively.  

In the semifinal game, with Canada losing 2-1 to Russia in the 2nd period, Marchand scored back-to-back goals that kickstarted four straight goals from Canada and secured them a 5-3 win. In Game 1 of the finals against Europe, it was Marchand who started the scoring and Bergeron who finished it, as Canada prevailed 3-1. 

But it was in Game 2, with a chance to clinch the title that the two stepped up the most. With just under three minutes to go down 1-0, Bergeron deflected a shot from Brent Burns on the power play that snuck by fellow Bruin Jaroslav Halak (who I’ll get to later) to tie the game. 

In the final minute, it was Brad Marchand who came flying off the bench, took a drop pass from Jonathan Toews and fired it home past Halak with 43 seconds left in the game to put Canada ahead and send the Air Canada Centre into chaos. 

*chills*

The Bruins surprisingly don’t have many other Canadians on the team, so Bergeron and Marchand will most likely be the only two representatives. That is unless Jake DeBrusk and/or Jack Studnicka turn into superstars in the next two years (which would be pretty, pretty nice to see). 

Finland

Barring an early retirement, Tuukka Rask should be starting in the crease for Finland as the lone Fin in Boston. 

Rask was impressive in the 2014 Olympics, helping Finland to a bronze medal. He allowed just one goal to the Russians in the quarterfinals to send Finland to the semifinals, but unfortunately came down with the flu and was unable to play in that game. After Finland lost 2-1 to Sweden, Rask came back and shutout the United States to win the bronze. 

I think Rask and all of Finland would like to forget the disappointing performance at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, where Finland went 0-3, finishing last in their group, joining Team USA as the big losers of the tournament. However, it’s easy to point the finger at the offense, as Finland scored just one goal in the three games of the tournament. 

In terms of goalie competition, it looks like it will be Jusse Saros and Mikko Koskinen joining Rask in 2022. Saros seems to be on the verge of replacing fellow Fin, Pekka Rinne, in Nashville and could very well do the same at the 2022 Olympics. Rinne has seen a drop in production in recent years and will be 38 years old by the time the tournament rolls around. 

Czech Republic

For the Bruins, they currently have three Czechs on their roster and most likely all three will be playing for the Czech Republic in 2022. 

David Krejci has represented his homeland in the previous two Olympics in 2014 and 2010 and that won’t be any different in 2022. While he may no longer be on the Bruins by the time 2022 comes around, he should be slotted as the first line center for the Czech Republic, maybe second line if Tomas Hertl continues to play down the middle rather than the wing. 

Krejci scored three points in both 2010 and 2014, and also has participated in the IIHF World Championships in 2008, 2012 and 2018. He opted out of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 to rehab from hip surgery, but he’s been a staple in Czech hockey for years and should be continuing that until he retires. 

David Pastrnak will be far and beyond the best player on the Czech roster and will get to play in the Olympics for the first time. He’s had years of experience playing at World Juniors and in the IIHF World Championships, leading his team in scoring on multiple occasions. Surprisingly, he was pointless in the three games at the World Cup of Hockey. 

Ondrej Kase is the third member of the Bruins that should be wearing the Czech jersey in Beijing. Similar to Krejci in the fact that he may no longer be in Boston with just one year left on his deal, but Kase should be playing in his first Olympics. Kase has only played in the World Juniors, as he was not selected to play at the World Cup of Hockey. But his speed will be a solid addition for the Czech team and provide a solid third line option at wing. 

Slovakia

Slovakia isn’t a shoe-in to be selected for the Olympics, as it still needs to qualify for the Olympics, which we will know who qualified in August of 2021. But if Slovakia makes the big stage, two veterans may be suiting up for the team. 

The face of Slovakia hockey is big Zdeno Chara and he could potentially be playing in his fourth Olympic games. Chara has been suiting up for the Slovaks since 2006 and captained the team in 2010 and 2014. If Slovakia makes the tournament, Chara would be 45 years old and as Bruins fans have seen, Father Time is certainly beginning to catch up on Chara. Even if Chara retires from the NHL before the Olympics, he could still suit up one last time for his homeland. 

