Has Toronto Overtaken Montreal As The Bruins’ Biggest Rival?

( Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/AP Photo )

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

Bruins vs. Canadiens Rivalry

The Boston Bruins have enjoyed a long and storied rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, long considered their fiercest rival.  The rivalry dates back to December of 1924 and has seen the teams meet in 923 regular season games as well as 177 playoff games.  The animosity that has existed for almost a century including an NHL record 34 playoff meetings has lifted the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry into the upper echelon of the all-time great rivalries in sport.  Think Yankees-Red Sox, Celtics-Lakers, Manchester United-Liverpool.

Montreal has held the upper hand over the Bruins for much of their history.  Bruins fans growing up watching the Bruins in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were particularly frustrated as Montreal won 18 consecutive playoff series over the B’s between 1946 and 1987.  The streak was finally snapped when the Bruins defeated Montreal 4-1 at the Forum on April 26th, 1988.  The records have been much more even since the streak ended, the Bruins winning 7 of the last 12 series between the two clubs.

The rivalry has been fueled by frequency, both regular-season meetings as divisional opponents and through frequent playoff matchups  Classic games such as Game 7 of the 1979 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals, better known as the Don Cherry, too many men game, to Mats Naslund’s game 5 dagger with 51 seconds remaining to give Montreal a 1-0 victory and a 3-2 series win in their 1985 Adams Division semi-final.  More recently, Nathan Horton’s game 7, overtime, series clinching goal which propelled the Bruins on their path to winning the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship stands out as a game that produced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for the respective fan bases.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Rivalry

As the Bruins prepare to do battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second consecutive opening round, and third time in 6 seasons, the question begs, has Toronto become a bigger rival than the Canadiens?

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The Bruins and Maple Leafs also have a long history.  The teams first met in the 1924-25 season and have faced off 750 times in the regular season as well as 76 times in the playoffs.  The Bruins and Leafs have not played as frequently as the Bruins and Canadiens, including over a hundred fewer playoff games, as Toronto resided in the Western Conference prior to the 1998-99 season.  In all, the current series marks the 16th all time playoff match-up between the Bruins and Maple Leafs with Toronto holding an 8-7 advantage.  The Bruins however, have won the last 5-playoff meetings. Toronto’s last playoff victory over the Bruins was in the 1958-59 season.

Toronto, as we know, is a hockey mad city, the self-proclaimed centre of the hockey universe.  It is also a city whose beloved Leafs have been deprived of playoff success for more than a generation.  It last paraded Lord Stanley’s silverware in 1967.  There are a few factors that have intensified the Bruins and Leafs rivalry over the past decade.

The first significant event that began to bring this rivalry to life was the Phil Kessel trade on the eve of the 2009-10 season.  Kessel was traded to Toronto for a package of draft picks and then the Maple Leafs proceeded to have a couple of poor seasons allowing the Bruins to draft Tyler Seguin in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton in 2011.  It became obvious fairly early on that the Bruins would benefit from that trade and when the Leafs visited the Bruins in Kessel’s return to Boston in December, 2009, the B’s faithful packed the Garden.  That game marked the beginning of a sell-out streak that is now approaching 10 years for the Bruins.

The next, and perhaps biggest contributing factor was the epic Bruins comeback against the Leafs in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.  Toronto led Boston 4-1 early in the third period of game 7, before Boston staged one of the most memorable comebacks in the history the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Bruins became the first NHL team to win a game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period, winning 5-4 in overtime.  Combined with last seasons’ seven game opening round series, also going the Bruins way in a third period comeback, the rivalry is alive and well.

The question is, has the rivalry with Toronto overtaken that with Montreal for the Bruins and their fans?  The answer depends entirely on whom you talk to.  Arguably, Boston and Toronto has become the ultimate rivalry for a new generation of hockey fans, those not old enough to recall Joe Thornton in the black and gold or Mats Sundin in the blue and white.  Those of us who are a little longer in the tooth however, likely still hold just a little bit more disdain for the Canadiens than we do the Leafs.  That said, the Canadiens had better hurry up and make their way back into the playoffs, after all, with every new chapter the Bruins and Leafs write, the gap is closing.

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Bruins Marchand Closing In On 100-Point Season

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

With three assists in Boston’s 6-3 defeat of the New York Rangers at TD Garden on Wednesday night, Bruins winger Brad Marchand has moved to 97 points on the season and now has his sights firmly set on becoming the first Bruins player to hit that milestone since Joe Thornton had 101 points in the 2002-03 season.

With five games remaining it remains to be seen if Marchand will join Joe Thornton as the only 100-point Bruins in the last quarter century.  Prior to Thornton, the last Bruin to eclipse the century mark was Adam Oates in the 1993-94 season with a 112 point effort.

