How The Bruins Stack Up In The East For 2019-20 Campaign?

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer – Getty Images)

By: Ian Frazier  |  Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

With the offseason in full gear, teams around the league have started preparations for the 2019-2020 season. The Bruins, while having a quiet offseason so far, have made a couple of minor moves to help their depth out like bringing back Steve Kampfer and Connor Clifton as well as signing free agent Brett Ritchie and Par Lidholm. While we await the news on both McAvoy and Carlo lets take a look at how the Bruins match up with the rest of the eastern conference as of today.

Atlantic Divison 

The Bruins’ division so far this offseason have made upgrades and has some question marks too. The Tampa Bay lightning are the favorites to win the division again, and it would be silly to think the Bruins are on their level after the last regular season’s finish. While the Lightning did lose a key defenseman in Stralman, they added a decent defenseman in Luke Schenn as well as Nolan Foote in the draft. They also signed ex-Hurricane goalie Curtis McElhinney and ex-Devil Scott Wedgewood. They still have the rest of the original gang from last season returning with the question mark being Point and how much will Tampa Bay pay him and for how many years? As it stands right now, the Bruins goaltending duo of Rask and Halak is right on par with Tampa’s, but Tampa still has better forwards up and down the roster, and their defense is a bit stronger than the Bruins so don’t expect the Bruins to pass them for the division crown this year.

The Bruins’ other closest opponent the Maple Leafs right now is a bit of a question mark team. Their additions of Kerfoot and Barrie give them a much-needed boost on both offense and defense, however, they lose Kadri and are still waiting for the shoe to drop on Mitch Marner who seems to want to get a huge payday. Berrie provides a nice offensive game to the Leafs defense and skates well, but with the loss of Zaitsev to Ottawa and the failure to address their back end this offseason, the Leafs defense is once again hit or miss. Expect the Bruins to take advantage of this as the Leafs will have to rely on offense (again) to carry them which will help the Bruins slip past them in the standings as the Leafs drop some important games down the stretch due to a weaker than average defense.

As far as the rest of the division goes, nobody knows. Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detriot are not in the same stratosphere as the Bruins right now, and while Florida has signed Bobvrosky, they still have many holes which won’t be enough to catch the Bruins, but maybe could sneak them into a wildcard spot. We will have to wait and see.

Metropolitan Division

The Metro is where things get dicey in the east. New Jersey went on a spending spree adding Wayne Simmonds and P.K Subban to go along with Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac. They buffed their depth with taking a special talent Jack Hughes with the first overall pick. Expect New Jersey to be right in the mix along with the Bruins as their offense just became more dynamic, and their defense became stronger with the addition of Subban. The Washington Capitals, as we know, have been the Bruins’ biggest kryptonite the past few seasons and will once again be in the mix for a top seed along with the Bruins. It is imperative the Bruins solve Holtby this year, which is a tall task for them, but it can go a long way with later down the line when the Bruins have to play for seeding. The New York Rangers also became a bigger threat after drafting Kappo Kako and sign Panarin. With Lundqvist still in the cage, the Rangers are no slouches to contend for a wildcard spot. Bruins have more depth and firepower than the Rangers but expect them to be right in the thick of things.

The rest of the division is a toss-up. In honesty, every single team in the Metro could make the playoffs this year, and the Bruins have separated themselves from half the division, they still have to keep two sets of eyes on it just to make sure no one is sneaking up behind them or they have an early playoff matchup with one of the teams.

It’s hard to exactly judge where the Bruins will stand towards the end of the season, but as of right now they are still a top 5 team in the east, but they need to make sure the Carlo and McAvoy contracts get done if they want to stay that way. Look for Boston to be right in the playoff mix by midseason again with basically the same core and goaltending duo.

It’s Critical That The Bruins Take Advantage of Their Upcoming Schedule

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(Image: AP Photo / Charles Krupa)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

After beating the New York Islanders on Tuesday night in Patrice Bergeron’s 1000th NHL game, the Bruins will embark on a schedule that, on paper, has some favorable matchups for the B’s over the course of the next 11 days.

