Three Bruins To Watch In the Upcoming 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

Three times in the past decade the Boston Bruins have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only winning one year but is a testament to the Bruins organization to return each year with a chance in the playoffs. Though we lost the last two, one in 2013 and one in 2019, making the finals three out of ten years is very impressive and establishes that Boston is a strong and prominent team in the NHL. We are spoiled as Bruins fans because we get to see our team in the playoffs year after year.

Sometimes though, being a Bruins fan can be a struggle. Each team has its strengths and personally, I have seen the Bruins as a defense-first team with a strong back-end as our identity. And even though the saying, “defense wins championships” can be backed up by many examples, the Bruins have a hard time scoring, especially in the playoffs. With defense being our strength, our scoring options are limited. David Pastrnak and the rest of the top line are responsible for 47% of the team’s goals this season, and yes they are superstars, but we need more secondary scoring.

Three Players That Need to Have Breakout Playoff Performances

The first player that comes to mind when it comes to secondary scoring for me is Charlie McAvoy. This kid broke onto the scene in 2017 against Ottawa in the first round. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were both out after getting injured one and two games before the playoffs began. Mac opened many eyes with the immediate impact he made in the defensive end. “At the time, he was listed as a player who not only would soon be starring in the NHL but one with the potential to be a perennial all-star,” said Mike G. Morreale on NHL.com when Charlie first got into the NHL.

The same cannot be said for his offensive game three seasons later. You will see little spurts of his playmaking ability and passing here and there but the scoring is not up to par with the expectations and his abilities we see on a game-to-game basis. His puck-carrying ability, hockey IQ, and playmaking are something special, but he needs to score more goals and reach that potential as a perennial all-star.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

The next player I have many high hopes for would be Tuukka Rask, the beloved Boston goaltender. Tuukka is a superstar goalie each and every year he suits up for the Bruins. He dominated the playoffs last year with a .934 save percentage and in six seasons he has played in the playoffs he has an average of a .927 save percentage and has only been below a .920 once. That is sustained success if I have ever seen it. But with Rask’s contract coming to an end, his age getting up there, and rumors swirling that he will retire after his contract is complete, how much can we expect from our perennially prolific goaltender.

If this is another shot at the Cup for Tuukka, I think he is going to play better than we have ever seen, he wants the Stanley Cup more than most of the league, especially after sporting a .929 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average in 2019-2020, both among top five in NHL goalies this season.

( Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/GLOBE STAFF )

Last but not least is David Pastrnak or Pasta as the fans love to call him. Pastrnak was dominating this year, tying the goal tally with the annual winner Alexander Ovechkin at 48 and “co-winning” the Rocket Richard, and also leading the Bruins in points with 95 in 70 games. Though his scoring talent in the regular season has been breathtaking, and even being in the conversation for the MVP is well-deserved, his playoff scoring has been inconsistent. Granted, he has only played in the playoffs three times, but he has been either very good or bad. His first playoffs against Ottawa had a subpar performance and there was talk about maybe he is not a superstar. The following season the Bruins beat Toronto and lost to Tampa Bay in the second round. In only 12 games Pasta accumulated 20 points.

Last season when we lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to St. Louis, through 24 games, twice as many played as the year before, Pastrnak only has 19 points in that run. He had three more goals than the year before and that can be looked at as a positive thing because goals are the only thing that really matters but it shows the progression of how going into the playoffs and getting deeper every year, you just are not used to playing 106 hockey games in the season and playing into June. David Pastrnak has experienced a deep playoff run and he is going to be prepared physically and mentally for another potential Stanley Cup Final appearance.

(Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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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Three Bruins To Watch In The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara / USA Today Sports)

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

The National Hockey League is planning to hold the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at some point this summer, though the exact dates are yet to be determined. The Boston Bruins hold the number one seed in the playoff bracket, having finished the shortened regular season as the President’s Trophy winners with a 44-14-12 record and 100 points. Finishing the season strong is no guarantee of success, however, especially with the new playoff format that the league has instituted this year. The Bruins will need both their stars and depth players to perform well in their quest for the Stanley Cup.

