Bruins Prospect Studnicka Named IceDogs’ Alternate Captain

( Photo Credit:  NHL.com )

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs have announces that Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka has been named as one of the squad’s Alternate Captains.  One of the Bruins’ top prospects, Studnicka was drafted 53rd overall in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and is currently playing his fourth, and likely last, season in the OHL.

The right-hand shooting center was traded to the Niagara IceDogs from the Oshawa Generals along with Canucks prospect Matt Brassard as part of a blockbuster deal in exchange for defenseman Lleyton Moore and six draft picks on January 8th. Since he was traded to Niagara, Studnicka has scored seven goals and assisted on eight, for a total of 15 points in just nine games with his new team — not too shabby. He also scored a hat trick in a 7-2 routing of the Flint Firebirds on January 19th.

Jack is currently sitting at 49 points in 39 OHL games this season and is tied for fifth in scoring for the IceDogs. Studnicka is no stranger to being in a leadership role, as he Captained the Oshawa Generals last season. It runs in the family, apparently, as his older brother Sam, also a center, was named Captain of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in 2016.

IceDogs Head Coach Billy Burk has been impressed by the crafty center since he joined the Niagara squad:

Jack is one of the most detailed players in the league and he carries himself like a pro at practice and away from the rink. He is a natural leader and even though he has only been here a few weeks, he completely embodies what it means to be an IceDog. The strength of this team is the character of our players. Jack will do a great job along with Ben, Akil and Jon in leading our group on hopefully a long run.

Studnicka had an excellent training camp with the Bruins this season, and also played for Team Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championship, where the Tecumseh, Ontario native scored one goal and assisted on three for four points in five games. It would be no surprise to see him land on the Providence Bruins’ roster in the American Hockey League at the end of this OHL season.

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photo credit: NHL.com

Jack’s name has been bandied about in Bruins trade rumors in exchange for a scoring wing, but it seems like moving him could turn out to be a bad idea since he is a talented scorer and is considered to be one of the OHL’s most complete player. That said, Studnicka clearly has the skills and intangibles NHL coaches and GMs love, so his being named a Captain on his second team in a row may up his value to other teams a bit.

The way the Bruins’ NHL roster looks at the moment, however, it wouldn’t be that crazy to think that if the 6-foot-2 center can capitalize on his time in the AHL, Studnicka could land in Boston next season. Given that the sky is the limit for Jack, he could very well find himself in a three-way tie for third line center on the NHL roster with Swedish center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Trent Frederic, who made a splash in his National Hockey League debut against Winnipeg Tuesday night. At the moment, Studnicka seems like a pretty special player, and it’s great to see him be rewarded.

 

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Washington: 1/10/19

Image result for bruins capitals

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Washington Capitals

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

Donato – JFK – Heinen

Defense

Chara – Carlo

Krug – Moore

Grzelcyk – Miller

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Washington’s Lineup

Forwards

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Wilson

Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie

Connolly – Eller – Boyd

Stephenson – Dowd – Smith-Pelly

Defense

Kempny – Carlson

Orlov – Niskanen

Orpik – Siegenthaler

Goalies

Holtby

Copley

First Period

If history were to repeat itself, this one would have been an ugly one, as the Bruins haven’t beaten the Capitals in ages. Capitals netminder Braden Holtby was 15-2-0 against the Bruins in his career heading into this one, so the Bruins were looking to flip the script on the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The Bruins found themselves on the power play just less than two minutes in as Brad Marchand was taken down by Jonas Siegenthaler – who put Washington on the penalty kill with a holding penalty. Despite a couple chance including an excellent one from Matt Grzelcyk in the dying seconds, the Bruins failed to convert on their first power play. Jaroslav Halak kept things scoreless shortly after the conclusion of the power play with an acrobatic save on Tom Wilson.

Jakub Vrana somehow snuck his way behind John Moore and Torey Krug and made no mistake depositing his 15th of the season to make it 1-0 Capitals. Chances came and went for the Bruins after the goal, but Holtby, as he usually does, had their number. He shut them out in the season opener and continued to reign supreme in the first period. Through 16 minutes, the shots were 14-5 Bruins. Not even a perfect-looking wraparound from Ryan Donato could beat Holtby.

The shots in the period finished at a whopping 17-5 in favor of the Bruins, but no dice. One miscue when it comes to situational awareness put them behind in the first. From here on out, it was time to play catch up.

Score: 1-0 Washington

Second Period

After controlling the beginning of the period pretty well, Patrice Bergeron took a rare tripping penalty to put the Bruins down a man. The Capitals came into this game two for their last 35 on the power play. The Bruins killed the penalty and not too long after Lars Eller found himself tied up with Brad Marchand and David Backes behind the play and went to the box for it. Agitator gon’ agitate as Marchand baited Eller into taking an undisciplined penalty, Washington loses their second most important penalty killer in terms of shorthanded time on ice.

