A Rational Look at Injuries and the Remaining Boston Bruins Schedule

dm_180319_Donato_first_goal364Photo: ESPN
By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

We were all warned. Hell, I even warned you that the upcoming schedule was daunting a few weeks ago: https://blackngoldhockey.com/2018/03/07/predicting-the-rest-of-the-season-bruins-final-record/

Here’s the updated remaining schedule:

Wednesday March 22 @ STL 8:00 PM ET
Friday March 23 @ DAL 8:30 PM ET
Sunday March 25 @ MIN 7:30 PM ET
Tuesday March 27 @ WPG 8:00 PM ET
Thursday March 29 vs TBL 7:00 PM ET
Saturday March 31 vs FLA 1:00 PM ET
Sunday April 1 @ PHI 12:30 PM ET
Tuesday April 3 @ TBL 7:30 PM ET
Thursday April 5 @ FLA 7:30 PM ET
Saturday April 7 vs OTT 7:00 PM ET
Sunday April 8 vs FLA 7:30 PM ET


My prediction in that previous article was the Bruins would end with 111 points. With 11 games remaining an sitting 12 points shy of my prediction at 99 points.. Boston needs to play .500 hockey to hit that mark. Looking at the remaining opponents, travel, and relentlessness of the ‘every other day’ nature of the calendar — I still believe that’s precisely what we will get.

The schedule lines up that they play every other day with exception to next weekend where they play back-to-back; Saturday @ Florida at 1:00 pm followed by an immediate northbound flight to take on Philadelphia for another early game with puck drop happening at 12:30 pm. After that comes the first of two key games against Tampa Bay — this one at home, the later date scheduled to be played in Tampa. Now before we even get to that, the Bruins have a troublesome road trip that they are currently in the midst of starting tonight in St. Louis. On tap after that is Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Each team is playoff bound or at the very least in the hunt right now and will be putting forth playoff caliber efforts against a banged-up B’s lineup. I fully believe that despite the thin roster on this road trip, Boston has the ability to take 4 out of 8 points from these quality opponents. I expect Boston to split the two remaining games against Florida, because well, it’s the Panthers and we all saw the game last week. The back-to-back day games are very hard on the traveling team.. and I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop the Philadelphia game. While we know how unbearable ‘hockey-twitter’ can be after a B’s loss, we must take everything into account and not jump off the Zakim Bridge if Boston struggles against a very good team like Winnipeg.

That said, let’s take a rational look at what to expect with the injuries to this Bruins roster as we near the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Although there were reports that we may expect to see Patrice Bergeron return from injury on this current road trip that ends next Tuesday, a more reasonable expectation — or really, a hope would be he rejoins the line-up at home on Thursday March 29th when the Bruins host Tampa Bay. Boston themselves shared footage of Bergeron getting ice time in and running drills on his own just a few days ago. Regardless, a foot fracture is a substantial injury to any player, especially one like Bergeron who is arguably the best two-way forward in the sport.

No updates regarding Jake DeBrusk, or at least nothing of substance. The ‘upper-body’ designation does very little in the way of telling us anything about a) the injury b) his timeline. If this is a concussion he could be out the rest of the regular season as we’re winding down to single-digit games by the end of the weekend. Unfortunate timing for Jake as he was on a tear before his injury with 9 points in his last 8 games. The Bruins would certainly benefit if that switch can be flipped again entering the playoffs.

My goodness did David Backes have a rough couple of days last week. It seemed like the hockey gods were against David for a bit there and then to cap it off he suffered a nasty laceration from an errant blade to the thigh that required 18 stitches. While that will take some time to heal naturally and to be tended to incase of any set-back such as infection, Backes may be out of the line-up until the playoffs as well, although I feel as though we will see him for a few tune-up games in the final week of the regular season.

Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy have been sorely missed at times over the last stretch of games. Chara could be back by the end of the week although I would suspect that since Boston is on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot as early as tonight in St. Louis, head coach Bruce Cassidy may hold him out of the line-up an extra game. Remember that just prior to the injury there was debate on whether or not to give the big man a few games off to reset. Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy has been quietly going about his work to get back on the ice. The severity of his knee injury wasn’t made entirely known, but all indications are that he will be ready to go come playoff time. Similarly to Backes, McAvoy may get on the ice in the final few regular season contests to ‘test the waters’, if you will. Seeing the defensive first line out there again would no doubt be a sigh of relief for Bruins fans.

dcbbaf89-2446-487f-949e-d459cda158ab_TVASPORTS_WEBSee? Isn’t this nice?
Photo: www.tvasports.ca/

Lastly and perhaps least concerning would be the injuries to Rick Nash and Adam McQuaid who are both considered day-to-day. Bruce Cassidy also hasn’t been shy about handing out ‘maintenance days’ which may be a contributing factor to the way he’s handling both individuals. He is fully aware that in two weeks it will be all hands on deck as his Boston Bruins look to start what we all hope will be a deep playoff push.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins Sign Donato To Entry-Level Deal


PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 28: Ryan Donato meets his team after being drafted #56 by the Boston Bruins on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier this evening that they’ve signed prospect and Harvard University forward Ryan Donato to an entry-level contract.  This year was a career season for the Crimson Junior as he posted 26-17-43 numbers in in 26 games and was the ECAC Player of The Year and a nominee for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award given to the best NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Athlete annually. The 21-year-old was also selected to the United State hockey team that played at the 2018 Winter Olympics and played very well with six points in five games (5-1-6).


