Prospects For A Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche Trade Prior To Free Agency

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 NHL playoffs, I considered the Colorado Avalanche the favorite to come out of the western conference. Lead by star players Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, it appeared the former Quebec Nordiques might be the Boston Bruins’ opponent if the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals. After a disappointing playoff for both teams, might there be a trade in the works between these two?

General Manager Joe Sakic, a former Nordiques and Avalanche star himself, currently has double the cap space that the Bruins have. However, restricted free agents Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin, plus unrestricted free agent Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts. A new deal to retain the rights to Vladislav Kamenev, who signed to play for two years with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL on September 1, 2020, will consume a small portion of this money. The Avalanche have a total of six restricted free agents and five unrestricted free agents to consider, and that’s without signing someone from another organization.

Who might the Bruins target in a potential trade? MacKinnon, Landeskog, and defenseman Erik Johnson all have no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts.  Bruins fans would be in an uproar if they acquired Nazem Kadri, but he too has a similar clause in his contract. I see one of two possible scenarios for the Bruins and Avalanche to make a deal. Colorado has both Johnson and rookie of the year Cale Makar at right defense. They also have depth at left defense. Nikita Zadorov has been the subject of trade rumors, plays the left side, and is a 6’5” 235-pound defensive defenseman.

If the Bruins could offer some combination of prospects or draft picks, perhaps they might be able to pry Zadorov away.  Defensive pairings for the Bruins become Zadorov-McAvoy, Grzelcyk-Carlo, and Chara-Lauzon/Clifton. I would go with Clifton for more offense in this case. The second scenario would likely make more headlines. The Bruins could potentially clear salary-cap space and get a younger starting goaltender by trading Tuukka Rask for Philipp Grubauer in a deal that could perhaps include Zadorov as well. Tuukka’s modified no-trade clause includes fifteen teams he could be sent to; if Colorado is on the list, this transaction has potential.

I think Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He’s very good at playing his angles so that he is in a position to make the save rather than having to make a spectacular play. His career numbers speak to him being a quality goaltender. There is a large contingent of Bruins fans, however, who believe that Rask cannot win the big game or that he doesn’t have the will to even play in them.  While I understand he left the “bubble” during the NHL playoffs because his daughter was sick, most fans are less forgiving.  There is no doubt the Bruins would have had a better chance to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning with him in net instead of Jaroslav Halak. Has Rask worn out his welcome in Boston?

From the Colorado perspective, upgrading their goaltending might be the direction to go to improve their chances for next season. With the number of available quality goaltenders available this offseason, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray, Jacob Markstrom, and Braden Holtby, I think it is unlikely that this trade will happen. In other possible Colorado to Boston moves, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bruins take a look at Colin Wilson or Matt Nieto, both of whom played for Jack Parker at Boston University and are unrestricted free agents. Wilson, son of former Hartford Whaler and Calgary Flame Carey Wilson, is the more likely candidate as he came into the league as a first-round pick with power forward potential; he’s 6’1, 221-pounds. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins Offseason Outlook

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / AP Photo )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

The Boston Bruins surely have an interesting offseason ahead of them. After losing to the Lightning in five games, you can tell that they were just merely outplayed. But what does this mean for the team going forward?

You have people calling to trade everybody and restart from the ground up, and the overreactions are through the roof. That’s the intensity of this fanbase for you, which is a good thing. Boston is a very passionate fanbase, and they care for this team.

People forget that the Bruins won the President’s Trophy and were the only team to reach the 100-point mark in the shortened regular season. They were firing on all cylinders heading into what would’ve been the normal postseason. The hiatus in the season due to COVID-19 came at a very unfortunate time for the Bruins. Even though we didn’t see the Bruins we are used to in the Toronto bubble, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Bruins are still contenders, and they will be next year too.

( Photo Credit: Chris Christo / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald )

Let’s not kid ourselves either, though. The Bruins should make some offseason moves to bolster their roster and have a great run next year. Others seem to think that Boston will be active. “I think Boston’s going to be really interesting. I think they’ve decided they need more scoring, and I think they’re going to have some big decisions to make about what that’s going to mean for them. I think they’re definitely one of the teams to watch,” Elliotte Friedman said on SN960.

Everybody knows what the Bruins biggest problem has been over the past couple of years, and that’s secondary scoring. The Bruins goaltending duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak is one of, if not the, best in the league. The Bruins also have a great defense core mixed with veterans and young studs. Even if Torey Krug does leave this free agency period, their defense will still be great. The first line will give you what they have, but then after that is where the production falls off. I’d go as far as to say that after Jarome Iginla left, the Bruins have been itching to find David Krejci a second-line right-wing, and it hasn’t worked out so far.