Which players should fans keep an eye on when the playoffs begin? There are the obvious choices: David Pastrnak, who shared this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy alongside Alex Ovechkin for the most goals scored in the regular season (48); Tuukka Rask, who has been one of the best goalies in the league for years but has yet to win the Stanley Cup as a starter; and dependable veterans like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. For this list, I chose players who are not quite so obvious but could still impact any potential playoff series.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug has been a mainstay on the Boston blue-line for years and is a top offensive defenseman in the league. He performed well during the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019, leading all players in playoff assists with 16. He scored 49 points 2019-20 regular season including 28 power play points.

This year, Krug is an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins are certainly interested in keeping him, but he could demand big bucks on the free agent market and there are other teams that would love to coax him away from Boston. A strong performance in the playoffs would be a cherry on top of an already impressive resume for the 5’9″ defenseman.

I think that Krug will be one to watch when the playoffs get underway. He is the power play quarterback for a Bruins team that was second in the league in power play goals and power play percentage this year. A strong man advantage is crucial to a deep playoff run, so Krug will need to keep it running smoothly (and get the puck to Pastrnak!) if the Bruins want redemption for last year’s Finals loss. A few big hits like the one on Robert Thomas in game one wouldn’t hurt, either.

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Ondrej Kase

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As a trade deadline acquisition meant to aid the team in the playoffs, Ondrej Kase is a player looking to turn heads. Unfortunately, he was never able to settle into his role on the team because the season was paused so soon after the trade deadline. If he can stay healthy and remain on David Krejci’s right wing, he could be an impact player when the playoffs begin.

The Bruins traded a 2020 first-round pick, David Backes (25% of salary retained), and prospect Axel Andersson to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Kase.

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Though Kase scored just 24 points in 55 games this season, he is only 24 years old and has the chance to play with a highly skilled center in David Krejci. If the Bruins’ second line can score consistently and take some of the pressure off the Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand top line, it would mean better chances for a deep playoff run.

One of the players that impressed me the most during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was Marcus Johansson, who fit right in on the Bruins third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen. That third line scored some huge goals and were definitely a factor in propelling the Bruins to the finals. This year, I think Ondrej Kase has similar potential. Fans of analytics already know that Kase is an impact player when given the opportunity. This is why I consider him to be a player to watch.

Brandon Carlo

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Brandon Carlo has been one of my favorite unsung heroes on the Bruins roster for a few years now. Beginning in his rookie year, his shutdown style and ability to move past mistakes have been impressive to watch. Bad luck and timing meant that Carlo was unable to participate in the playoffs for his first two years in the league: first he was concussed in the last game of the 2016-17 season, then he suffered a leg injury late in the 2017-18 season. 2019 was finally his chance to contribute in the playoffs. He played a strong defensive game and was second among all players in plus/minus (trailing only Zdeno Chara). I would argue that Carlo was a huge part of the Bruins’ success.

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This year, Carlo has the chance to do the same. 2019-20 was his best season yet in regards to points production, recording 19 points in 67 games. His game has matured and he has become a stronger and more physical player, which will translate well into playoff hockey. His shorthanded play is another asset. The Bruins were third in the league this year in penalty kill percentage (84.2). Carlo was ranked 13th in the entire league in shorthanded time on ice per game (second on the team behind Chara). As important as the power play is in the playoffs, so is the penalty kill. The combination of Chara and Carlo should help to keep the puck out of the net.

Boston is a well-rounded team, boasting superstar scorers, underrated analytics darlings, puck-moving defensemen, and shutdown blue-liners. They also have an elite goaltender as the last line of defense. This team should be fun to watch when the playoffs begin.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 178 that we recorded below on 5-10-20! 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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Best Bruins Moments Of The 2019-20 Regular Season

(Photo Credit: Charles Krupa / AP)

By: Bryan Murphy | Follow me on Twitter @bryan_murphy10

Playoff hockey is on the horizon, and with the Boston Bruins 2019-20 regular season concluded, there’s plenty to look forward to as the Bruins will make another run at the Stanley Cup.

But let’s not forget about everything that led up to the break. The Bruins were the best team in hockey and had so many great memories along the way to a President’s Trophy victory. A mix of highlight-reel plays and touching moments made up some of the best of the Bruins’ 2019-20 regular season.

Pastrnak Scores 4 Goals

All it took was six games into the season for David Pastrnak to make history.

Pastrnak and The Perfection Line roasted the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 19, with Pastrnak tallying all four goals in a 4-2 win. He became the third player in Bruins’ history to score at least five hat tricks in the regular season before turning 24 years old, joining Barry Pederson and Cam Neely. 