Donato, a second-round selection of the B’s in 2014 has really taken a huge step in his development over the past year and deservingly generated a great deal of hype from those professional opinions down to the fans that pay close attention to the developing youth on a yearly basis. Although I knew Ryan was going to be signed at some point in 2018, my projection of when was way off as I had him coming to the National Hockey League during the offseason as I believed the Bruins would go with the roster that’s had so much success in 2017-18. Regardless of my projected timeline, I’m very excited to have him with this team and look forward to seeing him when he makes it on the roster with 12 games remaining in the regular season and upcoming playoff schedule.

This is what Ryan had to say shortly after signing his entry-level deal with his beloved Boston Bruins…..

“I am excited to announce that today I have fulfilled a lifelong dream, signing a NHL contract to play for the Boston Bruins,” Donato said in a statement. “While I am beyond thrilled for this next opportunity, it comes with a bittersweet feeling, as my time as a student-athlete at Harvard comes to a close. I am so thankful for every day I have spent at Harvard and the remarkable people I have met along the way, from the classroom, to the ice, and beyond. It has truly been a privilege to wear the Harvard jersey and represent my school alongside such incredible teammates and coaches. My time in the Harvard hockey program has provided me with some of my closest friends and fondest memories, and I will strive to continue representing Harvard well from afar as I enter this next stage of my life.

“While no longer on campus, I am so proud to consider myself a member of the greater Harvard community, and I am still fully dedicated to working towards another lifelong dream of mine: a degree from the university that has given me the best three years of my life.”


With the current injuries on the Bruins coming down the stretch, this is a solid depth move for the organization with players like David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, and Jake DeBrusk returns up in the air with a dozen games to go before the Mid-April Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the addition of the young Donato wasn’t exactly shocking. Regardless of how much action he gets into, he has to be a serious candidate at this point to make a full-time NHL player next season as current players that will be unrestricted free agents this summer might not be coming back and creating a permanent spot for him in 2018-19.


I’ve seen many games that Ryan’s played at the NCAA level and every Bruins development camp that he’s attended and in my opinion, he’s got the skills of an NHL player now, and the pedigree is there with his father and former Crimson coach for the last three seasons Ted Donato who spent several seasons in Black and Gold cannot be denied. The way this kid can skate and stickhandle in traffic is second to none, and he does possess an NHL release. Now his development has brought him to the highest level in the world and can’t wait to see him play NHL opponents shortly as he’s been rumored to get his first taste of the top tomorrow night when the Columbus Blue Jackets come to the TD Garden in Boston. I have to go with a few professional analysts and say I doubt he plays against the Jackets tomorrow night without practicing with the team. Wednesday on the road in St. Louis is a better opportunity in my opinion as he’ll be more acclimated to his new club.

Predicting The Rest of The Season: Bruins Final Record

Photo: Elise Amendola, AP

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Last nights 6-5 overtime win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings marked the beginning of the stretch-run for the rest of the regular season. It was also the first of what will be a Bruins game every other day until the end of the schedule. This will no doubt be a trying and tough few weeks for the Boston Bruins as it includes a lot of travel and hard opponents including two trips to Florida to face the Panthers who are hot as of late and sitting just two points out of a wild card spot. While in the area, the B’s will face the conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning twice as well. Additionally, both teams from the sunshine state will make at least one trip to the TD Garden —  Tampa Bay for one game, Florida twice (one being a make-up game) — so we’re looking at 7 of the final 18 games against just them alone.

Tomorrows contest with the Philadelphia Flyers whom are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and sitting in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. Looking ahead at the schedule at other games against playoff / playoff caliber teams include Columbus at home, plus Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas, Philadelphia and St. Louis on the road.

So feasibly, what can we expect for the Bruins in terms of record at the end of the season? Earlier this week I put up a twitter poll in preparation for this article and the results were quite definitive.


Before I layout my prediction we must consider a number of contributing factors, first let’s take a look at the remaining schedule:

Thu. March 8 7pm vs PHI
Sat. March 10 1pm vs CHI
Sun. March 11 12:30pm @ CHI
Tue. March 13 7pm @ CAR
Thu. March 15 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. March 17 7pm @ TBL
Mon. March 19 7pm vs CBJ
Wed. March 21 8pm @ STL
Fri. March 23 8:30pm @ DAL
Sun. March 25 7:30 @ MIN
Tue. March 27 8pm @ WPG
Thu. March 29 7pm vs TBL
Sat. March 31 1pm vs FLA
Sun. April 1 12:30pm @ PHI
Tue. April 3 7:30pm @ TBL
Thu. April 5 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. April 7 7pm vs OTT
Sun. April 8 7:30pm vs FLA

So lets start right off the clip with the biggest story of the week: Charlie McAvoy missing time due to his left MCL sprain. Remember this: Charlie is being evaluated in 4 weeks. Until then he’s expected to be in a brace and not skating. Best case scenario is that the next month goes by and he’s cleared and he’s right back on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Bad news, that isn’t going to happen. We would all love to see it, but the idea of McAvoy returning by April 1st at Philadelphia is probably an unreasonable ask for him. If he gets looked at, feels right enough to get some work in then we might see him for the final weekend of the season when the Bruins finish off the season with Ottawa and Florida. Silver lining here is the defensive depth is going to get quality time in, and in no short supply with the brutal schedule the Bruins are staring in the face.

