What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Flat NHL Salary Cap Could Have Current Bruins Departing This Offseason

( Photo Credit: Darcy Finley / NHLI Via Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus has put a close to the remaining National Hockey League games in the 2019-20 regular season and prompted the forward movement of a 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format. With a loss of the 181 games that the league was supposed to complete before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the financial burden is probably going to be felt for the next two to three years. The return to play idea for the NHL is not only good for the league and players but also a way to recover lost revenue. I believe if the remaining regular-season games and playoffs in 2020 were canceled altogether, that financial burden could be felt even further.

All NHL teams are going to be affected with the potential of the $81.5 million league-mandated salary cap not rising for the foreseeable future, especially the teams that spend up to the ceiling every year. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams that have a lot on their plate when it comes to contract negotiations whenever the upcoming offseason happens. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney already knocked one negotiation off the list with a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak, but with an estimated $18 million to spend next season, his job is far from done.

Bruins players such as Anders Bjork (RFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), and more notably Torey Krug (UFA), are going to eat up a majority of that remaining cap space. This could hinder the Boston club with minimal funds available for further roster movement. With the above players mentioned needing new deals, this could be an opportunity to shed some funds to address future needs. The names I’ve listed below are just ideas that may save a few bucks with not entertaining returns to the Bruins organization and even using buy-out scenarios. These potential moves could also be for roster spots of developing players with the Providence Bruins that are about to cross the threshold of NHL careers at cap-friendly salary numbers.

Par Lindholm UFA After 20/21 Season

( Photo Credit: Nic Antaya For The Boston GlobeVia Getty Images )

Lindholm has been a serviceable member of the Bruins organization, but his role on the team as a revolving 12th or 13th forward has me thinking it’s time for a change. In 40 games with the Boston club in 2019-20, the 28-year-old forward posted 3-3-6 numbers and has career totals of 4-15-19 in 105 NHL games. Par has one more year full season under contract, but even though his $850K isn’t a huge issue, he could be placed on waivers or bought out to free up a roster spot. If the Bruins were to entertain a buy-out option, per the Cap-Friendly.com website, the team would owe him $283K for the next two seasons.

Kevan Miller UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Miller who’s been with the Bruins organization since the 2011-12 season starting his professional career in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins is currently in his final year of a four-year contract. Kevan’s been a warrior throughout his time in Black & Gold but injuries and setbacks trying to get healthy have me thinking the 32-year-old’s time in Boston might’ve come to an end. With the salary cap not going up, any dollar value he could garner should be used for a healthy younger asset and relieve the bottleneck of developing blueliners rising from the AHL. With the Bruins cap problems, Miller might have a better opportunity elsewhere in the NHL with roster availabilities to continue the veteran’s career.

Joakim Nordstrom UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Nordstrom has been another serviceable player for the Bruins organization, but when a team is up against it, and roster availability is needed, this might be the last time we see the 28-year-old Swedish native. An effective penalty killer and a player Head Coach Cassidy could rely on up and down the lineup will be tough to walk away from, but when thinking about the future sustainability of the team, moves like this have to be considered. Nordstrom is currently in the last year of his two-year contract, which paid him $1 million per season. To save money and a roster spot, I could see the B’s looking to Providence to fill his position with a developing member of the club and cheaper dollar value.

Brett Ritchie RFA

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

Although the Ritchie project didn’t exactly work out for him and the Boston organization he is an RFA that was sent down to the Providence Bruins midseason to find his game pre-covid-19 regular-season pause. Even though Ritchie was sent down to the AHL, a majority of his NHL salary followed along with it and remained on the NHL Bruins salary cap. To save money I don’t believe a return to the B’s is a good idea moving forward. He’s a 26-year-old forward and is arbitration-eligible which is a scary thought when thinking about saving money. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both sides to walk away making him available to seek work in the NHL elsewhere because I don’t believe he’d entertain future contract negotiations to report back to the AHL next season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! 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!

The Bruin Who Needs To Have A Stellar Playoff Performance

kuraly 2

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Last week, the NHL announced its Return to Play action.  The plan allows teams to return to NHL activity based on individual states’ reopening laws and a proposal to begin the NHL playoffs in July.  The Bruins finished the year with the highest point total in the NHL, which awards them the President’s Trophy.  They have also secured a place in the top-4 seed round-robin playoff to determine the seed they’ll occupy for the upcoming playoff.  They can place no lower than fourth and will have a bye for the preliminary round.