In addition, Bruins’ backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been a mainstay in the crease for Slovakia for years. The only active Slovakian goalie in the NHL, Halak isn’t what he once was, but still provides the best option in net for his country. He was the starter in 2010 and split playing time with the now-retired Peter Budaj. Halak’s competition for the job will be Patrik Rybar, who plays in the Finnish Liiga, and Marek Ciliak, who plays in the Czech Extraliga. 

Both Chara and Halak played for Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and individually helped Europe make a surprise run at the title before falling to Canada in a best two-out-of-three championship. 

If Slovakia makes it to the Olympics, expect Halak to be in net. But we may have seen the last of Chara on the international scale.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Should Bruins’ David Pastrnak Have Been Nominated For the Hart Trophy?

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

The 2020 Hart Trophy finalists were announced on Monday, and much to the dismay of Bruins fans, superstar winger David Pastrnak was not one of them. According to NHL.com, the Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.” The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season. 

Considering just how good Pastrnak was this season and how valuable he was to the Bruins, one can easily argue that he was snubbed. At the very least, he was certainly worthy of a nomination. But, however disappointing it may be, for a lot of reasons, I can’t say I’m surprised.

He Plays on the Best Line in Hockey

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports )

The biggest reason I think Pastrnak was snubbed this season is his linemates. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are some of the top players in the league, and their line is one of, and in my opinion the, best lines in hockey. It’s true their line is like a cheat code most nights. I mean, just look at the play in the video above. It’s truly remarkable the speed and precision with which they execute it, which is the result of the incredible chemistry they’ve built between them. They just always seem to know where the others are. But, because they’re so good together, Pastrnak doesn’t get the recognition he deserves (other than for scoring this year) league-wide, and even from Bruins fans sometimes, for the player he is.

Pastrnak’s not just one of the best goal scorers in the league. He’s an excellent passer and playmaker. Also, thanks to guidance from Bergeron and Marchand, Pastrnak is developing into a strong two-way player. That’s not something you can say about many of the league’s best goal scorers. Does he still have his lapses? Yeah, but that’s to be expected. What’s important is they’re getting fewer and farther between. As it stands, he’s already better defensively than a lot of the league’s top goal-scorers.

He’s Good No Matter Who He Plays With

One of the most common arguments I see from people surrounding why Pastrnak doesn’t get more recognition is that without Marchand and Bergeron, he wouldn’t be as good. But that’s simply not true. Head coach Bruce Cassidy is known for mixing his lines up, and there were several times this season where he’d split his top line up and put Pastrnak down with David Krejci to try and get some secondary scoring going.

When Cassidy did this, Pastrnak played just as well as he did on the top line. For example, look at the play he made to set up Krejci for the OT goal above. It’s just nuts, and it shows that Pastrnak’s talent didn’t go away when he was put with different linemates. So, yes, he really is that good. It’s not just Bergeron and Marchand making him look better, which they’ve been known to do with a lot of players.

The Stats Agree With the Eye Test

Don’t believe my eye test assessment alone? Let’s look at some advanced stats. 

Photo Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com

Here’s the line tool from Natural Stat Trick. There’s a lot of stats for me to choose from here to illustrate what I mean, but I’m going to pick just Corsi-For percentage (CF%) for simplicity reasons. For those of you that don’t know, CF% is the percentage of shots on goal at even strength that are for the team when those players are on the ice. So, it’s a positive stat, and if used correctly, it can tell you a lot.

As you can see from the picture above, when intact, the trio of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak has a staggering 58.56 CF%. That’s an incredible percentage, particularly given the strength of the competition they often face. Then, when Pastrnak is away from the other two, his CF% drops to 50%.

Line CF% Is Not A Good Way To Evaluate An Individual

Before I go any further, some may use this information and argue that it shows that Pastrnak is not as good without Bergeron and Marchand. But, this particular stat is not a fair assessment of an individual’s play. In this scenario, CF% is a line stat. That means that how much his linemates control possession has an effect on it. With a line as good as the one of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak is, of course, they are going to control possession way more than average. So, it’s not a knock on Pastrnak that his percentage goes down away from Bergeron and Marchand. It likely just means his linemates don’t control possession as well as Bergeron and Marchand, as is expected.