No matter how many chances came their way, the Bruins remained snakebitten against the Capitals. Halfway through the game, the shots were 22-7 Bruins, and they were losing – something had to give. To make matters worse, Brandon Carlo sat for two thanks to a tripping penalty just past the halfway point of the period and the game.

Ryan Donato finally broke the curse after a healthy sequence in the offensive zone and a great saucer pass from Torey Krug. Donato’s sixth of the season tied the game, assisted by Krug (25), and Forsbacka-Karlsson (4).

The tied score didn’t last long as Alexander Ovechkin did what he does a lot, and that is score goals. 2-1 Capitals with 5:10 to go in the frame. The Bruins face cruel circumstances whenever they face the Capitals. Eight shots, two goals.

Chris Wagner laid an iffy hit on Michal Kempny and Wilson came in and hit him up high. Tom Wilson did something stupid, water is wet. Carry on.

Krug slammed Brett Connolly to the ground after being held to make things interesting late in the period, Connolly sat for two minutes. Despite still heavily outshooting the Capitals 28-12 overall, and 11-7 in the period, the Bruins still trailed on the scoreboard.

Score: 2-1 Washington

Third Period

Starting the period on the power play gave the Bruins a great chance to take momentum early in the final frame. Unfortunately, they failed to convert, 0-4 on the power play for the Bruins. Despite their power play struggles, a blessing came to the Bruins in the form of a too-many-men penalty against the Capitals to be served by Ovechkin.

Fifth times the charm? Is that how the expression goes? David Krejci buried his first goal in nine games with a slapshot from the right circle through a bit of a screen. Krejci’s eighth of the season was assisted by Danton Heinen (7), and David Backes (8).

As the theme persists, Washington scores right after the Bruins tie the game as Nicklas Backstrom sent a weird one past Halak to regain the lead. 38-19 were the shots with five and a half minutes left, the Bruins literally doubled the Capitals shots and were still down a goal, thanks, Holtby.

Alexander Ovechkin made it two when he sent one at the empty net just seconds after Halak made it to the bench. His second of the game iced this one. Cassidy took a timeout with 28.7 seconds to go. The Capitals are the Bruins’ kryptonite. The final shots were 41-22 Bruins overall, and 13-10 in the period. Next up are the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto at 7 PM ET on Saturday night.

Final Score: 4-2 Washington

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Bruins Colby Cave Representing Saskatchewan With Recent NHL Success

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

“Colby Cave gets his first career National Hockey League goal!” Jack Edwards’ legendary call during Monday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night will play loudly in the Cave household in North Battleford, Saskatchewan for many years to come. While I have not personally been in a situation, (clearly), where I scored an NHL goal, against Carey Price of all goaltenders, in the Bell Centre. But you can see the amount of excitement imploding from Cave once the rubber puck crossed the red line.

It was a nice goal too, not some lucky bounce off of three legs and just happened to bounce off the eventual goal-scorer, but a solid one-time goal. David Pastrnak circled the puck around the blue line, made a quick pass to Charlie McAvoy down near the faceoff circle, who sauced the puck to Cave in the slot for a sweet goal. Cave’s celebration after is something that easily puts a smile on your face.

Undrafted, Cave made his big impression on the Boston Bruins during his time in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos. In 2011-12, Cave debuted with 6-10-16 totals in 70 games played. Just one year later, Cave quickly boosted his scoring numbers, hitting forty-one points (21 goals, 20 assists), in 72 games. He also tallied four points in five playoff games that season as well.

When then-captain Adam Lowry left the Broncos to the American Hockey League to play for the then-Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, the St. John IceCaps, Swift Current stitched on the “C” on Cave’s Bronco jersey. Cave said the following when he was awarded the captaincy.

“It’s a true honour to be named the captain of such a respectable organization,” says Cave.  “This organization goes back a long way. Just seeing some of the former captains and their names up on the wall, guys like Adam Lowry and Zack Smith, it’s quite an honour to be put into the same group as them. I hope to prove everyone right and keep this team on the right track and win some games.” 

And prove everyone right was indeed what Colby did. In the seventy-two regular-season contests during the 2013-14 season, Cave scored 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points as well as a +20 rating. Once again in the following season, in 2014-15, Cave scored a WHL career-high 75 points (35 goals, 40 assists) in 72 games. The numbers led Swift Current in assists and second on the team for goals and points. The only player ahead of Cave in goals and points was fellow-Bruin, Jake DeBrusk, who had 81 points in 72 games.

While the Broncos never made it out of the first-round when it came to the playoffs, his regular season production was something that caught the eye of the Bruins organization. On April 7th, 2015, ex-Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli signed Cave to an entry-level contract, sending him to the Providence Bruins immediately.

In the 239 career AHL games with Providence over the course of over three seasons, Cave has produced 43-72-115 totals while being the assistant captain for the team for the last three consecutive seasons. The 2016-17 season was the best season for Colby in terms of production, scoring 35 points during the course of the campaign.

The entry-level deal that the Bruins signed Colby to back in 2015 expired over the offseason, but the Bruins re-signed the six-foot-one, 201-pound Saskatchewan native to a two-year, two-way deal. 