Patrice Bergeron is also being evaluated in a few weeks, and with the fracture that he suffered is also unable to skate. We’re well aware of the fact that Bergeron is a professional and will not take much time to get right back into game shape following his hiatus. Possibly looking at some reduced minutes initially, or perhaps just simply getting a few extra games off leading up to the playoffs.

Lastly, just consider the quality of opponents and the on/off schedule Boston has left. Some less than desirable travel days loom, and there will not be a lot of time to rest up. There will be more injuries, hopefully nothing major but there are going to be guys banged up without question. It will be interesting to see how coach Bruce Cassidy handles his rotations and scratches over the next few weeks.

Boston Bruins record as of Wednesday, March 7th is 41-15-8, with 90 points.

All that said, here’s where I see it:

The most anticipated and undoubtedly important games remaining come against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 18 games left for a maximum of 36 points out for the taking. With 3 games against conference leading Tampa Bay, I predict the Bruins will go 1-1-1 head-to-head in March and April. The Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games including a current win streak of 3 games. This team is legit, no one doubts that. The Bruins are no slouches either, and will take three points out of the Bolts. It’s not an easy call to predict an OT loss with Boston’s recent success in extra frames, but Tampa Bay will take it if that one is on their home ice. Contrarily, I feel the same that if a game went to overtime in Boston, it would be the Bruins taking the extra point.

Another key matchup would be the two games remaining against Philadelphia. One home on March 8th and one on the road April 1st. The Flyers are a more dangerous team than their record may suggest. Certainly their goal differential isn’t ideal at +4, but this team can surprise people. Although they failed to use the deadline as a way to bolster their roster for the playoffs with GM Ron Hextall admitting the prices for rentals were too high for his liking stating they were in this ‘for the long haul’, and he wasn’t going to make ‘emotional decisions’. Probably the correct play on his part as Philadelphia aren’t necessarily considered true cup contenders — but they sure are built to play spoiler if teams aren’t careful. I believe the Bruins have enough depth to take the full 4 points from them, but wouldn’t be shocked if they split the difference with the Flyers.

A stretch we should also be looking at is March 21st through March 27th where within that seven days the Bruins travel to St. Louis, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg who are all strong teams in the West. Only the Blues are currently on the outside looking in with regards to the playoffs — however they only sit 2 points outside of the wild card. If the Bruins come to each of these games and match the hunger and compete level I would call taking 5 out of a possible 8 points as being a ‘win’ for that road trip. Oh, and incase you were wondering their next game coming off that is against Tampa Bay. Are we all starting to see how insane this schedule is about to be? Good grief.

And now my prediction:

The final stretch: 10-7-1 in the final 18 games, good for 21 points.
Overall 2017-2017 record: 51-22-9, with 111 points.

Here are some other predictions from our BNG Staff:

Court LaLonde  53-19-10, 116 points
Lauren Campbell  52-22-8, 112 points
Spencer Fascetta  50-22-10, 110 points
Mike Cratty  52-21-9, 113 points
KG  51-20-11, 113 points

If McAvoy and Bergeron were were healthy then the prediction would be 117 points on the nose. I even believe thats still possible, as predicted by our own Court LaLonde,  because of the depth, and players like Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk getting hot. Brad Marchand being — well, himself. The 4th line being one of the best and most productive in the NHL. Even the defensive depth like Nick Holden and Matt Grzelcyk getting increased playing time is not a bad thing if you take into account that the ultimate goal is a deep playoff run.

Regardless, playing slightly above .500 hockey which is below our true expectations for this team but reasonable for what they face over the next 4 1/2 weeks. If the Bruins play .500 hockey from tomorrow’s game and through the end of the season we shouldn’t be surprised, though I’m sure panic would rain down on hockey twitter in the form of blaming a goaltender, an aging defender, or unproven youth. Remember folks, when they’re hot you love every single piece of this team — as you should.

Let’s all take this final stretch for what it really is. It’s a test. A test that Sweeney and Cassidy appear ready to handle.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Boston Bruins Post Game Recap: Game 64: 3/6/18: Detroit at Boston

Photo: Getty Images

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins: 40-15-8, 88 points, second in the Atlantic Division

Away: Detroit Red Wings: 26-29-10, 62 points, fifth in the Atlantic Division

Boston’s Lineup


Marchand-Riley Nash-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Rick Nash










Detroit’s Lineup













The Bruins sported some nice St. Patrick’s Day themed warm-ups before things got interesting early.