If you still don’t believe me, look at Bergeron’s without Marchand and Pastrnak. Is anyone really going to argue that Bergeron’s stats are inflated by Marchand and Pastrnak? No. But, by the logic of CF% determines how good a player is without certain others, Bergeron’s CF% is greatly inflated by the other two, given it drops to a measly 32.56% without them. But, that doesn’t mean Bergeron is that bad of a possession player. No, it just means that whoever he is playing with when away from Marchand and Pastrnak is not as good of possession players as they are.

Pastrnak’s Individual CF%? Excellent.

While line CF% is not a good assessment of an individual player, CF% is kept for individual players. In Pastrnak’s case, he had a CF% of 55.3% (stat courtesy of Pastrnak’s hockey-reference.com page) this season. That’s an incredible percentage on its own, and it’s especially so given how tightly he is usually defended. Plus, it’s close to the CF% of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak as a line, which shows that Pastrnak is not carried by the other two. If that were the case, his individual CF% would be much lower than the lines. But that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, it’s rather close, which shows that he’s pulling plenty of his own weight. So, the argument that without Bergeron and Marchand, Pastrnak is not as good, is just not true.

Pastrnak Had A Truly Remarkable Season

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

Watching Pastrnak’s development since entering the league has truly been a treat, especially these past few seasons. He’s worked hard to make himself into the player he is today. He’s one of the best in the league right now, and he’s only getting better. In just 70 games this season, he set career highs in goals, assists, and points this season with 48, 47, and 95, respectively. He was also named to the NHL All-Star Game, and he was even voted Atlantic Division captain. Pastrnak did all of this while continuing to develop his two-way game and just generally being a dominant force on the ice at all times and strengths and in all situations.

Simply put, without Pastrnak this season, the Bruins would not have been as good as they were. He was a driving force behind much of their success, particularly on the power play and in the offensive zone. Because of this, he was worthy of a Hart Trophy nomination.

All Finalists Were Deserving

Photo Collage Courtesy of NHL.NBCSports.Com

Now, all of that being said, as much as I (and all other Bruins fans) would’ve liked to see Pastrnak nominated for the Hart Trophy, everyone who is a finalist is deserving.

Nathan MacKinnon played an integral role in helping the Colorado Avalanche make up for the losses of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog for extended periods due to injury. Not only did he just help them through it, though, but he enjoyed a level of success that far surpassed anything that could’ve been expected. Then, when they came back, he kept up that level of play, and the Avs went on a tear all the way to second place in the Central Division. At the end of the season, they sat just two points behind the Blues for first place, and Colorado played one less game than St. Louis. But anyways, MacKinnon ended the season with 93 points in 69 games for the Avalanche this season despite not having his normal linemates for long stretches. To say that without him, the Avalanche would’ve struggled a lot more this season is an understatement. He’s certainly worthy of the nomination.

As for Artemi Panarin, there was no doubt in my mind that he’d be nominated, especially once it was announced that the Rangers would take part in the play-ins this summer. In my opinion, he deserves to take it home this year. He was a major reason the New York Rangers improved as much as they did this season. His 95 points in 69 games were a career-high and good for third in the league, behind only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Without him, the Rangers would not be within reach of the playoffs. They wouldn’t have even been close. There are not many players you can say that about. He’s truly deserving of the Hart.

Finally, Leon Draisaitl had a mind-bogglingly good season this year. He led the league in points with 110 in 71 games. There’s no denying how important he was to the Oilers this season. Without him, it’s unlikely the Edmonton Oilers would’ve made the playoffs, as Connor McDavid can’t drag them there all by himself. So, yes, he did deserve the nomination. Was he more deserving of it than McDavid? That’s debatable for me. McDavid is the better all-around player, and between that and his leadership, he probably deserved it more. But, these things usually go by points, so it’s not surprising Draisaitl got it. Even if he might not have the most deserving Oiler, he does deserve this nomination. He’ll likely win the trophy too, even though I think the other two deserve it more.

