According to Frank Seravalli of TSN and other reports, the Boston Bruins have signed defenceman Steven Kampfer to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $800,000 per season ($1.6 million total).
Steven Kampfer is staying with #NHLBruins. Pending UFA signs a 2-year, $1.6 million extension ($800k AAV).
The 30-year-old, Ann Arbor, Michigan native has had a solid history with the Boston Bruins over his seven-year NHL career. Kampfer began his tenure in Boston back in the 2010-11 season, playing 38 games after joining the club in March of 2010 in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks. Kampfer recorded 5-5-10 totals in that time with Boston.
After ten games played in the 2011-12 season, Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild and would not find himself in Boston until September 11, 2018, when he and two draft picks were sent to Boston in exchange for D Adam McQuaid. Within the 2018-19 campaign, Steven Kampfer played in another 35 games for the Bruins, recording three goals and three assists for six points, averaging 14:38 of time on ice.
The depth blueliner also found himself playing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs – playing one game in three of the four series. Kampfer skated for 11:06 in Game Three against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round One and played 14:56 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring the first goal of the hockey game.
Kampfer played a key role throughout the season for the Bruins, bringing some experience to the depth blueline players, especially when injuries or suspensions prevented the top players on Boston’s backend from playing. Even though the plus/minus statistic is typically looked down upon, Kampfer was never once a minus player in the postseason, further confirming that he can be trusted on in those important games.
For the Bruins, this contract ensures that they have the depth on defence that they need quite a lot. It has already been announced that defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller will be out of the lineup for some time to begin the 2019-2020 regular season, meaning Boston will have to fall back on guys like Kampfer to get those early-season victories.
Boston and the rest of the National Hockey League are only one week away from the free agency frenzy on July 1st meaning those key players that need contracts are going to need to sign with their current teams fast. Boston now has just over $13 million in remaining cap space with players such as RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy, RFA defenceman Brandon Carlo, RFA forward Danton Heinen, UFA forward Noel Acciari and UFA forward Marcus Johansson, among others, expiring very soon.
This signing is a solid move for General Manager Don Sweeney as he locks up a reliable depth defenceman for under $1 million annually on a low-term deal. Heading into the next stages of the NHL offseason, the news and stories will be piling up and everyone here at Black N’ Gold Hockey will make sure that you get all of the latest information.
Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 132 below!!
Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.
This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.
It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.
( Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper/ USA TODAY Sports )
No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”
He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.
It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.
( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )
Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.
Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.
This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”
Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.
( Photo Credit: Getty Images )
Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”
The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.
The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”
Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.
David Backes on when he’ll get some clarity about his situation in Boston:
“I don’t know what that time schedule looks like. …. Obviously, if I’m going somewhere else — which I hope to not be. This is a hell of group in here.” pic.twitter.com/xSwO5mReFo
By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks
While Oskar Sundqvist’s dirty hit on Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals warranted both a minor penalty and a one-game suspension, the Boston Bruins found themselves feeling the repercussions (and concussions) of that incident for a much longer period of time.
Oskar Sundqvist hits #Bruins‘ Matt Grzelcyk from behind late in the 1st and gets two minutes for boarding.
As the hit took place early on in Game 2, Grzelcyk has essentially missed five games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins have gone on to win just two of these games, while losing three games, including the game from which Grzelcyk was removed for injury. On the contrary, the Bruins have won every the single game in which Grzelcyk remained healthy during the Final. While one game is a small sample size, it’s also all that stands between the Bruins and the greatest prize in professional sports.
St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist has been suspended for one game for Boarding Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk. https://t.co/2W0ZLnn9fI
Sure, the Bruins have been able to string together a couple wins without Grzelcyk. But anyone who would argue that the Bruins’ third defensive pairing, not to mention their team as a whole, has been missing the completeness and maturity of Grzelcyk’s game has not been watching.
In Grizz’s stead, John Moore has stepped in and has been…present. The predicament that Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the string-pullers behind the Black and Gold curtain find themselves in is a tricky one, which couldn’t come at a more critical time:
If Matt Grzelcyk is cleared to play in Game 7, do the Bruins opt to put him into the lineup, or stick with John Moore?
The Case For Grzelcyk
Bruins fans know just how good Grzelcyk is, and has been, for the entirety of the 2019 postseason. A stalwart for the Bruins all year on their third-pairing, Grzelcyk’s upside has skyrocketed far beyond what most Bruins fans imagined at the start of the season. While he showed flashes of skating ability and strong puck-moving ability last season, he elevated his game to a new level throughout 2018-2019, and well into the playoffs.