Surprisingly, at that point, Pastrnak was the third player in the NHL to score four goals in a game this past season. Anthony Mantha and James Neal had already completed that feat in the first week. Nonetheless, Pastrnak’s four-goal game was certainly foreshadowing of the season he would have, as he was recently named co-winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy for the NHL’s leading goal scorer. 

Pastrnak Goes Between the Legs

What’s better than David Pastrnak highlights? More David Pastrnak highlights. 

Just over a week after his four-goal performance, Pastrnak was in the headlines again with his between-the-legs goal on Michael Hutchinson and the Maple Leafs. 

His 300th point in the NHL was an absolute beauty. With his back to Anderson, Pastrnak went full-finesse mode to beat Hutchinson between the legs. It’s the kind of goal players might practice but rarely use it in a game, let alone have it actually work. 

Chara Plays In His 1,500th Game

Zdeno Chara just keeps on churning on. 

The 43-year old captain played in his 1,500th career game on Nov. 5 against the Montreal Canadiens. And even the bitter rivals of the B’s couldn’t help but recognize the accomplishment of Big Z with a standing ovation at the Bell Centre. 

Chara is sixth on the all-time career games played list for defencemen and 15th out of all players. With 1,553 total games under his belt, he is 12 games shy of passing Nicklas Lidstrom to move into the top 5 of all-time for defencemen. 

The Bruins later would honor him with a ceremony in February at the Garden for his accomplishment. 

Rask Makes Potential Save of the Year

Talk about down and out. Evan Rodrigues of the Buffalo Sabres was staring at an empty net against the Bruins on Nov. 21. It looked like the Sabres were about to cut the score to 3-2 when all of a sudden, Tuukka Rask flashed his blocker hand and made the tremendous save. 

You could see Rask flexing his right hand afterwards, as he basically caught the puck with his right hand to prevent the goal. 

Rask’s sensational stop was voted 2nd as the NHL Fan Choice Award for Best Save of the Year, only behind Marc-Andre Fleury’s fantastic glove save on Nic Petan

Jake and Louie DeBrusk Share Heartwarming Moment

There’s not much more touching than a father-son moment of national TV. 

In his hometown of Edmonton, Jake DeBrusk and his father, Louie, shared a heartwarming moment on the ice before the Bruins and Oilers game on Feb. 19. Louie, a former professional hockey player himself, is now one of the main color broadcasters for Hockey Night in Canada and got the rare chance to interview his son. 

This moment also was a finalist for the NHL Fan Choice Award category of “Best Feel-Good Moment”, coming in third behind Bobby Ryan’s return and David Ayres EBUG win.

But seriously. “Thanks, Dad, love you.” What’s not to love more than that?

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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Bruins Recognize Season Ticket Holder & Healthcare Heroes!

Bruins STH Heroes(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

The Boston Bruins organization is honoring faithful fans dedicated to not only the team, but also our health and safety during these unprecedented times.

 

Through their Season Ticket Holder (STH) Heroes initiative and the equally relevant Healthcare Heroes program, the B’s “are highlighting season ticket holders who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or are on the frontlines of the fight against the virus… [as well as] the care and compassion of countless [Bruins fans] in healthcare,” according to the team’s website and Twitter account.

As many of us have experienced firsthand be it through family, friends, fellow fans or even ourselves, the fight against COVID-19 has required ample amounts of sacrifice, dedication, perseverance and a mutual respect of each other’s well-being — echoing the recently-published posts (and ideals) of Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara as players and more importantly people.

Now with the team sharing positive and inspiring stories about Bruins supporters who simultaneously support everyone’s health and well-being with their tireless efforts and actions, the B’s are putting themselves in a position to succeed both on and off the ice when the season (hopefully) resumes mid-Summer.

Here’s an example of how the Bruins are tipping their caps online to each STH and Healthcare Hero right now:

Name: Amy Ginter / Occupation: Respiratory Therapist

STH since: 2017

Seats: Loge 8, Row 20, Seats 1-2

Favorite Player: Zdeno Chara – “I admire his skill, leadership qualities and record-fast slap shots! I can’t wait to see my Bruins in action again at the Garden.”

“Being a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 13 years has been an amazing experience. Respiratory Therapy, as an occupation, is not widely known or understood by the general population, but we are a key part of the bedside care team with nurses and doctors. Our responsibility is the patient’s airway, so we initiate and manage ventilators (life support) as well as other means of ventilatory support.