Following three NHL games last season, Cave’s true chance to get that first goal would be this season – during the middle of the Bruins’ injury bug. When Patrice Bergeron was placed on the injured reserve in mid-November, the Bruins were forced to call-up Colby Cave to the NHL team on November 20th. The number of injuries on the forward core left the organization almost no choice.

According to Frozen Pool by Dobber Sports, Colby Cave has seen the majority of his ice time with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom (28.39%) as well as time with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak (24.37%). Cave tallied his first career NHL point with an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on December 1st, followed by another helper two games later against Tampa Bay.

All of Cave’s hard work through the juniors, minors, and big leagues eventually led to that goal that was showed at the beginning of this article. In addition, Cave pitched in with an assist, his first career multi-point night in the NHL.

boston-bruins-colby-cave-canadiens-first-nhl-goal-121718.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Patrice Bergeron was on the ice for Bruins practice on Wednesday, December 19th, making his inevitable return to the roster even closer. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will most likely go back with the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line that dominated the league before Bergeron’s sternoclavicular/rib injury. David Krejci will probably be brought back down to the second-line, so where does Cave go?

At one point during the season, the simple answer would be to man the middle of the third line. However, the line of Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Danton Heinen has been finally finding their groove, thriving on each other’s growing confidence of playing alongside one another. In the same idea, it would seem wrong in a sense to demote Cave to the Providence Bruins, but the fourth-line is essentially set – leaving no other real option.

Unfortunately, when the Boston Bruins are, for the most part, injury-free on the forward core, Colby Cave will most likely be demoted to the American Hockey League to re-join the Providence Bruins until his services are once again required in the big leagues. Cave’s two-way contract allows Boston to send him down without the fear of waivers and while Donato and JFK also have two-way deals, their recent success should keep them on the NHL roster.

Nonetheless, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is proud to see Cave find success in the National Hockey League, even if it may be short-lived. Having been to North Battleford on many occasions and living only 2.5 hours away from the small Saskatchewan city, I can appreciate the efforts Cave and every other NHL player had to go through to make it to the position he is in today.

When Boston eventually becomes injury-free, does/should Colby Cave be the odd-man out, getting a trip to Providence or should it be another Bruin forward currently on the roster? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You & Happy Holidays!

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Timing May Be Right For Bruins

Image result for bruins canadiens(Photo Credit: AP Canada/The Day)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

They say timing is everything.

In life, most definitely and in sports, most assuredly. This holiday season, the gift of timing may be ticking in the Bruins favor for a change, as the team’s most recent spirited play against the “keystone cop Canadiens” and the celebrated return of co-captain Patrice Bergeron are coinciding at, figuratively and literally, just the right time!

 

First, you have the above highlights which for all intents & purposes entertainingly highlight just how solid of a road game the B’s played at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Especially coming off consecutive losses to Buffalo & Pittsburgh that were not only winnable well into each 3rd period for Boston, but also filled to the brim (like a Christmas Eve stocking) with scoring chances. Second, and perhaps most important, you have the tweet below which reads as gloriously and miraculously as a “Night Before Christmas” storytime yarn beside the fireplace:

Hold onto your Santa hats, indeed! Because with the Ducks, Preds & Whalers (yes, I’m refusing to call that team by that other name since players will be sporting my favorite non-B’s jersey ever for the captivating contest in Carolina) all set to skate against the Bruins leading up the 25th of December, NOW is exactly “the time” for the team to be playing successful hockey with a passion & purpose. Personally, there’s no one better to help that trend continue than the perennially point prolific Patrice B. Sure, Boston bench boss Bruce Cassidy will have some important, and dare I say timely, decisions to make when it comes to the roster…

…But I’m confident players, fans, media, bloggers and everyone else will be a-ok with the updated look if the B’s keep up the good timing and rekindle some chemistry on more than just the top line or two. Anyone who thinks the return of No. 37 will hinder that instead of help it along is in need of a good help-ing of holiday coal. The rest of us cheerful chirpers will gladly enjoy the “through the glass” view of healthier Bruins hockey as if we were frozen in time in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Speaking of, let me paint you a picture of what the “Bergy’s back” Bruins could look like, if you have the time (and factor in the young Mr. DeBrusk is still recovering and that the coaches don’t want to break up the current 1st line):

MARCHAND – KRECJI – PASTRNAK

DONATO – BERGERON – HEINEN

NORDSTROM – JFK – BACKES

KURALY – CAVE – WAGNER

Of course, there are a multitude of other line combos that can be arranged, and rearranged, between lines 2-4. But I’m most intrigued by the blending of youth, skill, veteran savvy and toughness from the above — at least for now when using my projected imagination. While on that topic, imagine Bergy getting the best out of both Donato & Heinen: two legitimate scoring threats who were starting to show their skill consistently when aligned as a line with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson aka JFK, but who now have the smartest player in modern-day hockey centering their abilities with his own uncanny ability & talent. Oh, the possibilities!