What makes his health so important to the Bruins’ success in a seven-game series against St. Louis is the exact same reason that he has been injured for the majority of the series—the St. Louis forecheck. The Blues have demonstrated a propensity for aggressive play in the offensive zone on the forecheck in an attempt to disrupt clean zone exits by Boston. This aggression has at times proven to be dirty play, manifesting itself through hits from behind, hits to the head, and the occasional slewfoot. I’m not here to enforce the rules. It seems too that, at times, the referees aren’t even here to enforce the rules.
Grzelcyk is not just effective in the Bruins’ own zone against St. Louis, but his ability to snap tape-to-tape passes out of the zone in concert with his ability to beat forecheckers with speed make him an invaluable asset. The quicker the Bruins can break it out of their own zone, the less time they spend there. Read a book for once.
Having a defenseman who can, at times, singlehandedly surpass a forecheck designed to make the game tougher on the Bruins, inherently makes the game easier on the entire Black and Gold roster. Fewer minutes in the D-zone means fewer tough minutes, which means that the majority of the Bruins’ energy can be allotted towards effectiveness in the offensive zone (bingos, ginos, daggers, lazershows…goals).
It would be difficult to argue that John Moore’s upside accomplishes half of what a healthy Grzelcyk’s does. As such, and as is the nature of the hypothetical I’ve raised, the issue lies with just how healthy Grzelcyk is, even if he is cleared to play.
The Case for Moore
It would be impossible to argue that John Moore has not played in the four most recent games of the Stanley Cup Final. There is video evidence of him playing in the aforementioned games. John Moore is a defenseman who has played in the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup Final.
Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Has John Moore’s play hurt the Bruins in any overt or measurable way? No. His +/- even sits in the positives (at a whopping +1) for the series, whereas his +/- throughout the postseason stands at -3. Plus/minus does not tell the whole story of any one player’s performance. Heck (yes, heck), it doesn’t even tell all that much about a player’s performance. But you can’t ask much more of a seventh/eighth defenseman than to step into the lineup and be unremarkable.
Through his first three games of the series, Moore played… hockey. He played hockey. He wasn’t bad. He wasn’t good. But he was in the lineup, and that’s a fact.
Where this hypothetical gets even Moore interesting is after watching Moore’s performance in Game 6. Moore played 17 minutes in a must-win game, and by all accounts… he played well. Moore’s gutty performance featured a hit and three key shot blocks. While Moore has never lit the world on fire offensively with the Bruins, his best efforts have come when he plays a gritty, hard-nosed style of hockey.
Tonight, Charlie McAvoy led #NHLBruins with 25:22 Time On Ice & 5 hits. Patrice Bergeron put 6 shots on goal. Sean Kuraly had 3 takeaways. John Moore led with 3 blocked shots. Brandon Carlo finished with a +3.
While he was on the ice for 100% of St. Louis’s goals (1) in Game 6, he made a strong case to remain in the lineup for the upcoming series-clincher on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see whether Cassidy opts to keep his Game 6 lineup intact or to roll the dice and play Grzelcyk who has been on the shelf for two weeks. As for me, I hate rolling dice, but I love Matt Grzelcyk.
A lot of people grow up imagining themselves scoring the game-winner in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, but not me. I grew up imagining Matt Grzelcyk scoring the Cup-winning goal. If Grizz is healthy enough to go for Game 7, I want to see him in the lineup. And if you don’t want to see that happen, then you are officially not invited to my birthday party. Sorry.
Big Thanks to Me
Before you go, I’d like you all to take a moment to appreciate that I have typed the name ‘Grzelcyk’ no fewer than twenty times. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve almost always typed ‘Grzelyck,’ on my first attempt, and have subsequently had to type Grze…#48’s name twice for every time I wanted to reference him. There were times when I wanted to quit. But I persevered. After all, this is Game 7 we’re talking about, and I wasn’t going to let a little a lot of adversity slow me down. Round of applause for me.
Bruins fans have been pretty spoiled this year. In addition to NESN’s long-running “Behind the B” series, which offers a more candid look at the team, the NHL produced a program leading up to the Bruins/Blackhawks New Year’s Day Winter Classic game at Notre Dame Stadium, and the Bruins have been featured in numerous special series and segments throughout the team’s long playoff run.