(Via @NHLBruins on Twitter)

First Period

When I say things got interesting early, I mean it. Two goals in the 52 seconds from Torey Krug’s 12th and Jake DeBrusk’s 14th goals set the tone for a high scoring game. Frans Nielsen quickly spoiled the fun early in their power play, 2:16 into the game after Tommy Wingels went to the box for slashing. Mike Green then tied it up with 12:07 remaining in the first on what ended up being a weak goal on Khudobin’s part. Fours in less than eight minutes of action, not something you see every day.

Here’s Torey Krug’s best attempt at emulating one of his former teammates Johnny Boychuk’s “Johnny Rockets., ”

(Via @NHL on Twitter)

Charlie McAvoy’s MCL injury and Nick Holden’s impressive start to his Bruins career earned him a spot in the top-four with Torey Krug on the second defensive pairing.

With just under 7:00 remaining in the first, Nick Jensen went to the box for Detroit on a holding call, which allowed Torey Krug to notch his 13th goal of the season and second of the game on the power play, set up on a beautiful pass through the slot from Brad Marchand.

Some stunning puck work displayed here.

(Via @mkmolnar on Twitter)

Danton Heinen almost made it 4-2 about a minute later but hit the post. The Bruins threw plenty of shots at Jared Coreau early. Henrik Zetterberg then came in and nearly squeaked one between Anton Khudobin and the left post. It was just a wild start to the first period within the first 15 minutes.

The period concluded with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak nearly adding a late goal on a give-and-go. Frans Nielsen left the ice after a hit away from the play on David Backes that put Backes in the box for roughing.

Score: 3-2 Boston

Second Period

Detroit started the period with 1:50 of power play time on the David Backes roughing penalty. Anton Khudobin faced zero shots while down a man and the penalty was killed by the Bruins.

With 17:48 remaining in the period, defenseman turned forward Luke Witkowski took a stupid crosschecking penalty on Torey Krug, handing the Bruins a two-minute man advantage. Torey Krug then returns the favor to Brad Marchand with a back-door one-timer, too easy. The Bruins take a 4-2 lead on the power play goal with 16:33 to go in the second. Jared Coreau then got the boot from the Detroit crease, Jimmy Howard came in to replace him. The goal marked Marchand’s 26th goal of the year and man, what a beautiful sequence it was.

(Via @NHLonNBCSports on Twitter)

Jonathan Ericsson and David Backes exchanged words early in the period, which then lead to a fight between the two with 15:15 to go in the period. Spoiler alert: Backes won.

(Via @Tashville401 on Twitter)

Detroit went on the penalty kill again with 13:45 remaining when Mike Green went to the box cross-checking. On the kill, Detroit got a chance from Justin Abdelkader, who after watching the instant replay, clearly kicked the puck in. No goal.

(Via @CBeswick on Twitter)

Yes, Colin, it was a distinct kicking motion. The Bruins failed to score on the power play.

Brandon Carlo then took a dumb interference penalty with 9:57 to go and a two-goal lead. Anthony Mantha nearly put in a rebound past a scrambling Anton Khudobin, but Khudobin sprawled and stopped it with his left arm. Shortly after, Mike Green ripped a slap shot that hit off of David Krejci’s stick and Nick Holden’s hand was picked up by Anthony Mantha for Detroit’s third goal of the game with 7:55 remaining. Khudobin couldn’t reset in time to make the save.

Brad Marchand rained on Detroit’s parade with 6:42 remaining after a few chances that lead to the puck bouncing off the board behind Jimmy Howard. Marchand then banked the puck off of Howard’s left skate and into the net, 5-3 Bruins on a fluky one, his 27th of the season and second of the game. He wasn’t done there, as he laid out Gustav Nyquist at center ice not too long after.

Andreas Athanasiou, a highly dangerous breakaway player, found space late for a breakaway and was robbed by Khudobin. The next breakaway? Zdeno Chara mishandles the puck, it’s picked up by Tyler Bertuzzi and put in on the backhand for Bertuzzi’s 3rd of the season with 4:10 left.

A skirmish late following a low Brad Marchand hit lead to a 4-on-4 with Riley Nash and Justin Abdelkader heading to the box as a result. Brandon Carlo went at it with Trevor Daley a little over a minute into the 4-on-4, Brian Gionta joined in. Not shortage of nastiness in this game.

David Pastrnak had three assists through two periods, by the way.

An interesting thing to note from Kevin Paul Dupont here.

(Via @GlobeKPD on Twitter)

Score: 5-4 Boston


Third Period

Brad Marchand takes a slashing penalty five seconds into the period, five seconds. That’s impressive. The penalty was killed successfully by the Bruins.

With 15:22 left, Luke Witkowski went to the box again, this time for roughing. Detroit killed it off. The penalties continued when Sean Kuraly went to the box for tripping Dylan Larkin with 12:19 left. Not much going on besides penalties early in the third period.