Image result for bruins donato heinen bergeron(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

I also think it’s promisingly possible for JFK to center the likes of Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes. You’d have a younger, confident playmaker providing opportunities for a now confident-as-can-be Backes who is playing his best hockey of the season. Add in the fact that the skillful Nordstrom just got off the scoring schneid (shnide?) and onto the score sheet versus the hated Habs and you have a spoked-B bunch on the 3rd line who are all eager to keep the momentum going time after time, as Cyndi Lauper once sang.

And who wouldn’t sing the praises of a 4th line featuring a hungry-for-more-goals Colby Cave in-between an energetic Sean Kuraly and tough as nails Chris Wagner (sorry Noel Acciari for the untimely scratch at the moment)? For what it’s worth, this is a creative combo that could be filled with more holiday “hits” than a Bing Crosby collection!

Related image(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

But this is all speculation, with a side of curiosity and wishful thinking. It’s a fun game to play at the moment because the B’s, for the time being, are finally having some fun playing THEIR game. At least it feels that way in the wake of a big bounce back performance for the Black N’ Gold against the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. Will it continue, and what will it look like with Bergy coming back? Well, those are the big, bold questions all wearing a spoked-B right now.

If any of it can turn out to be as timeless as the B’s logo from the video above, then I think all of Bruins Nation will be grateful this holiday season.

Then again, timing is everything.

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Why A Wildcard Spot May Not Be The Worst Scenario For The Bruins

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Photo Credit: Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

We are midway through December, and there is plenty of panic in Boston.

“We need an enforcer!”

“Our goaltending sucks!”

“We can’t score!”

OK, can everyone just take a deep breath, please? By having the injury bug eviscerate this roster early, the Bruins may just have stumbled into their best-case scenario come the playoffs. Also, the goaltending hasn’t been the problem, and ENFORCERS ARE NEVER THE ANSWER. So, what do I mean?

Well, the Bruins are currently 5th in the Atlantic Division. Before you get your pants in a knot, let’s put some context into the equation. While they are 5th in the Atlantic, they have played one game fewer than fourth place Montreal, and are trailing the Habs by only a point. They are a significantly better team than the Canadiens, whom I am unconvinced can maintain their current level of play. That’s not even the interesting part. Despite having played two more games than the Bruins, the 6th place Detroit Red Wings trail the B’s by 5 points. Ottawa has played the same number of games like Detroit, and are 6 points behind Boston. Boston has played one more game than the Florida Panthers, but they sit dead last in the division, a full eight points behind the Bruins. They aren’t going to get caught from behind in the Atlantic.

Atlantic Standings

They should inevitably pass the Canadiens, so that begs the question – how close are they to the guaranteed divisional playoff spot? At the moment, the Bruins have a game in hand on every team above them in the Atlantic Division and trail the 3rd place Buffalo Sabres by 5 points, the Toronto Maple Leafs by 6, and the Tampa Bay Lightning by 13. Nobody is catching Tampa. In any division. That team is well on its way to a President’s Trophy. If you had said Buffalo would be only a point behind the Maple Leafs in third place in the Atlantic at this point in the season, well, please get in contact with me, I could use the services of someone who can see the future.

So, the Bruins are fifth in their division. But they currently occupy the 2nd wildcard spot. As it stands, it is pretty clear that Tampa Bay is going to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and will, therefore, host the second wildcard team. As previously noted, there is no reason to think that Boston won’t finish the season ahead of the Canadiens. They are not in danger of dropping out of a wildcard spot either. Currently, the Bruins sit with 38 points in 32 games. That is 5th in the Atlantic Division, but would be SECOND in the Metropolitan Division. No, that is not a typo. The Bruins are 5th in the division, but only 6th in the conference. Believe it or not, they are actually a Top 10 team in the entire league. They just happen to play in one of the most stacked divisions in recent memory.

League Standings

So, why should they WANT to finish in the first wildcard spot? Well, they almost certainly would need to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in the first round. That’s no easy task. But finishing in a divisional spot means they have to face two of Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Buffalo to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The current Metropolitan Division playoff teams are Pittsburgh and Columbus (who isn’t on board for ANOTHER Pittsburgh/Columbus throw-down), either of whom is a significantly easier matchup than the juggernauts in the Atlantic. Currently, Tampa Bay is #1 in the league, Toronto is 5th, and Buffalo is 7th. Washington is 6th, but Columbus is 15th, and Pittsburgh is 17th. That’s a pretty simple bit of math.

Wildcard Standings

What killed the Bruins when they got to Tampa Bay last postseason was the 7-game death-match that was their First Round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were exhausted, beat-up, and could not keep up. They are guaranteed to have a similarly difficult matchup if they finish in either 2nd or 3rd in the Atlantic Division this year. Don’t do that. This team is good enough to be in the playoffs and do some damage once fully healthy, so don’t rush anyone back. Let Bergeron and Chara take as long as they need to be fully healthy. Use this time to experiment with line combinations, and see what you have in some depth pieces. Acclimate Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to the NHL game, as the kid line with JFK between Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato has begun to look good the last few games. You still have Anders Bjork shredding the American Hockey League. Don’t make a massive trade for a short-term piece. Stay the course, finish fourth, take the easier path to the Stanley Cup Final. You may be thanking me if you do.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You & Happy Holidays!

