Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston vs. Colorado: 2/10/19

Image result for bruins avalanche 2018

(Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Boston Bruins

Away: Colorado Avalanche

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen

Cehlarik – Krejci – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Frederic – Nordstrom

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Miller

Moore – Carlo

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Colorado’s Lineup

Forwards

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen

Kerfoot – Compher – Wilson

Nieto – Soderberg – Calvert

Greer – Dries – Andrighetto

Defense

Girard –  Johnson

Nemeth – Barrie

Graves – Zadorov

Goalies

Varlamov

Grubauer

First Period

Check out this fun fact. Well, it’s not really fun, but it’s pretty crazy.

In all six of their previous matinees, the Bruins have found the win column. Making it seven was certainly on the agenda. The excitement of Saturday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Kings and the “Beat LA” chants started off the weekend in thrilling fashion. Not to mention the excellent tribute to Patrice Bergeron’s 1000th game milestone.

Danton Heinen incidentally caught Erik Johnson up high with 10:06 to go – making things interesting in an otherwise pedestrian start to the game on both sides. Thankfully for their sake, the Bruins killed off the penalty.

Heinen high sticks Erik Johnson, around six-and-a-half minutes later, Gabriel Landeskog trips Heinen. A minute and eight seconds into the Boston power play, Torey Krug hooked Matt Calvert in front of the net to make it a 52 second 4-on-4 with 2:33 to go.

Nathan MacKinnon broke the ice by potting a power-play goal right under the crossbar with 33 seconds to go. That lead carried into the intermission, giving Colorado a chance to make good on their momentum heading into the second period. First period shots were 12 to 7 Colorado.

Score: 1-0 Colorado

Second Period

MacKinnon found himself with the back of the net in his sights early on in the period in what was a fast start for the Avalanche. The fast start didn’t last long as John Moore found the back of the net to even things up thanks to a great shot and a screen by Bergeron. Before the goal, Charlie McAvoy laid a great hit on fellow Boston University alum, Matt Nieto. A scrum highlighted by Brad Marchand and former Bruin Carl Soderberg ensued after the goal. There was a whole lot going on. 1-1 with 16:20 to go. The goal marked Moore’s third of the season, assisted by McAvoy (13), and Marchand (44).

An opportunity to take their first lead of the game came in the form of MacKinnon putting the Bruins on the power play with a holding penalty on Sean Kuraly. Not too long after Soderberg interfered with McAvoy to create a 34-second 5-on-3 for the Bruins. MacKinnon caught a homerun pass out of the penalty box only to be stopped by Jaroslav Halak with a massive save to keep the game tied. This game escalated very quickly.

Despite a brief 5-on-3 and some solid chances, the Bruins couldn’t convert on the man advantage.

In the final minutes of the period, Moore attempted to wrap the puck around Colorado’s zone. While on the dasher, the puck deflected towards the net and in, but it was quickly determined that the puck was out of play, so the goal was nullified.

The shots were 15 to 12 in favor of the Bruins, and 24 to 22 Colorado overall. The second period set the stage for a wild third period.

Score: 1-1

Third Period

Kuraly went to the box on a hooking call 7:16 in, generating plenty of boos from the TD Garden crowd. Following the conclusion of the Colorado power play. David Pastrnak and David Krejci came together for a nice scoring chance, but no dice. Neither team was budging.

Krug then went to the box again for hooking – his second hooking penalty of the game. The Colorado power play did not last long as Tyson Barrie went to the box for a hooking penalty of his own and a 4-on-4 ensued. The 1-1 stalemate continued as neither team could put the puck in the back of the net with the extra space to operate.

With 2:15 remaining in regulation came a golden opportunity for the Bruins in the form of a power play thanks to a Sheldon Dries holding penalty. Krejci’s feed to Peter Cehlarik in the crease highlighted the power play, but again, no goals. The trend of not being able out games continues, marking the fifth time in their last seven games that viewers will get some free hockey. It was a true goalie battle through 60 minutes. At the end of regulation, shots were 34 to 31 Colorado, and 10 to 9 Colorado in the period.

Score: 1-1

Overtime

For Boston, Kuraly, Moore, and McAvoy, and for Colorado, MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog to start the extra frame. Huge scoring chances came from both sides early on, to no avail. A backhand wraparound chance for Calvert, no dice.

Finally, Brad Marchand made it an undefeated weekend for the Bruins. Who else but Marchand in overtime? His shot from just above the circles deflected off of Calvert and in to end this grueling game. Shots in the extra frame were 4 to 2 Bruins, and 36 to 35 Colorado overall. Next up for the Bruins are the Chicago Blackhawks at home at 7:00 PM ET at TD Garden.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

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What Does The Bruins Lineup Look Like When Healthy?

( Photo Credit: Zimbio.com )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Mer On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins finally look to be getting fully healthy. With Jake Debrusk, Zdeno Chara and Kevin Miller all nearing their returns, the Bruins will have quite a few lineup and roster decisions to make. With the addition of the four injured players, the Bs will have 14 F and 8 D, with only 21 slots for skaters on the roster, the Bruins would have to make a tough roster decision.

Who gets sent down?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

We recently learned that Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakanainen have been sent down to the AHL which makes sense. They’ve both stepped in and played very well when they’ve been asked to, at this point the two are no better than any of the Bruins current top 7 and would be better off getting a lot of minutes in the AHL.

The only players on the Bruins that don’t need to go through waivers when sent down are Charlie McAvoy, Jake Debrusk, Ryan Donato and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. The first two obviously don’t have a chance to get sent down. With the very strong play and increase in confidence and the strong play of the latter two, I don’t want to see either of them going back to Providence. However, there is a decent chance of JFK getting demoted. I’d say that leaves Noel Acciari, Colby Cave, JFK, and Steven Kampfer as the final “contenders” of getting sent down.