“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges that I have never witnessed before: new ventilation strategies, stringent PPE requirements, overwhelming numbers of patients who require intensive care, etc. The most difficult aspect has been witnessing family not able to be with their suffering and dying loved ones because they are in isolation and cannot have visitors. Respiratory Therapists and nurses are at the bedside for these patients for their last moments which has been profoundly sad.

“On a positive note, COVID-19 has brought forth a better understanding of the role that Respiratory Therapists play as part of the care team through recognition on social media and news outlets. This really means a lot to me, and I am proud of my profession and feel blessed to be a part of such an integral team. Yay Respiratory!

“Currently, I am a traveling Respiratory Therapist in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on a COVID-19 crisis assignment.”

                                                                                                            –Boston Bruins Website

If you’d like a chance to be recognized, or to nominate someone as a Bruins “STH or Healthcare Hero,” I suggest tagging the @NHLBruins online or commenting on any of the team’s official posts. Like a David Pastrnak “Goal of the Year,” now is a great time to be celebrating some positive news when it comes to one of our passions — Bruins hockey!  

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What Could the Bruins’ Power Play Look Like Next Year If Krug Leaves?

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As I’m sure most of you reading this know, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Krug is one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the NHL, and he’s improved greatly at both ends of the ice at even strength in recent years as well. He’s also become a good leader on and off the ice. Contrary to what some still think, Krug is an extremely important player to the Bruins, and losing him will create a huge hole on the back end that won’t be easily filled.

Thankfully, both the team and Krug want him to stay, so hopefully, he does. But an agreement hasn’t been reached yet, and it’s still possible one never will be. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but since it’s possible, we should start thinking about what things could look like without Krug. So, I decided to take a look at what the first power-play unit could look like next year should Krug depart.

Current PP Structure

Before I get too far into this, I thought it’d be good to provide a refresher of the way the Bruins structure their first power-play unit. The Bruins use four forwards and one defenseman on their PP in the 1-3-1 format. Krug is the point man, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are the attackers (bumper, right half-wall, and left elbow, respectively), and DeBrusk is the net-front presence.

This is the typical structure of it, but the true beauty of the Bruins PP is how fluid it is. You’ll often see Marchand (or even Pastrnak) switching positions with Krug, or Pastrnak switching with DeBrusk, among many other switches. While they may technically have an assigned spot, they rarely stay in it the whole time, and it’s a big reason why the Bruins’ PP is as successful as it is. Krug is a big reason why they are able to do this because, as an offensive-minded defenseman, he is very comfortable jumping up in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his point totals.

Keep The Same Format

( Photo Credit: John Minchillo/Associated Press )

The easiest option if Krug departs is to keep the same format (four forwards, one defenseman, 1-3-1 set-up), and plug either McAvoy or Grzelcyk into Krug’s point spot. Both McAvoy and Grzelcyk have proven that they’re able to man the PP, as they run the second unit and sub in for Krug if he’s hurt. They aren’t as good as Krug, but they’re capable and will likely improve if given more time there. Unfortunately, though, if McAvoy or Grzelcyk was the point man, the PP would likely not be as fluid.

While both players are comfortable jumping up into the offensive rush, they aren’t quite as offensive-minded as Krug. So, I have my doubts that either of them would be comfortable rotating around as much as Krug does, or at least they wouldn’t be for a while. So, this style of PP would be less effective for the Bruins not only because Krug wouldn’t be there, but because it wouldn’t be as fluid and therefore it’d be just like everyone else’s, and so teams will be better prepared to defend it. So, Cassidy has reportedly been considering another option, one that no other team currently uses in the NHL.

Five Forward Unit

According to this article by Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, if Krug leaves, Cassidy is considering a first PP unit made up of all forwards. Please note, much of what was said in that article I fully agree with, so I am not simply parroting what he said. I actually hold the same opinions that he does on this. Moving on, this PP structure has the potential to either be really good or really, really bad. The reason teams don’t do this is that obviously when they’re on the PP, they want to lower the chances of a shorthanded goal being scored.

Having a defenseman man the point (most of the time) does that. Anybody who watches a lot of hockey can tell you that defensemen are almost always far better at transitioning and skating backward than forwards are. Plus, they obviously know their defensive positioning angles better. If you stick a forward back there, it’s probable that opposing teams will take more chances shorthanded to know they aren’t as equipped to handle it. As a result, they’ll likely score more shorthanded goals, which is obviously not what you want.