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Bruins Game 32 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

WEB-Penguins-Bruins-Hockey-1-1532212710

PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

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

For the second time this season, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle it out in a Friday night game.

Coming off of three wins in a row over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and most recently, the Arizona Coyotes, the Bruins will be looking to continue that momentum Friday in Pittsburgh. In each of the three outings, the Bruins have had their moments where it seems another loss is on it’s way, but the injury-filled roster manages to battle back and steal a win.

The 2018-19 season has not been what the Pittsburgh Penguins have been used to over the past few years. The team’s record sits at 13-11-6, good for fourth in the Metropolitan Division, tied with the New York Islanders who have the third spot. Most recently, the Penguins took a hard loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been equally struggling as we near the end of the 2018 calendar year, 6-3 the final score.

Starting Goaltenders:

PIT: Casey DeSmith: 9-5-4 2.43 GAA .921 SV% Last Game: 23 Saves in 6-3 Loss vs CHI

BOS: Jaroslav Halak: 9-4-2 2.30 GAA .930 SV% Last Game: 29 Saves in 6-3 Win vs TOR

Who’s Hot

David Pastrnak has been and continues to be Boston’s best player on the ice night in and night out. In 31 games this season, Pastrnak has 21-17-38 totals, 16 of those points coming on the power-play. Heading into Friday’s game, Pastrnak is riding a four-game point streak including a three-point night (1 goal, 2 assists) against the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

After an extended amount of time off the score sheet, Brad Marchand now has finished three consecutive games with more than a point, scoring three points against both the Maple Leafs and Coyotes. The recent rebirth of Marchand’s point production has raised his totals to 10-22-32 in 31 games so far this season.

Boston’s new third-line of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen have found recent success together after all three struggled to begin the ’18/’19 campaign. The three worked together to score the first goal for the Bruins against Arizona, kick-starting the comeback when the Bruins were down 2-0 after the first period. In the past three games, the trio has four goals and three assists for seven points.

Scoring for the Penguins has been dry as of late, even from their big offensive stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but forward Bryan Rust is coming off of his second-career NHL hat-trick against the Blackhawks, scoring the only three goals by Pittsburgh. It brings his totals to 4-6-10 in 30 games, but any sort of offence can help the Penguins moving forward as they try to climb higher in the standings.

Who’s Not

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been oddly quiet for Pittsburgh as of late, considering both superstars had great starts to their respective seasons. In the past three games, both players have failed to tally a single point. Against Chicago, Malkin was a -4 rating and Crosby was a -3 rating. The Pens need support from them, especially against Boston if they want to walk away with two points.

Casey DeSmith has had a decent run with the Penguins so far this year, but he had a poor outing against the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Casey allowed four goals on twenty-seven shots, finishing the night with a .852 save percentage. He has not had a terrible season, but having him play well vs Boston tonight could mean a lot to the Penguins.

Bruins vs Penguins Outlook

In their last meeting on November 23rd saw a win for the Bruins in overtime, 2-1 the final score. Jaro Halak was the goaltender in net for that game as well, making 36 saves in the victory. Jake DeBrusk scored his ninth goal of the season assisted by Krejci and Kevan Miller, while Joakim Nordstrom scored the game-winning goal in the overtime session to give Boston the extra point.

Boston managed to shut down Pittsburgh’s offence and if they can do it again tonight, then they will have a good chance to defeat the Pens. This will not be the first time that DeSmith has been in between the pipes against Boston, but it will be the first time that he is named the starter for a Boston game. His previous experience vs the B’s, back on March 1st, 2018, was in an 8-5 loss. The Bruins managed to chase Tristan Jarry, but DeSmith allowed three goals on five shots. The Bruins will be looking to make DeSmith hate playing against the them with more goals scored on him tonight.

Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari will be back in the lineup and on the fourth line. Kuraly is coming off of a minor nose procedure and will most likely dawn the face mask. Jake DeBrusk remains out of the lineup for concussion protocol. Boston’s top-line of Marchand, Krejci, and Pastrnak have scored a combined twenty points in the past three games and they will need to be on top of their game to take down the Penguins.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket — from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows — please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You & Happy Holidays!

Click Here For 2018-19 Boston Bruins Regular Season Games and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

 

Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was drafted in the 2nd round 45th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. When he was drafted, he was a smooth skating two-way center who had an impressive offensive game. While he could score on his own, his passing ability and vision on the ice are what really won over scouts. He was even crowned “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by then fellow prospect Matt Grzelcyk. That’s some high praise to live up to, so let’s dig into what’s happened since being drafted and see why he garnered such high praise.  