One thing that has been obvious from the abundance of behind-the-scenes footage made available this season is that this particular Bruins’ team has strong chemistry – both on and off the ice. Comprised of a core of veterans who have battled alongside each other for years and a group of future stars who grew up together, if you will, in development camps, the AHL and now on the NHL-level, the team as a whole seems to have found the secret to coming together as one cohesive unit.
This chemistry has also been quickly recognized and adopted by newer players like Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johanssen, who were acquired near the trade deadline, and 2018 free-agent signings Chris Wagner, John Moore, Joakim Nordstrom and Jaroslav Halak.
John Moore, on the Bruins’ chemistry:
“For lack of a better way to put it there’s no dickheads.”
In fact, Wagner played a key role in the team-unifying phenomenon that seems to have started it all. On Nov. 1, 2018, Wagner posted a Halloween-themed photo on Instagram that featured him, six of his teammates and Torey Krug’s wife dressed up in the style made popular by the television show Peaky Blinders.
Two months later, the entire team donned Peaky Blinders garb to make a decided fashion statement as they entered the stadium for the Winter Classic. The look was so popular, a “Peaky Bruins” poster was created and handed out to fans at a game at TD Garden later in the season.
A poll conducted on Twitter indicated that many Bruins fans agreed that the Peaky Bruins was their favorite display of the team’s chemistry so far this season.
Hey, Bruins fans! I’m working on an article on the current Bruins team’s amazing chemistry. Please help me out and let me know which was your favorite moment(s) from this season.
Of course, good chemistry on any team comes from good leadership. Captain Zdeno Chara has long-preached an everyone is equal attitude, from the most seasoned veteran to the greenest rookie. Chara also calls on each member of the team to support the others, and he leads by example.
The 42-year-old captain has demonstrated his team-first mentality several times throughout the season. The most memorable examples came in the clinching game four of the Eastern Conference Finals, when the injured Chara put on his uniform and came onto the ice to celebrate with his team, as well as when he sat on the bench in a full-face shield in the third period of game four of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday to support the team after being knocked out of the game. His teammates certainly took notice.
After Wagner left game-three of the ECF with an apparent arm injury, he returned to Boston for medical tests while the rest of the team remained in Carolina for what turned out to be the series-clinching game. Still, the team made sure to include Wagner in the post-game locker room celebration.
Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and Chris Wagner may have missed the #NHLBruins ECF-clinching win in Carolina with injuries, but their teammates made sure they didn’t miss the celebration.
And, that brings us to soccer-tennis. Lots of hockey players warm up before the games with spirited games of “no-touch.” However, this Bruins team apparently has upped its game to a hybrid sport that can be played in the locker room, the weight room, or just about anywhere.
The long list of unique moments from the 2018-2019 version of the Boston Bruins also included the legend of “the fishbowl.” The full-face shield seemed to give both Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari a scoring touch when injuries forced them to wear it. In Kuraly’s case, teammates teased him about the powers of the plexiglass. The tables were turned when Steven Kampfer, who had made fun of Kuraly’s choice of protective gear, suffered a mouth injury in the next game that left him wearing the same shield.
Of course, the ultimate team-bonding moment will occur if the Bruins win this series and hoist the Stanley Cup. However, win or lose, this team promises to hold a special place in fans’ hearts for years to come.
This phrase should probably be printed on all 2018-19 Bruins gear, emblazoned above the B’s locker room door, bannered onto the forefront of the TD Garden and artistically etched onto the ice right below Stanley Cup Finals. It’s literally the motto — and mantra — for a bruised Black N’ Gold team that’s taken pride in players truly stepping up when called upon. Now, it appears, yet another member of your three-wins-away-from-winning-it-all Bruins will have one “Moore” chance to make his teammates and the city proud.
“That’s kind of the mentality we’ve had all year – next man up. Now it’s my turn, I’m ready to go”
That’s right, it’s likely John Moore’s turn to take the place in game three for an untimely injured Matt Grzelcyk (who, if you reluctantly remember, was boarded by the now-suspended Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in game two). Moore, who hasn’t played since he slotted in for an injured Zdeno Chara in the B’s series-clinching win against Carolina two weeks ago, is without a doubt eager to make an impact in a pivotal road contest that could easily change the course and momentum of the series.
🎥 John Moore on potentially stepping into the lineup for Game 3: “This is why you train, why you prepare, why you take care of yourself. When you’re called upon, it’s time to do your job.” pic.twitter.com/u9S4nsaXjb
Much in the same way Steve Kampfer injected some energy and, if you can believe it, timely goal scoring when he “next-man-upped” himself into action for game one of the ECF against the Hurricanes, Moore hopes to help his team both on the blue line and on the score sheet if he can. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will take either, but his primary thinking of choosing Moore over Kampfer, to most likely pair with Connor Clifton, is the versatile veteran’s left leaning (blue)lining.