This decision is based on if Cassidy wants an extra D or forward. Cave has found his groove and is really stepping up his game as of late with his two points showing against the Canadiens last Monday. We’ve seen a lot more offense and consistency from Cave and would be a lot more attractive for another team to claim on waivers than a guy like Acciari who has one point all year. I’d like to see the Bruins hang on to Kampfer rather than Acciari because it seems the back end is a lot more prone to injuries than the forward group. Chances are JFK gets sent down simply based on the fact that he doesn’t have to get through waivers, but for the good of the Bruins right now, he’s deserved a spot on the big club over Acciari.

Forward Lines

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(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

So now that I’ve speculated on the roster moves, it’s time to move onto the lineup. I think it would be worth a shot to entertain the option of keeping Krejci on the top line, but ultimately, I think the Bergy-Marchy combo may be too much. Now that the two are continuing to build on their chemistry, I’d like Pasta and Krejci to stay together on the second line with Debrusk when he comes back. That obviously leaves a hole on the first line, and a couple players can fill that role.

There are two options, if they are lacking in scoring, I think Ryan Donato who has looked much better since getting recalled should be given a look on the first line. We’ve seen that Bergeron and Marchand can elevate anyone’s game and I think it could do wonders for Donato’s. If the Bs are looking for more of a two-way style, Danton Heinen could fit very well. He filled in last year on the top line for a few games when Marchand was suspended and filled in well, again it could be great for Heinen to develop his game with some of the best.

With that as the top 6, the third line starts to take shape. JFK has looked a lot more comfortable as of late and seemed to have taken a bottom six center job, but with Bergeron back, he was just recently a healthy scratch for two straight games. The young Swede might have to take a seat in the press box. The Bruins have entertained the option of having Joakim Nordstrom play center, but due to his sub-par face-off percentage, he’s likely to continue to play wing. As I previously said, Colby Cave has earned a spot on the team with his strong two-way game and sparks of offense, he would be a solid option on the third line for now. David Backes, who has looked great recently, would be a good fit on the line as a defensively reliable “bodyguard” type of player for the younger players on the line.

That leaves Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Nordstrom and JFK vying for 4th line minutes. Nordstrom has been outstanding all year and has been a swiss army knife for Cassidy with all of the injuries, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be playing. Wagner and Kuraly have played very well together and have garnered some chemistry so I think the two should fill out the 4th line. That all leaves JFK as the 13th forward to fill in wherever is needed. I think if any forward anywhere in the lineup goes down or needs a quick rest, Cave and Nordstrom can fill in admirably, Cassidy should just ride the hot hand for the rest of the year.

Defensive Pairs

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(FRED KFOURY III/ICON SPORTSWIRE/GETTY IMAGES)

With the forwards done, it’s time to look at the defense. There are four D that should play every night without question. Those being Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Brandon Carlo. The first pairing of Chara and McAvoy proved last year in the playoffs that they could shut down the best of the league, leaving the Maple Leafs and the Lightning (for most of the series) looking for more out of their stars. Krug’s offense cannot be replicated on the blue line, and Carlo has really come out of his shell this year, adding more grit to his game and continuing to improve on his already sound defensive game.

The final defensive pair would consist of two of John Moore, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Miller. I think Grzelcyk and Moore have been the Bruins unsung heroes this year. They both proved they can play very well in roles playing 25+ minutes a game and a more condensed role will only make them look better. Kevin Miller brings a physical side of the game that the majority of the roster can’t match and while I think the Bruins don’t need to go out and get an enforcer, that grit is incredibly important on the blue-line. For this final pair it will probably go on a game by game basis, whoever is playing the best gets to play unless Cassidy wants to play Miller against more physical teams but may want a bit more offense and play Gryz and Moore. If I had to pick the final pair I would choose Gryz and Miller, I think Grzelcyk’s hockey sense is too good to sit in the press box.

With all that being said, the Bruins lineup decisions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. With all of the depth on the back-end, Cassidy can pick and choose his matchups on a day to day basis and know that he will always have a solid six guys to roll out there. For the forwards, they have a lot of flexibility. Backes has been really solid as of late and can fill in any of the four lines. If Cassidy needs a goal, he can put Pastrnak back with the top line and switch the rest of the lineup accordingly. All four lines have big strengths to their game, and I feel if the Bruins get enough out of their younger players, this lineup has the potential to do wonders. What do you guys think?

FULL LINEUP

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen/Donato

Debrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Heinen/Donato-Cave-Backes

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

JFK/Acciari

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Moore-Kampfer

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston At Montreal: 12/17/18

Image result for bruins canadiens 2018

(Photo Credit: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Montreal Canadiens

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak

Nordstrom – Cave – Backes

Donato – Forsbacka-Karlsson – Heinen

Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner

Defense

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Kampfer

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Montreal’s Lineup

Forwards

Drouin – Domi – Shaw

Tatar – Danault – Gallagher

Byron – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen

Agostino – Chaput – Peca

Defense

Kulak – Weber

Reilly – Petry

Schlemko – Juulsen

Goalies

Price

Niemi

First Period

One point separated the Canadiens and Bruins heading into this one while they sat in third and fourth place respectively. Important divisional points were on the line. Montreal came in winners of their last two, while the Bruins came in losers of their last two looking to right the ship.

The game didn’t stay scoreless for long as Joakim Nordstrom scored 2:21 into the game. Some great forechecking and passing from his linemates helped make it happen. The goal marked Nordstrom’s fifth of the year, assisted by David Backes (5), and Colby Cave (3).

Brad Marchand went to the box shortly after for high-sticking. Montreal came into the game without a single goal on their last 22 power play opportunities. Two shots on goal and two minutes later, Montreal failed to convert on the man advantage.

Halfway through the period, Montreal had 11 giveaways to Boston’s one giveaway. The energy was there, just not a lot of cohesiveness. Noel Acciari went to the box delay of game at the 6:28 mark – round two on the power play for Montreal. John Moore and Charlie McAvoy were integral to eventually kill the penalty and keep the lead intact while they were down a man.