In the End, the Other Finalists Deserved It More

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press )

As much as this pains me to say, in the end, Pastrnak was not deserving of being a Hart Trophy finalist over Draisaitl, MacKinnon, and Panarin. Don’t get me wrong, Pastrnak had a truly incredible season, and he was certainly extremely valuable to the Bruins. He was definitely worthy of the nomination. But, without Draisaitl, MacKinnon, and Panarin, the Oilers, Avalanche, and Rangers (respectively) all would’ve been in much worse positions than the Bruins would’ve been without Pastrnak. For that reason, they deserved to be nominated for the trophy over him.

That shouldn’t take away from just how good Pastrnak was this season, though. There were plenty of people who deserved to be finalists this year that aren’t, including Pastrnak. Even though it won’t come this season, if he continues on this path, a Hart Trophy will be in Pastrnak’s future, so don’t fret too much Bruins fans. His time will come. And in the meantime, he can just be a Hart Trophy winner in our books.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Options For The Bruins If Torey Krug Doesn’t Re-Sign

Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Bruins are going to have a biiiiig decision this offseason when dealing with upcoming UFA Torey Krug. Now that there’s a flat cap for the next couple years, Don Sweeney and co will have their work cut out for them. Personally, I think the Bs need to resign Krug, his departure would leave a big hole at the left side and on the powerplay. But what if, for whatever reason, Torey Krug and the Bruins don’t find common ground and he walks? I’ll go through a couple options that the Bruins can do. 

Cap Projections

The Bruins are projected to have a tad under $18 million in cap space. They have options on what kind of contracts to give to guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelcyk; they may choose to save cap now and sign their younger players to bridge-like deals or choose to give out longer deals. With a Krug contract likely taking up around  $6.5-7 million in cap per season, the Bruins would have around $11 million to work with to sign Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork, Jake Debrusk and Joakim Nordstrom (who is likely gone). It will be a hard task regardless of what Sweeney decides to do. 

Option 1: Fix the problem internally

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If Krug says goodbye to Boston, there will certainly be a missing presence at defense. But one thing’s for sure, the Bruins have a plethora of guys in Providence and Boston ready to fill the void. One player that would have a far bigger role with Krug’s departure would be Matt Grzelcyk. He would likely take over powerplay duties and with the success he’s had when featured on the 1st PP unit, I don’t think the Bruins will be too upset. 

Chara will likely be around again next year, leaving one more spot on the left side. The contenders for that spot would be: Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore and Jeremy Lauzon, with the latter two able to play the right side as well. Zboril is an interesting case. In most other organizations, he’d likely be an everyday NHLer right now,  but with the Bruins depth at the back end, he’s spent most of his professional career in Providence. He’s eligible to be claimed on waivers starting next year, so it’s a sink or swim situation for the Czechman. 

(Photo Credit: Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

Urho Vaakanainen is still just 21-years-old and has loads of potential. He’d certainly be up to the task of becoming an everyday dman but if it doesn’t seem like he’s ready, the Bs can still send him to Providence to eat a ton of icetime up. Jeremy Lauzon has been really good since getting called up to Boston. The big, physical defenseman has played both sides and has been a solid presence to have on the bottom pair. I can’t see him not retaining some sort of role on the blue line next year. And finally John Moore, who has always been a good bottom pairing guy for the Bs. With the low cap, Moore’s days in Boston may be numbered, but if he stays a Bruin, he’ll be a solid, mobile dman for them. 

If the Bruins decide to go in house with their team next year, that would allow them to sign guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to longer term deals rather than bridge deals. Instead of giving them contracts around 2×4.5 and 2×2.5 respectively, they could look to go for deals around 6×6 and 5×4 to set up the team in a better long term position. 

Option 2: Fix the defense internally, use the money to acquire another forward. 

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Instead of the money being allocated to longer deals for Gryz and Debrusk, the Bruins could use the hypothetical $7 million from Krug and go out and sign a big time forward. There’s a solid crop of UFAs to hit the open market that would look great wearing the spoked-B. I’m not too sure the Bruins have the real estate to pull off a big signing like Taylor Hall, but there are plenty of B+ players the Bruins could go after. 

