Bruins 2015 NHL Draft: Grading Sweeney’s Selections

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

After taking a look at every trade by Bruins GM Don Sweeney, we now dive into his draft history. We begin with his first and most controversy draft, the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

In grading the picks, I’ll look at: where they were projected to go, what they have done so far, what players before and after have done so far, their fit to the Bruins at the time, among other aspects. These grades can easily change in a years time, some prospects take longer to groom before being. This entire grading as a whole is still way too early, you can really only grade a draft a decade down the line and see what impact (or lack thereof) the players have made.

Round 1, 13th Overall: Jakub Zboril

Grade: D+

It was well documented that the Bruins wanted to flip a couple of picks and move up in the draft to select the slick two-way defender Noah Hanifin. Obviously, they weren’t able to do that, and the Bruins also ended up missing out on similar D in Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski to take the rains from Chara. Rather than go for a more offensive guy in Thomas Chabot (hindsight is 20/20) the Bruins ended up picking a more reliable, hard-working defenseman in Zboril. The young Czech D has slowly been developing in the AHL and has grown both offensively and defensively. While he didn’t play much (averaging 10:56 in his two games), he didn’t look out of place in his brief stint with the big club. He’ll carve a role the NHL at some point, there’s no questioning that, it’s just a matter of when and where.

(sportingnews.com)

Round 1, 14th Overall: Jake Debrusk

Grade: B+

Already a fan favorite in just his second season with Boston, Debrusk has been exactly what the Bruins’ management wanted him to be. The 22-year-old shows his work ethic every single shift he’s on the ice and is really starting to develop into a big goal scorer. If he wasn’t injured earlier on, he had a very good shot of hitting the 30 goal mark on the season. You can compare him to guys like Matthew Barzal or Brock Boeser who were drafted behind him, but Debrusk had embodied what it means to be a Bruin from the get-go.

Round 1, 15th Overall: Zachary Senyshyn

Grade: D

I like Senyshyn a lot. Despite being behind in development compared to some of his fellow draftees, he’s the type of player that the Bruins need. He’s got great speed, solid size, and being a right shot power-forward, it’s exactly the kind of player that would look great on the right side of David Krejci. My biggest problem with this pick is that the Bruins didn’t trade down in the 1st round to get him. Because he was projected to go early to mid 2nd round, you would think that if the Bruins wanted the player so badly, they could’ve moved down in the draft with one of these picks similar to what Toronto did in trading their 1st rounder (24th overall) to the Flyers for a 1st rounder (29th overall) and a 2nd rounder (61st overall). With all of the talent in the 1st round, there were bound to be other teams with the wish to move up in the draft to select a guy like Matthew Barzal or Kyle Connor. I have no problem with the player, I think at some point he will certainly become a consistent middle-six forward, but if Sweeney managed his assets a little better, maybe they come out of the draft with another talented prospect along with Senyshyn.

 

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Round 2, 37th Overall: Brandon Carlo

Grade: A

The Bruins hit a home-run with this pick. After playing just seven games in the AHL in the previous season, Carlo made the jump to full-time NHLer in 2016 as a 19-year-old. He played the entire 82 game season but definitely looked shaky at times. Since then, Carlo has really started to carve out a role on the Bruins back-end. I think he’s the Bruin that has improved the most since last season. He’s been an outstanding penalty killer and overall great shutdown defenseman while adding a lot more grit to his game. If Carlo could work on his offensive skills a bit more (just three points in 41 games this year), I can see him on the top pair for the Bruins for many years to come.

Round 2, 45th Overall: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

Grade: B+

Now while calling him “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” is a bit far-fetched at this point in his career, there’s no doubt that the young Swede has the skill-set to be a full-time NHLer. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance both offensively and defensively in his 28 games with the Bruins, but the consistency just isn’t quite there yet. At times, JFK looks a bit lackadaisical and not giving his full effort, but if he can work out his quirks, his two-way prowess will allow him to be a very good NHL player.

 

(Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Round 2, 52nd Overall: Jeremy Lauzon

Grade: B+

With the ridiculous amount of injuries the Bruins’ D-core had, we got to see a lot of Lauzon in the NHL. He looked very comfortable in his 15 games in the NHL, there was nothing not to like. His 6’1, 205 lbs frame, combined with his puck-moving ability, makes him a two-way threat from the back-end. I’d say he deserves to be a regular NHLer next season, although he’s is unlikely to be that with the amount of depth the Bruins already have on D.