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It would be in Marchand’s best interest to bank the remaining three points he needs as quickly as possible as Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will likely be looking to rest many of his star players in the regular season’s final couple of games.  A look ahead to the Bruins final game of the season, at home against the President Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning on April 6th is one that could see both teams sit a number of regulars in preparation for their respective first-round playoff matchups.   The Bruins are closing in on 2nd place in the Atlantic Division (and home ice advantage in the first round) with a 6-point lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs with only 5 games to play for each club.

The evolution of Brad Marchand has been an amazing ride for the Boston Bruins and their fans over the past decade.  A third round (71st overall) draft pick in 2006, Marchand has evolved into one of the elite players in the game.  It hasn’t always been easy, his agitating style and propensity for playing on the edge has meant that it has taken a long time for Marchand to earn the respect of officials, opposing players and coaches, hockey media, and opposition fan bases, the latter of which remains in question.  There is no doubt, however, that his game has reached a level that warrants mention among the elite players in the game today.

( Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images )

As he puts the finishing touches on leading his club in scoring for the third consecutive season and fourth time in his career, the focus will be on continuing to play the game right, remaining fresh and healthy, and avoiding any run-ins with the NHL Department of Player Safety that could de-rail his opportunity to become a 100-point player in the league.  Bruins fans will recall that two seasons ago, Marchand was on the cusp of achieving a significant personal milestone and becoming a 40-goal scorer in the NHL when he speared Tampa Bay’s Jake Dotchin in game 80 of the regular season.  Marchand was suspended for the final two games of the regular season and finished on 39 goals for the campaign.  If anything good has come out of past indiscretions, it may be that Marchand has finally matured into an elite NHL winger who can play on the edge when needed but increasingly has the ability to skate away from the trouble that dogged him so much earlier in his career.

Whether Marchand reaches the 100-point mark or not remains to be seen over the next five games, but there is no question about how valuable a player Marchand has become for the Boston Bruins.   Fans will be cheering hard for one of their favorites to achieve this milestone but at the same time realize that preservation and preparation for the playoffs is going to be paramount over the final week and a half of the regular season.

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Entering the 2018-19 NHL season, just 109 players in league history had scored 100 or more points in a season, and only 9 members of the Bruins had achieved the feat.  Brad Marchand will have the opportunity to join those exclusive lists while eyeing a more significant goal, a deep playoff run and a march toward his second Stanley Cup championship.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at San Jose: 02/18/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USATSI)

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

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: SAP Center – San Jose, California, USA

Home: San Jose Sharks (35-17-7)

Away: Boston Bruins (34-17-8)

The Bruins enter the third game of their five-game road trip with five wins in a row and now heading into a tougher stretch of schedule with games against the Sharks, Golden Knights, Blues, and Lightning all in close radar. With the recent win over Los Angeles on Saturday, the Bruins narrowly have the second Atlantic division spot over Toronto who are only one point back.

The San Jose Sharks have become one of the top contenders in the Western Conference once again, especially with the addition of Erik Karlsson back in September of 2018. Brent Burns is on pace to be in contention of another Norris Trophy when the season comes to a conclusion. The Sharks recently beat the Vancouver Canucks and currently hold the second position in the Pacific division.

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Forward Peter Cehlarik is out of the lineup tonight due to a lower-body injury suffered against the Kings on Saturday. Karson Kuhlman will play on the second-line with Krejci and DeBrusk in only his second NHL game.

First Period:

What a start to this Monday night game. Over ten straight minutes, yes halfway of the first period, only one whistle was blown. Both the Sharks and Bruins had chances back and forth and quite frankly, no team really was blowing the other team away. At one point in the first, Chris Wagner right in front the puck goes over the shoulder of Jones and looks to be going across the line, but Marc-Eduard Vlasic makes a brilliant save with the stick on the goal line to keep it 0-0.

With 9:03 remaining, Sean Kuraly gets high stick to the face by Tomas Hertl and the Sharks are headed to the box. Immediately at the start of the power-play, Torey Krug mishandles the puck, allowing Evander Kane all alone on a shorthanded breakaway, only to ring the shot off of the post. San Jose did a great job pressure the B’s and retrieving the puck back for a clear.

On what seemed like the final clear of the PK, Matt Grzelcyk gets a stick up in his face as well and the Bruins are right back on the man-advantage. Less than a minute onto the power-play, the Bruins finally figure out how to cycle the puck around the zone, allowing Torey Krug to unleash a bomb short-side past Jones, 1-0 Bruins. Krug’s 6th of the season assisted by Krejci (36) and Bergeron (35).

Not letting up on the early lead, the Bruins looked to add to their opening tally. Brad Marchand made a nice move in the offensive zone to rip a quick wrist shot towards Jones but it goes off of the red pipe and redirects to the corner. High-paced first period from both teams and the chances continue to pile up.

At the 16:26 mark of the opening frame, Sean Kuraly wins an offensive zone faceoff clean backwards to Zdeno Chara who one-times the puck top corner past Jones and the Bruins take a 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of the period. Chara’s goal is his 199th career NHL goal since he began his career in 1997. This is his fourth of the season assisted by Sean Kuraly (11).