There are a couple of forwards (who can play both wings) coming out of Florida who would fit very well to the side of David Krejci. Those two names being Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Hoffman has spent his entire career in the Atlantic division and hasn’t scored under 22 goals and 56 points since the 2014-15 season (where he had 27 goals and 48 points). He’s a creative player a lot of skill and a great release. With a playmaker like Krejci and speedy winger like Jake Debrusk, it would be hard to think of him not putting up 30 goals and 60 points. 

Dadonov is another skilled winger and is coming off of a big 70 point season. He’s been a great possession player since returning to the NHL, averaging a 52.5 Corsi% in three seasons. Something that may get overlooked are the players Dadonov had success with in Florida. He’s used to a center that likes to slow the game down (Alexsander Barkov) and playing with a similar player in Krejci could prove to be beneficial for both players.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 28: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save on Los Angeles Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings on October 28, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Kings defeated the Bruins 2-1 (OT). (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And then there’s a player who’s been linked to Boston for years, Tyler Toffoli. He’s always been a player who can play anywhere in the top nine, and always performs in the playoffs. After watching him succeed in Vancouver this year, there’s clearly not an issue of fitting a new system. I’d think Toffoli would be a bit cheaper than the previous two options, and money is everything these days.

Guys like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Derick Brassard are some others the Bruins could choose to buy low on. Granlund had many great seasons in Minnesota but hasn’t looked the same in Nashville. Haula erupted in Vegas but hasn’t been quite as good after his gruesome injury last year. Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world and I would be really interested how he’d fare in a system like the Bruins, with leaders like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Brassard could slot in a lot of places and with his playoff track record, could be really solid. To end this off, just take a look at this hypothetical disguuuusting lineup.

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Debrusk – Krejci – Hoffman/Dadonov/Toffoli

Bjork – Coyle – Kase

Ritchie – Kuraly – Wagner

Option 3: Sign a replacement defenseman

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The market for defensemen isn’t flowing with crazy talent, but there are a lot of solid pieces in free agency. If the Bs can’t sign Krug, they likely wouldn’t be able to go after Tyson Barrie either. He’d probably have a cap hit a bit under Krug’s, but with how good the Bruin’s right side is, wouldn’t make much sense regardless of his cap hit. But there are two targets that would likely come in at a decent cap number if they hit the open market.

Those two are a pair of Calgary Flames dmen by the names of Erik Gustafsson and T.J. Brodie.  Gustafsson had an excellent 2018 campaign. He broke out with a 60 point season and actually had more even strength assists than Krug. After a down season this year, it would certainly be more of a gamble but I can’t see his cap hit getting too high. A one-two year deal around $4 million could be a good, prove it contract for both sides. 

T.J. Brodie has had a couple really solid years in a row. He’s averaged over 30 points, a +20 rating and right around a 54.2% Corsi, despite not having a big role in the Flames powerplay. He’s more reliable than Gustafsson and if Grzelcyk or McAvoy can take over powerplay duties from Krug, the Bs would still have a great defensive core. 

Obviously trades can also happen. If the Bruins sign a forward, they could trade one of their middle-six guys, maybe for a defenseman, maybe for a draft pick, who knows. But at the end of the day, Krug or no Krug, the Bruins will still be a competitive team next year. I just hope he’s a part of their success. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Why It’s Still Important For The Bruins To Win The Stanley Cup

(Photo Credit: Jim Michaud MediaNews Group/Boston Herald | Bostonherald.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The 2019-2020 season will go down in the history books as one of the most unfortunate things to happen to a hockey season. The Bruins were sitting at first in the league and were only a dozen games away from the regular season concluding, and the playoffs starting. Everything was halted back in mid-March, and players are just now skating for the first time since. But now, the Bruins have the opportunity to finish what they started with the next phase of the Return-To-Play Plan now underway.

With the current season in the state it is in, there is no doubt there will be an “aestrik” associated with whoever wins the Stanley Cup this year, but for the Bruins, there are too many reasons why they need to finish the job and win the Stanley Cup.