Round 3, 75th Overall: Daniel Vladar

Grade: B-

Goalies are always hard to judge after they’re drafted. So many of them are busts, but so many of them are late bloomers. Only two goalies (Mackenzie Blackwood and Adin Hill) have seen an NHL game from the entire draft. Vladar has been solid in the AHL but not outstanding. I’d expect him to challenge for the Bruins backup goalie position after Jaroslav Halak’s contract expires but the 6’5 Czech-man will have to wait a while until he gets his shot with the Bruins.

 

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(dobberprospects.com)

Round 5, 105th Overall: Jesse Gabrielle

Grade: C

Gabrielle is a very confusing player. After the Bruins drafted him in 2015, he went on to have two very good seasons in the WHL, lighting the lamp a total of 75 times in those two seasons. He’s got a bit of snarl to his game and some silky hands, but it just hasn’t clicked for Gabrielle in his pro career as of now. This year, he has a -22 rating in the ECHL and hasn’t even been given a look in the AHL. I’m not ready to call the player a bust just yet because he’s still just 21 years old, but something needs to change, whether it’s mentally or physically, if he wants a shot at making the NHL.

Round 6, 165th Overall: Cameron Hughes

Grade: B

A really good find late in the draft by the Bruins. After a so-so draft year at the University of Wisconsin, he progressed very nicely, upping his goal total each following season and eventually being named “captain” in his senior year in the NCAA. He’s continued on this path and has been a really solid player in the AHL this year, totaling 10 goals and 25 points in 45 games.

 

(Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)

Round 7, 195th Overall: Jack Becker

Grade: C+

Now the chances of a 7th rounder making the NHL are slim, but there’s actually quite a bit to like with Becker. Now at the University of Michigan, Becker has had a decent year with 10 points in 25 games. He plays the game hard, but the best thing about Becker is his size. He’s 6’3, and with that frame, I won’t be surprised if he’s able to challenge for a bottom 6 role in the NHL at some point down the line.

So even with the controversial 1st round, there’s no questioning that the Bruins came out of this draft with a lot of talent. Many of the players have already sniffed the NHL and have very good chances to be everyday players with the Bruins. Sweeney’s average grade on this draft is just under a B- which is fairly accurate in looking at this draft. I do want to say again that these draft picks really can’t be properly judged until many, many years down the line but it was a fun thing to do as I’m continuing grading Don Sweeney’s tenure with the Bruins so far.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 11 Preview

Senyshyn

(Photo Courtesy of the Providence Bruins)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

This weekend kicks off a five-game road trip that won’t see the Providence Bruins return to the Dunk until January 4th, 2019 when they play the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Baby B’s currently sit 6th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 12-12-5 (29 points) and are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. The team starts the aforementioned road trip on Friday traveling to Binghamton, New York where they play the home Binghamton Devils at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The Providence club finishes up the weekend on Saturday by playing the host Springfield Thunderbirds in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Bruins hope they can find some road magic this holiday season.

Friday, December 21st Providence Bruins vs. Binghamton Devils (AWAY) 

The Friday match-up marks the first time the Bruins have played the Devils this season, and it’s one that they should be looking forward to. Over the past 5 years, the Baby B’s have a 13-5-1-1 record against the New Jersey affiliate, including a 9-1 record in Binghamton during that time and a 4-0 overall record last season. Providence hopes to carry that success into this season. Binghamton has had a rough go of it thus far. They come into the game with a record of 12-16-3 (27 points) and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is a game that Bruins should absolutely win, especially if they want to climb the standings and make their way into playoff contention.  

Saturday, December 22nd Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY) 

This game marks the third time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series won’t be much easier for Providence. Springfield comes into it 15-8-2-3 (33 points) good for third in the Atlantic Division with games in hand and is 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games. Despite their struggles in two games this year, something that bodes well for the boys in black and gold is that they have an 8-5-2 record in Springfield over the past 5 years and a 17-9-2 record overall in that time frame.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot: 

Anders Bjork: Since being sent down to Providence Bjork has been great. Over his past 7 games, he has netted 1 goal and dished out 7 assists for 8 total points. This is exactly what you want to see from a player who was sent down to work on their game. 