The killer instinct by the Bruins does not stop there. David Krejci uses his supreme vision to find an open Jake DeBrusk up the ice who has rookie Karson Kuhlman on the other side of the ice. DeBrusk looks like he is about to shoot the puck short-side until the very last second where he feeds the puck across to Kuhlman who buries his first career NHL goal, making it 3-0 Boston with just around a minute-and-a-half left to play. Assists go to DeBrusk (9) and Krejci (37).

Two goals 1:58 apart for the Boston Bruins in the first period, but the Sharks want in on some of the goal-scoring and will do just that. Joe Pavelski wraps the puck around, bouncing it off the pad for former-Bruin Joe Thornton to bury his eleventh goal of the 2018-19 season on the backhand with only three seconds to go in the frame.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 8 SJS: 8

Score: 3-1 Bruins – Goals: Krug (8) PPG Assists: Krejci (36), Bergeron (35); Chara (4) Assists: Kuraly (11); Kuhlman (1) Assists: DeBrusk (9), Krejci (37); Thornton (11) Assists: Pavelski (22)

Second Period:

Sharks started off the middle period with some more zone time and shots on Rask and on one of the clear attempts, Kevan Miller accidentally hits the puck up and over the glass, resulting in the ever-so-disliked delay-of-game penalty and Boston will be shorthanded for two minutes.

Boston fails to put enough strength on the clear attempt, allowing the Sharks to cycle the puck around and Brent Burns’ shot gets deflected by Joe Pavelski that goes up and over Tuukka Rask. San Jose right back within only a goal under three minutes into the second. Assists go to Burns (54) and Couture (33).

Nearly five minutes in, another whistle, very much unlike the first period, but one that the Bruins will like. Joe Pavelski gets his stick caught up on Chara and is called for hooking – a two-minute minor and it’s yet another B’s power-play. On the man-advantage, the Bruins look like they cannot get any opportunities, but they do, right at the end.

David Backes made a nifty move with his skate to pass the puck off of the boards in the neutral zone to Jake DeBrusk who passes it to Danton Heinen. Heinen returns the puck right back to DeBrusk alone on a partial breakaway and DeBrusk fires a shot past Jones to reinstate a two-goal lead for Boston. Four consecutive games with goals for DeBrusk and that’s number eighteen on the season assisted by Heinen (11) and Backes (9).

Frustration for San Jose may be setting in perhaps as Brendon Dillon nails Sean Kuraly from behind as Kuraly attempted to spin away from it but the hit resulted in some pushing and shoving in the corner just as Charlie McAvoy found himself all alone with a great chance to score on Jones. Whistles blow though as Wagner and Braun each get five minutes in the box for fighting. No instigator penalties are handed out with 9:35 remaining in the second period.

Late in the second period, the Sharks manage to get themselves back within a goal as Jumbo Joe Thornton finds another rebound shot to score his second goal of the game – the first time he’s scored two goals in a game this season. Sorensen (9) and Simek (8) get the helpers on the play. Unlucky break for the Bruins there with just over three minutes to play in the second.

For the third time tonight, the San Jose Sharks will have a man in the box for high-sticking as Joe Thornton gets his lumber up in the face of Brad Marchand and with 1:29 to go, Boston is on the 5-on-4 power-play for two minutes. Somehow, Logan Couture is found deep in the neutral zone, makes a nice move around Krug and nearly scores but due a hook by Marchand, a penalty shot is awarded with 24.7 seconds to go and Couture simply shoots it five-hole past Rask, tying the game at four apiece.

Not nearly as good of a period for the Bruins as the opening one was, going to need a solid final twenty minutes and maybe more to beat the Sharks tonight. Bruins were outshot 14-4 in the second period alone.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 12 SJS: 22

Score: 4-4 – Goals: Pavelski (32) PPG Assists: Burns (54), Couture (33); DeBrusk (18) Assists: Heinen (11), Backes (9); Thornton (12) Assists: Sorensen (9), Simek (8); Couture (22) Unassisted

Third Period:

San Jose opened the final regulation period with a couple solid shots on Tuukka Rask, one of which off of a big Timo Meier deflection. Still early on, the Bruins are called on a delay-of-game penalty because David Backes apparently took too long to make a change prior to a faceoff. Bruins successfully kill off the penalty though and the game continues 5-on-5.

Boston has had issues in this game at getting the puck out of the zone on rushes. At one point in the first half of the third, the Bruins did not get a shot on Martin Jones in over nineteen minutes of game-time. It has been proven that it is much, much harder to score when you do not shoot at the goaltender.

Sean Kuraly set up Noel Acciari right in front of the crease for the first shot in what seemed like four games, but the Sharks return right away with a bullet of a shot by Hertl that rings the bar, so loud that us Canadians could hear it. Rask does not look as calm as he did against the Kings, that shot was clean past him.