The first line is most likely the best line in the whole entire league. The problem is that if other teams can shut them down, the Bruins odds of winning decrease dramatically. Tampa Bay did a great job of neutralizing Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, and the outcome of the series shows what happens when teams are able to do that.

Saying there is a lack of secondary scoring doesn’t mean that the Bruins don’t have talent below the top line. David Krejci is one of the most underrated players in the league. However, he is a playmaker, and his wingers are typically the goal scorers. Look at the 2011 Bruins team that won the cup. Milan Lucic was on Krejci’s left, and Nathan Horton was on his right, and we all know how clutch Horton was.

Now let’s compare that to their current roster. Jake Debrusk is a great player, but even Bruce Cassidy has said it. He can be streaky. That doesn’t diminish his talent, but his goal-scoring was needed. Ondrej Kase is the same way. He was flying around out there, making good plays in the corner and competing, but he wasn’t scoring. You can even say the same for Anders Bjork on the third line. The effort is there, the production was not.

Don Sweeney sure has his hands full this offseason. He has four unrestricted free agents that he’ll have to decide whether to sign or let go. Those are Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, and Kevan Miller. The three restricted free agents that most likely will return barring any trades or offer sheets are Jake Debrusk, Matt Grzelyck, and Karson Kuhlman. Sweeney has hinted at some moves this offseason. “We’re looking to make some changes in our group,” Sweeney said.

What exactly could these changes be? Who knows? We have seen Sweeney be aggressive like on draft day in 2015, but we have also seen him be more relaxed in the past couple of years. Does he take a run at a top free agent like Taylor Hall? Does he trade some of the young talent for a proven goal scorer? Only time will tell, but it gives the Bruins faithful something to be excited about.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below on 9-13-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

A By The Numbers Look At The Bruins Second Round Defeat

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Well, here we are Bruins fans, forced to jump on the bandwagon of a new team now that the Bs have been vanquished by the rival Lightning. At least there is some consolation in the fact that the Maple Leafs and Canadians have also been bounced from the bubble.

My colleague Michael Digiorgio wrote yesterday about some of the stories and moments that led to the Bruins playoff exit. The topics include lackluster efforts in the round robin and game three against the Lightning and lineup decisions by head coach Bruce Cassidy that sparked heated conversations on #BruinsTwitter. In the aftermath of Boston’s defeat, questions abound about key players, especially long time captain Zdeno Chara, not to mention the longevity of the current core. With all that in mind, let’s take a step back and look under the analytical hood to better understand what went off the rails against a talented Tampa Bay Team.

Overall Metrics

Glossary of Terms

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%GFGAGF%SH%SV%PDO
Series26428448.18%11613446.40%8.1610.9842.62%51426.32%4.03%89.71%0.937
Data from Natural Stat Trick

At even strength the Lightning drove play substantially throughout this series. The Bruins came out in the red in shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals. More importantly they lost the goals for battle by a sizable margin. As we peel back this data a couple of items emerge.

In games one through three the Lightning were head and shoulders the stronger team. The Bruins could not handle the dual threat of Tampa Bay’s ability to carry the puck in or chip and retrieve it. However, in games four and five, Boston did a much better job in the neutral zone, slowing down the attack and creating more favorable circumstances. In general, they were more patient, clogging the middle of the ice and not allowing Lightning forwards to wind up with speed. In turn, the Bruins were able to better control the play with games four and five largely a wash from an analytical standpoint and extremely close on the scoreboard.

The other key stats are shooting percentage, save percentage, and PDO (a simple combination of shooting and save percentage). PDOs typically should be around 1.00. Higher or lower numbers suggest either immense talent or a string of luck. The Bruins in the regular season exceeded 1.00 on the backs of strong goaltending and talented shooters. In this series their PDO comes in at 0.937, a scary number. Part of this has to do with the 7-1 thrashing in game three but the even worse culprit is an even strength shooting percentage of 4.03%. While some of this can be blamed on variance and luck, quite a bit of credit has to be given to Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning defenders. The Lightning goaltender made some big saves and for the most part his defenders kept the Bruins from second chance opportunities.

Heat Map

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As just mentioned, the Lightning defenders had an excellent series. In an ideal world you’d love to take every shot from right on top of the spoked B logo in the diagram. The Bruins did not get many opportunities from there at all. They also had few rebound attempts when Vasilevskiy did pop pucks back out. In contrast, the Lightning were able to penetrate the Bruins defensive posture. Their forwards combined quickness and toughness to win position in the center of the ice. In turn they scored a number of goals on screens, tips, and rebounds.