Five seconds after the conclusion of the Sean Kuraly tripping penalty, Tyler Bertuzzi finds Martin Frk open out front to tie the game. It was a weird goal, hitting off David Krejci in a shot block attempt and getting a little bit of spin on it, which tripped up Anton Khudobin and was the driving force behind the goal.

Many people were not fans of the referee’s performances tonight, including Billy Jaffe.

(Via @BJaffe on Twitter)

Back-and-forth chances followed for the longevity of the period. Nothing too crazy, but some consistent action making for an exciting finish. We’re on to overtime

Score: 5-5


Brad Marchand scored in overtime, for the 11th time in his career. Shocker. Third career hat trick, 28th goal of the season. Most overtime goals in Bruins history for the NHL’s greatest pest. Five points on the night. Brad Marchand loves playing the Wings. Game over.

(Via @PeteBlackburn on Twitter)

It was a wild, at times a frustrating game, but the Bruins came out with two points in the end. Not all wins are pretty.

Boston Bruins Rookie Squad Continues To Impress and Improve



Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins works against Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers in the third period during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2018, in New York City.
(Feb. 6, 2018 – Source: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops


The Boston Bruins knew they would be going all-in on the youth movement when they replaced Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy had spent his time in Providence working with many of the young kids that were coming up through the ranks in Boston. The Bruins organization knew that there would be growing pains early on and the team certainly felt them that first month (Especially with the rough string of injuries that hampered the Black and Gold).

The young kids have come a long way in just a few short months. They’ve picked up the slack in Boston, and in some cases helped push the team from the near bottom of the pack to the second-best point total in the NHL (after tonight’s 6-1 drubbing of the New York Rangers).

Early on in the season, the Boston Bruins had to rely on the scoring prowess of the Bergeron line. At one point in the season, the B’s top line was responsible for over 45% of the scoring for the Black and Gold.

Thankfully for the Bruins and their fans, that situation has changed. The Bruins rookie squad has learned from the B’s rough start and have become the most prolific scorers among all NHL teams. The rookies have already put up 33 goals for the Black and Gold, good enough for nearly 20% (19.41) of the B’s total goal production this season.  The young guns are playing their part in the B’s 3.27 goals/game average (fourth in the league).

The rookies have been all over the ice this season, and it shows in the Bruins numbers when compared to the rest of the league. Charlie McAvoy has done an outstanding job on the blueline so far this year. He’s part of the reason why the B’s are number one in the league in goals-against per game (2.35). He’s also seeing a decent amount of time on the penalty kill, now rated sixth in the league (82.9%).

The young players rookie seasons are certainly impressive so far. Danton Heinen already has 38 points (12 goals) this year and is on track for a near 60 point season this year. Jake DeBrusk isn’t that far behind with his 28 point (11 goals) effort. McAvoy finishes out the top three with 25 points and 5 goals.  Heinen certainly the breakout rookie star this year after working his way up onto the team after being a fourth-round pick (116th overall) in the 2014 Entry Draft. He’s become the B’s diamond in the rough this season.

The lion’s share of credit has to go to Cassidy, who is earning more and more buzz as a solid contender for the Jack Adams Award. He’s really turned things around in Boston and has made the Bruins a team to be respected in the league.

Credit also needs to be given out to the veteran members of the team who have helped make the young players better. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has certainly taken McAvoy under his wing. Players like Patrice Bergeron (who may actually pull of the Selke and the Hart Trophy this year), Brad Marchand, and even David Pastrnak have made the rookie forwards more dangerous and aware on the ice.

It’s been an amazing run so far for the 2017-18 Bruins squad, and all Black and Gold fans can only be excited for the young guns of the team. They continue to impress and improve and they’ll be a terror for the other teams for the rest of the season.



Bruins Come Off Of Bye Week With Shootout Win Over Canadiens

(Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern/ USA TODAY Sports)

By: Mike Cratty                                                         Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

Amidst the New England Patriots’ divisional round thumping of the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium last night, the Boston Bruins picked up an important divisional win over the Montreal Canadiens. Although it wasn’t a squeaky clean win, it’s an important one after some significant time off with a league-mandated bye week. There shouldn’t be bye weeks in the NHL.


Bell Centre has proven to be a tough place to play in the past, but the Bruins handled themselves well in Habs territory last night. Bell Centre just doesn’t have the same atmosphere when the Habs aren’t playing well it seems, as shown last night. Although a competitive game, it just didn’t feel like a typical Bruins-Habs game to me. The Canadiens have now lost six of their last 10 games and sit in sixth place in the Atlantic division. The worries of the Bruins possibly coming out sluggish and possibly dropping their first game after significant time off can fade.

Max Pacioretty got the scoring started in what turned out to be a back-and-forth game. That back-and-forth action ceased when David Krejci tied the game up on his seventh goal of the year late in the second period. The game was sent to a wild overtime period with no score followed by a shootout featuring clutch goals from Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk to capture the win. Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk put his name on the scoresheet in regulation as well with the first and second Bruins goals of the game respectively.