Around the six-minute mark, Joe Thornton walks in and shoots it right past Tuukka Rask to give the Sharks a 5-4 lead with 6:28 remaining. Bruins collapsing ever since the 3-1 goal with three seconds to go. Assists to Thornton’s hat-trick go to Pavelski (23) and Braun (13).

While it looks like the Bruins were down and out, Brandon Carlo rifled a bomb that was rebounded by Wagner. Wagner then hit the puck what looked like to be above the crossbar, but it goes into the Sharks net and due to it being a non-reviewable play for some reason, the goal stands and the Bruins tie the game with just around two minutes left to play. Wagner sets a new career high for goals in a year with eight and it’s assisted by Carlo (4) and Acciari (4).

Shots On Goal: BOS: 19 SJS: 33

Score: 5-5 – Goals: Thornton (13) Assists: Pavelski (23), Braun (13); Wagner (8), Carlo (4), Acciari (4)

Overtime:

First thirty seconds of 3-on-3 overtime is full San Jose. Some big shots on Rask, all of which stopped. Tuukka attempted his double pad stack again, but the shot missed. B’s finally get the puck out of the defensive end, but Brent Burns comes back and gets a sharp wrist shot that almost sneaks through him, but Matt Grzelcyk slaps it out of harm’s way.

It has been a poor night for Torey Krug tonight. In this overtime alone, Krug has been chased down numerous times, resulting in either a turnover or an icing call. One of these mistakes led to a Hertl shot as he skated across the crease but Rask makes a big save. As the play continues, the net comes off but because the Bruins are on a rush, the refs left it causing some controversy when the Sharks had a 2-on-0 and the whistle was blown dead.

Later on in overtime, the Bruins somehow get alone 3-on-2, creating a beautiful DeBrusk-to-Krejci-to-McAvoy goal to win the game in overtime. Bruins survive a three-goal lead blown to win their sixth straight game. McAvoy’s 4th assisted by Krejci (38) and DeBrusk (10).

Shots On Goal: BOS: 20 SJS: 38

Final Score: 6-5 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Jake DeBrusk – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, +2 Rating, 17:59 TOI

2nd Star: SJS F Joe Thornton – 3 Goals, 3 Shots, +2 Rating, 4 Takeaways

3rd Star: BOS F David Krejci – 3 Assists, +1 Rating 20:24 TOI

Bruins now head to Vegas for a game against the Golden Knights on Wednesday with six straight wins.

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

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Opening the Bruins “Opening Night” Past

IMG_8532.PNG(Photo Credit: NHL 19)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

The NHL’s “Opening Night” is officially upon us with the Boston Bruins dropping the puck on the 2018-2019 campaign against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. The nationally televised game on NBC Sports will mark the debut of Wednesday Night Hockey (in place of rivalry night), with the network hoping its re-branding will give a boost to ratings just like adding Patrice Bergeron back to the B’s power play.

IMG_8536(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

Fun fact: this won’t be the first time the B’s & Caps have clashed in a coveted contest on Day 1 of the season. Nor will it be the first time the B’s have battled the previous year’s top team and current keeper of Lord Stanley’s silver chalice. But exactly how did all those games go? Do we want history to repeat itself or do we want the Bruins to go all Doc Brown / Marty McFly (better than McSorley, am I right?) and start an all-new space-time continuum puck path? Let’s open up the Bruins “Opening Night” past to take a look at some of these results, perhaps even flexing our flux capacitor mental muscles to predict just how well game one will go for the boys in Black N’ Gold!

Opening Night History Overall:

The Boston Bruins overall record on “Opening Night” (hereafter referred to as O.N.) is: 41 WINS, 35 LOSSES & 17 TIES dating back to December 1st, 1924 — the team’s inaugural game as a franchise in which the B’s defeated the Montreal Maroons 2-1 at home (but then felt marooned for the remainder of the month losing every other game). Since then, the B’s best streak of consecutive O.N. wins was from 1987-1995 (8 in a row), and there worst streak was from 1939-1946 where they were winless in, you guessed it, 8 consecutive games with 6 losses and 2 ties. More recently (since the 2012 lockout), the B’s are 5-1 on O.N. with last year’s entertaining tilt against the near-champion Predators proving the future in Boston is bright with a capital “B”.

Opening Night History vs Washington:

Speaking of the Capitals…the Caps and B’s have battled it out twice before on O.N. with both contests being in Boston (at the original Garden and later the T.D. Garden). The first was played on October 8th, 1987 in which the unforgettable Willi Plett (heavy sarcasm inferred) alongside no-names like Bourque, Wesley & Neely led the B’s to a 4-3 “W” over the Mike Gartner-led Capitals squad. The follow-up came on October 1st, 2009 in which Alexander Ovechkin, the big “O”, forced the B’s to take a big “L” 4-1.  With the lifetime O.N. series at 1-1… what will the outcome be for this crucial 2018 opener? If the B’s play anything like they did in the preseason vs. Washington, then you can wash up a win for Boston!