After making a series of moves in the offensive zone, David Pastrnak drew a tripping penalty with 3:04 remaining – the Bruins were scoreless on their last seven power plays in their last three games. It was a sloppy first power play for the Bruins as they had trouble connecting passes at times and struggled to get much of anything going in Carey Price’s office. The best chance came after the conclusion of the man advantage when Noel Acciari nearly stuffed a wraparound past Price.

Giveaways were ever so present from Montreal and the Bruins surely would have liked to convert more than once. The shots were 12 to 5 in favor of the Bruins, Montreal ended up with 14 giveaways to Boston’s one. The energy was there for the Bruins, but the execution could have been better. The momentum was in their hands heading into the intermission and beyond.

Score: 1-0 Boston

Second Period

The scoring chances continued to come from the Bruins early, specifically from Pastrnak and Acciari. The occasional too many men on the ice penalty struck against Montreal just 2:29 into the period. No dice on the power play, zero shots on goal.

A flurry of chances came for the Canadiens about halfway through the period in just under a minute of consecutive zone time. Shortly after, former Bruin Kenny Agostino was robbed by once former Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

It’s not too often you see two delay of game penalties in one game, but David Pastrnak unintentionally made that happen. Some power plays came and went on both sides, both teams found no luck with the man advantage. Price robbed Pastrnak in space on the backhand. Neither goalie was budging after Nordstrom’s early first-period goal. He then managed to rob Torey Krug with his glove as he flew down the left wing.

A four-on-four came late as Sean Kuraly went to the box for holding, as did Jesperi Kotkaniemi for interference – lots of open ice for someone to break through and get on the score sheet. Colby Cave picked up his second point of the night and first goal of his NHL career off of a beautiful passing play involving Pastrnak up high and McAvoy down low. McAvoy picked up his seventh assist, Pastrnak his 19th. The assist marked McAvoy’s second point since returning from injury on Dec. 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

There wasn’t much of the usual Bruins-Habs nastiness as we have seen in the past until the last three minutes of the frame. This time we saw a goaltending battle and a cut-and-dry game through two periods for the most part. The Bruins dominated the shot category with a 13 to 7 advantage in the second period, 26 to 12 overall.

Score: 2-0 Boston

Third Period

Things got going real early thanks to an iffy Montreal line change. David Krejci buried his sixth goal of the year on the back door to extend his point streak to seven games. Charlie McAvoy’s eighth assist of the season and second of the game helped make it all happen. The Bruins extend their lead to three.

Mike Reilly’s roughing penalty set up a power play that led to the fourth Bruins goal of the game, this time from Brad Marchand. Marchand’s 11th goal was assisted by Pastrnak (20) and Krug (16). It was 4-0 Bruins with 14:54 to go.

This game turned on its head really quickly. The Bruins took advantage of what was a sloppy game on Montreal’s end for much of the time. Outside of their extended zone stint midway through the second period, it was almost all Bruins. Halak capped it off on a great chance in transition late. The 22-save effort marked his third shutout of the season.

The energy they got thanks to a good deal of puck possession, scoring chances and Nordstrom’s goal in the first period propelled them forward throughout the game. Things progressively got better as the game went on.

In one of their better 60-minute efforts this season, the Bruins outshot the Canadiens 9 to 8 in the third and 35 to 22 overall. Next up are the Anaheim Ducks at 7:00 PM ET on Thursday at TD Garden.

Final Score: 4-0 Boston

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Bruins Game 26 Preview: Detroit Red Wings

Brad Marchand, Jimmy Howard

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at TD Garden. It will be the third time the two teams meet this season with the Bruins nabbing three points and Red Wings snagging two points in the two prior matchups.

Detroit, sporting an 11-11-3 record, are fighting to stay out of the last place in the Atlantic Division. On the other hand, Boston is inching closer to the top of the division’s standings with a 14-7-4 record. Still, it should be a heated game for some important points – Detroit is just three points out of wild-card spot, after all.

Who’s Hot?

Tuukka Rask has been stellar after taking his leave of absence. Since returning to action, Rask has gone 2-0-2 with just seven goals against and a very impressive .944 SV%. The netminder will get the start once again when Boston faces Detroit on Saturday. We’ll soon see if his mind has remained clear and he is still capable of snagging a win for the Bruins.

John Moore has also been impressive as of late. With numerous injuries to Boston’s back end, Moore has taken to the spotlight. The blueliner averaged 22:40 in ice time per game during the month of November and should continue to see similar totals in early December. Brandon Carlo will be returning on Saturday and is expected to be playing alongside Torey Krug which would mean Matt Grzelcyk is partnered with Moore. It hasn’t seemed to matter who Moore plays alongside, however. He has been solid defensively and has even made an effort to contribute to Boston’s offensive flow.

Dylan Larkin continues to be Detroit’s biggest threat up front. The young forward has nine goals and 12 assists in 25 games. Across the two games the Red Wings have played against Boston this season, Larkin notched a goal and averaged 18:34 in ice time. In his last five games, the 22-year-old has been held to a goal and an assist, however, but is always a threat to break out at any time.

Tyler Bertuzzi is coming off a strong showing. The winger potted two goals on Wednesday in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Despite seeing significantly less ice time than some of his peers, Bertuzzi has still been able to consistently produce. In fact, he is ranked fourth in point production on the Red Wings entering Saturday’s game.

Who’s Not?

Danton Heinen hasn’t been too bad. He has certainly improved his two-way game and has seen his fair share of chances. However, Heinen has lacked execution. The winger hasn’t produced a point in eight games and has only registered 11 shots during that span. Execution is something Boston needs from their depth right now, and simply pitching in with an assist could get Heinen going once again.