Full disclosure, it is quite unfortunate they have to play in a round-robin to determine seed when they finished the year as the best regular-season squad.  Alas, the Bruins, and every other team will play by the rules, and we’ll hopefully see the Bruins occupy the top seed.

The year they won in 2011, the Bruins were the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.  During that year, every player on the team had a significant moment and played their best hockey.  The top two lines will always be relied on and are obvious choices to bring their A-game every night.  We’ve seen teams’ third-lines become even more impactful throughout the years and are heavily relied on.  Charlie Coyle has filled that void nicely since his trade from Minnesota.  There are a few other players who need to be an X-factor to bring the Bruins their seventh Stanley Cup.  Enter: Sean Kuraly.

Sean Kuraly is in the midst of his fourth professional hockey career.  He has always dawned the black and gold, even though he was not initially drafted by the Bruins.  Kuraly was part of the Martin Jones deal with San Jose.  The Bruins originally received Martin Jones from the Los Angeles Kings, along with Colin Miller and a 2015 first-round draft selection (Jakub Zboril) for Milan Lucic.  Tuukka Rask was still at the helm when the Bruins acquired Jones, so they flipped Jones to the Sharks for a 2016 first-round pick (Trent Frederic) and Sean Kuraly.

Since then, Kuraly has always called Boston home.  He was drafted 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL draft.  He played all four years at Miami University (Ohio), where he amassed 93 points in 154 games.  In his final year at Miami, Kuraly added another accolade to his resume that fits the Bruin mold.

He played three quarters’ of a year with the Providence Bruins in 2016, where he scored 26 points in 54 games and a plus 10 rating.  He joined the Bruins for eight games when the Providence Bruins’ playoffs ended, and never looked back.  He notched his first NHL career assist in and his first NHL career playoff goal in the subsequent playoffs.  Along with his first NHL career goal, he also completed his first multi-goal game.

Kuraly has played almost every position the Bruins have needed him.  He is their Swiss Army knife and has been extremely flexible and adaptable.  Recently, he’s spent most of his time between the third and fourth lines.  The Bruins have been trying out many of their draft prospects throughout the past couple years, and Kuraly has been a byproduct of that.  He’s been able to move throughout the lineup as the Bruins give players like Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman opportunities.  Kuraly has spent most of his 2019-2020 5v5 time with Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom, which means he’s been used primarily on the fourth line.  

Before the season’s suspension in March, Kuraly had been playing alongside Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins’ third-line.  The move seemed to help Kuraly immensely because he scored his fourth goal of the year on the first night he was united with Coyle and DeBrusk in Tampa.  Kuraly’s game caught Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s eye because in the final game before the suspension, Kuraly logged 17:47 minutes on ice.

His four goals in 69 games are something he will undoubtedly have to fix come playoff time.  Thankfully, if history repeats itself, Kuraly has been known to show up on the NHL’s biggest stage, regardless of his season’s contribution.  He scored 10 points in 20 playoff games last year.  One of his most memorable playoff goals came in another game seven with the Toronto Maple Leafs leaving Bruins fans with even more examples as to why Kuraly is a vital playoff player.

Fourth-line players generally tend to hover around 10-12 minutes on ice per game.  Kuraly should play at least 12 minutes a game during the playoffs, regardless of his line placement.  He is not featured on either powerplay (unless there’s an injury), but he is featured on the penalty kill.  His 112 minutes of penalty kill time this year leads the Bruins’ forward group, according to Natural Stat Trick, making him a crucial piece of their special teams.  The Bruins rank third in the league in penalty kill percentage at 84.3.  The San Jose Sharks hold the top spot at 85.7%.

Kuraly’s adaptability gives him a unique edge on most players.  He can play with any Bruins forward on any given night, and he has.  Kuraly is a left-shot center, which is his natural position.  However, when he played on Coyle’s line, he was placed at left-wing.  He has the incredible ability to play his game and his style on any side of the lineup.  This gives Cassidy the flexibility to plug-and-play Kuraly depending on the lineup he wants to use on any given night.  If Kuraly can replicate or even improve on his 2019 playoffs, the Bruins may end up on the right side of a game seven Cup final.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-31-20! 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!