Opening Night History vs Defending Cup Champs:

However, winning against the previous season’s Stanley Cup winner on O.N. has been anything but easy for the Bruins over the last 95 years of professional hockey, during which the B’s took on the top ranked team in the NHL a near-record 10 times, going a paltry 2W-5L-3T. The majority of those games came during the “Original Six” era, where the odds were pretty good that if you didn’t win it all, you’d be seeing the champs right out of the gate the next season.

Image result for original six nhl opening night(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

The first time that happened for the B’s was on November 10th, 1932 when Eddie Shore and Tiny Thompson helped the team earn a tie against the Maple Leafs, 1-1. The Bruins would battle the defending-champ Leafs another two times in 1948 & 1964, winning and losing a game respectively. Boston would face Cup-clinching teams from Montreal on O.N. an impressive 6 times between 1935 and 1959, at first losing to the aforementioned Maroons before the familiar foe the Montreal Canadiens (in their smarmy bleu, blanc et rouge) beat them 3 times, with the B’s stealing a win and a tie once. It would be another four decades before a team defending its title opened their season against Boston with the New Jersey Devils skating into town on October 8th, 2003 and earning a 3-3 tie against the B’s “J-squad,” as Jumbo Joe & Jeff Jillson did all the scoring against the legendary Marty Brodeur.

Opening Night History on October 3rd:

As for O.N. on October 3rd… well, that’s only ever happened twice before in the storied history of the Bruins franchise. But the B’s are an undefeated 2-and-0, so “they got that going for them…which is nice,” to paraphrase golfing greenskeeper guru Karl Spackler. On 10/3/91, the B’s geared up against the New York Rangers winning 5-3 at home. Then, just 22 Shawn Thornton years later on 10/3/13, the Bruins bested the Bolts on Garden ice, winning 3-1 behind one of the most impressive short-handed penalty shot goals you’ll ever see scored. You can guess who lit the lamp (it may take you a few chances)… or just watch the highlights below!

So, now that you’re all caught up on your O.N. Bruins history–from Maroons to Marchand, from marquee match-ups to mismatched markers, from crowns to Caps and everything in between… how are you feeling THIS October 3rd? How does 10/3/18 look to you?

I tell you what… I wouldn’t trade places with anyone right about now!

Mark Your Bruins Calendar: Part II

Bruins Season Tix

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

With a new hockey year comes a renewal of hope (and season tickets courtesy of Tuukka Rask & Patrice Bergeron) for Bruins fans, players, and management. And after recently writing about key games to start the upcoming NHL season for the B’s (2018), it’s now time to highlight the actual new year (2019) and what it has to offer, schedule-wise, for Boston. So let’s get ready to mark your Bruins calendar, part deux edition!

JANUARY GAMES:

It goes without saying that the always enjoyable “Winter Classic” contest should be on this list, especially with the B’s “fighting on” the Blackhawks at historic Notre Dame Stadium. But do these outdoor games really change the way a team is shaped, or how its identity is formed? Or are they mostly entertaining affairs where the only elements that matter are the ones Mother Nature controls not Coach Cassidy?

Notre Dame Winter Classic

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

As a result, let’s focus on the games played in an environment truly under B’s control: the TD Garden. And in January, the B’s practically live there all month. With 7 home games out of the 9 they play before their mandatory “off week” / All-Star weekend, including 4 in a row after the big Winter Classic tilt, it’ll be like an Air BNB for the BNG in Boston (and the team then returns from the break with an additional two home games making it their busiest month on Garden ice). It doesn’t take a hockey expert or Corsi analytics nerd to understand that if you take care of business in Beantown during this stretch, you either maintain momentum / build momentum or close the gap / stretch the gap in the Atlantic Division race.

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(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

The two most highlight-worthy at-home match-ups, in my humble opinion, over these three weeks happen to be versus the Capitals on the 10th and then the Rangers on the 19th (with a shoutout, and perhaps a shootout, to the Canadiens on the 14th just because it’s Montreal and those games are always an entertaining hoot with hootenanny potential). So there you have it: mark January 3rd – 19th on your Bruins calendar!

FEBRUARY GAMES:

Conversely, in fabulous February the B’s embark on a lengthy two-week road trip thru California, the Vegas desert and “Bluesy” Missouri — similar to the way they started the season with their west coast Canadian kick. As Brick & Jack always like to point out (as did other great Bruins broadcasters mentioned right here on the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog), “if the B’s can take at least 6 out of these 10 points, it’ll be a successful trip.” And that’s easier said than done, especially since this trip is front-loaded with back-to-backs against the always competitive and pesky Ducks and Kings followed by the always Cup-contending Sharks only one break day later.