Zach Senyshyn: Senyshyn’s last 7 games have been fruitful seeing him score 5 goals. His speed and scoring ability has been on full display, and it has been great to see. Keep an eye out for it this weekend. 

 Not: 

Austin FytenOn the flip-side, the last 7 games for Fyten have been ones he’d like to forget. The left wing has 0 goals and 1 assist, and on top of that, he was suspended for the last game because of a slashing incident. Hopefully, he can put all that behind him and have a good road trip.

Trent Frederic: Frederic has tallied 0 goals, and 1 assist over his past 7 games. Hopefully, the young center can pick things up for the Bruins. They need a spark offensively, and if Frederic can provide that, it would do a lot for the team this weekend. 

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

Zach SenyshynSenyshyn seems to have found the scoring touch netting 5 goals in his last 7 games. This is great news for the Bruins and their fans. There are people that were worried his development was taking too long, but it looks like being patient is going to pay off.  

On The Blue Line: 

Jeremy Lauzon: He was recently sent back to Providence from Boston. In his mini stint with the big club, the defenseman looked good in both ends of the ice. I expect him to take what he learned in Boston and use it to develop more in Providence.  

In Net: 

Zane McIntyre: I would look for him to have a good weekend for the Baby B’s. It is an excellent chance for the goalie to make up for the losses against Springfield and come up huge for the club.  

Overall, it could be an up and down weekend for Providence playing in a game they should win and a game that could go either way. Hopefully, the Baby B’s can take care of business against Binghamton while also breaking through against Springfield. It would be a big 4 points for the club and would go a long way to helping them climb the Atlantic Division standings. I will catch you up next week and let you know how the team fared but feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and Go, B’s, Go! 

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Bruins Announce Pair Of Transactions

lee_091618_capbruins9_sptsPhoto Courtesy Of The Boston Globe

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today, Tuesday that the team has placed forward Gemel Smith on waivers and has also assigned defenseman Jeremy Lauzon to the Providence Bruins.

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Smith skated in three games for the team after being claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars on December 6th. The 24-year-old played in 14 games with the Stars this season, posting two goals and one assist for three points. The Toronto native was selected by the Stars in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

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Lauzon has appeared in 15 games this season for the black and gold, making his NHL debut on October 25th against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 21-year-old has totaled a single goal this season, his first career goal on November 11th against the Vegas Golden Knights. Lauzon has also appeared in eight games this season with the Providence Bruins, posting a goal and three assists for four points. In his first professional season in 2017-18, Lauzon skated in 52 games for Providence, totaling a goal and six assists for seven points.

The Val D’or, Quebec native was selected by the Bruins in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry. Bruins fans should expect to see Lauzon again at some point this season especially if more injuries occur. His game has translated well to the NHL and it’s clear he has the skills to be a quality defenseman.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jeremy Lauzon

LAUZON

(Photo Courtesy of the Boston Bruins)

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jeremy Lauzon was drafted in the second round (52nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. When drafted, the QMJHL product was billed as a strong two-way defenseman who could contribute anywhere on the ice. This at the time filled an area of need for the Bruins who had an aging defense and needed to replenish the prospect pool. He was even drawing a comparison to a top 4 defenseman, Marco Scandella. Now that we know some of the reasons why the Bruins drafted the Val-d’Or, Quebec native, let’s see what he’s done since.  

The 2015-16 season was Lauzon’s first since being drafted by the Bruins and it was his third year with the QJMHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The veteran Husky was looking to prove why the Bruins drafted him in the second round, and he did just that. In 46 games the big blue-liner did not disappoint netting 10 goals while tallying an eye-popping 40 assists for 50 total points and a +/- rating of +40. To top it off, the second round pick lit up the scoresheet in the team’s 9 playoff games netting 1 goal and dishing 8 assists for 9 total points and a rating of +9. This helped lead the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to the QJMHL Championship. It was a marvelous season that proved the then 18-year-old was to be taken seriously as a prospect.  