The Bruins will take on the New York Rangers, the third-to-last place Los Angeles Kings twice, the bottom-feeding Chicago Blackhawks, the free-falling Anaheim Ducks, and the struggling Colorado Avalanche during this span.

First, up for the B’s is a trip to Madison Square Garden tonight as they’ll face-off against the Rangers.

The Rangers sit seventh in the Metro and twenty-first in the league, having gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games (22-22-8 on the year, 1-2-1 since returning from the break). Head coach, David Quinn’s team, has been lackluster in its own end, allowing the fifth-most goals in the NHL (175). The scoring has not been there for the Blueshirts either as they have the sixth-fewest goals-for in the entire league (148).

All in all, the Rangers’ goal differential stands at minus-27, fourth-worst in the NHL, a result of the team’s inconsistency both offensively and defensively.

Henrik Lundqvist has performed admirably this season, considering the roster the team has iced in front of him on a nightly basis. The 36-year-old has played a ton this year with the eighth-most games played among goaltenders (38)–not ideal for any goalie, let alone an aging legend. However, Lundqvist has struggled lately, allowing three or more goals in three-straight starts.

As for the skaters, the bulk of New York’s offense is only coming from their top guys, namely Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Mats Zuccarello. Zibanejad gave the Bruins fits in the first meeting between the two sides with two goals, but he is the driving force of New York’s offense; shut him down, and you have a solid chance of shutting the rest of the offense down as well.

While Zuccarello’s numbers don’t look gaudy (he only has 29 points), the Norwegian has only played in 38 games after missing some time early in the year. Behind him, only two more Rangers have at least 20 points.

The Bruins may have lost to the Rangers just a few weeks ago, but that was in a game where the team was devastated after Tuukka Rask went down in a bad collision. After Rask went down, the team was flat, and a struggling Jaroslav Halak had to step in unexpectedly.

As for the Kings, they have struggled since the puck dropped on their season. With 158 goals-allowed and 125 goals-for (a minus-33 differential), the Kings have had trouble both scoring and getting a save.

Jonathan Quick has had a down year by his standards when he hasn’t been on the shelf, and Peter Budaj–who has a GAA of 5.02 in three games–lost his job to Jack Campbell as Quick’s backup; he hasn’t played since November.

Offensively, the Kings don’t have much going for them up front, as previously mentioned. Marquee signing Ilya Kovalchuk has been a disappointment with only 11 goals in 43 games while Anze Kopitar is having just an “okay” year according to his reputation–only 16 goals and 40 points in 52 games. Meanwhile, younger players like Tyler Toffoli and Alex Iaffolo haven’t quite taken the reigns like the organization had hoped.

Also, franchise defenseman Drew Doughty has failed to live up to the massive contract extension he signed last summer, and after trading Jake Muzzin, the Kings are already beginning to commit to a long term rebuild.

The Bruins are yet to play the Kings this year but have looked much better in their last two games compared to the two losses after the bye week.

Looking at the Blackhawks, Chicago’s dynasty has come to an end as the Hawks are the last place in the league and are in the pool that’s all about “lose for Hughes” in hopes of being able to take Jack Hughes first-overall this summer.

The Hawks have allowed a league-worst 198 goals-against, but have somehow managed to score the eighth-most goals in the league with 173, making for a goal differential of minus-25, fifth-worst.

While the Hawks have no trouble scoring goals, thanks to their high-powered top-six, led by Patrick Kane, who has been on fire with another MVP-caliber season with 78 points, they just can’t seem to get a save. Corey Crawford had missed significant time due to injury and was not anything to write home about when he was healthy, while Cam Ward has struggled mightily after being thrust into the starting role.

At the same time, young-gun Collin Delia has been fantastic for Chicago as Ward’s backup. It will be interesting to see who goes in net for Chicago and if it’s Ward, which version of him shows up.