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(Photo Credit: BostonBruins.com)

This stretch away from the comforts of home (and through multiple time zones mind you) will undoubtedly stretch the Bruins talent thin and offer a challenge that if met, could bolster the team’s confidence, core and camaraderie — something always welcomed with only a third of the schedule left in play!

(Photo Credits: Evan Michael)

Additionally, with Los Angeles being my current home base, I always try to make a few of these road trip games (rocking classics from my B’s goalie jersey collection to boot — Lord Byron and the Mooger pictured above). I look forward to offering my in-the-arena insight when this part of the schedule skates around next year. So there you have it: mark February 15th – 23rd on your Bruins calendar!

MARCH & APRIL GAMES:

The 2018-2019 Bruins season could come to a climactic Columbus close with Boston battling the Blue Jackets three times in the final three weeks, along with two tilts each against the Florida teams (as I like to deride). That’s 7 of the final 13 games–more than half for those math whizzes out there–versus teams that are not only playoff caliber (Tampa) but also playoff hungry (the Jackets and Panthers). You could even argue the games against Tampa may be Atlantic Division-altering games — Florida too for that matter since they’re a much-improved hockey club — and depending on how the B’s play, their season could be on the line.

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(Photo Credit: ESPNBoston.com)

Hopefully, it’s only “playoff positioning” the Bruins are playing for during this torridly tough stretch, but there are no guarantees in this league. Especially, not with all of the aforementioned clubs eager to prove they’re legit squads that can hold their own in the East. So hold that highlighter close and mark March 12th – April 6th on your Bruins calendar!

MAY & JUNE GAMES (BOLD PREDICTION):

If the Bruins are to be playing hockey during my birth month and beyond, then here’s how I think it’ll shake out. And I’m basing this prediction/assumption/foreshadowing only on gut instinct and lessons learned from last season. I think the B’s will qualify for the postseason as the 3rd seed out of the Atlantic (a few points higher than Florida and a few points lower than Toronto and Tampa but all clumped between 100-110 points). I think they’ll win their first round match-up against the Flyers — how they end up facing the Flyers what with all the funky end-of-season math involved I don’t know — but my seer self says it’ll be a take-down of Philly that propels them to the second round versus Tampa for a rematch. They will successfully win this rematch when solid trade deadline acquisitions [that bolstered both the blue-line and scoring wing categories a few weeks earlier] help bolt them past the Bolts in seven games. As late May approaches, not to be confused with Bruins-killer Brad May, the B’s will then face off against the defending Cup champs and will “Capitalize” on their newfound success, propelling them to an early June date with Jumbo Joe and the Sharks for the ultimate B’s past-versus-present contest.

Ah, who am I kidding, it’s early August on the calendar, and I’m just dreaming of a hockey storyline well worth renewing!

Top 5 Worst Trades In Bruins History

    (PHOTO CREDITS: Bay Area News Group-Josie Lepe )

By Liz Rizzo Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

As one of the oldest franchises in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have produced the leagues most legendary players from Orr to Esposito. In their long, storied history, there have been some stellar trades (Ray Bourque, anyone?) along with a few head-scratching moves made by the powers that be.  These very moves left quite a scar for the Black and Gold and continue to make fans imagine a different outcome if we had kept certain players:  *cough, Seguin, cough*. 

In no particular order, we take a look at some of the worst trades in Boston history.

1. Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Boston Acquires: Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau

San Jose Acquires: Joe Thornton

In 2005, the Bruins stunned the superstar center when then-general manager Mike O’Connell called him up on his cell phone to let him know he’d been traded. Thornton had just signed a three year, $20 million contract extension with Boston. At that time, the Bruins were one of the last place teams in the conference. In an effort to shake things up, Boston was willing to trade Thornton, who was supposed to be their franchise player. The brass felt that they couldn’t build a team around the young center: Boston’s loss was San Jose’s gain.

Both Stuart and Primeau were traded to Calgary soon after for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew (a good move for Boston). Sturm had a good run with Boston,  posting 193 points in 302 games in the five season he played. Thornton’s career exploded in San Jose. “Jumbo” Joe has potted 937 points in 914 games which is on par with two other stars in the NHL: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

And yes, critics are quick to point out that Thornton has yet to win the Stanley Cup. However, you can’t deny that Boston missed the boat and let a superstar slip through their hands.

2. Doing It For Ray

Boston Acquires: Brian Rolston, Sami Pahlsson, Martin Grenier, and 1st Round Pick

Colorado Acquires: Ray Bourque, Dave Andreychuk

This was a tough one for Boston; Bourque had cemented his career in Boston, having played 21 seasons in the hub. But in all that time, the Stanley Cup had alluded the top defenseman. The 39-year-old was looking for his first championship, and Colorado offered just that. With a contract set to expire, Bourque was shipped to the Avalanche and in 2001 finally won the Cup. As for the Bruins, letting go of one of the NHL’s best defenseman in history proved to be a bit disastrous.