Key Players

David Pastrnak2 G, 4 A, 40% xGFNikita Kucherov2 G, 5 A, 71% xGF
Patrice Bergeron0 G, 2 A, 45% xGFBrayden Point1 G, 7 A, 70% xGF
Brad Marchand4 G, 1 A, 41% xGFOndrej Palat5 G, 2 A, 73% xGF
Charlie McAvoy0 G, 0 A, 39% xGFVictor Hedman4 G, 2 A, 52% xGF
Torey Krug0 G, 3A, 46% xGFMikhail Sergachev1 G, 2 A, 63% xGF
Jaroslav Halak3.12 GAA, .896 SV%, -2 GSAAAndrei Vasilevskiy1.79 GAA, .936 SV%, +2 GSAA
Data from Natural Stat Trick

In The Athletic, Fluto Shinzawa discussed how the Lightning’s top players were outshining the Bruins’ stars prior to game five. After game five, the contrasting play remained part of the story line. Tampa Bay’s top line drove play against every matchup. Cassidy tried several options throughout the series with David Krejci getting the assignment in game five. The “perfection line” (as NBC must have trademarked by now) was less than perfect when head to head against the Lightning’s top line or future Selke trophy candidate Alex Killorn. While the Bruins stars did get on the board, it was almost exclusively on the powerplay.

The second wave of offense further differentiated the two teams. Tampa Bay received contributions from the likes of Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman. They also got big contributions from their defenders who regularly walked the blue line and found seams to the net through heavy traffic. The Bruins, other than David Krejci, got virtually no secondary offense from their forwards or their defensemen.

In the goalie duel, Vasilevskiy is the clear winner. Halak put up his best effort in the elimination game, but at the end of the day his performance was not good enough. Despite some moments of strong play, reflections on his playoff run will largely be marred by a couple major guffaws. The Big Cat in Tampa’s net inspired more confidence and made big saves when needed.

Performance By Lines and Pairs

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A key caveat of the above chart is that it includes the whole time in the bubble, round robin and all. Having said that, it still has some value in assessing the Bruins’ demise. My colleague Lydia Murray recently did a great article on reading these charts and I encourage you to read it. For now, just know the upper right is the best and upper left is fine too. Lower on the chart is not where you want to be, particularity the bottom left.

The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line still ends up in the good quadrant but did not distinguish itself as much as usual. The line of Debrusk-Krejci-Kase performed well enough in their matchups but land in the dull quadrant as they didn’t necessarily move the needle much other than a couple big games against the Hurricanes. The Bruins fourth line struggled regardless of the musical chairs of players. You’ll also notice Charlie Coyle is not on the chart. That is because he had such a revolving door of wingers that no combination had enough minutes together to qualify. Coach Cassidy’s tinkering finally seemed to land on a winning combination in the final game with Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka, but it was a little too late to make a difference in the series.

The Bruins defenders struggled. The speed and tenacity of Carolina and Tampa Bay were too much for Chara and Brandon Carlo to handle. Torey Krug was exposed in a number of tough matchups against top talent. Charlie McAvoy did his best work in limited minutes with mobile puck mover Matt Grzelcyk but otherwise was on his heels defending the other team’s best players, alongside long time partner Chara.

Special Teams

Boston: 5 out of 17; 26:33 minutes; 21 shots; 3.14 xG; 5 goals

Tampa Bay: 4 out of 20; 33:28 minutes; 28 shots; 3.35 xG; 4 goals

Special teams is where the Bruins had the marked advantage coming into the series. They have a number of dominant players on both units. In general they performed alright. With the exception of a three goal output in game three, the Lightning only scored one other goal with the man advantage despite ample opportunity. The Bruins even had a number of chances while shorthanded. Boston scored a powerplay goal in every contest. In general, that is a key ingredient for the Bruins. They keep games simple, low-event, and close before finishing teams off with their lethal power play.

However, in this series, Tampa Bay’s advantage at 5v5 was just too overwhelming and the Bruins’ time in the bubble has come to an end.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

What Happened To The Bruins In Toronto?

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Last night was a heart-breaking loss on many different levels, and a result Bruins fans did not expect during the season. The Bruins were steamrolling its competition in the regular season, cruising to the top of the league’s standings. The President Trophy winners were the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, even after the NHL’s Return to Play announcement. Unfortunately, the Bruins never consistently showed the same regular-season tenacity and are heading home way too early.

Many fans will bash the NHL for its Return to Play schedule, where the Bruins had to play three more games to warrant the top seed in the East. Let’s be clear; unfortunately, the Bruins’ regular season point total did not result in the East’s top seed. However, the Bruins did not come close to showing the NHL that it deserved the number one seed in the Return to Play. Each team had the same starting position, and the Bruins controlled their own destiny. They did not play up to caliber for a number one seed.