Coming into the 2016-17 season, Lauzon was named the Huskies team Captain. The newly appointed Captain was looking to carry over last year’s momentum and have another huge season, but an injury led to some inconsistent play. Despite this, he was able to play in 39 games potting 5 goals and dishing out 23 assists for 28 total points and a rating of +25. The Val-d’Or, Quebec native, was able to pick up his play in the playoffs netting 5 goals and tallying 9 assists for 14 total points and a rating of +3 in the team’s 13 playoff games. Despite getting hurt, it was a good season where the young defenseman was able to display not only his defensive ability but also his ability in the offensive zone.  

Lauzon would turn pro the next season and play all of 2017-18 in Providence. The former second-round draft pick played in 52 games for the Baby B’s netting 1 goal and dishing out 6 assists for 7 total points and a rating of +1 all while being given the “A” on his sweater during the year. Providence would go on to make the playoffs that year, and in 4 games the young defenseman did not register a point and had a rating of 0. After the season the former Huskies’ Captain admitted that defensive consistency was still something that needed be worked on. However, he was able to flash signs of that keen offensive eye and great skating ability.  

After having a mostly successful first year with Providence, Lauzon was eager to start out the 2018-19 season on fire and show improvement in the areas needed. In 8 games with the Baby B’s, the young blue-liner netted 1 goal and dished out 3 assists for 4 total points and a rating of –2. With injuries piling up to the big club, on October 27th, the former second-round pick was called up to Boston. In 15 games with Boston, he found the back of the net once and hasn’t tallied an assist for 1 total point and a rating of –1. In the 15 game audition with Boston, the 21-year-old has looked good showing signs of improvement in the areas he needed and given some more seasoning down in Providence we could see him as a permanent fixture on the Bruins blue line next season.  

Being drafted in the second round can come with the added pressure of needing to be successful early on in the NHL. Despite this, the 21-year-old has flashed signs of elite play especially in big game situations like the playoffs. This is something that will bode well for Lauzon moving forward, because the Bruins expect to be contenders not only now but in the future. With a little more seasoning and refining of his defensive game, the young blue-liner could end up being very good for Boston. When all is said and done, I expect the former 2nd round pick to anchor the Bruins second defensive pairing for many years to come.  

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Urho Vaakanainen

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Urho Vaakanainen was drafted in the 1st round 18th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. When Vaakanainen was drafted, it was said, that he was not only the most NHL ready defenseman but also the best all-around defenseman in the entire draft. He already at a young age possessed elite skills as a stay-at-home defenseman. He was even getting compared to NHL Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. Now those are some giant skates to fill, so let’s dive into the player and see why he had such a lofty comparison.

The 2017-18 season was Vaakanainen’s first since being drafted. Being such a young player, he decided to stay in Finland and play for SaiPa of Finland’s top hockey league Liiga. This was important because one of the few major knocks on Vaakanainen was that he lacked experience. In 43 games with SaiPa Vaakanainen netted 4 goals while dishing out 7 assists for 11 total points and a +/- rating of +8. He also played in the teams 9 playoff games where he didn’t find the back of the net, but he did dish out 1 assist for 1 total point and a rating of +1. Overall it was a very successful season for Vaakanainen. The Bruins were very high on his defensive skills, and skating ability. So much so that they signed him to an entry-level contract, and he was slated to play the 2018-19 season in Providence.  

Coming over into his first professional season in North America there was some buzz around Vaakanainen.  Vaakanainen added to an already deep young defensive core and a prospect pool that included Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Jeremy Lauzon. Those guys are good and have a bright future ahead of them, but even with how good they currently are and could be Vaakanainen may end up being the best of the bunch. He possesses elite skills as a stay at home defender. To top that off he has great vision on the ice, is a mobile defender, and he’s also elite on the penalty-kill. His play is wise beyond its years. He doesn’t have any major glaring weaknesses either. A few things that the Bruins did want him working on was improving his shooting skills, and playmaking ability. These are things that can come with time. 

Vaakanainen impressed in preseason this season but ultimately began the year in Providence because of the depth the Bruins had at defense. How he did flash that defensive ability and showed that he was close to being NHL ready. Vaakanainen played in 6 games for the Providence Bruins. He registered 0 goals and 2 assists and a rating of 0. Even bigger than those stats, however, was the fact that he had 14 shots in those 6 games. Showing that he was trying to improve the areas of his game that the Bruins wanted him to. The Bruins were very impressed, and with early injuries to the defense, Vaakanainen was called up to Boston. He played in 2 games with Boston where he didn’t register a point and had a rating of -1.  