Boston Bruins Defeat Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1

Image result for jake debrusk vs lightning(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

It was going to be a physically fast game and the Boston Bruins came out victorious as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 tonight at the Amalie Arena.

GAME RECAP

The Bruins were more than ready to face the Bolts and with the start of the first period underway, the boys in Black and Gold kept momentum on their side. Shots favored the Bruins 13-to-9  and despite some push back from the Lightning, Boston would get on board first. With 55 seconds left in the period, Brad Marchand (who was a game-time decision) would tip in his 28th goal of the season, putting the B’s up 1-0.  Both teams each drew a penalty in the first period and had many golden opportunities to score (including a potential short-handed goal from Boston).

Continuing with the fast pace, Boston pushed hard towards the net with many missed chances early in the second period, forcing Andrei Vasilevskiy to make multiple saves.  As the Bruins tried to keep momentum on their side, Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde would score. However, Boston would challenge for an offside and the goal was reversed, stomping out hopes for a tie.  Moments after, the B’s would draw a penalty but the Lightning limited Boston’s shots on goal. With ten minutes left in the second period, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk would net the second goal of the night, ending a personal 10-game point-less drought.

As frustration grew for the Lightning,  Tampa Bay persisted with their game plan and was able to cut the lead in half as Mitchell Stephens scored his third goal of the season. With mere seconds left in the period, tempers flared between the teams as both Joakim Nordstrom and Yanni Gourde traded shots.

In the final period, the Bruins slowed the pace down in order to keep control of game-flow. The Bolts had a potential goal on a breakaway but were unable to capitalize as Tuukka Rask blocked their attempts.  With the Lightning hot on their heels, Boston had a hard time clearing the puck out of their zone. With time winding down,  the Bolts continued to put pressure on Boston but were unable to mount any sort of comeback. In the final minutes of the game, the Bruins kept the Lightning at bay. Boston would go on to win their third game in a row.

With the victory over the Bolts,  the Bruins widen the gap in the Atlantic Division with nine points over Tampa Bay. They improve their record to 42-13-12 while the Lightning are second in the league with a respectable 41-20-5 record.

FINAL SCORE: BOS -2, TBL- 1

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

NEXT UP FOR THE BRUINS: Thursday, March 5th vs. Florida Panthers with puck drop at 7:00 PM.  Watch on: NESN, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!

 

How The Trade Deadline Affects The Bruins Offseason Plans

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s been a few days since the trade deadline and I still don’t quite know how to feel about it all. There’s no questioning if the Bruins improved, they did, but many (including myself) am still asking if Don Sweeney and co did enough for this season, but that’s not the point of this article. Regardless of what the Bruins did to affect the team for this year, the trades made certainly helped the team for years to come.

The Trades

To Boston: Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

To Anaheim: Danton Heinen, David Backes ($1.5 mill retained), Axel Andersson, 2020 1st round pick
Nick Ritchie

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

No Rentals

 

Unlike years in the past where we saw the Bruins’ management go after rentals like Marcus Johansson, Rick Nash (oof) and Lee Stepniak (even bigger oof), the Bruins acquired players with term. They saw how well it worked with last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle and looked to continue that success of grabbing players that won’t be gone at the season’s end. 

Both Ritchie and Kase have extra years on their contract and even more years of team control due to their RFA status. The duo are both young and have plenty of room to grow on their already solid NHL careers. Nick Ritchie is a hard-nosed player that fits the style of play the Bruins love. The former 10th overall pick is still young at 24 years-old and with his recent play (three goals and three assists in his last four game) has a chance to trump his career-high in goals of 14. 

If healthy, Ondrej Kase has a real chance to be a game-changer for the black and gold. Two seasons ago, the Czech Republic native hit the 20 goal mark in 66 games. The following season was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but Kase was well on his way to hit career highs in both points and goals with 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Now playing on a far better Bruins squad, we’d hope to see the improved play on his part.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues

( Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports )

Offseason Plans

The Bruins have a lot on their plate this offseason. Powerplay QB Torey Krug is an upcoming UFA and will certainly get paid whether he stays or goes. Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman are among the slew of RFAs that will get a considerable bump in salary. There’s no guarantee if Zdeno Chara will call it quits after this season, but if he doesn’t, that’s another contract to add to the books. Fellow Slovakian and backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been huge for the Bruins over the past couple years and it would be a tough loss if the Bs weren’t able to resign him. 