After being drafted, Forsbacka Karlsson was slated to begin the 2015-16 with Boston. Boston University that is. During his Freshman season with the Boston University Terriers Forsbacka Karlsson played in 39 games potting 10 goals and dishing out 20 assists for 30 total points and +/- rating of +4. This was a good first season since being drafted for Forsbacka Karlsson. He was able to show off his offensive skill especially distributing the puck. He also was able to show that because of his slick skating, his defensive game was almost as impressive, if not more so than his offensive game. This garnered high praise from the Bruins organization. Both Forsbacka Karlsson and the Bruins hoped it was a season to build upon going forward.  

The 2016-17 season was Forsbacka Karlsson’s Sophomore season at Boston University, and he came into it wearing the “A” on his sweater. This is a big deal, he was already showing at a young age he had those intangible leadership qualities that teams look for. In 39 games with the Terriers, Forsbacka Karlsson improved a lot on his first season netting 14 goals and dishing out 19 assists for 33 total points and a rating of +11. This was a great season for Forsbacka Karlsson and something that stood out even more than his offensive ability was the way he played in his own zone. His defensive responsibility is what separated himself from other prospects around the same age. It was such a good season he even got into 1 game with the Boston Bruins at the end of the year. He didn’t register a point in limited ice-time, but he got a little taste of what it was like to play on the big stage of the NHL. 

The 2017-18 brought a big change for Forsbacka Karlsson. It was his first professional season, and he spent the entirety of it in the AHL with Providence. He wasn’t fully developed as a prospect yet, but he had the tools to be a good offensive forward who could also be shut down defensively. All that was left was taking those tools, developing them, and putting them together on the ice. Forsbacka Karlsson was able to get into 59 games for Providence netting 15 goals and dishing out 17 assists for 32 total points and a rating of +3. He also played in Providence’s 4 playoff games netting 1 goal with 0 assists for 1 total point and a rating of –2. It was good first full professional season for Forsbacka Karlsson to build on moving forward.  

Coming into this season Forsbacka Karlsson was in the running for the third-line center job out of training camp. He ultimately was sent down at the end of camp to Providence to work on some things. One big thing the Bruins wanted him working on was shooting the puck more. He is more of a pass-first forward looking to get others involved before scoring himself. While in Providence he did get into 10 games scoring 1 goal and distributing 3 assists for 4 total points a rating of –2. Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was impressed with his play and with injuries piling up for Boston, Forsbacka Karlsson was called up to the big club. In 9 games with Boston, he does have 2 goals and 0 assists for 2 total points and a rating of –2. His primary role has been more limiting the opposition’s scoring chances because of the injuries to the Bruins defense. However, I would look for his role to increase as he gets more comfortable and more players start to get healthy. 

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of the Bruins best prospects moving forward. He has all the tools to become a good shutdown forward who can also contribute in the offensive zone. While he was dubbed “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by teammate Matt Grzelcyk early on as a prospect, another player I have seen Forsbacka Karlsson compared to is David Backes from his days in St. Louis. Now, these are both lofty comparisons to live up to but with a little time, and effort they are ones that Forsbacka Karlsson could live up to. Overall, with the Bruins’ current forwards and the ones on the verge of making it, the present and future are both very bright for the Boston Bruins.  

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Bruins Send Forsbacka Karlsson to Providence

jakob-forsbacka-karlsson-6136321af50ce1e9Photo Courtesy Of AP Photo/Winslow Townson

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On Sunday, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had been assigned to the Providence Bruins. The 22-year-old had appeared in nine games in Boston this season, scoring two goals including his first of his career on November 17th, during the Bruins 2-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes. Forsbacka Karlsson made his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals on April 8th, 2017.

Forsbacka Karlsson will head back to Providence for his second tour of duty this season. In nine appearances for Providence earlier this season, the forward had one goal and three assists for four points. Last season, Forsbacka Karlsson completed his first professional season, finishing with 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points in 58 games for the AHL club.

 

The Stockholm, Sweden native was drafted by the Bruins in the second round (45th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The demotion shouldn’t surprise anyone as the young center struggled in his first extended look at NHL action, but more professional experience should help him become a better player. This almost certainly shouldn’t be the last time we see Forsbacka Karlsson in Boston as he still has some talent that could definitely be utilized in the NHL.

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How Do the Bruins Survive Without Patrice Bergeron?

Image result for David Krejci

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The frustrating part for Bruins fans about losing Patrice Bergeron for at least a month is the loss of the most dominant 200-foot line in hockey. David Krejci between the two feels like the natural fix, but that decision is made more complicated by the lack of a defined #3 center on the roster. This has lead to a myriad of bizarre line combinations, including seeing Joakim Nordstrom, a career left-winger, centering a Top 6 line, Colby Cave, an undrafted career minor-leaguer, between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and completely splitting Marchand and Pastrnak and rolling out a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation of forwards in their Top 6. I decided to take a deeper look at how the Bruins have fared with different line combinations in their Top 6, and attempt to determine what the best setup they have tried it thus far.