However, this may not be the case with the Bruins, and I can see why Cassidy is at least considering it. The Bruins have several forwards who would be capable of manning the point and handling a shorthanded break should one happen.

( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press )

Krejci is the first player who comes to mind as a forward who would be good at quarterbacking the PP. He’s one of the smartest players on the team, so he would likely be fine with his positioning on a shorthanded chance. Also, because of his high hockey IQ, he’d be able to handle rotating with some of the others a lot, thus allowing them to keep the fluidity they have. That’d also make it so the point responsibilities wouldn’t all fall on him.

Plus, he’s a pass-first guy, making him perfect for manning the point on the first unit because he’ll have plenty of eager shooters to pass to. But, Krejci also has a great one-timer and isn’t afraid to use it, so if the opportunity presented itself, he could also rotate down one of the walls, particularly the left one. His ability to slow the game down is incredible as well, which is a skill that is very useful for the guy operating the point on the PP to have. In short, a five forward unit of Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Marchand, and DeBrusk has the potential to be lethal offensively as well as sound defensively.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Associated Press )

Another forward that could work well as the point man is Coyle. He’s a solid skater all around, and he has a good hockey IQ, so he’d probably be able to contain shorthanded chances fairly well. He probably wouldn’t be as likely to rotate all over the place, but I think he’d be capable of it, so it’d still be an option, just to a lesser extent probably. Coyle also has a nice shot, so if the best option was to shoot, he’d probably be able to get it through a fair amount of traffic. He’s also great at passing and setting others up, so regardless of what the best option was, he’d be able to handle it well. 

If the Bruins are going to go with this, they really need to pick a center to be the primary guy to man the point. They have other options that could work, but centers are often (but not always) better at skating backward and playing defensively than wingers are, and in the case of the Bruins, they have two great all-around centers (besides Bergeron) to choose from. Both Krejci and Coyle would likely be fine handling the point, although I’ll have to give the edge to Krejci, given his incredible vision and ability to slow the game down.

So, What’s the Best Option?

All of this being said, I’m not sure we can say with much certainty which option would be better for the Bruins if Krug leaves. At first glance, it seems like they’d be better off just sticking to the usual 4F/1D, but at the same time, the 5F format could be really interesting. No other team uses it, so teams wouldn’t be as good at defending it. Plus, unlike some other teams, the Bruins have some solid options for forwards to run the point that would not only be good offensively but would be capable defensively as well.

So, in the unfortunate (and in my opinion unlikely) event that Krug leaves this offseason, I think we see Cassidy try the 5F configuration for at least a few games. He’s certainly not afraid of mixing things up and trying new things, and this could end up being really successful. If it goes well, he’ll keep it, and if not, it’ll be easy for them to revert back to the old format.

Or, it’s possible that he could practice both and have them as options, so depending on the opponent or how the PP is playing, they could switch it up. Regardless of what they do, though, the PP wouldn’t be the same without Krug. He’s a huge part of why it’s so successful, so no matter which option they choose, it probably won’t be as good as it is right now. But hopefully, they’ll be able to find a way to minimize the damage caused by Krug’s departure should it unfortunately happen.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Boston Bruins Announce 2019-2020 Award Winners

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

At the end of each season, the Boston Bruins hand out numerous awards within the organization to the players who best exemplify the criteria. Today, June 18th, the Bruins released the 2019-2020 winners of these team awards.

Eddie Shore Award – D Brandon Carlo

Eddie Shore was a 14-year veteran of the Boston Bruins during the late 1920s and early 1930s, winning two Stanley Cups and being selected to eight All-Star games. Shore was the embodiment of a hard-working, tough Bruin and for that reason, the organization created an award in his name. The Eddie Shore Award, presented by the Gallery Gods, is awarded to the player who best demonstrated “exceptional hustle and determination throughout the season”. This year’s winner – defenceman Brandon Carlo.

Carlo, 23, played in the third full season of his young career and in only 67 games, set a new career-high in goals, assists, and points with 4-15-19 numbers. Playing 20:29 minutes per-game, Carlo has become a pivotal piece to Boston’s defensive core and will be a solid defensive defenceman of the future as well. This award goes to show the effort he puts in on a night-to-night basis and how he put his all on the ice to help the Bruins win. He joins forward Jake DeBrusk who won the award last season.