Unfortunately, in that second game, he suffered a vicious elbow to the head and got a concussion. He has been out since October 23rd. He has skated a little bit since, but there is no timetable for his return. It was unfortunate that Vaakanainen did get injured because even in the limited sample we saw he looked good. He looked like he belonged in the NHL. Ultimately, Urho Vaakanainen has shown a reason for us as fans to be excited. The Bruins have many young, exciting defensemen either currently in the NHL or waiting in the wings in Providence. A few years down the road the Bruins could have one of the best young defenses in all the league anchored by Vaakanainen, and that is something to be excited about.   

Connor Clifton Impressing In His first Stint With The Bruins

( Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/ Getty Images)

By: Jamie Gatlin    | Follow Me On Twitter: @JamieGatlin1217

So far this season the Bruins young defenseman have been tested due to injuries. Key players such as Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Kevin Miller have missed significant time causing the Bruins to rely on their depth. As a result, Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton have made their NHL debuts sooner than many anticipated. While they both have performed well Clifton, has been a pleasant surprise. He has quietly been one of the Bruins best defenseman as injuries mount.

Coming into the season, the expectations were not high for Clifton. He was seen as a longshot to make it to the NHL after being signed as an undrafted free agent. When Chara, was injured Clifton was the only right-shot defenseman left on the Providence roster. His numbers were not overwhelming as in 14 games he had only four assists. Despite his low expectations, the former Quinnipiac star has not let others opinion define him.

Clifton made his NHL debut against the Dallas Stars on November 16th and set the tone early. Less than 13 minutes into his NHL career he got into his first fight with veteran Jason Spezza. The rookie made a statement showing that he will not back down from any challenge. Since his debut, Clifton has been all that the Bruins could have hoped for.

Through his first seven games, Clifton has yet to register a goal or an assist. Despite his lack of offense, he has been impressive in other ways. The rookie has shown confidence and grit while providing the Bruins with valuable ice time.  He is playing big minutes which reflects the trust the Bruins staff has in him. After being an afterthought, he has been critical to the Bruins of late.

As his solid play continues, the expectations will only rise. That could dictate just how long he stays on the roster. Kevin Miller will be out until mid-January however the Bruins will get a couple of key pieces back soon. Brandon Carlo could return this weekend, and Charlie McAvoy continues to improve. The return of these two will not only improve the roster but limit playing time for others.

In his brief NHL career, Clifton has played well enough to deserve a roster spot. He is improving every game and looks more confident on the ice. He has been shut down on the backend and played a career-high 24 minutes in the Bruins lose to on Monday. Despite his solid play the Bruins defenseman has continued to play with a chip on his shoulder.

While injuries have tested this teams depth, it has given players like Clifton the opportunity to shine. He has seized the opportunity and at the very least has made his mark. When everyone is healthy the Bruins, will have some tough choices to make. If Clifton can continue his recent play, then he could secure himself a roster spot something nobody expected when the season began.

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Bruins Give Update On Kevan Miller

boston-bruins-kevan-miller-10117Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports Boston

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

The Bruins announced an update to Kevan Miller’s injury, suffered during Monday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Miller was admitted to a Toronto hospital on Monday after sustaining a throat injury in the first period. The initial x-rays were negative.

 

Miller underwent a CT scan in the hospital which revealed a cartilage injury to the larynx, which was reviewed and re-confirmed upon his return to Boston. The Bruins announced that Miller will be out and re-evaluated in about five weeks. Miller had just returned from a broken hand injury last Wednesday that kept him out for about a month. Miller has played in only 11 games for the Bruins this season, totaling two assists.

Miller has played 296 games in his career, all with the Bruins and has 12 goals and 50 assists in his six years in Boston. The former Vermont Catamount was undrafted and signed an amateur contract with the Providence Bruins during the 2010-11 season. Miller made his NHL debut on November 21, 2013 in Boston in a shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Miller’s injury creates more opportunity for the Bruins young defensemen to prove they belong. The likes of Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton have done an admirable job so far and it looks like they’ll be getting more opportunities.