The Bruins had about $17 million in projected cap space for next year before the deals. With the subtraction of Heinen and Backes’ combined $7.3 million and addition of Kase and Ritchie’s and additions of roughly $4.1 million, it gives the Bruins an extra $3.2 million worth of cap space to work with. If we loosely project what the Bruins UFA and RFAs we get contracts that look like this:

Torey Krug – 7.25m

Zdeno Chara – 1.5m

Jaroslav Halak – 3m

Joakim Nordstrom – 1.5m

Kevan Miller – Honestly no idea with all of his injuries, I think he’s a goner regardless. 1m

Jake Debrusk – This one really depends if it’s long-term or a bridge, I’d say 4-5m

Matt Grzelyck – 3m

Anders Bjork – 1.5m

Karson Kuhlman – 1m

Adding all these together gives the Bruins a rough estimate of $24 million worth of contracts to give. With Nordstrom and Miller likely gone, a number of $21.5 million seems doable with the amount of cap space the Bruins are projected to have. with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow. With the now over $20 million in space with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow, it seems more likely the Bruins will be able to keep most of the gang together. If the Bs fail to win the ultimate prize this season, Don Sweeney has set this Bruins team up for the future.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!

Bruins Recall D Urho Vaakanainen, Place F Joakim Nordstrom on IR

HBICF3GI3AI6RBMFVG5O3D7UTQ.jpg

Photo: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This morning, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the team recalled defense prospect Urho Vaakanainen on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. The move was first reported by Mark Divver, saying the move appeared in the AHL’s transaction log.

 

Sweeney also announced that forward Joakim Nordstrom has been placed on injured reserve. Nordstrom has 4-3-7 totals through 39 contests with Boston this season, including aa minus-seven rating. During his first season with the Bruins last year, the Swede had 7-5-12 numbers in 70 games before adding three goals and five assists in the playoffs.

This season Vaakanainen has four goals and eight assists for 12 points through 42 AHL contests to go along with a plus-14 rating and 16 penalty minutes. In 72 career AHL games, the Joensuu, Finland, native holds 8-18-26 totals in addition to a plus-16 rating.

Vaakanainen has appeared in five NHL games with Boston this season, registering two shots on goal and a plus-two rating. Last season , Vaakanainen appeared in two games with the Bruins last season before going down with a concussion, notching two shots and a rating of minus-one.

General manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins selected Vaakanainen with the 18th-overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL entry draft. Vaakanainen played three seasons in the Finnish Elite League from 2015 to 2018, skating in 109 total games and recording 7-16-23 numbers.

During the 2018-19 season, the 21-year-old served as an assistant captain on Team Finland during the World Junior Championships, helping the team to a gold medal with four assists in seven games. Vaakanainen’s father, Harri, coached Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in Finland.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 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!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at New Jersey: 12/31/19

Image result for bruins devils prudential center 2019

(Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: New Jersey Devils

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Bjork – Coyle – Ritchie

DeBrusk – Lindholm – Backes

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – Carlo

Lauzon – Grzelcyk

Moore – Kampfer

Goalies

Halak

Rask

New Jersey’s Lineup

Forwards

Bratt – Hischier – Palmieri

Coleman – Zajac – Gusev

Wood – Hughes – Simmonds

Boqvist – Zacha – Hayden

Defense

Greene – Subban

Severson – Vatanen

Mueller – Butcher

Goalies

Blackwood

Senn

The last game of the decade was one that was littered with injuries for the Bruins. On top of the injuries, Danton Heinen was a healthy scratch and Jeremy Lauzon was called up from Providence. This marked Lauzon’s season debut with the Bruins after playing in 16 last season. Injuries didn’t stop the team from getting fired up before game time.

First Period

It didn’t take long for the Bruins to get on the board in this one. P.K. Subban went to the box for interference, giving the Bruins a golden opportunity early on. Some quick puck movement in the offensive zone led to a David Pastrnak one-timer making its way behind MacKenzie Blackwood for Brad Marchand to tap it in. Marchand’s 20th goal of the season was assisted by Pastrnak (30) and Matt Grzelcyk (9). It was 1-0 Bruins just two minutes and three seconds in.