After a couple down seasons, Jonathan Toews is on track to have a season similar to that of what is expected from him. As for the bottom-six production, it falls off a cliff once you move down from the top two lines.

An aging defense corps, mixed with an inability to get meaningful depth production makes for a bad combination, especially considering the lack of help on the backend for the declining Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

The Bruins have already beaten the Hawks once this year, too. In a 3-1 final at the Winter Classic, the Bruins were able to effectively neutralize Chicago’s top producers while getting strong play from up and down the lineup, hopefully, a sign of what to expect next week.

Moving on to the Anaheim Ducks, who were in an absolute free-fall going into the All-Star break, and still are. The Ducks have lost five straight after winning two in a row following up their 12-game losing streak–for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 17 losses in their last 19 games, yikes.

The Ducks have looked limp almost all year as times have seemingly passed them by in the NHL, not to mention the fact that they have not been able to catch a break with the injury bug.

At 26th in the league, the Ducks have not been able to get quality goaltending after John Gibson has regressed a bit. On top of that, the Ducks have allowed 24 goals in their last four games (172 on the year, tenth-worst), including a nine-spot given up to Winnipeg last week.

Scoring hasn’t been the Ducks’ forte either as 33-year-old Ryan Getzlaf leads the team in scoring with just 34 points in 48 games. Outside of guys named Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, or Ondrej Kase, no one can put the puck in the net–none of those guys listed has more than 12 goals or 34 points on the season.

In total, the Ducks are tied with the Kings for the fewest goals scored in the league at 125, and their differential of minus-47 is the worst in the NHL by a country mile.

With calls for Carlyle’s job and questions about Bob Murray’s management of the team, the Ducks are in turmoil.

Anaheim has already lost to the Bruins this year as well, a 3-1 loss at TD Garden. They were outshot and outplayed by Boston, on top of failing to take away the Bruins’ biggest threats. They allowed two power-play goals as David Pastrnak had a goal and two assists, Torey Krug had a goal and an assist, and Brad Marchand had two assists.

The Bruins will also host the Colorado Avalanche as well, who they lost to earlier this season in a clash between two of the top lines in hockey. That game saw the Bruins lose John Moore, and Zdeno Chara after they were already without Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, and Urho Vaakanainen.

This matchup will see that same clash once again, but with a healthy Bruins team and a Colorado team that has struggled mightily since the early-season meeting. The Avs have dropped out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, too, but sit only two points back of Vancouver for the second wild-card spot.

The top line of Colorado needs no introduction. Mikko Rantanen (74 points) and Nathan MacKinnon (72 points) have been other-worldly this season, both fourth and sixth in the league in points, respectively, while Gabe Landeskog (59 points) is en route to scoring 40 goals.

However, the Avs have gotten next to no production from their other forwards. After Landeskog, there is a stark drop off as the next highest-producing forward is Carl Soderberg with 31 points, followed by Alexander Kerfoot with 26.

Colorado’s goaltending has not been up to snuff either. Semyon Varlamov has been the very definition of a pedestrian after a good start to his season, and Philipp Grubauer, who was thought to be the next solution in net when he signed, has just been plain bad all season.

Although they already beat the Bruins this season, the Avs have lost four straight, allowing at least four goals in each loss–five goals twice, and six once. On top of that Colorado has lost 11 of their last 14 and their wins have become more sparse since the first half of the season. When they win, it’s on the backs of the top line; when they lose, it’s due to the first line getting shutdown and ineffectiveness from the other forwards.

From the Bruins’ perspective, no game is an “easy” game or an automatic win these days; everybody knows that. Although they tend to struggle in New York and Anaheim, the troubles of those two teams make those matchups appear very favorable for the Bruins; the same can be said for the Kings as well. While the high-powered top producers for the Avs and Blackhawks have been all-world this year, if the Bruins can shut them down, they should fair well.