The Bruins came out flat against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the exhibition. The team allowed two goals in 18 seconds and scored their lone goal in the second period. Bruins nation chalked it up as a slow start due to the pandemic and insisted the team would be fine during the round-robin. However, the Bruins never led in any of their round-robin games and only scored four combined goals. For reference, the Bruins scored 227 goals in the regular-season, which equates to 3.24 goals per game and ranked 9th in the entire league. At the end of the playoffs, the Bruins goals-per-game fell to 2.23.

The Bruins’ first playoff match-up was against a team they had playoff experience against in the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins swept the Hurricanes in last year’s playoffs, and nearly did this year. Tuukka Rask announced his departure after two games against the Hurricanes and the organization turned to Jaroslav Halak to lead the charge.

The Bruins beat Carolina in five games, but still didn’t look their full selves. There were plenty of flashes, and they strung together some great games, but they never put forth a complete 60-minute domination. The Tampa Bay Lightning awaited after beating the Blue Jackets in five games as well.

The Bruins won game one and took a 1-0 series lead on Tampa. The Bruins scored one goal each period, while Tampa made a late push, but it was too little too late for the Lightning. The Bruins looked a tad lost in game two and allowed Tampa’s offensive weapons to get behind their defense, leading to an overtime loss. Things went from bad to worse in game three and never turned around.

Game three was one of the worst showings the Bruins had in a playoff series in nearly 30 years. The Bruins allowed the Lightning to score seven goals to their one. The Bruin skaters left their goalies out to dry in this game and could not overcome adversity.

Each of the three pictures above shows how poorly the Bruins played in the most crucial moments. Tampa had at least one step ahead of the closest Bruin, and the Bruins allowed Tampa’s lethal weapons to have prime real estate in from their goal. This game (and the series) was not lost because Rask left the bubble. Tuukka may have given the team a better chance to win, but Halak and Vladar were placed in incredibly difficult positions and were left out to dry. The Bruins did not put forth a full 60-minute effort consistently and outright quit at times. They looked lost and overpowered against Tampa and could not overcome adversity, which is ironic because Tampa had the same issue last year against the Blue Jackets.

Bruins media and its organization have touted how closely matched these two teams are, but frankly, this series showed those claims are myths. Tampa Bay was by far the better, faster, and stronger team this series. Tampa’s large defensive players took every opportunity to shoot the puck at the point into a wave of blue and black and gold jerseys. Tampa Bay scored the majority of their goals either off of odd-man rushes or deflections. Jon Cooper and his team had a perfect game-plan to park big bodies out front of the Bruin goalies, like Pat Maroon, to set up screens and tip shots that come towards the net.

The Bruins were also undisciplined and gave Tampa countless opportunities to score on the power-play. The Lightning were 0 for 16, heading into game three of the series on the power-play. The Bruins decided to test that record, and the Lightning netted three power-play goals in game three. The Bruins ranked third in the regular-season on the penalty kill, killing 84.3% of their penalties. By the end of this playoffs, their percentage declined to 82.9%. The 1.4% change may not seem like a lot, but in-game power-play goals can change momentum instantly.

In the elimination game, the Bruins looked like their old selves; unfortunately, it was too little too late. Jaroslav Halak played unbelievably and gave his team a chance to win.

Tampa scored the series-ending goal in double overtime, sending the Bruins home. Zdeno Chara may have played his final game as a Bruins, and David Krejci explained what every Bruin fan has been fearing.

This Bruins team may have a different makeup next year. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and a few more require contracts, and the Bruins have $15M in cap space. General Manager, Don Sweeney, has a long list of to-do items in the shortened off-season. Many difficult yet necessary decisions will be made. The “core” that Krejci mentions genuinely does have one to three years left. Thankfully, a few bright spots in this year’s playoff could be shaping the new core.

Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few lineup changes that did not pay dividends like inserting John Moore and playing 11 forwards. However, the changes that did work included Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka, who both played alongside Charlie Coyle in game five.

Bjork and Studnicka looked like they belonged and took advantage of their opportunities. They looked comfortable with the speed and physicality of the game. Bjork landed four shots on goal and played 18:30 minutes, while Studnicka surpassed 17 minutes and one shot on goal. Coyle landed ten shots on goal and looked to be comfortable with his line-mates.

Patrice Bergeron doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all and has continued to dominate the opposition. He will continue to center the first line come next season.