As for the rest of his squad, Moore certainly has the support and confidence from his teammates, all of whom expected him to be a more permanent fixture on the back end all season long until injuries and depth chart-jumping forced him out of the lineup for extended stretches this year. However, NOW is the most important time of the year for the Bruins and that’s all that matters — to the team, to management, to the fans and to Moore. He knows opportunities like this don’t come around that often and making the most of them could result in the ultimate prize: hoisting the Stanley Cup high over his head for the first time in his career.
(Photo Credit: Spokesman-Review)
If he helps the B’s to a game three victory, then guess what? The new next man up will only have two “Moore” wins to go!
A year ago, young defenseman Connor Clifton played in his first season with the Providence Bruins. He came to Providence as a college free agent signing an AHL contract, after not signing with the Arizona Coyotes (the team that drafted him) and electing free agency. The New Jersey native came from Quinnipiac University, where he had a very successful college career, and even served as the Bobcats’ Captain in his senior season. After taking some time to adjust to the AHL game, the young defenseman got better with each game he played through the season. The Boston Bruins were so happy with his progression that they signed him to a two-year ELC after last season.
Here’s a clip from last night of Connor Clifton being his regular, electric self. Gains the OZ and goes through his own legs and around a defender. Dangles the goalie, then comes back around to setup a goal. His patience and confidence is through the roof. #NHLBruinspic.twitter.com/Vrh8rdUB5b
Coming into this season, the major things that stood out about Clifton’s game were his great skating ability, and his aggressive play both with and without the puck. The former Quinnipiac University Captain came into this season on a mission, playing extremely well for Providence. Even early in the season, it was easy to see that Clifton had the biggest improvement in play from last year to this year. Then in mid-November with a lot of injuries to the Boston defense, Clifton got his first call-up to the big club. In his nine-game stint, he looked good. The young defenseman didn’t register a point, but he played good defense and looked like he belonged in the NHL.
#AHLBruins defensemen Connor Clifton and veteran Kyle Cumiskey working well along the blue line waiting for the eventual goal scorer Joona Koppanen to get set up in front of LV goaltender Alex Lyon. Koppanen would later tip in his second goal of the year. #BruinsFam#NHLBruinspic.twitter.com/Qk9PGFwaz8
After being sent back down to Providence, he continued to improve his game. Playing great defense while also contributing offensively as well. The injury bug bit the Boston Bruins defense again, and in mid-March, Clifton was called back up to the NHL, and this time it was for good. He would play in 10 games at the end of the regular season and registered his first NHL point, getting an assist in a win against the Florida Panthers. Overall, in 19 games with the Boston, he registered the one point. While in Providence, he netted six goals while dishing out 21 assists for 27 points in 53 games played. That’s a point per game total of .509.
Is there a better time to score your first career NHL goal?
At the end of the season, Clifton was playing so well that the Bruins decided he would be in their line-up when the playoffs started April 11, 2019, against Toronto. The New Jersey native would get dinged up in the game one loss to Toronto, but finally got back into the line-up in time for the game seven victory that sent Toronto home for the summer and Cliffy Hockey was born. The young defenseman has played so well that he’s stayed in the rotation even with big free agent acquisition John Moore, who signed a five-year 13.75 million dollar contract in July being healthy.
With each game Clifton plays, you can see him getting more confident and playing better. Not only defensively, but offensively as well. The Quinnipiac Alum plays big. He’s not afraid to throw his body around, and he plays an aggressive style that is an absolute joy to watch. Not only that, his skating ability is awesome. Clifton’s speed has helped in both ends of the ice these playoffs. His play has really peaked during this recent eight-game playoff winning streak that the Bruins are on. In the eight games, he’s netted his first two career NHL goals, and dished out two assists for four total points. As the stage gets brighter, so does Clifton’s play. His goal in game one of the Stanley Cup Final was huge. The Bruins were down 2-0, and the goal turned the tide of the game.
A lot of goals are created by players that don't end up on the scoresheet.