John P. Bucyk Award – F Patrice Bergeron

John Bucyk is one of the greatest Boston Bruins of all-time. Having played 1436 career regular-season games (2nd-most in franchise history) and his 21 seasons as a Bruin along with his 1369 career points and two Stanley Cups, “The Chief” is a perfect image of the Boston Bruins, having been apart of the organization for 62 seasons now. For that reason, this award is named after him and is awarded to the player with “the greatest off-ice charitable contributions”. This year’s winner – forward Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron, 34, is not only one of the most respected Bruins, but most respected NHL players, and part of that is due to his incredible off-ice contributions to his community and people who are in need. While Bergeron has often been involved in great charity work, it is a recent gesture that showcased his class. Following the death of George Floyd, Patrice Bergeron made a lengthy, heartfelt statement regarding racial inequality and donated $50,000 – $25,000 to the Boston NAACP and $25,000 to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec in Canada.

In addition to the award, Bergeron will be awarded $1,000 from the Boston Bruins Alumni Foundation to donate to a charity of his choice. Throughout his career, the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has truly exemplified class and respect to everyone on and off the ice and is very well-deserving of this award. This is his second time winning the award, (other in 2006-07) and joins Zdeno Chara who won the award last season.

Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy – F David Pastrnak

The Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy is commonly awarded in the final home game of the regular season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that is not possible. However, for many years, this trophy has been awarded to the Boston Bruin “with the most outstanding performance during home games”. This year’s winner – forward David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak, 24, has emerged as one of the top scorers in the National Hockey League, winning the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in the league this season (tied with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin). According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak scored 28-21-49 numbers in 35 games on TD Garden ice in 2019-20, showcasing how dominant he is when at home. This is the first time Pastrnak has been awarded this trophy, ending Brad Marchand’s three-year streak.

Bruins legend Raymond Bourque won this trophy seven times (a franchise-best), while Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr each won it five times and Milt Schmidt and Rick Middleton won it four times each. While he has a long way to go to get there, David Pastrnak is proving at a young age that he can be a dangerous player for years to come in the NHL.

98.5 The Sports Hub Three Stars – F Pastrnak, G Rask, F Marchand

Finally, the Boston Bruins Three Stars that go to the top three players that were the team’s best performers during home games this season. The winners – forward David Pastrnak, goaltender Tuukka Rask, and forward Brad Marchand.

David Pastrnak was awarded the first star for his 28 goals, 21 assists, and 49 points at home in ’18/’19. Pastrnak finished as the 3rd Star last year, showing his improvement as a young forward in the league. The second star goes to Tuukka Rask who finished with a stellar 14-2-6 record on home ice with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage to go along with his three shutouts. This is the sixth time Rask has been named one of the Three Stars on the Bruins.

Finally, Brad Marchand scored 14 goals and a team-high 27 assists for 41 points in TD Garden this campaign and once again proved how dangerous he is when at home. This is Marchand’s fifth time being named in the top three stars of the Bruins and his fourth-straight season as well.

In addition to these team awards, the Boston Bruins also won the President’s Trophy, David Pastrnak was named a co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, and both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Tuukka Rask is also talked about being one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy, David Pastrnak is expected to be a nominee for the Hart Trophy, and Patrice Bergeron could potentially be a candidate for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

All in all, it has been a successful regular-season for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins and the chase for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup, is about to get underway.

Information and statistics used in this article courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, wikipedia.com, and @nhlbruins on Twitter.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Bruins Recent History (And Success) With Czech Republic Players

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

At this year’s Trade Deadline, the Bruins were pretty active players. They made two deals with the Anaheim Ducks, the most interesting being the acquisition of Ondrej Kase. While Kase is a highly skilled player with blazing speed and age on his side, the most interesting thing to me, is actually his nationality. The winger is of course a native of the Czech Republic, and the Bruins have quite the success rate with players that hail from the Czech Republic. So naturally, I had a little look at the Czech players that have donned the spoked B in the past ten or so years and wrote an article on it. The Bs have some skilled prospects in the system like Jakub Zboril, Jakub Lauko, and Daniel Vladar but due to their minuscule time in the NHL, they will only get this mention. 