They’re 9-0-3 in their last twelve games and have just ten losses in regulation all year. Sure they’re tied with the San Jose Sharks for the least amount of games played (41), but at the same time, their 10 losses in regulation are tied for the least in the league with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights. To sum it all up, the Bruins are in a very good spot, with room to work with. Especially in terms of the games that they have in hand on their opponents, as well as their ability to confidently roll four forward lines and three defensive pairs.

As long as they stay healthy and keep playing with the same mindset, the Bruins could continue to roll for quite some time. That mindset being just to keep things simple and find different ways to win and wear teams down. Not all teams can confidently roll the combinations that the Bruins can.


Bruins’ Rookies: Actually Good

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 5: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Charlie McAvoy #73 after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period at TD Garden on October 5, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                   Twitter: @pucknerdhockey

A lot has been made about the Bruins’ clear push to embrace a youth movement this season. They actually lead the league in games played by rookies. But, apart from Charlie McAvoy, who has more than lived up to the hype, the B’s 3 other primary rookies (Matt Grzelcyk has been good, but has not played enough to qualify here), Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen, really lack the name recognition of the more high profile rookie leaders this year. This is your Matt Barzals, Nico Hischiers, Will Butchers, etcetera. Because of how important young talent has become in this league, and because these three haven’t generated as much hype thus far, I thought I’d look into what kind of value they actually bring to the B’s.

Vancouver Canucks Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden

BOSTON – OCTOBER 19: Boston Bruins’ Anders Bjork is congratulated by teammate Brad Marchand after his first goal of the first period. The Boston Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks in a regular season NHL hockey game at TD Garden in Boston on Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

To begin with, I took the data collected through Manny Elk’s Corsica.hockey database. Using NHL.com’s stats page (the only time I will EVER use that abhorrent piece of garbage) to determine the top scoring rookies, I pared my sample frame to the top 25 scoring rookies in the NHL this season as of the winter holiday roster freeze. They are:

Adrian Kempe (LAK)

Alex DeBrincat (CHI)

Alex Kerfoot (COL)

Alex Tuch (VGK)

Anders Bjork (BOS)

Brock Boeser (VAN)

Charles Hudon (MTL)

Charlie McAvoy (BOS)

Christian Fischer (ARZ)

Clayton Keller (ARZ)

Danton Heinen (BOS)

JT Compher (COL)

Jake DeBrusk (BOS)

Jakub Vrana (WSH)

Jesper Bratt (NJD)

Joshua Ho-Sang (NYI)

Kyle Connor (WPG)

Mark Jankowski (CGY)

Martin Frk (DET)

Mathew Barzal (NYI)

Mikhail Sergachev (TBL)

Nico Hischier (NJD)

Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ)

Will Butcher (NJD)

Yanni Gourde (TBL)

This includes all 4 rookies of note for the Bruins, as well as a large enough sample size to properly analyze their relative impact across the league. Corsica’s database offers 5 different datasets for individual players: Summary, Relative, Individual, On-Ice, and Context. I took all 5 datasets and combined them into one large dataset to analyze the largest number of statistics possible. Then, using some of my own magic, I cooked up a few graphics to help demonstrate why the quartet of DeBrusk, Bjork, McAvoy, and Heinen deserve much more respect than they are currently getting.

Point per 60 Distribution.png

This first graphic displays the individual point distribution per 60 minutes of play. The idea behind a “per 60 minutes” statistic is to account for the effect of playing time on production. A top line player is likely to score more than a 4th liner solely based upon them spending more time on the ice than the 4th liner. Points per 60 and similar statistics show how productive a player is the ice time they are being given. The graphic shows each player’s goals per 60 (red), primary assists per 60 (orange), and secondary assists per 60 (green) stats. Obviously, Brock Boeser is a goal scoring machine. Adrian Kempe appears to be shredding opponents in slightly less ice time than his peers.

Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 25: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins congratulates Anders Bjork #10 after he scored a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at TD Garden on September 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As for the Bruins’ 4, Bjork (5th from the top) seems to be relatively well balanced. He looks less productive simply because he is listed directly above the absurdly productive Boeser. However, he is above the median regarding points per 60 production.

McAvoy (8th from the top) appears at first glance to have a really low level of production. This is, however, more of an inditement of his ice time, which will be touched on later. In short, McAvoy is playing significantly more minutes per game than anyone else on this list. So, let’s discount him on this graphic.

Heinen (11th from the top) is, based on this metric, an incredibly productive player. What’s important to note about him on this graphic is how much of his production are primary points. This means he is directly responsible for a majority of the offense he is producing or contributing to, something that is much more likely to be a repeatable action than a gluttony of secondary assists.

DeBrusk (13th from the top) is 3rd (yes, THIRD) in goals per 60 in this group, behind only Boeser and Kempe. He is also 5th in overall points production, behind only Kempe, Boeser, Barzal, and the much, much older Yanni Gourde. For anyone who didn’t think he was worth that 1st Round pick in 2015, consider that he has been a healthy scratch twice already this year. Gourde hasn’t, Kempe was a recall a few games into the season, Boeser has missed only a single game, and Barzal hasn’t missed one for the Islanders. DeBrusk hasn’t had the minutes that Kempe, Boeser, or Barzal has. This is incredibly impressive.