Heinen Zetterberg

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

After impressing during his rookie season with 25 points in 68 games, Martin Frk has been suffering from the notorious sophomore slump. The 24-year-old has just one goal and one assist in 13 games thus far, averaging less than nine minutes per contest. Frk’s plus/minus rating has been in the red in five of his last six games while averaging just 8:46 of ice time. He needs to step up his game soon if he is to overcome this slump.

Bruins vs. Red Wings Outlook

The Bruins finally have Carlo back but are still missing some key pieces. However, that hasn’t been too much of a problem for the boys in black and gold. It really makes you wonder how the team could be performing if they were 100-percent healthy.

Detroit has a tough test ahead of them on Saturday, but they have already proven that they are capable of beating the Bruins – they did beat Boston 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 21st after all. In that game, the Red Wings’ young forwards led them past a batter Bruins defense. They could very well do the same on Saturday, though a red-hot Rask may have something to say about that.

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The Bruins’ Underrated: D Matt Grzelcyk

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

The National Hockey League has passed over the American Thanksgiving – a common milestone date for tracking the progress of teams and players alike. Twenty-four games into the 2018-19 season, some major storylines have been present across the league, but even more so with the Boston Bruins. The dominance of the first-line, the struggling depth scoring, the goalie “controversy” and of course, the injuries.

Flashing back to the offseason, the Bruins seemed to have more than enough defencemen to role throughout the season with some spares for the inevitable injuries. Unfortunately, that was not even close to being the case. Below are every single blueliner that has been injured at some point this year.

  • Torey Krug – September 29th – ankle injury – missed 11 games
  • Kevan Miller – October 18th – hand injury – missed 13 games
  • Charlie McAvoy – October 20th – concussion – unlikely he returns on road trip
  • Urho Vaakanainen – October 23rd – concussion – unlikely he returns on road trip
  • Matt Grzelcyk – October 27th – lower-body – missed 2 games
  • Brandon Carlo – November 11th – upper-body – unlikely he returns on road trip
  • Zdeno Chara – November 15th – knee – expected to miss four-to-six weeks
  • John Moore – November 16th – lower-body – missed 3 games

At one point, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon were all on Boston’s roster making it look like the Providence Bruins were all of a sudden in the NHL. All gentle humour aside, the Bruins have been rocked with injuries to key defencemen and we are only less than two whole months into the year.

One of the members of the “original” defensive core, the one who missed the least amount of games, Massachusetts’ own – Matt Grzelcyk, has been one of the few positives that the injury bug has provided us.

Surprisingly, Grzelcyk was one of the question marks within Boston’s lineup before the first puck drop of the season. With the offseason addition of John Moore, trade rumours were already being brainstormed for a possible top-six winger to add to the goal scoring threats that the team seemed to be lacking since the departure of Rick Nash. Quite often, however, those hypothetical deals included either Krug or Grzelcyk.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

As the season progressed and the injuries continued to pile up way higher than expected or hoped, those trade ideas rapidly vanished from the fanbase’s mindset – and for good reason. For a moment in time, the injury bug appeared to be an actual contagious virus that every and any player on the team can contract. Trading a player on a position that is using players from your AHL affiliate on your top-four defensive pairing does not make a ton of sense.

Matt Grzelcyk has been handed the task of manning the top pairing ever since Chara has been out of the lineup. In every game between November 14th and November 23rd (five games), Grzelcyk played over twenty minutes of ice time – hitting the 25-minute mark against the Stars on the sixteenth of November.

Of course, when watching the Boston Bruins on television or listening live on the radio, you most commonly hear Matt Grzelcyk’s name or see his #48 on the back of his sweater on an offensive play, such as a breakout pass or a power-play set-up and that is most definitely one of Grzelcyk’s strong suits.

As a defenseman, Grzelcyk is able to handle the puck with a great deal of fluidity around the area of the net. He is able to use good skating to weave his way around defenders – always looking for that first pass to start a rush. Many writers and analysts throughout the industry have associated that element of Matt’s game to Torey Krug, his fellow teammate.

Krug, as most of us already know, can do that exact same thing with ease. Both defenders clock in at around five-foot-nine forcing them to be quick with their skates and their stick or else one of the big-bodied forwards will level into them. Grzelcyk recently reiterated what I just said in an article on the Boston Herald by Marisa Ingemi

“It’s about getting back into skating with the puck and using my hockey IQ to shove players off in the D-zone and create offence in the neutral zone moving my feet,”

That aspect alone is commonly undervalued in Grzelcyk’s game – solely because the Bruins have Krug, who have we said is very similar in that way. However, for Krug, there is one consistent negative it seems like, his defence. At first, it may seem strange to have a defenseman that is not terrific at playing, well, defence. But in a day and age where speed and skill overtakes size and strength, the defensive side of a player may not stand out as much as it should.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

For Grzelcyk, he is able to make solid defensive plays when needed and he often is able to use that precision skating to either catch up to an opposing player on an odd-man rush or a breakaway or he can use his feet to get back in position or even bail out one of his linemates who may have found themselves out of position.

On Friday, November 23rd against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Boston, Penguins forward Bryan Rust managed to free himself from the Bruins defensemen, (one of which being Grzelcyk), going in all alone on Jaroslav Halak for the breakaway. However, due to Grzelcyk’s speed and skating as mentioned, he was able to strategically hit the stick of Rust and the puck went wide before Rust could even get a shot off of his stick.

In the process, Grzelcyk managed to avoid taking a penalty on the play – which would have most likely been a penalty shot. See the play below (apologies for poor audio as I was forced to screen record the video on my computer from the NHL.com YouTube page.

 

Original Video (Grzelcyk play at 6:15):

This is not the only time this season that Grzelcyk has done that as well. Sure, he may have allowed Rust to get behind him – creating the chance to occur, but he was able to recover and stop that mistake. That characteristic in an offensive d-man often goes unnoticed. In most situations where a defenceman loses sight of a forward, it’ll lead towards a goal or a good scoring opportunity and the blame falls on the defender.