The Boston Bruins find themselves just three wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup for the seventh time in franchise history. There are many contributing factors that have led them to this point. The play of Tuukka Rask, the play of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and the third line, the play of Sean Kuraly and the fourth line, even the team’s defense as a whole. However, even with all of those factors, Connor Clifton’s coming out party which has solidified the defensive third pairing is as big a factor as all of those things. If Boston wants to finish off this season with a championship, then Clifton will need to continue his high level of play, and I expect him to do just that. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions on Twitter, and I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the Stanley Cup Final. Finally, most importantly, GO, B’S, GO!
By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks
The Bruins, for the second time in the span of two weeks, closed out a hard-fought playoff series against a solid, skilled playoff opponent. The hard-earned victory did not come without its share of physicality, an aspect of the series in which Bruins’ defenseman Charlie McAvoy was more than involved.
Examining the series as a whole, McAvoy’s game has been elevated as the playoffs have progressed. McAvoy’s one outlier (performance-wise) came in Game 2, in which some questionable pinches and late-game defense by McAvoy found Boston relying on Tuukka Rask to make some saves that were not only large but were also in charge (I am hilarious, big credit to me). Aside from that one game, McAvoy has made a consistent case to be considered as the Bruins’ top defenseman…and if Brandon Carlo had chosen to be a basketball player as a young man, McAvoy would indeed be the Black and Gold’s top blue-liner. Fortunately for the Bruins, Carlo stuck with hockey.
Bruins’ McAvoy lays out Blue Jackets’ Anderson with a controversial hit late in the second period of Game 6
At any rate, McAvoy’s aforementioned physicality led to him taking a brief dip in some hot water. McAvoy’s hit on Josh Anderson at the end the second period of Monday’s Game 6 against Columbus warranted a penalty, and many a Jackets fan (and hockey fan) thought warranted even more of a response. Regardless of McAvoy’s meeting with the Department of Player Safety on Tuesday afternoon, the scenario that McAvoy misses some time is a difficult one that the Bruins need to be ready for (regardless of how his absence comes about). While the Bruins have used defensemen Steven Kampfer, John Moore, and Connor Clifton at different times as members of the team’s third D-pairing, the absence of McAvoy might shake up the lineup much more than a fluctuating third-pair.
Boston’s Charlie McAvoy will have a hearing today for an Illegal Check to the Head on Columbus’ Josh Anderson.
For instance, McAvoy has been crucial to the lineup as a partner for Zdeno Chara, who (as much as it pains me to say) has begun to look more and more his age as the playoffs have progressed. Having McAvoy’s athleticism, skating ability, hockey sense, and physicality on the back end provide a much larger safety net for Chara than, say, Steven Kampfer might. I’m not bashing Kampfer, and I’m not bashing Chara. But it’s important to recognize the limits and capabilities of each defenseman in order to adequately address any potential lineup shifts.
With that being said, what would a potential Chuck-less lineup look like?
Certainly, Bruce Cassidy would be wiser than to put a seventh or eighth defenseman alongside Zdeno Chara. It is likely that this means Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton see themselves flanking the big man in the event that McAvoy is sidelined (press-boxed). While Kevan Miller would be a more than serviceable replacement for any right-handed defenseman in the lineup currently, his health remains an issue. This leaves Cassidy taking his pick of potential insertion into the lineup from Steven Kampfer or John Moore. While Kampfer might be the logical choice to fill the void of a missing right defenseman, I am of the camp that the best players should play, regardless of their handedness (a reason why I was baffled that Chara remained on the ice for the final minutes of Game 5… which is neither here nor there).
Sweeney says that Kevan Miller has made progress and has not been ruled out for the playoffs.
“Nothing definitive…we’re hopeful. The further we play, the more opportunity he has.”
Sweeney also notes that John Moore is available to play.
Unfortunately, I don’t think John Moore has separated himself as a better replacement than Steven Kampfer. For as much depth as the Bruins have in terms of actual bodies, the depth of their ability on the back-end is somewhat limited. And, while the Bruins have a considerable amount of Black Aces ready to play from Providence, the fact remains that Kampfer’s playoff experience, though limited, trumps that of any potential young prospect fresh out of Providence.
In the event that McAvoy does come out of the lineup for any reason (suspension, injury, etc.) I think it’s fair to expect Cassidy to go with the following pairings on the back end:
These pairings, while limited in their offensive capabilities, bring about the least amount of change to the lineup (Carlo pairing remains untouched) while balancing the amount of skating ability, defensive commitment, and experience to field an effective defensive corps.
As much as I’d like to be positive about the hypothetical pairings I just created in response to a potentially negative scenario, there’s no getting around that Charlie McAvoy’s removal from the B’s lineup hurts.