Despite the early goal, the game kept a pretty good pace on both sides. Even with the Bruins controlling the flow of the game for a good chunk of the period, the Devils didn’t let the game get out of hand. Things definitely could have gotten out of hand for the Devils after a fast start and a quick goal for the Bruins. Shots in the period were 14-10 in favor of the Bruins.

Score: 1-0 Boston

Second Period

An early power play came for the Devils just nine seconds in as Brad Marchand was called for tripping. Some decent scoring chances came and went, but they couldn’t convert.

Not all goals are pretty, and Joakim Nordstrom reinforced that with a gritty goal to extend the lead to two – his fourth of the season. Sean Kuraly’s effort to get the puck out front for Nordstrom served as the primary assist, his 12th of the season. Brandon Carlo’s shot through traffic helped set up the goal served as the second assist, his ninth of the season. The goal was originally given to Kuraly, but later changed to Nordstrom, making it 2-0 Bruins with 15:33 remaining.

Again, New Jersey didn’t let up after giving up a goal. This time they scored, with Blake Coleman burying one with 11:02 to go. The Bruins had a brief power play when Travis Zajac took a tripping penalty. That was before Grzelcyk took a tripping penalty of his own just 13 seconds later. Things got a bit chaotic for a little while, but the score remained 2-1 when normalcy was restored.

Some crazy saves were made and scoring opportunities were missed after the Coleman goal. It was an eventful period in which New Jersey held a 12-9 shot advantage over the Bruins, bringing the total to 23-22 in favor of the Bruins.

Score: 2-1 Boston

Third Period

It appeared that Jack Hughes evened the score as Jeremy Lauzon knocked Miles Wood into Jaroslav Halak’s net, but that wasn’t the case. The puck didn’t end up in the net and the play actually ended with Lauzon making his way to the box for two minutes for interference. New Jersey was unable to convert on the power play and saw Hughes go leave the ice abruptly with an injury on the power play. He returned later in the game.

Halfway through the period, the Bruins were being outshot 9-0 by the Devils. Jaroslav Halak was keeping them in it. A tripping call on Nordstrom certainly didn’t make matters any better, but the Bruins managed to kill it off. The first shot of the period eventually came along.

It was a matter of time before New Jersey buried one. Their dominating effort in the third paid off when Jesper Bratt deflected one past Halak to tie the game with 6:49 remaining.

The Bruins needed to do something to counteract New Jersey’s offensive pressure. They didn’t necessarily counteract it as best they could, but they did enough to bring the game to overtime and secure a point. Shots in the period were 19-5 in favor of New Jersey, and 41-28 overall in regulation.

Score: 2-2

Overtime

The absences of Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy forced a different 3-on-3 look for the Bruins in overtime.

After scoring twice last time he was in New Jersey, Grzelcyk nearly called game just past the halfway point of overtime, but rung the post. It appeared the shootout was going to commence gracefully until Bratt took a tripping penalty with 11.6 seconds remaining. Bruce Cassidy then took a timeout. Patrice Bergeron cut across the crease with a chance to end it in the dying seconds, but the puck just escaped the grasp. Shots were 3-2 in favor of the Devils in overtime, and 44-30 overall.

Score: 2-2

Shootout

Round one

Nikita Gusev: Miss

Charlie Coyle: Miss

Round two

Jesper Boqvist: Miss

David Pastrnak: Miss

Round three

Kyle Palmieri: Miss

Brad Marchand: Miss

Round four

Wayne Simmonds: Miss

Jake DeBrusk: Miss

Round five

Jack Hughes: Goal

Chris Wagner: Goal

Round six

Damon Severson: Goal

Patrice Bergeron: Miss

The shootout woes continue for the Bruins as this one went down to the wire, but Damon Severson’s goal in the sixth round was the backbreaker. Jaroslav Halak stood on his head, making 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough. It was a rough game for a battered bunch of Bruins. Next up are the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden on Thursday at 7 PM ET. The Bruins are 24-7-10 heading into 2020.

Final Score: 3-2 New Jersey

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 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!!