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Redemption

One of the apparent reasons is redemption for last year’s disappointing finish in the Stanley Cup Finals. Since that moment, the Bruins could either use that as motivation or tear down their morale, and the answer is evident with the Bruins sitting first in the league before the season was postponed. With the roster almost identical to last season’s, there is no doubt the Bruins can make another deep playoff run, and this time claiming the Stanley Cup.

New additions like Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, and Anders Bjork could help the Bruins in many ways, just like 2019 trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson stepped up significantly in last year’s playoffs. One of the Bruins’ most significant success factors was their player depth and their “next man up” mentality. The Black Aces for the Bruins this season will be one of the most reliable units they have had in years with emerging players like Jack Studnicka, Trent Fredric, Jakub Zboril, Dan Vladar, and the list goes on.

Between Providence’s highly talented players and the Bruins new acquisitions, they have addressed their team’s needs following the Stanley Cup Finals loss to the St.Louis Blues, and I believe they have a better chance than they did last year.

Veteran Core

Bruins fans know it’s coming, and it’s a harsh reality to face. Bostons’ core players such as; David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask are on borrowed time with the team due to age and contracts expiring. Being part of the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship roster, they have the veteran experience and what it takes to guide the Bruins for a deep playoff run.

These core players have been the foundation of how this team has been built over the past decade. It is also important to note that players like Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk could play in their final playoff run with the Bruins if they end up not agreeing to terms during the offseason. With many unknowns and ‘what-ifs’ for the Bruins, it’s entirely possible the roster may change up quite a bit over the next year or two.

As much as this playoff run may not seem worth it for several reasons, if the NHL does continue to move forward with the games as planned, there is no doubt the Bruins need to use their core players to their advantage as much as possible. There is nothing more those players want than one more Stanley Cup victory with the Boston Bruins.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo | John Locher)

The Stanley Cup

The last time I checked, this is the Stanley Cup playoffs and not a COVID-19 tournament; therefore, all players will be playing each game with pride to reach the ultimate goal, capturing the Cup. I fully expect a highly competitive environment, even with no fans in the stadium, and it will start with teams setting the tone in their play-in/exhibition games.

Let’s also keep in mind the living environment for the players being in “the bubble.” Separate hotel rooms, restrictions for going out in public, not being able to see your family for most of the playoff run, etc. For the players, the cycle will be; eat, hockey, sleep, repeat until they claim the ultimate championship sports have to offer. I’m sure it’ll be a similar feeling for fans, especially after being deprived of the last dozen games of the regular season and an exciting playoffs.

Many will argue that winning the Stanley Cup this year will mean nothing because it will be tagged with an “aestrik” because of the unfortunate circumstances. To be fair, I don’t remember this attitude when playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 after the play lock-out cut the NHL regular season in half. And I don’t know of any fan who will find themselves complaining if the Bruins were to win it all this year.

If anything, reaching the Stanley Cup will be harder than ever given strict circumstances throughout the process and 24 teams now being in the playoff picture. It will be no cakewalk, but the Bruins were first place in the league by eight points before the season was canceled. It is the Bruins’ year for the Stanley Cup.

(Photo Credit: Boston Hockey Now | bostonhockeynow.com)

July 30th is when the magic will begin to unfold, with the Bruins squaring off in an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following that will begin play-in series and round-robin games with the Bruins playing the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins need their fans more than ever now to cheer them on from home in hopes of a second Stanley Cup victory in nine years.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Returning To Normalcy | Boston Bruins Edition

Boston Bruins chase Braden Holtby in 1st to beat Washington ...
(Photo Credits: TSN, The Canadian Press)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

To say that this year so far has been tough would be an understatement, however, things are starting to slowly return. The general public (for the most part) are being careful, being mindful, and some are heading back to work. How this virus has affected almost every aspect of regular life has been overwhelming to say the least. While things screeched to a halt in the world of sports, a glimmer of hope arose when it was announced that the NHL and NHLPA ratified a four-year extension to the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and more excitedly a Return to Play Plan. That’s right folks…hockey’s back.