By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
The Bruins’ struggles to stay healthy as a team for extended periods of time this season have been well-documented. However, as luck may have it, the Bruins are entering the playoffs with a relatively clean bill of health–the exceptions being Sean Kuraly (fractured hand), Kevan Miller (lower-body), and John Moore (upper-body). Not having Miller in the lineup could still prove to be a huge loss, but things certainly look better compared to what else the Bruins dealt with this season.
After dealing with a lower-body issue in the final week of the regular season, it looks like Chris Wagner will be ready to go for Game One. Also, after missing the last two playoff runs with injuries sustained in the final games of the regular season, Brandon Carlo will finally get the chance to suit up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sure, one might read the title of this piece and chuckle, saying “anyone could tell me that,” but staying healthy has nagged the Bruins all year long; it may just prove to be their Achilles heel in the playoffs. Just look at the last two years the Bruins were in the playoffs: in 2017 versus Ottawa, the B’s were forced to lean on guys like Joe Morrow, John-Michael Liles, and Tommy Cross because of a depleted defense; in 2018, Brandon Carlo was missing again, while Rick Nash was clearly not 100% on the ice, among others.
Luck has not always been on the Bruins side this season; that’s for sure. Below you can find some examples of the injuries to key players that the Bruins have dealt with this season–just a few instances, of course:
Considering the frustrations between losing multiple big-time players coupled with the Bruins’ offensive struggles earlier this season, what the team was able to do this season is nothing short of spectacular. While it is no secret that the roster has been extremely depleted at times, the depth within the system has been able to step up and hold the fort when regulars have been out of the lineup for extended periods of time–from Karson Kuhlman to Jeremy Lauzon to Connor Clifton and so on.
The young guys and the depth players proved that they could step in and excel as needed, or in a pinch, during the regular season, but the playoffs a different animal where experience usually matters. Any team is able to handle some inexperienced guys in the lineup during the playoffs, but if Boston’s bottom-six or defense looks like the Providence Bruins like they did at one point or another this season, the team could be in big trouble.
So, for the Bruins to be successful and meet the expectations that the team not only has of itself but also the fans’ expectations, the team must find a way to stay healthy for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Just look at the 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning two weeks ago as proof–check out Mike Cratty’s recap of that game to get the rundown on everything that happened. Up front, the Bruins were without Kuraly and Marcus Johansson; however, things were a lot worse on defense as the B’s were without Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and Miller. The effects of a depleted defense, along with a lackluster effort in the third period, were what led to the Bruins’ third-period collapse on March 25th.
Considering the attack that the Toronto Maple Leafs boast–the three-headed monster in Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner (let’s not forget Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau)–the Bruins would certainly be in for a tough matchup if they were to lose a few guys to injury, especially on the backend. Should the Bruins end up in a meeting with Tampa Bay in the second round, the odds would be stacked against Boston even more if the team is down several players due to injury as the Bolts showcase guys like Art Ross-winner Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Tyler Johnson, to name a few.
📝 Monday’s Practice Rundown
▪️ Sweeney previews postseason
▪️ Miller out for start of 1st round
▪️ Moore, Kuraly on the mend
▪️ Game 1 lineup taking shapehttps://t.co/lTThot692s
The playoffs will certainly be exciting in Boston; fans and the Bruins themselves should like the team’s chances this year. However, health could prove to be a deciding factor in how deep the Bruins can take this playoff run.
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Jaroslav Halak was under siege in the first few moments as the Bruins were incredibly lax in their own zone. The bad start continued as the B’s were called for a too many men on the ice penalty as Pittsburgh looked to double the lead. The Bruins killed off the man advantage as the Penguins failed to get any significant scoring chances. The Bruins continued to struggle in their own zone as the Penguins got chance after chance but Halak kept it a one goal game.
Matt Grzelcyk went off for hooking with about 11 minutes to go in the period as the Penguins looked to extend the lead. The Bruins killed the man advantage yet again and even got a few shorthanded opportunities. The Bruins finally got their legs moving in the latter half of the period and they even picked up a power play as the Penguins were called for a delay of game penalty. After a turnover in the offensive zone, Jared McCann scored on a shorthanded breakaway to double the Pittsburgh lead.
The Penguins killed the Boston power play without giving up any great scoring chances. Almost immediately after the man advantage, Chris Wagner was called for tripping which resulted in the third Pittsburgh power play of the opening period. Evgeni Malkin negated the man advantage as he tripped Charlie McAvoy which resulted in a four on four. The Bruins were unable to score on the abbreviated power play, keeping them down by a pair.