Post-Game: Bruins Defeat Senators 2-1

Image result for boston bruins vs ottawa senators(Photo Credits: Sean Kilpatrick/AP)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

In the second game of a back-to-back, the Boston Bruins finished their trip up north on a positive note. After Wednesday’s throttle win over the Montreal Canadiens, Boston was going for broke and have now won five in a row. Despite the slow start, turn-overs, and giveaways (on both ends), the team managed to win from behind if not for the stellar performance of Tuukka Rask.

RECAP

Boston would come out in the first looking a bit tired and slow on their legs while Ottawa had more bite to their game.  At times, the Bruins team found themselves chasing the puck and were unable to clear their own zone. In an effort to get things going, Coach Bruce Cassidy juggled the lines around. While the team looked to get their game going, Tuukka Rask made the saves that kept the score 0-0 through two periods.

The Bruins looked more cohesive in the second with multiple chances to score, however, they could not manage to get the puck past Ottawa’s Anders Nilsson. Boston had been outshot 10 to 24 by the end of the second.  Both Ottawa and Boston went 0-2 on the power-play tonight.

With the third period underway, the Senators Tomas Chabot would score off a wrist-shot 41 seconds into the period, getting Ottawa on board.  Minutes later, Bruins’ Brad Marchand would get Boston on board at 05:15 with his fifth goal in four games. He would score his 18th goal of the season off a pass from Anders Bjork as he slipped one between  Nilson’s pads.

With the game tied at 1-1, momentum would shift in Boston’s favor. At 08:45 in the third,  Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara would score his fifth goal of the season with a hard slap shot from a pass by Brendan Gaunce. The 25-year-old Gaunce (making his Bruins debut) would make the play in the slot to feed the pass to Chara, who would score the game-winning goal.

Ottawa had several close chances to score but Boston’s Rask denied their efforts. The Senators were unable to capitalize early on while on the power-play as Boston held on to win 2-1. The boys in  Black and Gold are now 6-0-3 in their last few games and have improved to 17-3-5. Rask made 33 saves on 34 shots to post his fifth straight win of the season. He improves to 12-2-0 this season. Anders Nilsson made 19 saves and the Senators have lost their last two games in regulation for the first time since October.

TEAM NOTES

Connor Clifton had the night off and Steven Kampfer would slide up next to Matt Grzelcyk. Gaunce made his debut on the second line, centering with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle. News came out from the Boston camp of the multi-year contract extension of Coyle and Chris Wagner.

With the loss, Senators’ goaltender Anders Nilson is now 7-5-1 as he minds the net while Craig Anderson nurses a minor injury sustained during Monday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

THREE STARS OF THE GAME:

Tuukka Rask-BOSTON

Zdeno CHara-BOSTON

Tyler Ennis-OTTAWA

TOTAL SHOTS ON GOALS: BOS: 21; OTT: 34

Boston will once again face Ottawa for the third time this season on December 9th with the Bruins leading the series 2-0. The B’s will head back for a game-day matinee at the TD Garden when they face the New York Rangers.

WHEN TO WATCH:  Friday, November 29th with puck drop at 1:00 PM

WHERE TO WATCH: NBC

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 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!!

 

 

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Florida: 11/12/19

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Florida Panthers

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Heinen – Krejci – Coyle

Bjork – Lindholm – Senyshyn

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Grzelcyk – Carlo

Vaakanainen – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Florida’s Lineup

Forwards

Huberdeau –  Barkov – Dadonov

Vatrano – Trocheck – Malgin

Hoffman – Boyle – Connolly

Hunt – Acciari – Sceviour

Defense

Yandle – Ekblad

Matheson – Stralman

Pysyk – Brown

Goalies

Bobrovsky

Montembeault

Torey Krug was sidelined for this one with an upper-body injury and Urho Vaakanainen made his season debut with the Bruins in his place. Brett Ritchie and David Backes were also out with upper-body injuries. Jake DeBrusk sat for a second straight game in this one with a lower-body injury. Those injuries, on top of injury recoveries that John Moore and Kevan Miller continued to go through, forced the Bruins to roll with new second and third forward lines, as well as a new look on defense outside of the top pairing.

First Period

It was a weird start. There were just three shots on goal (2-1 Bruins) combined through the first 7:01 of the game. The first period was just a lot of back-and-forth. Some decent chances here and there, but nothing too crazy. Charlie Coyle did come very close to opening the scoring and notch his third goal of the season though.