The “what if” questions will linger over these playoffs. What if the Bruins’ regular-season point total had landed them the top seed? What if the season had played through without the pandemic? Unfortunately, we have an answer to what occurred, and the Bruins did not play up to their potential. It was a disappointing showing from a team who showed they belonged in the Stanley Cup. Bruins fans will have to wait another year and hopefully one with the original core for another run.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston vs Tampa Bay Game Five Breakdown

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Leon Lifschutz | Follow Me On Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Sadly, this was it for the Bruins. It was not for lack of trying in this one. The players on the ice pushed hard. The coaching stuff tried to get the edge juggling lines going into and throughout the game. The Bruins played perhaps their most complete game of this round against a Lightning team shorthanded after star player Nikita Kucherov left the contest. It was not to be the Bruins’ night, or their year, and Boston will now exit the bubble after an eventful but abbreviated tenure.

The Recap

The two teams played a tentative first period that ended in no goals for either squad. The second period featured each side trading markers. Ondrej Palat tipped a Kevin Shattenkirk point shot past Jaroslav Halak. Later in the period, David Pastrnak finished one from his office after a clever David Krejci feed. Midway through the third, Anthony Cirelli got just enough of a Victor Hedman point shot to fool Halak and give the Lightning the lead. With the Bruins on the ropes, Krejci again played the hero finding himself in a perfect spot to finish off a deflected Zdeno Chara shot. One overtime period would solve nothing, but in the second a Hedman shot would find it’s way through traffic and burst the Bruins’ time in the bubble.

Check out the full RECAP from my colleague Liz Rizzo.

The Story Line

Their is the story line of the game and the story line immediately after the final goal crossed the line. In the game, the Bruins played well but as Coach Cassidy summed it up in his post game remarks, “they made one more play than we did.” That is one of the many beauties of hockey. One play can have such an impact.

Immediately after the game the story line quickly shifted to the future. In particular, speculation over Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara permeated the post game virtual scrums. It is evident that Krug is well liked and, despite some polarization among the fan base, he is a key cog in the Bruins powerplay and a top-4 defender. Chara, or Big Z, showed up in Boston and success followed. Despite his diminishing play, one gets the sense his presence still counts for something to the players and organization. Krug may very well walk in free agency. Chara may very well walk off into the sunset. Other personnel decisions are coming as well but the departure of the two defenders suggests a core that is starting to reach its swan song.

The Stats

Corsi (shot attempts), Scoring Chances, and Expected Goals

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%
P1111739.29%71041.18%0.660.462.04%
P2251365.79%14573.68%0.640.7147.43%
P3242153.33%111052.38%0.670.5952.88%
P4161748.48%6940.00%0.330.3151.63%
P5121642.86%5838.46%0.330.6932.46%
Game888451.16%434250.59%2.632.749.27%
Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

This was a close game. Both teams had their share of momentum at times. A chance here or a chance there would have swung the underlying numbers one direction or the other just as one shot would decide this game on the scoreboard.

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Boston did two things better tonight reflected in this visual. They kept Tampa Bay away from the mid and high slots better than in previous games though they still had trouble tying up sticks in front. They also did a much better job of getting their shots on net not only controlling the attempts but also the shot clock. Andrei Vasilevskiy played a key role in this win for the Lightning turning away a number of good Bruins’ chances.

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It’s hard to sit here and reflect on who played well and who didn’t with the season coming to an abrupt end. But we are here to breakdown the game and so we will. In doing so, it’s also worth keeping a little eye on the future.

Bruce Cassidy went back to a combination he tried out earlier in the restart flanking Charlie Coyle with Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka. The trio drove play masterfully. Bjork and Studnicka’s ability to transport the puck down the wings along with Coyle’s ability to make heady plays and control possession low could be a standout combination for next season.

Beyond the Coyle line, it was mixed bag for the forward units. Doing heavy defensive zone duty the fourth line got hemmed in though they limited the damage on the scoreboard. The top line was never really able to break free at even strength in this series to the point Cassidy flipped Pastrnak and Kase in the third and overtime periods. This strikes as drastic for a line that has spent pretty much three years straight together showing the coach’s urgency. It is concerning that in an elimination game Karson Kuhlman produced more individual expected goals at even strength than any of the top trio. Cassidy seemed to agree, and though the strategy went alright, it failed to produce the deciding goal.

David Krejci had a big game on the scoreboard and he did so taking advantage of his limited opportunities. Cassidy gave Krejci the task of shutting down the Lightning’s top line. He and his line mates did an okay job surviving extended defensive zone shifts. However they created limited offense of their own. Nonetheless, Playoff Krech was clutch again sending this one to extra time.

Zdeno Chara had arguably his best game of these playoffs. The Captain was determined and managed to make something happen on the game tying goal even if it wasn’t exactly how the play was drawn up in practice. Brandon Carlo put together another decent effort after stumbling for quite some time in the restart. His ability to grow his game further and get more consistent will be a major need going into next season. His partner Krug also seemed more himself but was again on the ice for multiple goals against.