David Krejci

David Krejci of the Boston Bruins celebrates after
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

It’s crazy to think that when it’s all said and done, David Krejci will likely go down as one of the top Czech players of all-time. He currently sits at 11th all-time in scoring with 686 points and can realistically get to number three by the end of his career, passing Milan Hejduk with 805 points. I feel Krejci never gets the recognition he truly deserves. He’s been instrumental in each and every deep playoff run by the Bruins. He’s in 11th place when talking about active players in playoff scoring and continues to prove how important he is to the Bruins. 

The slick playmaker has been a Bruin his entire career. After a few seasons where many though the best of Krejci may be behind him, the center had quite a resurgence last season. He put up 20 goals and 53 apples with a successful go of it in the playoffs with 16 points in the Bruins cup run. As underrated as a #2 center can be, it would be weird to think of Krejci sporting any jersey besides the black and gold. He’ll be a Bruin for life.

David Pastrnak

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins plays against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

He’s just so damn good. Just as the aforementioned Krejci, Pasta will also likely go down as one of the greatest Czech players we’ll ever see. He’s second (to a player that will be mentioned shortly) in points-per-game of all Czech players and he’s only going to continue to improve. Since he stepped on the scene, Pastrnak has been a game-changer for the Bruins. After two seasons where he played just about half the schedule and put up a respectable 53 points, Pasta took massive strides. He helped the Bs get back into the playoffs with his 70 point performance and his partnership with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has developed into the best line in all of hockey. 

This season, Pastrnak was able to capture his first career Rocket, Richard, sharing the honors with Alex Ovechkin. He would’ve almost certainly hit the 50 goal and 100 point marks had the season continued, but his 48 tucks in 70 games aren’t too shabby. Since coming into the league as a teen, Pasta has grown into an incredible player, and most of all, a complete player. I’m sure his linemates in Bergeron and Marchand have contributed to his growth, but there is no question the 24-year-old will continue to have his name among the current greats for years to come.

Jaromir Jagr

(Photo Credit: Michael Ivins/ USA TODAY Sports)

And here’s the top Czech player of all time. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Jagr. Despite going overseas for three seasons (plus a season and a half missed worth of lockouts) the living legend has still managed to sit second all-time in points. A year after returning to the NHL, Jagr made his way to Boston at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline. The Bs pulled off a deal to acquire the veteran, sending a 2nd rounder (which ended up being Jason Dickinson) and a couple of minor leaguers. 

On a shaky Dallas team, Jagr put up a respectable 14 goals and 26 points in 34 games. At the ripe old age of 40, the forward became a solid veteran presence for a Bruins team looking to capture their 2nd cup in three years. When he got to Boston, it was no surprise that Jagr was able to adapt to the Bruins’ system quickly and put up nine points in the last 11 regular-season games. 

When Jagr and the Bs got into the playoffs, it was a bit of a different story. After failing to get Jarome Iginla at the deadline and “settling” for Jagr, the Bruins were of course still able to go on a hell of a run in the playoffs. It’s not that Jagr was bad, he wasn’t, but it was remarkable how snakebitten he was throughout the playoffs. It felt like he hit a billion posts, and without a goal in 22 games, he still put up 10 assists in the Bs’ run that ultimately ended in the dying moments of Game Six. 

Tomas Kaberle

(Photo Credit: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Now here’s a player that was on a Bruins team that went on a run, and DIDN’T lose in the Stanley Cup. Tomas Kaberle was yet another trade deadline acquisition by the Bruins, and man did they give up a haul for him. Going to the Toronto Maple Leafs was Joe Colborne (who at the time was a highly-touted prospect) a 1st round pick (which was used on Rickard Rakell) and a 2nd round pick (which was used to draft Mike Winther). Despite what they gave up, the Bruins went on to win the cup so there’s not much to deliberate on if the trade was a win for the Bruins.

Kaberle didn’t have a massive role in the Bs’ Stanley Cup run, as seen by his 16 minutes of ice time a game, but still remained solid throughout the playoffs. The defenseman played all 25 games and notched 11 assists and a plus-8 rating. And yes, they won the cup nine years ago on this day.

Clearly, the Bruins have had a pretty good track record with Czech players in their team. All four have reached the Stanley Cup and captured the gold twice with Boston and I think we all hope that Ondrej Kase can do the same. The speedy winger had just one assist in his six games with the Bs, but with all the talent he has, I can’t see the youngster’s drought lasting much longer as we enter the playoffs.