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Bruins Have A Lot To “B Thankful” For

Related image(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

The Boston Bruins have not been on the gravy train lately, despite this week being as gravy-filled as it gets. Yet, even with all the injuries, all the setbacks, all the ups-and-downs & inconsistent consistency, they’re still fun to watch, competitive as hell and right in the thick (gravy) of both the Atlantic and Wild Card races — not bad when you consider the Thanksgiving Day demarcation line for playoff prognostication.

In short, the B’s have a lot to B Thankful for (as their annual Turkey Day festivities pictured above like to remind us), both on AND off the ice this season. And yes, that’s even WITH the recent Bergeron bad luck, Chara news and entire D-core sidelined for the better part of a month (with practically the entire P-Bruins roster playing in their stead). Here’s why:

On The Ice

As fellow Black N’ Gold blogger @phoneymahoney pointed out in a recent puck-poignant post, the team has truly “held things together” like none other recently. They’ve picked up points in a few games they had no business to, even getting some rookies on the score sheet with their first ever NHL goals (and saves).

The team has also kept pace in the yes-I-know-it’s-way-too-early-to-be-calling-it-a-playoff-race competition between the Bolts, Leafs and… I can’t believe I’m typing this… Sabres & Habs. What the Buffalo wings with Blu (Blanc et Rouge) cheese is going on!? Disgusting thoughts aside, the B’s are finding ways to stay in games and will need to continue to do so each & every contest if they want to stay in the playoff picture, which I think they will.

The B’s also have a coach who deserves plenty of “Thanks,” especially for his always candid & accessible interviews about player health, recovery, line-up decisions & more. There’s no greater test or challenge for a head hockey honcho than to constantly have a roster in flux, never truly knowing when it’ll be back to 100%. Bruce Cassidy has done a remarkable job keeping his players honest, motivated & committed to the team’s game-plan during this horrid injury stretch. And the fact they’re competing and not throwing in the towel on a nightly basis also shows you that the mutual respect the players have for him and his staff is palpable & purposeful. Both sides of this equation will need to stay constant if the B’s are going to stay afloat (in the gravy dish) throughout this holiday weekend and all thru the next one.

Off The Ice

When it comes to the team’s community work this time of year, you won’t find a more generous group of players, personnel & Bruins staff truly “giving back” in ways everyone can be thankful of and for. From Zdeno Chara donating pies to local shelters around the Greater Boston area to members of the entire organization hosting the 23rd Annual Table of Friends event, all associated with the Black N’ Gold have been gobbling up good tidings to those in need this Turkey Day season.

And when you see this kind of commitment to community on a consistent basis, it makes the play on the ice more forgiving during the tough stretches. In short, the B’s are a team you can root for indoors and outdoors, while playing the game and promoting it, during the thrill of an Original Six match-up or when matching up with a great group for a good cause.

I’ll take a helping of that not just every Thanksgiving holiday week, but every week. With a side of gravy, no doubt!

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Young Defensemen, Goaltenders Come Up Big For The Bruins Over The Weekend

Image result for bruins coyotes(Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin | AP)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

This weekend had the potential to be a turbulent one for the Bruins, but a couple gutsy efforts got them three out of four points. With an already battered defensive core, Zdeno Chara’s MCL injury against Colorado left them another man down, and John Moore’s lower-body injury hampered them even more against Arizona. The Bruins didn’t allow those injuries to let the floodgates open against the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes.

This comes in large part due to the new-look defensive core, and the goaltenders. Tuukka Rask started on Friday in his first start coming off his leave of absence and was the main reason they took a point out of the loss. Rask made 36 saves, and the young defensemen stepped up when they were needed to. Dallas, like Boston, has a battered defensive core themselves with John Klingberg, Marc Methot, Connor Carrick, and Stephen Johns out of the lineup. So looking into the game from the outside, it could have been a high scoring game – it wasn’t.

Against Dallas, Matt Grzelcyk led the team with 25:27 of ice time, Jeremy Lauzon played 24:52, and Connor Clifton played 18:53 in his NHL debut. Despite seeing increased roles, these guys did not look out of place. Connor Clifton racked up nine penalty minutes, in part thanks to dropping Stars veteran centerman Jason Spezza in a fight. When it comes to the physical part of hockey, Clifton doesn’t seem to mind getting amongst it. Jakub Zboril, who also made his debut, looked fairly solid overall in limited ice time.