Halak was good tonight. His numbers will not reflect the quality of the saves he made. Though he was tested less than Vasilevskiy in quantity, the quality of some of the Lightning chances made up for it. Unfortunately he was undone by the relentless traffic created by the Lightning forwards for all three goals against, the subject of our video breakdown.

The Video Breakdown

For tonight’s video breakdown we will look at the season ending goal off the stick of Victor Hedman. It’s obviously a pivotal moment but also is reflective of all three goals scored on this night and a number of others in the series. Let’s take a look.

The Bruins defensive posture on this night was good. It is clear they wanted to take away the space between the hash marks from the Lightning. We can see this in how the white jerseys are structured here, all patient and all pushing Tampa to the outside.

The Lightning though were wise. They didn’t force anything and in turn moved the puck around the perimeter to try and create the best possible shooting lane. Shattenkirk did it on the first goal and Hedman on goals two and three. What was equally important is as the Lightning D and an additional supporting forward move the puck around, the other two forwards fought for position in front and in the low and mid slot. On the first two goals, the presence in the mid slot above the Bruins defenders allowed for impressive tips by Palat and Cirelli. On the game winning goal it allowed for a game altering screen by Patrick Maroon, pretty much what he was brought in to do.

It should also be noted that Hedman’s individual skill, as the video is captioned, is a key element in getting this puck through to the net and through Halak. It was a tremendous play, from a great player, in a big moment.

Moment of the Night

Our moment of the night goes to Big Z. The future is uncertain and this could have been his walking off into the sunset moment. If so, a bittersweet moment accompanied by high praise from his coach.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins Eliminated With 3-2 Loss vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning odds, picks and best bets
(Photo Credits: Sportsbookwire/USA Today)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

With their backs against the walls, the Boston Bruins knew they would have to bring everything they have if they wanted a fighting chance to move on. Despite the heartbreaking loss, no one can really say the Bruins didn’t go down without a fight. In the final game of their frustrating series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston would come from behind to tie the game, pushing the match-up to two overtimes. In the end, the Lightning came out the victor.

GAME BREAKDOWN

The Boston Bruins started the first period with a better jump than the last two games. Tampa had a few early chances with a missed shot that luckily hit the post. Boston’s defense had their sticks down as they continued to stop Tampa’s offensive rush. A missed opportunity for the B’s came way from the Krejci line. The Lightning tried to answer back as they pushed the puck up the ice, however Jaroslav Halak was there for a timely save. Boston’s Charlie Coyle has a potential one-on-one but was unable to send one in back of the net past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tampa would draw the first penalty for a high stick. Zdeno Chara would get the call as both he and Nikita Kucherov fell to the ice (Chara fell while blocking a shot). The Lightning were unable to produce any shots while on the man advantage during the four-minute penalty. The B’s would also draw a penalty as Tampa was called on a hooking call. No score on either side.

END OF FIRST PERIOD: BOS-0, TBL-0

SHOT ON GOAL: BOS-8, TBL-5

With the second period underway, Boston’s Brad Marchand had a potential goal early on. The battle continued down both ends as the Lightning’s Ondrej Palat scored on a tip-in, making it 1-0. The Bruins continued to make some quick maneuvers to throw the puck in the net, but were unable to score. Nikita Kucherov was sent to the penalty box for a tripping call and the Bruins would be on the power-play. After a fake shot by David Krejci leading to a pass to David Pastrnak, the Bruins’s right winger nailed the puck past Vasilevskiy.

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There were a few close calls down the Bruins end, forcing Halak to make some acrobatic saves. Boston continued to hack pucks at Vasilevskiy. Matt Grzelcyk would get called on a two-minute hooking penalty. It would be short-lived as Yanni Gourde was called for a matching hooking penalty. Neither team was able to score on the four-on four nor the power-play.

END OF SECOND: BOS-1, TBL-1

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-15, TBL-8

At the start of third period, Nikita Kucherov continued to sit out for Tampa (he sat out for most of the second period). The B’s first shift showed brief urgency in their play. Karson Kuhlman had a good look but unable to get the puck up over Vasilevskiy. A scary moment involving McAvoy and Cedric Paquette resulted in the defenseman going down to the dressing room. No call was assessed for the hit that send McAvoy into the boards.

Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli would score a deflection shot, making it 2-1. Zdeno Chara found the puck, sending it directly David Krejci. Number 46 would wrist one in tying the game at 2-2. Boston drew a power-play in the last few minutes of the game as it went into overtime.

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END OF REGULATION: BOS-2, TBL-2

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-35, TBL-21

Overtime opened with Boston on a man advantage as they finished off their power-play with four seconds left. The Bruins continued to lay opportunities down Tampa’s end. Feverish play seen on both sides saw Boston’s defense come up with big plays. Krejci sat in the box on a tripping penalty with nine minutes left in overtime. With a little over five minutes on the clock, Charlie Coyle had a missed opportunity that dislodged the net, causing a little scuffle in front of Tampa’s net.