All that combined, Matt Grzelcyk has the remainder of this season and all of the 2019-2020 season under contract with the Bruins, making $1.4 million annually. His current deal is closest comparable to Erik Gustafsson’s two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Rob Hagg of the Philadelphia Flyers is also a 95.7% match with Grzelcyk’s contract – and Hagg only has nine points in 71 games since the signing date while Matt has fifteen in 63 NHL games since the deal.

It could very well be a case as time goes on, that Matt Grzelcyk is trusted more and more, even when the cluster of injured players on the blueline eventually come back to the full-time roster. With the lack of depth scoring on the Bruins so far this season as well, it could be possible that Torey Krug gets traded for that top-six forward.

So, I beg the question to all of you Boston Bruins fanatics, is Matt Grzelcyk underappreciated by the fanbase as a whole or is he just an average NHL defenceman? Let me know via my Twitter poll @tkdmaxbjj. 

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGaint 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!

-> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule & Ticket Information From SeatGiant.com <-

The Bruins Week Ahead: Wild Card Edition

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photo credit: Eric Canha/CSM/Cal Sports Media/AP Images

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

At the moment, the Boston Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. It may be too early to talk about the postseason, but they currently inhabit one of the Eastern Conference’s Wild Card slots right now. They are sandwiched between their rivals, as they currently sit two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.

Last week, the Bruins racked up an overtime loss in Detroit against the Red Wings, and a win at home on Black Friday against Pittsburgh, followed by one in Montreal on Saturday night. With Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara out of the lineup in addition to Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen, the Bruins have had a little bit of trouble finding chemistry with their lines so jumbled. Losing their best center, who is also their best player without the puck, has been a bit of an issue for the Bruins.

Luckily for the B’s, defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller, both of whom have been playing very well this season, returned from injury this week and have helped immensely. Tuukka Rask has also been fantastic in net since returning from his leave of absence.

There are three games coming up this week, and two are against teams in the super competitive Atlantic Division.

Monday, November 26: at Toronto

The Bruins and Maple Leafs have met once this season, with the Bruins winning 5-1. Monday night they will meet again at Scotiabank Arena. Naturally, the Leafs will want to come out flying as they would not be pleased to drop another contest to the B’s, after last season’s first round exit, and getting blown out in their first meeting with Boston this season.

Toronto is third in the Atlantic Division (and fourth in the NHL) with 32 points. The Bruins are fourth in the division (7th in the NHL) with 30 points. Their top center, Auston Matthews, is still out due to a shoulder injury, but has resumed skating and may be returning in the first week of December. The Leafs are still without William Nylander, as the two sides have yet to work out a deal (the Bruins should make Nylander an offer, but that’s a story for another day).

With Matthews out of the lineup, leading the way for the Maple Leafs is 2015 fourth overall draft pick Mitch Marner, who looks no older than your average eighth grader. Marner has scored 30 points in 24 games, with 6 goals, 24 assists. Superstar center John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly are tied for second in points with 27 apiece.

Toronto’s defense remains questionable, but the Leafs’ goaltending has been excellent so far this season. Frederik Andersen is 12-7 in 19 appearances, with a save percentage of .931 and a goals-against-average of 2.24. Backup Garret Sparks was between the pipes for the first game against the Bruins this season. He is 4-1 in 5 games and has put up a Save% of .925, and a GAA of 2.57 – pretty solid.

The Leafs’ power play is 9th in the NHL and is converting at 23.8% (Bruins are third at 28.4%). The penalty kill is 12th in the NHL at 81.3%, while the Bruins are 19th at 78.4% (ouch). Despite Toronto’s defense is their weakness, they don’t allow many goals. Currently, they’ve let in third fewest goals per game in the league, with only Nashville and the Bruins allowing fewer.

The Bruins are going to have to be particularly solid in their own end against Toronto, as the Leafs are a pretty fast team and are skilled offensively. Stretch passes could be an issue if Boston can’t hold onto the puck or handle passes – the Maple Leafs made it obvious last season that they could cause problems for the B’s this way.

Thursday, November 29: vs. New York Islanders

Former Bruins captain Rick Middleton’s number 16 will be retired in a ceremony before Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. Islanders fans are probably happy about this since Nifty enjoyed much more success for the Bruins than he did when he played for their crosstown rival, the New York Rangers.

Despite the loss of star center John Tavares, the Islanders have put together a decent first two months of the season, and are third in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points, good for fourteenth in the NHL. Thursday will be their first game against the Bruins this season.

The Isles have gone 3-2 in their last five games, which include a win and a loss against the rival New York Rangers, who are nipping at their heels in the standings at fourth in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are 12-8-2, while the Rangers are 12-10-2. They also beat the Devils 4-3 in overtime on November 23, with the game winner being scored by center Matt Barzal, who Bruins fans are either obsessed with or tired of hearing about – no in between.

The Islanders are about as healthy as the Bruins, as they are currently without Casey Cizikas (lower body), Andrew Ladd (leg), Matthew Lorito (undisclosed), Matt Martin (upper body), and Linus Soderstrom (shoulder). There is a possibility Cizikas might be back for Thursday’s matchup, which would be huge for the Islanders. Matt Martin may be suiting up as well.

The Islanders are scoring 13th most goals per game with 3.18, while the Bruins are tied with Dallas for 21st in the league at 2.83 goals per game. The Isles are in the middle of the pack as far as goals allowed per game, with 2.86, good for 14th in the NHL.

Right wing Josh Bailey is leading the Isles in scoring with 7-14-21 totals, followed by Mat Barzal with 3-17-20 totals. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee have 18 points each, and Valtteri Filppula will be a player to watch on both sides of the puck, as he’s reliable defensively and can score as well.