Matt Grzelcyk saw two great chances come his way with around two minutes remaining. One was blocked by Mike Hoffman, the other was deflected out of his play. Neither team could get on the board.

Shortly after those chances, Charlie McAvoy caught Aleksander Barkov up high and went off for high sticking. Barkov was a bit shaken up on the play, and the Panthers had a power play with 13 seconds remaining in the period. A minute and 47 seconds of power play time bled into the second period for the Panthers. The final shots in the period were 7-5 Bruins.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

Just 57 seconds into the period, 1:10 of total time into the power play, the lights briefly shut off at TD Garden and play was stopped as a result. The Panthers were understandably not happy as it disrupted the flow of their power play in the offensive zone.

Sean Kuraly nearly got the scoring going as he flew towards the net with the puck on his stick, crashed into Sergei Bobrovsky, and failed to score. It was a wild start to the second period, to say the least.

At the 15:38 mark, Patrice Bergeron went to the box for holding, giving the Panthers their second power play opportunity of the game. The Panthers failed to score and eventually, at the 8:05 mark, David Pastrnak finally opened the scoring.

Coming into this one, the Bruins were 9-2-1 when scoring first. That’s good for scoring first in 76.47 percent of their total games prior to tonight, and winning 75 percent of those games. Pastrnak’s 16th goal of the season was assisted by Bergeron (10).

Joakim Nordstrom decided to get amongst the scoring as well, making it 2-0. Nordstrom’s second of the season was assisted by Coyle (5). The man comes back from injury against Philadelphia on Sunday, then scores a big goal on Tuesday. Not a bad way to make an impression after a stint on injured reserve.

Things didn’t get much better for the Panthers afterward as Dryden Hunt took a holding penalty with 4:27 to go in the period. Need more secondary scoring? Just ask Anders Bjork too. Bjork’s sent a wrister on Bobrovsky that bounced off of him and in to give the Bruins a three-goal lead. Bjork’s third goal of the season was assisted by David Krejci (6) and Brad Marchand (19).

The fourth unanswered goal of the period, came from Zdeno Chara getting behind Bobrovsky and burying a loose puck. Chara’s third goal of the season was assisted by Krejci (7) and Heinen (4). Check out the whole sequence in three parts below. Four goals in seven minutes and 26 seconds.

What a wild period. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 16-7, bringing the games total shots to 23-12 Bruins. It was for sure one of the better periods that the Bruins have played all season. A huge lead was all of the sudden in their collective grasp after a scoreless first period.

Score: 4-0 Boston

Third Period

Bad news came during the intermission in the form of Zach Senyshyn’s presence on the team for much of the second period. It was eventually announced that he would not return the game with a lower-body injury, putting the Bruins down a forward for the third period.

Samuel Montembeault took over in net for the Panthers to start the period and they responded early in the form of an Aaron Ekblad one-timer. Nordstrom was at the defensive blue line attempting to play defense, and that threw everything off defensively for the Bruins – the Panthers capitalized and made it 4-1.

Shortly after the goal, Vincent Trocheck launched himself towards Pastrnak. Pastrnak eventually got up following the collision under his own power, but Marchand took exception and gave Trocheck a bit of a piece of his mind. Trocheck then went off for elbowing. The Bruins didn’t convert on the power play.

Chris Wagner then went off for slashing just about four minutes into the period. Old friend Frank Vatrano made Wagner pay on the power play, because of course it was a former Bruin that scored – that happens on occasion.

The revitalized Panthers responded early and often after being on the receiving end of a thrashing in the second period. The wild final two periods surely made up for a quiet first period in terms of entertainment value.

Another penalty for the Bruins turned into another goal for the Panthers. Sean Kuraly went off with 11:28 to go for hooking. Hoffman buried a backhander to make it 4-3 Bruins. Things got tense really quickly. After an excellent start to the season, it has been tough sledding for Tuukka Rask as of late.

Former Bruin Noel Acciari tripped his old linemate Sean Kuraly with 6:28 to go, but the Bruins didn’t score on the man advantage. This game went into the Ford F-150 Final Five with a 4-3 score. David Krejci then went off the ice slowly after blocking a shot late in the period – leaving the Bruins down another forward.