Brian Rolston played solid for four seasons in Boston (236 points in 338 games). Pahlsson, Grenier and first-round pick Martin Samuelsson played a combined 31 games and netted three goals. Yup, you read that right; three goals combined! At least Bourque finally got his cup though.

9 Jun 2001: Ray Bourque #77 of the Colorado Avalanche and teammate Patrick Roy #33 raise the Stanley Cup after they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 in game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche take the series 4-3. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/Allsport(PHOTO CREDITS: NHL.COM)

3. The One That Stings

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin(PHOTO CREDITS: Jerome Mirron-USA Today)

Boston Acquires: Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser

Dallas Acquires: Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button

It’s been five years since the Bruins traded a young 21-year-old future superstar albeit rumors of hard partying. His playing was also affected: during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, Seguin played abysmally, netting one goal in eight games. Despite his soft play on the ice, this trade was still hard to swallow. On one hand, you have a young person who is acting like most 21-year-olds (honestly who hasn’t crushed beers when you turn 21). On the other hand, there’s a high level of professionalism that is expected while playing in the NHL. The Bruins were exasperated with Seguin’s lifestyle and had to make an unpopular move; trade a potential superstar who was on his way to squandering his talents. Or so they thought.

Seguin proved his worth in Dallas, became a media darling and turned out to be the superstar Boston was looking for. Being traded served as a wake-up call for Seguin and simply put: he grew up. Sadly, Boston’s loss was a huge win for the Stars.  He has made four All-Star appearances with stats that continue to climb: 162 goals with 357 points in over 365 games.

Eriksson, for his part, had a productive three years in Boston before being signed by Vancouver: 147 points in 224 games. Morrow played 65 games, while Fraser played 38 games, scoring five goals. Smith played 91 games before being traded for Jimmy Hayes. Fraser last played in Sweden and never did much in Boston. As the dust settled, Boston was left with nothing after the Sequin trade. Zero. Yikes.

4. Canadien Crush

Image result for The Game (Dryden book)(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)

Boston Acquires: Paul Reid and Guy Allen

Montreal Acquires: Ken Dryden and Alex Campbell

In a trade that proved to be a lopsided deal, the Bruins let go of a future Hall of Famer goalie in Dryden. The worst part of this move: both Reid and Allen played a total of ZERO games in the NHL. Dryden, on the other hand, dominated in net for Montreal in every Stanley Cup final starting in 1971.

Playing against arguably the best Bruins team that was led by Bobby Orr, it was 23-year-old rookie Dryden that would lead Montreal to a cup. During the 1977 and 1978 Stanley Cup final versus the Bruins, Dryden was an unstoppable force. In just seven seasons, Dryden won the Vezina Trophy five times and the Stanley Cup six times.

He would face Boston in a few Stanley Cup finals and won each time. The Bruins would once again be on the sidelines, watching a former player enjoy wild success with another team.

5. Sealing The Deal

Image result for reggie leach bruins(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)

Boston Acquires: Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue

Golden Seals (California) Acquires: Reggie Leach, Rick Smith, and Bob Stewart

While it may be true that Vadnais would become a solid defenseman for the Bruins after playing three seasons, (he would end playing five seasons for Boston) what puts this trade on the list is a player named Reggie Leach. Even though he was traded to the California Seals, his shining moment would be his career playing in Philadelphia.  With 372 goals and 640 points, Leach would play for the both the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. Philly would face Boston in 1976 for the Stanley Cup, defeating them four games to one. Leach would score nine goals in five games. That same year, he won the Conn Smythe trophy.

As for O’Donoghue: he didn’t dress for a single NHL game. Both Smith and Stewart continued to play solid for their teams respectfully (Smith would return to Boston in 1976 and played there until 1980).

Moral Of The Story

Any time you have a team who has been around for as long as the Bruins, you’re bound to have some great trades and a few dumpster fires. As for the Sweeney Era, some honorable mentions would be the Matt Belesky contract debacle and the Jimmy Hayes/Reilly Smith swap. Both came at the time when Sweeney took over the GM position, so we’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. Still, one would not blame fans for being nervous anytime Boston has an unsigned stud, a la Pastrnak in 2017. After a bizarre standoff that included a KHL threat, Sweeney got a steal in signing the Czech superstar: six years for $40 million.

After the 2018-2019 season, there will be a few young players that will become restricted free agents. Many have already proven to be legit superstars after the end of this season. Will the front office secure DeBrusk, McAvoy, and Carlo? We’ll just have to nervously wait and see.

Honorable Bruins Birthday Mention – Marco Sturm

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred              Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Marco Sturm  9-8-78

No doubt one of the better players coming back from the Boston Bruins trading Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks. The 6′-0″ 196-pound winger hailing from West Germany had his best years in my opinion while playing in a Bruins jersey. Before the infamous trade, Sturm started his career in the German DEL Elite League before transitioning his game to the National Hockey Leagues San Jose Sharks who drafted him in the first round in 1996. In 553 games on the West Coast, he posted 128-135-263 numbers but came to the B’s adding some speed and skill with an aggressive mentality to a big bad Bruins type of style.