Vasilevskiy was forced to make some difficult saves against Boston. Poke checks were abundant in the last few minutes of overtime.

END OF FIRST OVERTIME: BOS-2, TBL-2

SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-11, TBL-7

With the second overtime underway, Halak had his reflexes tested as Tampa swarmed the net. Tempers flared slightly as the Lightning tried to stuff the puck under Halak. There was high intensity play from the Bruins with fourteen minutes left in the overtime. With little signs of fatigue, both teams continued to create scoring chances as both goalies made nerve-inducing saves. Unfortunately, the Lightning’s Victor Hedman would score, thus ending the game. With the win, Tampa Bay will head into the Eastern Conference Final. The Boston Bruins season would officially come to an end in the bubble.

END OF SECOND OVERTIME: BOS-2, TBL-3

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOAL: BOS-47, TBL-35

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Three Bruins Who Need To Make An Impact In Game Five

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki / Boston Globe )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

The Boston Bruins have found themselves down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This series has been somewhat reminiscent of the 2018 match-up between these two teams: Boston won the first game, then ended up losing four in a row to finish out the series. It isn’t over yet, however. The Bruins know as well as any team that no lead is safe until the final horn sounds. They’ll need a gutsy performance from the entire lineup to push the series to six games, but there are three players in particular who need to be at their best.

Jaroslav Halak

Halak became the Bruins’ starting goaltender when Tuukka Rask left the bubble to attend to urgent family responsibilities. He played well at first, but has not been at his best over the past few games. Coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged in his post-game interviews that Halak allowed multiple goals that he should have saved. When the rest of the team is struggling, it’s important to have a strong goaltender as your last line of defense.

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The Bruins will need Halak to put up his best performance of the playoffs so far if they want to win on Monday. Backup Dan Vladar is untested and let up three goals in his NHL debut in relief of Halak during Wednesday’s blowout loss. The net belongs to the experienced goaltender, and he will be aiming to shut down Tampa’s offense after a full day of rest.

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Patrice Bergeron

When the top line does well, the Bruins tend to win games. Though David Pastrnak tied for the league lead in goals and Brad Marchand has emerged as an elite scorer, it all starts with center Patrice Bergeron. His ability to read everything happening on the ice at once and react quickly to opponents’ mistakes was evident in Game Five against the Hurricanes. As the clock was winding down in the second period, Bergeron noticed that goalie Petr Mrazek wasn’t expecting a shot and banked the puck in off his leg. This ended up as the game-winning goal and led to a series win.

The Bruins need this type of play from their stars once again. Too often in this current series, Boston has not been able to make the Lightning pay for their mistakes. A heads-up play leading to a goal could completely change the momentum in the Bruins’ favor. There’s no better candidate than Bergeron to make that happen.

Torey Krug

Krug and his defensive partner Brandon Carlo have had a few slip-ups in coverage during this series, but they are still heavily relied on at both even strength and on special teams. Krug is an integral part of the Bruins’ power play. The man advantage is another key to a Game Five win: capitalizing on Tampa’s penalties is crucial and the Bruins need as many goals as they can get. If Krug can contribute more offensively (he has six points in this series, all assists) as well as locking down the defensive zone, the team will be a step closer to victory.

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Krug, along with the rest of the team, knows that he has a lot more to give. “We haven’t played up to our level,” he told the media on Sunday.

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It’s reassuring for fans that the players are taking accountability for recent performances and looking ahead to the next game. If any individual can step up, the rest of the team may follow. The Bruins didn’t win the President’s Trophy for the best record of the regular season by getting lucky. They earned it. Now, they need to earn a series win.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Boston Bruins Vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 Preview

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Game 5, 7 PM ET. It’s do or die for the Bruins. Their season is on the line. After winning the first game of the series 3-2, the Bruins have dropped three games in a row and haven’t looked good. This Boston team has been as resilient as you can get since the start of the season and they need to show up and show up big time. “I think our core will,” Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They have to. Your best players need to be your best players. I think what I was getting at the other day was they’re going to have some nights where they need the secondary group to push up. Every team, if you’re going to advance in the playoffs, needs that.”

Obviously their stars need to show up, but if the Bruins want to win this game, the Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjorks of the team need to produce. Tampa Bay’s depth scoring from guys like Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde have been a massive advantage for the Lightning. The B’s defensive coverage has also been a question mark for the team, as apparent in the Lightning’s first goal in Game 4. The Bruins just need to play their game and start capitalized on the few errors the Lightning make.