Saturday, December 1st: vs. Detroit Red Wings

This will be the Bruins’ third meeting with Detroit this season. The absolutely routed the wings 8-2 in October, with David Pastrnak notching a hat-trick. Last week, the Bruins took on the Wings in Detroit and lost in miserable fashion during overtime. A key faceoff was lost, not one, but two Bruins were unable to strip Andreas Athanasiou of the puck, and of course, he scored a beauty of a gamer winner with a fancy spin move that would have been totally stoppable had anybody opted to play defense. Oy.

The Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five games. Three of those games have gone to overtime. The Wings won two of those games (Bruins and Devils) and lost to Buffalo in a shootout. Winning this one in regulation would be a good idea, as it’s very clear that the Red Wings are not to be underestimated. They still have speed and firepower in players such as Dylan Larkin, Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and UMaine alum Gustav Nyquist.

Jimmy Howard has been good in the crease, with a GAA of 2.55 and a Save% of .925. Their backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a rough start, as his stats are 3.54 and .897, respectively, but has been finding his game recently, and had a couple of very solid games last week. Bernier made 49 saves in a single game against Carolina. That statistic should make it pretty obvious that the Red Wings are among the NHL’s worst regarding shots allowed per game (29th in the NHL, at 38.4/game).

An important key to this game will be for the Bruins to get as much offensive zone time as possible and capitalize on the many opportunities the Red Wings are probably going to serve up for them. The Bruins should take as many shots as possible, and create traffic in front of the net if they want to be successful. It seems they’re finally starting to find a little bit of chemistry in the new lineup sans Bergeron. Hopefully, they can keep it up.

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Injuries Pile Up During Bruins’ Road Trip

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photo credit: NHL.com

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

Zdeno Chara injured his left knee Wednesday night during the second period of a loss to the Avalanche in Colorado. Chara cut his road trip short, traveling back to Boston to be evaluated by team medical staff. When Chara was injured, the Bruins were already without Charlie McAvoy (concussion), Kevan Miller (hand), and Brandon Carlo (upper body).

The Bruins played in Dallas last night with three rookie defensemen in the lineup, two of whom were on emergency call-ups, making their National Hockey League debut. Boston lost 1-0 in overtime, in a back-and-forth, competitive game. While half of the Bruins defense consisted of players who were playing in the AHL last week, they were better defensively than most imagined that would have been.

That said, Zdeno Chara was sorely missed.  Chara was diagnosed on Friday, and today the Bruins announced that he sustained an injury to his left MCL and will miss 4-6 weeks of hockey. Surgery is a possibility, unfortunately. Chara is not the player he was when Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011, but he is still a very important part of the team, and remains an effective shutdown defenseman.

Defenseman John Moore missed Friday’s game in Dallas as well, with a lower-body injury purportedly sustained in Colorado, as he was unable to participate in Friday morning’s skate in Dallas. Moore cut his road trip short as well and returned to Boston for rest and evaluation. Moore’s absence on top of Chara’s, gave Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton the opportunity to debut for the Bruins last night. Moore is listed as day-to-day.

During Friday’s game in Dallas, Stars center Radek Faksa rode Patrice Bergeron into the boards awkwardly during the second period. Bergeron appeared to injure his shoulder and returned to the Bruins’ locker room. Eventually, he returned to the game but was not able to be as effective as he usually is, and he didn’t play a shift during overtime. Bergeron returned to Boston and will be evaluated by the team.

There hasn’t been any word from the Bruins about what kind of timeline to expect regarding Bergeron’s return to the lineup, as his injury only occurred last night, and there hasn’t been any communication as to how severe his injury is. Bergeron’s loss will be felt, as it was causing all sorts of upheaval in the Bruins’ forward lines, as well as on the power play and penalty kill.

Without team captain Zdeno Chara or alternate captain Patrice Bergeron in the lineup, the Bruins will be tolling with three alternate captains tonight in David Krejci, David Backes, and Brad Marchand.

The Bruins forward lines will be affected greatly: Krejci will be centering the top line, with Anders Bjork and David Pastrnak on his wings, while Joakim Nordstrom will be the second line pivot, skating with Marchand on his left and Jake DeBrusk on his right. The third line will consist of Danton Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Noel Acciari, while Sean Kuraly will play center for Chris Wagner and David Backes.

Regardless of what the results of Bergeron and Moore’s evaluations tell us, the Bruins are going to feel the loss of Chara through the end of the year (and hopefully that’s it). The Bruins really need  Bergeron and Moore to return to the lineup sooner, as icing three rookie defensemen cannot be ideal when a team is looking to win. It’s going to be a rough few weeks.

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Bruins Call Connor Clifton Up From AHL

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins )

By: Mandi Mahoney | Follow Me On Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins road trip is not going according to plan. During a loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center Wednesday night, captain Zdeno Chara injured his knee while checking former Bruin Carl Soderberg. Chara left in the second period, and the Bruins did not fare very well without him, dropping a two-goal lead and eventually losing 6-3 to the Avs.

As a result of Chara’s injury, the Bruins called up blueliner Connor Clifton from their AHL affiliate in Providence on an emergency basis. Clifton traveled to Dallas to meet with the team yesterday, in the midst of their road trip. It looks like the right-shot defenseman will make his NHL debut tonight, as John Moore, who has typically played on the Bruins’ second defensive pair, will not be in the lineup to play against the Stars in Dallas tonight.

Clifton was originally selected 133rd overall, in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. He and the Coyotes failed to reach an agreement in August 2017, and the Bruins signed him to a two-year entry-level deal this May. Prior to being drafted, the Long Branch, New Jersey native played for the USNTDP in juniors, and then for the U.S. National Under 18 Team, where he racked up 8 goals and 15 assists, totaling 23 points in 66 games. This put him second in scoring among defensemen on the team, only behind current New Jersey Devil Will Butcher. During that season, Clifton was a teammate of fellow Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald, and former Bruin Frank Vatrano.