( Above Photo Credit:   dw. com )

It’s too bad players like Sturm who was a part of the building process even tho he missed a full season from having his name inscribed on the Famed Stanley Cup when the B’s beat Vancouver in 2011 to bring the cup back after a 39-year absence. Marco would struggle to stay in the league after battling injury and made stops with the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and the last 42 games of his NHL career with the Florida Panthers, he headed back to his German country to keep playing but ended up in the coaching ranks with most recent German National Team.

There are many great memories during Sturm’s time with the Black and Gold but one of my two favorites to honor his time in Boston can be seen below:

And who can forget about this moment in New England History as the Boston Bruins pay homage of those  thousands of city/town club teams that played their games many years ago outside and live moments that will last a generation like this:

 

Smoke Clouds Develop Ahead of Bruins Free Agency

By Jesse Jiminez                     Follow Me On Twitter @Jessemedscience 

It’s sure getting a little dark out there, and I don’t mean the unpredictable New England weather. Rather, the calm before the storm that quietly sits above our heads just mere hours ahead of free agency. We’ve already seen a lightning strike with the Chicago Blackhawks trading Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, re-acquiring Brandon Saad in the process. We also saw Pittsburgh make an interesting move by nabbing Ryan Reaves from the St. Louis Blues, who will undoubtedly serve as Sydney Crosby’s new body guard for the foreseeable future.

This year’s free agency class, as a whole, is not very strong  — Perhaps pushing clubs to fill their respective holes via trade. This doesn’t mean there are not intriguing names on the FA market. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Kevin Shattenkirk headline the list of available targets. While Karl Alzner, Alexander Radulov, and Justin William provide viable plan ‘B’ options. Plenty of speculation has started to bubble on the surface of many rumors, many of them involving the Boston Bruins. NHL analyst Pierre McGuire recently told TSN radio in Canada that he feels Shattenkirk eventually ends up with the black and gold. “I think Boston…He’s a specialist player and his specialty is the powerplay, he’s really good at the powerplay.”

**I interrupt this blog post to bring you some NHL breaking news**

Various sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, indicating Minnesota has traded Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville to Buffalo in exchange for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a pick — 11:50am (6/30/2017)

**Now back to our original scheduled blog post, thanks for reading**

Another interesting scenario would be signing Joe Thornton to a short-term deal, perhaps bringing full circle what has turned out to be a tremendous statistical career. There are definitely miles on the tires but the 37-year old center has put up at least 50-pts each of the last four seasons and still possess one of the games most elite skill-sets. Of course, this would be contingent on Boston moving a body or two to offset the $7mill+ price tag Thornton’s camp would command. However, with David Pastrnak’s extension still in the works Don Sweeney would have to put his Harvard degree to good use and make things work financially.

According to Sweeney’s pre-FA presser this morning it does not sound like he would be too active on the market — Although he did state that he’s committed to icing a competitive team. Which begs the question, are the Bruins in a position to improve their hockey club via trade? With a plethora of talent in the system and some cap space to play with (roughly $14.5mill after Hayes buyout) Don Sweeney and company have ample options in regards to what type of moves they can make. Let’s not sugarcoat this, Bruins fans have been salivating for a blockbuster, and they’re well aware Boston is in a position to pull something off, something big.

Prominent names like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonas Brodin continue to circle the halls of TD Garden. Rumors are quite speculative in nature, even fabricated, but there are also ones that tend to hang around just enough to add some dramatic effect and story lines. How the saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there is fire, ” and when it comes to Duchene, Landeskog, and Brodin, here are a few embers giving fuel to the fumes. At this year’s trade deadline, there was a general feeling around the league that Joe Sakic and Don Sweeney were close on a deal for either Landeskog or Duchene — A package that would include young promising 20-yr old defensemen Brandon Carlo. There were mix reactions, depending who’d you asked. Some scouts feel Carlo is a future top-pair defensemen while others say he’s a top 3 at best with limited offensive upside. It was quite obvious how the Bruins felt at the time as a deal never materialized.

With an apparent need for a top-6 forward, would Sweeney and company re-consider trading Brandon Carlo if it meant getting back a young dynamic forward? For what its worth, the defensemen position is that hardest position in hockey to project as it takes time for players to adjust to the speed and how to read the game at a high level. Is it worth taking the chance with an established player, one that has had success? Would it be a gamble to give up a traditional stay-at-home defensemen who may have more tools in the box than initially projected? Time is ticking and there are decisions to be made with this group. There’s no doubt this Bruins team will be younger, faster, and more skilled come opening night — But whose names will we be hearing being called for the first game of the season four months from now…?

Signing off,

Jesse ” The Dominican PuckHead”

-Stay Inspired