With 33 seconds left in the period, McCann went off for interference as the B’s looked to cut into the Pittsburgh lead. The period ended with the Bruins still on the man advantage.
Score: 2-0 Penguins
The Penguins killed off the early power play as the Bruins continued to struggle to get scoring chances. With 17:41 to go in the period Grzelcyk went down after a shot to the arm from Patric Hornqvist and went down the tunnel. The Bruins would get yet another power play as Zach Trotman went off for slashing. David Krejci cut the lead in half after a scramble in front as the Bruins found the back of the net on the man advantage.
Danton Heinen takes a stick to the face — but sets up David Krejci for a goal in the process. Slick feed. pic.twitter.com/Mh2dm5qDlM
Patrice Bergeron was called for a delay of game penalty which resulted in another Pittsburgh power play with over 13 minutes left in the period. The B’s killed the penalty as the Penguins failed to generate any chances. The Bruins started the move the puck quicker towards the end of the period as they looked better than they had at any point in the game.
Brandon Carlo was called for tripping with under four minutes to go in the period as the Penguins looked to regain their two goal lead. Jake Guentzel finished off a two on one after a great feed from Sidney Crosby to double the Pittsburgh lead on the man advantage.
Halak made a couple of important saves in the opening moments of the period to keep the Bruins in the game. Wagner drew a penalty in the attacking zone as Trotman took him down, resulting in another Boston power play. The Penguins killed off the penalty as Matt Murray made a couple great stops to keep it a two goal game. The Bruins started to get their skating game going as the period went on but continued to have trouble getting chances.
Another huge stop by Halak on Guentzel kept it a 3-1 game as the Bruins tried desperately to look for some kind of positives as the period drew to a close. The Bruins got some chances towards the end of the period as they looked to get back into it and extend their point streak. The B’s pulled the goalie with over three minutes to go trying to get a pair.
John Moore cut the lead in half with a shot from the point that beat Murray with 1:01 to go as the Bruins tried to pull off another last minute comeback.
First Star: Murray. The Pittsburgh goalie was at his best in this one, stopping 39 shots in all.
Second Star: Halak. The Bruins were kept in the game especially in the third period by Number 41 who had another strong night despite the three goals against.
Third Star: McCann. Two goals including the empty net goal from McCann was the difference in the game for the Penguins.
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What might reasonably be forgotten or overlooked amidst the dominance with which the Boston Bruins have been playing as of late, is now riddled with injuries there roster was for a significant portion of the season. While the forward units have had battles of their own, this season has seen the ensemble of Bruins defensemen take more punishment than any other unit. Injuries to the majority of the Bruins top-7 defenseman have brought prospects like Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, and Urho Vaakanainen into the lineup for stints of their own. Steven Kampfer similarly played in more games (25) than many Bruins fans might have anticipated coming into the season.
The Bruins are not unique because of their struggles with injuries. In an 82-game season, you would be a fool to expect to throw out the same lineups every night for the duration of the season. Injuries happen to every team, almost always hurt. And, depending on where and how severely they strike, they can hurt A LOT.
Big Credit to Me
First, let me state that I am amazingly refraining from using every corny Moore/more pun that comes into my head. Which is incredibly difficult for me, especially given that I am speaking to how an increased role (more responsibility) on Moore’s behalf alleviates a lot of the issues that the Bruins dealt with late in last season. This restraint from overusing the cheap relationship between “Moore” and “more” (woah, they sound the same but are spelled differently!) is incredibly impressive of me, many will say. But I don’t expect your praise. Just listen to my words.
John Moore’s signing in the offseason flew under the radar for most casual hockey fans. Sure, he’d been in the league a few years and is widely regarded as a “solid” defenseman—a proven entity who will neither make nor break your team’s success. His contract doesn’t break the bank, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hockey-porn highlight video of coast-to-coast goals featuring Moore, so it registered as slightly less than newsworthy. But in the short (hopefully) examination of Moore’s game that follows, I’m hoping you can view his role like I do (Moore clearly, sorry), to understand just how big of a piece he is to the Black and Gold.
John Moore does not play a complex style of hockey. To the lei-person, you might describe it as a “meat and potatoes” type of game. He keeps it simple, plays primarily North-South, and makes a good first pass. “Meat and potatoes” might be accurate, if you’re talking about meat and potatoes that can skate like the wind. John Moore’s biggest asset is his skating ability, something that is often overlooked due to his generally stay-at-home-iness.” I might Trademark that term, I’m not sure yet. It’s neither here nor there.