Losing 1-0 in overtime is understandably frustrating, but it certainly wasn’t because of a lack of defensive presence and goaltending. Patrice Bergeron was banged up in the loss and was eventually sent back to Boston for evaluation, causing more lineup shifting in Arizona. Torey Krug emphasized the need to just power through and adapt to the injuries with a next-man-up mentality. His role in the team’s success cannot be overstated, as he filled his role as a puck-moving defender very well and logged over 22 minutes of ice time in both games.

Injuries were a theme this weekend as Arizona’s defensive core was missing Jakob Chychrun, Jason Demers, and Alex Goligoski against the Bruins last night. In a game that saw two-thirds of its goal scoring come in the first three minutes, both from the Bruins, playing sound defense was critical on both sides. Brad Richardson cut the deficit to one around the halfway point of the second period, but the defense stood tall in front of Jaroslav Halak in his 32-save win.

Jakub Zboril looked solid again in limited ice time, and Grzelcyk, Lauzon, and Clifton held it down in increased roles, all logging over 20 minutes of ice time. Without the sound defense provided, this game could have been ugly, as the Coyotes outshot the Bruins 33-23, and won 66 percent of their faceoffs. It’s safe to say that Patrice Bergeron’s absence had an impact on their success on the dot. Bergeron holds the second most faceoff wins in the league with 243, behind Jordan Staal’s 249, and the 15th best faceoff wins percentage at 55.7 percent.

This play by Jeremy Lauzon shines in a weekend where he had a heavy weight to carry on his shoulders, and he did.

Additionally, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored his first NHL goal, and Jake DeBrusk got on the board yet again. DeBrusk has five goals and six points in his last six games. With these injuries, the Bruins can only hope that they can get on the board more than they did this weekend and that their defensive core can continue to step up in the absence of key pieces.

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Zdeno Chara Injured, Heading Back To Boston

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photo credit: Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

During Wednesday night’s tilt against the Colorado Avalanche, former Bruin Carl Soderberg had just dished out the puck at the Bruins’ blue line as Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was advancing toward him. Chara made the check and hit Soderberg square on the back. As he did, the resulting impact caused Chara’s left knee to cave inward. He left the game immediately following Jake DeBrusk’s second goal of the night, a little less than 30 seconds after the incident.

Chara traveled to Dallas with the team after Wednesday’s loss to the Avalanche in Colorado, but instead of staying for the remainder of the trip, he has returned to Boston to have his knee evaluated by team medical staff. Perhaps Bruins fans can take a little bit of comfort from the fact that Chara left the rink unaided and did not appear to be badly injured, but there’s no telling what an evaluation can reveal. Hopefully, it’s relatively minor, as injuries to the Bruins’ blue line are beginning to pile up.

Currently, the Bruins’ defense corps is decimated, with Kevan Miller out (hand), Charlie McAvoy sidelined with a concussion, and most recently, Brandon Carlo placed on injured reserve (upper body injury) and did not travel with the team. It was initially thought that Carlo’s injury was minor as he was questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Vegas Golden Knights, but it looks like it may be a little more significant than it seemed at first glance.

Injuries to these three defensemen have thrown the Bruins’ defensive pairings out of whack, and adding Chara to the list means the Bruins do not have either of their top pair available. They are also missing one from their second pair (Carlo), s well as one from the third pair (Miller). Jeremy Lauzon was called back up from Providence a week ago and played the last two games with Boston. 2015 first round pick Jakub Zboril was called up following Carlo’s injury. Should Zboril make it into the lineup (which is likely at this point), it will be his first rodeo, as he has yet to make an appearance in the National Hockey League.

The entire right side of the Bruins’ defense is injured in McAvoy, Carlo, and Miller, and with Chara out, now their top left defenseman is out as well. This leaves the Bruins with a defensive corps consisting of Torey Krug, John Moore, Matt Grzelcyk, seventh defenseman Steve Kampfer, and Providence Bruin callups Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril. After Chara left the game in the second period Wednesday, the wheels fell off, and the Bruins gave up five unanswered goals. Hopefully, with a little time to practice together and for coach Bruce Cassidy to figure out the pairings, things will come together and the defense will be less leaky than it was for the second half of Wednesday night’s game, as the Bruins will undoubtedly feel the loss of Chara.