The Bruins absolutely cannot afford to take any games off, not just during this upcoming stretch, but for the rest of the season as well. As things currently stand, the Bruins sit just one point back of the Montreal Canadiens for third in the Atlantic with a game in hand and just two back of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With some enticing meetings over the next few games, the Bruins’ ability to rack up points and potentially catch or surpass the Leafs or Habs is going to be crucial.

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Bruins Game 49 Preview: New York Rangers

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett)

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

A quick one day break and the Bruins are right back at it for a battle with the New York Rangers. After losing 4-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Bruins came right back on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins are in the middle of an extremely close Eastern Conference playoff race. Boston holds the third Atlantic division position by the skin of their teeth, with a one-point lead on the Canadiens.

The ageing New York Rangers are at the .500 mark so far this season, boasting a record of 20-20-7, good for 47 points on the year. The Rangers have won their last two games, including a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes and a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. The Rangers are the 11th best team in the Eastern Conference, eleven points behind a playoff spot.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 14-8-3 2.42 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 5-2 win vs STL

NYR: Henrik Lundqvist (Likely) 14-12-7 3.04 GAA .908 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 4-3 win vs CHI

Who’s Hot

David Krejci has been on fire for the Bruins as of late and it is coming at a time where the Bruins need it most. The 32-year-old Krejci has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the last five games including a three-assist night in the win over the St. Louis Blues. David Krejci is now tied with Patrice Bergeron for the third-most points on the team with 10-30-40 totals in 48 games.

Mika Zibanejad has taken the reigns of top scorer on the Rangers and in his last five games, the Swedish forward has been on fire. Such as Krejci, Zibanejad has seven points in his last five games, including an impressive two goal, two assist night against the Hurricanes on January 15th. The 25-year-old is a minus rating on the entire season but has a +5 rating in those five games. He now has 15-27-42 numbers 47 games.

Torey Krug has continued firing at a solid pace this season. Following his two assists against the Flyers, Krug scored this goal against the Blues, giving him twenty points in his last twenty games. Krug has shown his puck handling and stick-handling at a top level, making a possible trade hard to conceive. His thirty-two points in thirty-seven games put him as the 13th best defenceman in the NHL when it comes to point production.

Over the years, forward Chris Kreider has been at the centre of Rangers trade rumours at the franchise looks to “rebuild” their organization, but he has continued to produce for the team, making a trade hard for management to want to make. Kreider has five points in his last three games with two consecutive games with two points. The 6-foot-3 Boxford, Massachusetts native has 22-15-37 totals in 47 games this year.

Who’s Not

Brett Howden was the 27th Overall Pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, but he has not been great this season. The 6-foot-3 centre has only four goals in 2018-19 and has failed to put the puck in the back of the net in his last twenty-nine games, dating back to November 12th, 2018. Howden has the second-worst plus/minus rating among Rangers players with a -12 rating, behind only Mats Zuccarello (-15).

Quite frankly, the Bruins have not been terrible in the past few games and I wouldn’t go ahead to say that anyone is “cold”. Some players on the current roster may be capable of producing at a higher level, but they are still producing nonetheless. If there is one thing that is not certain, is the bottom-six. It seems like the like of DeBrusk-Krejci-Cehlarik will remain intact, but questions regarding the third-line may need some answers still.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career goals
  • G Tuukka Rask is one win away (252) from passing Tiny Thompson (252) for most wins in Bruins history
  • G Tuukka Rask can also pass Frank Brimsek for sole possession of 52nd-most wins in NHL history
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most SHG in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (47) from passing Ken Hodge (47) for sole-possession of 7th most GWG in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away (60) from passing Ray Bourque (60) for 3rd most GWG in Bruins history
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PHOTO CREDITS: (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

New York Rangers:

  • G Henrik Lundqvist is one win away (445) from passing Terry Sawchuk (445) for sole possession of sixth-most wins in NHL history

Bruins vs Rangers Outlook

This is the first of three meetings between the Rangers and the Bruins this season, with the next one coming in only two-and-a-half weeks time on February 6th. The two teams will be looking to add another win in the storied chapter between these historic franchises.