John Moore can fly. While he doesn’t possess the offensive skill set or playmaking ability of fellow blueliner Torey Krug or *insert all-star defensemen here*, he has the motor to play with significant pace, which helps the Bruins for a few reasons. Not only do Moore’s wheels help him fit in with a D core that has evolved in terms of their skating ability as a whole, but they afford him the freedom to jump up in the play as needed. Moore’s speed and hustle to get back quickly coming back to Boston’s own end allow him to play more creatively in the offensive zone, which has manifested itself through Moore making confident pinches and extending offensive zone time for the B’s.
He won’t rank among the Bruin’s most reliable puck movers, scorers, or tough guys. But John Moore plays with pace, grit, and speed. In today’s NHL and its massive emergence of speed and skill among forwards, it’s crucial to have as many defensive pieces as possible to match speed and eliminate it as a threat. I look at John Moore as a workingman’s Nick Leddy.
Coming into the season, Moore was brought in to be an effective third-paring defenseman. His contract reflected the belief that the organization had in Moore to play solid minutes every night as a regular. As the season has progressed, Moore has, as of late, been looked to as the 7th defenseman. On nights where the D-core has been healthy, Moore has found himself out of the lineup. Fortunately for the Bruins, this is not a reflection of poor play on Moore’s behalf. In all honesty, this has come about due to the astounding development in the game of Matt Grzelcyk, who has not only played himself into the Bruins’ regular defensive unit but has earned himself some time on the second powerplay unit as well.
Having addressed that Moore’s status is not the result of any type of poor play, this presents itself as a great problem to have. A problem of too many good and healthy players is one that Don Sweeney and Bruce Cassidy would have killed to have last season, as their depleted defensive unit couldn’t stave off Tampa Bay’s offensive onslaught in the second round of the playoffs. When looking at Moore’s roughly $2.75M/year contract, I think most would agree the defensive depth and reliability is a resource that has proven to easily be worth $3 million, especially after seeing what Brandon Carlo’s absence did to the B’s playoff hopes.
Interestingly, as I mentioned earlier, almost all of the Bruins regular 7 defensemen have missed time this year due to injury. Among the least affected by the injury bug has been Moore himself. This has allowed the Cassidy’s Bruins to continue to field a bona fide 6-man defensive unit even when injuries have struck. Even now, the B’s find themselves down Kevan Miller for the foreseeable week or so—something that would be exponentially more troublesome if not for Moore’s steady hand and readiness on the back end. The best ability is availability, and Moore has it in spades.
In a category that is much less based in nuance, Moore’s average ice time is in the 19-minute range. By all accounts, this stat is completely unremarkable on its own. However, when it is factored into the equation (not an actual equation) that involves how much rest it provides top dogs like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Zdeno Chara, it proves to be much more significant. Teams struggle when third-paring defenseman can only be counted on to play 12 solid minutes a night because it means that top-pairing defensemen will end up shouldering the load for at least 25 minutes. This type of even distribution that Moore can bring to the Bruins’ defense makes the unit more effective as a whole and counterbalances the negatives that fatigue can bring to many a D-core.
John Moore eats important minutes. Let’s call them his lunch. But what’s for dinner? Shots. John Moore soaks pucks. Despite having a set of tools that doesn’t extend much past his skating ability, John Moore is second among Bruins’ defensemen in blocked shots, with 72. For someone that skates as gracefully as Moore does, it’s encouraging to see him embrace the gritty side of things, which is something that Bruins fans love (see: Gregory Campbell). Moore’s willingness to put his body in harm’s way to prevent scoring chances, and doing so effectively, make him a staple on the Bruins’ penalty kill.
The Bruins’ currently hold one of the better penalty kills in the league and will need to continue to do so to get through offensive juggernauts in the East like Tampa and Toronto.
John Moore feeds the puck to Chris Wagner, who buries his fourth goal of the season and still finds time to knock Brett Seney into the net.
For those who wished to skip the details of what John Moore means to this Bruins team, the three-word summary reads as follows: He is important.
Moore brings speed, depth, health, grit, and perhaps most importantly, he brings experience to a team that has its fair share of talented yet inexperienced players. All evidence points to John Moore’s continued unheralded contributions to a successful Bruins team. He won’t get recognized for it by most people.
But I don’t think he’ll care.
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