Injury Update

Steven Stamkos will remain out for the Lightning. Ryan McDonagh will be game time decision after missing most of the series. Chris Wagner will be out for Game 5 and both Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie are questionable. 

(Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Lineups

Neither lineup has been confirmed, but I’d assume there will be a bit of a personnel change for the Bruins. Their grittier approach hasn’t worked and I’d be really interested to see a speed approach for the Bruins. Get some young, hungry, talented guys back into the lineup. I’d also entertain the option of moving Pastrnak to Krejci’s wing. For the Tampa side, I can’t really see any lineup changes with the recent success they’ve had. 

Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Jack Studnicka

Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Karson Kuhlman

If Kuraly is back, he’ll slide into the 4C. Also very possible to see Nick Ritchie remain in the lineup, likely taking out Studnicka and moving Bjork to the right.

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton

Jaroslav Halak

I’d like to see Krug and Carlo on separate pairs. After a great regular season, they’ve been a bit underwhelming. Maybe we see a jumbo pairing of Chara and Carlo and have Krug in an offensive pairing of Krug and McAvoy. We could also see Jeremy Lauzon or John Moore hop back in for Clifton. 

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Lightning

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov

Alex Kilhorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman

Patrick Maroon – Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk

Brayden Coburn – Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

It’s worth noting that if Ryan McDonagh enters back into the lineup, the Lightning may move back to six defensemen and slot Mitchell Stephens back one the fourth line.

Andrei Vasilevsky

My prediction is a 3-2 Bruins win. Goal scorers Krug, Coyle, Bergeron. Let’s hope this isn’t Krug’s final game in the spoked-B. Go Bs.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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How The Bruins Can Beat Tampa Bay

(Photo Credit: Cole Burston | AP)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

After as good of a first game you could wish for, this series has gone to shambles for the Bruins. They lost a hard fought, OT bout in Game 2 and since then, the series has been an absolute mess. Game 3 may have been the worst show I’ve seen the Bruins put on in years. To show zero effort when your goalie is making his NHL debut is pitiful. I expected a much better performance in Game 4 and while it was a better performance, it wasn’t enough. The physicality was kinda there, the intensity was kinda there, the offense was kinda there (might be being a bit generous) and the goaltending was kinda there. But it was not enough to beat a team as good as Tampa Bay. So what do the Bruins have to do to win this series?

Cut Down on the Penalties

Over the past two games, the Bruins have taken 11 penalties, four of which have been capitalized on by Tampa. That is not how you win hockey games. You win hockey games by having self control. With how many agitators the Lightning have, it’s incredibly important for the Bruins to be disciplined. If you’re going to lose to the Lightning, let them beat you with their speed and skill, not by them getting under your skin. 

Halak Needs to be Better

(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Halak has made a couple excellent saves this series, but he’s also been prone to give up some softies. When your goalie lets up a weak goal, it really deflates the team. That’s exactly what its done to the Bruins. The team’s usual resilience hasn’t been there to make up for Jaro’s mistakes. In their last three losses, the Slovakian has an .866 save percentage and has given up four goals twice.  It’ll be no easy task, but Halak is going to need to show up big time.

He’ll make a save like this

Then let in this.

Produce at Even Strength 

It’s been the Bruins biggest problem for an eternity. They have scored a grand total of four even strength goals in the four games and haven’t scored a single five on five goal since Game 2. They have way too much talent up and down the lineup to be hanging goose eggs at even strength. I’d expect Cassidy to play some of the young, hungry players in Game 5. I think we see Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka draw back into the lineup and someone like Trent Frederic could get a look too. David Pastrnak should get in some reps with David Krejci or Charlie Coyle to spread the wealth a little bit.

Shut Down Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Brayden Point has been a beast this series. He has a point in every game and is up to six in the series. Kucherov has a similar stat line with two goals and four assists. A big reason why the Blue Jackets were able to surprise the Lightning last season was because they were able to hold off Tampa’s stars. A goal and -5 rating for Point, two assists and -4 for Kucherov, and Stamkos (who the Bruins haven’t had to deal with) had two points and was a -8. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones put on a defensive clinic and suppressed all of Tampa’s star power. Charlie McAvoy and company need to be on their A-game and replicate CBJ’s success.

The Bs are too good of a team to drop four in a row to anyone. I’m expecting a great game from everyone in the lineup. 3-2 Bruins win, go Bs.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 8 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

(Photo Credit: ESPN)

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

In my latest video uploaded to my YouTube channel, I take a look at tonight’s Game Five meeting between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. In this upload, I discuss some of the key match-ups to watch for between the two teams. Check it out below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be updated when a new video is published. 

The Bruins take on the Lightning at 7:00 PM tonight in hope of extending the series and their time in the playoffs. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and please consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel HERE!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below on 8-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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