KEEPING IT REAL

While there has been multiple discussions on the well-being of players, testing, and imposing restrictions while in the hub cities, the fact that the NHL is returning brings about a start of normalcy when it comes to sports. For some, its a welcome distraction. For the Boston Bruins, it’ll be a chance to finish what they started.

For the team, returning to the ice will keep things in perceptive. Fans were treated to the first pictures of returning familiar faces during the start of voluntary workouts a few weeks ago. And as much as it was a great step forward, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still lurks in the minds of the players:

” I think its a very serious matter. As much as we do want to play, we realize that there are more important things in life, and you have to make sure that other things fall into place first…you watch the news and see how serious this whole situation is…I think the league and the team are taking all the right measures to have players stay as healthy as possible, and staff coming to the rink, keeping them in mind”

Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk

The players are practicing carefully, skating in small groups as they continue to adhere to protocols set in place by the league. As they shake out the rust (they haven’t played since March) the team, according to Bruins President Cam Neely are ready to move forward:

“I think our guys recognize that we had a legitimate chance to do well and have a deep run in the playoffs…our goal all along is to win the Stanley Cup. That goal is not going to change. From what I understand, talking to some of the guys, they’re anxious and excited.”

BACK IN THE SADDLE

As most of the team returns to Boston, adjusting back to the physical and mental part of the game will be amongst the hurdles to overcome. While many were able to get in some workouts to stay in shape, skating wasn’t an option as restrictions forced rinks to stay closed. Not knowing when or if the season would return also effected every team in the league. As Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom recently said:

“What I can do is trust that our team, the Boston Bruins, and the NHLPA and the league and all the doctors are taking all the precautions and making sure that we’re gonna be safe as possible.”

The Bruins concluded the second phase of voluntary workouts at Warrior Ice that saw Brandon Carlo, Andres Bjork, Connor Clifton, Jake Debrusk, David Krecji, Karson Kuhlman, Joakim Nordstrom, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senyshyn and Max Lagace lace their skates up. Training Camp is set to start on Monday, July 13th and will see the Bruins head north of border into Toronto towards the end of this month.

The wide-open field makes this the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup to ...
(Photo Credits: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

NORTHBOUND

After having a few months to rest and recharge, the Boston Bruins are hoping to be back in winning form as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in their first Round-Robin game. At the abrupt conclusion of the season in their last game, Boston defeated Philly 2-0. Getting back to work amidst the unknowns will be challenging, as Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy remarked:

“The message for us hasn’t changed in terms of what our ultimate goal is, our unfinished business is to be Stanley Cup champions…but inside of that message will be a lot of the unknowns and how we have to be prepared to deal with that as it comes at us, which can difficult because we don’t know how its gonna work out for players’ families yet..the mental toughness part is gonna determine who ends up raising that trophy at the end of the day. That’s where I like our chances.”

While other sports leagues have had key players opt out of playing due to safety concerns, the team as a whole are ready get back on the ice. With the very recent announcement of the roster that’s heading to Toronto, the Bruins will continue to adhere to strict protocols. The league has worked hard in reaching an agreement while addressing the risks of the virus. Daily testing will be the new normal for every team living in the secure “bubble” as well as temperature and symptoms checks.

This year will certainly be one for the history books and while so many in this country continue to work through daily life cautiously, seeing the boys back in Black and Gold will feel pretty damn nice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

The Window To Win Another Cup Is Closing For Some Current Bruins Veterans

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

For a little over a decade now, we as Bruins fans have been blessed with playoff hockey almost every year since 2008. Sure, not all of them have ended the way we would have liked, but playoff hockey is better than no
playoff hockey. We are entering a time now where we have to start asking ourselves this question, “how much longer does Boston have to win a cup with its core group of players still together and in their primes?”

Let me be more specific. By core players, I mean the guys that have been here since the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. That involves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All of these guys are in their early 30’s except for Chara, who is 43. Chara is long past his prime. With that being said, he is still finding a way to be one of the most feared and lock-down defenders in the league. Let’s go more into depth on a few of these guys.