I’m not going to lie, I originally had a funny little piece on Andrej Meszaros and his storied Bruins career. But when reviewing the article, I realized he is in fact Slovakian. Nice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Bruins’ David Pastrňák Wins Czech Player Of The Year

(Photo Credits: Karel Švec, Český hokej)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @ pastagrl88

For the fourth consecutive time, Bruins winger David Pastrňák has won the Golden Hockey stick (Zlatá hokejka) as the Czech Player of the Year, matching Jaromír Jágr record of consecutive wins. Pastrňák dominated the polls as he ended his best regular season high of 48 goals with 95 points in 70 games. He recently made history as the first Boston Bruin to win the Maurice ‘Rocket” Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Pastrňák shares the trophy with Washington Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin, who also ended the regular season with 48 goals.

The 24-year-old right winger ranked 51 out of 52 votes for first place. Fellow Czech player Vladimir Martinec also won the honors four times. Pastrňák came in at first with 519 points with Dominik Kubalik (Chicago Blackhawks) coming in second with 370 points. Philadelphia Flyers Jakub Voráček (who won in 2015) came in third with 312 points. Bruins own David Krejčí (winner of the award in 2013) came in at 7th with 177 points. Out of the top ten, eight are playing in the NHL.

(Photo Credits: Karel Švec, Český hokej)

Czech Hockey and BPA Sport Marketing were this year’s organizers of the 52nd annual survey. Those that voted for the top players include representatives of the association, national team and youth coaches, and ice hockey journalists. Jaromír Jágr has won a record 12 times while legendary goaltender Dominik Hašek won the award five times.

The ceremony was held in the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame and broadcasted on CT Sport. Results were based off of the first round of voting, which closed on March 10th. Further voting was suspended due to the pandemic that led to end of the NHL season. Other Czech Players that are currently playing in the NHL also made the top 20.

Those included are Tomáš Hertl (San Jose Sharks), Ondřej Palát (Tampa Bay Lightning),  Filip Chytil (New York Rangers), Michal Kempný (Washington Capitals), Petr Mrázek (Carolina Hurricanes), and Radim Šimek (San Jose Sharks). At age 48, Jaromír Jágr, (who still plays for the Czech club Rytíři Kladno) also made the bottom of the list.

Here are your top ten Czech players:

1. David Pastrňák (Boston Bruins, NHL) 519
2. Dominik Kubalík (Chicago Blackhawks, NHL) 370
3. Jakub Voráček (Philadelphia Flyers, NHL) 312
4. Jakub Vrána (Washington Capitals, NHL) 301
5. Pavel Francouz (Colorado Avalanche, NHL) 281
6. Milan Gulaš (HC Škoda Plzeň) 218
7. David Krejčí (Boston Bruins, NHL) 177
8. David Rittich (Calgary Flames, NHL) 123
9. Dmitrij Jaškin (Dynamo Moskva, KHL) 107
10. Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings, NHL) 97

Pastrnak ended the regular 2019-20 season tied third in the league with with a career-high of 95 points. He also led the league in powerplay goals (20). The Havirov, Czech native ended the season with a career-high of 47 assists.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! 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!

Bruins, NHL Move Into Next “Phase” Of Return

Patrice Bergeron(Photo Credit: Boston Hockey Now)

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

The same week the Bruins won the Stanley Cup almost a decade ago in June now “bears” another marker worth remembering: hockey’s return having a tentative date!

Per the league’s official announcement on the B’s website, “the National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10th.”

That’s right, hockey could be back in under a month, Bruins fam (“provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play” to refer back to the official wording of the release).

Of course, we already had reason to celebrate the B’s this week when team leaders like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand hit the Warrior Ice Arena to get their hockey legs (and timing) back after a long, but necessary, hiatus.

And talented members of our very own Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog have hit the books expertly breaking down how the new playoff format will work and which B’s could fill out a potential playoff roster… not to mention all the amazing activism Bruins players have taken part in “Beyond The Ice” recently.

So, even though “the length of training camp and, therefore, the START DATE for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date” as the official release reminds us, it’s still good to know the return of hockey is heading in the right direction.

And that our hunger for B’s hockey, just like David Pastrnak’s ever-growing trophy case, will soon be filled by actual, meaningful games with the ultimate trophy — The Stanley Cup — still well-within reach!  

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