Using the data provided by Corsica.hockey’s line tool, I gathered every line the Bruins have iced this year. As I am looking at 5-on-5 data only, and the typical limiter of 50 minutes of on-ice time together only gave me five total line combinations, I expanded the parameters and limited lines to having spent at least 10 minutes of 5-on-5 time on ice as a group. That gave me the following lines:

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk
Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Joakim Nordstrom
Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari
Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, David Backes
Anders Bjork, David Backes, Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Danton Heinen
Brad Marchand, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen, David Krejci, David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Ryan Donato
Anders Bjork, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner
Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, Jake DeBrusk
Anders Bjork, David Backes, Ryan Donato
Brad Marchand, Colby Cave, David Pastrnak
Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly, Anders Bjork
Anders Bjork, Joakim Nordstrom, Ryan Donato
Joakim Nordstrom, Colby Cave, Noel Acciari
Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari
Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari
Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork, David Krejci, David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Noel Acciari
Joakim Nordstrom, David Backes, Noel Acciari
Ryan Donato, Sean Kuraly, David Backes
Brad Marchand, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak

Here is a breakdown of the time on ice spent together as a line for each combination.

Time on Ice

 

Of the 27 different combinations, here is what I can conclude:

Goals For vs Expected Goals For

When looking at the difference between each line’s expected goals for percentage and their goals for percentage (the total goals scored by the team while that line is on the ice as a percentage of all goals scored while that line is on the ice), a few things stand out. For one, Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci are really good together, but having Ryan Donato ride with them is really not a good idea. As much as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson may eventually be a good middle 6 center, he was a decidedly BAD fit between Marchand and Pastrnak. Surprisingly, having Colby Cave in that spot instead of JFK has produced excellent results so far, bordering on the line underperforming their expected numbers.

The key to this chart is actually how the rest of the lineup should be structured based on the numbers. Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, and David Backes have been very good when put together as a line, and realistically should be able to handle 3rd line minutes if necessary. Wagner with Joakim Nordstrom and Anders Bjork has been an even better line in fewer minutes, but with how effective Wagner is with the Kuraly/Backes duo, I would suggest this is a place where you play Ryan Donato in the middle, heavily shelter his zone starts, and let him and Bjork learn the defensive side with Nordstrom and be available for the second powerplay unit.

This allows you to see whether or not Donato can realistically be an NHL centerman, and gives you Nordstrom as a faceoff option if Donato struggles in the dot. That leaves Danton Heinen as the 3rd member of the Krejci/DeBrusk line, which has been the best combo the Bruins have had on the second line, and it isn’t incredibly close. The trio actually is out-performing the Bergeron line in fewer minutes.

PDO vs Expected PDO

How lucky have they been? Krejci in the Bergeron spot has been extremely lucky in a small sample, so I don’t put a ton of stock into their performance. Likewise, JFK in that spot wasn’t lucky and bordered on unlucky. Again, though, Cave there is a conundrum; that grouping has outperformed their EXPECTED PDO a ton, but have a very low expected PDO, which tells me their results are RIDICULOUSLY lucky.

Shots For Differential per 60

What about the shot differentials? I accounted for time on ice in this case, which gives a better approximation of individual impact as a line. In this case, Cave shows extremely well as a Bergeron replacement, and we see that Heinen/Krejci/DeBrusk and the original Bergeron line are both very good. Nordstrom between DeBrusk and Marchand has been decidedly bad, and putting Krejci between Marchand and Pastrnak has produced plenty of offense, but have been disastrous in terms of shot suppression. Nordstrom/Acciari/Kuraly have interesting numbers, and the Bjork/Wagner/Nordstrom line has been REALLY good. Granted, so has Wagner/Kuraly/Backes, so I think the real trick will be deciding where to slot Ryan Donato into the bottom 6. Once again, this allows for the sheltered 3rd line theory proposed above.

COOL. NUMBERS. YAY.

BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Well, let’s boil this down a bit. I think that, if the lineup is fully healthy, it should look something like this:

Marchand                                             Bergeron                                 Pastrnak


Heinen                                                   Krejci                                       DeBrusk


Bjork                                                      Donato                                     Nordstrom


Wagner                                                  Kuraly                                      Backes


 

So, this presents a few questions. For one, you now have a $6 million right winger. Backes’ contract was an albatross when it was signed, and that doesn’t change now. I’d rather put him in a position where his skill set is best utilized rather than attempting to jam a square peg into a round hole. His foot speed has diminished to the point where he is no longer an effective center, and he doesn’t fit as an offensive player in the Top 9. Additionally, the third line should get almost no defensive zone starts. Focus on playing them in the offensive zone, allow Bjork and Donato to go wild and be creative, and Nordstrom is there to make sure the line isn’t a complete black hole defensively. This allows you to make sure Donato can or can’t be an NHL centerman without a ton of stress on him to produce.