Patrice Bergeron

Other than being my personal favorite player for over a decade now, Patrice Bergeron is the perfect description of what it means to be a Boston Bruin. He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and leads by example. He does the difficult things that not a lot of guys would do. Simply because he wants to win, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates or the fans down. Bergeron has had his fair share of injuries. Some he has been able to play through, some he has not.

I don’t think anyone will forget back on October 27th, 2007 the scary scene of Bergeron laying flat on his back after being boarded by Flyers defensemen Randy Jones. He would be stretchered off the ice after a 12-minute delay to tend to the injured forward. he was diagnosed with a “Grade 3” Concussion and would miss 72 games during the regular season plus another seven in the playoffs that year.

It wasn’t until the following pre-season that Bergeron was cleared to fully participate once again. He would only score four goals and 14 assists in the first 31 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then he got hurt again. On December 20th, 2008, Bergeron collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and once again, sending Bruins fans to panic. Regardless of those fears, Bergeron was back in-game action a little over a month later.

Now, on the other side of this is the injuries he did play through. More specifically, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In the toughest event, and at the highest level of play, Bergeron suffered torn rib cartilage in Game-Four. Then a broken rib in Game-Five. And to put the icing on the cake, he suffered a separated right shoulder and punctured lung in Game-Six. The Puncture in that lung caused it to collapse. Despite all those injuries and all the pain that comes with them, Bergeron KEPT PLAYING! He would spend the next three days after Game-Six in the hospital.

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Bergeron has literally given his body and soul to this organization and the fan base. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching and learning from his style of play. That being said, Bergeron is now 34 years old. He is still in the prime of his career, but how much longer will that be true with the injury history he has? Eventually that will take a toll on his body and he wont be the same player. Hopefully, that happens later rather than sooner.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Bruins since the 2006-2007 season. He was the big piece the Bruins needed to turn its fortune around. Since joining the club, Chara has taken on the responsibility of being the captain of a team in a market that LOVES its hockey and knows the game. In Boston, if the fans are unhappy with the way you are performing, they are going to let you know! And Chara has been up to the task the whole time.

Now, Chara is well known for being the tallest person to ever be in the NHL coming at 6’9 and maybe a little more than that on skates. But, he is also known for his NHL record hardest shot at 108.8 MPH. That record has not been broken since and probably never will.

Chara has had his fair share of injury history as well. Like Bergeron, he is no stranger to toughing it out and playing through injuries. The most recent sign of this was in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. In Game-Four, Chara went to block a shot from Brayden Schenn that deflected of Chara’s stick and hit him directly in the mouth. He was spitting out blood and skating off the ice under his own power. He would return to the bench for the third period of the game with a bubble mask on his helmet but did not play. It was later revealed that Chara had broken his jaw.

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With two days off between Game-Four and Game-Five, all the talk around the city of Boston was, “Is Chara going to play, or is he done?” It wasn’t until hours before Game-Five that we found out he would play despite having a broken jaw. Once again, Chara showed his toughness by playing through a debilitating injury that most guys would even think of playing through. Chara came out for the start of Game-Five to a standing ovation that, to this day, still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

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Chara is 43 now. Seriously, how much longer can this man play? I don’t have an answer to that for you, but I think he could play for another two-three years, at least. We’ve already seen one Boston icon play well into his 40’s with Tom Brady. Is Big Z going to do the same if not longer?

Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand is the youngest out of the core players coming in at 32 years old. He is the kind of player that if he isn’t on your team, you love to hate him. But, if he is on your side, you absolutely love the guy! Early in his career, he got into some trouble with suspensions and fines from the league. Since then, he has learned how to toe the line without crossing it. He is an energetic player who, like Bergeron, plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. If there was anyone you wanted to get under the skin of the opponent, it was Brad Marchand.

He quickly became a fan favorite and an essential player in this team’s future. He has six years left on his deal, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but how long will the Bruins continue to be useful during those six years? Will they all be good years for the team? Will they still have a chance to win another cup?

In conclusion, the Bruins core players are still in a great position to win another cup in the next two, maybe three years. But, what about after that? How good is this team going to be by then? Hopefully, the kids that come up from Providence or players that they sign in the offseason come in and fit in seamlessly. This core group can get it together and be as good as we all know they are.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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