In 156 games at Quinnipiac, Clifton scored 56 points and was +39 during his college career. He captained the Bobcats in 2016-17, which was his senior year. Skating at 5’11” and 174 pounds, Clifton isn’t the biggest player on the ice, but he is definitely not afraid to throw his body around and play a physical game, and he does not back down from that, no matter the opponent.

Clifton has been a noticeable presence on every team he has played for, as he’s known for work ethic and compete level, on top of his energy and enthusiasm for physical hockey. He can sometimes take risks in the offensive zone, which has come back to bite him from time to time, but Clifton has learned from those mistakes and is definitely getting the hang of playing in the AHL. This season, he has played in fourteen games for the Providence Bruins, has assisted on 4 goals, and has a plus/minus rating of +4.

For tonight’s game in Dallas, expect Clifton to be playing alongside the only established veteran left in the Bruins’ defensive corps, puck mover Torey Krug. This leaves Jeremy Lauzon and Matt Grzelcyk on the second pair, and Jakub Zboril, another Providence Bruin making his NHL debut, skating on the third pair with Steve Kampfer. Tonight’s game against the Stars will be interesting at the very least, with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn going up against Grzelcyk, Krug, and four AHL defensemen.

Moore Signing Has Been A Big Help For Bruins

4ac0abfda8544713aa203c884130d48f-4ac0abfda8544713aa203c884130d48f-0(Photo Credit: Boston Globe)

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

In recent history, the Bruins have been very hit or miss in free agency meaning they’ve had great success with some free agents such as Jaroslav Halak, Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, etc. But on the other hand, they’ve had some free agents that didn’t pan out. Names like Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Alexei Zhamnov were great disappointments for the Bruins in the last 15 years or so. The point is free agency is essentially a crapshoot in some respects as you don’t always know what you’re gonna get. There are always situations of teams overspending and players greatly underperforming, but John Moore is not one of those players.

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The 27-year-old signed a five-year contract with the Bruins on the first day of free agency back in July. It definitely wasn’t a move many people would have predicted considering some of the young defensemen that have excelled in Boston recently. Players like Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk have all found success in Boston in the last two years or so and it seemed strange to some people to throw another defenseman into the fold. In some respects though, the move was smart in part because injuries suffered at key times over the last few seasons have left the Bruins shorthanded. Carlo was a perfect example of a player who has suffered injuries at the worst time. A concussion late in the 2016-17 season kept Carlo out of the playoffs and a knee injury towards the end of last season kept him out of the playoffs yet again.

Injuries happen, that’s a given. Guys can go down at any point and defensemen are constantly in the line of fire and you can truly never have too many healthy defensemen. The early part to this season has been a challenge with injuries to Torey Krug, McAvoy, Kevan Miller, and now Zdeno Chara after last night’s game in Denver. John Moore is not the most spectacular defenseman in the league and he’s never been a top pair guy and most likely won’t be at any point. What he gives the Bruins is depth and solid play which is important at times like these when young players are being asked to do more than usual such as Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon.

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Moore has been in the league for seven years and has always been known as a guy who doesn’t do anything remarkable but does the little things right. He’s played in every game for the black and gold this season and has been a consistent plus player. Being 27, Moore is a seasoned player who’s been to the playoffs a few times and understands the game very well. Having a player like this to help out the young players is important especially with all the young talent this team has. Moore has only had two assists this season but rarely looks out of place and often is in the right place at the right time defensively to take away scoring chances.

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Often in free agency, it’s very easy to overpay as teams essentially try to outbid each other for certain players. It didn’t seem like the Bruins spent too much for Moore who will make $2.75 million over five years. The money on his contract makes it very affordable but also easily movable in case the Bruins potentially don’t have a need for him down the road. People seemed to be confused on the term but in a way, it makes sense to me. Five years is a long time but considering the Bruins will eventually have to figure out life without Chara, it makes sense to have another solid defenseman in Moore on the roster. Players like John Moore don’t grow on trees, guys who can bring to the table decent size, good puck-moving ability, great skating and ability to play big minutes when called upon.

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While some folks might still question this free agent signing, I believe Don Sweeney and the Bruins front office may have found one of the best bargain free agents in the entire league. If it wasn’t for Jaroslav Halak playing as well as he is Moore might be the Bruins best free agent signing. With the slew of injuries to Bruins defensemen, we’ll get to see the true value of Moore and why the team decided to bring him in.

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Bruins’ Sweeney Is Proving He’s A Top GM: Part I – Free Agency

Don Sweeney - Steven Senne(Photo credit: Steven Senne)

Written By: Chris Nosek  |  Follow Me On Twitter: @cnosek6342

Last season (in my first article with the Black N’ Gold) I wrote a piece about Don Sweeney’s patience being a major asset to this organization during the 2017-18 offseason. Now, just under a year later, he is proving even more that he was and still is the best person for the GM position in the Bruins organization. With the moves he has made combined with the ones he is making now, Sweeney is currently setting up the Bruins to be contenders not just for the 2018-19 season, but for the next 10-plus years. During these years, Sweeney will widely be regarded as one of the league’s top general managers as well. There are many Bruins fans who will completely disagree with this thought because of certain moves he has made; so let’s take a dive into each move he has made during his time leading this franchise so far. In this series, we will examine each way he has acquired players and see just how successful he has been for this team.

Free Agency

Clearly, free agency has been the weakness for Sweeney and his staff. However, when you look at the players they have brought in, there has been a clear shift in the type of player targeted. If you examine each free agent class year after year, it becomes obvious that they are learning from their decisions.