Zone Start Distribution

Next, I chose to look at how each player’s zone starts were distributed. The percentage of their shifts starting in the offensive zone are shown in red, neutral zone starts in orange, and defensive zone starts in blue. Coaches will often shelter younger or less defensively responsible players by starting more of their shifts in the offensive zone. Bjork is a prime example of this. He is not on the penalty kill in Boston, and no rookie in this group starts a higher percentage of their shifts in the offensive zone. The only one who starts a lower percentage of their shifts in the defensive zone is (curiously enough) Tampa’s Mikhail Sergachev, one of only 3 defensemen on this list.

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 5: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins, right, celebrates with Matt Grzelcyk #48 and Anders Bjork #10 after scoring his first NHL goal during the second period against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on October 5, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Similarly, DeBrusk sees a majority of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and starts the fewest number of his shifts in the defensive zone. Where this gets interesting is Heinen. Heinen is arguably the most balanced individual on this list. There is still a slight advantage to the offensive zone, but his zone starts are almost entirely equally distributed. There is tangible evidence for this, as he is the only one of the B’s 3 big rookie forwards who consistently sees time on the penalty kill. It appears he has Bruce Cassidy’s trust in his own end. McAvoy also sees a large number of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and has the same offensive, neutral, defensive progression as Bjork and DeBrusk, but it is much less pronounced than those two, and he starts more of a percentage of his shifts in his own end than the other two defensemen on this list, Will Butcher, and Mikhail Sergachev.


Shot Efficiency

This is quite possibly one of my favorite graphics I made. This is a model of a player’s shot efficiency. It compares their shooting percentage to the shots generated for per 60 minutes of play. Players to the upper right of the graph are producing lots of shots, and finishing at a consumer rate. The bottom right quadrant is full of players who are shooting at a higher than normal shooting percentage and will, in all likelihood, see their percentages regress towards the mean. The opposite is true in the top left quadrant. These players are generating a ton of shots, but just aren’t finishing at the rate at which one would expect them to. The dotted vertical line is the average NHL shooting percentage, 9%. You might be asking, “Why are they all different sized dots?” Excellent question. The dots are all scaled based on the percentage of overall ice time skated by the team that the individual player skated, or TOI%. Players with a large dot are relied on to play more minutes for their team, whereas the tiny dots represent players who regularly see time on the 3rd or 4th line for their respective team. Each of the B’s 4 rookies has been labeled.


(Boston, MA, 10/20/16) New Jersey Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Boston Bruins center Danton Heinen go after the puck during the third period of the Bruins home opener at the TD Garden on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Staff photo by Matt Stone

Now, what do each of their relative positions on this graph tell us? Well, only DeBrusk is shooting above the league average, at 10.64%. Bjork and Heinen are relatively close to the average of 9%, at 8.7% and 8.81% respectively. McAvoy is a defenseman, so his shooting percentage is likely to be lower than the average. He is still hanging around the group average though, at 7.85%, a very impressive rate for a rookie blueliner. All three forwards are at or above the average shooting percentage for the group. Heinen and Bjork are almost at the exact center of the graph, while DeBrusk is actually producing slightly fewer shots per 60 minutes, but appears to be a slightly better finisher at this juncture. Also, McAvoy has the biggest dot. Just thought I’d throw that out there again.

Offensive Efficiency Rookies

So, we already looked at shooting efficiency, why not how efficient they are offensively in general? This graphic uses the same size scale (TOI%) and compares a player’s goals for percentage (the goals they factor into for and against their team divided by all goals scored for and against the said team) to their EXPECTED goals for percentage. Players in the bottom right are underproducing according to this graph (i.e., their expected goals for percentage is higher than their current one by a considerable amount), and those in the top left are overproducing their expected rate.

All four Bruins fall to the right of the 50% mark regarding actual goals for percentage. This means all 4 of them help produce more goals for their team than they allow while they are on the ice. I feel like that might be relatively important. McAvoy and Heinen are both well into the “good” quadrant, and Heinen has the highest expected goals for the percentage of any rookie on this list. DeBrusk and Bjork both fall into the “underproducing” category, which tells me they are probably going to start to score more.

NHL: OCT 05 Predators at Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 05: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy makes a point during an NHL game between the Boston Bruins and the Nashville Predators on October 5, 2017, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Predators 4-3. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Of note, Heinen’s expected goals for percentage is nearly 60%, meaning, based on how he has played, his team should expect to accumulate 60% of the goals scored while he is on the ice. That’s ridiculous. What’s funnier is McAvoy’s actual goals for percentage is OVER 60% (although his expected rate is closer to 55%, still quite good).