Image result for Colby Cave

Photo Credit: NHL.com

But what about Bergeron not being there? Well, for now (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), I think leaving Colby Cave there for a bit wouldn’t hurt. Realistically, he isn’t an NHL scorer, so he is there to win faceoffs, be defensively responsible, screen the goaltender, and allow Marchand and Pastrnak to be magicians. This is only 5-on-5 so I would not use him in overtime (Bruce…), and he wouldn’t get a sniff on the man-advantage. This allows the other three lines to try and get rolling and find some chemistry for when the Bergeron line is fully healthy. That way, when Bergy returns, secondary scoring doesn’t return to being a massive problem for the team.

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Bruins Injuries Create Opportunities From The Developing Depth

        (Photo Credit: @NHLBruins)

By: Chris Nosek  |  Follow Me On Twitter @cnosek6342

We all know that the Bruins are currently being decimated by the injury bug during the month of November. To quickly recap, those currently missing from the lineup include; Patrice Bergeron (rib and sternoclavicular injury), Zdeno Chara (knee), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion), and Charlie McAvoy (concussion).

Recently defenders John Moore and Kevan Miller also missed some time, and after their game against Toronto on Monday night it seems that Miller may be lost again for at least a couple more games. So with many fans who had previously holding hopes for a deep playoff run now jumping ship, please stop and take a deep breath and relax. Now, I am not saying this team is going to run off and win the Stanley Cup this season, but what I am saying is these injuries will ultimately help this team in their quest for multiple cups in the long run.

Since the season started, the Bruins have had massive production from their top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak. With Bergeron on the shelf for a month plus, Cassidy was forced to shake up the lineup try to spread out some of their goal scorers. With his first move of putting Nordstrom on the second line center, he sent a clear message to Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson that he had to earn his spot in the lineup after his call-up to provide reinforcements.

Clearly, Nordstrom playing as the second line center wasn’t ever going to be the long-term answer, but it gave the young JFK a chance to earn some stripes being paired with Heinen and Bjork. As shown above, he was able to get on the scoreboard with a different line (compiled of Acciari and Heinen) which started him to play well enough and a consistent enough two-way game that he has since been moved up to fill in for the injured Bergeron between two of the leagues most dangerous scorers.

Lately, he’s brought the level of intensity the team was worried was missing from his game on a night-over-night basis that saw him sent to Providence at the end of the preseason. Now, holding his own, he has answered the question that he can be this teams third line center over the next few seasons and if he continues to play this way will show that he can be a solid second or first line center in the future (depending on who else this team keeps moving forward).

In trying to get some players back in their stride and while not trying to lose anything offensively, Cassidy has left no stone unturned. He has even gone so far as putting Jake Debrusk on his off wing, something he had never done in his career. Although there were some minor growing pains for the first couple of games, the second year forward proved that he has the flexibility to play well on either wing on any line in this lineup. He is now up to 12 points in 24 games this season and has been scoring at a Pastrnak like pace as of late.

Pulling out all the stops to get everyone in the lineup on the scoresheet consistently, Cassidy even tried – for a second time this season – putting David Backes back at the center position to try to get him going. Although finding his way onto the stats sheet, now up to 3 points on the season – thanks to a goal and assist in the November 24th game against Montreal – Backes is still proving to be the weak link of this team. How much longer he remains in the starting 20 remains to be seen, but with his leadership and $6 million cap-hit Cassidy is under a lot of pressure to get the veteran forward producing like his St. Louis days.

        (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer)

Even though coming into this season there wasn’t much in the way of questions when it came to the defense of this team for this year, there were many questions being asked about the years to come. With only newcomer John Moore and rookie Urho Vaakanainen as the only defenders set to be under contract past the 2019-2020 season with any NHL experience, the questions were rightfully starting to be asked – after all how much longer can this team rely on 41-year-old Zdeno Chara to keep playing?

With injuries on the backline to start the season, Matt Grzelcyk was clearly going to get his chance to show his talents, and he has not wavered in doing so. Gryz and many other youngsters have had a chance to showcase their talents at the NHL level this season as the black and gold have seen a total of 12 different defensemen so far this season.

Zdeno Chara             Brandon Carlo             Charlie McAvoy             Urho Vaakanainen

John Moore              Kevin Miller                  Torey Krug                     Connor Clifton

Jeremy Lauzon       Jakub Zboril                   Steven Kampfer            Matt Grzelcyk

So far every one of these 12 guys, regardless of their age, has shown this season that they are able to get the job done at the NHL level to some degree. Now, I’m not trying to rewrite the defensive depth chart, but the growth we have seen in the games of Clifton, Lauzon, Zboril, Grzelcyk, and Vaakanainen show that this team has more depth than we originally thought.

Although no one wants to see any player get hurt, these young players that Sweeney and his staff have brought in are clearly on the right developmental track. This will bode well for this team this season as none of the injured players are in a situation where they have to get rushed back from their injuries. Bergeron and Chara, especially, could really use the extra time off as their bodies have taken regular beatings over their careers and unless this team starts to freefall in the standings, these two can take some time to make sure they are 100% healthy to go into the playoffs.

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