2015

Matt Beleskey                       Jimmy Hayes                       Gregory Campbell

Ryan Spooner                       Matt Bartkowski                 Brett Connolly

Matt Irwin                             Jonas Gustavsson                Christopher Breen

Matt Lindblad                      David Warsofsky                 Paul Carey

Rob Flick

In his first offseason, Sweeney targeted one of the biggest names on the market in Matt Beleskey and was able to land him for 5 years. At the age of only 26, Beleskey looked like he could bring to the Bruins lineup a physical style of play that the team hadn’t had on the left side of David Krejci since the days of Milan Lucic. Hayes, Connolly, Bartkowski, Campbell, Warsofsky, Lindblad, Carey, and Flick were all extended with Hayes having been brought in originally via trade (more to come on that later).

(Photo credit: Claus Andersen)

The biggest flops in this class were Beleskey, Connolly, and Hayes. Although these guys never really found their game here in Boston, we are left to wonder if they would have fared better under the coaching of Bruce Cassidy instead of Claude Julien. It quickly became clear with his future signing that Sweeney learned from these problematic veterans and would shy away from them in the future.

2016

David Backes                         Anton Khudobin                      John Michael-Liles

Riley Nash                              Dominic Moore                        Joe Morrow

Brian Ferlin                           Chris Casto                                Alex Grant

Tyler Randell

Showing a different approach than in 2015, Sweeney shifted to targeting veterans who would have to fight for a roster spot and would have to earn their keep. Khudobin was brought back after Gustavsson showed he just wasn’t cut out for the NHL level, but “Dobby” still had to beat out McIntyre and Subban for the backup role behind Rask. Moore, Morrow, and Nash were all brought in to compete for starting positions, and both Moore and Nash not only earned them but also kept their spots. In fact, Nash not only flourished in his second year with the team but also saw time filling in for Bergeron on the top line for a handful of games.

 (Photo credit: Kim Klement)

With Backes signing the only contract longer than 2 years and for more than $2.5 million (his contract was for 5 years at $6 million per year), he is clearly the biggest risk in this group. Having just come off his 10th season with St. Louis, Backes posted 45 points in 79 games. With versatility and durability, Backes was clearly brought in to put with the youngsters as the third-line center while having the ability to play the wing as well. With 460 points in 727 career games in St. Louis, Backes played in all 82 games three times and at least 78 games six times, including all 48 in the locked-out and shortened 2012-13 season. After only 38 points in his first season in Boston, last season he was unable to stay healthy and ended up missing almost two months after requiring surgery that removed part of his colon. The positive note for Backes’ 2017-18 season is that he was able to post 33 points in only 57 games — a much-improved scoring rate over his first season with the club. This third season, which has seen him come into camp more lean and agile, will be the defining season of this contract for both player and GM.

2017

David Pastrnak                           Ryan Spooner                             Malcolm Subban

Zane McIntyre                             Ken Agostino                              Tim Schaller

Paul Postma                                 Brian Gionta                               Austin Czarnik

With a free agent class that saw big-name players like Justin Williams, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Radulov, and even Joe Thornton, many were looking for Don Sweeney to bring in one of these top guys to fill in some of the major holes on this team. Instead, Sweeney negotiated extensions with Pastrnak, Spooner, Subban, McIntyre, Schaller, and Czarnik. With one of the league’s top right winger talents under the age of 25 now locked up for the next 5 years, Sweeney could shift his focus to the young guys in the system to figure out which ones to continue extending and which ones could be packaged together to bring in other pieces.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, left, smiles after his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Boston, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Photo credit: Charles Krupa)

So did Sweeney make the right decision to allow the youngsters to play instead of bringing some of the veteran names? To find out how “bad” this decision was let’s compare the offensive production from the two groups; players who Boston could have had and the players who Boston put on the ice this past season.

Group A: These players signed deals as UFA’s last offseason and were mentioned as players Sweeney should pursue.

Group B: This group of forwards played for the Bruins last season next to Krejci and on the third-line wing.

Group A: Justin Williams, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau

Group B: Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Rick Nash, Ryan Spooner, David Backes

The players in Group A put together a great season with a combined 183 points over 325 games played, giving the collective great average of 0.563 points per game. This is a very respectable figure; however, compare it to the almost identical pace of 0.568 points per game that the Black and Gold (Group B) were able to put up with the crew they put on the ice.

2018

John Moore                                     Jaroslav Halak                             Sean Kuraly

Joakim Nordstrom                         Colby Cave                                   Chris Wagner

Anton Blidh                                     Mark McNeill                              Cody Goloubef

Coming into this new season, it is clear that Sweeney wants to continue to build off the success from the young players who stepped up last season rather than spend money on big-name free agents like he did early in his career. With Kuraly being re-signed, it is clear he has earned himself a starting role as one of the bottom-line centers. With Cave and Blidh being brought back for depth in the AHL, Nordstrom and Wagner will be given a chance to win NHL roles but need to be careful because they have young guys nipping at their heels for the same NHL spots.

 (Photo credit: Carlos Osorio)

Sweeney did manage to book meetings with the two biggest names on the market this offseason in John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk. With the contracts these two players received, it would have been outrageous for Sweeney to do what would have been required to bring one of them in. Kovalchuk landed with Los Angeles for 3 years and has a $6.25 million cap hit each season, and managed to get a no-movement clause for the first two seasons of the deal. Tavares received an 8-year contract with a cap hit of $11 million each season and a full no-movement clause for its entirety from his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Either of these contracts would have been horrendous for the Bruins to take on and would have been much more disastrous than the Beleskey contract, Hayes contract, and even the Backes contract ever could have been for this team.

Sweeney may not bring in the biggest name every season, nor does he make the biggest “splash” in free agency every year. He has, however, proven that he learns from his mistakes, using due diligence and patience to ensure the free agents signed have a higher reward than the risk they carry. With the free agency side of his role clearly improving year after year, Sweeney will need to prove himself in all aspects of the job in order to put this Bruins organization in the best position for success moving forward.

And as you’ll next read in Part II of this series, a top GM in the NHL like Sweeney knows that acquiring asset and players via trade can be just as effective as free agency on a team’s present and future.

COMING SOON: PART II