It was once 4-0 Bruins, then it became 4-4. Four unanswered goals from each team. I definitely don’t remember ever seeing such an obscure feat accomplished in a hockey game. Keith Yandle tied the game with 1:39 to go. Overtime commenced. The shots were 12-9 Panthers, bringing the regulation total to 32-24 Bruins.

Score: 4-4

Overtime

Marchand, Pastrnak, and Coyle had premium chances, but no dice. It was an entertaining overtime period that became very stressful at the end. Hoffman found himself alone, but Rask stoned him. Rask then made a follow-up save to send the game to a shootout in the dying seconds of overtime. The shots in ovetime were 6-5 Bruins, 38-29 overall.

Shootout

Round one

Frank Vatrano: Miss

Chris Wagner: Miss

Round two

Vincent Trocheck: Goal

Brad Marchand: Miss

Round three

Jonathan Huberdeau: Miss

Charlie Coyle: Goal

Round four

Mike Hoffman: Goal

Charlie McAvoy: Miss

Final Score: 5-4 Florida (Shootout)

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 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!!

Game Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers 11/10/19

Image result for boston bruins vs philadelphia flyers(Photo Credits: Getty Images/NBC Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

After being fed a full plate of humble pie this past Friday in Detroit, the Boston Bruins are back home as they face the Philadelphia Flyers at the TD Garden. Boston has lost its last two games and will be looking to get back on track.

TEAM UPDATES

Knowing full well they played a lackluster game against Detroit, the boys in Black and Gold were back to work this morning at the Warrior Arena. Both Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm, who have been nursing injuries and infections are back in the lineup tonight. Peter Cehlarik, who has been filling in, will be sent back down to Providence. Steven Kampfer will be a healthy scratch. John Moore was also seen skating in a red non-contact jersey. Brett Ritchie was not seen skating this morning, while Jake DeBrusk continues to be out, as he is nursing a lower-body injury. Charlie Coyle will be playing wing alongside David Krejci.

 

HARD STATS

Despite dropping their last two games, the Bruins currently lead the Atlantic Division with an 11-3-2 record, while the Flyers are 9-5-2. In their last 10 games, Boston is 6-2-2 while Philadelphia is 7-2-1. The loss to Detroit marks the first time that the Bruins have lost consecutive games in regulation this season so far. David Pastrnak saw his 13-game point streak end Friday night after having an assist removed from his record.

The Bruins will have a chance to get their legs and mojo back as they face a Flyers team, who are trying to extend their winning streak to four games. Boston’s Pastrnak is tied for first in the league with 30 points; he also leads in goals (15) and in power-play goals (9). Brad Marchand is third in the league with 18 assists, while Captain Zdeno Chara is also third in the league for plus-minus at 13.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask is now third in the league for goals-against-average (1.99) and is tied at third with a 0.933 save percentage. Expect Jaroslav Halak in net for the Bruins tonight. The 34-year-old goaltender is 4-1-1 with a 2.83 goals-against average and a 0.917 save percentage. This will be the first meeting between the two teams. Expect Carter Hart in net for the Flyers. Hart has a 2-0 record against Boston and is 5-3-1 with a 2.82 goals-against-average and has a 0.889 save percentage.

Image result for boston bruins vs philadelphia flyers(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Boston is still first in the league on the power-play, however, Philly is slightly better at the penalty kill and is ninth in the league, compared to the Bruins 12th position. Flyers’s Sean Couturier has six points in the last six games, while Boston’s Patrice Bergeron has nine-points in six games. Defenseman Torey Krug has points in his last five games while Brad Marchand has 28 points in his last 15 games.

The Flyers Travis Konecny leads the team with 17 points and assists (10), while Oskar Lindblom leads the team with eight goals. Pastrnak leads the Boston teams in goals (15) and in points (30); Marchand leads the team with 18 assists.

PROJECTED LINEUPS-BOSTON

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Heinen – Krejci – Coyle

Bjork – Lindholm – Senyshyn

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

 

Chara – Clifton

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

 

Halak

Rask

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS -PHILADELPHIA

Riemsdyk —  Giroux —  Farabee

Lindblom — Couturier — Konecny

Twarynski –Hayes –Voracek

Andreoff –Raffl — Pitlick

 

Provorov –Niskanen

Gostisbehere — Braun

Sanheim — Myers

 

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

 

WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 7:00 PM, TD Garden

WHERE TO WATCH: NESN, ESPN+, NBCSP