Corsi per 60 Distribution

Final graphic with this group of rookies. This once again uses the TOI% size scale and compares a player’s Corsi For per 60 to their Corsi Against per 60. In short, how are the shot attempts being distributed while they are on the ice? I will let this one speak for itself a bit because Corsi is relatively self-explanatory. A higher number equates to a higher percentage of the shot rates they control per 60 minutes of ice time. “For” is for their own team, and “against” is against their team. Therefore, the Y-axis on this graph is offensive shot attempts, and the X-axis is defensive shot attempts they allow. The dotted axes are the expected average of 50%. I’d say that DeBrusk falls into the “FUN” category (lots of shot attempts for AND against), whereas the other three are relatively defensively responsible. Bjork has the highest Corsi For per 60 rate of the four at 61.81. Interesting…

Now you should have a pretty good idea of how McAvoy, Bjork, Heinen, and DeBrusk all stack up against the league’s best young guns. But what about in the Black and Gold?

Offensive Efficiency

Remember that Offensive Efficiency graphic earlier? Here’s the Bruins’ distribution. I have labeled each of the four we have been discussing, as well as the B’s top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, all of whom fall into the “ludicrous” category, and Adam McQuaid, just because he is so clearly the worst of the group despite getting a sizeable chunk of the ice time. This time, I compared shots for the percentage to goals for percentage. As you can see, all four rookies fall into the “Good” quadrant and are better than more than half of the B’s roster. Of note is Matt Grzelcyk, who is unlabeled, but represented by the bright pink dot in the far top right. While he’s on the ice, the team is producing 65% of the shots, and around 77% of the total goals. If he had played more, he would also be a part of this analysis. It also demonstrates clearly that he should not come out of this lineup in favor of Adam McQuaid, who is absolutely abysmal and has not been on the ice for a goal for this year. Also, Brad Marchand is producing almost 91% of the total goals scored while he is on the ice. I’m sorry, what????

Boston Bruins v Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 14: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins and teammates on the bench celebrate a goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 14, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

So, in short, you really ought to take Heinen, Bjork, and DeBrusk seriously. McAvoy has gotten a bit of Calder attention based on the sheer amount of minutes he is being asked to play, and the competition he is being asked to play against, but the other 3 really haven’t been mentioned at all. DeBrusk and Heinen should absolutely be getting legitimate Calder consideration, and Bjork isn’t very far behind. And Don Sweeney hit it out of the park by committing to this youth movement this year. All of these kids appear to indeed be alright. *Insert really ham-fisted Capri-Sun Pun here*

All data courtesy of Corsica.hockey. Data scraped on December 24th, 2017. Master data tables and graphics created by Spencer Fascetta (aka PuckNerd) utilizing Microsoft Excel and Tableau.

Please give me a follow on Twitter (found above) and check out/subscribe to my YouTube Channel (@PuckNerd) for more of my content!

Boston Bruins Rookies Impress In Strong Win Over Blue Jackets



Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at TD Garden on December 18, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Dec. 17, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter:@godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins have had to rely a lot on their younger players this season. This forced the Black and Gold rookies to learn as they go, and it certainly caused a lot of growing pains. As the season has progressed, the young Bruins have taken those lessons to heart and have shown that they can play a consistent 60-minute hockey game against some of the best teams in the NHL.


The young Bruins put up three of the B’s seven goals on Monday night. Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, and Jake DeBrusk all lit the lamp for Boston (earning a total of eight points in the process).  These three young players have certainly put in the effort this season for the Black and Gold. They are now ranked fourth, sixth, and seventh respectively on the team in points this season.

Charlie McAvoy was the total package player for Boston tonight. McAvoy earned his first Gordie Howe hat trick of his career. He earned the goal in the second period, and the assist and the fight in the third. McAvoy finished with two points, a plus-2 rating, and four hits. Not bad for just 19:41 of ice time.

McAvoy earned the first Gordie Howe for the Bruins since the B’s captain Zdeno Chara tallied one back in 2013. After the game, the 19-year old McAvoy commented on his first Gordie Howe. He’s already just one behind the legend Howe, who only had two of those hat tricks in his career.

Danton Heinen earned First Star of the Game Honors for his one goal, three-point performance tonight. Heinen put in his three points in just 13:15 of ice time. Jake DeBrusk had a similar three-point performance as well, putting in four shots on goal, a plus-2 rating, in just 12:03 on the ice.

The young players were everywhere they needed to be, especially on McAvoy’s power-play goal. The five players on the line for that goal were Patrice Bergeron and four rookies. The team played like seasoned professionals against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Bruins have asked an awful lot of their large rookie contingent. While it was a rough start for those young players, they’re showing that they can rise to any challenge given them. With the veteran players (more-or-less) finally back in the lineup, the Black and Gold look like a team on the rise. They’ve improved leaps and bounds over their ugly October and November and are primed to claim and hold onto a playoff position.

Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #75 12-11-17

By: Mark Allred      Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Welcome back to episode 75 in partnership with the Grandstand Sports Network. On this week’s show, we talk about the games of last week and schedule for the upcoming week. We went over a wide range of Bruins related topics in this episode and also had the great pleasure of having first-time guest Drew Johnson, a Quinnipiac University Journalism Major. Drew covers the Bruins/NCAA Hockey for The Hockey Writers website. We also have our weekly Bruins prospect update for the week of 12/03/17 to 12-/09/17.

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