The speciality teams will be an interesting factor to this game. The Bruins have the second-most efficient power-play percentage (28.1%) while the Rangers have a 20.3% success rate with the extra man, the 14th highest in the league. On the flip side, the Rangers have the fifth-worst penalty-kill percentage in the NHL, at 76.3%. Boston has the 13th-best penalty-kill, killing of 81% of the penalties they face.

Boston should be able to score a lot on the Rangers, who have allowed the fifth-worst goals-per-game in the entire league. New York needs to play solid defence to try and get their goaltender Lundqvist that historic 446th career win against another Original Six team like the Bruins.

Here are the morning rushes for the Bruins ahead of tonight’s game at the TD Garden. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that D Matt Grzelcyk and F Noel Acciari are back in the lineup while D John Moore and F Ryan Donato are the scratches for Boston.

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Boston Bruins: European Tour 2018

 

Zdeno Chara and Peter Forsberg(Photo Credits: Instagram Zdeno Chara)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter  @pastagrl88

Most players take the opportunity to enjoy some quality time with friends and family during the offseason.  But let’s be honest, hockey is always on the minds of an NHL star and what better way to keep in shape than to (you guessed it) play some hockey.  Along with the “Selfie Summer,” the Bruins have added #BearTracks (check out their Twitter) where fans can follow the travels of some of the players as they get ready for the new season. Across the pond, we saw a few of the guys hitting the streets of Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

Norway

summer-classic-2018(Photo Credits: Summer Classic 2018)

Captain Zdeno Chára hit the road this summer spending some family time in his native Slovakia (not to mention having an insane exercise regimen). He then flew to Oslo to participate in the Summer Classic “Henke & Zucca” charity game at Norway’s Ullevaal Stadium. NHL stars Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist hand-pick players to compete in this superstar-event benefiting those in challenging situations around the world.

Back in Slovakia, Chára also won the 2017-18 award for Best Defenseman and Best Hockey Player which was given by the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. And just in case you missed it, Chára hit the gym really hard — an incredible feat given he’s 41-years-old. Could it be that he’s part-human, part-machine? Either way, he looks ready for the new season.

Czech Republic

Across the way, the Bruins #BearTracks met up with David Pastrňák in his native Czech Republic as he showed fans his offseason workouts with trainer Ales Parez. From tennis to strength training,  Pastrňák made great use of his time around Prague before jet-setting to Sweden for some NHL business.

Sweden

Former Blackhawk and new Bruins forward Joakim Nordström gave fans a tour of his native country while wearing some nice new threads; specifically a black and gold jersey with a spoked “B.” After spending time in his hometown of Stockholm, it was time to put the skates on. Along with fellow Swedish NHLers (and one happy Czech), Nordström showed off his skills on the ice. The 26-year-old Swedish player is hoping to make an impact this season for his new team and judging from this video, it’s looking pretty good.

Sweden holds a special place for both Nordström and Pastrňák. For the young Czech, this meant returning to where his hockey career had started. From 2012-2014, Pastrňák played for the Södertälje Sportklubb (a Swedish professional ice hockey club).  Nordström started his career playing for the Allmänna Idrottsklubben Ishockeyförening.  While in Stockholm, “Pasta” stretched his legs out on the ice and had a chance to meet his new Swedish teammate. Along with many other European-born players, the 22-year-old participated in the second annual NHL European Player Media Tour.

Summer is almost over, and players are gearing up for a jam-packed schedule. With development camp right around the corner and captain practices underway, the veterans and young superstars that make up the Boston Bruins are coming back refreshed, healed and ready to go. For die-hard fans alike, October can’t come soon enough.

Image result for boston bruins 2018(Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images)